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Title: Six Months in Mexico
Author: Bly, Nellie
Language: English
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SIX MONTHS IN MEXICO

BY

NELLIE BLY

AUTHOR OF "TEN DAYS IN A MAD HOUSE," ETC., ETC.

NEW YORK

AMERICAN PUBLISHERS CORPORATION

1888



TO

GEORGE A. MADDEN,

MANAGING EDITOR

OF THE

PITTSBURG DISPATCH,

IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIS NEVER-FAILING KINDNESS

JAN. 1st, 1888.



CONTENTS

         I. ADIEU TO THE UNITED STATES
        II. EL PASO DEL NORTE
       III. ALONG THE ROUTE
        IV. THE CITY OF MEXICO.
         V. IN THE STREETS OF MEXICO
        VI. HOW SUNDAY IS CELEBRATED
       VII. A HORSEBACK RIDE OVER HISTORIC GROUNDS
      VIII. A MEXICAN BULL-FIGHT
        IX. THE MUSEUM AND ITS CURIOSITIES
         X. HISTORIC TOMBS AND LONELY GRAVES
        XI. CUPID'S WORK IN SUNNYLAND.
       XII. JOAQUIN MILLER AND COFFIN STREET
      XIII. IN MEXICAN THEATERS
       XIV. THE FLOATING GARDENS
        XV. THE CASTLE OF CHAPULTEPEC
       XVI. THE FEASTS OF THE GAMBLERS
      XVII. FEAST OF FLOWERS AND LENTEN CELEBRATIONS
     XVIII. GUADALUPE AND ITS ROMANTIC LEGEND
       XIX. A DAY'S TRIP ON A STREET CAR
        XX. WHERE MAXIMILIAN'S AMERICAN COLONY LIVED
       XXI. A MEXICAN ARCADIA
      XXII. THE WONDERS OF PUEBLA
     XXIII. THE PYRAMID OF CHOLULA
      XXIV. A FEW NOTES ABOUT MEXICAN PRESIDENTS
       XXV. MEXICAN SOLDIERS AND THE RURALES
      XXVI. THE PRESS OF MEXICO
     XXVII. THE GHASTLY TALE OF DON JUAN MANUEL
    XXVIII. A MEXICAN PARLOR
      XXIX. LOVE AND COURTSHIP IN MEXICO
       XXX. SCENES WITHIN MEXICAN HOMES
      XXXI. THE ROMANCE OF THE MEXICAN PULQUE
     XXXII. MEXICAN MANNERS
    XXXIII. NOCHE TRISTE TREE
     XXXIV. LITTLE NOTES OF INTEREST
      XXXV. A FEW RECIPES FOR MEXICAN DISHES
     XXXVI. SOME MEXICAN LEGENDS
    XXXVII. PRINCESS JOSEFA DE YTURBIDE



SIX MONTHS IN MEXICO.

By NELLIE BLY.



CHAPTER I.


ADIEU TO THE UNITED STATES.


One wintry night I bade my few journalistic friends adieu, and,
accompanied by my mother, started on my way to Mexico. Only a few
months previous I had become a newspaper woman. I was too impatient
to work along at the usual duties assigned women on newspapers, so I
conceived the idea of going away as a correspondent.

Three days after leaving Pittsburgh we awoke one morning to find
ourselves in the lap of summer. For a moment it seemed a dream. When
the porter had made up our bunks the evening previous, the surrounding
country had been covered with a snowy blanket. When we awoke the trees
were in leaf and the balmy breeze mocked our wraps.

Three days, from dawn until dark, we sat at the end of the car inhaling
the perfume of the flowers and enjoying the glorious Western sights so
rich in originality. For the first time I saw women plowing while their
lords and masters sat on a fence smoking. I never longed for anything
so much as I did to shove those lazy fellows off.

After we got further south they had no fences. I was glad of it,
because they do not look well ornamented with lazy men.

The land was so beautiful. We gazed in wonder on the cotton-fields,
which looked, when moved by the breezes, like huge, foaming breakers in
their mad rush for the shore. And the cowboys! I shall never forget
the first real, live cowboy I saw on the plains. The train was moving
at a "putting-in-time" pace, as we came up to two horsemen. They wore
immense sombreros, huge spurs, and had lassos hanging to the side of
their saddles. I knew they were cowboys, so, jerking off a red scarf I
waved it to them.

I was not quite sure how they would respond. From the thrilling and
wicked stories I had read, I fancied they might begin shooting at me
as quickly as anything else. However, I was surprised and delighted to
see them lift their sombreros, in a manner not excelled by a New York
exquisite, and urge their horses into a mad run after us.

Such a ride! The feet of the horses never seemed to touch the ground.
By this time nearly all the passengers were watching the race between
horse and steam. At last we gradually left them behind. I waved my
scarf sadly in farewell, and they responded with their sombreros. I
never felt as much reluctance for leaving a man behind as I did to
leave those cowboys.

The people at the different stopping-places looked at us with as much
enjoyment as we gazed on them. They were not in the least backward
about asking questions or making remarks. One woman came up to me with
a smile, and said:

"Good-mornin', missis; and why are you sittin' out thar, when thar is
such a nice cabin to be in?"

She could not understand how I could prefer seeing the country to
sitting in a Pullman.

I had imagined that the West was a land of beef and cream; I soon
learned my mistake, much to my dismay. It was almost an impossibility
to get aught else than salt meat, and cream was like the stars--out of
reach.

It was with regret we learned just before retiring on the evening of
our third day out from St. Louis, that morning would find us in El
Paso. I cannot say what hour it was when the porter called us to dress,
that the train would soon reach its destination. How I did wish I had
remained at home, as I rubbed my eyes and tried to dress on my knees in
the berth.

"It's so dark," said my mother, as she parted the curtains. "What shall
we do when we arrive?"

"Well, I'm glad it's dark, because I won't have to button my boots or
comb my hair," I replied, laughing to cheer her up.

I did not feel as cheerful as I talked when we left the train. It had
been our home for three days, and now we were cast forth in a strange
city in the dark. The train employés were running about with their
lanterns on their arms, but no one paid any attention to the drowsy
passengers.

There were no cabs or cabmen, or even wheelbarrows around, and the
darkness prevented us from getting a view of our surroundings.

"This has taught me a lesson. I shall fall into the arms of the first
man who mentions marry to me," I said to my mother as we wended our way
through freight and baggage to the waiting-room, "then I will have some
one to look after me."

She looked at me with a little doubting smile, and gave my arm a
reassuring pressure.

I shall never forget the sight of that waiting-room. Men, women, and
children, dogs and baggage, in one promiscuous mass. The dim light of
an oil-lamp fell with dreary effect on the scene. Some were sleeping,
lost for awhile to all the cares of life; some were eating; some were
smoking, and a group of men were passing around a bottle occasionally
as they dealt out a greasy pack of cards.

It was evident that we could not wait the glimpse of dawn 'mid these
surroundings. With my mother's arm still tightly clasped in mine, we
again sought the outer darkness. I saw a man with a lantern on his
arm, and went to him and asked directions to a hotel. He replied that
they were all closed at this hour, but if I could be satisfied with a
second-class house, he would conduct us to where he lived. We were only
too glad for any shelter, so without one thought of where he might take
us, we followed the light of his lantern as he went ahead.

It was only a short walk through the sandy streets to the place. There
was one room unoccupied, and we gladly paid for it, and by the aid of a
tallow candle found our way to bed.



CHAPTER II.


EL PASO DEL NORTE.


"My dear child, do you feel rested enough?" I heard my mother ask.

"Are you up already?" I asked, turning on my side, to see her as she
sat, dressed, by the open window, through which came a lazy, southern
breeze.

"This hour," she replied, smiling at me; "you slept so well, I did not
want to rouse you, but the morning is perfect and I want you to share
its beauties with me."

The remembrance of our midnight arrival faded like a bad nightmare, and
I was soon happy that I was there; only at mealtime did I long for home.

We learned that the first train we could get for Mexico would be about
six o'clock in the afternoon, so we decided "to do" the town in the
meanwhile.

El Paso, which is Spanish for "The Pass," is rather a lively town. It
has been foretold that it will be a second Denver, so rapid is its
growth. A number of different railway lines center here, and the hotels
are filled the year round with health and pleasure seekers of all
descriptions. While it is always warm, yet its climate is so perfect
that it benefits almost any sufferer. The hotels are quite modern, both
in finish and price, and the hack-drivers on a par with those in the
East.

The prices for everything are something dreadful to contemplate. The
houses are mostly modern, with here and there the adobe huts which
once marked this border. The courthouse and jail combined is a fine
brick structure that any large city might boast of. Several very pretty
little gardens brighten up the town with their green, velvety grasses
and tropical plants and trees. The only objection I found to El Paso
was its utter lack of grass.

The people of position are mainly those who are there for their health,
or to enjoy the winter in the balmy climate, or the families of men who
own ranches in Texas. The chief pleasure is driving and riding, and the
display during the driving hour would put to shame many Eastern cities.
The citizens are perfectly free. They speak and do and think as they
please.

In our walks around we had many proffer us information, and even ask
permission to escort us to points of interest.

A woman offered to show us a place where we could get good food, and
when she learned that we were leaving that evening for the City of
Mexico, she urged us to get a basket of food. She said no eating-cars
were run on that trip, and the eating gotten along the way would be
worse than Americans could endure. We afterward felt thankful that we
followed her advice.

El Paso, the American town, and El Paso del Norte (the pass to the
north), the Mexican town, are separated, as New York from Brooklyn, as
Pittsburgh from Allegheny. The Rio Grande, running swiftly between its
low banks, its waves muddy and angry, or sometimes so low and still
that one would think it had fallen asleep from too long duty, divides
the two towns.

Communication is open between them by a ferryboat, which will carry you
across for two and one half cents, by hack, buggies, and saddle horses,
by the Mexican Central Railway, which transports its passengers from
one town to the other, and a street-car line, the only international
street-car line in the world, for which it has to thank Texas
capitalists.

It is not possible to find a greater contrast than these two cities
form, side by side. El Paso is a progressive, lively, American town; El
Paso del Norte is as far back in the Middle Ages, and as slow as it was
when the first adobe hut was executed in 1680. It is rich with grass
and shade trees, while El Paso is as spare of grass as a twenty-year
old youth is of beard.

On that side they raise the finest grapes and sell the most exquisite
wine that ever passed mortals' lips. On this side they raise vegetables
and smuggle the wine over. The tobacco is pronounced unequaled, and the
American pockets will carry a good deal every trip, but the Mexican
is just as smart in paying visits and carrying back what can be only
gotten at double the price on his side; but the Mexican custom-house
officials are the least exacting in the world, and contrast as markedly
with the United States' officials as the two towns do one to the other.

One of the special attractions of El Paso del Norte (barring the
tobacco and wine) is a queer old stone church, which is said to be
nearly 300 years old. It is low and dark and filled with peculiar
paintings and funnily dressed images.

The old town seems to look with proud contempt on civilization and
progress, and the little _padre_ preaches against free schools and
tells his poor, ignorant followers to beware of the hurry and worry of
the Americans--to live as their grand- and great-grandfathers did. So,
in obedience they keep on praying and attending mass, sleeping, smoking
their cigarettes and eating _frijoles_ (beans), lazily wondering why
Americans cannot learn their wise way of enjoying life.

One can hardly believe that Americanism is separated from them only
by a stream. If they were thousands of miles apart they could not be
more unlike. There smallpox holds undisputed sway in the dirty streets,
and, in the name of religion, vaccination is denounced; there Mexican
convict-soldiers are flogged until the American's heart burns to wipe
out the whole colony; there _fiestes_ and Sundays are celebrated by
the most inhuman cock-fights and bull-fights, and monte games of all
descriptions. The bull-fights celebrated on the border are the most
inhuman I have seen in all of Mexico. The horns of the _toros_ (bulls)
are sawed off so that they are sensitive and can make but little
attempt at defense, which is attended with extreme pain. They are
tortured until, sinking from pain and fatigue, they are dispatched by
the butcher.

El Paso del Norte boasts of a real Mexican prison. It is a long,
one-storied adobe building, situated quite handy to the main plaza, and
within hearing of the merry-making of the town. There are no cells, but
a few adobe rooms and a long court, where the prisoners talk together
and with the guards, and count the time as it laggingly slips away.
They very often play cards and smoke cigarettes. Around this prison
is a line of soldiers. It is utterly impossible to cross it without
detection.

Mexican keepers are not at all particular that the prisoners are fed
every day. An American, at the hands of the Mexican authorities,
suffers all the tortures that some preachers delight to tell us some
human beings will find in the world to come.

Fire and brimstone! It is nothing to the torments of an American
prisoner in a Mexican jail. Two meals, not enough to sustain life in a
sick cat, must suffice him for an entire week. There are no beds, and
not even water. Prisoners also have the not very comfortable knowledge
that, if they get too troublesome, the keepers have a nasty habit of
making them stand up and be shot in the back. The reports made out in
these cases are "shot while trying to escape."

In the afternoon I exchanged my money for Mexican coin, getting a
premium of twelve cents on every dollar. I had a lunch prepared, and
as the shades of night began to envelop the town, we boarded the train
for Mexico. After we crossed the Rio Grande our baggage was examined by
the custom-house officers while we ate supper at a restaurant which,
strangely enough, was run by Chinamen. This gave us a foretaste of
Mexican food and price.

It was totally dark when we entered the car again, and we were quite
ready to retire. There were but two other passengers in the car with
us. One was a Mexican and the other a young man from Chicago.

We soon bade them good-night, and retired to our berths to sleep while
the train bore us swiftly through the darkness to our destination.



CHAPTER III.


ALONG THE ROUTE.


"Thirty minutes to dress for breakfast," was our good-morning in
Mexico. We had fallen asleep the night previous as easily as a babe in
its crib, with an eager anticipation of the morrow. Almost before the
Pullman porter had ceased his calling, our window shades were hoisted
and we were trying to see all of Mexico at one glance.

That glance brought disappointment. The land, almost as far as the eye
could carry, which is a wonderful distance in the clear atmosphere of
Mexico, was perfectly level. Barring the cacti, with which the country
abounds, the ground was bare.

"And this is sunny Mexico, the land of the gods!" I exclaimed, in
disgust.

By the time we had completed our toilet the train stopped, and we were
told to got off if we wanted any breakfast. We followed our porter to
a side track where, in an old freight car, was breakfast. We climbed
up the high steps, paying our dollar as we entered, and found for
ourselves places at the long table. It was surrounded by hungry people
intent only on helping themselves. Everything was on the table, even to
the coffee.

I made an effort to eat. It was impossible. My mother succeeded no
better.

"Are you not glad we brought a lunch?" she asked, as her eyes met mine.

We went back to the car and managed to make a tolerable breakfast on
the cold chicken and other eatables we found in our basket.

But the weather! It was simply perfect, and we soon forgot little
annoyances in our enjoyment of it. We got camp chairs, and from morning
until night we occupied the rear platform.

As we got further South the land grew more interesting. We gazed in
wonder at the groves of cacti which raised their heads many feet in the
air, and topped them off with one of the most exquisite blossoms I have
ever seen.

At every station we obtained views of the Mexicans. As the train drew
in, the natives, of whom the majority still retain the fashion of Adam,
minus fig leaves, would rush up and gaze on the travelers in breathless
wonder, and continue to look after the train as if it was the one event
of their lives.

As we came to larger towns we could see armed horsemen riding at a 2:09
speed, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake, to the stations. When the
train stopped they formed in a decorous line before it, and so remained
until the train started again on its journey. I learned that they were
a government guard. They do this so, if there is any trouble on the
train or any raised at the station during their stop, they could quell
it.

Hucksters and beggars constitute most of the crowd that welcomes the
train. From the former we bought flowers, native fruit, eggs, goat
milk, and strange Mexican food. The pear cacti, which is nursed in
greenhouses in the States, grows wild on the plains to a height of
twenty feet, and its great green lobes, or leaves, covered thickly
with thorns, are frequently three feet in diameter. Some kinds bear a
blood-red fruit, and others yellow. When gathered they are in a thorny
shell. The Mexican Indians gather them and peel them and sell them to
travelers for six cents a dozen. It is called "tuna," and is considered
very healthy. It has a very cool and pleasing taste.

From this century-plant, or cacti, the Mexicans make their beer,
which they call _pulque_ (pronounced polke). It is also used by the
natives to fence in their mud houses, and forms a most picturesque and
impassable surrounding.

The Indians seem cleanly enough, despite all that's been said to the
contrary. Along the gutters by the railroad, they could be seen washing
their few bits of wearing apparel, and bathing. Many of their homes are
but holes in the ground, with a straw roof. The smoke creeps out from
the doorway all day, and at night the family sleep in the ashes. They
seldom lie down, but sleep sitting up like a tailor, strange to say,
but they never nod nor fall over.

The whirlwinds, or sand spouts, form very pretty pictures on the barren
plain. They run to the height of one thousand feet, and travel along
the road at a 2:04 gait, going up the mountain side as majestic as a
queen. But then their race is run, for the moment they begin to descend
their spell is broken, and they fall to earth again to become only
common sand, and be trod by the bare, brown feet of the Indian, and the
dainty hoofs of the burro.

Some one told me that when a man sees a sand spout advancing, and
he does not want to be cornered by it, he shoots into it and it
immediately falls. I can't say how true it is, but it seems very
probable.

We had not many passengers, but what we had, excepting my mother and
myself, were all men. They all carried lunch-baskets. Among them was
one young Mexican gentleman who had spent several years in Europe,
where he had studied the English language. He was very attentive to us,
and taught me a good deal of Spanish. He had been away long enough to
learn that the Mexicans had very strange ideas, and he quite enjoyed
telling incidents about them.

"When the Mexican Railway was being built," he said, "wheelbarrows
were imported for the native laborers. They had never seen the like
before, so they filled them with earth, and, putting them on their
backs, walked off to the place of deposit. It was a long time before
they could be made to understand how to use them, and even then, as the
Mexicans are very weak in the arms, little work could be accomplished
with them.

"You would hardly believe it," he continued, "but at first the trains
were regarded as the devil and the passengers as his workers. Once a
settlement of natives decided to overpower the devil. They took one of
their most sacred and powerful saints and placed it in the center of
the track. On their knees, with great faith, they watched the advance
of the train, feeling sure the saint would cause it to stop forever in
its endless course. The engineer, who had not much reverence for that
particular saint or saints in general, struck it with full force. That
saint's reign was ended. Since then they are allowed to remain in their
accustomed nooks in the churches, while the natives still have the same
faith in their powers, but are not anxious to test them."

"Come, I want you to see the strangest mountain in the world,"
interrupted the conductor at this moment.

We followed him to the rear platform and there looked curiously at the
mountain he pointed out. It rose, clear and alone, from the barren
plains, like a nose on one's face. It seemed to be of brown earth, but
it contained not the least sign of vegetation. It looked as high as the
Brooklyn bridge from the water to top, and was about the same length,
in an oblong shape. It was perfectly straight across the top.

"When this railroad was being built," he explained, "I went with a
party of engineers in search of something new. Through curiosity alone,
to get a good view of the land, we decided to climb that strange
looking mountain. From here you can not see the vegetation, but it is
covered with a low, brown shrub. Can you imagine our surprise when we
got to the top to find it was a mammoth basin? Yes, that hill holds in
it the most beautiful lake I ever saw."

"That seems most wonderful!" I exclaimed, rather dubiously.

"It is not more wonderful than thousands of other places in Mexico," he
replied. "In the State of Chihuahua[1] is a Laguna, in which the water
is as clear as crystal. When the Americans who were superintending the
work on the railway found it, they decided to have a nice bath. It had
been many days since they had seen any more water than would quench
their thirst--in coffee, of course. Accordingly, some dozen or more
doffed their clothing and went in. Their pleasure was short-lived, for
their bodies began to burn and smart, and they came out looking like
scalding pigs. The water is strongly alkaline; the fish in the lake are
said to be white, even to their eyes; they are unfit to eat."

I give his stories for what they are worth; I did not investigate to
prove their truth.

"We do not think much of the people who come here to write us up," the
conductor said one day, "for they never tell the truth. One woman who
came down here to make herself famous pressed me one day for a story. I
told her that out in the country the natives roasted whole hogs, heads
and all, without cleaning, and so served them on the table. She jotted
it down as a rare item."

"If you tell strangers untruths about your own land can you complain,
then, that the same strangers misrepresent it?" asked my little mother,
quietly.

The conductor flushed, and said he had not thought of it in that light
before.

While yet a day's travel distant from the City of Mexico, tomatoes and
strawberries were procurable. It was January. The venders were quite up
to the tricks of the hucksters in the States. In a small basket they
place cabbage leaves and two or three pebbles to give weight; then
the top is covered with strawberries so deftly that even the smartest
purchaser thinks he is getting a bargain for twenty-five cents.

At larger towns a change for the better was noticeable in the clothing
of the people. The most fashionable dress for the Mexican Indian was
white muslin panteloons, twice as wide as those worn by the dudes
last summer; a _serape,_ as often cotton as wool, wrapped around the
shoulders; a straw sombrero, and sometimes leather sandals bound to the
feet with leather cords.

The women wear loose sleeveless waists with a straight piece of cloth
pinned around them for skirts, and the habitual _rebozo_ wrapped about
the head and holding the equally habitual baby. No difference how
cold or warm the day, nor how scant the lower garments, the _serape_
and _rebozo_ are never laid aside, and none seem too poor to own one.
Apparently the natives do not believe much in standing, for the moment
they stop walking they "hunker" down on the ground.

Never once during the three days did we think of getting tired, and it
was with a little regret mingled with a desire to see more, that we
knew when we awoke in the morning we would be in the City of Mexico.


[Footnote 1: Pronounced Che-wa-wa.]



CHAPTER IV.


THE CITY OF MEXICO.


"The City of Mexico," they had called. We got off, but we saw no city.
We soon learned that the train did not go further, and that we would
have to take a carriage to convey us the rest of the way.

Carriages lined the entrance to the station, and the cab men were,
apparently from their actions, just like those of the States. When they
procure a permit for a carriage in Mexico, it is graded and marked. A
first-class carriage carries a white flag, a second-class a blue flag,
and a third-class a red flag. The prices are respectively, per hour:
one dollar, seventy-five cents, and fifty cents. This is meant for a
protection to travelers, but the drivers are very cunning. Often at
night they will remove the flag and charge double prices, but they can
be punished for it.

We soon arrived at the Hotel Yturbide, and were assigned rooms by the
affable clerk. The hotel was once the home of the Emperor Yturbide. It
is a large building of the Mexican style. The entrance takes one into
a large, open court or square. All the rooms are arranged around this
court, opening out into a circle of balconies.

The lowest floor in Mexico is the cheapest. The higher up one goes the
higher they find the price. The reason of this is that at the top one
escapes any possible dampness, and can get the light and sun.

Our room had a red brick floor. It was large, but had no ventilation
except the glass doors which opened onto the balcony. There was a
little iron cot in each corner of the room, a table, washstand, and
wardrobe.

It all looked so miserable--like a prisoner's cell--that I began to
wish I was at home.

At dinner we had quite a time trying to understand the waiter and to
make him understand us. The food we thought wretched, and, as our lunch
basket was long since emptied, we felt a longing for some United States
eatables.

I found we could not learn much about Mexican life by living at the
hotels, so the first thing was to find some one who could speak
English, and through them obtain boarding in a private family. It was
rather difficult, but I succeeded, and I was glad to exchange quarters.

The City of Mexico makes many bright promises for the future. As
a winter resort, as a summer resort, a city for men to accumulate
fortunes; a paradise for students, for artists; a rich field for the
hunter of the curious, the beautiful, and the rare. Its bright future
cannot be far distant.

Already its wonders are related to the enterprizing people of other
climes, who are making prospective tours through the land that held
cities even at the time of the discovery of America.

Mexico looks the same all over; every white street terminates at the
foot of a snow-capped mountain, look which way you will. The streets
are named very strangely and prove quite a torment to strangers. Every
block or square is named separately.

The most prominent street is the easiest to remember, and even it is
peculiar. It is called the street of San Francisco, and the first
block is designated as first San Francisco, the second as second San
Francisco, and so on the entire street.

One continually sees poverty and wealth side by side in Mexico, and
they don't turn up their noses at each other either; the half-clad
Indian has as much room on the Fifth Avenue of Mexico as the
millionaire's wife--not but what that land, as this, bows to wealth.

Policemen occupy the center of the street at every termination of a
block, reminding one, as they look down the streets, of so many posts.
They wear white caps with numbers on, blue suits, and nickel buttons. A
mace now takes the place of the sword of former days. At night they don
an overcoat and hood, which makes them look just like the pictures of
veiled knights. Red lanterns are left in the street where the policemen
stood during the daytime, while they retire to some doorway where, it
is said, they sleep as soundly as their brethren in the States.

Every hour they blow a whistle like those used by street car drivers,
which is answered by those on the next posts. Thus they know all is
well. In small towns they call out the time of night, ending up with
_tiempo serono_ (all serene), from which the Mexican youth, with some
mischievous Yankeeism, have named them _Seronos._



CHAPTER V.


IN THE STREETS OF MEXICO.


In Mexico, as in all other countries, the average tourist rushes to the
cathedrals and places of historic note, wholly unmindful of the most
intensely interesting feature the country contains--the people.

Street scenes in the City of Mexico form a brilliant and entertaining
panorama, for which no charge is made. Even photographers slight
this wonderful picture. If you ask for Mexican scenes they show you
cathedrals, saints, cities and mountains, but never the wonderful
things that are right under their eyes daily. Likewise, journalists
describe this cathedral, tell you the age of that one, paint you the
beauties of another, but the people, the living, moving masses that
go so far toward making the population of Mexico, are passed by with
scarce a mention.

It is not a clean, inviting crowd, with blue eyes and sunny hair I
would take you among, but a short, heavy-set people, with almost black
skins, topped off with the blackest eyes and masses of raven hair.
Their lives are as dark as their skins and hair, and are invaded by no
hope that through effort their lives may amount to something.

Nine women out of ten in Mexico have babies. When at a very tender age,
so young as five days, the babies are completely hidden in the folds
of the _rebozo_ and strung to the mother's back, in close proximity
to the mammoth baskets of vegetables on her head and suspended on
either side of the human freight. When the babies get older their
heads and feet appear, and soon they give their place to another or
share their quarters, as it is no unusual sight to see a woman carry
three babies at one time in her _rebozo._ They are always good. Their
little coal-black eyes gaze out on what is to be their world, in solemn
wonder. No baby smiles or babyish tears are ever seen on their faces.
At the earliest date they are old, and appear to view life just as it
is to them in all its blackness.

They know no home, they have no school, and before they are able to
talk they are taught to carry bundles on their heads or backs, or pack
a younger member of the family while the mother carries merchandise,
by which she gains a living. Their living is scarcely worth such a
title. They merely exist. Thousands of them are born and raised on the
streets. They have no home and were never in a bed. Going along the
streets of the city late at night, you will find dark groups huddled
in the shadows, which, on investigation, will turn out to be whole
families gone to bed. They never lie down, but sit with their heads on
their knees, and so pass the night.

When they get hungry they seek the warm side of the street and there,
hunkering down, devour what they scraped up during the day, consisting
of refused meats and offal boiled over a handful of charcoal. A fresh
tortilla is the sweetest of sweetbreads. The men appear very kind
and are frequently to be seen with the little ones tied up in their
_serape_.

Groups of these at dinner would furnish rare studies for Rodgers.
Several men and women will be walking along, when suddenly they will
sit down in some sunny spot on the street. The women will bring fish or
a lot of stuff out of a basket or poke, which is to constitute their
coming meal. Meanwhile the men, who also sit flat on the street, will
be looking on and accepting their portion like hungry, but well-bred,
dogs.

This type of life, be it understood, is the lowest in Mexico, and
connects in no way with the upper classes. The Mexicans are certainly
misrepresented, most wrongfully so. They are not lazy, but just the
opposite. From early dawn until late at night they can be seen filling
their different occupations. The women sell papers and lottery tickets.

"See here, child," said a gray-haired lottery woman in Spanish. "Buy a
ticket. A sure chance to get $10,000 for twenty-five cents." Being told
that we had no faith in lotteries, she replied: "Buy one; the Blessed
Virgin will bring you the money."

The laundry women, who, by the way, wash clothes whiter and iron them
smoother even than the Chinese, carry the clothes home unwrapped. That
is, they carry their hands high above their head, from which stream
white skirts, laces, etc., furnishing a most novel and interesting
sight.

"The saddest thing I ever saw," said Mr. Theo. Gestefeld, "among all
the sad things in Mexico, was an incident that happened when I first
arrived here. Noticing a policeman talking to a boy around whom a crowd
of dusky citizens had gathered, I, true to journalistic instinct,
went up to investigate. The boy, I found, belonged to one of the many
families who do odd jobs in day time for a little food, and sleep at
night in some dark corner. Strung to the boy's back was a dying baby.
Its little eyes were half closed in death. The crowd watched, in
breathless fascination, its last slow gasps. The boy had no home to go
to, he knew not where to find his parents at that hour of the day, and
there he stood, while the babe died in its cradle, his _serape._ In
my newspaper career I have witnessed many sad scenes, but I never saw
anything so heartrending as the death of that little innocent."

Tortillas is not only one of the great Mexican dishes but one of the
women's chief industries. In almost any street there can be seen women
on their knees mashing corn between smooth stones, making it into a
batter, and finally shaping it into round, flat cakes. They spit on
their hands to keep the dough from sticking, and bake in a pan of hot
grease, kept boiling by a few lumps of charcoal. Rich and poor buy and
eat them, apparently unmindful of the way they are made. But it is a
bread that Americans must be educated to. Many surprise the Mexicans by
refusing even a taste after they see the bakers.

There are some really beautiful girls among this low class of people.
Hair three quarters the length of the women, and of wonderful
thickness, is common. It is often worn loose, but more frequently in
two long plaits. Wigmakers find no employment here. The men wear long,
heavy bangs.

There is but one thing that poor and rich indulge in with equal delight
and pleasure--that is cigarette smoking. Those tottering with age down
to the creeping babe are continually smoking. No spot in Mexico is
sacred from them; in churches, on the railway cars, on the streets,
in the theaters--everywhere are to be seen men and women--of the
_elite_--smoking.

The Mexicans make unsurpassed servants. Their thievery, which is a
historic complaint, must be confined to those in the suburbs, for those
in houses could not be more honest. There cleanliness is something
overwhelming, when one recalls the tales that have been told of the
filth of the "greasers." Early in the mornings the streets, walks in
the plaza, and pavements are swept as clean as anything can be, and
that with brooms not as good as those children play with in the States.
Put an American domestic and a Mexican servant together, even with
the difference in the working implements, and the American will "get
left" every time. But this cleanliness may be confined somewhat to
such work as sweeping and scrubbing; it does not certainly exist in
the preparation of food. Pulque, which is sucked from the mother plant
into a man's mouth and thence ejected into a water-jar, is brought to
town in pig-skins. The skins are filled, and then tied onto burros, or
sometimes--not frequently--carried in wagons, the filled skin rolling
from side to side. Never less than four filled skins are ever loaded
onto a burro; oftener eight and ten. The burros are never harnessed,
but go along in trains which often number fifty. Mexican politeness
extends even among the lowest classes. In all their dealings they are
as polite as a dancing master. The moment one is addressed off comes
his poor, old, ragged hat, and bare-headed he stands until you leave
him. They are not only polite to other people, but among themselves.
One poor, ragged woman was trying to sell a broken knife and rusty lock
at a pawnbroker's stand. "Will you buy?" she asked, plaintively. "No,
senora, _gracias_" (I thank you), was the polite reply.

The police are not to be excelled. When necessary to clear a hall of an
immense crowd, not a rough word is spoken. It is not: "Get out of this,
now;" "Get out of here," and rough and tumble, push and rush, as it is
in the States among the civilized people. With raised cap and low voice
the officer gently says in Spanish: "Gentlemen, it is not my will, but
it is time to close the door. Ladies, allow me the honor to accompany
you toward the door." In a very few moments the hall is empty, without
noise, without trouble, just with a few polite words, among people who
cannot read, who wear knives in their boots--if they have any--and
carry immense revolvers strung to their belts; people who have been
trained to enjoy the sight of blood, to be bloodthirsty. What a marked
contrast to the educated, cultured inhabitants of the States.

Beneath all this ignorance there is a heart, as sympathetic, in its
way, as that of any educated man. It is no unusual sight to see a
man walk along with a coffin on his head, from which is visible the
remains of some child. In an instant all the men in the gutters, on the
walks, or in the doorways, have their hats off, and remain bare-headed
until the sad procession is far away. The pall-bearer, if such he may
be called, dodges in and out among the carriages, burros and wagons,
which fill the street. The drivers lift their hats, but the silent
bearer--generally the father--moves along unmindful of all. Funeral
cars meet with the same respect.

In passing along where a new building was being erected, attention was
attracted to the body of a laborer who had fallen from the building.
A white cloth covered all of the body except his sandaled feet. "The
Virgin rest his soul;" "Virgin Mother grant him grace," were the
prayers of his kind as the policeman commanded his body to be carried
away. These little scenes prove they are not brutes, that they are a
little better than some intelligent people would have you believe.

The meat express does not, by any means, serve to make the meat, more
palatable. Generally an old mule or horse that has reached its second
childhood serves for the express. A long, iron rod, from which hooks
project, is fastened on the back of the beast by means of straps. The
meat is hung on these hooks, where it is exposed to the mud and dirt
of the streets as well as the hair of the animal. Men with two large
baskets, one in front, one behind, filled with the refuse of meat,
follow near by. If they wear trousers they have them rolled up high so
the blood from the dripping meat will not soil them, but run down their
bare legs and be absorbed in the sand. It is asserted that the poor do
not allow this mixture in the basket to go to waste, but are as glad to
get it as we are to get sirloin steak.

Men with cages of fowls, baskets of eggs and bushels of roots and
charcoal, come from the mountain in droves of from twenty-five to
fifty, carrying packs which average three hundred pounds.

One form of politeness here is, that when complimenting or observing
anything that belongs to a native, they will reply: "It is yours." That
it means nothing but politeness some are slow to learn. "My house is
yours; you have but to command me," said the hotel-keeper on the day
of our arrival; but he made no move to vacate. A "greeny" from the
States who was working for the Mexican Central tested some beer that
was on its way to the city. "That is good beer," he remarked to the
express man. "_Si, senor!_ It is yours," was the reply. Mr. Green was
elated, and trudged off home with the keg, much to the consternation
and distress of the poor express man, who was compelled to pay out of
his own purse for his politeness.

"You have very handsome coffins," was remarked to a man who, probably
judging from our looks since we had struck Mexican diet, thought he
had found a customer, and had insisted on showing every coffin in the
house, even to the handles, plates, and linings. "_Si, senorita,_ they
are yours." Thinking they would be an unwelcome elephant on our hands
we replied with thanks, and made our exit as quickly as possible. A
young Spanish gentleman who, doubtless, was employed by the express
company, said, after a few moments' conversation, "The express company
and myself are yours, _senorita."_ We confess to the stupidity of not
accepting the bonanza, with him included.

A peep into doorways shows the people at all manner of occupations.
Men always use the machines. Women and men put chairs together and
weave bottoms in them. They also make shoes, the finest and most
artistic shoe in the world, and the cobblers can make a good shoe out
of one that is so badly worn as to be useless to our grandmothers as a
rod of correction.

The water-carrier, _aguador,_ is one of the most common objects on
the street. They suspend water-jars from their heads, one in front,
one back. Around their bodies are leather aprons to protect them from
the water, which they get at big fountains and basins distributed
throughout the city.

As a people they do not seem malicious, quarrelsome, unkind or
evil-disposed. Drunkenness does not seem to be frequent, and the men,
in their uncouth way, are more thoughtful of the women than many who
belong to a higher class. The women, like other women, sometimes cry,
doubtless for very good cause, and then the men stop to console them,
patting them on the head, smoothing back their hair, gently wrapping
them tighter in their _rebozo_. Late one night, when the weather was
so cold, a young fellow sat on the curbstone and kept his arm around
a pretty young girl. He had taken off his ragged _serape_ and folded
it around her shoulders, and as the tears ran down her face and she
complained of the cold, he tried to comfort her, and that without a
complaint of his own condition, being clad only in muslin trowsers and
waist, which hung in shreds from his body.

Thus we leave the largest part of the population of Mexico. Their
condition is most touching. Homeless, poor, uncared for, untaught,
they live and they die. They are worse off by thousands of times than
were the slaves of the United States. Their lives are hopeless, and
they know it. That they are capable of learning is proven by their
work, and by their intelligence in other matters. They have a desire to
gain book knowledge, or at least so says a servant who was taken from
the streets, who now spends every nickel and every leisure moment in
trying to learn wisdom from books.



CHAPTER VI.


HOW SUNDAY IS CELEBRATED.


"A right good land to live in And a pleasant land to see."


Every day is Sunday, yet no day is Sunday, and Sunday is less Sunday
than any other day in the week. Still, the Mexican way of spending
Sunday is of interest to people of other climes and habits.

With the dawn of day people are to be seen wending their willing
footsteps toward their church. The bells chime with their musical clang
historic to Mexico, and men and women cross the threshold of churches
older than the United States. Pews are unknown, and on the bare floor
the millionaire is seen beside the poverty-stricken Indian; the
superbly clad lady side by side with an uncombed, half naked Mexican
woman. No distinction, no difference. There they kneel and offer their
prayers of penitence and thanks, unmindful of rank or condition.
No turning of heads to look at strange or gaze on new garments; no
dividing the poor from the rich, but all with uniform thought and
purpose go down on their knees to their God.

How a missionary, after one sight like this, can wish to convert them
into a faith where dress and money bring attention and front pews, and
where the dirty beggar is ousted by the janitor and indignantly scorned
down by those in affluence, is incomprehensible.

No Mexican lady thinks it proper to wear a hat into church. She thinks
it shows disgust; hence the fashion of wearing lace mantillas. In this
city of rights there is nothing handsomer than a lady neatly clad in
black with a mantilla gracefully wrapped around her head, under which
are visible coal-black hair, sparkling eyes, and beautiful teeth.

A ragged skirt, and _rebozo_ encircling a babe with its head on its
mother's shoulder, fast asleep; black, silky hair which trails on the
floor as she kneels, her wan, brown, pathetic face raised suppliantly
in devotion, is one of the prettiest, though most common, sights in
Mexico on Sunday morning.

This is the busiest day in the markets. Everything is booming, and the
people, even on their way to and from church, walk in and out around
the thousands of stalls, buying their marketing for dinner. Hucksters
cry out their wares, and all goes as merry as a birthday party.
Indians, from the mountains, are there in swarms with their marketing.
The majority of stores are open, and the "second-hand" stalls on the
cheap corner do the biggest business of the week.

Those who do not attend church find Mexico delightful on Sunday. In the
alameda (park) three military bands, stationed in different quarters,
play alternately all forenoon. The poor have a passion for music, and
they crowd the park. After one band has finished, they rush to the
stand of the next, where they stay until it has finished, and then move
to the next. Thus all morning they go around in a circle. The music,
of which the Mexican band was a sample, is superb; even the birds are
charmed. Sitting on the mammoth trees, which grace the alameda, they
add their little songs. All this, mingled with the many chimes which
ring every fifteen minutes, make the scene one that is never forgotten.
The rich people promenade around and enjoy themselves similar to the
poor.

In the Zocalo, a plazo at the head of the main street and facing the
palace and cathedral, the band plays in the evening; also on Tuesdays
and Thursdays.

Maximilian planned and had made a drive which led to his castle at
Chapultepec. It is 3750 feet long, wide enough to drive four, or even
six teams abreast. It is planted on the east side with two rows of
trees; one edging the drive, the other the walk, which is as wide as
many streets. The trees are now of immense size, rendering this drive
one of the handsomest, as well as most pleasant, in Mexico. Maximilian
called it the Boulevarde Emperiale; but when liberty was proclaimed the
name was changed to the Boulevarde of the Reform. On the same drive are
handsome; nay more, magnificent statues of Columbus, Quatemoc, and an
equestrian statue of Charles IV. of wonderful size, which has also been
pronounced perfect by good judges. A statue of Cortez is being erected.
This paseo is the fashionable promenade and drive from five to seven P.
M. every day, and specially on Sunday afternoon. The music stands are
occupied, and no vacant benches are to be found.

Those who call the Mexicans "greasers," and think them a dumb, ignorant
class, should see the paseo on Sunday: tally-ho coaches, elegant
dog-carts, English gigs, handsome coupes and carriages, drawn by the
finest studs, are a common sight. Pittsburg, on this line, is nowhere
in comparison. Cream horses, with silver manes and tails, like those so
valued in other cities, are a common kind here. The most fashionable
horse has mane and tail "bobbed." It might be added this style prevails
to a great, very great extent among all animals. Cats and dogs appear
minus ears and tails. Pets of every kind are much in demand. Ladies
carry lap dogs, and gentlemen have chained to them blooded, dogs of
mammoth size. The poor Mexican will have his tame birds; even roosters
are stylish pets. "Mary had a little lamb" is respected too much here
to be called "chestnut." The favorite pets of children are fleecy
lambs, which, with bells and ribbons about their necks, accompany the
children on their daily airing.

Mexico, while in the land of churches, would be rightly called the city
of high heels, hats, powder and canes. Every gentleman wears a silk hat
and swings a "nobby" cane. There are but two styles of hats--the tile
hat and the sombrero. Every woman powders--lays it on in chunks--and
wears the high heels known as the French opera heel. The style extends
even to the men. One of the easiest ways to distinguish foreigners from
natives is to look at their feet. The native has a neat shoe, with
heels from two inches up, while the foreigner has a broad shoe and
low heel. These people certainly possess the smallest hands and feet
of any nation in the world. Ladies wear fancy shoes entirely--beaded,
bronzed, colored leather, etc. A common, black leather shoe, such as
worn by women in the States, is an unsalable article. Yet it is nothing
strange to see a lady clad in silk or velvet, lift her dress to cross
a street or enter a carriage, and display a satin shoe of exquisite
make and above it the hosiery of Eve. In fact, very few women ever wear
stockings at all.

This city is a second Paris in the matter of dress among the _elite._
The styles and materials are badly Parisian, and Americans who come
here expecting to see poorly-dressed people are disappointed. Like
people in the sister Republic, the Mexicans judge persons by their
dress. It is the dress first and the man after.

On Sundays the streets and parks are thronged with men and women
selling ice cream, pulque, candies, cakes, and other dainties. They
carry their stock on their heads while moving, and when they stop they
set it on a tripod, which they carry in their arms.

The flower sellers are always women, some of whom look quite
picturesque in their gay-colored costumes. All the flowers are elegant,
and are arranged in bouquets to suit either ladies or gentlemen.

Bull fights take no little part in the Sunday list of amusements, where
the poor and rich mingle freely. Theaters have matinees and evening
performances, and everything takes on a holiday look, and everybody
appears happy and good-humored. This is nothing new in Mexico, however,
for the most unusual sight is a fight or quarrel. These are left to the
numerous dogs which belong to the city, and even they do little of it.

Riding horseback is a favorite pastime. Ladies only ride in the
forenoon, as custom prevents them from indulging in the saddle after
one o'clock. Gentlemen, however, ride mornings and evening. Among
them are to be found the most graceful and daring riders in the world.
Their outfits are gorgeous; true Mexican saddle trimmed with gold and
silver, graceful flaps of the finest fur on bridles finished with
numberless silver chains. The riders are superb in yellow goatskin
suits, ornamented with silver horse shoes, whips, spurs, etc., with
silver braid on the short coat. A handsome sombrero, finished in
silver, with silver monogram of the owner, revolvers, and proud,
fiery, high-stepping horse completed the picture. The ladies' habits
are similar to those now in the States, except the fine sombrero which
replaces the ugly, ungraceful high silk hats.

All day Sunday is like a pleasant Fourth of July, but after eight
o'clock the carriages become scarcer and scarcer, the people go to the
theaters and to their homes, the poor seek a soft flagstone, where they
repose for the night, and by nine o'clock the streets make one think of
a deserted city.

Mexicans do not go half way in the matter of style. At one o'clock
Sunday afternoons policemen in fancy uniforms, mounted on handsome
horses, equipped with guns and lassoes, ride down the Boulevard. They
are stationed in the center of the drive one hundred yards apart,
every alternate horse's head in the same direction. There they remain,
like statues, the entire afternoon. Sunday is a favorite day for
funerals and change of residence. Men with wardrobes, pianos, etc., on
their backs are seen trotting up and down the streets like our moving
wagons on the first day of April. They mean well by work on Sunday,
but it would appear awful to some of our good people at home. There
is this advantage, at least: they have something better to do than to
congregate in back-door saloons or loaf on the streets.



CHAPTER VII.


A HORSEBACK RIDE OVER HISTORIC GROUNDS.


A Sunday in Mexico is one long feast of champagne, without a headache
the next day. When the first streaks of dawn appear in the east
people bob out from this street and that, hostlers hurry horses off
to private residences, gay riders whirl by as if eager to catch the
shades of night as they are sinking in the west, and by 6:30 it looks
as if all Mexico was on horseback. Ladies wear beautiful costumes, dark
habits, short skirts, silver and gold buttons, and broad sombreros. Men
display greater variety of costumes: some wear yellow buckskin suits
trimmed with gold or silver, others have a drab skin suit artistically
trimmed, still others wear light cloth suits and high boots, buttoned
at the side, and reaching the knee. A belt holding a revolver, and a
Mexican saddle to which is fastened a sword complete this beautiful
riding suit. And then what riders! It is the poetry of motion; they are
as but part of the perfect horse they ride. Take the beautiful horses,
artistic outfit, grand eyes glancing at you from beneath a pretty
sombrero, and you have a Mexican scene which is irresistible. Even
Americans are a thousand times handsomer when they don this outfit,
and it is safe to wager that if the men in the States would adopt the
Mexican riding-suit, there would not be a single man left after a two
months' trial.

After searching the whole city over we at last found a woman we knew,
who owned a habit. "Certainly you may have it, with great pleasure,"
and we thought what an angel she was until the time we needed it, when
she sent a reply: "My riding-dress is, as I told you, at your service
any day in the week but Sunday. I am surprised that you find need of
it on that blessed day." That evening on going to a house for dinner
we found her there, dressed to the height of fashion, discussing the
people who had attended church in the morning and telling what a lovely
drive she had on the _paseo_ in the afternoon. She is a missionary.

However, as the sun was creeping up trying to catch night unawares, I
mounted a horse, clad in a unique and original costume, to say the very
least, which the gallant young men, however, pronounced odd and pretty,
and wanted to know if it was the style of the States. The boulevard of
the Reform looked as cool and sweet as a May morning in the country,
and finer than a circus parade with the hundreds of horsemen going
either way. "_Vamos?"_ (Let us go). "_Con mucho gusto"_ (with much
pleasure), was our reply, and away flew our willing steeds, bearing us
soon to the paradise of Mexico--Chapultepec.

Greeting the guards at the gate, we entered, riding under trees which
sheltered Montezuma and his people, Cortes and his soldiers, poor
Maximilian and Charlotta, where Mexican cadets laid down their lives
in defense of their country, where the last battle was fought with
the Americans, and where now is being prepared the future home of
President Diaz. Around the castle and through the grounds we at last
emerged at the opposite side. Here a scene worthy of an artist's brush
was found. In a small adobe house, faced in front by a porch, were
half-clad Mexicans dealing out coffee and pulque to the horsemen who
surrounded the place. One had even ridden into the house. Awaiting
our turn we viewed the scene. On our left were mounted and unmounted
uniformed soldiers guarding one of the gates to Chapultepec. At our
back were trains of loaded burros, about 200, on their way to market
in the city. They stood around and about the old aqueduct, the picture
of patience. Some few had lain down with their burdens and had to be
assisted to their feet by their masters. Numerous little charcoal
fires, above which were suspended pans and kettles, were being fanned
by enterprising peons, who had started this restaurant to make a
few pennies from their fellowmen. One fellow cut all kinds of meat,
on a flat stone, into little pieces, which he deposited together in
a kettle of boiling water, and picking them out again with a long
stick sold them, half-cooked, to the waiting people. Some women were
busily knitting, weaving baskets, etc., as they waited for this
dainty repast. At last our turn came, and we turned our back on the
outdoor restaurants while we endeavored to swallow a little bit of the
miserable stuff they called coffee. As we started we saw the people
adjust the burdens to their backs, take up their long walking-poles,
and start their burros toward the city. They had feasted and were now
ready to continue their journey.

Leaping a ditch we left the highway and traveled through the fields,
stopping to gather a few pepper berries with which to decorate
ourselves, admiring the many-colored birds flitting from tree to tree.
Another ditch, which the horses cleared beautifully, was left behind,
and we were once again on a highway, with dust about a foot deep,
which made horses cough as well as their riders. "This is bad," one
of the gentlemen managed to say at last. We were only able to give a
sympathetic grunt and then had to gasp fifteen minutes before we could
regain our breath. "There is a hacienda near where we will get a drink
and change roads. Vamos." Off we went, leaving the dust behind, and
were soon in the shaded drive leading to the hacienda.

Here, at Huischal, we soon forgot the scorching sun and blinding dust
and gave ourselves up to the pleasure of the moment, watching the ever
picturesque people gathered in groups beneath the shade. Under the
trees were droves of horses, which were taken two by two, and led into
a large walled pond. A peon walked on the wall, holding the bridle of
the tethered horses, who swam from one end to the other, covered all
but the head. After the bath the horses were rubbed well until they
glistened like satin.

Climbing the hill we passed all kinds of Indians and huts. There were
homes built entirely of the maguey plant, where straw mats served for
beds. The people were all awake and engaged in various occupations;
some women were washing, some were making their toilet--combing their
hair with the same kind of brush they scrub with, and washing their
bodies with a porous soapstone common to the country. Very few of the
children had any clothing at all, but happiness reigned supreme. We
passed several plain wooden crosses with inscriptions on them, asking
travelers to pray for the deceased's soul. It brought forcibly to mind
Byron's "Childe Harold."

Quite on the top of the hill, and facing Chapultepec, gleams a marble
monument erected in honor of the Mexicans killed while defending Casa
de Mata (the house of the dead) and El Molino del Rey (the mill of the
king). The Americans discovered, while encamped near here, that cannon,
etc., were being manufactured at El Molino, so they decided to storm
the place; they found the work more difficult than they expected. The
Mexicans were fighting for a country they loved, and for which they had
been compelled to fight for generations. Their walls were strong, but
at last they gave way before the heavy artillery of the Americans, and
their dead covered the battlefield. Casa de Mata is now a garrison, and
the soldiers march back and forth with sad faces. El Molino del Rey now
furnishes flour for the city. It shows no trace of the assault. Near by
is a foundry for the manufacture of guns and munitions.

The city of the dead, Dolores, lies to the back of the mill. Funeral
cars and draped street cars were just returning from the cemetery, and
as the people are not allowed to ride or drive along this carway, we
crossed into a plantation of pulque plant. It is a resentful thing,
and a whole army in itself. It ran its sharp prongs into the legs of
the men, endeavored to pull the skirts off the women, and played spurs
on the horses; but we finally emerged at the entrance of the cemetery,
alive, but wiser from our experience.

Mexican cemeteries have a certain peculiar beauty, and yet they are
ugly. No one is allowed to ride or drive through; coffins are carried
in and everybody is compelled to walk. Beautiful trees are cultivated,
even the apple and the peach being reared for ornament. The walks
are laid out nicely. Spruce trees are trained to form an arbor for
long distances. Where they are divided or meet another walk, flowing
fountains with large basins and statues grace the spot. One statue,
which looked rather singular, was apparently carved out of wood. It
represented a man with flowing locks and beard, clad in a long gown and
holding in one hand a round ball. Time had its hand on heavily, and the
wood was seamed and browned. Altogether it was a disreputable-looking
thing. The keeper said it represented Christ with the world in
his hand. Not a sprig of grass is permitted to grow in any of the
graveyards, and they are swept as clean as our grandmother's backyard
used to be.

Men were busy digging graves, and new ones were completely hidden by
fresh flowers, and the flowers on others were withered and dead, as
if the one so lately buried was already forgotten. The monuments are
quite fine. Some have little altars on which candles are lighted on
certain days. The prevailing style of marble shaft is coffin shaped.
Some graves have miniature summer-houses built over them, the framework
covered with Spanish moss. The effect is beautiful. The poor have
only black and white wooden crosses to mark their ashes. One family
had built a cave, formed of volcanic stone, over the grave, the effect
being quite pretty and unique.

After partaking of refreshments at a long, low building, just outside
the cemetery gate, we rode across the country and into Tacubaya, an
ancient city once the home of Montezuma's favorite chief, where the
American soldiers were encamped, now the home of Mexican millionaires,
the site of the feast of the gamblers, and the prettiest village in
Mexico. The gambling feast has ended and the town has been restored to
its usual quietness. In the center plaza a band was holding forth, as
is the custom in every Mexican village on Sunday mornings. People had
gathered in sun and shade listening. The markets were in full blast;
the thousands of luscious fruits looking fresh and inviting as they
were spread on the ground awaiting buyers. The native ware was so
peculiar and the "merchant"--half-dressed, brown and pleasant--was more
than we could resist, so buying two small cream jugs, made after the
style in vogue fifty years ago, we paid him two reals (fifty cents) and
departed, leaving him happy.

Once again the willing horses climbed the hill, and reaching the summit
we inspected the waterworks which have so faithfully supplied the
city for years. A weather-beaten frame house hid the well or spring
that has given such a generous supply. A wooden wheel as large as the
house itself, moved slowly, as if age and rheumatism had stiffened its
joints. The water flowed gently through an open trench into another
building, whence it rushed, white, foaming and sparkling, into the
ground, leaving only high brick air-pipes to mark its course to the
aqueduct.

By the side of the trench a woman was doing her washing, and two little
lads, with poles across their shoulders and buckets suspended from
either end, were carrying water to the houses down in the valley. An
old cow with curly horns gazed at us in astonishment as we invaded her
private meadow to get a view of a paper mill, which is built in the
shape of an old English castle, down in a deep ravine in a nest of
lovely green trees. The old cow had evidently come to the conclusion,
after deliberate reasoning, that we were intruding, and she charged
our horses in a first-class "toro" style. There were no _capeadores_
to attract her attention, no _bourladeras_ for us to hide behind, so
we thought it best to fly, which we did with a Maud S speed. I did not
mention I had lost my hat in the retreat until we were over the trench,
and one of the young men gallantly started to recover it, against the
protestations of the entire crowd. We expected to see him killed, but
the cow stood watching him as he dismounted for the feminine headgear,
gesticulating with head and tail and beating the earth with her fore
legs. Remounting, he saluted her, then putting spurs to his horse he
cleared the ditch, leaving the baffled and angry cow on the other side.

La Castaneda, the great pleasure-garden of the Mexicans, was next
visited. Beautiful flowers, shrubbery and marble statues grace the
well-kept resort. Neat little benches, cunning little vine-draped
nooks, sprinkling-fountains, secluded dancing-stands, deep
bathing-basins, are a few of the many attractions. Shaded walks and
twisting stairways would always bring us to some new beauty. Music
and dancing are always held here every afternoon, and although it was
nearly noon they had not even so much as a cracker in the house. In
Mexico nothing in the line of edibles is kept in the house overnight.

At Mixcoac we visited the famous flower gardens, and viewed the site
where the American soldiers were garrisoned during the war. The
Mexicans have found a new thing--a pun, and they are enjoying it
heartily. It is not very brilliant or very funny, but it is traveling
over the city, and every person has to repeat it to you. An American
wanted to see Mixcoac--pronounced "Mis-quack." The conductor failed to
let him out at the place, and turning to the Mexicans he said: "We have
mis-t-quack." But it was funnier still to an American who was being
showed around by a Mexican who spoke very little English. "I will take
you to see Mis-quack," said the Mexican. The American expressed his
pleasure and willingness. "This is all Mis-quack," said the Mexican,
pointing around the entire town. "Indeed," ejaculated the astonished
tourist; "Miss Quack must be very wealthy."

Down the dusty road we came, passing natives shooting the pretty birds
just for the fun of the thing. All other riders had disappeared, and
people looked at us from beneath the shade in amazement, and even we
felt a little tired and heated after a thirty-mile ride. We reached
home at one o'clock. Since then I have been wearing blisters on my
cheeks and nose, and making frequent applications with the powder rag
of the literary widow and old-maid artist who room across the way.



CHAPTER VIII.


A MEXICAN BULL-FIGHT.


Mexicans are always mauana until it comes to bull-fights and love
affairs. To know a Mexican in daily life is to witness his courtesy,
his politeness, gentleness; and then see him at a bull-fight, and he
is hardly recognizable. He is literally transformed. His gentleness
and "mauana" have disappeared; his eyes flash, his cheeks flush--in
fact, he is the picture of "diabolic animation." It is all "hoy" to-day
with him. Even the Spanish lady of ease and high heels forgets her
mannerisms and appears like some painted heathen jubilant over the
roasting of a zealous missionary.

There have been some very good bull-fights lately in the suburbs, for
fighting is prohibited within a certain distance of the city. When they
say a good bull-fight, it means that the bulls have been ferocious and
many horses and men have been killed.

It is safe to say that the majority of Americans who visit Mexico do
like the natives, even on the first Sunday; attend divine service in
the morning, a bull-fight in the afternoon and theater in the evening.
But it is with regret that I say that many Americans who are residents
of the city now are as passionately fond of the national inhuman sport
as a native who has been reared up to it. Some never miss a fight, and
their American voice outstrips the Mexican in the shouts of "bravo"
at the bloody thrusts. Yet there are tourists who cannot outsit one
performance, and have no desire to attend a second. While we Americans
cry "brutal" against the national amusement, they in return cry
"brutal" to our prize-fights, in which they see nothing to admire, and
a dog-fight is beneath their contempt.

"Your humane societies would prevent bull-fights in the States," said
a Spanish gentleman; "your people would cry out against them. Yet they
have strong men trying to pound one another to death, and the people
clamor for admission to see the law kill men and women, while in health
and youth, because of some deed done in the flesh. Yes, they witness
and allow such inhuman treatment to a fellow mortal and turn around and
affect holy horror at us for taking out of the world a few old horses
and furnishing beef for the poor."

Read of glorious bull-fights and then witness one, and the scene is
entirely changed. The day of their glory has departed. When Maximilian
graced the country with his presence the fights were indeed fitted for
royal sight. The costumes were of the costliest material; the horses
were of the best blood and breed, and the bulls regular roaring Texans,
which needed no second sight of a red _capa_ to raise their feverish
ire. No fight cost less than $5,000.

Now all is different. Maximilian lies in a grave to which a treacherous
bullet consigned him; Carlotta, still what that bullet made her, a
raving lunatic and a widow. Men of low degree are permitted to grace
the fights, which are but miserable shadows, a farce of the former
royal days.

The National--a narrow gauge--and the Mexican Central, run special
trains consisting of twenty and twenty-five cars, first, second, and
third-class, to the fights every half hour. Tickets are sold during
the week, which include railroad fare, admission to grounds and seat.
Long before the time for leaving, carriages pull up to the stations
and blooming senoras, fair senoritas, handsome senors and delicate,
lovely children, dressed in the height of wealth and fashion, enter
the railway coach and proceed to make themselves comfortable for the
half hour or hour's ride which is to bring them to their destination.
Bands march up and are disposed of in the coaches, and last comes a
troop of soldiers, clad in buckskin suits, elaborately trimmed with
silver ornaments, yard wide sombreros, and armed with gun, revolver,
sword, dagger, mace, and lasso, which they have no hesitation in using
in quite a characteristic manner, asking no questions, expecting no
information, performing their duties fatally.

They are the "daisies" of Mexico, and in appreciation of which they are
sent to grace every bull fight! They are the best paid soldiers in the
Republic, receiving $1 a day, while the highest salary paid to any of
the others is twenty-five cents daily, out of which they provide their
own wearing apparel and food. The same "daisies" were all outlaws,
bandits, fierce and uncontrollable. Their many deeds, always done in
the name of the law, are fearful to relate, so the present president
thought it policy to engage their services. They ride handsome horses,
furnished by the government, and are said to be the most faithful,
reliable men in the employ of the Republic. Their only fault is killing
without asking questions, for which they go scot-free without even so
much as a rebuke. The "daisies" have some of the finest specimens of
manhood in Mexico, and number in their list some handsome, open-faced,
youthful boys. They can maintain order among 6,000 people filled with
pulque without uttering one word. Their presence is sufficient.

On speeds the train. Above the din arises the musical sound of a
strange language. A view from the window exhibits some of Mexico's most
beautiful scenery. Now we pass beautiful farms, magnificent artificial
lakes covered with wild duck, which would delight the heart of our
American hunters, as they arise in dark clouds on the approach of the
train, and move off to a more secluded spot; beautiful fields of grain,
and acres and acres of pulque plant, quaint huts, picturesque, historic
churches, ancient monastries and convents, now used for other purposes,
all surrounded by snow-capped mountains. For miles we keep our eyes on
the strangest and grandest mountain in Mexico, the White Lady, or the
Sleeping Virgin. It deserves chapters of description and praise, but
feeling our inability to do it justice we shall confine ourselves to a
brief remark.

Outlined against a blue sky, only such skies as are habitual to Italy
and Mexico, is a snow-topped mountain in form of a woman lying on a
straight cot; on the head is a snow band, such as worn by Sisters of
Mercy. The arms are folded peacefully on the breast, and the snow
garments fall in graceful folds over the feet. There she lies and
has lain for centuries in perfect outline and peaceful repose. Even
as we look the clouds play fantastically about the beauteous form.
Now they cover her body like a dark shroud. Again they drape her
cot like a pall, then rise in a threatening attitude above her fair
head, but undisturbed she lies there with hands ever folded above the
quiet heart, proudly indifferent to storm or shine, clad in her pure
snowy garments, truly the most beauteous sight in Mexico. With a sigh
we at last leave her behind and are rudely brought to earth by the
announcement that we have reached our destination.

The bull ring resembles somewhat a racecourse; the highest row is
covered and called boxes. They are divided into small squares, which
are meant to hold six but are crowded with four. Miserable chairs
without backs are the comfortable seats. Below is the amphitheater,
arranged exactly like circus seats. Different prices are charged and
the cheapest is the sunny side, where all the poor sit. A fence painted
in the national colors--red, green and white--of some six feet in
height, incloses the ring. Three band-stands, equal distances apart,
are filled with brilliantly uniformed musicians.

The judge is appointed by the municipality, but the fighters have a
right to refuse to fight under one judge whom they think will compel
them to take unnecessary risks with a treacherous bull, for a judge
once chosen his commands are law, and no excuse will be accepted for
not obeying, but a fine deducted from the fighter's salary, and he
loses cast with the audience. The judge is in a box in the center of
the shady side; with him is some prominent man, for every fight must be
honored with the presence of some "high-toned" individual, while behind
stands the bugler, a small boy in gay uniform, with a bugle slung to
his side, by which he conveys the judge's whispered commands to the
fighters in the ring.

Below the judge hangs a row of banderillas. They are wooden sticks
about two feet long with a barbed spear of steel in the end, which
are stuck in the bull to gore him to madness. They are always gayly
decorated with tinsel and gaudy streamers of the national colors.
Sometimes firecrackers are ingeniously inserted, which go off when the
banderilla is deftly fastened in the beast's quivering flesh.

The bands play alternately lively airs, the audience for once find no
charms in the music and forget to murmur mauana, but soon begin to cry
"El toro! El toro!" (The bull! the bull!)

The judge nods to the bugler, and as he trumpets forth the gate is
swung open and the grand entry is made. First comes "El Capitan" or
matador, chief of the ring, and the men who kill the bull with a sword.
Next eight capeadores, whose duty consists in maddening the bull and
urging it to fight by flinging gay-colored _capas_ or capes in its
face. Two picadores, who are armed with long poles, called picas, in
the end of which are sharp steel spears which they fight the bull
with. After come the lazadores, dressed in buckskin suits, elaborately
trimmed with silver ornaments and broad, expensive sombreros. They ride
fine horses, and do some very pretty work at lassoing. Three mules
abreast, with gay plumes in their heads, and a man with a monstrous
wheelbarrow of ancient make, close up the rear. All range before the
judge and make a profound bow, after which the mules and wheelbarrow
disappear.

The dresses of the fighters are very gorgeous: satin knee-breeches and
sack coat of beautiful colors, and highly ornamented, beaded, etc. On
the arm is carried the _capa,_ a satin cape, the color of the suits,
and little rough caps, tied under the chin, grace the head. At the back
of the head is fastened false hair, like a Chinaman's, familiarly known
as "pig tail." Two gayly painted clowns, who, unlike those in the
States, never have anything to say, are always necessary to complete
the company in the ring.

Again the bugle sounds, the band strikes out in all its might, the
people rise to their feet and cry "_El toro,"_ the fighters form a
semicircle around a door, el capitan draws a bolt, flings it open, and
as the bull springs forth from his dark and narrow cell a man perched
above sticks two _banderillas_ into his neck to madden him. With a
snort of rage he rushes for the _capas._ As they are flirted before his
eyes, he tramples them under his hoofs, and the _capeadores_ escape
behind the _bourladera,_ a partition six feet wide, placed in the arena
at four places equally distant.

At the trumpet sound a banderilla runs out waving the banderillas above
his head. He faces the maddened bull with a calm smile. The bull paws
the ground, lowers his head, and with a bellow of rage makes for his
victim. Your eyes are glued to the spot.

It is so silent you can hear your heart throb. There can be no possible
escape for the man. But just as you think the bull will lift him on his
horns you see the two banderillas stuck one in either side of the neck,
and the man springs safely over the lowered head and murderous horns
of the infuriated animal, as it rushes forward to find the victim has
escaped. The audience shout "bravo," and wave their serapes, sombreros
and clap their hands. The bull roars with pain, and the banderillas
toss about in the lacerated flesh, from which the blood pours in
crimson streams. "Poor beast! what a shame," we think, and even then
the order is given for the picador to attack the bull.

The horse on which the picador is mounted is bought only to be killed.
It is an old beast whose days of beauty and usefulness are over; $2 or
$4 buys him for the purpose. Sometimes he is hardly able to walk into
the ring. First the brute is blindfolded with a leather band, and a
leather apron is fastened around his neck in pretense of saving him
from being gored.

The picador guides the blinded horse to face the bull. _Capas_ are
flung before the bull tauntingly. The picador dives the pica into the
beast and it vents its pain on the horse. Blood pours from the wound;
trembling the horse stands, unable to see what has wounded it. Again,
they coax the bull to charge, and place the horse so that the murderous
horns will disembowel it. Down goes the blinded beast, and the
capeadores flaunt their _capas_ at the bull while the picadore gets off
the dying animal, which is lassoed and dragged from the ring. Another
horse is brought in, and the same work is gone over until the horse is
killed.

Every bull is allowed to kill two horses, and then the people shout
_"Muerie! muerie!"_ (Kill the bull.) The judge gives the command and
the matador bows to the judge, and then teases the bull with his red
_capa._ The laws prohibit a fighter to strike a bull until it first
charges, and the bull has the chance of three charges at the matador
before he dares to strike. The bull never appears to see the man by his
side, but furiously fights the red _capa_ held before him. _El capitan_
then plunges the sword into the neck between the shoulders and through
to the heart, if deftly done, after which the bull staggers, protrudes
its tongue, tries to find a door for escape, stumbles and dies. Again
the people shout, and the matador, as he makes his bow to the judge,
is thrown money, cigars, fruit, flowers and other favors. Men fling in
their $50 and $100 _sombreros,_ and consider it a great honor when he
picks them up and tosses them back. During all this the three mules are
brought in. At the sight of the dead bull they plunge and tear, but are
finally hitched to it. The clowns jump on the dead beast, and it is
hauled from the ring.

When the bull is tame and, though tortured on all sides, still refuses
to gore the horse, the people hiss and shout "_lazadore_," until the
judge gives the command for the brute, that is more humane than its
tormentors, to be removed and replaced by one that will sate their
feverish desire for blood. Now is the time for the _lazadores_ to
get in some pretty work. The space is small and cramped, but with a
deftness that is bewildering they throw the loop over the horns. The
knowing horse dodges, the bull loses his balance and the horse gives
a sudden jerk, throwing the bull on the ground. He is then allowed
to arise and is started around the ring at a merry gallop, while the
second _lazadore_ exhibits great skill in lassoing the feet, front and
back, of the running beast.

The bull, after being thrown, realizes he is at their mercy, and lies
passive or trembling with fear and pain, while the brutal clowns
spring astride the prostrated beast, and with no gentle hand tear the
banderillas from the quivering flesh, which, still warm and dripping
with blood, are sold as trophies at one and two dollars each. Then the
butcher steps forth and with a sharp knife cuts the spinal cord, and
the beast is done for. When a bull refuses to fight before he is cut,
except for wounds from the pica and banderillas, the people cry in
Spanish, "He is a weak woman," until the judge orders his removal. It
is difficult work, and affords much fun for the Mexicans, for the bull
must be forced back into the dark cell whence he came.

One fight consists of four bulls and as many old horses as they can be
compelled to kill. A bull is not considered much unless he can kill,
at the very least, two horses. The poor horses are very seldom killed
instantly. When wounded so that it is impossible for them to walk, they
are dragged from the ring and left in a vacant field, where they die
that night or the following day, as the Mexicans do not consider them
worth a bullet. The bull finds more mercy. If not killed outright by
the matador, a butcher finishes the work, and ends the misery. When
stabbed fatally he often staggers along the fence, as though in hopes
of finding an exit. The cruel spectators are not satisfied that he is
dying, and allow him some little mercy, but stab his wounded flesh,
tear open his death wound, twist his tail, do all in their power to
enhance his sufferings until he falls dead. One would suppose the
heated, tortured, wounded beef would be of no account, but such is
not the case. Before many hours, after taken from the scene of its
death, the beef is being sold to the people, who buy it without the
least hesitancy or disgust, even boasting that they eat of the bull
that killed so many horses, and if it happened to kill a man it is
considered an honor to eat of it. This makes an American want little
beef, and that little covered with red pepper to kill the taste. When
seated opposite the entrance gate one has full view of the butcher at
work. The hide is taken off the toro immediately, and it is dissected.
Then they commence on the horses, but they claim the horses' flesh is
not sold for beef.

At some fights the spectators are favored with a performer, who allows
the maddened toro to attack him, when, by the aid of a long pole, he
jumps clear over it. This is a dangerous and, many times, a fatal leap,
but is a favorite sight of the people.

After the fight comes the _toro embolado._ A bull with balls on its
horns is led in. All the paid fighters leave the ring and any one
among the spectators who has a desire to try the sport can do so. The
number is not few, and the sight is really funny. They wave their
_serapes_ at the bull, who, in return, often tosses them on his horns.
The _lazadores_ prevent him from trampling them, and it is very seldom
anyone is killed, though broken arms and ribs are no unusual thing.
This is the proudest day of the Mexican's life when he gains access to
the bull ring and can exhibit to people his activity and daring.

The most risky amateur is then given a position as fighter, a position
he considers greater than the presidency of the United States, and for
which he would not exchange.

The government charges a license of $250 for each fight. If the bulls
are tame the show is fined for giving a poor performance and swindling
the people. The _matador,_ El Capitan, whose duty it is to strike the
bull's heart with a sword, gets the highest salary, as much as $200 a
performance; the other fighters receive from $10 to $100.

Sometimes a fight is given for charitable purposes. Young girls
dressed like brides in white satin, veil and satin shoes, do all the
directing, and young men of position and birth are the fighters.

It is to be supposed that when a man is killed in the ring the fight
would stop, but that only seems to whet their desire for more blood,
and a dead man is pulled off the field and another takes his place amid
increased enthusiasm. At a fight two weeks ago one man was gored almost
to death, another had his arm broken, and a woman, who had witnessed
this from her seat, entered the ring and tried to kill the bull. She
was caught on its horns and carried once around the ring and whirled
around in her perilous position like a top. The audience shouted and
was much disappointed when the bull cast the woman to the ground,
devoid of clothing and badly bruised, but alive. At another fight three
men were killed. Both times the spectators could hardly be forced to
leave at the end of the performance. It is safe to assert that that
beef sold at a high price.

Bernardo Javino, the man who was gored almost to death two weeks ago,
has quite a history. He came from Spain fifty-one years ago, and is
eighty-two years old, the oldest fighter in Mexico, and the most
famous. He has fought in every bull ring in the Republic, and has
killed four thousand bulls. Senor Javino is a well-built, fine-looking
fellow, and though but lacking eighteen years of one hundred is as
strong as a man of thirty-five. He is a great favorite, and has
received numerous and costly presents, among which he numbers one
thousand fine bulls. But he is to-day very poor, and has only his
salary. He is unmarried. Though the idol and favorite of the people,
they shouted with joy when they saw him being gored. The bull caught
him in the small of the back, and though making only one wound outside
made five inside. He was carried off for dead, but though having a
wound that would have finished any other man, he is still living, and
asserts he will repay many bulls yet for his sufferings. The bull that
had the honor to nearly finish the old warrior, killed three horses,
broke the man's arm, and almost finished the woman.

Senor Javino has a nephew, Juan Moreno, who gives promise of being the
best fighter, after his uncle, in the Republic. He is a six-footer of
magnificent build, with a handsome face, fair complexion, with brown
hair, resembling a handsome American boy, in honor of which the
Mexicans have named him El Americano (the American). Their shouts are
long and loud for El Americano, and presents are showered down on him.
He can accomplish the daring feat of striking the bull's heart with one
thrust of the sword, which he withdraws instantly. This is considered
scientific, for when the sword strikes the heart it is very difficult
to withdraw, and is most always left sticking in until the bull dies.
In the frontier the horns are sawed off the bulls before they go in the
ring, in order to make the fight fierce and bloodier. It is said they
are trying to stop this cruel torture.

The fight being finished the bands depart and the people make their
way to the train with reluctance, where venders earn a mint of money
by stilling them pulque and a mixture of crushed corn and red pepper,
done up in corn husks, which is eaten with a relish. After this Mexican
feast is finished the train pulls out, everybody, men, women, and
children, light their cigarettes, and between puffs they discuss the
merits and demerits of the fight. The homeward trip is a very joyous
one, so much so that "the daisy policemen" are often called on to exert
their influence in quieting the mirth.



CHAPTER IX.


THE MUSEUM AND ITS CURIOSITIES.


The first place tourists go on reaching Mexico is to the post-office.
All one has to do when desiring to know what the latest incoming party
looks like, is to take a position near the post-office. They stroll up
the street, generally "goose fashion," stopping now and again to gaze
at some prostrated pulque drinker; a wardrobe moving up the street on
a pair of bare legs--_i. e.,_ a woman with a half-dozen babies tied
to her; an old cripple sitting on the walk selling taffy, or a blind
man selling lottery tickets. Amid all this they manage at last to
get into the office, and we see them emerge, a half-hour later, with
funeral-like faces, and woman-like tongues giving their opinions of the
officials who do not understand bad Spanish, not to mention English,
and of the mails which take three days and the same number of nights to
come from the nearest point of the States, El Paso.

For the want of something better to do we will follow them to the next
point of interest--the museum--which is in the same building, several
doors above the post-office. It is not the kind of a museum where you
have a two-cent show for a ten-cent silver piece, but it is a place
that any city might be proud of. At the top of the stairs, for the
museum is on the second floor, are several large paintings of religious
subjects and an immense mirror with a fine frame, which was stolen from
some cathedral during one of the many revolutions of Mexico.

The first room contains a life-size portrait of Maximilian, seated
on a beautiful white steed. Around are Mexicans gazing at him with
admiration and awe. Maximilian is a handsome man, and the picture is
said to be the finest of Maximilian in existence. If so, he was indeed,
by virtue of looks, worthy to be an emperor.

In the center of the room on a table is the silver service, composed of
one hundred and seventy-six pieces, used by Maximilian and Carlotta.
Each piece bears the arms of the empire and the mark of the factory
"Cristofle." It is massive and elegant; little silver cupids with
wreaths of flowers are placed in every available spot. Many of the
pieces are a load for two men. A bronze bust, life size, of Maximilian,
has decorations and ten halberds, silver-mounted with blue and gold
trimmings, ordered by the emperor to be used by the Palace Guard on
state occasions, are all placed side by side. In a case in the same
room are a number of loose pieces of armor worn by the conquerors.
Two pieces, a breast plate and helmet, have the name of "Pedro de
Alvarado," the Spanish captain who made the world-famous leap near
Noche Triste.

Portraits of sixty-two Spanish Viceroys line the room. They were
removed from the national palace here, on the establishment of the
independence of the Republic. The frames are of black wood and the
paintings are old style. It may have been the fashion in the day of
white queues to always have one "off" eye, for one eye in nearly all
the pictures goes a different direction from its mate, and in many
instances the "off" eye is as roguish as a little brother, making
you imagine the old rascals are going to wink, while the opposite
orb gazes out in saint-like expression. The effect is ludicrous. The
glass-ware of the Emperor Iturbide, containing excellent portraits
of himself and Chapultepec Castle, is also shown in this room. In the
next room, in a glass case, lying on a red satin, gold covered pillow,
is a plaster paris cast of the face of Juarez, the much beloved Indian
President; hairs of his head are still adhering to the plaster, and it
is certainly the finest thing of the kind ever executed.

The portraits of Fernando Cortes Agustin de Iturbide, Emperor I.,
Ignacio Allende, one of the earliest patriots of Mexico, the great
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and Don Vicente Guerrers, who was the third
President of the Republic, are here, to say nothing of other things of
historic value, such as the arms of the Mexican Republic made in 1829,
surrounded with Indian mosaic feather work; an old, worn damask banner
used by Cortes in his second expedition against the great Montezuma,
and the arms of the city of Texcoco, presented by Charles V., of
Germany, and Charles I., of Spain.

The little idols perhaps attract more attention than anything else at
the museum. In two long rooms the cases lining the walls are filled
with idols of all sizes and shapes, made of stone onyx and marble.
Some of the pottery is horribly exquisite. Beads used by the Indians,
made of stones, teeth and bones, are numerous. The large objects on
the pedestals come in for a share of wonder. They are adorned with
names of wondrous length and non-pronounceable, and stories of horror.
Izcozauhqui (the Fire of the Sun) is in ugly red and yellow clay;
Huitzilopoxtli (the God of War), a black clay image, equally ugly.
A clay urn with carved faces, flowers and fruits on the outside, is
called the "Funeral Urn." The "Goddess of Death" is an image some
fifty inches in height, with large round eyes formed of bone, and
outstretched hands of the same material. Her skirts are formed of
serpents and her head is a skull. Large brown earthen jars, said
once to have held sacred fires, are among the collection. It may be
historically correct and all the horrible tales connected with these
things true, but the more one looks the less probable it seems, and
after all they may have been innocent statues and flower vases used
by this people in former days. It is just as likely, and easier to be
believed, for how can it be asserted, when they are unearthed after
centuries, that they were used for any special purpose. Of course the
more sensational the story the better for print, but it is much easier
to believe they were only harmless objects in some park or flower
garden.

History tells us the Aztecs knew no alphabet, and used in place certain
signs or figures for every subject--history, religion, feasts, wars,
famines, and even poetry. The art of writing in this manner was taught
by the priests, and handed down from father to son. Painters had to
be frequently called to decipher the documents, and were treated with
the highest consideration by the nobility. The manuscript employed was
made of maguey and other plants and of skins. The Spanish destroyed the
majority of these manuscripts, which would have been of great value if
preserved. A few are now in the museum. From an artistic point of view
they are horrid.

The colors they used in painting are nearly always indelible and
very bright. One of the paintings shows a snow-capped mountain.
Popocatepetl, and to the left the City of Mexico, entirely surrounded
by water. A fifty foot maguey paper painted in black, contains the
history of the Aztecs. How they left an island which held a temple and
came to Mexico, establishing the city, with all the principal events
which befell them in their wanderings. The battle of Noche Triste and
the advent of the Spanish, are carefully portrayed. This is one of the
famous picture writings, which are too tiresome to enumerate further.

The feather shield which belonged to Montezuma II., is in a frame
in the same room with the picture writing. It is an old, worn-out,
faded thing, and hangs too far away to be seen well. It was among
the curiosities given by Cortes to the Emperor Charles V. He in
turn presented it to the Museum of Vienna, where it remained until
Maximilian restored it to Mexico.

One room is devoted to the display of Mexican marbles, stones, ores,
etc. Another has petrified snakes, wood, human and animal bones. Cow
horns measuring seven feet from tip to tip were excavated somewhere
near Mexico. Elephant jaws and tusks which treble the size of those
sported by the late lamented Jumbo are also from the historic,
mysterious earth of Mexico. Among the many other things were noticed
human bones protruding through a rock, and a turtle's shell which, if
opened, would make a carpet for a grand salon.

Snakes, lizards, fish and crabs of all kinds fill one good sized room,
divided in the center by stuffed alligators, swordfish, crocodiles and
boa constrictors. This opens into another department, and here you meet
the Mexican dudes occasionally. There are few collections of birds to
equal this. Added to their own numerous beautiful and rare birds are
specimens from all parts of the world. The work is especially fine, and
the birds and fowls appear as if in life. One thing to be regretted is
they have no butterflies. In all the museum they have but one small
case, and they are the beauties which come from Brazil. The collection
of beetles is somewhat larger, but still is nothing remarkable.

Monstrosities are quite plenty. One little calf has one head, one large
eye in the center of its forehead, and two perfect bodies. Another has
one perfect body and two heads. Two pheasants are fastened together
like the Siamese twins. Dogs, cats, chickens, and even babies come in
for their share of doubling up into all kinds of queer shapes. Monkeys,
baboons, gorillas and a dilapidated elephant and giraffe finish this
interesting quarter.

The court of the museum is planted with beautiful flowers and trees.
Large idols were once standing there, but they have been moved inside
of the building opposite the entrance. The idols can lay no claim to
beauty, and are anything but interesting, except to people who have a
wonderful amount of faith and a capacity to believe a fellow-creature's
wild imagination. Scientific gentlemen with long faces and one
eye-glass gaze at the images and translate, or at least pretend to,
the hieroglyphics which cover them. We would not think for a moment of
putting an opinion against one held by wise men since the time of the
Conquest, and we would not like to say Bernal Diaz had an object in
making the Indians as black as possible, but we would like to gently
hint our little observations.

The sacrificial stone, where they claim fifty thousand people have been
sacrificed, looks little as if intended for that bloody purpose. The
stone is perfectly round, between four and six feet across and about
two feet in thickness. On the upper side is sculptured the image of the
sun or moon and on the sides are groups of men, fifteen in number, and
fifteen separate groups. Certain hieroglyphics accompany each group.
The work is fine, and must have been done with great care and patience
by a master hand. Marring the top is a rudely cut hole with a shallow
groove running to the edge. If these people were making a sacrificial
stone would they have cut fine figures, requiring care and time, and
then spoil them by cutting out a big hole? Would not the basin have
been cut out finely and the carvings made to fit? I may be lacking in
knowledge and faith, but I have tried to believe, have gazed on the
stone with the thought, "History says the blood of fifty thousand human
beings has dripped down over that stone," but proofs assert themselves,
and the poor scandalized thing seems to hold up every side and the ugly
marring of its beauty, and reply, "Now, do I look as if I was made for
that purpose?"

Though believing it was nothing more than an innocent Aztec calendar,
we will repeat the sensational legend that covers it with a bloody
cloak. There existed an Aztec order which worshiped the sun, and on
this stone they sacrificed human beings, calling them the "messenger to
the sun." The "messenger," who was always a prisoner, was painted half
red and half white. Even his face was divided in this manner. A white
plume was glued to his head. In one hand he carried a gaily trimmed
walking-stick, and in the other a shield with cotton on it, and on his
back was a small bundle of different articles. Music was played as
he ascended the stairway to the temple. There he was greeted by some
high priest, who commanded him to go to the sun, present the articles
he carried and deliver messages they sent. Finally, when he reached
the summit, he turned toward the sun and in a loud voice proclaimed
what was told him. Then they took away his bundles and cut his throat,
drenching the sun on the stone and filling the bowl with his blood.
When the blood ceased to flow the heart was cut out and held aloft to
the sun until cold. Then the message was delivered.

It is said the Aztec calendar was carved in 1479, and its inauguration
was celebrated with fearful sacrifices, but the conquering Cortes had
it pulled down, and it remained buried until lowering the grade of the
ancient pavement in 1790, when it was built in the southwestern tower
of the cathedral. There it remained until about a year ago, when it was
removed to the museum, where it now occupies a prominent position. The
Sad Indian, a statue so-called because it was unearthed on a street of
that name, is a jolly-looking fellow, and compels one's admiration,
despite his broad nose and ugly features. So far I have heard no
blood-curdling tales connected with him, but the wiseacre shakes his
head solemnly and replies: "Hundreds of human beings were sacrificed
on his account, but the history has escaped my memory." Meanwhile, the
old fellow sits there with folded hands and a comical expression on his
face, thinking, probably, of the duties which he once performed, which
were, undoubtedly, holding a lamp or a flag, as the hole through the
folded hands and between the feet directly beneath proves.

It is quite interesting to roam around and examine this broad face and
that slim one, from those of mammoth size to ones the size of one's
hand. We grow to like the queer objects which certainly formed some
part in the lives of those strange people who lived and died centuries
before us.

In one corner locked up in a cell by itself is the coach of Maximilian
and Carlotta. It is one of the finest in the world, and is similar in
construction and finish to that used on State occasions by the Czar of
Russia. The coach was a present to Carlotta from Napoleon II. It is so
fine that it is difficult to give a description of it. The royal coat
of arms is on every available spot, on the doors and above, wrought
in gold, and embroidered in gold on the crimson velvet which covers
the driver's seat. The entire coach is gold and crimson except for
the inside, which is heavy white silk, cords, fringe and tassels of
the same. Gold cherubs the size of a three-month-old baby finish each
corner. The carriage was drawn by eight pure white horses or the same
number of coal black ones, and as it swept down the grand passes to
superb Chapultepec, holding its royal owners, it must have been a sight
fit for kings. But it stands to-day a silent memento of a murdered
young emperor and a blighted empress. All the men employed at the
museum are disabled soldiers, and it speaks well of the government to
give them this employment. They seem to rightly belong in among this
queer stuff, for it would take half a dozen of them to make a whole
man. The museum is open only from ten to twelve, and is free to all.

But our tourists are even now standing on the outside, wondering
if they have not fasted enough to do penance for all the sins ever
committed; and if they will get much else than frijoles, rice, and red
peppers for dinner--or, more properly speaking, breakfast. We know just
what they will visit this afternoon, and if you care to see it also we
will try, in our humble way, to show you around.



CHAPTER X.


HISTORIC TOMBS AND LONELY GRAVES.


How much I would like to paint the beauties of Mexico in colors so
faithful that the people in the States could see what they are losing
by not coming here. How I would like to show you the green valley where
the heat of summer and blast of winter never dare approach; where every
foot of ground recalls wonderful historical events, extinct races of
men and animals, and civilization older by far than the pyramids. Then
would I take you from the table-land to the mountain, where we descend
into deep canons that compare in their strange beauty with any in the
world; the queer separation of the earth, not more than 100 feet from
edge to edge of precipice, but 400 feet deep. More wonderful still is
the sight when the rainy season fills these gorges with a mad, roaring
torrent. Then would I lead you to the edge of some bluff that outrivals
the Palisades--and let you look down the dizzy heights 500 feet to the
green meadows, the blooming orchards, the acres of pulque plant, the
little homes that nestle at the foot of this strange wall. Then further
up into the mountains you could see glaciers, grander, it is claimed,
than any found in the Alps. Here are buried cities older than Pompeii,
sculptures thousands of years old, hieroglyphics for the wise to study,
and everywhere the picturesque people in their garb and manners of
centuries ago--and all this within a day's travel from the city. Surely
in all the world there is none other such wonderful natural museum.

Business men who wish to rest from their labors find perfect quiet in
this paradise. All cares vanish. Some strange magic seems to rob one
of all care, of every desire to hurry. Railways furnish comfortable
and safe transportation; the people are attentive and polite, and
as many comforts are attainable as at any other place away from the
States. People who have any desire to see Mexico in all its splendor
should come soon, for civilization's curse or blessing, whichever it
may be, has surely set a firm foot here, and in a few years, yielding
to its influence, all will be changed. Already the dark-eyed senora
has changed the lovely, graceful mantilla for stiff, ugly bonnets
and hats; the poor Indian woman is replacing the fascinating reboza
with a horrid shawl; the Indian man is changing sandals for torturing
shoes and the cool linen pantaloons and serape for American pantaloons
and coat. Civilization and its twin sister, style, have caught them
in their grasp, and unless you come soon Mexico will cease to be
attractive except as a new California.

There is one thing I hope will ever remain, and that is the graveyard
of San Fernando, where most of the illustrious dead of Mexico are
entombed. But it is doubtful, as a little beyond are the fine houses of
the foreign representatives, and the houses are crowding up to the gate
of this dead city as though trying to push it out of existence. An old
cathedral, faced by a green plaza, rears its head at one side, near the
massive iron gates which the keeper, sitting just within its portals,
swings open and admits one with a welcome that is surprising. All
around are people buried in the walls. The plates are decorated in all
manner of ways. Some have a little niche which hold the image of the
Virgin and several candles. Others are hung with wreaths, and some with
crepe. The majority have places to hold candles, which are burnt there
on certain days. The nearest tomb to the gate holds the remains of a
young girl who died, quite suddenly, on the day she was to be married,
just an hour before the time appointed. Near here is erected a fine
shaft in honor of General Ignacio Comonfort, who was a President once,
but was shot at Molino de Toria, November 13, 1863, by the Americans.
Several yards beyond is a plain, brown stone, built in an oblong box
shape, with a large, stone cross in the center. It is weather-beaten
and worn, and looks to be centuries old. All the information it gives a
stranger is in two large initials, T. M., rudely cut on the side.

No date or usual verse of regret from loving friends is inscribed, and
somehow a thrill of pity strikes one for T. M., as it seems to be the
only grave in all that quiet city that bears no mark of loving hands.
I took my penknife and hastily cut in the soft stone R.I.P. When the
Mexican friend, who had during this time been engaged with the gateman
getting some information, came up he said: "The grave you stand beside
is that of General Tomas Mejia, who was shot with Maximilian, and here
is the tomb of the other." It was similar in shape to General Mejia's,
but some kind hand had hung wreaths on the cross. General Miguel
Miramon was president of the Republic before Maximilian. He was a brave
and good man, and the emperor well knew his worth.

When they stood up to be shot, Maximilian in the center, Mejia on the
right and Miramon on the left, the center of course being considered
the place of honor, Maximilian, touching Miramon on the shoulder,
said: "You are more worthy this place than I," and he exchanged places,
and so they died.

The tomb of Benito Juarez, the Indian President, is the finest in the
place. It is a long marble tomb. On it lies the life-size body of
Juarez, partly covered with a mantle. Sitting at his head, with her
hands on his heart, is a beautiful woman, representative of the nation
mourning for its much beloved President. The whole is a perfect study,
and was designed and executed by a Mexican.

The life of Juarez is a very romantic one. He is familiarly known as
the "Lincoln of Mexico." He was born in the State of Oaxaca, 1806,
and at the age of twelve years could neither read nor write. He was a
full-blooded Indian, and could not even speak the Spanish language.
However, he tried to improve his time, and in 1847 he was Governor of
his native State. He went to New Orleans, on being banished by Santa
Anna, but returned to Mexico in 1855 and became President of the Court
of Justice. When Comonfort was overthrown by the clerical party,
Juarez set himself up at Vera Cruz as Constitutional President of the
Republic. The United States recognized him as such, and he successfully
fought the priesthood and confiscated all the church property. When
Maximilian ascended the throne, Juarez sent his family to New Orleans,
but he remained here until compelled to cross the frontier. The United
States, which had always favored Juarez, interfered in his behalf. At
the termination of the War of the Rebellion Maximilian was betrayed and
shot, and Juarez was re-elected in 1871, and died in office June 18,
1872.

He has a daughter who is married and living in Mexico in greater style
than the president. She resembles her father. A story is told of Juarez
that is new at the very least. He had plenty of enemies, especially
among the church party. One day he sent a band out to capture an
outlaw, who, notwithstanding his enemies, stood well with the clergy.
The bandit was met on the highway and shot before he could utter a
prayer. They said his soul was lost, and Juarez was to blame. When he
was dying it was endeavored to keep the matter quiet, and the people
were in ignorance of his fatal illness until one morning they saw a
notice posted on street corners, which read in this style:

      "Hell, 1.30. Juarez just arrived. Devil putting on his
      tail."

It was signed by the name of the bandit.

General Ignacio Zaragoza, the conqueror of the French in Puebla, May 5,
1862; General Vincente Guerrero, one of the principal heroes of the War
of Independence; Mariano Otero, one of Mexico's most famous orators;
Melchor Ocampo, a very distinguished philosopher and politican, and
the companion and right hand of Juarez, helping him to establish the
liberal principles; Francisco Zarco, one of the Constitutionalists;
General Jose Joaquin de Herrera, one of the best Presidents the
Republic ever had, and other famous generals, statesmen, writers,
and artists' fill up this quiet spot. The gates are only open now to
visitors. They no longer register dead guests.

Among many other things Mexico can boast of is the public library. It
is situated on Calle de San Augustin, in the old church and convent
of Saint Augustin. The high iron fence which incloses it is topped
with marble busts of famous orators and authors. The little green plot
in front is filled with rare plants and fountains. The face of the
church is a mass of wondrous carvings, and the vestibule is a crown of
splendid architecture. Directly over the door leading into the room
is the "World." On one side brass hands and figures tell the hour.
Standing on one foot on top of it is a life-size figure of "Time," in
bronze. The attitude, the scythe over the shoulder, the expression
on the face, the long, flowing beard and hair are perfect. Opposite
Time, and at the other end of the room is the Mexican coat of arms.
Book-cases line each side, and in the center are reading-desks and
easy-chairs. At the right entrance is a large statue of Humboldt, and
on the left Cuvier. Opposite one another are Descartes and Copernicus,
Dante and Alarcon. Origen and Virgil, Plato and Cicero, Homer and
Confucius, and in the center a large figure with a book in hand marked
"Science."

The books are catalogued under the heads of philosophy, history,
fiction, etc., and are placed in cases alphabetically. They are in all
languages, and many of them are very ancient. Some are on parchment
and in picture writing. The library has catalogued one hundred and
sixty thousand volumes, and owns many besides that are not yet sorted
and arranged. It is open from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., and is equally free
to all. It is well patronized by men, but it is safe to say no woman
has ever read a book inside its walls. The only women who ever enter
are tourists. The books are not permitted to go outside the building.
A man gets a printed card. On it he writes the title, number and case
of his book, and when the hour comes to close he lays the book on the
desk of the janitor and gives his card to the superintendent. Many of
the ancient books were taken at the time of the confiscation of the
monasteries and convents.

The carnival passed off very quietly. As I said before, Mexico is
becoming civilized, and doing away with many ancient and beautiful
customs. In former years every day on carnival week the paseo was
crowded with masked men and women in historic and comic garb, and
battles were fought with empty egg-shells and queerly constructed
things for the same purpose. This year every person went, but only
the fewest number were masked. Some few among the lower class threw
egg-shells. Beyond this all was quiet. It has also been the custom to
give fancy-dress and masked balls. In all the theaters public balls
were held and the clubs gave private receptions. The French Club had
their rooms nicely decorated and the best people attended, dressed in
the finest and most original costumes. Perhaps the most striking one
was a creamy satin embroidered with red roses and covered with natural
butterflies of gorgeous and brilliant hue. The young ladies all wore
their dresses just reaching their knees, and the fancy boots displayed
were something marvelous; satin of all shades, embroidered with gold
and silver, and trimmed with flowers.

One couple, who have been lately engaged, were dressed alike. The girl
wore a short dress of white satin, profusely trimmed with pompons of
white fur; white satin boots trimmed the same way, and over her loose
hair of marvelous length and thickness was a point lace veil. The groom
wore satin knee breeches, short coat, high hat and boots, all covered
with the white fur pompons. They were accompanied by the mother, in a
brocade crimson velvet on a canary background and rich yellow lace,
low-necked and en train, and the father in common dress suit. The
Mexican boys never appeared better than in the grand old dregs of
former days. Mostly crimson velvet and satin were affected, showing
to an advantage their superb eyes and complexion. The women were
remarkable for their homeliness.

A grand supper of thirty-five courses was served and more wine,
champagne and cigarettes consumed than would be done at forty
receptions in the East.

Now, having shown you now they do at private balls where only the
_elite_ are permitted to attend, would you like to don a mask and
domino and sit with these very same people in the boxes at the
theaters, and watch the promiscuous crowd beneath? It is not a select
crowd by any means, but one composed of the lowest in the land. Yet men
take their wives, sisters, and friends, masked, that they may watch
through opera glasses this wonderful sight, and wives and sweethearts
get friends to take them, that they, unseen, may see if husband
or lover takes part in the revel, for the men are of the best and
wealthiest families.

At 11 o'clock the doors are flung open and people come in slowly. The
two bands play alternately the Spanish danza and the waltz. The women
come in dressed in all the styles ever invented. One beautiful woman
wore a blue satin dress, embroidered with pink rose buds. Another
wore blue, trimmed with beaded lace, which glittered like hundreds of
diamonds in the gas-light. Two came together, one in black, the other
in crimson velvet, profusely and gayly embroidered. Some were dressed
after the style of the male dudes of the States, but the majority wore
nothing but a comic-opera outfit, dotted with silver or gold spangles,
according to the color. The men, with the exception of a half dozen,
wore their common suits, and never removed their hats. Nearly all the
women wore their hair short, which they had powdered.

At first they wore masks, but in a short time they were removed, and
by 3 o'clock everybody was drunk. When a man refused to dance with a
woman, a fight was the result, and everybody would quit dancing until
it was settled. One year fifteen men were killed during the week it
lasted. This year but one has met his death. The actions and dancing
of this mob will bear no description, and at 7 o'clock the performance
ended. The manager of the National Theater has promised that his house
shall never be used for this purpose again.

The carnival was celebrated in fine style at Amecameca, right at the
foot of the White Lady. Indians came from all parts of the country
and paraded the entire week around the church and temple with lighted
candles. At Puebla they had egg battles, and in all little places the
feast was carried on as in former days.

Sights in the city have begun to assume a familiar look, although one
never tires of them, and I begin to think of moving elsewhere.

The buried city is slowly being unearthed at San Juan. Already they
have brought to light a house of magnificent size and finish, and in a
few days it will be well worth a visit. Tourists have been going down
regularly, but beyond a few men at work, little was to be seen. What
they missed they furnished with their imagination, as did also some
correspondents who would not wait to get legitimate news.

The mint, which is situated in the suburbs of the city, is turning out
fifty thousand dollars in silver per day. The first coin struck was in
1535, and in three hundred years they coined $2,200,000,000. The men
employed get from one to two dollars a day. In a month from now the
government is going to make fifteen million cents. Gold coin, although
in use here, is not made more than once a month.

The arsenal is in a fine old building directly in the opposite
direction from the mint. All departments are not running--for the lack
of money, so they say. They make but three hundred and fifty entire
guns a day, but have one million dollars' worth in stock. In one room
they have a fine collection of arms, such as are used by every nation
in the world. The iron and wood used is Mexican, the latter a superb
walnut, which requires no oil or varnish. The people here employed
get from one real (twelve and a half cents) to two dollars a day, the
highest that is paid.

The tourists who have such a mania for mementos have brought disgrace
on themselves and others also. The governor has been very kind, and
has thrown open the embassadors' hall, without reserve, for their
inspection. It is a beautiful place, containing life-size paintings of
Washington, Juarez, Hidalgo and other illustrious men. The chandeliers,
hung with brilliant cut-glass pendants, terra cotta and alabaster vases
and handsome clocks, were once the property of Maximilian. At either
end of the long hall are crimson velvet and gold-hung thrones, where
the president receives his guests. Some trophy fiend, most probably
some girl with the thought of a crazy patch, cut a large piece out of
one of these damask curtains; consequently the governor has issued
orders that no visitors shall be admitted, and the Yankees have gone
down one notch further in the scale where they already, by their own
conduct, hold a low position. It is to be hoped that those who come in
the future may act so that no more shame will fall on us.



CHAPTER XI.


CUPID'S WORK IN SUNNYLAND.


Love! That wonderful something--the source of bliss, the cause of
maddened anguish! Love and marriage form the basis of every plot, play,
comedy, tragedy, story, and, let it be whispered, swell the lawyer's
purse with breach of promise and divorce case fees. Yet it blooms with
a new-found beauty in every clime, and as there is no land in all the
world more suitable for romance than Mexico, it is pertinent to show
how love is planted, cultivated and reaped in this paradise, so as to
let our single readers in the States compare the system here with home
customs and benefit thereby, whether by making good use of their own
free style or cultivating a new, those interested must decide.

Mexicans may be slow in many things, but not slow in love. The laws
of Mexico claim girls at twelve, and boys at thirteen years are
eligible to marriage, and it is not an unusual sight to see a woman,
who looks no more than thirty-five, a great-grandmother. As children,
the Mexicans are rather pretty; but when a girl passes twenty she gets
"mucho-mucho" avoirdupois, and at thirty she sports a mustache and
"galways" that would cause young bachelors in the States to turn green
with envy. The men, on the contrary, are slim and wiry, and do not
boast of their hirsute charms, especially when in company with women,
as they have little desire to call attention to the contrast, and the
diamond-ring finds other means of display than stroking and twisting an
imaginary mustache. Yet this exchange of charms interferes in no way
with love-making, and the young man wafts sweet kisses from his finger
tips to the fair--no, dark--damsel, and enjoys it as much as if that
black, silky down on her lip were fringing the gateway to his stomach.

Boys and girls, even in babyhood, are not permitted to be together.
Before very long they compel their eyes to speak the love their lips
dare not tell, and with a little practice it is surprising how much
they can say, and how cold and insipid sound words of the same meaning
in comparison.

All the courting is done on the street. When evening kindly lends its
sheltering cloak, even though the moon smiles full-faced at the many
love-scenes she is witnessing, the girl opens her casement window and,
with guitar in her hand or dreamily watching the stars, she awaits her
lover. If her room is on the ground floor she is in paradise, for then
they can converse--he can even touch her hand through the bars. But
if she is consigned to a room above she steps out on the balcony. If
the distance is not too great, they can still converse; but otherwise,
with the aid of pencil, paper, and tiny cord, they manage to spend the
evening blissfully without burning papa's coal and gas, and staying up
until unseemly hours.

The lovers are unmindful of the people who pass and repass, and the
kind-hearted policeman never even thinks of telling the young man to
"move on." If the house is secluded the lover tells his devotion in
musical strains. Night is not only devoted to love-making, but in the
broad light of day the young man will stand across the street and from
the partly opened casement of the fair one are visible a hand and a
nose--of course she has full view, but that is all that can be seen
of her. With the hand they converse in deaf and dumb language, which,
added to their own signs, makes a large dictionary. It is not likely
there exists a Mexican who is not an adept in the sign language.
Courting is too vulgar a word for them, so they call it--translated in
English--playing the bear.

You would naturally wonder how a girl who never leaves her mother's
or chaperon's side, who never goes to parties, who is watched like a
condemned murderess, would ever get a lover; but notwithstanding all
this strictness they number less old maids and more admirers than their
sisters in the States. Perhaps while out driving, at the theater or
bull-fights, they see a man they think they will like. He is similarly
impressed.

He follows his new-found one home, and she knows enough to be on the
balcony awaiting his arrival with the shades of night. He may play
the bear with her for a year and she not know his name. He has the
advantage, for he can find out everything about her family, and thereby
determine whether she is a desirable bride or not.

Sometimes they play the bear for from seven to fifteen years--that
is, if the parents are very wealthy--and even then not get the girl,
for with all their passionate love they number many flirts. Often one
girl will have two or more playing the bear at the same time. If they
chance to meet they inquire, fiercely, "Whom are you after?" If the
answer demonstrates the same girl, one will request the other to step
aside. If he refuses a duel follows. After that the girl is bound,
by the custom of her country, to relinquish both. If a brother or
father discovers a "bear," the latter must submit to a thrashing from
their hands if he still desires to retain the girl's love. If a father
notices the attention of a "bear" and looks with favor upon him, he
does not disturb his "playing." When he concludes he has served long
enough he is invited into the house. This means the same as if he had
asked her hand in marriage and has been accepted. He is the intended
husband, but never for a moment is he alone with his _fiancee._ He may
aspire to take the driver's place sometimes, or to take the entire
family to the theater.

A young American had been received in great favor by a Spanish
family; probably the old man thought he would like an American for a
son-in-law. However, young America was not going to waste any time
sitting in the house with the old folks, so he politely requested the
object of his admiration to go to the Italian opera. She graciously
accepted. When he went to the house he found not only his lady love
but the entire family prepared to accompany him. The deed was done; he
could not back out, and for the privilege of talking to the mother,
with the daughter sitting on the other side casting love-lit glances
from her splendid eyes, he paid forty-three dollars. He was disgusted,
and accordingly gave up his chance of being a member of a Mexican
family.

If a man gets impatient and feels like becoming responsible for the
price of his sweetheart's bonnets, he asks the father. If he is
rejected he can go to a public official, swear out a notice to the
effect that his and the girl's happiness is ruined by the father's
heartlessness. He then secures a warrant, which gives him the privilege
of taking the girl away bodily from the home of her parents. This
is a Mexican elopement. If, on the other hand, he is accepted, the
wedding-day is named, and agreements are drawn up as to how much will
be the daughter's portion at the death of her parents. Before that
period she receives nothing. The intended husband furnishes the wedding
outfit, and all the wearing apparel she has been using is returned to
her parents. She has absolutely nothing. The groom buys the customary
outfit--white satin boots, white dress and veil.

A Mexican wedding is different from any other in the world. First a
civil marriage is performed by a public official. This by law makes
the children of that couple legitimate and lawful inheritors of
their parents' property. This is recorded, and in a few days--the
day following or a month after, just as desired--the marriage is
consummated in the church. Before this ceremony the bride and groom are
no more allowed alone together than when playing the bear. At a wedding
the other day the church was decorated with five hundred dollars' worth
of white roses. The amount can be estimated when it is stated roses
cost but four reals (fifty cents) per thousand. Their delicate perfume
filled the grand, gloomy old edifice, which was lighted by thousands
of large and small wax candles. Carpet was laid from the gate into the
church, and when the bridal party marched in, the pipe organ and band
burst forth in one joyous strain. The priest, clad entirely in white
vestments, advanced to the door to meet them, followed by two men in
black robes carrying different articles, a small boy in red skirt and
lace overdress carrying a long pole topped off with a cross.

The bride was clad in white silk, trimmed with beaded lace, with
train about four yards long, dark hair and waist dressed with orange
blossoms. Over this, falling down to her feet in front and reaching the
end of the train back, was a point lace veil. Magnificent diamonds were
the ornaments, and in the gloved hands was a pearl-bound prayer-book.
She entered a pew near the door with her mother--who was dressed in
black lace--on one side and her father on the other. After answering
some questions they stepped out, and the groom stood beside the bride,
with groomsman and bridemaid on either side, the latter dressed in
dark green velvet, lace, and bonnet. The priest read a long while,
and then, addressing the girl first, asked her many questions, to
which she replied, "Si, senor." Then he questioned the groom likewise.
Afterward he handed the groom a diamond ring, which the latter placed
on the little finger of the left hand of the bride. The priest put a
similar ring on the ring-finger of the right hand of the groom, and a
plain wedding ring on the ring-finger of the bride's right hand. Then,
folding the two ringed hands together, he sprinkled them with holy
water and crossed them repeatedly. The band played "Yankee Doodle," and
the bride, holding on to an embroidered band on the priest's arm, the
groom doing likewise on the other side, they proceeded up to the altar,
where they knelt down. The priest blessed them, sprinkled them with
holy water, and said mass for them, the band playing the variations of
"Yankee Doodle." A man in black robes put a lace scarf over the head
of the bride and around the shoulders of the groom; over this again
he placed a silver chain, symbolic of the fact that they were bound
together forever--nothing could separate them.

After the priest finished mass he blessed and sprinkled them once
more. Then from a plate he took seventeen gold dollars the groom had
furnished and emptied them into his hands. The groom in turn emptied
them into the hand of his bride, and she gave them to the priest as a
gift to the Church and a token that they will always sustain, protect,
and uphold it. Now the ceremony, which always lasts two to four hours,
is ended, and the newly married pair go into an adjoining room to
receive the congratulations of their friends.

The marriage festivities are often kept up for a week. After that the
husband claims his bride, and right jealously does he guard her. Her
life is spent in seclusion--eating, drinking, sleeping, smoking. The
husband is desperately jealous and the wife is never allowed to be in
the company of another man. Life to a Mexican lady in an American's
view is not worth living.

When death takes one away the dust remains buried for ten years, if
the husband is wealthy. At the end of that time the bones, all that
remains in this country, are lifted, placed in a jar and taken home and
the tomb-stone used as an ornament. "See that case?" said a Mexican.
"My first wife is in that, even to her fingernails, and that is her
grave-stone." So it was, there in the parlor, a dismal ornament and
memento.

Mexican carelessness does not extend to the saying of mass. A man had
three daughters, and each was to inherit $3,000,000. For this reason
he would not allow them to marry. One died, and the anniversary of her
death was celebrated in fine style. High mass was said, and a coffin
arranged on a catafalque forty-four feet high recalled the dead woman.
The coffin, etc., were imported from Paris, and altogether the mass
cost $30,000. That's dying in high style.

Mexicans who have been to the States much prefer the American style of
calling on ladies, but it is not likely it will ever be the custom--for
American residents here have adopted the Mexican style for their
daughters, and most ridiculous and affected does it appear. American
boys, however, have no time to waste on such manners, so they do their
love-making by letters and go back to the States for their brides,
leaving the American mammas to search among the Mexicans for ones to
play the "bear."



CHAPTER XII.


JOAQUIN MILLER AND COFFIN STREET.


Dear old Mexico shows her slippered foot, for summer is here. The
fruit-trees are in blossom, the roses in bloom, the birds are plenty
and everybody is wearing the widest sombrero. From 10 o'clock until
2 the sun is intensely hot, but all one has to do is to slip into
the shade and the air is as cool as an unpaid boarding-house-keeper
and fresh as a "greengo" on his first visit to the city. At night
blankets are comfortable. Tourists are still flocking to Mexico, many
with business intentions, and the United States at present is as
well represented as any other foreign country. Yankees are looked on
favorably by some of the better and more educated class of Mexicans,
but others still retain their old prejudices. However, one can hardly
blame them, for, barring a few, the American colony is composed of what
is not considered the better class of people at home. They have come
down here, got positions away above their standing, and consequently
feel their importance; they are more than offensive, they are insulting
in their actions and language toward the natives, and endeavor to run
things. The natives offer no objections to others coming here and
making fortunes in their land, but they have lived their own free and
easy life and they do not propose to change it, any more than we would
change if a small body of Mexicans would settle in our country; and we
would quickly annihilate them if they would offer us the indignities
the Americans subject them to here.

I dread the return and reports of such people in the States, for
although there are good and bad here, the Mexicans have never been
represented correctly. Before leaving home I was repeatedly advised
that a woman was not safe on the streets of Mexico; that thieves and
murderers awaited one at every corner, and all the horrors that could
be invented were poured into my timid ear. There are murders committed
here, but not half so frequently as in any American city. Some stealing
is done, but it is petty work; there are no wholesale robberies like
those so often perpetrated at home. The people are courteous, but of
course their courtesy differs from ours, and the women--I am sorry
to say it--are safer here than on our streets, where it is supposed
everybody has the advantage of education and civilization. If one goes
near the habitation of the poor in the suburbs, they come out and greet
you like a long absent friend. They extend invitations to make their
abode your home, and offer the best they own. Those in the city, while
always polite and kind, have grown more worldly wise and careful.

The people who give the natives the worst name are those who treat
them the meanest. I have heard men who received some kindness address
the donor as thief, scoundrel, and many times worse. I have heard
American women address their faithful servants as beasts and fools.
One woman, who has a man-nurse so faithful that he would sacrifice his
life any moment for his little charge, addressed him in my presence as:
"You dirty brute, where did you stay so long?" They are very quick to
appreciate a kindness and are sensitive to an insult.

Speaking of honesty they say the aquadores, or water-carriers, are the
most honest fellows in the city. They have a company, and if any one
is even suspected of stealing he is prohibited from selling any more
water. At intervals all over the city are large basins and fountains
where they get their water.

For four jars, two journeys, as they carry two jars at once, they
receive six and a quarter cents, or one real; twelve and a half cents
if they carry it up-stairs. Their dress is very different from others.
They wear pantaloons and shirt like an American and a large leather
smock, which not only saves them from being wet but prevents the jars
from bruising the flesh. They all wear caps, and the leather band of
the jars is as often suspended from the head as from the shoulders.

Americans who come to Mexico to reside should take out identification
papers the first thing. It costs but little and saves often a lot of
trouble. People when arrested have little chance to do much even if
they be innocent; they are thrown into prison and allowed to remain
there, without a trial, for often a year, and it is said a Mexican
prison gains nothing in comparison with Libby prison of war fame.
But if a man has his identification papers he can present them and
command an immediate trial, and it is given. There is an American now
lying in prison here for shooting a Mexican woman; the woman was only
shot through the arm, and yet the man has been in jail, without even
a change of clothing, for over a year. He is in a deplorable state,
without much hope of it being bettered. The American Consul seems to
have a disposition to help his countryman. He has been here but a
month, and his first work deserves praise. A man by the name of John
Rivers, or Rodgers, shot a fellow in self-defense.

It was a clear case, but the main witnesses had no desire to lay in
jail, as the law requires, until the American's trial came up, so they
fled the country. The American could speak no Spanish. His trial was
poorly conducted, and he was sentenced to be executed at Zocatagus, up
the Central road. Consul Porch heard of the case. He studied it out,
found the man was not given a fair trial, and hastened off, reaching
the scene of execution but a short time before the hour appointed,
but in time at least to postpone the tragedy. There is one great
disadvantage Americans suffer from, and that is the government sending
out ministers and consuls who have no knowledge of the language in
the country to which they go. It would be a mark of intelligence if
they would make a law, like that in some countries, providing that no
man could represent America unless he had a complete knowledge of the
foreign tongue with which he would have to deal.

In my wanderings around the city I found a street on which there are no
business houses or even pulque shops--nothing but coffin manufacturers.
From one end of the street to the other you see in every door men and
boys making and painting all kinds and sizes of coffins. The dwelling
houses are old and dilapidated, and the street narrow and dingy. Here
the men work day after day, and never whistle, talk, or sing, as they
go at their hewing, painting and glueing, with long faces, as if they
were driving nails into their own coffins.

I soon related my discovery to Joaquin Miller, and he went along to
see it. Then he said, "Little Nell, you are a second Columbus. You
have discovered a street that has no like in the world, and I have
been over the world twice. It's quite fine, isn't it?" and he gave a
hearty laugh. Of course, there may be other streets somewhere just the
same. We could find no name for our new treasure, so we simply dubbed
it "Coffin Street." I am sorry I have no picture of it to send you, so
you could see the coffins piled up to the ceiling; a little table in
the center where the workman puts on the finishing touches, after which
they are placed in rows against the building, by the sad-visaged and
silent workers, to await a purchaser. Near this somber thoroughfare is
another street where every other door is a shoe shop, the one between
being a drinking-house.

Many of the shoemakers have their shops on the pavement, with a straw
mat fastened on a pole to keep off the sun. Here he sits making new
shoes and mending old ones until the sun goes down, when he lowers the
pole, and taking off the straw mat, furnishes a bed for himself in some
corner during the night.

Wealthy Americans who have a desire to invest in land should come to
Mexico. There is surely no other place in the world where one could
get so much out of a piece of property. One end of a field can be
tilled while the other is being harvested, and one can have as many
crops a year as he has energy and time to plant. There is no doubt that
anything can be cultivated here. Of course, peaches and apples are not
plenty, because they only grow wild. Why, even a nurseryman would fail
to recognize them in the small, scraggy, untrimmed bushes. The native
fruits are fine, from the reason that they need no cultivating or
trimming. If they did, Mexico would have a famine in the fruit line.

Land in Mexico is very cheap, and the Government collects a tax only
on what is cultivated. One sensible man, by the name of Hale, came
here from San Francisco a few weeks ago to buy property. A minister
of the Gospel, a particular friend of Hale's, is authority for it
that Senor Hale bought from the Government sixty-five thousand square
miles--larger than the whole of England, I believe--for $1,000,000.

I don't think one would ever tire of the gayly-colored pictures Mexico
is ever presenting. Though in Mexico two months, I can find something
new every time I glance at the queer people. This little basket vender
is but one of thousands, but we find he is the first one to wear his
white shirt without tying the two sides together in a knot in front.
He must surely have forgotten that part of his toilet, as it is the
universal style and custom among them all. Very few Mexicans, even
among the better class, wear suspenders. They wrap themselves about
the waist with a bright-colored scarf, with fringed ends, and this
constitutes suspenders. Many of the better class wear embroidered and
ruffled shirt fronts.

The fruit venders have beautiful voices, and sing out their wares in
such a charming manner that one is sorry when they disappear around
the corner. They are sometimes quite picturesque with the fruit and
vegetables tied up in their rebozo and baskets in their hands. Why the
women have all their skirts plain behind and pleated in front I cannot
say, but such is invariably the case. The men have horrible voices
when they are out selling. There never was anything to equal them. I
wonder if our florists would not like to buy orchids from the man who
passes our door every morning with about a hundred of them strung to a
pole which is suspended from his shoulder, only two reals (twenty-five
cents) for exquisite plants, with the rare ones but little higher.

Mr. A. Sborigi, a Pittsburger, was in Mexico on a visit. When he landed
in Vera Cruz he went into the country to see the place. Hearing music
in a small cabin he drew nearer and recognized familiar tunes. "Wait
till the clouds roll by," and Fritz's lullaby. A man came out and
invited him in, and after a short time he said he was a colored man,
that his name was Jones, and he came from Pittsburg, Pa. He is married
to an Indian woman and has about twenty children, ranging all sizes.
Mr. Jones is king of the villa. In one room he has a floor, a thing not
possessed by any other inhabitant there, and his cabin is superior to
all others. He is very proud of his wife and children, and has not the
least desire to return to the Smoky City. He speaks Spanish, French,
and English fluently.

When Mr. Sborigi was asked for his ticket on the Vera Cruz line, he
jokingly handed the conductor an envelope that he had put in his pocket
at New Orleans. On it was printed in English, "Tickets to all points
of the world." The conductor took the envelope, looked at it, punched
it and returned it to the donor. Quite amused, Mr. Sborigi tried it
on others, and he not only traveled the entire distance to Mexico,
but traveled on at least half a dozen branch roads leading from the
Vera Cruz line to beautiful towns in the country. He took the punched
envelope back to Pittsburg as a memento of the cheapest journey he ever
took.



CHAPTER XIII.


IN MEXICAN THEATERS.


Mexico does not know how a nation mourned for one Virginius like
McCullough; has never witnessed Barrett's Cassius and David Garrick,
or been thrilled with O'Neill's Monte Cristo; has never looked on Mary
Anderson's exquisite form and cold, unsympathetic acting; has missed
Margaret Mather's insipid simper and Kate Castleton's fascinating
wickedness; is wholly unconscious of Little Lotta's wondrous kick and
Minnie Palmer's broadness; has never seen pretty Minnie Maddern's "In
Spite of All," and a mother of fifty odd years successfully transformed
into a child of nine--Fanchon; is in blissful ignorance of "Pinafore"
and "Mikado," and yet she lives and has theaters.

The most fashionable theater in Mexico is the National. President Diaz
always attends, and of course the elite follow suit. It is well to
say the president always attends, for there is little else to go to.
Bull-fights, theaters, and driving are all the pleasures of Mexican
life; the president gives no receptions or dinners, and entertains no
Thursday or Saturday afternoon callers, so before death entered his
family circle he was at the theater almost every night.

No paid advertising is done by theaters in the papers. Once in a while
they, with the exception of the National, send around bills of their
coming plays, accompanied by two tickets. For this they get a week's
advertising; cheap rates, eh? Besides this they have native artists
who select the most horrible scene to depict in water colors on cloth
and hang at the entrance; these "cartels" changed necessarily with
every play, as billboards are in the States, and some of them are
most ludicrous and horrible in the extreme. The Saturday I reached
Mexico one of the theaters had on its boards a play, the cartel of
which represented the crucifixion. What the play was could not be
ascertained.

Sunday is the most fashionable theater day. Every person who can
possibly collect together enough money goes, from the poor, naked peon
to the Spanish millionaire. On Monday all amusement houses are closed
and many are only open every other day throughout the entire week; they
are not at all particular about fulfilling engagements. A play may
be billed for a certain night and on arrival there the servant will
politely inform you it is postponed until mauana (to-morrow), and all
you can do is to go back home and await their pleasure.

The National Theater is a fine building with accommodations for 4,500
persons. The first entrance is a wide open space faced with mammoth
pillars. Going up the steps you enter, through a heavily draped
doorway, the vestibule or hall. Along the sides are racks where
gentlemen and ladies deposit their wraps. The orchestra, or pit--the
fashionable quarter in American theaters--is known as the "Lunetas."
The seats are straight-backed, leather-covered chairs of ancient shape
and most uncomfortable style. They were evidently fashioned more for
durability than beauty, being made of very heavy, unpainted wood.
Narrow passageways intersect each other, and wooden benches are placed
along the seats to serve as foot-rests. Down in front of the stage is
the orchestra, flanked at either end by long benches running lengthwise
of the stage. Boxes, six stories in height, look out upon the stage,
and balconies circle the room. The balconies are divided into
compartments holding eight persons. Common, straight chairs, with large
mirrors on the door and walls, are the only furnishment. The "Lunetas"
command seventy-five cents to $1.50; Palcos (boxes) $2 a chair, and the
Galeria (the sixth row of balconies) twenty-five cents.

At 8.30 the orchestra strikes up, people come in and find their
places, and about 9 o'clock the curtain goes up and silence reigns;
the enthusiasm which is manifested at bull-fights is absent here.
Everything is accepted and witnessed with an air of boredom and
martyrdom that is quite pathetic. More time is spent gazing around at
the audience than at the players. Everybody carries opera-glasses, and
makes good use of them.

Without doubt you would like to know how they dress; the men--who
always come first, you know--wear handsome suits, displaying
immaculate shirt-front and collar that would make Eastern dudes turn
green with envy. Generally the suit is entirely black, yet some wear
light pantaloons. High silk opera-hats and a large display of jewelry
finish the handsome Spanish man.

The ladies wear full dress, always light in color--pink, blue, pea
green, white, etc.--trimmed with flowers, ribbons or handsome laces.
The hair is arranged artistically, and the dresses are always cut very
low, displaying neck and arms such as only Mexican women possess. Very
handsome combs and pins generally grace the hair. Young girls sometimes
wear flowers, but it is considered better taste to wear the artificial
article, because the real are so cheap, and the former, unsurpassed
by nature, command very high prices. A Mexican woman would not be
dressed without the expensive fan which she flits before her face
with exquisite grace. The prevailing style is a point lace fan, which
adds beauty to the face and, at the same time, does not hide it from
beholders, for, let it be whispered, Mexican girls are fond of being
looked at. A lady considers it the highest compliment she can receive
for a man to stare at her for a long time, and the men come quite up to
the point of being extremely complimentary.

The prompter's box is fixed in front of the stage, and his voice is not
only heard continually above that of the actors, but his candle and
hands are always visible, and he often takes time to peep out and take
a survey of the audience; but the Mexicans do not notice him any more
than the footlights. A bell, which sounds as heavy as a church bell,
rings and the curtain falls. Well, it is a sight! The managers farm
out the drop-curtain to business men by the square. The enterprising
advertiser has painted on a piece of cloth his place of business and
curious signs. One shows a man riding a fat pig, and from out the man's
mouth comes the word "Carne" (beef). How they make beef out of pork
is unknown. Saloons take up the most prominent place. A house bearing
the sign "Pulque" had the side knocked out, displaying a barrel which
filled the building from floor to roof. Cupid was astride a barrel,
sipping pulque from an immense schooner, forgetting in his enjoyment
his usual occupation of softening other people's brains with love's
wine. One fat, bald-headed old fellow had gone to sleep with a generous
smile on his open countenance, while from a large glass which he held
in his hand the drink was running down his coat sleeve. Another fellow,
equally fat and equally bald, was gazing at a full champagne glass
in drunken adoration. These are a few of the curious inducements for
people to patronize certain stores. The signs are only pinned on, and
as the curtain comes tumbling down they fly, work and twist in the most
comical style.

Naturally the spectators would grow tired gazing at such a thing, so
between acts the ladies visit one another, and the men rise in their
seats, put on their hats, turn their backs toward the stage, and survey
the people, English fashion. They smoke their cigarettes, chat to
one another, and discuss the women. The cow-bell rings again, people
commence to embrace and kiss, and when the third bell rings, hats are
off, cigarettes extinguished, and every one in place in time to see the
curtain, after being down for thirty minutes, rise.

Theaters close anywhere between 12.30 and three o'clock. The audience
applaud very little, unless some one is murdered artistically. If a few
feel like applauding other fine points, they are quickly silenced by
the thousands of hisses which issue from all quarters of the house, and
a Mexican hiss has no equal in the world. Ladies do not applaud, never
look pleased or interested, but sit like so many statues, calmly and
stupidly indifferent. After the play every one who can afford it goes
to some restaurant for refreshments. Mexicans are not easily pleased
with plays; and the only time they enjoy themselves is when they have a
"Zarzuela"--a cross between a comic opera and a drama. Then they forget
to hiss, and enter into the spirit of the play with as much vim as an
American.

Some Mexicans are quite famous as play-writers. When a new piece is
ready for the boards a house is rented, and it is presented in fine
style, the occasion being a sort of social gathering. Being invited,
the other night, to attend one, I concluded to see what it was like.
The author had one of his plays translated into English--the name now
forgotten--which has met with great success in the States. I thought
this would be endurable. As I entered with some ladies an usher in
full dress and white kid gloves presented each of us with beautiful
bouquets, and offering his arm to the ladies, escorted the party to the
box with the air and manner of a prince. Once in the box, he gave us
little programmes, went out, and locked the door. Interested, I watched
the people as they came in and arranged themselves comfortably. Much
amused and even disconcerted we were when we found hundreds of glasses
turned our way and held there long and steadily, as they saw we were
"greengoes," or foreigners, and with feminine timidity we thanked our
lucky stars we had ventured forth without a bonnet--as no woman ever
wears a hat to the theater here--so that the difference would not have
been more pronounced.

At last the curtain went up, and before the actress, who was sitting
on a chair, crying, could issue one blubber, dozens of bouquets were
flung at her feet. Not understanding the words the play seemed most
absurd. Apparently the girl could not marry her lover because her
mother had forbidden it, as another sister loved the same man, and as
he did not reciprocate she was dying; the dying sister appeared but
once, then in a nightdress, and soon afterward screamed heartily behind
the scenes and was pronounced dead by the actors. The men and women
cried continuously all the evening, and Americans dubbed the play "The
Pocket-Handkerchief." Once, when the lover told his sweetheart he was
going out to fight a duel with a dude with a big eye-glass, who had
loved the dead girl, she fainted on his breast and he held her there,
staggering beneath her weight, while he delivered a fifteen-minute
eulogy. As she was about two feet taller and twice as heavy as he,
the scene was most comical, particularly when she tried to double up
to reach his shoulder, and forgot she had fainted and moved her hands
repeatedly. But smothering our American mirth we looked on in sympathy.
How it ended I cannot tell, for at 2 o'clock I started for home and the
players were then weeping with as much vigor as when the curtain first
rose.

The carvings and finishing of the National Theater are superb. It is
surpassed by few in the States, but the walls are smeared and dirty--no
curtains deck the boxes, uncomfortable chairs are alone procurable,
and, all in all, the house is about as filthy as one can find in
Mexico. It is rumored that Sarah Bernhardt is to come to Mexico next
December with a French troupe, and as French is as common as Spanish
here, she will doubtless have large houses. It is to be hoped the
managers will awaken to the fact that the house needs a scrubbing down
and fumigating before that time.

As stated before, young men do not need to keep back their
washerwoman's money to be able to take their best girl to the theater.
A gentlemen and lady are never seen alone; even husband and wife, if
they have no friends, take a servant along.

Mexico supports a circus all winter. They have an amphitheater built
for the purpose, and it is the best lighted and cleanest spot in the
city. It is open afternoons and evenings, except Monday. The seats
are arranged theater-like--pit, boxes and balconies. Some very good
performing is done, but Spanish jokes by the clowns and very daring
feats on horseback are the only acts which gain applause from the
Mexicans. The menagerie, for which they charge twenty-five cents
extra, is not well attended, as the people can see more in the museum
for nothing, and they prefer the beasts stuffed, to being stuffed
themselves or stuffing another man's purse for the sight of a lion,
monkey and striped donkey.



CHAPTER XIV.


THE FLOATING GARDENS.


Of course, everybody has heard of the famous floating gardens of
Mexico, and naturally when one reaches this lovely clime their first
desire is to go up to La Viga. I wanted to visit the gardens, and with
a friend, who put up a nice lunch, started out to spend the day on the
water. The sun was just peeping over the hilltops when we took a car
marked "La Viga," and off we went. We spent the time translating signs
and looking at the queer things to be seen. The oddest sight was the
slaughter shop. The stone building looked like a fortress. Around the
entrance were hundreds of worn-out mules and horses, on which men were
hanging meat. They had one wagon, but the meat, after rubbing the bony
sides of the beasts, was just as palatable as when hauled in it. It was
built like a chicken coop, and elevated on two large wheels. On each
side of the coop and lying in a large heap on the bottom, was the meat.
Astride the pile sat a half-clad fellow, and in front, on the outside,
sat the "bloody" driver. Trudging along in a string of about forty
were men with baskets filled with the refuse, from which the blood ran
in little rivers, until they looked as if they had actually bathed in
gore. We were glad when our car passed, and had no appetite for the
lunch in our basket.

When the car reached its destination we alighted, and were instantly
surrounded with boatman, neatly clad in suits consisting of white
linen blouse and pants. Everyone clamored for us to try his boat, and
the crowd was so dense that it was impossible to move. As there is no
regular price, we had to make a bargain, so we selected a strong, brown
fellow, who, although he pressed close up to us, had not uttered a
word while the rest had been dwelling on the merits of their boats. We
went with him to the edge of the canal and looked at his little flat,
covered with a tin roof.

White linen kept out the sun at the sides, and pink calico, edged with
red and green fringe, covered the seats. The bottom was scrubbed very
white and the Mexican colors floated from the pole at the end. We asked
his price. "Six dollars," he answered. "No," we said; "it's too much."
After more debating and deliberating he set his price at one dollar,
which we accepted.

Sunday is market day, and La Viga was consequently the prettiest
sight we had yet seen in Mexico. It was completely filled with boats
containing produce. Some were packed full of fresh vegetables, some
contained gay colored birds, which the Indians trap in the mountains
and bring to market here, and others were a mass of exquisite flowers.
While the man piloted his boat over the glassy waters, the ever busy
woman wove wreaths and made bouquets from the stock before her. Such
roses! I can yet inhale their perfume, and how they recalled kind
friends at home. Daisies, honeysuckles, bachelor buttons, in variety
unknown in the States. And the poppies! Surely no other spot on earth
brings forth such a variety of shade, color, and size. They are even
finer than the peonies of the States.

But this boatful has passed only to bring others, ever the same, yet
always new. They look at us with a pleasant smile, and we answer their
cheerful salutes with a happy feeling. Along the banks we see people
decorating their straw huts with a long plant, which contains yellow
and red flowers. They plait it at the top in diamond shape, and not
only put it on their homes, but use it to decorate the pulque shops and
stretch across streets. The most disagreeable sight was the butcher at
work. Every here and there along the shore are large copper kettles
filled with boiling water. One man held a little brown pig down with
his knee and cut its throat, while another held a small bowl in which
he caught the blood. Still further up we saw the first work completed,
and on sticks, put in the ground around a large charcoal fire, were the
different pieces roasting. The flies were as thick as bumblebees in a
field of clover, and we realized for the first time that summer, with
all its pests, as well as its glories, was on our heels.

Wash day, like everything else in the labor line here, comes on Sunday.
Under the drooping willows were crowds of men, women, and children. The
men were nursing the babies and smoking the pipe of peace, while the
women were washing their clothes. They were not dressed in the height
of fashion; they were in extreme full dress--a little more so than that
of the fashionable lady of the period, for none of them possess more
than one shirt, and they have no bed to go to while that is being
washed; so they bask in the warm rays of the sun. The nude children
play in the dark waters of La Viga like so many sportive lambs on a
green lawn, while the ever-faithful, industrious wife and mother washes
the clothes on a porous stone and dries them on the banks--happy,
cheerful, and as contented as though she were a queen.

I think I have stated before that Mexico cannot be entered except
through its city gates, which are not only guarded by soldiers, but
also a customs officer, who inspects all the things brought in by the
poor peons and puts a high duty on them. A poor man and woman may
travel for days with their coops filled with chickens, pay duty on them
and have but a few cents extra for all that labor and travel. Could one
blame them then if they were lazy and live on what nature grows for
them without cultivation? They are not lazy, but their burden will not
be lightened until this outrageous taxation, which goes to line the
pockets of some individual, is removed. Even on La Viga they have the
customs gate to pass. The officer examines everything, and not only
charges the price, but always takes from the load whatever he wishes
gratis. In one day's collection he not only has enough to run a hotel
but has plenty left to sell. When a boat is packed with vegetables a
long steel prong is run through them to make sure there is nothing
beneath.

La Viga is from six to twelve feet deep, and about thirty feet wide. On
either side it is lined with willow and silver maple trees. It starts
from Lake Tezcuco, about eight miles from the city, forms a ring, and
goes back to the same source. The floating gardens, so called, are
found just above the Custom House. From the name we naturally expected
to see some kind of a garden floating on the water; but we did not.
"Boatman, where are the floating gardens?"

"There, senorita," he answered.

"What, that solid, dry land?"

"No, senorita. With your permission we will take a canoe and go in
among them."

"Con mucho gusto," we replied with Harry's so-called "greaser talk,"
and getting into a little dugout we were pushed, at the risk of being
beheaded, under a low stone bridge by our boatman, who waded in the
water. We saluted the owners of a little castle built of cane and
roofed with straw and went on, impatient to see the gardens.

In blocks of fifteen by thirty feet nestle the gardens surrounded by
water and rising two feet above its surface. The ground is fertile and
rich and will grow anything. Some have fruit trees, others vegetables
and some look like one bed of flowers suspended in the water. Around in
the little canals through which we drifted, were hundreds of elegant
water-lilies. Eagerly we gathered them with a desire which seemed never
to be satisfied, and even when our boat was full we still clutched ones
which were "the prettiest yet."

On some gardens were cattle and horses, sheep and pigs, all of them
tied to trees to save them from falling into the water. The quaint
little homes were some of the prettiest features; they were surrounded
by trees and flowers, and many of them had exquisite little summer
houses, built also of cane, which commanded a view of the gardens. The
hedges or walls were made of roses, which were all in bloom, sending
forth a perfume that was entrancing. The gardeners water their plots
every day. On the end of a long pole they fasten a dipper, and with it
they dip up water and fling it over their vegetables in quite a deft
and speedy manner. No, the gardens do not float, but a visit to them
fully repays one for their disappointment in finding that they are
stationary.

Undoubtedly many years ago these same gardens did really float. History
says they were built of weeds, cane and roots, and banked up with
earth. The Aztecs had not only their gardens on them, but their little
homes, and they poled them around whenever they wished. Old age, and
perhaps rheumatism, has stiffened their joints and they are now and
forever more stationary. Joaquin Miller said: "Now, Nellie, the gardens
do not float, but please do not spoil the pretty belief by telling the
truth about them." But either our respect for the truth or a desire to
do just the opposite to what others wish, has made us tell just what
the floating gardens really are. At the very least they repay one's
trouble for the journey.

As it was about the hour for breakfast, we opened our basket and found
one dozen hard-boiled eggs, two loaves of bread, plenty of cold chicken
and meat, fruit and many other things equally good and bad for the
inner tyrant, and last, but not least, a dozen bottles of beer. That is
not horrible, because no one drinks water here, as it is very impure,
and two or three glasses have often produced fever. Of course, I could
have delicately avoided the beer bottles (in my articles I mean), but
I could not resist relating the funny incident connected with them
for the benefit of others. One of the party was a strict temperance
advocate, and when the bottles were opened the beer was found to be
sour, as it is a most difficult place to try to preserve bottled
goods. We immediately refused to drink it; but the T. A. said he would
test it, so we gave him a glass, which he drained. We were amused,
but courteously restrained our smiles; but as bottle after bottle was
opened, and the T. A. insisted on testing each one, our mirth got the
best of us, and I burst out laughing, joined heartily by the rest.
We fed our boatman, and I never enjoyed anything so much in all my
life. His hearty thanks, his good appetite, his humble, thankful words
between mouthfuls, did me a world of good. The sour beer which was left
by the T. A. we gave him, and it is safe to say that the best of drinks
never tasted as good as that to our poor boatman.

On the gardens they have put up wooden crosses and tied a cotton cloth
to them; they are believed to be a preventive of storms visiting the
land, as the wind, after playing with the cotton cloth, is afterward
unable to blow strong enough to destroy anything. When we anchored at
one of the villages, some men came down and asked us to come to their
houses to eat. Each told of the good things his wife had prepared, and
one, as an inducement, said, "I have a table in my house." That, of
course, is a big thing here, as not one Indian in one hundred owns a
table or chair. Pulque is sold very cheap at these villages, and many
of the Mexicans come up in boats or on horseback to treat themselves.
Along each side of La Viga ore beautiful paseos, bordered by large
shade trees. They form some of the many and most beautiful drives in
Mexico; and on Sunday the paseos are filled with crowds of ladies and
gentlemen on horseback. It is also one of the favorite places for
racing, and any one who is fond of fine riding will have a chance to
see it here. Two young fellows took from off the horses the saddles and
bridles, then, removing their coats and hats, they rode a mile race on
the bare horses. Large bets were made on it, and every one enjoyed the
exhibition.

In the afternoon we turned our boat toward the city, followed by a boat
containing a family. The father and largest son were doing the poling,
and the mother was bathing her babes. She rubbed them with soap, and
then, leaning over the edge of the boat, doused them up and down in the
water. After she had finished and dressed them in the clothes which
had in the meanwhile been drying in the boat, she washed her face and
hair, combed it with a scrub-brush, and let it hang loose over her back
to dry on the way to town. When we repassed the wash-house encountered
going up, we were surprised to see it nearly deserted and the few
remaining ones donning their clean linen, getting into their canoes
and paddling around the canal. When we reached Santa Anita, a village
of straw mansions, we found they were celebrating an annual feast-day,
and that the town was not only crowded with guests, but La Viga was
almost impassable for boats. On this special day it is the custom for
everybody to wear wreaths of poppies. The flower-women, seated in the
middle of the street, were selling them as fast as they could hand them
out.

From a stand a brass band was sending forth its lovely strains,
and beneath were the people dancing. They have no square dances or
waltzes, but the dance is similar to an Irish reel--without touching
one another, and merely balancing back, forth and sideways. Pulque was
flowing as freely as Niagara Falls, and for the first time we realized
what "dead drunk" meant. One woman was overcome, and had been drawn out
of La Viga into which she had fallen. She lay on the bank, wet, muddy,
covered with flies, face down on the earth, with no more life than a
corpse. She was really paralyzed.

After we tired of watching them we continued our journey, our boatman
wending his way deftly between the crowds of others who were making
their way to the feast. They all greeted us and said many pretty
things, because I had put on a wreath. They considered I had honored
them. Nearly every boat had one or more guitars, and the singing and
music added a finishing touch to the already beautiful and interesting
scene. About 200 mounted and unmounted soldiers had gone out to keep
the peace, but they entered into the spirit of the thing as much as
the others, and doubtless would consume just as much pulque before
midnight. Hailing a passing carriage, as we landed, we drove to our
house, jotting down the day spent on La Viga as one of the most
pleasant of our delightful sojourn in this heavenly land.



CHAPTER XV.


THE CASTLE OF CHAPULTEPEC.


When Maximilian first established his royal presence in Mexico he began
to do what he could toward beautifying this picturesque valley. The
city had been rebuilt on the old Aztec site--the lowest and worst spot
in the land. Maximilian concluded to draw the city toward a better
locality. In order to do this he selected Chapultepec as the place for
his castle, and built lovely drives running from all directions to the
site of his residence. The drives are wide, bordered with tall trees,
and form one of the prettiest features in Mexico. The most direct drive
from the city is the paseo, spoken of in a former letter as the drive
for the fashionable. Maximilian intended his home should be the center
of the new Mexico, and the paseo--"Boulevard of the Emperor"--was to
lead to the gate of his park. From the Alameda to Chapultepec the
distance is 5450 yards, with a width of 170 feet. The paseo contains
six circular plots, which Maximilian intended should contain statues.
Strange to say this plan is partly being executed. Some already contain
an equestrian statue of Charles IV., claimed to be second only to one
other in the world; a magnificent bronze statue of Columbus, and they
are erecting one to Guatemoc and one to Cortes. On either aide of the
paseo are grand old aqueducts, leaky and moss-covered, the one ending
at the castle, the other going further up into the mountains. One is
said to be nine miles in length. These aqueducts hold very beautiful
carved pieces and niches, every here and there, in which are placed
images of the Virgin.

Terminating the avenue rises the castle, on a rocky hill some hundred
feet high. The castle covers the entire top and stands like a guard to
the entire valley. Many hundred years ago the King of the Aztec Indians
had this for his favorite palace. Here he ruled, beloved by all, until
the white-faced stranger invaded his land, outraged his hospitality
and trust; stole his gold and jewels and replaced them with glass
beads; tore down his gods and replaced them with a new; butchered his
people, and not only made him an imbecile, but caused him to die at the
hands of his once loving subjects the despised of all the people. Poor
Montezuma! the wisest, best and most honorable King of his time, after
all his goodness, his striving for the light of learning, to die such a
death.

Since Montezuma wandered beneath the shades of Chapultepec--"Hill of
the Grasshopper"--it has been the chosen resort of the successive
rulers of Mexico--the theme of poets, the dream of artists and the
admiration of all beholders. A massive iron gate, guarded over by
dozens of sentinels, admits you to a forest of cypress which excels
anything on this continent. The grand old trees, many centuries old,
are made the more beautiful by the heavy dress of gray moss which
drapes the limbs. The broad carriage road, to which the sun never
penetrates, and where the beautiful, shadowy twilight ever rests, winds
around and around until it gains the summit. The old bath of Montezuma
stands a lovely ruin in this lovely grove; above it is built an
engine house for the waterworks, which are to supply the city instead
of the aqueduct. With regret we gazed on it, the only blot on the
otherwise perfect paradise, and wished that some one, with the taste
of Maximilian, had interfered before this mark of progress had been
decided upon.

The silvery lake, alive with geese and ducks, and bordered with lilies
of the Nile and other beautiful flowers, nestles like a birdling in the
heart of the greensward. The fountains play and sing their everlasting
song, while birds of exquisite colors mingle their sweet melodies with
the tinkle of the falling waters. Plots of flowers vie with each other
to put forth the most beautiful colors; all nature seems to be doing
its utmost to show its gratitude for being assigned to this beautiful
spot. Far back in the forest, is a smooth, level place, where moonlight
picnics are often held. The soft drapery of Spanish moss hangs low, yet
high enough not to interfere with the headgear. Beneath its shadows one
would fain forget the world. We no longer wonder at the "mauana" of the
natives, and can clearly see why they wish to live as slow and as long
as possible.

When Montezuma reigned supreme he was accustomed to gather together his
wise men, and while sitting beneath the shade of a monstrous cypress
they would discuss the topics of the day. For this reason the tree is
named "The Tree of Montezuma." It is said to be two hundred feet high
and sixty feet in circumference. It is heavily draped with moss, and is
the most magnificent monument any king could have.

Half way up the hill is an entrance, almost hidden by moss and other
creeping foliage, which leads into a cave. The first chamber is a very
large room hewn out of the solid rock. At the opposite side is an iron
door, barring the way to the cave proper. Many different stories are
told of it. One is that the cave was here before the time of Montezuma,
and that untold wealth has been hidden in its unexplored recesses
when different tribes went to war. Another says that when Cortes was
forced to leave he buried his ill-gotten wealth in its darkened depths.
The less romantic story is that the subterranean sally-port, which
leads down from the garden on the roof of the castle, opens into the
cave; they once tried to explore it, and found within a mammoth hole.
A rock thrown in was not heard to strike the bottom, and even the
bravest feared to go further. The rocks on the hill are covered with
hieroglyphics, which archaeologists have not succeeded in translating;
the brick fence around the winding drive has passed its day of beauty,
and the posts alone remain of the lamps which once lighted Maximilian's
pathway.

Having obtained a ticket of admission to the castle from the governor
of the National Palace, we took a party of tourists with us and
proceeded to investigate.

When we had mounted the hill and walked through the iron gate into
the yard, the uniformed sentinel called out something in Spanish,
loud and long, and a drummer boy quite near beat a hasty roll. "They
must think we intend to storm the castle," said one of the ladies in
evident alarm, but her fears were quieted when a young cadet came from
the building and offered to show us around. "Can you speak English?" I
inquired. "No, I will find some one," he answered in Spanish, and off
he went. However, we lost no time waiting for his return, but went to
the door of the castle and handed our pass to the guard. "Momento," he
said, and he also disappeared, but only to come back accompanied by a
handsome, middle-aged officer, who told us, in broken English, our pass
was good, and while the guard would take us through the castle he would
get us another escort for the rest.

The castle is being renovated for a Mexican White House. A New York
firm is to finish it at a cost of one hundred and sixty-five thousand
dollars. Our disappointment increased as we roamed through room after
room to find all mementos of Maximilian and Carlotta destroyed. Even
what had been their bedchamber was a total ruin. The only things that
remain are three poor pictures on the wall facing the garden. They
had been spoiled, and before many hours the last thing to recall the
murdered emperor and the blighted empress would be totally effaced.
President Diaz is to move here when the repairs are finished; but if
they are no faster with the work in the future than they have been in
the past, what they have begun will be old-fashioned before the rest is
completed, and Mexico will have added two or three more names to its
list of presidents.

On top of the castle is a beautiful garden, full of rare plants and
handsome trees and shrubbery. Fountains are plenty, and statues of
bronze and marble are strewn around in profusion. The stairway is made
of imported Italian marble, and the balconies of alternate blocks of
Italian and Puebla marble. The effect, is superb. The famous sally-port
leads down through the castle from the center of the garden. It is
fenced in around the month with a brass railing and covered with green
vines. Magnificent aquariums divide the flowers at intervals, and the
little gold and silver fish play about in the water as if life was all
joy. When one looks around the beautiful landscape, the romance of the
historic past fades before the grand reality of the present. From this
majestic spot one commands a view of the entire valley--the soft, green
meadows, the avenues of proud trees which outline the gray roads that
always fade away at the foot of the chain of mountains which encircle
the valley like a monstrous wall. The faint blue and purple lines of
the mountains appear small and insignificant when the gaze wanders to
those two incomparable beauties, Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihnatl. All
nature seems a prayer. Grand old Popocatapetl stands with its white,
snowy head at the feet of the White Lady. Perhaps nature has assumed
this tranquilness while awaiting the old, white-headed man to say the
last sad words over that beautiful still form.

At the back of the castle is the Military Academy, or West Point of
Mexico. Three hundred cadets, with their officers, are housed here.
The school is kept in the best of order, and when the cadets finish
their seven years' course they are well prepared for future duties.
The cadets belong to the best families and number a lot of handsome
men. The stairway which divides, or rather connects, the two buildings
is an odd yet pretty structure. It is built in an arch to the height
of ten feet. Then starting out in opposite directions are two other
arches, which connect the buildings. These arches--the stairway, of
course--have no supports whatever, and one is almost afraid they may
cave in with their weight. When they were finished some one remarked
to the builder, "They will fall down if one man mounts them." "Bring
a regiment and put on them, and I guarantee they stand," replied
the builder. This was done, and they were found to be as firm as
a mountain. They are certainly one of the prettiest pieces of
architectural work ever executed.

In the library of the academy are oil paintings of the cadets who fell
in defense of Chapultepec. They were handsome young boys, and a fine
marble shaft, inclosed with an iron fence at the foot of the hill, is
erected in commemoration of their heroic deed. The prettiest boy of the
lot, with sunny locks and blue eyes, folded the flag, for which he was
fighting, to his breast, and stood with a smile on his face while his
enemies cut him into pieces. He was but thirteen years old. His picture
occupies a prominent place, and beneath it stands the flag, dyed a dark
crimson with his heart's blood. The cadets keep those little heroes'
memories green. Every morning they place wreaths of flowers on the
monument as they march on their way to the meadows below to drill.

The cadets have two queer pets, a wild pig and a monkey. The latter
is their companion. He performs in the gymnasium with them, and does
some wonderful feats. He is truly a smart, cunning little fellow, and
exhibits much intelligence. He is fond of the boys, and the boys return
his affection. When they come to town on Sundays they never forget
to take some sweetmeats back for him; and he never forgets to expect
the treat, and he gets very loving and confidential about that time.
He hugs the returned youth, and pries into his pockets with as much
enthusiasm as though he had been absent for months. Every cadet has a
bed with his name, number, etc., on it. A combination desk and wardrobe
stands by the side, and in the bottom is a tin pan. At 5.30 they arise,
and when the order is given they take up their tin pans and march out
to the side of the building. From a large basin they take the water,
and placing their pans on a stone bench many yards long they wash
themselves. On Sundays they can go to bull-fights, to town to see their
relatives, or do anything they wish, unless they have neglected their
studies the week before, when they are kept at school for punishment.
They are taught French, Spanish, Greek, and English. They are extremely
polite, and have not the least objection to flirting. Though they
are short in stature they have good forms and are splendid horsemen.
In fact, they are the beau ideal of any girl who likes embroidered
uniforms and brass buttons, topped off with that cavalier style no
female can resist.



CHAPTER XVI.


THE FEASTS OF THE GAMBLERS.


The Mexicans, as a people, have an inordinate passion for gambling.
They gamble on everything. Poor peons have been known, when their money
was gone, to take the rags off their backs and pawn them in order
to get a few cents to lose. Men possessing thousands have gone into
houses at night to be hauled away in the morning a corpse, without a
dollar to pay funeral expenses. Gambling reached such a stage that
the government saw it must interfere. Consequently they prohibited
all street gambling and started lotteries, in which prizes are drawn
every other day. The main prizes range from $500 to $5,000. Crippled,
blind, aged, poverty-stricken men and women are on the streets at all
hours selling numbered strips of tissue paper marked "Lottery." The
seller wears a brass badge in the shape of a half-moon as proof that
he or she is employed by the government. No trouble is experienced in
selling the tickets, as everybody buys, foreigners as well as Mexicans.
The tickets range from twelve cents to twenty-five dollars. When the
drawing is held a printed list showing the fortunate numbers is posted
in the court. People of all nationalities and in all stages of dress
crowd around the notice. Many turn away unhappy, while some few smile
over their gains. It is said the proceeds are devoted to useful and
charitable works. The income, at any rate, must be a princely one.

Gambling houses are also run on a large scale. They are licensed by the
government. Once every year, in the month of February, gamblers procure
a license and open houses at Tacubaya. During these four weeks all are
allowed to gamble here in any style they wish. This chance picnic is
called "the feast of the gamblers." At three o'clock every afternoon
ladies in carriages, men on horseback, the poor in the street cars, all
bound for the one destination--Tacubaya--present a beautiful sight.
From the energy displayed, the hurry to pass one another, the evident
desire to get there first, one would think it the first holiday they
had had for years, and all were determined to get the most out of it!

To reach the scene the tourist must take a two-mile drive along a
wide road, bordered on either side with trees of luxurious growth
and shade, beneath which beautiful, pure-white calla lilies and
scarlet-red geraniums lift their pretty heads in the perfect _abandon_
of naturalness and liberty. Dotted here and there over the lovely
valley are green fields, adobe huts, and whitewashed churches, with
superb Chapultepec ever in view, as a crown or guard to the vast valley
beneath. The gates of Chapultepec, with its sentinels and mounted
guards, are passed, and in a few minutes more we are in Tacubaya.

"We will have to alight here," said our guide. "The streets are so full
it is impossible to drive through."

Impossible to drive; it was almost impossible to walk. As we stepped
from the carriage several peons, who had come to meet us, knelt on
the ground and spread out their serapes before them, displaying a few
silver dollars, big copper one and two cent pieces and three cards;
the cards were deftly crossed, face downward, one after another,
with astonishing rapidity, while the "tosser" kept singing out some
unintelligible stuff, apparently, "Which will you bet on?" Quickly
a peon steps forward and lays a $10 bill on one card. The "tosser"
shuffles again, the man wins and puts many silver dollars in his
pocket. This excites the watching crowd, which presses forward, and
many women and men lay down their money on certain cards, only to see
it go into the pile of the "tosser." One failure does not discourage
them, but they try as long as their money lasts, for it is impossible
to win. The "tosser" has one or two accomplices who win the first money
to excite the crowd or again to increase their waning energy.

The "tosser" and his accomplices will follow Americans, or "greenoes,"
as they call us, for squares. When you pause they prostrate themselves
before you; the stool-pigeon always wins and tries to induce the
stranger to play--even pinches off the corner of the card, saying "It
will win; bet on it;" "Senor, try your hand." "Senorita, you will be
lucky," whispers the accomplice as he gazes at you in the most solemn
manner. Wild-eyed women, who smell strongly of pulque, with disheveled
hair and dirty clothes, beg for money to try their luck.

Each side of the street is filled with tents. In the center and along
the houses are women squatted on the ground nursing their babies and
selling their wares, which consist of everything ugly. Some build
little charcoal fires, above it suspend a flat pan, and on it fry some
sort of horrible cakes and red pepper, which are sold to the gamblers.
At the foot of a large tree sat an ugly, dirty woman. From a big
earthen jar by her side she dealt out pulque to the thirsty people;
the jar was replenished repeatedly from filled pig skins. At another
place tomatoes and salad were laid out in little piles on the ground.
A little naked babe lay asleep on a piece of matting, and a woman
was busy at the head of another--not reading her bumps, but taking
the living off the living--and she did not have to hunt hard either.
Similar scenes repeated themselves until one longed for something new.

The restaurants were numerous. A piece of matting spread on the ground
constituted the tables, with the exception of three old wrecks that
could hardly stand. Cups of all shapes, but none whole, lay claim to
being the only dishes in sight. Large clay jars, tin boilers, etc.,
were the coffee urns.

Among all the mob that gathers here, a fight is an unheard-of thing.
"It is old California repeated," said Joaquin Miller, "with the rough
people left out." Rough, in a certain sense, they are, and ignorant,
yet far surpassing the same class of people in the States; they possess
a never-failing kindness and gentleness for one another; the police
carried one woman who was paralyzed from pulque as tenderly as if she
were their mother, while a sympathizing crowd followed; two peons
supported between them a pulque victim, who was so happy that his
spirits found vent in trying to sing a hiccough song. Another peon,
only half sober, got his drunken companion on his back and trudged off,
in a wavering manner, for his home.

In the tents along the street a second class of people gamble. Some
tables have painted on them three faces--a red one, with a white and
green one on either side--on which the men gamble. Musicians with
string instruments furnish pleasing airs, and women in picturesque
costumes do the singing and dancing. The most popular song is "I am
a pure Mexican, no Spanish blood in me." The people scorn the idea of
Spanish blood, and boast of being of pure Indian descent.

Over the top of high walls peep the green trees, and the vines crawl
over, hanging low down on the outside. Enter the vine-draped gateway
and you will see a garden as fine as any city park. A smooth walk leads
to all sorts of cunning little nooks; large trees spread out their
heavy arms; the perfume of thousands of beautiful flowers scents the
air; playing fountains mingle their music with the exquisite melody of
the string bands placed at intervals throughout the grounds; statues
glisten against the green foliage; well-dressed men and finely clad
women are visible on every spot--everything animate and inanimate adds
to the picturesqueness of the beautiful scene.

In the buildings, which are decorated outside with pictures from happy
scones in life, are tables and chairs, the walls being hung with fine
paintings and expensive mirrors. On the green table-cloth is placed
$10,000 and $20,000--the former sum on the roulette table, the latter
on the card board. The money is half gold and half silver. Before the
hour of playing these tables are left unguarded; people go in and out
at pleasure, but all are too honorable to take one piece. Ladies and
gentlemen sit or stand around, smoking their cigarettes and betting.
One woman lost $500 in a few moments, but her face never changed. A man
stood at a roulette table, and, commencing with $10, was in a short
time the possessor of $750. He never changed countenance, and after
getting the "pot" together he exchanged it for greenbacks and walked
off. Any one playing can order what they wish to drink at the expense
of the proprietor. Fine restaurants are also run in connection with the
establishment.

One gambling hall is hung with Spanish moss in the shape of a tent,
which reflects in the mirrors forming the walls. It is beautiful and
reminds one forcibly of what fairyland is supposed to be. Every large
house has a notice posted informing patrons that they furnish, free of
charge, conveyances for the city at late hours. One man almost broke
the bank and had to get a wagon to haul his money to Mexico. Others won
$5000, $10,000 and $20,000, but notwithstanding this one house made
$200,000 the first ten days. Electric lights enable the players to keep
the game up all night, and unique torches furnish just enough light in
the gardens to show the way and fascinate the sentimental.

Tired at last, we wandered forth and visited the beautiful old
cathedral which all Mexican towns possess, walked through several
plazas and examined the fine fountains, flowers and monuments, and
at last traveled to the top of the hill in order to view the country
around about. Seated on the eight-foot bank of the military road, we
watched the Indians going to and from the city. First came a drove of
burros walking quite briskly, as if they feared the load left behind
might catch up and insist again on being carried. A number of women
wrapped up in a straight piece of flannel and a piece on their heads
in the style of the peasant girl in the "Mascot," passed by. On their
back were huge bundles of wood and scrubbing-brushes. "Buenas noches,
senora; buenas noches, senorita; buenas noches, senors," they cried
out pleasantly as their bare feet raised enough dust to encircle them.
Their black eyes gazed on us in a friendly manner and their lovely
white teeth glistened in a cordial smile. "Poor human beasts of burden!
Give the little one some money," we whispered. "Here, this is yours,"
he called, in Spanish, holding forth a silver dollar. The smile faded
from her face. "Gracias, no, senor!" and she quickly passed on, too
proud to accept what in all probability was more than she ever owned.

The sun had long gone down; dark clouds draped the "White Lady;"
Chapultepec looked dim and hazy. With regret we left our prominent
position, passed the handsome palaces of Escandon, Mier y Celis
and Barron, walked through one of the handsomest villages in
Mexico--Tacubaya--and in a few moments reached our carriage, homeward
bound, leaving the "Feast of the Gamblers," just in the height of its
glory.



CHAPTER XVII.


FEAST OF FLOWERS AND LENTEN CELEBRATIONS.


If they had put both in a kettle and, after constant stirring, poured
the contents out, there would not have been more of a mixture of
religion and amusement than there was during Lent; to a sight-seer it
looked as if the two forces were waging a battle to see which would
predominate. It was very interesting, more so from the fact that in
no other place on earth is Lent celebrated like it is in the City
of Mexico. I think I told you how the carnival season opened, with
balls, picnics, and driving in full dress on the paseo; then suddenly
everything collapsed, and the city put on somber robes. Bells tolled
forth from morning until night, and every other day was a saint's day,
when, Catholic or otherwise, we were compelled to fast; the stores
closed, and everything came to a standstill. All the night previous
fireworks were set off, and revolvers cracked until one's wildest wish
was that their inventors had never been born.

One morning I was surprised to learn I could not have any coffee--the
solitary cup which constitutes our dainty, delicious breakfast here.
My limited Spanish prevented my giving vent to my feelings, and so I
nursed my righteous wrath while I took observations. The whole house
was closed and darkened, the mirrors were covered with purple cloths,
and every little ornament, which had hitherto decorated the house, was
missing. All the people of the household were dressed in black, talked
in whispers, and walked around on their tiptoes. Dinner-time came and
we sat down to a bit of dry toast (butter is an unheard-of thing),
black coffee, chile, or red pepper, and beans. By this time I began to
get "shaky," especially as they did not talk and pulque was dispensed
with. After saying: "Some one must be dead;" "They must have gotten
into some kind of trouble, and are trying to make believe they are
away," I decided to quit "guessing," and try to find out the true cause
of these strange doings. Finally, I decided to see if any of my Mexican
"bears" wore visible; and, going through the parlor, I opened the
window leading to the balcony. Just as I had removed all the monstrous
bars, my landlady came rushing to me, with a burning candle in one
hand and beads in another, and in louder tones than she had spoken
before she besought me not to open the window. Completely mystified and
feeling sure they had done some terrible deed, I closed the bars, with
one longing sigh to my "bears," and then catching her by the shoulder,
asked, in trembling tones: "Tell me, what have you done?"

"No comprehende," she ejaculated, looking at me as if I had lost my
senses.

"Porque?" I asked, pulling her around, and pointing to the bare tables
and cabinets, the draped mirrors, the barred shutters.

"I am sad because it is my saint's day and my mother's day," she
explained, and she took me into her room, where everything was draped
in somber colors. Below the picture of her mother were a number of
burning candles placed around a large cross. Before this cross the rest
of the family were on their knees, and as I slipped out and closed the
door I saw her sink down beside them, with a look of submission on her
face. I have nothing more to say, except that I am glad that before a
similar day rolls around I shall be over the Rio Grande and doubtless
at home.

Holy week began on Piernes de Dolores (Friday of Sorrow), April 16.
As early as 3.30 in the morning the bells began to toll, and people
flocked to the churches. At five o'clock we started for La Viga,
where this day is celebrated by the Feast of the Flowers, or Paseo
de las Flores (Flower Promenade). Even at that hour the way was
crowded with people laden with flowers. When we reached La Viga we
found it filled with canoes and boats burdened with beautiful flowers
of every description. As far as we could see up La Viga it was the
same--picturesque people paddling their equally picturesque boats in
and out and around the crowd. Some of the boats were ready for hire.
They had awnings made of cane covered with ferns and flowers. Very few
could resist their inviting appearance, and by nine o'clock there was
not an empty boat to be found.

Along the fragrant, grassy banks sat flower girls surrounded by heaps
of ferns, creamy lilies, delicious pinks of hundreds of shades,
geraniums and fuchsias of wonderful size and color, and roses whose
colors, sizes and perfumes bewildered me. Honeysuckles, roses, lilies
and poppies were woven into wreaths, which people bought and wore on
their heads and around their shoulders. Eating-stands were about as
plentiful as the flowers, and everything that was ever made in Mexico
was here for sale. They did a big business, too. Gay crowds would sit
down on the grass and take breakfast off of a straw petate as merrily
as if in the finest dining-room. Some of these booths were fixed up
with canvas covers and flower sides; other long booths were fitted
up in the same manner, hung with the Mexican colors and filled with
chairs, where the tired could pay a medio (six and one quarter cents)
and sit down. Three bands in holiday attire sent forth lovely strains,
alternately, from similar booths; the trees on either side kept the
paseo shady. It was filled with people riding and driving; the riders,
who numbered many ladies, formed a line in the center and the carriages
drove around and around, down one way and up the other. Most of those
out driving alighted and mingled with the masses, it was certainly a
most enjoyable scene.

At several places we found things for sale which looked like dahlias,
with a strange mixture of colors. None could determine just what they
were, but presently we found a man and woman manufacturing them.
They were nothing more or less than long radishes, which with his
penknife the man turned into all kinds of flowers, as well as crosses
and other designs. The woman delicately touched one part one color,
another another, until they formed one of the most beautiful of the
many strange sights on La Viga. There was quite a rush for them, and
the happy purchasers triumphantly carried them off, while the less
fortunate looked on with regret. I got a number, but before the next
morning their beauty had departed forever, and their perfume was loud
and unmistakable. Of course there were plenty of venders and beggars
there. The venders had wax figures representing ballet dancers,
rope-walkers, angels--any sort of female that was skimp in her wearing
apparel. Others had men fighting bulls, monkeys on horseback, baby
dolls made of rags, and every little thing which could be invented.

This feast lasted until Sunday evening, and there was not a moment from
three o'clock Friday morning, until twelve o'clock Sunday night, but
what the place was crowded worse than Barnum's show in its brightest
days. The prettiest sight was when the people returned to town. Every
carriage, even to the driver's seat, was filled with flowers. The
horses and riders were decorated with wreaths, and in this manner they
all returned to their homes. I must describe one rider to you before
I leave La Viga. He rode a beautiful black horse. The Mexican saddle
was a bright, deep yellow, covered with silver ornaments, and a bright
sword dangled at the side. The bridle was entirely of silver, even to
the reins, and silver cord and tassels decorated the horse's neck. The
rider's pants were black and fitted as if he had been poured into them.
A row of silver buttons, at least the size of pie-plates, reached from
waist to knee, where they were met by high side-buttoned boots. An
immense silver spur completed that part. His vest was yellow velvet,
his coat blue, and his wide sombrero red, all heavily trimmed with
silver, while at the back, peeping beneath his coat, were two mammoth
revolvers. He was the most gorgeous butterfly I ever saw, and attracted
attention from Mexicans as well as myself.

Sunday was observed by the churches as well as on La Viga. It was Palm
Sunday, and the Indians had made pretty things out of dry palms which
they sold to the people for from a real (twelve and one half cents)
up to cinco pesos ($5). The devout took these to church and had them
blessed, and after carrying them home they were fixed to the bars of
windows, the balconies and above the doors, where they will stay for
the whole year. They say they keep the devil out, and that is their
reason for using them.

Excursion trains were run in from all the connecting points, people
appeared in the most gorgeous hues, and venders had no trouble in
selling the effigies they carried. Holy Thursday came and the bells
tolled from early morning until ten o'clock, when every one was
silent in sorrow for the crucifixion. Mass was said in the morning,
and all turned out to attend divine service. In the Alameda, Zocola
and paseo bands, to the number of three or four, delighted their
hearers. It seemed rather strange to stand within the church door and
hear the voice of the priest repeating mass, the piano playing a soft
prelude (no pipe organs are permitted during holy week), and the band
mingling the lively strains of some light opera, or something equally
ridiculous, with this solemn service. The altars were all hung with
squares of silver or gold tinsel, which were constantly in motion.
Thousands of candles lighted up the gloomy building, and Christ and the
Virgin were the only images in sight. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon
they brought in what they said were the oldest and most neglected of
beggars. The priest washed their feet, and after making the sign of the
cross with holy oil upon them, they were allowed to depart. I noticed
these men's feet had been washed recently, and also that there were
dirtier and poorer people in the audience. However, the washer took
good care not to touch the feet without an intervening towel. At night
the churches were brilliantly illuminated. It would be hard to give
an estimate of the candles required, but I fully believe that in some
of the big edifices 20,000 would not be a bad guess. The devout were
all on their knees, and everything was as silent as death, except the
piano, which still kept up its soft, soothing melody.

On Good Friday all the men and women were dressed in black, and every
church was draped with purple. The Virgin was dressed in heavy black
velvet. The poor Indians laid flowers, money and candles around the
image, and they could not have been more deeply touched had the
crucifixion taken place then instead of so many hundred years ago. They
kissed her feet, her garments, and the floor before her, and showed in
a thousand humble ways their love and devotion.

The ceremony of the Tres Horas (three hours) was celebrated in Texcoco.
First a lot of masked men ran around the yard with sticks, beating the
bushes, trees and flowers as though in search of something. Then one
of the men who was far from representing Christ in form, feature or
complexion, took a heavy wooden cross on his shoulders and walked into
the church, being lashed with a leather strap by the masked men. When
he fell the people covered their faces and groaned. He fell three times
before reaching the altar, where an effigy was nailed to the cross. The
sounds of the hammer and groans and cries of the people made one feel
as if somebody had dropped a piece of ice down their back. Finally,
amid the most heartrending cries, the cross was raised and the ceremony
was over.

All day wagons, horses, boxes, everything in the toy line, with a
racket in them, were sold to the people. All the venders were located
around the cathedral and Zocolo, and the din could be heard several
squares away. These are called matracas. When Christ was on earth,
they say, they had no bells with which to call the people to mass,
so these matracas were made, and a number of men would promenade the
streets, swinging them around to keep up the incessant cracking. The
men would cry out, "The hour has come for mass, the hour has come for
mass," and the faithful would hurry away to count their beads and say
their prayers. A foreigner told me this custom was still in vogue in
some parts of his country, France, during holy week. Hideous effigies,
called Judas, were for sale. Little ones made of lead were bought and
tied to the button-hole, the parasol, the bracelet, the belt, or any
other convenient place. Some made of plaster of Paris and paper, from
three inches to twelve feet long, were bought by old and young and
carried home for Saturday.

Sabado de Gloria (Saturday of Glory) came bright and sunny. All along
the streets were strung long Judases, some having pasted on them the
thirty pieces of silver for which he betrayed Christ; the image was
made in the most horrible form--as a negro, devil, monkey, half beast,
half human, every form that could possibly be thought of. At 11 o'clock
the bells began to ring merrily, as though rejoicing over the fate of
Judas, and a match was applied to every image in the town; they were
all filled with powder, and with one accord there was a universal
bursting and tearing and rejoicing throughout the city. As fervent as
had been their devotion to the Virgin, just as strong was their hatred
of Judas--even the smallest scraps they tramped upon.

By 12 o'clock gay colors were resumed, carriages which had been
rigorously kept out of sight came forth and were flying down the
paseo as if glad that the time of quietness was past. All places of
amusement, which had been closed during Lent, began sticking up posters
announcing a grand opening on the next (Sunday) evening. The noise of
the matracas grew fainter and fainter, and gradually ceased. The wind
picked up the stray pieces of Judases, played with them awhile, and
then carried them out of sight. The venders who had jammed the Zocalo
gradually disappeared; the music in the different parks ceased, and
Lent seemed as far gone, by the time 12 o'clock rang forth, as though
six months had passed. Such is life.

On Sunday the theaters, bull-fights, circus and race-courses were well
attended. The bull-fights were advertised as the last of the season.
The one I attended was excellent. The bulls were good ones, and some
very new and striking features were introduced. One man sat down on a
chair in the center of the ring with two banderillas in his hand. The
door was opened, and the bull rushed in and at him. He sat there, and
as it put down its head to gore him he stuck the banderillas into its
neck and sprung aside, while the bull knocked the chair into atoms.
Everybody cheered, and threw the fellow money and cigars. After this
toro had been dispatched, one man lay down on the ground and another
stood over him, keeping his head between his legs. Again they opened
the door and let a toro in. It rushed for the men, but the one standing
stuck the banderillas into it with such force that it roared with pain
and took after one of the other fighters in the ring, leaving the two
men unhurt. The very daring of this delighted the people, for if the
man had missed the bull both of them would have been killed without the
least trouble.

One toro had horns about four feet wide, and at the first plunge it
killed one horse. Then it caught another horse and threw it on its
back, the rider underneath. The fighters tried to draw it off, but it
stayed there until the horse was dead. All that could be seen of the
rider was his head, which he tried vainly to shield with his arms. They
carried him off for dead. This toro was very hard to kill. It required
seven lunges of the sword to convert him into beef. One toro refused
to fight, and when stuck with a sharp pica he jumped over the fence
and was with the audience. Such a scrambling! Most of the people threw
themselves into the ring, about the first ones to go being the guards,
who are placed around to take care of the people. It was quite a while
before quiet was restored, and the toro lassoed and removed.

Bull-fights have lasted longer this season than ever before, as it is
impossible to fight during the rainy season. Now a man comes forward
and says he is going to cover his ring and have fights all summer; this
will make the light in the ring dim, and the fighters will be at a
disadvantage, not being able to calculate their distances. It will also
make the fights more dangerous and more interesting. It is needless
to add that the people are delighted at the prospect. Last Sunday one
man got so excited over the big toro's fighting that when it was to be
stabbed he got down into the ring and, taking off his high silk hat,
asked the judge's permission to do the work. The audience rose to their
feet and shouted "Yes, yes," but the judge was unkind enough to refuse,
and thereby deprived us of seeing a fellow in broadcloth gored because
he thought he could kill a toro.

Congress is in full session now. The other day they passed a bill which
was strongly opposed. It is to the effect that any one caught meddling
with the railroads will be shot down instantly without a moment's
warning, and without a trial. Doubtless many will say that it is a
first-class law when they think of the wrongs committed on the railways
in Mexico. But it is such a law as will allow thousands of Mexicans
whose "honor desires satisfaction" to take advantage of it. The victim
is shot, and after he is dead the shooter steps forward and swears that
he saw him meddling with the railways, or knew he had designs on them.
This is all he has to do to be freed of the murder. While we believe in
dealing out unmerciful punishment to train wreckers, yet this law is
fit only for uncivilized countries, and least of all for Mexico, where
people shoot on the least provocation, ofttimes just for amusement, or
to test their unerring aim, piercing the brain or heart every time. It
is, certainly, a grand chance for those who have a desire for revenge
to obtain it and go scot-free.

However, the law is only to be tried for one year, and if it proves
good it will be adopted permanently. Now is the time for those who
claim the country is ruined by a ring to remove some of its links,
especially the key and padlock, and by doing so once again proclaim
liberty, and prove to the people that the "shoot without trial law"
really did some good.

Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) was the next big day for Mexico. Then they
commemorated the victory over the French, and it is done in princely
style. A French paper rather sensibly remarked that it would look
better if the Mexicans dropped this foolishness, as the French whipped
them on the 4th and again on the 6th. Some little government-paid
sheets came out in editorials as mad as turkey gobblers at the sensible
insinuation.

I for one am glad Lent and its eggs, red-pepper, and bad-smelling fish
is gone. What cowards our stomachs make of us all. I really have begun
to long for home, or rather home-cooking. I have made out a list which
I view every day, and see how much longer my stomach will have to
endure this trash. Fifty-six more mornings to drink black coffee and
long for even ham and eggs, with heavenly thoughts of hot cakes and
butter. Fifty-six more noons to eat boiled cheese, meat stuffed with
chili (red pepper), fish boiled in chili, with the fins, head, eyes,
and tail still adhering, dolce (dessert) of fried pumpkin sprinkled
with chili; fifty-six more suppers to eat the same bill of fare set up
cold; fifty-six more evenings to wonder why pulgras and chinches were
ever invented. By the way, if it were not for their musical names they
would surely be unendurable. There is a great deal in a name, after
all, and if I had to call them fleas and bedbugs I should take the next
train for the States. Well, I have fifty-six more nights to spend in an
iron-bottomed bed and then I shall cross the Rio Grande, and try once
again the pests which inflict mortals there.



CHAPTER XVIII.


GUADALUPE AND ITS ROMANTIC LEGEND.


We went up to the Zocalo to take a car for Guadalupe. All the street
cars start from this center, and on some lines trains of three to ten
in number are made up, so that they may be able to resist the bandits
who sometimes attack them--at least, so the corporation claims. We
determined to try a second-class car, in order to find out what they
were like. Our party seated ourselves and watched the crowd as they
came surging in. Two big fellows, dressed in buckskin suits and wearing
broad sombreros, who sat opposite, never removed their gaze from us. A
pretty little girl and an old man who sported a hat about two inches
high in the brim, deposited themselves on one side of us, and a black,
dried-up old fellow occupied the other.

When the car was about filled, a woman with a baby in her arms,
followed by her mother and husband, came in; the women sat down facing
us, while the husband, who wore a linen suit--pretty dirty, too--and
carried a large purple woolen serape, of which he seemed very proud,
wedged himself in between us and the piece of parchment on our left
side.

We were inclined to resent this close contact, and were beginning to
regret we had not taken the other car, where the people are a shade
cleaner, when a lot of Indian women, with babies and bundles, crowded
in, and, with a sudden rush which knocked the standing ones on to the
laps of the others, we were off at a 2:40 gait. The women sat down on
the floor of the car, except one who was dressed a little better than
the others. She came up to the dirty Indian by my side and told him to
get up. He was about to do so as an utterance of thanks escaped our
lips, when his mother-in-law and wife commanded him to sit down again.

This he did in all humbleness, but the woman in black commanded him to
rise, as he had no money to pay his fare. His mother-in-law's ire was
up, however, and she ordered him to display his wealth. He took out a
handkerchief, untied the corner and displayed one silver dollar and
some small change; then the old lady dived into the bosom of her dress,
and untying a similar handkerchief, displayed her worldly all. The
woman in black was convinced she had struck the wrong man, so she sat
down on the floor and related her side of the story to the people in
her end of the car, while the mother-in-law dealt out the same dose at
the other end. The conductor came in, and, straddling over the women on
the floor, sold the tickets for six and a half cents. Another conductor
followed to collect the same, and soon we reached our destination.

Guadalupe is the holiest shrine in Mexico. It is the scene of a
tradition that is never doubted for an instant by the people. In 1531
the Virgin appeared one evening to a poor peon, Juan Diego, and told
him to go to some wealthy man and say it was her will that a church be
built on that spot. The Indian, in a great fright, obeyed her command,
but the wealthy fellow refused to put credence in the incredulous
story, so the peon returned and told the Virgin, who was still there,
of his failure. She told him to return and show his tilma (apron) as
proof.

The amazed fellow did so, and the light disclosed the picture of the
Virgin painted on the apron. Still the unbeliever doubted, and the
Virgin sent for the third time a bunch of fresh roses such as never
before grew in this country. The infidel took the flowers, and the
picture of the Virgin fell from the heart of a rose. He was convinced,
and built a large church on the spot where the Virgin appeared.

The church is a fine one, decorated with statues, paintings and gold.
The silver railing weighs twenty-six tons, and is composed of a metal
composite. The church authorities have received numerous offers for
this rich relic. Some persons desired to replace the railing with one
of solid silver, but this bargain was not accepted. Diego's apron is
above the altar in a frame. On it is painted a picture of the Virgin,
but, to say the very least, it was not drawn by a master hand. The
bunch of roses, which, they claim, never fades, is also shown in a
glass vase, and is gazed on with reverence by the believers. Some
unbelievers (some people doubt everything) say fresh roses are put in
every day, but they are probably preserved.

It is the common belief that anything asked of the Virgin of Guadalupe
is granted. I have seen people pray with their hands outstretched, and
after awhile murmur, "Gracious, gracious!" and get up as if the favor
had been received. Women ofttimes kiss the floor when they think they
have received mercy at the hands of their dear saint. Near the door are
hundreds of rude oil paintings representing scenes in which the Virgin
has saved the lives of people. One man fell from a second-story window,
and by murmuring the Virgin's name escaped uninjured. Another was not
crushed to death, although his horse fell on him. One was released
from prison, many from fatal sicknesses, and hundreds of canes and
crutches in the corner testify to the many who have been healed.

A little green plaza filled with tall trees, beautiful flowers, and
flowing fountains, separates the church of the Virgin of Guadalupe from
another, which, in order to have some attraction, boasts of a well in
the vestibule, which is ever boiling up its muddy water.

The water cures any disease, so they say, and at any time a crowd is
found around its magic brim filling jars, bottles, and pitchers to take
home, or supping from the copper bowl that is chained to the iron bars
that cover the well. Very few can suppress the look of disgust when
they try to swallow the vile stuff with the all-healing qualities.

Nor are these all the churches of Guadalupe. Away up on the top of a
pile of rocks, some hundred feet in height, is the oldest church of the
three. It is quite small, and filled with quaint paintings.

At the back of it is the graveyard, where lies the body of Santa Anna,
and looking down over the brow of the hill the tourist can see the
building where the treaty of peace was signed with the Americans in
1848. It is now used as the barracks. At one side of the church is one
of the queer monuments raised in honor of the Virgin. The Escandon
family, who are believed to be worth some $20,000,000, once had a
vessel out to sea, the loss of which would have put them in bankruptcy.
There were great storms, and the vessel had been overdue so long that
everybody gave it up for lost. The Escandons went to the church in a
body and prayed to the Virgin to restore their property, and they would
in return build in her honor a stone sail. It must have been considered
a big inducement, for a few days after the ship came in safe, and the
stone sail stands to-day a memento of the Virgin's goodness.

Down on the other side, almost at the foot of the hill, is a grotto
which, perhaps, is the only one of the kind in the world. A poor Indian
formed the rough side of the stone hill into arches, benches, cunning
little summer houses and all sorts of retreats. This alone would not
have been very attractive, so he came to town and gathered up all the
pieces of china, glassware, etc., and, with a cement he had invented,
covered every inch with this stuff, fitting them neatly, smoothly
and evenly together. All sorts of designs he made--the Mexican coat
of arms, pea-fowls, serpents, birds, animals, scenes from life, Eve
plucking an apple in the Garden of Eden and handing it to Adam. The
work was done so well that it now looks like the finest mosaic, and
hence it is called the Mosaic Grotto. Flowers, trees and vines are
growing inside, and by candle light it looks like a transformation
scene.

There are potteries located here where the Indians make all sorts of
queer little things, which have some claim to beauty, and are bought
by the natives as well as foreigners. There is some talk of making a
pleasure resort at the village of Papotla, the historic Noche Triste,
where Cortes, when flying from the furious Aztecs, ordered a short
halt, and, sitting down under an old knotted and gnarled cypress tree,
wept at his failure. The tree is not a thing of beauty and has very
little life remaining in it now; the top has been removed, and it has
been badly burned on the inside by some one who had no love for the
memory of Cortes. A large iron fence now surrounds it, and effectually
blocks the destroyers or trophy gatherer's hand from further vandalism.
A pleasure resort might do well here, as the surrounding country is
beautiful. Between here and the city is the canal over which the
Spanish commander, Alvavado, made his famous leap, thereby saving his
life. Stories of it differ. One says that a wet, mossy log crossed the
canal, and the Spanish, seeing this their only means of escape, tried
to cross. The condition of the log caused them to slip, and they were
drowned in the depths below. When Alvarado came to it and saw the fate
of the others, he stuck his spear, or halberd, into the center and
safely sprung over. Still others claim he made the leap without the aid
of an intervening log.

Another pretty, story has been exploded. In the botanical garden at
the palace they have the celebrated flower Tzapalilqui-Xochitl, of the
Aztecs. The story runs that there are only three of the kind in the
world--one one at the palace, another at a different point in Mexico,
and the mother plant on the mountain. At one time two tribes had a
long and bloody war for the possession of it, so the story goes, but
with a great deal more exaggeration. The plant is commonly called the
"flower-hand," as they claim that inside is a perfect baby hand. I went
to see it, and was much disappointed. The tree grows to a good height.
The leaves, heart-shape, are thick and about the color of the under
part of a silver-maple leaf, except that they are very rough, which
prevents them from glistening like the maple. The thick, wax-like,
bell-shaped red blossom grows mouth upward, and inside is the so-called
hand. It has five fingers and one thumb, but looks exactly like a
bird's claw, and not like a hand. The story ran that there are but
three in existence. Without doubt the plant is rare and there may be
no more than a dozen, if that many, in the world; but I have seen in
the gardens of two different gentlemen the very same tree. One of these
gentlemen is in Europe, and the other bought his plant from him, so
there was no way of learning where the tree came from.

Mexican houses are built to last centuries. It is a common thing to see
houses two hundred years old, and they are better than many they are
putting up to-day, for they are adopting the American style of building
in as small a space as possible, the structures to stand for a few
years. The house where Humboldt lived is near the center of the city.
It is not kept as a monument to his memory, as one would suppose when
they think of the professed love of Mexico for him, but is occupied
by a private family. The only thing that marks the house from those
surrounding it is a small plate above the door, on which is inscribed:
"To the memory of Alexander Humboldt, who lived in this house in the
year 1808. In the centennial anniversary of his birth. The German
residenters. September 14, 1869."

At Tacubaya, two miles from the city, there is a large tree, about one
hundred and seventy feet in height. It is green, winter and summer,
and was never known to shed its leaves, which are of a peculiar oblong
shape and a beautiful livid green. For the reason that it never sheds
its leaves it derived the name of "the blessed tree;" the large
fountain at the foot, which furnishes the water for the poor of the
village, is called "the fountain of the blessed tree," and the pulque
shop and grocery store opposite are named "the pulque shop and the
beautiful store of the blessed tree."

Mexico is the hotbed of children; the land is flooded with them, and
a small family is a thing unknown; they greet you at every window, at
every corner, on every woman's back; they fill the carriages and the
plaza; they are like a swarm of bees around a honeysuckle--one on every
tiny flower and hundreds waiting for their chance. A man died the other
day who was followed to the grave by eighty-seven sons and daughters,
and had buried thirteen, more than you can count in three generations
in the States, so he was a father to the grand total of one hundred
children. There is another man living in Mexico who has had two wives,
and who has living forty-five children. Down in a small village,
out from Vera Cruz, is a father with sixty-eight children. Allowing
the small average of five to a family, one can see how numerous the
grandchildren would be. I am acquainted with a gentleman whose mother
is but thirteen-and-a half years older than he, and she has eighteen
more of a family. It is a blessed thing that the natives are able to
live in a cane hut and exist on beans and rice, else the lists of
deaths by starvation would be something dreadful.



CHAPTER XIX.


A DAY'S TRIP ON A STREET CAR.


After being annoyed by the porter for two hours, who feared we would
miss the train, our party of two at four o'clock in the morning
started for Jalapa. Even at this unholy hour a large crowd had
gathered at the station, where they busied themselves packing their
luggage aboard. Every woman had one male escort, some several. The
Mexicans surveyed myself and my chaperone in amazement, but I defied
their gaze and showed them that a free American girl can accommodate
herself to circumstances without the aid of a man. The mozo who had
carried the bothersome sachel demanded "un peso" (one dollar), which
I very promptly refused, and gave him the smallest change from my
purse--twenty-five cents. The seats run lengthwise, like in an ordinary
street car, and a Frenchman sitting opposite, who witnessed our little
transaction and my very limited knowledge of Spanish, remarked: "Well,
mademoiselle, you are smarter than I. A man charged me one dollar and a
half just for the same service that one rendered you, and, although I
speak Spanish, I had to pay it."

The occupants of the car were the Frenchman and his wife, a musician,
wife and sister-in-law, a Mexican and Frenchman solitaire, as they say
here, and ourselves. It was far from daylight, so, making themselves
as comfortable as possible, they all went to sleep. The Mexican women
were dressed in plain black, with black veils and very high hats;
they carried little black hand sachels, wore no gloves, and their
fingernails, easily a half-inch longer than the finger, were cut in
the bird-claw shape then so fashionable. The Frenchwoman did not look
very pretty, as she slept with her mouth open. She was dressed in red
silk, with red hat and veil, yellow gloves and linen duster. She was
very fleshy, and had, besides a hand sachel, a cage in which were
two brown birds dotted with red, which they informed us later were
French canaries. Her husband was about six feet three inches, and
weighed undoubtedly three hundred pounds. The solitaire Frenchman was
bald-headed, and had white side-whiskers, which stood out at right
angles to the length of one foot; his whiskers were the largest part
of him. The Mexican had a very red nose, extremely thick lips, and was
rather effeminate-looking. The married Mexican looked exactly like a
jolly Irish-man--something very extraordinary. After I had finished
this inspection by the dim light of a lamp which hung in the center of
the car, I too went to sleep, and knew no more till the train stopped
at the journey's end, a few miles out from Vera Cruz.

It ended the train's journey, but not ours, for the rest of the trip
is made by tramway. The cars are very high, have four seats, and the
rays of the sun are excluded by a tin roof and canvas sides. Six mules
do the hauling, and two cars--first and second-class--are run each way
daily. They run on a regular iron track, as it was once the intention
to run steam cars here. A great deal of freight is hauled in this
manner. The village surrounding this station is entirely composed of
straw huts. We were soon seated in the tram car, our number increased
by the guardsmen, who, as the old saying goes, were armed to the
teeth. A bell rang, and off we started with a rush, the second-class
car keeping close to us. Our happiness would have been supreme had not
the driver lashed his mules continually. The scenery was fine. The
tall, graceful palms, the cocoa trees, the thousands upon thousands
of beautiful orchids and wild flowers, the many-colored birds, some
piping heavenly strains, others taking their morning bath in the
running stream which crept along the wayside with a dreamy murmur; the
delightfully fragrant, balmy air, everything seemed to lend its aid
to make the scene one of indescribable loveliness. It was interesting
to note the homes and home life of the natives in this rural spot;
their straw houses are built simply by setting trees for corner posts
and sticking the cane into the ground around them. The roof, of cane,
grass, or palm leaves, always runs up to a high peak. Generally every
house has a porch and more rooms than one, but never any other floor
than the ground. Sometimes they exhibit good taste in building and
one house will have several rooms, two or more porches and pretty
peaks and curves which one would think impossible to make of cane; the
furniture does not cost much, it consists entirely of petates; they
furnish the tables, the beds, the chairs, and, suspended by a rope,
make a comfortable swinging cradle for the babies. This useful piece
of furniture is nothing more or less than a mat, woven by themselves
in plain or colored straw; these people, no difference how poor, own
burros, dogs, chickens, pigs, and other domestic animals, which do not
occupy outside or separate houses, but live, sleep, and eat right in
among them. A pig is as much at home in the kitchen or parlor as in a
mud puddle. It is no uncommon sight to see sleeping children bound on
one side by a pig, on the other by a sheep, and at their feet either a
dog or a goat.

Dinner was secured at an inn situated midway on the line. The landlord
taxed each passenger one dollar for the frugal repast, and even then
did not seem satisfied. The rays of the sun were beating fiercely down
when the travelers again boarded the tram car. One woman took from her
sachel a cross and prayer book, and read herself to sleep. The other
Mexican girl leaned her head on the back of the seat and went to sleep.
The big Frenchwoman turned her back to the side of the car and putting
her knees up on the seat she, too, went to sleep. Her husband by this
time was nodding slowly and soothingly, while the other Frenchman was
trying to tickle him by running a straw down his back, but at length
he tired of efforts unrewarded and sat down and went to sleep. When I
looked at the two Mexicans they were asleep, one with a half-smoked
cigarette in his mouth. The driver had tied the lines around the brake
lock and was in the midst of the land of nod. Even the two holders
of defensive weapons, who were there to guard us from all sorts of
imaginary evils, were so sound asleep that a cannon shot would not wake
them. Even the little birds had tucked their heads carefully under
their wings and, maybe, were dreaming. It was all so comical that I
glanced at my little mother to find she was bravely trying to resist
the sleepy god. She gave me a drowsy, sympathetic smile, while I buried
my face in my light shawl and laughed just like I used to do in church
when I would see anything funny, and my laughter was just as hearty
and hard to control. The mules had long ago gone to sleep, but still
managed to move slightly. The situation was too overpowering, and I
must confess that after putting myself into as small a knot as possible
I deposited my entire body on the seat and soon went sound asleep.

When I opened my eyes I found all the rest awake and the married
Mexican preparing to shoot birds. The driver was certainly the most
obliging fellow in the world. When anything was shot he stopped the car
and waited until the other got off and procured his game. The Mexican
shot at everything which was living, except the trees and flowers, but
he got off for nothing but squirrels, and the heartlessness of it made
us wish they had a humane society here, for many of the poor birds were
disabled, and the thought that they must live on in pain for many days
was not a pleasant one.

Our route lay over the old diligence road that connected Mexico with
the end of the world. Cortes, the French and the Americans all traveled
over it. We crossed the old national bridge and saw the ruins of one of
the forts built by Cortes. When the Mexican tired of his killing sport
the three ladies joined him in a game of cards, which the passengers
and driver watched with absorbing interest, while the mules resumed
their nap. I was bored beyond endurance by the listlessness of the
company, and was not sorry when their attention was attracted by a cart
drawn by four oxen, which was descending a high hill in the distance.

The cards were put aside, and they began to talk about the hacienda,
which was clearly in view, and the beautiful mansion, cathedral, and
numerous homes for the laborers, which held a commanding position on
top of the same high hill down which the cart was coming. When we
reached the brow of the hill, by looking back, we could see a white
streak which separated sky and earth, and were told it was the sea at
Vera Cruz, sixty miles away. The cart stopped at this point, where the
motive power was renewed by fresh mules, and its passengers--three
women--kissed and hugged the trio of Mexicans in our party. The
hacienda, owned by our fellow travelers, once belonged to Santa Anna.
When we resumed the journey it was drawing on toward evening, and I
began to view the beautiful surroundings with but a lazy interest; the
queer fences, built of mud and topped with cactus plant, and hedges
formed of beautiful palms, fifty or one hundred years old, commanded
but a passing glance. Pretty little homes, lovely gardens and sugar
factories had ceased to be of interest, so we settled down to rest
until the Frenchman stretched out his arm and ejaculated "Jalapa!"

In a moment all weariness vanished, and we were fresh as in the
morning. I wish I could show you Jalapa just as I saw it then. It
nestled down in the valley like a kitten in a cushioned basket. The
white houses gleamed like silver through the green trees, while the
surrounding mountains were enveloped in a light bluish mist which
grew black as the distance increased. The sun had just slipped behind
one, leaving its golden trail, the black and white clouds, the misty
mountains all mixed in one harmonious mass. We entered the town with
a rush, the driver blowing his tin horn to warn the inhabitants of
our arrival. A large crowd had collected at the station, but only two
hotel runners were there to bother us, and as all the other passengers
were citizens they clung to us faithfully. The Frenchman said he would
go with us to the hotel and make all arrangements. He took us to what
he thought was the best, and asked the woman the price. "One dollar
and fifty cents a day," she said, and us we were satisfied he bade us
good-bye, and left us to the tender mercies of the Mexicans. The hotel
was certainly very clean and nice. In the courtyard were trees and
flowers. A porch paved with brick tile surrounded this, and was hung at
every available space with bird cages. The building, only one-story,
was painted white, with trimmings of blue, The overhanging roof
was down low, and the rafters, which are never hidden, were painted
a light blue. The supper was undoubtedly the best we had eaten in
Mexico, and it immediately put a warm place in our heart for the little
superintendent, who lived awhile in the States and there learned to
cook.

Jalapa is at present the capital of the State of Vera Cruz; the capital
business is very different here from what it is in the States; there,
once a capital, always a capital; here, every new Governor locates the
capital where it best suits his convenience, if that should be in the
forest. Orizaba and Vera Cruz have both served repeated terms, but
Jalapa made a successful run and got in at the last convention. It is
a very old town, and not only noted for the beauty of its women, who
possess light hair and eyes, and beautiful complexions, but for the
beauty of its location. It is known as the flower garden of Mexico,
and the old familiar saying was, "See Jalapa and die," as it was
supposed to contain everything worth seeing; but at present it is
simply a beautiful, sleepy paradise, reminding one of a pretty child
in death--quiet and still, almost buried in a wealth of flowers; the
government buildings and churches are very fine, but the houses are
only one story; they are built with low, red-tiled, overhanging roofs,
and are tastily painted. Some pink houses have light-blue overhangers
and _vice versa,_ while white houses have blue or pink, and the yellow
have blue, pink, and white trimmings. Every street is very irregular,
narrow in some places, wide in others, and as crooked as the path of a
sinner. One can walk for a day and imagine they are on the same street
all the time, or on a different one every thirty feet, just as fancy
dictates.

One would willingly spend a lifetime on this "spot of earth let down
from heaven," as the Mexicans speak of it. Away over hills and ravines
can be seen the great Cofre de Perote, thirteen thousand five hundred
and fifty-two feet high. A great mass of white porphyry, in the shape
of a chest, gleams from its dark side. From this it derived its name,
"Cofre." Still above all, as though endeavoring to reach heaven, is
the snowy peak of Orizaba. The former is within a day's travel from
the town, and well deserves a visit. To the northeast, thirty miles
distant, is the lovely village of Misantla, noted for its beautiful
scenery and Aztec temple and pyramid. A little further north is another
pyramid, the finest and oldest in Mexico. Jilatepec is only seven miles
away. It is a lovely Indian village, peculiarly situated at the bottom
of a deep valley. Several foreign families are located at the flower
town of Cuatepec, owners of some of its far-famed coffee plantations.

Jalapa has a population of 12,400, and an elevation of 4,335 feet.
The climate is cool, the soil fertile, and the town never visited by
contagious diseases. All around are plantations of coffee, tobacco,
vanilla, cotton, maize, and jalapa--the well-known old medicine which
was a remedy for every known ill to which flesh is heir to. Jalapa is
pronounced as though it were spelled with an _h,_ with a soft sound to
the _a_--Halapah. There are many cotton mills around the suburbs that
are well worth the time it takes to visit them. We visited one owned
by our polite French friend. The building once sheltered nuns, and
the garden which surrounds it shows what it might once have been, but
is now one tangled mass of climbing roses, lemon, orange and coffee
trees, and numerous flowers for which I know no name. At the back, from
a little stone turret, one can view a smooth green plain divided by a
silvery stream--known by the inappropriate name of the Dry River, while
it was never known to go dry--which flows on to make that ponderous
machinery its slave, as it turns around with almost diabolical glee.
Men and women do the work. They receive from one real to seventy-five
cents a day. The machinery all comes from England.

Not far from the main Cathedral are the ruins of the Convent of San
Francisco. It is easily three hundred years old, and is of immense
size. Over the door of the chapel part we could trace "Property of King
Philip, of Spain," while cut in gilt letters on a black plate, just a
little nearer the edge of the building, is the inscription, "Land of
Benito Juarez." The baths are now used for the benefit of the public,
costing only six cents. The open swimming baths are used for horses
and dogs, the former costing three cents, the latter gratis, providing
the canine accompanies the horse. The public laundry is another place
of interest. It is situated in the center of the town, built of brick,
with stationary porous stones for washboards. The city charges nothing
for the use of the place.

When evening came I called my old landlady up and offered her three
dollars for the day. "No," she said, "I want six dollars." I was
astonished, but managed--with a mixture of English and Spanish--to
tell her I would pay no more. She went to her husband and he made out
a bill "payable by Nellie Bly for two--supper, all night, coffee and
breakfast, six dollars." I told her it was all wrong, and added that
she was bad, because I did not know a Spanish word for cheat, but I
wanted to get as near it as possible. At last I tried to drive some
sense into her head, and explained that the bill for one day for two
was three dollars. "Si hay" (pronounced "see eye"), she asserted.
"Well, I came last night, was here till this afternoon; one day, eh?"
"No, two," was her astonishing reply. "Well, madame, twenty-four hours
is one day in the United States, and if it isn't so here, I will start
it now." I gave her three dollars; and, remembering the old adage
that "he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day," and
having no desire to leave my bones in Jalapa or go to Vera Cruz with
a map drawn on my face with her fingernails, returned to my room and
left her to vent her rage on her husband or servants, as she wished.
But she was not going to be beaten by a "gringo," so she sent for the
Frenchman who brought me there. He rapped on my door, and asked what
was wrong. I told him the old lady was not only seeing double, but
counted everything by the second multiplication table. He laughed, and
said she thought I was a "gringo," and she could cheat me. He soon made
her see clearer, and we remained the following night and had supper
for seventy-five cents. I had learned pretty well how to make all
arrangements first, and proposed in the future not to drink a glass of
water until I knew the price. I had no intention of allowing a Yankee
girl to be cheated by a Mexican, man or woman.

The next morning we started on our return trip to Vera Cruz. We looked
forward to it with pleasure, as the former day spent on a street car
was one of the most pleasant and unique experiences of my life. We
had very few passengers down, the conductor, two soldiers, driver,
one old woman and ourselves, and a game rooster, who crowed at every
village, and was treated with as much consideration as a babe would
have been. At the station, just before we started, an old man who had
heard us speaking English, came up and spoke to us. He was an American,
but having lived in this town for forty years had forgotten his mother
tongue. His English was about as good as the newsboy's who took me to
his hotel in Vera Cruz. The old woman was going about one hundred and
twenty-five miles to see her married daughter, and she was bare-headed.
This woman did not know there was such a thing as the United States,
could not imagine what New York meant, and had never heard of George
Washington, not to mention the little hatchet and the democratic cry
of "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." She made the day's
trip alternately smoking a cigarette and reading her prayer-book. A
short way out on the road the driver got off and picked up a little
gray bird by the roadside. On examination I found its side was terribly
lacerated by a shot, but I bound it up with my silk handkerchief and
decided to carry it to Vera Cruz, where I would try my hand at surgery.
The day passed similar to the former one, everybody going to sleep
after dinner; but the beauty of the country, and the novelty of a day
in a street car, robbed it of all disagreeable features, and as we
neared Vera Cruz I not only noted this the spiciest experience of my
life, but said I would not exchange it for any other in the Republic of
Mexico.



CHAPTER XX.


WHERE MAXIMILIAN'S AMERICAN COLONY LIVED.


On opening my door one morning to leave for the railway station a man,
who had evidently been waiting by the side of the entrance, sprung
forward and seized my baggage. My first impression was that he was a
robber; but I retained my screams for another occasion and decided
it was a mozo who wanted to help me to the train. Remembering former
experience, and wishing to profit thereby, I rushed after and caught
him just at the head of the stairway. Clutching his blouse with a
death grip, I yelled, "Cuanto?" "Un peso," he answered. Well, as I was
a healthy American girl, and as strong as one can be after several
months' training on beans and cayenne pepper, I had no intention of
giving a great, big, brown fellow $1 for carrying a five-pound sachel
half a square. I said "no" in a pretty forcible manner, and gave weight
and meaning to my monosyllable by jerking the sachel away. He looked
at me in amazement, and as he saw I was not going to be cheated he
said fifty cents. I said nothing, and, picking up the sachel, trudged
down-stairs. At the door he once more approached me and asked how much
I would give. "Un medio" (six and a quarter cents), I replied. "Bueno,"
he said, and took it at the price, while I congratulated myself on
saving ninety-three and three-quarter cents.

The car was full of people who, we found out afterward, composed a
Spanish opera troupe. Although they were not many they filled the
car, and in order to get a seat we had to put down shawls, beer and
wine-bottles, band-boxes, lunch-baskets, a pet dog, a green parrot, and
numerous small things. Every woman had at least three children, which
were cared for by as many nurses. Oh, what a howling, dirty, lazy mob!

The pretty little town of Cordoba lies about two miles from the
station, and street cars, hauled by four mules, await each train and
carry the passengers to the village--first-class, twelve and a half
cents; the cars wind through little streets shaded on either side by
beautiful foliage, which, every here and there, gives the tourist
tantalizing glimpses of the exquisite tropical gardens within; the
street car passes the only hotel in the town--the Diligencia. It is
a low, one-story structure, and looks more like a cattle-yard than a
habitation for human beings; the overhanging roof droops toward the
pavement, and is within a few feet of the ground. Inside one sees a
little porch on one side, which, covered with many trailing, curling
vines, serves for the dining-room. Opposite is an office and bedroom
combined, where, at the desk, sits a grizzly-haired man writing, ever
writing, from morning until night's shade hides the tracing from his
aged eyes.

He greets one with a weary, pathetic smile, and a far-away look in his
saddened eyes, as though wondering what has become of all the guests
who used to trip in gayly, with black eyes and white teeth sparkling
in evident pleasure at reaching his hospitable board, with whom he
grasped hand, and in true Mexican style said, "My house is yours," and
that friend responded, "Your humble servant." Poor old landlord, he
has lived too long! The advent of civilization has rushed in upon his
friends and crushed out his trade. The noisy old diligencia has long
ceased to rattle except in his memory, and the modern street-car stops
at his door once in many months to leave him a white-faced, curious
stranger, whom he greets with that strange smile and then returns to
his writing, waiting for that which is nevermore.

A man and woman came in on the same train, and the latter offered
her services to us, being able to speak the two languages. When we
entered, the chambermaid took my troublesome baggage and led us back
to where the rooms formed a circle around the court. In the center
stood a large basin where several old horses and mules--which looked
like old "Rip" after his long sleep--were lazily drinking. They paused
long enough to survey the unusual arrival. When we entered our room
the chambermaid--who is always of the male gender in Mexico--set down
my baggage and demanded fifty cents. I, not feeling disposed to throw
money away, decided not to pay one cent. Accordingly, I laid aside my
few words of Spanish and spoke to him in English. "What do you want? I
don't understand," etc. At last he took two quarters from his pockets
and held them before me on his open palm. I calmly reached out, and,
taking them, was going to transfer them to my pocket when he, in great
alarm, yelled: "No, no!" and grabbing them, tied them up in the corner
of his handkerchief, with great haste and evident pleasure. It had the
effect of curing him, for he immediately shook hands and left without
demanding more.

Cordoba, or Cordora, was established April 26, 1617, with 17
inhabitants. It was during the time of the Viceroy Diego Fernandez
de Cordoba, Marquis of Guadalcazar, and was named for him. King
Philip III. of Spain issued the charter on November 29 of the same
year. The population to-day, composed of Mexicans, 2 Germans and 1
American, is 44,000. It is built compactly. The town is clean and
healthful. Nearly all the streets are paved, but everything has a
quiet, Sunday-afternoon appearance. There are no public works, but the
surrounding plantations, which mark it as one of the prettiest places
in Mexico, furnish work for the populace. The Indians are cleaner and
better looking than those around the City of Mexico, and children
are not so plentiful. But one pulque shop is running, consequently
there are less drunken people than elsewhere, yet the jail is full of
prisoners. On Sunday people are permitted to visit their friends in
jail. They cannot go in, but they can go as far as the bars and look
through. The prisoners are herded like so many cattle. Their friends
carry them food. They push a small basket through the bars, and the
intervening officer puts it through another set of bars into the hands
of the fortunate receiver. Sometimes the prisoners get a few pence
and are enabled to buy what they want from the venders who come there
to sell. Indeed, it is ofttimes difficult to say which mob looks the
worse, the one on the inside or the visitors.

The market at present is situated on the ground around the plaza, but
some well-disposed Spanish gentleman is building what will be one of
the handsomest market houses in Mexico. It is situated on the edge
of town, and the surroundings are most pleasing. On one side is the
ruins of an old convent, famous for the goodness of the sisters, their
exquisite needlework, their intelligence and beauty. But time has laid
his hand heavily on the structure, and it has fallen into decay. At
the back stands a high marble shaft, broken at the top, and dotted
with green cacti which have sprung forth from the little crevices. It
has the appearance of very old age, but was erected in honor of those
who fell in the fight for liberty. One of the finest gardens in Mexico
bounds the other side. It is the property of the gentleman who gave the
ground and is building the market house, which alone will cost $50,000.
It is a marvel of beautiful walks and cunning retreats. It seems absurd
that such a spot, so fitted for love-making, should be placed in a
country where they don't know how to make use of it. In the center
stands a Swiss cottage built of cane, with a stained-glass window.

A stairway, also of cane, leads to the second story, and little
balconies surrounding the colored windows give one a lovely view of
the entire valley and surrounding hills. I wish it were in my power
to give some idea of the bountiful flowers which are forever opening
up their pretty perfumed faces in this entrancing spot; there are
thousands of roses, of all colors and shades, from the size of a gold
dollar to that of the fashionable female's hat. One spot shows tiny
flowers fit for the fairies, of wonderful shade and mold; next would
be a large, healthy, rugged tree, which bore flowers as delicate and
dainty as any plant in existence. It reminded one of a strong father
with his tiny babe in his protecting arms; the handsome avenues are
perfect bowers of beauty; the little birds in the foliage twitter
softly but incessantly. It is all life, but in a subdued, gentle
monotone, soft as the last lullaby over the little child who has closed
its eyes and, with a smile, joined that heavenly band to which it
rightly belongs.

This is the only place in Mexico where we found a man who knew enough
to have the flowers separated by a green lawn. It is the universal
rule here to grow anything but grass, which is considered an unsightly
weed. A Spanish gentleman once took me to see the grounds surrounding
a Mexican mansion. The trees, flowers, and shrubs, as well as the
statuary and fountains, could not be excelled, but the ground was bare
as Mother Hubbard's cupboard, and swept as clean as a dancing floor.
"This place cost more than five million dollars, and thousands more
yearly," explained the gentleman. "You have nothing in the States to
compare with it."

Cordoba supports three public schools and male and female academies,
one theater and about thirty churches. The finest church, located
next to the plaza, cost thousands of dollars. It has a marble floor
and twenty altars, dressed in the finest lace, with silver and gold
ornaments. The frescoing displays exquisite workmanship. The images are
wax-clad, and quaint.

The plantations surrounding Cordoba grow oranges, pineapples, coffee,
bananas, tobacco, rice, cocoanuts and peanuts. Coffee was introduced
into the West Indies in 1714, and here in 1800. It grows best in a
temperate zone, and Vera Cruz raises more than any other state in
Mexico. Most every variety requires protection from the sun, and will
die if set out alone, so those having large groves plant coffee in
them. Others make double use of their fertile land by planting groves
of cocoa palms with the alternate rows of coffee trees. The leaf and
bark of a coffee tree resemble that of a black cherry. The blossom
is white and wax-like, with a faint perfume, and the berries grow
on a branch like gooseberries. A tree will bear three years after
planting the seed, and on one branch will have ripe and green coffee
and blossoms all at the same time. When ripe it is gathered and laid
on the ground to dry, being stirred every morning to dry it equally.
This whips the hull off, and it is taken to the village, where it sells
for four cents a pound. Each hull holds two grains. One tree will live
and bear, with little or no cultivation, for eighty years. Bananas are
four years old before they bear. The finer banana is never seen in the
States, as it will not bear shipping. The kind shipped there the people
here consider unfit to eat unless cooked, and they prepare some very
dainty dishes from them. There are more than fifty different varieties,
from three inches in length to three-quarters of a yard. The small ones
are the best. The leaves are used by the merchants for wrapping-paper,
and by the Indians for thousands of different things.

Tobacco now grows in about half the states of the Republic, and thrives
up to an elevation of six thousand feet. Formerly its cultivation was
restricted to Orizaba and Cordoba, and a leaf of it found growing
elsewhere, either accidentally or for private consumption, was, by
law, promptly uprooted by officials appointed to watch for it. In 1820
two million pounds of it grew in this district, but now the output is
greatly decreased, owing to the heavy taxes. Sugar cane grows in all
but six states, up to an elevation of six thousand feet. It requires
eighteen months for crops to mature, except in warmer soil, when it
takes from eight to ten months.

One remarkable thing is, that the men who own the fine gardens
surrounding the village do not live near them, as one would suppose,
but inhabit stuffy little houses in the midst of the town. One bachelor
has on his plantation plants from all parts of the world, over which he
has traveled ten times. He cultivates all kinds of palms in existence,
among which we noticed what is known as the "Traveler's tree." It is
a strange looking thing, with long, flat, thick leaves growing up as
though planted in the center and hanging loose at the ends. The flower
is beautiful, with three long petals, the upper two white and the under
one a sky blue. It is of a wax-like stiffness. Readers of books of
travel will be familiar with the tree, it derives its name from the
fact that it grows in the desert where no water is to be found. On
thrusting a penknife into its body a clear stream of water, probably a
pint and a half, will flow from one cut, and people traveling through
the desert quench their thirst from this source, hence its name. The
water is very cool and has a slight mineral taste, but is rather good
and pleasing. It gives water freely all day, but, after the sun sets,
is perfectly dry.

The bread and quinine trees are among his interesting collection.
One odd plant attracted attention. It bore a round, green leaf, but
wherever there is to be a blossom the four leaves turn a pretty red
and form a handsome flower, each leaf forming a petal. The true
blossom, which does not amount to much, being long and slim, like a
honeysuckle, forms the stamens. It is of foreign importation, and grows
in a climbing vine, whole arbors being covered with it. The grounds
are surrounded by a hedge of cactus, which is strong and impassable.
The Yucca palm and fruit cactus grew off in a corner by themselves.
Several small streams run through this plantation, spanned by lovely
rustic bridges. In the deep ravines are found ferns of every variety
known, and on the trees a collection of orchids which, I believe, has
no equal in any country. The happy owner, who is a bachelor worth about
$20,000,000, lives in a little house in the center of this town, which
has never been furnished until last winter, but in the courtyard he has
plants from every country in the world, for which the shipment alone
cost $40,000.

Down by Cordoba I found a tribe of Indians who are not known to many
Mexicans excepting those in their vicinity; they are called the
Amatecos, and their village, which lies three miles from Cordoba, is
called Amatlan; their houses, although small, are finer and handsomer
than any in the Republic. Flowers, fruit, and vegetables are cultivated
by them, and all the pineapples, for which Cordoba is famous, come from
their plantations; they weave all their own clothing, and have their
own priest, church, and school. Everything is a model of cleanliness,
and throughout the entire village not one thing can be found out of
place; the women are about the medium height, with slim but shapely
bodies; their hands and feet are very small, and their faces of a
beautiful Grecian shape; their eyes are magnificent, and their hair
long and silky; they dress in full skirt, with an overdress made like
that we see in pictures of Chinese women, or like vestments worn by
priests of the Catholic Church. It is constructed of cotton in the
style and pattern of lace. Around the neck and ends it is beautifully
embroidered in colored silk, the dresses always being white. On the
feet they wear woven slippers of a pink color, and on their heads a
square pink cloth long enough in the back to cover the neck, like those
worn by peasant girls in comic operas; the arms are bare, covered
alone with bands and ornaments; the neck is encircled with beads of
all descriptions, and is also hung with silver and gold ornaments; the
earrings are very large hoops, like those introduced into the States
last fall; they never carry a baby like other tribes, but all the
children are left religiously at home.

The men are large and strongly built, not bad-featured, and wear a very
white, low-necked blouse and pantaloons, which come down one-third the
distance between waist and knee. They also wear many chains, ornaments,
bracelets, and earrings. They are always spotlessly clean, and if
they have a scratch on their body--of which they get many traveling
the thorny roads--they do not go outside their village until entirely
healed. They are industrious and rich, and never leave their homes but
once a week, where they bring their marketing and sell to the Indians
in Cordoba, as they are never venders themselves, selling always by the
wholesale. Their language is different from all the others, but they
also speak Spanish. The women are sweet and innocent. They look at one
with a smile as frank as a good-humored baby's, and are undoubtedly the
handsomest and cleanest people in the Republic. I would not have missed
them for anything, and can now believe there are some Indians like the
writers of old painted them.

In the time of Maximilian a colony of Americans asked the emperor for
land on which to settle. He kindly gave them their own choice, and they
settled at Cordoba, where they had the advantage of the tropical clime
and were secure from yellow fever. They were three hundred in number,
and in a short time, with true American industry, they made business
brisk. Three American hotels were established, and the plantations were
the finest and most prosperous in the land. Maximilian looked on the
little band with favor and gave them ample aid and protection. During
the rebellion the liberty party made raids on their homes, destroyed
their property, and not only made them prisoners and hurried them off
to Yucatan--a place from which there is no escape--but murdered them
whenever they wanted some new amusement. Maximilian was powerless to
help those who had prospered under his care, and just when he was
to be shot the last of the colony, who feared the liberty party,
deserted their once happy homes and went to another country. Only one
remained, Dr. A. A. Russell, who has been the solitary American here
for twenty years. The hotels have disappeared, and the plantations, now
possessed by Mexicans, bear no traces of their once tidy and prosperous
appearance; this is the history of the first and last American colony
ever formed in Mexico, given me by the last remaining colonist, who
reminds one of the last chief, inconsolable and disconsolate, keeping
vigil at the tombs of his people until death shall claim him too.



CHAPTER XXI.


A MEXICAN ARCADIA.


"If you come over here you will get a better view," spoke a gentleman
as he came from the back end of the car hauling us from Cordoba to this
place. We were nearly breaking our backs in a vain endeavor to look
over a man and wife, surrounded by almost as many children as belonged
to the old woman in the shoe, down the perpendicular side of the
mountain into the deep ravine beneath. We took a survey of the speaker,
of his light woolen suit with wide sombrero to match, his pleasant,
handsome face, and mentally decided that he was not only worth looking
at, but also worth talking to. By the time the train had passed the
barranca we were in a deep conversation, quite after the manner of
Americans, and although none of us asked any impudent questions we were
discussing marriage and women's rights.

"I think every woman should be taught some useful occupation," he said,
"and their education should be unlimited. But the one great fault
of the world is not paying a woman what she is worth. There are few
things in which a woman is able to sell her talents at the same price
as a man, and it is a reproach to humanity that it is so. I have three
daughters now at school. The oldest is studying to be a physician, the
second has great artistic ability which she is cultivating, and the
third is a good musician. In either of these vocations they can take
their place among men and receive the same recompense.

"I am living in Orizaba now," he continued, "and have been hunting deer
for the past few days just below Cordoba. We saw plenty, but our man
and dogs did not understand the game, so we returned empty handed. The
only thing wounded is my friend back there, who fell out of a hammock
while we were away and sprained his ankle." As we told him Orizaba was
also our destination, the next question was where did we intend to
stop, and found it was the place where he lived. After he had given
the wounded man into the care of friends, we got on a car and soon
reached our hotel. It was so dainty and nice that I cannot resist a
brief description for the benefit of those who may some day be in its
locality.

It is known as the La Borda, and is near the station, as well as the
best in the town. The rooms are a model of cleanliness and neatly
furnished. From the front one can survey part of the village, and the
range of mountains outlined against the sky like immense waves, each
one climbing higher, and above all the great mountain, that majestic
monument which wears its snowy nightcap seventeen thousand two hundred
feet above the level of the sea. At the rear of the house, just below
the dining-room windows, is a never-ceasing waterfall which goes to
feed some mills in the vicinity. In the first glimmer of day with our
wakening senses we hear its murmuring song with that of the birds. Its
sound is in a gentle, half-subdued manner, as though enticing the
birds to come nearer to its brink and bathe their toes and quench
their thirst with its foaming waves. Near mid-day it gets loud and
boisterous, and you seem to hear: "The day is short, improve your
time," over and over with a monotony that rather fascinates us.

Directly above this wonderful fall is a cozy little garden, cultivated
by the landlady, who also deserves a word. She is a German, who
accompanied her husband to this country some years ago. He died and
left her in a strange land with two baby girls, whom she maintains by
running this hotel. She is quite pretty, and speaks German and Spanish
fluently, while she is studying English, and understands some now. She
keeps her house, like most Germans, as clean as it can possibly be
made, and endeavors to have all her guests feel at home. The cooking
is so good and everything so comfortable that one would fain have the
little German woman and the La Borda in every town in the Republic.

Orizaba is a beautiful little valley surrounded by a chain of majestic
mountains. The houses are white and most generally of one and two
stories. There are 25,500 inhabitants. It was for a long time the
capital of Vera Cruz. When this place was first founded in the year
1200 by the Tlascaltacas, its original name was Ahanializapan, which,
translated, meant "Pleasure in or on the water." The people prospered
and lived in peace and happiness until the Aztec Emperor Montezuma
reduced them to his dominion in 1457. Still under such a good and wise
king they could not be otherwise than happy in this lovely garden,
until Gonzalo Sandoval undertook and was successful in conquering them
in 1521. But even war did not stop its progress, and in ten years
later, in 1531, the governor gave it its present name, the Valley of
Orizaba. The people grew in intelligence, and were industrious and
religious. In 1534 they built their first parish church, Gonzalode
Olmedo, and as early as 1599 had put up a building and opened their
first school. Inhabitants increased rapidly, and in 1774 it took the
rank of town. Not satisfied yet, they built up, and the population
increased by birth and new settlers until in 1830 it was declared to be
a city.

Orizaba was for a long time capital of its state, Vera Cruz, and is now
the pleasure and health resort for people from all over the Republic,
besides being the home of the wealthy people of Vera Cruz. No yellow
fever or any of the other diseases come to this dainty valley, yet
twelve doctors are holding forth and trying to gain a living in the
vicinity. All are Spanish, with the exception of one, an Austrian,
and only two speak English, one of whom used to write for an American
paper. For the entire population there are but three baths (banos), but
the poor can go to the river which runs near by. The only amusements
are the billiard hall, bowling alley, and two fine theaters. One
contains 272 lunetas, eighteen plateas, nineteen palcos, and one
galeria. The other cost $100,000, and has a magnificent interior. It
has 252 lunetas, eighty balconies, three grilles, thirteen first-class
and thirteen second-class palcos, and one galeria.

On the map there are recorded but eleven churches, but even from our
hotel window we could count many times the number. Those recorded are
the San Antonio, Calverio, Concordid, Las Dolores, Santa Gertrudes,
San Jose de Gracia (ex-convent), San Juan de Dios, San Maria, Tercer
Orden and La Parroquis, which is the largest and finest. It is situated
in the zocalo and has had its steeple knocked off three times by
earthquakes. The latter seem to have a special grudge against this
one church, for although they have caused the towers of many others
to lean, they have never shaken any of them completely down. Orizaba
must be a very naughty child--beautiful children most always are--for
Dame Nature often gives it a shaking. She is an indulgent and not very
severe mother, as little or no damage is ever done by the correction,
excepting to this one cathedral. During our stay the earth shivered as
though struck with a chill, but the people paid no more attention to it
than we do to a summer shower; not half so much, in fact, as we do when
the mentioned shower threatens to ruin our Easter bonnet.

Two little Spanish papers of four pages, or two sheets, about 8x6
inches square, retail at twelve and a half cents and furnish the
news for the inhabitants. The children here should not be lacking in
education, as there are ten schools for boys and six for girls; they
can start at any age, and go as long as they wish. Besides this, the
government sustains a preparatory college of one hundred and fifty
students, at the yearly cost of eleven thousand dollars; a high school
for girls, two hundred and fifteen pupils, at two thousand eight
hundred dollars, and a model school for boys, one hundred and eighty
students, at five thousand six hundred dollars. The government also
gives a subsidy to five adult schools of six hundred dollars. The
municipality schools, four for boys, three for girls and five for
adults, cost yearly eight thousand dollars. In addition, there are
twenty-nine private schools, with an attendance of five hundred and
forty girls, six hundred and forty boys and sixteen adults; yet, with
all this well-made report, there are in the Republic of Mexico two
million five hundred thousand people who cannot read or write.

Orizaba has rather a big heart--they furnish a free home for men and
one for women with hospitals attached, but one don't dare mention their
cleanliness or order; they are under the superintendence of the Board
of Charity. There is also a retreat for the insane, which, like ours
in the States, occupies a spot free from all other habitations. The
last year's report of the town's statistics shows that they received
indirect contributions, $25,000; direct contributions, $20,000;
miscellaneous sources, $4,000; municipal rights, $4,000; contribution
of twenty-five per cent. to Federal district, $27,000. Pulque shops are
scarce, there being only three, besides one lithographer, one public
garden, two photographers, one dentist, four established cigarette
manufactories, and one lottery, for it is impossible to find a Mexican
town without. There are no Americans in the town, except those who
belong to the railroad.

Many things of interest are to be seen in and around Orizaba. One
who cares to climb can ascend the Cerro del Berrego and view the old
ruins which mark the spot where the Mexicans were defeated during
the French invasion, June 13, 1862. A little way out is Jalapilla,
where Maximilian resided a short time after the French army had gone,
and where he held the famous council to determine whether he should
abdicate or not. One and a half miles south are large sugar plantations
and mills. Besides, there are several waterfalls, between two and five
miles distant, noted for their beauty and strangeness; the Cascade
Rincon Grande is about one mile east; the water has a fall of over
fifty feet, and all around is a luxuriant growth of vegetation, which
helps to make the spot one of the prettiest in Mexico. Donn Tonardo
Cordoba is a forty-foot fall, which disappears in a round hole in the
earth, falling to a depth that has never been measured.

Another thing interesting to foreigners are the old Spanish deeds,
written on parchment during the time of Cortes. They can be seen at
the register's office by giving the man in charge two reals for his
trouble. On Sunday afternoon bull-fights are held in an old convent,
and what was once a fine church is now the barracks for a garrison and
hall for the Masonic lodge.

Many people have a fancy to climb the peak of Orizaba, which is 17,200
feet high. It requires but five hours of a good climb to reach the
summit. The last eruptions it had were in 1545 and 1566. Several
times it has been reported smoking, but the rumors were finally, on
investigation, pronounced unfounded. The well-to-do people occupy one
and two-story houses with overhanging and tile roofs, while the poor
class construct their mansions out of old boards, sugar cane stalks,
barrel staves, pieces of matting, sun-dried bricks, and thatch them
with palm leaves and dried strips of maguey. Their floor is always the
ground. The highest temperature in the shade at Orizaba is 30 deg., the
lowest 12 deg., but the average is mostly 21 deg., with always an east
wind prevailing.

Orizaba is a delightful place for a stranger to stroll about in. We
started out to see the town without guide or companion, and felt
ourselves fully repaid by the many strange and delightful things we saw.

We went to the market, which is situated on an open square, and
examined all the curious things. The birds especially attracted our
attention, the many varieties, colors and shapes, and the extremely
low prices, some selling for a medio (6 1/4 cents), others for a
real. Young parrots were fifty cents, mocking-birds $1, and buglers,
a bird shaped like the mocking-bird, but lighter in color and far
superior in song, $2.50 and $3. All that restrains one from making a
large investment is the fact that many cannot live in cages, as none
know on what food they subsist, consequently they have to die. Little
snow-white dogs, with bright black eyes and hair fine as silk, about
three to five inches in length, sell for $2, while the famous Chihuahua
dog, which weighs about half a pound when full grown, commands from $75
to $100, since tourists have ruined the prices.

Out by the unlucky Cathedral we saw the hearse of the town. It is
the shape of a coffin, held aloft by springs above four wheels. It
is draped with crape and plumes. Two black mules, stuck with plumes
on every available spot, draw it, and the driver, dressed in black
with high hat decorated with a plume, handles the reins, perched on a
small seat about four feet above the rest of the hearse. The coffin is
slid in at the back or end like the case in which coffins are often
hermetically scaled.

Selecting a poor street, we started to make our way toward the
mountains. On it we found a row of houses numbered in the following
style: January 1, February 2, March 3, April 4, May 5, June 6, July
7, August 8, September 9, October 10, November 11, December 12.
Still further down we saw one called "The place of Providence," each
different door designated as "The place of Providence A, the place
of Providence B," and so on throughout the alphabet. Next we came to
a laundry which did not remind us in the least of those at home. The
river was the tub, a porous stone the washboard, and the little bushes
and green bank the clothesline. In this manner all the washing of the
town is done. We admired the washwomen for quite a while as they rubbed
the clothes on the stone and then doused them up and down in the stream.

At last we concluded to jump across and go down on the other side, but
we forgot we were women and that the dress of last fall was extremely
narrow. We jumped from one washboard to another. We landed on it all
right, but we did not stay long, but slipped back into the water, which
was about three feet deep, much to our consternation. On our way home
we stopped at the Tivoli, the bath-house and the main alameda, which is
situated at the foot of an immense mountain, and is said to be one of
the prettiest in the Republic. The walks and drives are wide and nicely
paved, a great variety of trees furnish the shade and musical fountains
are plentiful. A music stand is in the center and is occupied nightly
by a good band. The water-carriers were getting their supply from one
of the large basins; they were also different from others we have
seen. They have a long pole across their shoulders, and suspended from
each end is a bucket containing the water, after the style of the
milkmaids in the States. It seems strange that though every city has
its water-carriers and that every one in the same town carries exactly
alike, yet in no two towns do they carry in the same manner.

I cannot forget to introduce you to the pleasant gentleman we met on
the train. He is Mr. A. Baker, Her Britannic Majesty's Consul at Vera
Cruz. He speaks fluently fifteen different languages, and when I asked
him if he was not very proud of the fact, he replied: "Yes, until I met
a waiter in a restaurant who could speak eighteen." He is a widower,
and came here accompanied by his only son, while his three daughters
are at school in Europe. The common expression made of him here is,
that "he is good enough for an American." Now you can judge how
agreeable he is. He has been knighted three different times, and was
colonel in two different armies, yet he is still plain Mr. Baker. "Oh,
I had ancestors," he said, jokingly, as we were discussing people's
little vanities, "and they came over in the ship of the conquerors,
also. My forefather was a cook. One day the bread was exhausted, and
there was no way to procure more, so the cook made some pancakes, and
waited in terror while they were taken in to his majesty. At last he
got a summons to appear before him; trembling and expecting to be
beheaded, the poor fellow sank at his sovereign's feet, when, instead
of a sentence to be executed, he heard: 'Rise, Sir Baker.' Since then
that has been the family name."

Accompanied by Mr. Baker, we started north to see a waterfall, and to
take the train at the next station. We got in a car and went winding
in between the high mountains from which the black marble is quarried
until we reached a stretch of land, where we alighted and crossed the
fields until we came to that wonderful stream. The water is quite cold
and mineral, and as clear as crystal, one being able to see the bottom
at the depth of twenty feet as though there was no water intervening.
Down where the water was more shallow were several horses fishing for
the grass that grows in the bottom; they thrust in their heads until
their eyes were in the water, and then pulled out a mouthful of grass;
they made a beautiful picture. Baths are situated here, and trees grow
around just plentiful enough to be pretty. Foot logs span the stream,
and the cool, green, velvety plots invite a longer stay.

On one foot log we discovered what appeared to be walking leaves, as
the green leaves glided along, moved by an unseen power. Investigation
proved them to be an army of ants, each one carrying a leaf on its
back which looked like a little sail. On the edge of the bank, half
in the water, half out, lay a branch of willow. These little things
climbed it, risking life and limb, and, cutting off a leaf, hoisted it
on their backs and marched easily a quarter of a mile to their home.
They had a path of road about five inches wide made along the grass
all the distance. The street cleaners must be faithful, as it was as
clean as could be, shaded on either side by the grass, without one
blade in their way. They crossed the foot log and disappeared in a hole
at the other end. We wondered what they were making inside with those
many leaves. They were so interesting at their work that it was with
reluctance we left them. Boarding our train, with much regret, we were
soon lost to sight of the Valley of Orizaba and were once more on our
way to a new and strange city.



CHAPTER XXII.


THE WONDERS OF PUEBLA.


If the innocent-looking tourists believed all that is told them here
they would conclude that every spot and town of interest had been
built by the Virgin and the angels. One night many, many years ago,
so the story runs, one good priest, who was known by the name of
Motolinia, which means humble, mean, lowly, had a vision. A number of
sweet angels--all of the feminine gender--draped with some soft, thin
material, with long, silky black hair that fell to their feet in heavy
folds, and sparkling black eyes, took the good father in their arms and
bore him through the air to a spot not far distant from his little hut.
After setting up a stone cross, which, at their petition, apparently
descended from the skies, they helped him to build churches, houses,
factories, and bull-rings (perhaps). It took seven days and the same
number of nights to build the world, but the city of Puebla was built
in a few moments. Probably the fatigue from work or the unusual company
made the good man tired and drowsy, so he fell asleep, as sweetly as
a babe, fanned by the wings of the heavenly beings around him. Waking
from a most refreshing nap, in which he had dreamed of honey, golden
crowns, feathered wings, and regiments of beautiful creatures, he
found to his surprise that he was once again in his little bed, with
no angels in sight. "They have gone out to complete the work, while I,
lazy creature, slept," thought the good father, and going to the window
he flung it open. He saw the green plain undisturbed.

At first he was surprised and disappointed, and had he been a dyspeptic
all would have ended there, and this story would not have to be told;
but, like a good and faithful believer, he worked out a solution of the
strange vision, which was that the angels had appeared to show they
wanted the work done and how, but he must accomplish it himself. To
prove beyond doubt their visit, the stone cross was left standing where
their angelic hands had placed it. So encouraged, and with great faith,
he related his vision to the people, and with their aid began to build
the city of Puebla around the stone cross, leaving more than a square
vacant where it stood. This was three hundred and fifty-five years ago,
on the 16th of April. The square is now used for the city market, and
the stone cross, revered and respected, is standing in the courtyard
of what was the convent of Santo Domingo, but now a church, where at
the same place they will take from the altar and show you a coat which
was once worn by a very holy monk, and for some good act the Virgin
stamped her picture on the sleeve of it. It is very interesting to look
at, even if one be so unfortunate as to possess but little faith; the
most interesting thing in Puebla is its churches. Every one has some
wonderful tale attached.

Puebla was named in honor of its first visitors, Puebla de los Angles
(Town of the Angels), but it is very seldom spoken of except as Puebla.
The corner-stone of the first church was laid in 1531, and that of
the first cathedral in 1536. Both of these buildings have disappeared,
as they were originally, though it is proven that part of the former
is the present Sagrario, covered with parasites and in almost utter
ruins. The present cathedral was finished in 1649, and is one of the
finest and most expensive in Mexico. One of its towers alone cost
$100,000. The high altar, composed of Mexican marble and onyx, is one
of the finest ever constructed. It is said to have cost $200,000. This
altar, before the reform, was loaded with gold, silver, and jewels.
The bishops' sepulcher is beneath. A beautiful carving in ivory of
the Virgin, which was completed after three years' hard labor, and a
wonderful curtain, which was a present from the King of Spain, as well
as the dungeons beneath, are a few of the things worth seeing. It has
eighteen bells. The largest weighs nine tons.

The Chapel of Conquistadora contains an image of the Senora de los
Remedios, which was presented by Cortes to the Hascallan, Don Axotecatl
Cocomitzin, for his good help and friendship during the time of the
bitter war with the other natives. Upon the main altar lie the remains
of the man who first introduced oxen into Mexico, and who for many
years was the means of passage and communication between Mexico and
Vera Cruz. His name was Sebastian de Aparicio. He was born in 1502, and
died, after living a good and useful life, in 1600. At the Dominican
Monastery they showed half the handkerchief on which the Virgin wept
and wiped her eyes at the foot of the cross. The people claim that San
Jose protects their town from lightning, so they built a church named
in his honor, and have in it a strange image carved from what was a
lightning-riven tree. Another beautiful church has a picture of a saint
which has been heard to speak. Still another contains thorns from the
crown of Christ. Nearly every two squares boasts a church, and every
church has some wonderful history connected with it. The Church of San
Francisco, which was founded by the good priest, Motolinia, the father
of Puebla, was established a short time after the city, and is worth
seeing, if from nothing else than an architectural point of view. The
choir is the most wonderful thing in existence. It is flat and looks
as though it would tumble down every moment; even the man who built
it fled for fear it would fall, when taking out the supporting beams,
and kill them all. The monks then decided to burn them down, and then
if the choir fell no one would be hurt. Well, they burned and crumbled
down, but the choir still remained firm, and does to this day, after at
least two hundred and fifty years of constant use.

Puebla is fully seventy miles from the City of Mexico and is the
capital of the state of the same name. It is one of the cleanest
and prettiest towns in the Republic, and has at the least 80,000
inhabitants. It is full of interesting historical events. Cortes
located here; General de Zaragoza won a victory over the French here
on the 5th of May, 1862, and General Diaz, now President won a more
brilliant victory and gained greater fame for himself here in the war
five years later, April 2, 1867. Both events are celebrated in fine
style every year. Puebla is not situated on the main line of the Vera
Cruz line, but connects with a narrow gauge which runs to Apizaco,
twenty-nine miles distant. It takes from 4:40 to 6:10 to make the
trip, but one forgets the length of time by looking at the beautiful
valley which surrounds them. When we were out a short distance, by
looking back over the way we traveled, we saw between two large hills,
surrounded by trees, flowers and rocks, the Cascade del Molino de San
Diego, showing just over the top of the falling waters a fine old stone
mill inclosed with a variety of different green trees, all of which
seem to be springing out of the waters whose fall faces us. Next we
pass the pretty little village of Santa Anna, interesting not only
because it is named in honor of the old warrior, but for its people
and the many odd things which they make so deftly and sell to passing
tourists, Mexican drinks and ice cream, called agua a nieve (snow
water), made simply by pouring sweetened and flavored milk over snow
which is brought down from the Volcano Popocatapetl and the White Lady.

Between here and our destination we can see by the door of every little
hut a large clay object shaped somewhat like an urn, taller even than
the houses; they are, translated into English, "Keepers," and hold
the water used by the people; they have no wells, as they carry their
supply from a river many miles away, hemmed in on either side by a
deep bluff. Although water is very scarce in the majority of places in
Mexico, this is the only spot where one finds the keepers. Another town
and we enter the city of Puebla, as it nestles down between a chain of
mountains like a kitten in the sun. With a view from some high tower,
it looks like a flower garden, dotted here and there with picturesque
houses. On the west is Popocatapetl and Ixtaelhuatl, sending down an
ever-cool and invigorating breeze, which plays with their snowy robes,
and then descends into the green valley to salute the hot brows of
mortals there with a kiss of health and happiness.

The coat of arms was given to Puebla by Charles V. of Spain, in July,
1538. Of the inhabitants thirty thousand seven hundred are men and
thirty-seven thousand eight hundred and thirty women, besides more
than thirteen thousand people who work in public establishments, which
number in all about one hundred. There are paper, cotton, flour and wax
taper mills. The people are very religious, and fall on their knees
when the bishop's carriage passes, even if it is unoccupied. They have
plenty of policemen at night, though nearly everybody has retired by 10
o'clock, and not only are they on the streets, but on the housetops.
We saw the little red lanterns blazing forth from almost every other
house, and being of an inquisitive turn we made inquiries and learned
the above facts. They look very odd, and on a dark night one can see
nothing but the red light gleaming forth like a danger signal. The
policemen are all well armed, but it strikes an American that the
lanterns are displayed so that their owners cannot accidentally get
hurt. The city supports several free hospitals; the finest one was
established a few years since, and is the best building of the kind
in Mexico. Three days after the death of Luis Rharo, a bachelor of
considerable wealth, they found in his Bible a will leaving one hundred
thousand dollars to build this home and one hundred thousand dollars to
be invested and used to maintain the same.

The three men named as executors--Clemente Lopez, A. P. Marin, and
V. Gutiores--were all wealthy, but were to receive for managing and
looking after the home, $15,000 apiece; the building alone was to cost
$40,000, and after it was finished the contractor, E. Tamaris, would
accept no pay and allowed the price to go back into the original sum.
The building is marble, the floor marble tile, the decorations carved
onyx, and this palatial mansion is to-day the home of hundreds of
poverty-stricken and deserted mothers and babies. When Mexico feels
charitably inclined she does it on a grand scale--no half-way business,
like in many places in the States.

The houses here are generally two-story, with flat roofs, and fronts
inlaid with highly glazed tile or else gaudily painted. All the
windows facing the street have iron balconies, and all the courts are
filled with flowers, birds and fountains. There were once seventy-two
churches, nine monasteries and thirty nunneries, but the latter have
been abolished, and, with the exception of a half dozen, they are used
as churches. One is a round house for the engines, another formed the
theater for the bull-ring. There are but two small Protestant churches,
which are not well attended. Since the rebellion there have been
established 1800 schools, with an attendance of only 36,000 children.
The College of Medicine and Academy of Arts and Science are maintained
at the expense of the town, free to all who care to go.

The famous pyramid of Cholula is but eight miles from the city.
Street cars run out about four times a day and charge fifty cents,
first-class, a trip. On the way we passed a large rock which has caused
a sensation lately. It is about two hundred feet high and at the very
least six hundred feet around the base. It looks very strange lying on
an otherwise level green space for acres around. The stone is covered
with parasitical orchids and ferns and has been known to the oldest
natives by the name of Cascomate. No one ever thought much about
it except to wonder how such an immense rock got into an otherwise
rockless spot. Some advanced the opinion that it had been thrown there
during one of the eruptions of Popocatapetl, when it merited the
name of "the smoking mountain." A German who spends much of his time
searching for the queer in Mexico thought one morning as he was taking
a walk, about ten days ago, that he would climb to the top of this rock
and take a view of the valley. The ascent was very difficult, but he
persevered and on reaching the top was surprised to find a big opening
yawning at his feet. The stench coming from it was very strong, so
lighting his strongest cigar, he begun to investigate. The opening was
about fifty feet in circumference, and easily the same depth. At the
bottom were lying several skeletons. He quickly returned to town and
reported his discovery, but so far no investigations have been made.
One man who was talking over it said: "Please do not put it in your
paper, because Mexico has a nasty name for foreigners now. That stone,"
he continued, "was used by duelists to hide their victim's body, and
when the people perceived a stench they reported it to the police, who
always investigated and had the body buried."

"If that is true, why is it that everybody considers the find new and
startling, and no one has come forth to say he knows what use it was
put to before this? If the police investigated and took out the bodies,
why did they not have the hole filled up, and why are there so many
skeletons in it at the present day?"

He did not try to answer these questions, but only begged our silence.

Cholula retains little of its old-time grandeur. At the commencement
of the sixteenth century Cortes compared it to the largest cities of
Spain, but with the growth of Puebla it has diminished, until the
present day it is but a small village. Its streets are broad and
unpaved, the houses one story with flat roofs, and there is little
to attract one--although they have some few manufacturers--except
the world-famous pyramid and some of the old churches. One of these
churches was formerly a fortification built by Cortes. It is a fine,
massive stone building of immense size. Perfect cannon of medium size
answer for water-spouts on the roof. In the door of the main entrance
there are 375 nails, no two of which are alike. When the building was
being erected there were many skilled blacksmiths in the vicinity. Each
was desirous of showing his skill, so with chisel and hammer they made
these long nails and presented them to the conqueror, making the door
one of the strange things of Mexico.

In another church near here, also erected at the command of Cortes,
is a black velvet altar cloth, with saints embroidered in gold all
over it. The workmanship is exquisite, and some of the likenesses
perfect. There is also a black velvet vestment embroidered in the same
manner, which is only for use in holy week. They were both a present
from Charles V., of Spain. The Bishop of Mexico has been anxious
to obtain possession of them, and has repeatedly offered $3500 for
the two pieces, but they refuse to sell at that price. This church
is known as the Royal Chapel. Its architecture is very pretty, yet
extremely odd. Every way one counts across the chapel gives seven
arches--lengthwise, cross-wise, cornerwise, etc., the end is always the
same--seven. In the center of this queer construction is a pure well,
the waters of which are noted for their coolness, healing qualities and
love charms. One strange fact about this church is that the morning
following its dedication it fell to the ground completely demolished,
but was immediately rebuilt. In this vicinity there are no less than
twenty-nine churches, which can be counted, nestling within a very
small space, from the pyramid, which is left for another chapter.



CHAPTER XXIII.


THE PYRAMID OF CHOLULA.


The pyramid of Cholula is very disappointing to any one who has seen
illustrations of it in histories of Mexico; there it is represented as
a mass of steps, growing narrower as they reach the top. At present
it looks like many of the other queerly-shaped hills which one sees
so frequently in Mexico. Closer inspection shows there were once four
stories to it, but it is now badly demolished, and the trainway has cut
through one side, damaging the effect. At present it is three thousand
eight hundred and sixty feet around the base, although once it is said
to have been one thousand four hundred and forty feet on each side, or
four times that around the entire base. Some say its height is no more
than two hundred feet, while others affirm it is at the very least five
hundred feet high; the ascent is made by a Spanish stairway of hewed
stone fifteen feet wide, and there is a second stairway of two hundred
steps leading from the main one to the church door.

The little church on top was first built by the Spaniards in the place
of the temple called Quetzalcoatl (the God of the air), built by the
Aztecs. The church was first in the shape of a cross, but alterations
have been made of late years, destroying entirely the original design.
It was dedicated to the Virgin of the Remedies, or Health--Senora
de los Remedios, and she is said to have performed some wonderful
miracles, at any rate her image is covered with tokens of her goodness.
There is a desk in the church where they sell beads and measures of the
Virgin's face, which are said to keep away the devil and bring good
luck to the wearer. A little tinseled charm on the beads contains some
part of the Virgin's garments, and when I, in a weak moment, asked the
seller if he really meant it, I knew by his answer I had met George
Washington, Jr. It was, "Senorita, I cannot lie."

At places where the hill is dug away can be seen the layers of
mud-brick, which proves undisputedly that the pyramid was really
built. It is thought to have served as a cemetery as well as a place
of worship. The Indians have a tradition that when Cortes tarried at
Cholula, a number of armed warriors plotted to fall suddenly upon
the Spanish army and kill them all. Cortes may have had a suspicion,
or a desire for more blood and more stolen wealth, for without the
least warning, he attacked the citizens of Puebla and killed outright
6,000 besides terribly wounding thousands of others. When the road was
being made from Puebla to Mexico they cut through the first story of
the pyramid. In it was found a square chamber, destitute of outlet,
supported by beams of cypress and built in an odd and remarkable
manner. Curious varnished and painted vases, idols in basalt and
skeletons were in it. The only conclusion offered was that it was
either a tomb for burial or else the warriors who wanted revenge on the
Spanish were by some means buried in this hiding-place. The pyramid is
now covered with grass, trees and orchids.

Famous stone idols are found in this vicinity. In plowing the fields or
digging holes they are turned up by scores, in all shapes and sizes;
the tourist pays good prices for them, and the more sensational the
story attached the higher the tariff; the guide at the hotel showed me
a white arrow flint. He had bought it the day before at Cholula for a
medio, and said he was going to daub it with chicken blood and sell it
to the next party of tourists as a wonderful relic, which had been used
on the sacrificial stone to kill thousands of people. He would tell
them that the worshipers of the sun used to get a victim and the one
who could send the arrow with this flint directly in the center of the
victim's heart stood in favor with their god, the sun. At the depot,
besides being bothered with at least twenty idol peddlers, a woman with
a baby tried to make me buy it. She refused to sell to any one in the
party, but coaxed me to take it, telling all its good qualities. It was
good, very amiable, sympathetic and very precious. Partly to get rid
of her I asked, "How much?" "Dos reals" (twenty-five cents) was her
astounding reply. "That is too cheap," I said; "I cannot take it unless
the price is $100." Evidently she did not understand jesting, for she
kept on saying, "No, senorita, dos reals; muy benito." I successfully
resisted its charms as well as her persuasions. At the last moment,
when the car started, she ran after me, saying I could have the baby
at $100, if I wouldn't take it at twenty-five cents; but the car soon
left her in the distance, and we had a good laugh at the poor woman's
reasoning powers and lack of business qualities.

The tramway ends at Atlixco, a lovely little village midway between
Cholula and Puebla. One of the most beautiful things along the way is
the famous tree at the foot of St. Michael's Mountain. It is called
Ahuehuete. It is many centuries old and a very curious shape. Its trunk
is hollow, with a hole big enough for a horseman to enter at one side.
Thirteen men on horseback can find plenty of room in its big body. The
orchards at this village are valued at $2,800,000.

There are twenty-four hotels in Puebla, and some are first-class in
every respect. They serve coffee from 6 to 9, breakfast 1 to 3, and
dinner 6 to 9. The penitentiary looks like a Spanish fortress. It
is very old, picturesque, and covered with orchids, but the state
authorities decided they needed a new one, and have built a handsome
one of stone and brick, which is said to resemble one in Pennsylvania,
whether East or West I know not, but from a distance it looks somewhat
like the Western, although all similarity faded on closer inspection.
There are several parks, and very pretty ones, too, in Puebla. In the
main one they have music nightly. At the east end of the town they have
sulphur baths, which are considered very healthy.

The most unique bull-fights of the whole Republic are held here. One
Sunday they fought all afternoon in the regular style, but when evening
came, they turned on the electric lights, set a table in the center
of the ring, put on it tin dishes, and all the fighters sat down as
though to eat, one of them attired in a long, white dress. As soon as
they were seated comfortably the gate was flung open, and the toro
rushed in. At the same moment two banderillas containing fire-rockets
were stuck into him, and as they exploded the maddened bull made a
rush for the table. The occupants jerked up the tinware, and with it
began to fight off the bull. Then they jerked the table apart, and
fought it with the pieces. When the men and beast were pretty tired,
the bull was allowed to attack the one in white, the so-called bride,
and the swordsman, who of course represented her husband, defended
her, and killed the bull with one thrust of the sword. It was simply
magnificent, and so exciting that everybody was standing on their
feet yelling lustily at every new move. The fight was called "The
Interrupted Bridal Party."

The next Sunday they fought the bulls on burros instead of horses. The
men had their bodies protected by plates of tin, and when the toro
charged they jumped off the burro and ran behind screens, while the
poor little animal had to run for his life, and that was the funniest
part of the programme. The following Sunday all the fighters stuffed
themselves. They looked as if they had feather beds around their
bodies. Then they dressed up in fantastic garb. No horses were allowed
in the ring. When the time came the men lay flat on their backs, and
and as the door was opened and the bull came tearing in, they wiggled
their legs in the air to attract its attention.

One peculiar feature of bull-fighting is that the bull will never
attack a man's legs, but always strike for his body. The toro would
rush for the prostrate form, and the American auditors would hold their
breath, and think that the fighter's end had come, but just then
the bull would gore him in the stuffed part, and the man would turn
a complete somersault, alighting always on his feet, safe and sound.
The bull would turn those men into all sorts of shapes without either
hurting them or himself.

Puebla is considered the richest State in Mexico, and in it one can
select any climate he desires. Puebla City is never cold, is never
warm; it has the most delicious climate in the world, just the degree
that must please the most fastidious. In the State are wonderful stone
quarries. Every color of clay is used to make dishes, vases, and brick,
and abundance of chalk for making lime. In the rivers and small streams
several kinds of sand are secured, which is used for many purposes,
and a few miles away are large veins of iron and other minerals;
there are mountains of different varieties of marble and onyx, from
the transparent to the heaviest known; extensive fields of coal,
quicksilver, lead, with wonderful mines of gold and silver everywhere;
there is one strange mountain called Nahuatt (star) covered with rock
crystal, the fragments resembling brilliant diamonds, and at another
craggy place beautiful emeralds are found. In many places are hot
springs.

The woods are fortunes in themselves. Besides all the Mexican varieties
are cedar, ebony, mahogany, pine, oak, bamboo, liquid amber, India
rubber, and above all the writing-tree, the wood of which has been
pronounced the finest by five countries. Its colored veins are on a
yellowish ground, and it forms thousands of strange figures, monograms,
words and profiles. Then there are the silk cotton tree, the logwood
and thousands of others. Some of them produce rich essences, others
dyes which never fade. A cactus also grows here from which wine is
made which they say far excels that of Spain or Italy. In the cold
and warm districts are raised cotton, tobacco, vanilla, coffee, rice,
sugar-cane, tea, wheat, aniseseed, barley, pepper, Chili beans, corn,
peas, and all the fruits of the hot and cold zones. There are salt
mines and land where cattle, horses, mules, burros, sheep, goats and
pigs are raised on an extensive scale. The flowers are so varied and
abundant that a gentleman who has been exploring the paradise says
their products would supply all the drug stores of the world with
perfume. These are a few of the charms of the State of Puebla.

There is quite an interesting story connected with the emerald
district. The Indians found one and placed it on the altar of the
church to serve as a consecration stone. It was three-quarters of
a Spanish yard, or a little over one-half English yard, in length.
Maximilian, during his short reign, went to Puebla to examine it,
and offered $1,000,000 for it the moment the jewel expert with
him pronounced it extremely fine. The Indians refused, and asked
$3,000,000. Afterward an armed force went to kill the tribe and carry
off the gem, but were themselves whipped. The Indians then decided to
bury it for safe keeping, when a wily Jesuit promised eternal salvation
to the living, the dead, and the unborn, if they would give it him in
the name of the Holy Virgin, who, he said, had asked for it. The poor
innocent and faithful wretches gave their immense fortune away for a
promise that was worse than nothing, and the treacherous purchaser
cut it into small portions and sent it across the sea to be sold, he
reaping the benefit. The god Quetzalcoatl, which once graced the top of
the pyramid at Cholula, was sold to an American a few years since for
$36,000.

A few miles out from the city, situated in the midst of a barren plain,
stands the magnificent old castle of Perote, which is celebrated in
Mexican history as the last home of many of her dark-eyed senoras, who
have either pined to death in its dreary dungeons or been murdered
during revolutions. It was once the national prison of the Republic,
and was considered one of the strongest buildings in the world. Even
now it is stronger and more formidable than most fortresses. There
is much more of interest, historical and otherwise, to be seen in
and around Puebla, and one could spend months of sight-seeing every
day, and still have something worth looking at. If a gentleman or
lady resident of Puebla is asked where their home is they will
quickly answer, "I live in Puebla, but am not a Pueblaen." The latter
word translated into Spanish means false and treacherous, hence the
carefulness of the people always to add it.

I cannot end this until I give you a sample of the meanness of the
Mexicans, other than Indians. The real Mexican--a mixture of several
nationalities--has a great greed for cold cash, and thinks the
Americano, Yankee, or gringo, was sent here to be robbed. They do not
draw the line on Americans, but also rob the poor Indian of everything.
When I asked for my hotel bill, which was $4 a day, the clerk handed me
a bill with $1.25 extra. "What is the extra for?" I inquired. "Charming
senorita," he answered, "you called for eggs two or three times."
"Yes," I replied, "when you set down goat's meat for mutton, and gave
me strong beef I had seen killed by the matadore in the bull-ring the
day before." "Well," he continued, "eggs are expensive, and it was a
trouble to cook them." "My dear senor, I have no intention of paying
your salary, and your pocket is just minus an expected $1.25. Here is
the other." That settled it.

While looking at some marble objects in a store a poor Indian came in
with twelve blocks of marble twelve by twelve on his back; the poor
fellow had hewn them smooth and then traveled undoubtedly two days or
more on foot over hills and through valleys, the ground at night his
bed and the wild fruits or a few beans brought from home his food. He
was ragged and tired, and dirty, but he had a good, honest look on
his face, he asked the shopkeeper to buy the marble. After a little
inspection the merchant purchased, and for it all, which was weeks
of labor to the poor peon, and meant at least $300 for himself, he
gave fifty cents. Nor was that the worst of it; the two quarters were
counterfeit and the Indian told him so, but he said no. I stepped to
the door and watched the peon go to a grocer's store across the street.
They refused to take the money and he came back and told the marble
dealer. Upon his refusing to give good money the Indian turned to me
for help, whereupon the keeper laughed and said: "She is a Yankee and
can't understand you."

Well, I had not been in Mexico long, and was entirely ignorant of the
language, but my American love for justice was aroused, and in broken
English and bad Spanish I managed to tell him I knew the money was bad,
and that the merchant was like the money--that by even giving good
money he was cheating the poor peon of his goods. He was surprised,
that is if a Mexican can be surprised, and he gave out some little
change, which I examined, and not being sure whether it was good or
bad, put it into my own purse, giving the man a quarter instead. He
thanked me warmly, tied the money up in the corner of a rag he had tied
around his waist, and then went out and tried the other quarter. This
also failed to pass, and he returned to the now furious storeman, who
threatened to call the police if he did not go away. "If you do, I will
tell them that you are passing counterfeit money," I said, whereupon he
gave the peon another piece, and the poor fellow departed happy. While
the storekeeper said some nasty things in Spanish about "Gringos," it
is needless to add I did not buy, nor had he the least desire to sell
to me.



CHAPTER XXIV.


A FEW NOTES ABOUT MEXICAN PRESIDENTS.


Very few people outside of the Republic of Mexico have the least
conception of how government affairs are run there. The inhabitants of
Mexico--at least it is so estimated--number 10,000,000 souls, 8,000,000
being Indians, uneducated and very poor. This large majority has no
voice in any matter whatever, so the government is conducted by the
smaller, but so-called better class. My residence in Mexico of five
months did not give me ample time to see all these things personally,
but I have the very best authority for all statements. Men whom I know
to be honorable have given me a true statement of facts which have
heretofore never reached the public prints. That such things missed
the public press will rather astonish Americans who are used to a
free press; but the Mexican papers never publish one word against the
government or officials, and the people who are at their mercy dare not
breathe one word against them, as those in position are more able than
the most tyrannical czar to make their life miserable. When this is
finished the worst is yet untold by half, so the reader can form some
idea about the Government of Mexico.

President Diaz, according to all versions, was a brave and untiring
soldier, who fought valiantly for his beautiful country. He was born
of humble parents, his father being a horse dealer, or something of
that sort; but he was ambitions, and gaining an education entered the
field as an attorney-at-law. Although he mastered his profession,
all his fame was gained on the battlefield. Perfirio Diaz is
undoubtedly a fine-looking man, being what is called a half-breed,
a mixture of Indian and Spaniard. He is tall and finely built, with
soldierly-bearing. His manners are polished, with the pleasing Spanish
style, compelling one to think--while in his presence--that he could
commit no wrong; the brilliancy of his eyes and hair is intensified by
the carmine of cheek and whiteness of brow, which, gossip says, are
put there by the hand of art. Diaz has been married twice--first to
an Indian woman, if I remember rightly, who left him with one child,
and next to a daughter of the present Secretary of the Interior,
Manuel Romero Rubio. She is handsome, of the Spanish type, a good
many years younger than the president, and finely educated, speaking
Spanish, French and English fluently. Mrs. Diaz has no children, but
is step-mother to two--a daughter and a son of the president. The
president, so far as rumor goes, follows not in the footsteps of his
countrymen, has no more loves than one, and is really devoted to Mrs.
Diaz.

There are two political parties, a sort of a Liberal and Conservative
concern, but if you ask almost any man not in an official position
he will hesitate and then explain that there are really two parties;
that he has almost forgotten their names, but he has never voted, no
use, etc. Juarez, who crushed Maximilian, while a good president in
some respects, planted the seeds of dishonesty when he claimed the
churches and pocketed the spoils therefrom. Every president since then
has done what he could to excel Juarez in this line. When Diaz first
took the presidency he had the confidence and respect of the people
for his former conduct. They expected great things of him, but praise
in a short time was given less and less freely, and the people again
realized that their savior had not yet been found. When his term drew
near a close, his first bite made him long for more, and he made a
contract with Manuel Gonzales to give him the presidency if he would
return it at the end of his time, as the laws of Mexico do not permit a
president to be his own successor, but after the expiration of another
term (four years) lie can again fill the position.

The constitution of Mexico is said to excel, in the way of freedom
and liberty to its subjects, that of the United States; but it is
only on paper. It is a republic only in name, being in reality the
worst monarchy in existence. Its subjects know nothing of the delights
of a presidential campaign; they are men of a voting age, but they
have never indulged in this manly pursuit, which even our women are
hankering after, No two candidates are nominated for the position, but
the organized ring allows one of its members--whoever has the most
power--to say who shall be president; they can vote, though they are
not known to do so; they think it saves trouble, time, and expense to
say at first, "this is the president," and not go to the trouble of
having a whole nation come forward and cast the votes, and keep the
people in drunken suspense for forty-eight hours, while the managers
miscount the ballots, and then issue bulletins stating that they have
put in their man; then the self-appointed president names all the
governors, and divides with them the naming of the senators; this is
the ballot in Mexico.

Senor Manuel Gonzales readily accepted Diaz's proposition and stepped
into the presidency. He had also been a loyal soldier, and was as
handsome as Diaz, though some years his senior. Gonzales is a brave
man, powerfully built, but was so unfortunate as to lose his right
arm in battle. He has, however, learned to write with his left in a
large, scrawling style. He has a legal wife, from whom, however, he
is separated. While he was filling the presidential chair she made a
trip through the United States, and gained some notoriety by being
put out of the Palmer House because she did not pay bills contracted
there on the strength of being the wife of the President of Mexico.
On her return to the land of the Aztecs, she found that the law could
not touch the Czar Gonzales, who was living like a king, nor could she
get a divorce, as Mexico does not sanction such luxuries. She started
a sewing establishment, but it is said that she is living in abject
poverty, and, like all Mexican women, with the door to the way of
gaining an honest livelihood barred against her because of her sex.
Their family consists of two sons, both captains in the army--Manuel,
twenty-seven years old, and Fernando, twenty-five--fine-looking and
well educated. The latter is said to be quite good to his mother. It is
reported that Manuel Gonzales and Miss Diaz, the only daughter of the
president, are to be married shortly.

Gonzales while in power issued several million dollars' worth of nickel
money, which the people refused to accept. One day, as he was being
driven from the palace in an open carriage, he was surrounded by a
mob who threw bags of the coin on him, while others cried out for his
life. The driver--who, by the way, was at that time the only negro in
the City of Mexico--fiercely fought those who had stopped his team and
resisted by main force their efforts to unseat him. He wanted to drive
the fine-blooded horses right over the angry, howling mob, but Gonzales
calmly told him to desist, and then, revolver in hand, descended from
the carriage, asked the people what they wanted, swore roundly at them
and commanded them to disperse.

The effect was astonishing. Without one outburst, as though quelled by
an immense army, that maddened mob moved away and Gonzales re-entered
his carriage triumphantly, and was driven home unmolested and
uninjured. The money, however, was sold for almost nothing, and some
Europeans were smart enough to buy. In a short time the government
bought it all back, paying cent for cent, and I know personally one
man who made $100,000 in one day on his lot. In truth, it was the
foundation of more than twenty fortunes in Mexico at the present time.
Eight months before Gonzales retired he tried to force the people to
accept the English debt law. They refused, and filled the halls of
Congress, in which they had congregated, with cries and groans. They
would not cease at the presidential command, and Gonzales ordered the
soldiers to fire on them several times. It was impossible that in such
a narrow space all should escape death, yet no true report was ever
made of the affair.

When Gonzales went into office $900,000 could be counted in the
treasury. On the last day of his term his annual income exceeded
$200,000 and his salary, which was $30,000 yearly. On the morning
of his last day he sent to the treasurer to know how much money
yet remained in the treasury. "One hundred thousand dollars," was
the reply. Gonzales requested that it be sent to him, and when the
treasurer meekly hinted that it might be good for his neck to know to
whom to charge it, Gonzales replied that if he did not know that much
he had better send in his resignation. The money was in the president's
hand in a very short time after this. Next he bought a $2 ticket from
the state national lottery and with it sent a little line to the
managers. "See that this draws the prize to-day." The first prize was
$100,000. Strange to relate his ticket drew the fortunate number, and
Gonzales closed his eyes that night with a murmur like Monte-Cristo as
he gazed upon the sea, "The world is mine!" That evening the people
were so glad that they gathered in an impassable mob around the palace
and cathedral, and tried to enter the latter, that they might proclaim
their feelings by ringing forth from the numerous bells which hang in
the mammoth towers, one happy peal; but an army was soon on the spot
and prevented any demonstration. Investigation showed $25,000,000
missing and the government employés unpaid.

Experts figure out that Gonzales raked in $25,220,000 in his four years
of official life, and he didn't have to go to Canada, either. Gonzales
immediately went to Guanajuato as governor, where he was received with
open arms, and when the people, who found the bank broke just as they
expected to take it, began to whisper that they would like a little
investigation, Gonzales swore he would spend every cent they were
clamoring after in raising an army to overthrow the Diaz Government.
On hearing this Diaz slunk off like a half-drowned cat and made a law,
which went into effect June 22, 1886, taking a percentage off every
government employé to help pay up the Gonzales deficiency.

Gonzales is modest; he don't want the presidency any more. He wisely
invested his hard-earned cash in an estate. His palaces and haciendas
are something wonderful for size, beauty, and furnishment. Of course,
give a man a bad name and everything mean is laid at his door; but it
is credited to him that he took a fancy to a very rich hacienda, and
he told the owner he would give him $200,000. The haciendado said
it had belonged to his family since the time of Cortes, and he had
not the least desire to sell, besides it was at the very least worth
$2,000,000. Immediately all sorts of evil fell upon the unhappy owner.
His horses were shot, his cattle, water, and even family poisoned. At
last, when hope was crushed. Gonzales accidentally reappeared, and told
the heart-broken man that he would give him $10,000 for this place. The
hacienda was immediately his, but the former owner is still looking
for his money. The strange part is that Gonzales has not suffered the
afflictions visited upon the former owner.

President Diaz has two years from next December to serve, that is,
providing a revolution does not cut his term short. The people will not
say much about his going out, as one just as bad will replace him. They
always know one year in advance who the president is to be, and even at
the present date it lies between Diaz's father-in-law, Romerio Rubio,
or Mier Teran, Governor of Oaxaca, both of whom belong to the ring.
Diaz fears a revolution, and is afraid of losing his life. It is said
he hastened his removal to Chapultepec because they threatened to blow
up his house on Calle de Cadena, No. 8, with dynamite. Last January a
party of Revolutionists laid plans to overthrow the Diaz Government,
but one fellow got into a controversy with a Diaz party while riding on
the Paseo, and so they came to blows, the news got abroad and armies
paraded through the streets of Mexico until the poor little body of
"righters" were overawed by the demonstration. Gonzales is sixty-five
years old. He gets along nicely as Governor of Guanajuato, having no
duties and being looked up to as a king by the people. When he comes to
Mexico for a few days they prepare expensive receptions for his return.
They are his humble subjects, and he is satisfied to be king of that
state.



CHAPTER XXV.


MEXICAN SOLDIERS AND THE RURALES.


El Mexicano thinks it would be one of the pleasantest, as well as one
of the easiest, things in the world to whip the "Gringoes," while the
latter, with their heads a little swelled, perhaps, imagine otherwise,
and scoff at the idea of the "Greasers" winning even one battle in the
event of war. Be that as it may, solid, unvarnished facts will prove to
the most headstrong that the advantage is mostly on the other side.

The standing army in Mexico is said to number forty thousand men, but
is believed to be more. Every little village of a few hundred people
has its army, and every day that army is being increased; the officers
range from those who have gained experience and fame on the battlefield
to the young ones reared and trained in military colleges; they are
mostly all of what is considered the highest class of people in Mexico.

The rank and file are mostly half-breeds or Indians, who are not by any
means volunteers. They are nearly all convicts. When a man is convicted
of some misdemeanor he is enlisted in the regular army, separated from
his home, and to serve the rest of his natural life. This life is not a
bed of roses--there is no bed at all, and out of a medio (6 1/4 cents)
a day, he has to furnish his food and comforts. The dress uniform is
made of coarse woolen goods, with yellow stripes on the sleeves; and
the undress uniform, which is worn constantly except on review days, is
but white muslin, pants, waist and cap.

Some of the Indians are stolen and put in the army, and they
immediately resign themselves to their fate, for there is no more
escape for them than there is from death.

The wives of these poor fellows are very faithful, and very often
follow the regiment from one place to another; they live on what nature
grows for them and what they can beg or steal; the men are called
in Spanish "soldados," and the women, because they cling to their
husbands, "soldadas." It looks very pitiful to see a poor Indian woman
with a babe tied to her back and one clinging to her skirts, dusty,
hungry and footsore, traveling for miles through the hot sun with the
regiments.

These soldados are wonderfully hardy; they can travel for a week
through the hot sun, with nothing to drink and but a spoonful of
boiled beans and one tortillia--a small flat cake--for two days'
rations, sleep on the ground at night, and be us fresh for service as a
well-kept mule. Fight! well those who imagine it such an easy thing to
whip them should stand off and witness some of their feats first; they
love their country, and consider life well lost in defense of it; they
are ignorant, it is true, but seem the more courageous for it. When
told to fight, they go at it with as much vigor as a bull dog after
a cat; they don't know why they are fighting, or for what, but it is
their rule and custom to obey, not to reason why. If you would stop one
soldier in the midst of his fighting and ask: "Why are you fighting?"
he would answer in the characteristic words of his people, "Quien sabe?"

If a man is silly enough to try to escape from this bondage he is
immediately shot, or if he disobeys orders they have time but to punish
him with death. A short time before leaving Mexico some guards at the
prison tried to desert, and immediately every regiment was notified
to be on the lookout, and others were sent out to recapture them,
and as soon as found they were shot. The soldiers have an herb named
marijuana, which they roll into small cigaros and smoke. It produces
intoxication which lasts for five days, and for that period they are
in paradise. It has no ill after-effects, yet the use is forbidden by
law. It is commonly used among prisoners. One cigaro is made, and the
prisoners all sitting in a ring partake of it. The smoker takes a draw
and blows the smoke into the mouth of the nearest man, he likewise
gives it to another, and so on around the circle. One cigaro will
intoxicate the whole lot for the length of five days.

The Mexican officers are unpleasantly sarcastic, or rather they have a
custom that is the extreme of irony. It is known as la ley fuga (the
law of escape). They will tell you they are going to take a prisoner,
or soldier, as the case may be, out to the suburbs to give him a
chance to escape. It sounds very pleasant to the stranger. They will,
for example, politely ask the railway conductor to stop the train in
some quiet place, as they want to let a prisoner escape. The American
conductor finds his heart warming within him for these generous
officers, and quickly and gladly obeys. The train is stopped, they all
get off, and the officers form in a single line, with guns raised to
the shoulders. The prisoner is placed before them and told to _Vamos._
He gives one glance into their unchanging faces, the surrounding land,
and then starts. That moment he falls to the earth riddled with a dozen
bullets, and the executioners re-enter the train and are speeding fast
away, almost before the echo of this fatal volley died away. They
cannot waste time putting his body beneath the ground, but before long
some Indians, traveling that way, find it. He is one of them, and their
turn may be next, so they lay him in a hastily-dug hole, erect a wooden
cross at the end, murmur a prayer, and leave him to return to that from
which he sprung. This is the merciful "law of escape" practiced daily
in Mexico.

Once every year to commemorate the victory over the French on the 5th
of May, 1862, the president reviews all the troops. They flock to the
city from mountain, valley, town, and city, clad in holiday attire.
Then only one realizes their strength, as they march before the palace
where the president is seated on the balcony. The finest looking men in
the whole 40,000 are the rurales. They number 6000 and are larger men
than Mexicans usually are.

These rurales are a band of outlaws who came forward with their chief
and aided Diaz during the war. When it was over Diaz recognized their
power, and was so afraid of them that he offered them a place in the
army, with their chief as general, and they are to-day not only the
best paid, but--speaking of their fighting ability--the best men in
Mexico. In the first place they are large and powerful and known over
the entire country, mountain, town, and valley, as thoroughly as we
know our A, B, C. They fear nothing on earth, or out of it, and will
fight on the least provocation. They would rather fight than eat, and
have a great aversion to exhibiting themselves, as they demonstrated on
the 5th of May last, when only 800 could be persuaded to participate.

They have their own bands and a number of buglers. Every man owns his
horse, which must in color match that of the rest of the regiment.
Their uniform is yellow buckskin, elaborately embroidered with silver
and gold, upon the pants and on the back, front and sleeves of the
short cutaway jacket. Their wide sombrero is the same color, finished
with the same embroidery and a silver cord and tassel. Their saddles
also match their suits in color and silver finish. How they ride! It is
simply perfection. The horse and rider seem to be one.

I don't think they could carry any more weapons if they tried. Each man
has a good carbine, a sword, two revolvers, the same number of daggers
and two lassos, and they fight with any or all of these weapons. They
fight very cleverly with the lasso. If they wish to take a prisoner--a
very unusual proceeding on their part--they, with the rope, can either
lasso man and horse together or two or more men. The other lasso is of
wire, which not only catches the fugitive, but knocks him senseless or
cuts his head off, as the case may be.

These rurales guide tourists through the interior and also attend all
public places to keep order; they receive one dollar a day, which is
enormous compared with the other soldiers' pay of six and one-quarter
cents. They have their horses in perfect control, and can make them
execute all kinds of movements in a body, while the tricks performed by
individual horses are numberless.

The Mexicans have a good deal of suppressed wrath bothering them at
the present day; they know that Diaz is a tyrannical czar, and want
to overthrow him. It may be readily believed that Diaz knows they are
bound to get rid of this superfluous feeling, and he would much rather
have them vent its strength on the Americans than on himself; thus he
stands on the war question. He is a good general, and has many good,
tough old soldiers, the best of whom is ex-President Gonzales, to aid
him, besides the convict soldiers and the rurales.



CHAPTER XXVI.


THE PRESS OF MEXICO.


The press of Mexico is like any of the other subjects of that monarchy,
yet it is a growing surprise to the American used to free movement,
speech and print who visits Mexico with the attained idea that it is a
republic. Even our newspapers have been wont to clip from the little
sheets which issue from that country, believing them untrammeled, and
quoting them as the best authority, when, in truth, they are but tools
of the organized ring, and are only capable of deceiving the outsider.

In the City of Mexico there are about twenty-five newspapers published,
and throughout the empire some few, which are perused by the smallest
possible number of people. The Mexicans understand thoroughly how the
papers are run, and they consequently have not the slightest respect in
the world for them. One can travel for miles, or by the day, and never
see a man with a newspaper. They possess such a disgust for newspapers
that they will not even use one of them as a subterfuge to hide behind
in a street car when some woman with a dozen bundles, three children
and two baskets is looking for a seat.

The best paper in Mexico is _El Monitor Republicano_ (the Republican
Monitor), which claims to have, in the city, suburbs, and United
States, a circulation of five thousand. It is printed entirely in
Spanish. The _Mexican Financier_ is a weekly paper--filled with
advertisements from the States--which is published in English and
Spanish, and is bought only by those who want to learn the Spanish
language, yet it is the best English paper in Mexico. Another English
paper is published by an American, Howell Hunt, in Zacatecas, but it,
like the rest, is of little or no account. One of the newsiest, if not
the newsiest, is _El Tiempo_ (the Times), which is squelched about
every fortnight, as it is anti-governmental.

Very few have telegraphic communication with the outside world, and
none whatever with their own country. They mostly clip and translate
items from their exchanges, heading them "Special telegrams," etc.,
when in reality they are from eight to ten days old. _El Monitor
Republicano_ steals from its exchanges first and the other papers copy
from it. Not a single paper has a reporter. Two men are considered
plenty to clip and translate for a daily, and it is not unusual for
them to borrow type to set the paper. All the type-setting is done in
the daytime and a morning paper is ready for sale--if anybody wanted
it--the afternoon before. While our morning newspapers allow their
brains to rest at 5 A.M., the Mexican brethren cease labor the day
before at 4 P.M. Things happening on the streets, which would make
a "display head" with us, are never even mentioned by them. One day
I saw a woman fall dead two squares away from a newspaper office,
and after a long time read in the same paper: "One of our respected
contemporaries is authority for the story than an unknown Indian woman
dropped dead on the street about two weeks ago." It needed no label
"castanado" (chestnut). For a time the papers imagined they had an item.

There was an old Frenchman who made some sort of taffy and with it used
to perambulate the streets crying, "Piruli." The English paper came out
quoting a notice of this old fellow. In a few days they quoted another
to the effect that the old fellow had died of smallpox. Then, after
using space for one entire week, changing every other day the cause
of the old man's death and substituting some new disease, the learned
editor stated that according to all reports the old fellow was not
dead at all, but had charmed some rich Mexican widow with his musical
voice--or taffy--and was enjoying a honeymoon on her bank account.
We even did not get peace with that, but in a few days they declared
the report false and gave a new version. When we left there, five
months later, they were still contradicting themselves about the old
taffy-peddler.

Quite as bad was their treatment of a small forest fire located about
twenty miles from the city. I was at the village at the time, and was
quite amused, when the fires were extinguished after eight hours'
burning, to read for two weeks after contradictory stories on it. It
was still raging with renewed energy--hundreds of lives had been lost,
etc., until one morning the English paper said: "According to a letter
received at this office yesterday, the forest fire only lasted a few
hours, and our contemporaries, from whom we have been quoting, have
made a big mistake. No lives were lost."

When a new member was added to the royal family of Spain the notice
was clipped from a foreign paper, in which it stated clearly that
the Queen Regent Christina had given birth to a boy baby. Yet it was
headed: "Is it a Boy?" When it grew a little colder than usual in an
interior town, they headed the item: "A Mexican Town in Danger." When
Roswell P. Flower, of New York, returned from his trip to Mexico he was
interviewed by some reporter, and while he said nothing in Mexico's
favor he said nothing against it; so they headed the clipping: "He
Loves Mexico." Moralizing is quite customary, at least with the English
paper. After quoting an item from _La Patria_ about a married pair
quarreling go fiercely that the mother-in-law took bilious fever and
died, it gave a sermon entitled: "Let not your angry passions rise." On
another occasion, speaking of the criminal list being unusually large
for the last month, it broke out with: "Oh, pulque, pulque, what evils
are committed under thine influence! And yet, verily, thou art a most
excellent aid to digestion."

All the papers which I know of are subsidized by the government,
and, until within several months ago, they were paid to abstain from
attacks on the government. This subsidy has stopped, through want of
funds, but the papers say nothing against the government, as they care
too much for their easy lives; so they circulate among foreigners
misrepresenting all Mexican affairs, and putting everything in a fair
but utterly false light. The Mexicans have nothing but contempt for the
papers, and the newspaper men have no standing whatever, not even level
with the government officials, whose tools they are. If a newspaper
even hints that government affairs could be bettered, the editors are
thrown into prison, too filthy for brutes, until they die or swear
never to repeat the offense. The papers containing the so-called
libelous items are all hunted up by the police and destroyed, and the
office and type are destroyed. These arrests are not unusual; indeed
they are of frequent occurrence. While in Mexico I knew of at least one
man being sent to jail every two weeks; they are taken by force, in the
most peculiar manner for a country which lays claim to having laws, not
to speak of being a republic. Just for an imaginary offense in their
writings, they are remanded to prison, and are kept in dark and dirty
cells, shut off from connection with the world without trial, without
even enough to eat.

A satirical paper named _Ahuizote_ was denounced by some offended
government officials and the editor was thrown into jail. Then Daniel
Cabrera started another Mexican Puck and called it _Hijo del Ahuizote_
(the son of Ahuizote). It was quite clever and got out a caricature
entitled: "The Cemetery of the Press," showing in the background
the graves of the different papers, and in the front a large cross
engraved, "The independent Press. R. I. P.," while hanging to each side
was a red-eyed owl with a spade. On top of the tomb was a lighted fuse
marked "Liberty." Underneath it read, "The sad cemetery of the Press of
Mexico, filled by liberty leaders, Juarez, Lerdo, Diaz and Gonzales."
The police were sent out to gather up and destroy every copy of this
paper.

Editor Cabrera was put in Belem, where he remained in the most pitiable
condition until death promised release; through the influence of
friends they took him home to die, guarding his house with a regiment
until he should be fit to be carried back to jail or until they should
see his body consigned to the grave. To say libelous things is as
dangerous as to write them. One fellow who ran a liquor shop let his
tongue wag too much for wisdom, and one night a member of the police
secret service went in, and as the proprietor turned to get the drink
the policeman had called for, he was shot in the back and again in the
body after he had fallen. The notice of the affair ended by saying: "It
is not known whether the policeman had orders to do the shooting." _La
Cronicade Tribunales_ (the _Court Chronicle)_ editor was denounced and
imprisoned for simply speaking about the rulings of one of the judges.

As all know by the Editor Cutting case, even a foreigner does not
write about Mexico's doings as they really are. I had some regard for
my health, and a Mexican jail is the least desirable abode on the
face of the earth, so some care was exercised in the selection of
topics while we were inside their gates. Quite innocently one day I
wrote a short notice about some editors, who received no pay from the
government, being put in jail. The article was copied from one paper to
another, and finally reached Mexico. The subsidized sheets threatened
to denounce me and said in Spanish, "One button was enough;" meaning
by one article the officials could see what my others were like, but
by means of a little bravado I convinced them that I had the upper
hand, and they left me unhurt. They have a law, known as "Article 33,"
which defines the fate of "pernicious" foreigners who speak or write
too freely of the land and its inhabitants. Once or twice they have
been kind enough to take the offending foreigner and march him, with a
regiment of soldiers at his heels, across the boundary line.

Professor Francis Wayland, of Brown University, together with the
American Consul, Porch, and Dr. Parsons, visited the prison Belem to
ascertain the conditions of the editors imprisoned there. They were not
granted any of the customary privileges, but one little paid sheet was
afraid some truth would reach the public's eye, as Professor Wayland
was soon to return to the States. In referring to the visit, this
paper said: "It is to be noted that these men wanted to enter the very
gallery where the newspaper men were confined, and that they took 'note
in a memorandum book of all answers.'" To save trouble, Dr. Parsons,
who resides in Mexico, said they merely exchanged the usual greeting
with the prisoners. Some of the editors confined thought, that as they
belonged to a press club, that they could appeal to the Associated
Press of the United States for aid. Of course, such an appeal would
be useless; the papers now published there take pride in copying and
crediting them to other papers. No dependence can be put in any of them
for a true statement of affairs. The _Two Republics_ was started and
run by a Texan, Major Clarke. He lived in Mexico with his family and
regularly every evening used to take a walk down the paseo with his two
daughters, who always walked a couple of yards in advance. This was
repeated every day until the Mexicans used to say, "There is Clarke and
his Two Republics."



CHAPTER XXVII.


THE GHASTLY TALE OF DON JUAN MANUEL.


When able to translate Spanish, there is nothing that will amuse a
tourist more in the City of Mexico than reading the street and store
signs and names of the different squares. Streets are not named there
as here. Every square is called a street and has a separate name; the
same with all the stores and public buildings. No difference how small,
they have some long, fantastic name painted above the doorway. We used
to get lunch at a restaurant called "The Coffee House of the Little
Hell," and our landlady always bought her groceries at "The Tail of the
Devil."

"Sara's Shoe," the "Paris Boot," and the "Boot of Gold," were all shoe
stores of the very best order, where they will make lovely satin boots,
embroidered in gold or silver bangles for $8 a pair, or of the finest
leather for $3 to $5. They never have numbers to their shoes, and if
none will fit, they make to order without extra charges. There is not
a low-heeled, flat shoe in Mexico; they cannot be sold. One pair of
American make, in a window on a prominent street, attracted a great
deal of attention and ridicule. The Mexican women have lovely feet, and
their shoes are very fancy--extremely high cut, French or opera heels
and pointed toes. The shoemakers have a book in which they take orders
for shoes. First they set the foot down on a clean page and mark out
the exact size; then they write on it the measure and the thickness,
and when the shoe arrives it is of perfect fit. Let it be added, as
encouragement to La-Americana, that although the dark-eyed Senorita's
foot is exquisite in size and shape, she walks with a decided stoop,
caused by the extremely high heels she has worn from babyhood.

"The Surprise," the "God of Fashion," the "Way to Beauty is Through the
Purse," the "Esmerelda" and the "Land of Love" are dry goods stores
kept by Frenchmen, and filled with the most expensive things ever
exhibited to the public. While the "Red Sombrero" sells silk hats at
three dollars to hundreds of dollars for sombreros covered with fifty
pounds of silver and gold embroidery, the "Temptation," the "Reform,"
the "Flowers of April," the "Sun of May," the "Fifth of May," the
"Christmas Night" and the "Dynamite" sell pulque at a laco a mug to the
thirsty natives.

The names of the streets were such a source of unfailing interest
to me that I cannot refrain from telling of some of the strangest
and most peculiar ones. All the saints ever heard of or imagined are
honored. The Mexicans do not say street after a name, in our fashion,
bat always say the street of--such as the Street of the Little Hand,
of the Masons, of Montezuma, of the Magnolia Tree, of the Moon, of
Grace, of Joy, of the Joint of God, of Jesus and Mother, of the Sad
Indian, of Independence, of Providence, of Enjoyment, of the Hens, of
the Steers, of the Slave, of Pain, of the Devil, of the Delicious,
of the Dance, of the Green Cross, of the Crosses, of Cayote, of the
Flowery Field, of the Cavalry, of the Chin, of the Heads, of a Good
Sight, of a Good Death, of the Wood of the Most Holy Bench, of Christ's
Mother's Prayer, of the Arts, of the Trees, of the Angles, Street of
Mirth, Street of Bitterness, Street of the Love of God, Street of the
Golden Eagle, of the Little Bird, of the Palm, of Progress, Street of
Spring, Street of Papers, of the Lost Child, of Mosquitoes, of Paper
Money, of Monstrosities, of Death, of the Wars, of Intense Misery, of
the Mill, of the Barber Shop, of the Mice, of the Refuge, of the Clock,
of the Kings, of the Rose, of the Queen, of the Seven Principals, of
the Solitude of the Holy Cross, of the Soldiers, of the Hat, of the
Vegetables, of Triumphs, of a Sot, of a Bull, of the Shutting up of
Jesus, of the Shutting up of Money, of the Blind, of the Heart of
Jesus, of the Body of Christ, Back of St. Andrews, Back of the Son
of God, Back of St. John of God, Back of the Holy Ghost, Back of the
Flowers, Back of the Flesh, Back of the Fruit; then there is the Bridge
of the Little Cars, Bridge of the Haven, Bridge of the Holy Ghost,
Bridge of Iron, Bridge of Firewood, Bridge of Mercy, Bridge of Jesus,
and many others equally curious.

There are eleven streets named after Humboldt in the City of Mexico.
Curious legends are attached to many of the streets, but many have been
forgotten; the street which faces the National Palace, called Don Juan
Manuel, is very interesting from its story, which, they say, is every
word true. As we have no power with which to test its veracity it must
pass without questioning. Here it is:

When the Spaniards first settled in Mexico there was one man named Don
Juan Manuel, who, although blessed with a handsome wife, was always
discontented and complaining because his family did not increase; this
melancholy affected his digestive organs, until he became a victim of
dyspepsia, which we all know leads to various whims and fancies. At any
rate, ho became possessed of the idea that his wife was unfaithful to
his fitful and fretful devotion, and he sat up at night brooding over
this, and writing down beautiful names he would hear and read of, that
would be handy in case of any sudden and unexpected event whereby they
could be utilized.

One night while thus occupied the devil appeared and told him to bring
his nephew from Spain, and also to stand, wrapped in a long black cape,
such as is yet worn by his countrymen, in front of his house at eleven
o'clock that night (a very late hour for a Spaniard to be abroad in
Mexico). The first man who passed would be the one who had stolen his
wife's love, whispered the devil, and Don Juan Manuel must say to him:
"My friend, what is the hour?" and, on the man's replying, continue:
"You are a happy man; you know the hour of your death," then stab him
to the heart. This done, he was to immediately feel relieved. His
wife's love would return, and he would ever after be supremely happy.

The don, much elated at the promised downfall of an imaginary rival,
and the ease it would bring to his worried mind, hastened to do the
devil's bidding; the very next night, wrapped in his long cloak, he
stood in the shadow of his house; just as the watchman's whistle,
calling the hour of eleven, had ceased to sound way off in the
distance, a man, as the devil predicted, came walking by. "My friend,
what is the hour?" cried Don Juan Manuel. True to the historic courtesy
of his birth, the stranger politely stopped and replied: "With your
permission, eleven o'clock, Senor Don." "You are a happy man; you know
the hour of your death," and the unsuspecting stranger fell, stabbed to
the heart, while Don Manuel hastened into his casa.

But he found no relief. While he had no regret for the deed, his
jealousy seemed to burn with increased fire: so the devil came again
and told him he had killed the wrong man, but he must persevere--go out
again, kill the man that he should see at that hour, and at last he
would find the right one; the people began to talk about a man being
found every morning dead at the same spot and in the same manner. But
Don Juan was one of their highest by birth and rearing and was above
suspicion. Their superstition made them attribute the deaths to an
invisible power, and no investigation was made.

In the meantime Don Juan's dearly beloved nephew had arrived from
Spain, and was not only warmly welcomed by him, but by his wife, who
hoped the nephew might be the means of helping to bridge the chasm,
which for months had steadily been increasing between herself and her
husband. Night came on, and the don went out to perform his deadly
business. A man clad like himself came along, and Don Juan approached
with, "My friend, what is the hour?" "Eleven o'clock. Adois," briefly
answered the one addressed. "You are a happy man; you know the hour of
your death," and the dark-clad stranger sank with a slight moan, while
the don fled to his dreary chambers.

Morning dawned, and a dead man, as usual, was found. Don Manuel met
them carrying the body into his casa, heard the screams of his wife,
and saw the rigid face of his beloved nephew, dead, and by his hand! He
rushed to his father confessor, whom he had not visited for so long,
and begged absolution. "Thou must first repent," said the father.
"Repent, repent!" cried the wretched man; "I am racked with misery.
Grant me absolution." "Prove thy repentance first," answered the
father; "go and stand beneath the scaffolding in front of the official
building when the bell and watchman tolls the hour for midnight. Prove
thy repentance by doing that thrice, then come to me."

After the first trial he returned to the father, begging that
absolution be granted, for devils had wounded his flesh and tortured
him as he had stood beneath the scaffolding. "No, twice more must
thou stand there," was the unrelenting reply, and once again he went.
Morning brought him more dead than alive to the good father's side.
His face wore the hue of death, his form was trembling, his eyes were
glassy and his words wild. "I cannot endure the third night. Angels
and devils alike surround me. My victims ask me, with their cold hands
about my throat and glassy eyes staring into mine, to name the hour I
want to die. My flesh is bruised where they burn and prick me. My head
is sore from the frequent pulling of my hair. Grant me absolution; they
have showed me the bottomless pit of hell, and I cannot return!"

The good father prayed long and earnestly with him, that the Almighty
power would deal leniently with his many crimes, but commanded the
trembling wretch to spend the third and final night beneath the
scaffolding. Dawn came, but it brought no hopeful man for the promised
absolution. They found him hanging on the scaffolding dead. Some say
the angels took him away because he had suffered sufficiently for his
sins. Others say the devils hung him because he tried to escape the
toil he had willingly accepted. But he was dead. His story was made
known, and because of the strangeness of it, this street was named
after him, and I never traversed it while in Mexico but that I felt
sorrow for the poor insane wretch as he stood three nights beneath the
scaffolding on Don Juan Manuel.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


A MEXICAN PARLOR.


Most readers will probably be interested to know how custom rules that
a parlor shall be furnished "in Spanish" as we quaintly say in Mexico.
For the knowledge that all are of a different tongue makes a rather
queer impression and it is quite common for foreigners to remark: "Oh,
they can't hear, they are Spanish." We even get to think they cannot
see and that people laugh and babies cry "in Spanish."

A parlor, or _sala,_ is found in every private Mexican house, but until
within the last two years there was not a hotel in the Republic that
had a parlor. Boarders entertained their friends in their bedrooms--and
this is yet considered quite the proper thing to do. Some of the hotels
now advertise as _Americanos_ on the strength of having a little
parlor. Calling or visiting is quite uncommon, as there is no society,
and little sociability outside their home doors, yet occasionally
relatives call on one another; still I have been with cousins who
accidentally met at church, and though they were the best of friends,
living within a dozen squares of each other, they had not exchanged
visits for three years; this is quite common. I know two sisters living
within four squares of each other who have not been in each other's
house for a year. I hardly think the reason is a lack of sociability
or hospitality, as, once within the massive walls of their _casa,_ the
Spanish courtesy is readily exhibited; they are your servants, and
their house is yours for the time being, but the main causes are the
gradual decrease of their once princely fortunes, and their laziness;
the latter I regard, from close observation, as the chief fault.

Yet with all their retired habits they retain the "custom" of former
generations as to how their parlor must be arranged and visits paid
and received, as strictly us though they were in the midst of an ultra
society circle; their customs, I have been informed, are thoroughly
Spanish and are the only ones practiced both in Spain and Cuba.

The _sala_ is always on the second floor, as none but servants occupy
the ground or first floor, and it is generally the only room in the
house which boasts of a carpet. In several cases I have seen the floors
made of polished wood and marble tiling; the walls are beautifully
frescoed in colors, and the ceiling, which is always very high, has a
magnificent painting in the center, the subject invariably of angels
or a group of scantily-clad females. In each corner there are round,
brass-edged openings of about ten inches in circumference, which serve
as ventilators and very often a double purpose by letting scorpions in
on unwilling victims.

The windows are but glass doors opening out upon little iron-railed
balconies shaded by awnings. Each window-shade is transparent, and
as the light shines through, it not only fills the room with some
beautiful delicate tints, but discloses a lovely Southern scene.
Cobweby curtains of creamy white hang from brass poles, suspended at
least a foot and a half from the window, forming in themselves little
nooks which would be idolized by romantically inclined "spoons" and
"spooners" of the States.

The Mexicans are all good judges of paintings and many are talented
artists; they do not harrow up one's sensibilities with dollar daubs of
blue-trees, lavender-tinted skies and a mammoth animal with horns and
tail, standing on a white streak in the foreground, which (the animal)
placed cross-wise, could stand on all fours and never touch water. Nor
does one's eyes have to long for the waters of Lethe because of tea
prizes and Mikado ornaments. But a selection of good oil paintings and
French-plate mirrors, all framed in brass, grace their rooms.

The piano is almost universal and occupies some nook by itself; the
furniture for the _sala_ is always cushioned and is composed mainly of
easy chairs; the sofa--the seat of honor--is placed against the wall
beneath some large painting or mirror and a large rug is laid in front.
Starting from either end are the easy chairs which form an unbroken
circle around the sofa, all thus being able to face it without turning
their backs on any one. Directly at the back of the chairs, or facing
the sofa, is a round table with a "crazy" patchwork cover--which craze
has invaded even that country--or a knitted scarf. Then it is actually
littered with ornaments of every description, leaving no empty space;
as an Englishman rather tersely remarked to me, "They look like a
counter in a crowded pawn shop."

All the chairs, and the sofa, have crocheted tidies on the backs,
arms and seat, each separate, and enough to madden a Talmage convert.
You may rise up slowly with an Andersonian grace and first one female
politely begs permission to remove one of her tidies from your hat;
then they will file into the next room, one by one, to see how _La
Americanos'_ sombrero becomes them, while another removes a white,
delicately constructed thing from your "tournure" (what they dote on),
which latter they have been dying to closely inspect, and to find how
you manage to have it hang so prettily. And after you remove another
tidy which has become fastened to your heel (although you can't imagine
how), you detach yet another from the side trimmings of your dress. By
that time you are flustered, forget the Andersonian grace, and utter
some emphatic words about tidies and tidy matters in general, and sit
down with a real Castletonian kick.

The _sala_ is not complete without at least two cabinets to hold the
overflow of the center table. In all the odd corners are pedestals on
which are statuettes in marble, bronze, or plaster-of-Paris, just as
the owner's purse permits. Tropical plants in quaint jars of Indian
design and construction and rustic stands are grouped about, and
parrots, mocking-birds, and gayly-colored birds of high and low voices
complete the attractions of the beautiful Mexican _sala._



CHAPTER XXIX.


LOVE AND COURTSHIP IN MEXICO.


    "Why the world are all thinking about it,
      And as for myself I can swear,
    If I fancied that Heaven were without it,
      I'd scarce feel a wish to be there."     _Moore._

Beneath the Mexican skies, where everybody treats life as if it
were one long holiday, they love with a passion as fervent as their
Southern sun, but--on one side at least--as brilliant and transient as
a shooting star. Yet there is a fascination about it which makes the
American love very insipid in comparison.

In childhood, boys and girls are never permitted to be together. There
is no rather sweet remembrance of when we first began to love, or
having to stand with our face in the corner for passing "love letters,"
or the fun of playing "Copenhagen" when we didn't run one bit hard. It
is only of a dirty little schoolroom filled with dusky _ninos,_ all of
the same wearing apparel, who studied "out loud;" a fat little teacher
who never wore tight dresses, and who only combed her hair "after the
senoritas had gone home." A scolding French master and an equally bad
music master completes the memories.

When Mexican damsels reach that "hood" which permits of long dresses
and big bustles, they are in feverish expectation until, during a walk
or drive, a flash from a pair of soft, black eyes tells its tale and a
pair of starry ones sends back a swift reply, and with a tender sigh
she realizes she has learned that which comes into the lives of them
all. That night she peeps from behind her curtains and watches him
promenade the opposite sidewalk back and forth, the gaslight throwing
his shadow many feet in advance, which, she vows--next to him--is the
most beautiful thing she ever gazed upon. She does not show herself
the first time nor does he expect it. Modesty or custom prevents. Just
as he takes off his hat to breathe a farewell to her balcony, a white
handkerchief flutters forth for an instant, he kisses his finger tips,
the light goes out, and both retire, longing for _manana noche._

Time goes on, and she gets bold enough to stand on the balcony, in full
glare of the laughing moon, whilst he walks just beneath her. When it
rains he will stand there until hat and clothing are ruined, to show
his devotion. When she goes for a walk he is sure to follow slowly
behind, and if chance offers he touches his hat slightly, and she with
upraised hand deftly gives the pretty Mexican salutation. When the
novelty wears off all this, she gets a pencil, paper, and cord, with
which she transfers to him those sweet, soft little nothings which the
love-stricken are so fond of, and the fair fisheress never draws in an
empty line; hers are but the repetition of what almost any love-sick
maiden would pen--badly written and mis-spelled, it is true; his is
something of this style:

"BEAUTIFUL, ENTRANCING ANGEL,--Your loving slave has been made to feel
the bliss of heaven by your gracious and pleasing condescension to
notice his maddening devotion for you. I long to touch your exquisite
hand that I may be made to realize my happiness is earthly. Life has
lost all charms for me except beneath your fortunate balcony which has
the honor of your presence. Only bless me with a smile and I am forever
your most devoted, who lives only to promote your happiness.

"YOUR SERVANT WHO BENDS TO KISS YOUR HAND."

Every letter ends with this last, as we end ours "Respectfully." If
they do not care to write it out fully they put only the initials
for every word. If a girl is inclined to flirt she may have several
"bears," but her fingers tell a different hour for each. If two should
meet they inquire the other's mission, and their hot blood leads
them into a duel--which, however, is less frequent of late years. No
difference how much a girl may care for a duelist, she does not see him
after he has fought for her.

Winter comes at last, and with it the annual receptions of the
different clubs. A mutual understanding and many fond hearts beat
in anticipation of the event. Once there they forget the eyes of
their chaperons, and in their adorers' arms they dance the Spanish
love-dance. It is really _the danza._ At all receptions it comes in
every other dance and is played twice the length of any. It is the one
moment of a Mexican's life, and I assure you they improve it. The
danza is rather peculiar, and not at all pleasing to an _Americana._
It is nearly the waltz step reduced to a slow, graceful motion; the
high heels and tight boots prevent any swift movement; the gentleman
takes the lady in his arms and she does likewise with him--as nearly
as possible--and in this way they dance about three minutes, then
encircling, as two loving schoolgirls walk along, they advance, and,
clasping hands with the nearest couple, the four dance together for a
little while and then separate; this repeated by the hour constitutes
the Spanish danza. Uninterrupted conversation is held continually
as the girl's cheek rests against the gentleman's shoulder. Love is
whispered, proposals are made, and arrangements for future actions
perfected.

When parents notice a "bear," if they are favorably inclined, they
invite him in, where he can see the object of his adoration hemmed in
on either side by petticoats of forbidding aspect. When he once enters
the house it means that he has been accepted as the girl's husband,
and there is no "backing out." The father sets a time for a private
interview and when he calls they settle all business points: As to
what the daughter receives at the father's death, when the marriage
shall take place, where the bride is to live and how much the intended
husband has to support her; the lawyer finishes all arrangements and
escorts the engaged pair to a magistrate, where a civil marriage is
performed--that their children may be legal heirs to their property.
Even after this they are not permitted to be alone together; the
intended bridegroom buys all the wedding outfit, for the bride is not
allowed to take even a collar from what her father bought for her
before.

The final ceremony is performed in a church by a _padre,_ who sprinkles
the young couple with holy water and hands an engagement ring to the
groom, which he puts on the little finger of his bride, then the
_padre_ puts a marriage ring on both the bride and groom. After which,
holding on to the priest's vestments, they proceed to the altar, where
they kneel while he puts a lace scarf around their shoulders and a
silver chain over their heads; symbolic that they are bound together
irrevocably, as there is no such thing as divorce in Mexico. After mass
is said the marriage festivities take place and last as long as the
husband cares to pay for them, anywhere from three days to a month, and
then, like the last scene on the stage, the curtain goes down, lights
are put out, and you see no more of the actors who pleased your fancy
for a short time.

The husband puts his wife in his home, which is henceforth the extent
of her life. She is devoted, tender, and true, as she has been taught.
She expects nothing except to see that the servants attend to the
children and household matters--and she gets only what she expects. He
finds divers amusements, for, according to the customs of his country,
his "illusion" (what they call love) dies after a few days spent alone
with his bride, and he only returns at stated intervals to fondle or
whip his captive--just as fancy dictates. The men discuss at the club
the fact that he has more loves than one, but they all have, and it
excites no censure. But the world can never know what the bride thinks;
private affairs are never made public. He can even kill her, as did
their predecessor Cortes, and it will excite little or no comment.
When matured years come on, she loses what good looks she had; three
hundred pounds is nothing for weight, and on her lip grows a heavy,
black mustache. She cares for nothing but sleeping, eating, drinking,
and smoking the perpetual cigarette. And in this way ends the fair
Mexican's brief dream of the _grande passion._



CHAPTER XXX.


SCENES WITHIN MEXICAN HOMES.


The City of Mexico makes many bright promises for the future. As
a winter resort, as a summer resort, a city for men to accumulate
fortunes, a paradise for students, for artists; a rich field for the
hunter of the curious, the beautiful and the rare, its bright future is
not far distant. Already its wonders are related to the enterprising
people of the States, who are making tours through the land that held
cities even at the time of the discovery of America.

The Mexican Central road, although completed only five years ago,
offers every, and even more, comforts than old established eastern
roads. Many excursionists have had delightful visits here, and at
present a number of Quakers have come to see for themselves what Mexico
offers. One of the party was quizzing Mr. Theo. Gestefeld, editor of
the _Two Republics,_ on the advisability of opening a mission for the
poor and degraded of Mexico. Mr. Gestefeld is a first-class newspaper
man, formerly employed on the Chicago _Tribune,_ and has a practical
and common sense way of viewing things. His reply should be studied by
all coming to Mexico to stay. He said: "Their religion has been the
people's faith always, even before Americans lived. They are fanatics,
and trying to change or convert them is wasting time. Let their faith
alone, and go out and buy a farm on the table-lands and teach them
how to farm and how to live. You will find them ready, willing, even
anxious to learn. They will quickly imitate any way they know is better
than theirs." The Quaker is still here, but, so far as known, has
neither started a mission nor bought a farm.

Mexico is colder these last few days than the traditional oldest
inhabitant ever remembered, but it is a pleasant change to the visitors
who have left the snowbound country, even if a fire is an unheard-of
thing.

People who read history form wrong ideas of how Mexican houses are
built. They are square, plastered outside and decorated. Many are three
and four stories in height. The windows, which are always curtained,
are finished with iron balconies. Massive doors, on which are ponderous
knockers of antique shape and size, keep from view the inhabitants
of the Casa. A knock, and the doors swing open and a brown portero,
dressed in the garb of his country, sombrero, serape and all, admits
you to the lower court, where the stables are kept and the servants
live. Beautiful flowers, rare orchids, and tall, waving palms are
growing in rich profusion. Directly up through the center is a large,
open square; a stairway, decorated in the highest style of art,
leads to the different departments. Fine statuary, singing birds and
fountains mingling with the flowers aid in making the scene superb.

Just the opposite of the States, the higher up a room is the better it
is considered, and in hotels they charge accordingly, $1 first floor;
$2 second; $3 third; and so on. A room is not healthy unless the sun
shines into it; and they have no windows--just glass doors.

All the hotels in Mexico are run on the European plan. They have
restaurants attached where the waiters, as long as they smile, cannot
do too much for their customers. Mexico has several good hotels, of
their kind, and most of them equal, if they are not superior, to the
Iturbide--pronounced Eeturbeda--but Americans who run after royalty
want to stop here so they can say they have stayed at the house which
was the palace of the first emperor after Mexico was independent.

Mexico looks the same all over, every white street terminates at the
foot of a snow-capped mountain, look which way you will; the streets
are named very strangely, one straight street having half a dozen
names. Each square has a different name, or designated as First San
Francisco; the next block Second San Francisco. Policemen stand in the
middle of the street all over the city, reminding one of so many posts.
They wear white caps with numbers on, blue suits, nickel buttons. A
mace now takes the place of the sword of former days. At night they
don an overcoat and hood, which makes them look just like the pictures
of veiled knights. Their red lanterns are left in the place they
occupied during the daytime, while they retire to some doorway where,
it is said, they sleep as soundly as their brethren in the States. At
intervals they blow a whistle like those used by street car drivers,
which are answered by those on the next posts; thus they know all is
well. In small towns they call out the time of night, ending up with
tiempo sereno (all serene), from which the Mexican youth, with some
mischievous Yankeeism, have nicknamed them Sereno.

It is very easy for those unaccompanied and not speaking Spanish to
get around in Mexico. A baggage man meets the train out from the city,
who not only attends to his regular duties, but gives any information
regarding hotels that visitors may want. Numerous carriages of all
kinds and descriptions, stand around the depot. Each one is decorated
with a flag, by which the visitor may know the price without asking.
White, red, and blue--fifty cents, seventy-five cents, and one dollar.
The drivers often try to get the best of a tourist, especially if he
speaks Spanish, and charge him one dollar for a seventy-five cent
carriage. The Mexicans do not differ much from the Yankee hackman. If
any, it is in favor of the Mexican. They do not cheat so much, because
they are not sharp enough.

Pulque shops, where they deal out the national drink, are quite plenty.
These are the only buildings in the city that are decorated. They are
generally corner buildings, and the two sides have finely-painted
pictures of ladies, ballet-girls, men on gayly-caparisoned horses,
angels floating on clouds, etc. Numerous flags of black and red, or
red and white, answer for a sign, but it is against the law to use the
national flag. These saloons, or shops, as they are called, stand wide
open, with no screens to hide the dirty bar and drinkers from the eyes
of pedestrians. They are patronized by men, women, and children, and
are kept open all the time.

    "Sabe que es pulque--
      Licor divino?

     Lo beben los angeles
      En vez de vino."

     Know ye not pulque--
      That liquor divine?
     Angels in heaven
      Prefer it to wine.

Pulque is the fermented juice of the agave, or so-called century plant,
which matures in from five to fifteen years, instead of one hundred
as generally believed. It grows wild here, but large plantations of it
are cultivated. Just before the plant is ready to blossom the natives
gather the big fat leaves together, around the bud, forming a sort of
basin. The bud is then cut out and the juice from the stalk collects in
the leaf-formed basin. One stalk will yield as high as two gallons a
day for six months.

The pulque is collected in jars that the gatherers carry suspended from
their shoulders. It is sucked out of the basin through a hollow bamboo
or reed, and squirted from the mouth into the jar. A knowledge of this
fact does not render the stuff any more palatable to foreigners. It is
awfully nasty stuff, but they say that when you get acquainted with it
you like it real well.

Mescal is a sort of brandy distilled from pulque, and will paralyze
almost as promptly as a stroke of lightning. Metheglin--honey and
water--is made from the honey ant; they are placed in a piece of
bolting cloth and the honey squeezed out of them.

The street-car system here is quite unique. But first a few statistics
may prove interesting; they run on ninety miles of rails, and carried
last year nine million passengers; the company owns one thousand five
hundred mules and horses, one hundred and thirty-nine first-class
coaches, sixty-five second-class, forty-six platform or freight cars,
and twenty-six funeral cars. They pay an annual dividend of six
per cent, on a capital of $5,000,000. The Chairman of the Board of
Directors, Senor Castillo, speaks Spanish and English; they are very
particular about free passes, and so far this year have only issued six.

First-class cars are exactly like those in the States, and the
second-class look just like the "Black Maria," except the wheels. Cars,
just like open freight or truck cars on railroads, are used for hauling
instead of wagons, and a dozen of these, loaded with merchandize, are
drawn by one team. Movings and everything are hauled in this manner;
the price charged is comparatively small. Cars do not run singly, but
in groups of four and five. Even on the first-class cars men smoke as
much as they wish, and if the women find it unbearable they go out and
stand on the platform; there are two conductors on each car; one sells
the tickets, the other collects them.

When the line was first opened an enterprising stockholder bought up
all the hearses in the city and had funeral cars made. The coffin is
laid on one draped car; white for young and black for old, and the
mourners and friends follow in street cars hired for the purpose. A
stylish funeral will have a dozen or more cars, the windows of which
are hung with white crepe, and the doors with black; the drivers and
conductors appear in black suits and high, silk hats; the horses are
draped, and have black and white plumes on their heads. The cost of
funerals ranges from $20 to $1500. A stylish one is a beautiful sight;
the poor, by making application to the police, are given the funeral
car and passage for two persons free; the low and poverty-stricken
class also hire the coffins, and when they reach the cemetery the
corpse is taken out, wrapped in a serape and consigned to a hired
grave--that is, they buy the grave for five years, at the end of which
time the bones are lifted and thrown in some corner, exposed to the
gaze of the public, in order to make room for new-comers, and the
tombstones--then useless--are laid in one heap by the gate. The people
are no respecters of human bones; Americans always want to go back to
the States to die.

Street car drivers, of which there are two on each car, are compelled
by law to blow a horn at every crossing to warn pedestrians of their
coming; the horns are similar, in tone and shape, to those used by
fish peddlers in the States. Drivers of every kind of vehicles use the
long lash whip of plaited leather exclusively, and they ply them quite
vigorously on their animals; they also urge them to faster speed by a
sound similar to that which the villain on the stage makes as he creeps
upon intended victims when asleep, with his finger on his lips. It
sounds like a whip lash cutting through the air.

The carts in use here are of the most ancient shape and style; two
large, wooden wheels support a big square box. One mule is hitched next
to the wagon, and three abreast in front of that, and one still ahead;
the harness baffles description. Drivers very seldom ride, but trot
along beside their team with rope lines in their hands; they can trot
at the speed of the mules with apparent comfort.

Mexico does not breakfast. When people go into the restaurants and
order a breakfast the waiters look at them in wonder, and inform them
in the most polite terms in the world that they have but coffee and dry
bread for breakfast. It is asserted that to eat breakfast will cause
a heaviness and dullness for the entire day, but whether this is true
or otherwise, it cannot be stated, for since our arrival in Mexico we
have been unable to find any other than as before mentioned--and black
coffee at that. Every family takes their coffee in their bedrooms. It
takes at least two hours to get through an ordinary dinner.

A description of dinner in a private family will, no doubt, prove
interesting to most readers, especially if they understand the
difficulty of obtaining admission into a family. A Mexican will be all
politeness, will do anything for you, will place his house at your
service, but he and his family will move out. He will do anything but
admit you to the secrecy of his house. So this experience is rare.

Dinner was announced and the gentlemen, in the most courteous manner,
offered their arms, and we walked along the balcony to the dining-room.
The lace-hung doors were swung open, and there before us was the table
with plate, knife and fork, and a penny loaf of bread at each place.
We sit down, take our napkins, and the waiters--always men--fill our
glasses from the elegant water bottles that grace each end of the
table. One dish, containing, perhaps, cold meat, salad, red pepper,
radishes, and pickled beans, is served on plates, and the first ones
taken away from us, although not used. After endeavoring to swallow
some of this nauseating stuff, which the natives devour with relish,
the servant removes the dish, our plates, knives and forks, and another
equally strange and equally detestable dish is brought on. Thus the
feast continues, meanwhile breaking the penny loaf in bits and eating
without a spread.

Butter, which commands $1 a pound, is never seen from one year's end
to another, and jelly is an unheard-of dish. The last dish, and one
that is never omitted from dinner or supper, is frijoles--pronounced
free-holies--consists of beans, brown ones, with a sort of gravy over
them. If a Bostonian were but to visit this country his intellectual
stomach, or appetite, would be sated for once. Sliced orange, covered
with sugar and cinnamon, is dessert, after which comes chocolate or
coffee; the former superb, the latter miserable. With the coffee the
ladies and gentlemen smoke their cigarettes.

Children are really good here, their reverence for their parents being
something beautiful. When entering the dining room each one kisses its
mother's hand, and when she asks them if they wish such and such to
eat they reply: "With your permission." Although all are smokers they
could not be persuaded to take a cigarette in their mother's presence.
The pulque, which is also given around with the coffee, they refuse
through respect to their mother; but they drink when she is not by, and
of course she is aware of the fact, and has no desire to prohibit them
from it. It is just their form of respect to refrain in her presence.
A Mexican could not be compelled to eat of two different dishes from
one plate. Even the smallest child is proof against persuasion on this
point.

The frijoles, or beans, are served on a tortilla, a sort of corn-cake
baked in the shape of a buckwheat cake. Another tortilla is folded
together, and answers for a spoon. After finishing the beans it is not
considered proper or polite unless you eat your spoon and plate.

Every family has at least half a dozen servants. They are considered
excellent when they receive five dollars a month, and board themselves.
Sometimes they are paid three dollars a month, and allowed six cents a
day to furnish what they want to eat. This sum is called the retainer.
Women do the cooking, and the men wait on the tables, make the beds
and nurse the babies. Contrary to the usual report, they are very,
very cleanly. Every room in the house is swept daily; balconies and
uncarpeted rooms scrubbed as often. Beds, which are always single iron
cots like those used in hospitals, have board or iron bottoms, and the
hardest of hard pillows.

Brooms are an unseen article, notwithstanding the country furnishes the
most beautiful broom corn in the world. It is bought in bunches and
tied to a short stick, and used in that manner, forcing the sweeper to
bend nearly double. Scrub brushes are but a bunch of coarse straw tied
around the top with a string, but they make the floors perfectly white.
There is a fortune here awaiting some lively fellow who will bring
machinery and make brooms and brushes for the natives: the straw costs
comparatively nothing, and is of the very best quality.

Lotteries swarm here, and are a curse to the poor. Men, women, and
children sell the tickets along the streets, and the poor have such a
mania for buying that they will pawn their clothing in order to obtain
a ticket.

There are no newsboys in this country. Occasionally a boy is seen with
a package of papers, but he does not call out like they do in the
States. Women generally sell papers, which they fold and hold out
toward passers-by, never saying a word.

The people appear just the opposite of lazy. They move along the
streets with a trot, equal in speed to the burro; they never turn their
heads to gaze at a stranger, but go along intent on their own affairs
as if they realized the value of time and shortness of life.

Ladies in the States should import their servants from Mexico. Their
hire is a very little sum; they furnish their own food; they are the
most polite, most obedient people alive, and are faithful. Their only
fault--and a very common one with servants--is that they are slow,
but not extremely so. To children they are most devoted; as nurses
they are unexcelled; their love for children amounts to a passion, a
mania. As a common thing here, a girl of thirteen is not happy unless
she has a baby; but with all that they are most generous with them.
Much amusement was caused the other day by an American asking a pretty
little black-eyed girl if the bouncing babe tied to her back was hers.
"Si, senor, and yours, too," she replied, politely.

The men share the troubles of nursing with the women, and the babies,
tied on their mother's or father's back, seem as content as if they
were rocked in downy cradles. Babies, as soon as born, are clad
in pantaloons and loose waist, irrespective of sex. There are no
three-yard skirts on them. Boys retain this garb, but girls, when able
to walk, are wrapped twice around the body with a straight cloth which
serves for skirts.

If you ask a native in regard to the sex of a baby he will not say
it is a boy or it is a girl, but "el hombre" (a man) or "la mujer"
(the woman.) All efforts fail to make them say "hijo" (son) or "hija"
(daughter).



CHAPTER XXXI.


THE ROMANCE OF THE MEXICAN PULQUE.


The maguey plant is put to as many uses by the Mexicans as the cocoa
palm is by the South Sea Islanders. All around Mexico, even on the
barren plains where nothing else can exist, it grows in abundance. Its
leaves are ten and more feet in length, a foot in breadth and about
eight inches thick. Of course, there are smaller and larger growths,
according to their age. After collecting strength for about seven years
it sprouts from the center a giant flower stalk, twenty or thirty feet
high, on which often cluster three thousand flowers of a greenish
yellow color. These wonderful plants in bloom along the plains form one
of the most magnificent sights in Mexico. At the very least, forty have
been seen at one place, each vieing with the other to put forth the
most beauty.

A prince named Papautzin, of the noble blood of the Toltec, discovered
some fluid in a plant whose flowering spike had been accidentally
broken off. After saving it for some time, he had the curiosity to
taste it, and that taste was not only delicious to him, but was
destined to moisten the throat and muddle the brain of the Mexicans
for generations and generations, and to cause the curious and ever
inquiring tourist to do like the whale did at the taste of Jonah. This
noble prince was not like an Eastern Yankee; he did not keep his month
shut until he obtained a patent. If he had, telephones and gas wells
would be nowhere in comparison as a money-making scheme. He kindly sent
some to his sovereign by his beautiful daughter, Xochitl, the flower of
Tollan. The noble king drank and looked, looked and drank--the more he
drank the more he liked the stuff; the more he looked the more he liked
the girl. So he kept her, a willing prisoner, and their son was placed
upon the throne.

Generations after generations rolled by lovely Xochitl. The king, their
son, and the illustrious discoverer had solved the wonderful problem.
The maguey plant was cultivated by thousands, and oceans of its fluid
had gone down the throats of the natives. This was the origin of the
Mexican national drink, pulque. No estimate can be formed of the amount
used, but it is enormous. It is simply water for the natives, and a
pulque shop graces, almost invariably, every corner in the cities.
As stated in a former chapter, these shops are the finest decorated
places in Mexico. Superb paintings of all scenes grace the interior
and exterior; flags float gracefully over the doors, and customers are
always plenty. Men, women, and children can be seen constantly drinking
from clay pitchers of a generous size, for the full of which they pay
but two cents. No respectable Mexican would enter a pulque shop, but
they all drink it at every meal.

The maguey is planted at the interval of three yards apart, and in such
a manner that every way you look across an estate the plants run in a
straight line; they thrive in almost any soil, and after planting need
no more attention until the time of flowering, which is anywhere from
six to ten years. The Indians know by infallible signs just when the
flowering stem will appear, and at that time they cut out the whole
heart, leaving only a thick outside, which forms a natural basin. Into
this the sap continually oozes, and it is removed twice, sometimes
thrice a day by a peon, who sucks it into his mouth and then ejects
it into the jar he carries on his back. As soon as the plant exhausts
all this sap, which was originally intended to give strength and
life to the flowering stem, it dies, and is replaced by innumerable
suckers from the old root. Great care must be exercised in cutting the
plant--if the least too soon or too late, it is the death of it.

When first extracted the sap is extremely sweet, from which it derives
its name, aguamiel (honey water). Some of this is fermented for fifteen
and twenty-five days, when it is called madre pulque (the mother of
pulque). This is distributed in very small quantities among different
pigskins; then the fresh is poured on it, and in twenty-four hours it
is ready for sale. Plants ready to cut are valued at about $5, but an
established maguey ground will produce a revenue of $10,000 to $15,000
per annum. Pulque is brought to town in pig and goat skins. It has a
peculiar sour-milkish taste, and smells exactly like hop yeast.

From the mild pulque is distilled a rum called mescal. It is of a
lovely brown, golden color, and very pleasant to the taste. One can
drink it all night, be as drunk as a lord, and have no big head in the
morning. If it was once introduced into the States nothing else would
be used, for no difference how much is drank, the head is as clear and
bright as the teetotaler's in the morning. Nor is this the only use
of the plant. Poor people roof their huts with the leaves, placing
one on the other like shingles. The hollowed leaf serves as a trough
for conducting the water, The sharp thorns are stripped off, leaving
the fibers attached, and the natives use them as a needle, already
threaded. Paper is made from the pulp of the leaves, and twine and
thread from their fibers. The twine is woven into rugs, mats, sacks,
ropes, harness, even to the bits, and dainty little purses, which
tourists buy up like precious articles.

The wonderful productive powers of this plant do not end here. The
expensive cochineal bug, used for coloring purposes and for paint,
counts this maguey its foster-mother. On its wide leaves does it live
externally and internally until the gatherer comes and plucks it off,
probably to color some dainty maid's gown in the far distant land or
tint some sky of an artist's dream.

Yet maguey thinks it has not done enough for mortals, and it
accomplishes one more thing for which the Mexicans would treasure its
memory but Americans would gladly excuse it. Clinging to the shadiest
side, in a childlike confidence, is a long green worm, similar to the
unkillable cabbage worm of the States. Peons in a gentle manner, so as
not to crush or hurt, pluck these tender young things, and, putting
them in a vessel, bring the fruits of their work to town. Nothing can
be compared to the way and haste in which people buy them. Fried in
butter, a little brown milk gravy around, and they are set on the table
as the greatest delicacy of all Mexican dishes. It is needless to add
that the natives eat them with wonderful relish, and are quick to say
"We know what these dainty things are, but you folks eat oysters!"



CHAPTER XXXII.


MEXICAN MANNERS.


Among the most interesting things in Mexico are the customs followed
by the people, which are quaint, and, in many cases, pretty and
pleasing. Mexican politeness, while not always sincere, is vastly more
agreeable than the courtesy current among Americans. Their pleasing
manners seem to be inborn, yet the Mexican of Spanish descent cannot
excel the Indian in courtesy, who, though ignorant, unable to read or
write, could teach politeness to a Chesterfield. The moment they are
addressed their hat is in hand. If they wish to pass they first beg
your permission. Even a child when learning to talk is the perfection
of courtesy. If you ask one its name it will tell you, and immediately
add, "I am your servant" or "Your servant to command." This grows with
them, and when past childhood they are as near perfection in this line
as it is possible to be.

When woman meets woman then doesn't come "the tug of war," but instead
the "hug and kissing;" the kissing is never on the lips, but while one
kisses a friend on the right cheek, she is being kissed on the left,
and then they change off and kiss the other side. Both sides must be
kissed; this is repeated according to the familiarity existing between
them, but never on the lips, although with an introduction the lips
are touched. The hug--well, it is given in the same place as it is in
other countries, and in a right tight and wholly earnest manner. From
the first moment they are expected to address each other only by their
Christian names, the family name never being used.

The parlor furniture is arranged the same all over Mexico; the sofa is
placed against the wall and the chairs form a circle around it; the
visitor is given the sofa, which is the "seat of honor," and the family
sit in the circle, the eldest nearest the sofa; the visitor expects
to be asked to play the piano, which she does in fine style, and then
the hostess must play after her or commit a breach of courtesy, which
social crime she also commits if she neglects to ask the guest to play;
visitors always stay half a day, and before leaving she is treated
to a dish of fine dulce, a sweet dessert, cigarettes and wine; then
mantillas are put on, blessings, good wishes, kisses and embraces
are exchanged, each says "My house is yours; I am your servant," and
depart. All the rules of decorum have been obeyed.

When men are introduced they clasp hands, not the way Americans do,
but with thumbs interlocked, and embrace with the left arm; then the
left hands are clasped and they embrace with the right arm, patting the
back in a hearty manner; the more intimate they become the closer the
embrace, and it is not unusual to see men kiss; these embraces are not
saved for private or home use, but are as frequent on the streets as
hat tipping is here; the hand clasping is both agreeable and hearty.
They clasp hands every time they part, if it be only for an hour's
duration, and again when they meet, and when careless Americans forget
the rule they vote them very rude and ill-bred. Undoubtedly, as a
nation, we are.

On the street a woman is not permitted to recognize a man first. She
must wait until he lifts his shining silk hat; then she raises her
hand until on a level with her face, turns the palm inward, with the
fingers pointing toward the face, then holds the first and fourth
fingers still, and moves the two center ones in a quick motion; the
action is very pretty, and the picture of grace when done by a Mexican
senora, but is inclined to deceive the green American, and lead him to
believe it is a gesture calling him to her side. When two women walk
along together the youngest is always given the inside of the pavement,
or if the younger happens to be married, she gets the outside--they
are quite strict about this; also, if a gentleman is with a mother
and daughters, he must walk with the mother and the girls must walk
before them. A woman who professes Christianity will not wear a hat or
bonnet to church, but gracefully covers her head with a lace mantilla.
No difference how nicely she is clad, she is not considered dressed
in good taste unless powdered and painted, to the height reached only
by chorus girls. Four years ago, the Americans tell me, the Mexican
women promenaded the streets and parks and took drives in ball-dresses,
low neck, sleeveless, and with enormous trains; this has almost been
stopped, although the finest of dresses, vivid in color, and only
suitable for house or reception wear, are yet worn on Sundays.

Everybody wears jewelry, not with good taste, but piled on recklessly.
I have seen men with rings on every finger, always excepting the thumb;
and the cologne used is something wonderful. You can smell it while
they are a square off, and it is discernible when they are out of
sight. A man is not considered fashionable unless he parts his hair in
the middle, from his forehead to the nape of his neck, and dress it _a
la_ pompadour. The handkerchief is always carried folded in a square,
and is used alternately to wipe his dainty little low-cut boots and the
face. Afterward it is refolded and replaced in the pocket.

Visitors are always expected to call first, to see their friends when
in town, as it would be a great breach of decorum for a family to call
on a visitor before he or she came to their house. If two or more
people meet in a room and are not acquainted they must speak, but not
shake hands; they can converse until some one comes, when they will
accept an introduction and embrace, as if they had just that instant
met. When one occupies a bench in the park with a stranger neither
must depart without bidding the other farewell, and very often while
murmuring adieus they clasp hands and lift hats.

Mexicans in talking employ a number of signs, which mean as much to
them and are as plainly understood as English words would be to us.
They speak their sign-language gracefully; indeed, they are a very
graceful people, and yet they never study it or give it a thought. When
they want a waiter in a restaurant, or a man on the streets, they never
call or whistle, as we would do, but simply clap the hands several
times and the wanted party comes. The system is very convenient, and
far more pleasing than the American plan. When wishing to beckon any
one, they throw the hand from them in the same manner as Americans do
if they want any one to move on. To go away, they hold the fingers
together and move them toward the body.

They never say that a man is drunk; it sounds vulgar, and, as they will
"get that way," they merely place the index finger on the temple and
incline the head slightly toward the person meant. They could never
be abrupt enough to say any one was crazy or had no brains, so they
touch the forehead, between the eyebrows, with the first finger. To
speak of money they form a circle of the thumb and forefinger; to ask
you to take a drink or tell the servants to bring one, the thumb is
turned toward the mouth; to ask you to wait a little while, the first
finger is held within a quarter of an inch of the thumb. To hold the
palm upward, and slowly move the hand backward and forward, says as
plain as English "I am going to whip my wife," or "I whip my wife." If
they want you to play a game at cards, they close both fists and hold
them tightly together. Touching the thumb rapidly with the four fingers
closed means you have much or many of anything, like many friends.
Making a scissors sign with the fist and second finger means you are
cutting some one in the back. Whittling one forefinger with the other
means "you got left." When courting on the balcony and the girl smooths
her lip and chin, you are warned to get out; "the old man is coming."
In company, when one is so unfortunate as to sneeze, they are greatly
insulted, and the company is badly wanting in good manners unless, just
as the sneeze is finished, every one ejaculates "Jesu," "Jesucristo."



CHAPTER XXXIII.


NOCHE TRISTE TREE.


I presume everybody who knows anything about history remembers reading
how Cortez, when he thought he was going to lose the fight for Mexico,
on July 10th, 1520, retired under a tree and wept.

Since that time the tree has been known to the inhabitants as the Noche
Triste (the sad night). It stands before an ancient chapel, in a public
square of the little village of Popotla. I don't know why, for I could
never think of Cortez except as a thieving murderer, but the Noche
Triste receives a great deal of attention from the natives and all the
tourists. On the second of May, 1872, the tree was found to be on fire.
A citizen of Popotla, Senor Jose Maria Enriquez, who venerated the old
relic, followed by hundreds of people, rushed to its rescue.

They did what they could with buckets, and at last two hand pumps were
brought from an adjoining college. It is said that fully five thousand
people visited the burning tree that day. After burning for twenty-four
hours the flames were conquered. Since then Noche Triste has been
inclosed by a high, iron fence; despite the fire it is yet a grand old
tree.

Everybody visits the cathedral of Mexico. It is a grand old building,
of enormous size, and covered with carved figures, facing the zocalo.
It is surrounded by well-kept gardens, in which are many beautiful
statues and ancient Aztec figures. In the cathedral is the tomb of the
Emperor Yturbide, and superb paintings, some by Murillo. The history of
the cathedral is interesting; it was the church of Santa Maria de la
Asuncion until January 31, 1545, when it was declared the metropolitan
cathedral of Mexico.

Philip II. issued a royal decree that the cathedral should correspond
to the magnificence of the city, and in 1573 the work was begun. It
occupies the very ground on which stood the principal temple of the
Aztecs; the site was bought from the Franciscan monks for forty dollars.

A period of forty-two years was consumed in laying the foundations,
raising the exterior walls, building the transverse walls of the
chapels, working the columns to the height of the capitals, and making
some progress upon the domes.

The architecture of this temple pertains to the Doric order. The
structure is one hundred and thirty-three Spanish yards in length, and
seventy-four in width. It has one hundred and seventy-four windows,
and is divided into five naves, the principal one of which measures
fifty-three feet in width from column to column. The aisles correspond
in number to the thirty-three chapels, formed by twenty pillars, ten
on each side; from base to capital the pillars measure fifty-four feet
in height, and fourteen in circumference. The roof is composed of
fifty-one domes or vaults, resting upon seventy-four arches. The church
is pyramidal in form, its height diminishing in regular proportion from
the main nave to the chapels. There are three entrance-doors on the
southern front, two on the northern, and two on each of the sides.

After ninety-five years of continual work, the final solemn dedication
was celebrated December 22, 1677.

The cost of the cathedral, exclusive of the external decoration, at
least of the Sagrario, amounted to $1,752.000, so that it may well
be said that two and a half million dollars were invested in the two
churches, whose erection extended over more than a century.

During my six months in Mexico I received hundreds of letters from men
asking my advice about their coming to Mexico for business purposes.
I never give advice, but if I were a man and had a certain amount of
patience I should go to Mexico. If one can get used to the people and
their _mauana_ movements, the place is perfect, The land, in most
localities, is the easiest imaginable to cultivate. A farmer can have
as many harvests a year as he has space. He can sow in one place and
harvest in another, so perfect is the climate. The only complaint is of
the lack of water, but as it is always to be found six feet under the
surface of the earth one can have it. Anything will grow if put in the
ground. I visited one place that had been barren three years previous,
and it was the most beautiful garden spot in Mexico. The trees were
equal to any nine year old trees in the States. There is no weather to
interfere with their growth.

A great number of Englishmen, Germans and French, have settled in
Mexico, and by their thrift are accumulating fortunes rapidly. Barring
a little dislike, the Americans have the same chances.

Mexico produces better broom-corn than the United States, and for
the smallest possible cost and trouble. Very few farmers interest
themselves in broom-corn, so there is a place for Americans to step in
and make money.

Silk culture could also be made one of Mexico's principal industries.
It can be carried on with little or no capital. Any one who possesses a
few mulberry tries can, without abandoning his regular work, care for
silk-worms. An ounce of silk-worm eggs costs five dollars, and it will
produce not less than fifty kilogrammes of cocoons that are worth one
dollar per kilogramme.

It is only necessary to buy eggs the first time, for the worms keep
producing them. The mulberry tree thrives in all parts of Mexico and
the silk worm needs no protection of any kind from the climate, nor
are they subjected to diseases here which elsewhere cause great loss.
It costs less to raise silk-worms in Mexico than in Europe, and a far
better quality are produced. Mulberry shoots will produce sufficient
foliage to maintain silk-worms within three years after planting.

The eggs, while containing the embryo silk-worm, have a dull lavender
color, but after discharging the worm they resembled little sugar
pills. The worms were about one-sixteenth of an inch long, but the
first week of moulting shows them to be half an inch long and the
second week one inch. For the third moulting they are placed on
perforated paper, through the holes of which the worms crawl. This
relieves the attendant of considerable labor in transferring them. The
fourth week the head is white, and the worm has attained its normal
growth. There is nothing now for the worm to do but leaf around and
lunch on mulberry leaves until the eighth or ninth day after shedding
its skin the fourth time, when he or she, as the case may be, proceeds
to form its cocoon. It is then of a golden transparent color. It takes
about five days for the industrious worm to finish its cocoon. Then,
to destroy the moth inside, it is subjected to heat, and the cocoon is
then ready for spinning.

When ready for use the cocoons are soaked in a tub of water until all
the glutinous substance is removed. With a small whisk-broom the cocoon
is brushed until ends, which are as fine as a cobweb, come loose. They
will then reel off without breaking. One cocoon will give four hundred
yards of raw silk.

Indian rubber trees are also easily cultivated in Mexico, and the
demand for them is large. It's easy to make a comfortable income in
Mexico, if one goes about it rightly.



CHAPTER XXXIV.


LITTLE NOTES OF INTEREST.


Superstition is the ruin of Mexico. While we were there some children
found a shell containing an image of the Virgin. The matter was deemed
miraculous, and they directly decided to build a chapel on the spot
where the shell was found.

In the State of Morelos exists a stone that they say was used before
the conquest to call the people to labor or to war. The stone appears
to be hewn, in the center of the upper part is a hole which runs
into the heart of the stone, forming a spiral. On fitting to this a
mouthpiece and blowing, the sound of a horn is produced, somewhat
melancholy in tone, but so loud that it can be heard a great distance;
the ranchmen of that locality employ it as a means of calling their
flocks and the animals quickly obey the summons. It is known as the
"Calling Stone."

There is a tradition about this stone; they say that no difference
where it is taken, that by some invisible means it always goes back to
the spot it has occupied for the past century. They say that once it
was even chained in a cellar, but in the morning it was missing, and
when they searched for it, it was found in its old position.

Mexico abounds with the most beautiful and wonderful flowers. Many are
unknown even to horticulturists. One of the novel flowers I heard of
was one which grew on the San Jose hacienda, some twenty-two leagues
from the City of Tehuantepec. In the morning it is white, at noon it is
red, and at night it is blue. At noon it has a beautiful perfume, but
at no other time. It grows on a tree.

There are very few fires in Mexico, and it is a blessing to the
citizens; they have one fire company, but no alarms. When there is a
fire the policemen nearest give the customary alarm, three shots in
the air from his revolver; the next policeman does the same, and on up
until they come to the policeman near the firemen's office. The fires
are always out or the place reduced to ashes before those noble laddies
put in an appearance.

On every corner is hung a sign, giving a list of all the business
places on that block.

The turkeys in Mexico are the most obliging things I ever saw; they are
brought into town in droves and they never scatter, but walk quietly
along, obeying the voice of their driver. If he wants a drink he makes
them lie down and they stay until he returns.

Mail is delivered every day in the week, Sunday not excepted. Every
letter-box contains a slip which the carrier fixes, which tells when
the next collection will be made. Printed slips are published daily,
and hung in the corridors of the post-office, of unclaimed letters and
papers, and of those that have not gone out for lack of postage.

Houses are never labeled "To Let" when they are empty; a piece of white
paper is tied to the iron balcony and everybody knows what it means. No
taxes are paid on empty houses or uncultivated land. People never rent
houses by the year, but by the day or week; they can move at any time
they wish; this makes landlords civil.

Grass is cut in the park with a small piece of zinc, which is sharpened
on a stone, and it is raked with a twig broom.

No houses have bathrooms, but the city is well supplied with public
swimming baths. One can have a room and private bath for twenty-five
cents. Everybody of any note takes a bath every morning. It is quite a
pretty and yet strange sight to see the beautiful young girls coming
leisurely up the prominent thoroughfares early in the morning, with
their exquisite hair hanging in tangled masses, often to their feet.
They are always attended by a maid.

Mexican ladies have a contempt for people who do not have servants.
They never carry anything on the streets; but always have a mozo, even
to carry an umbrella.

Because Vera Cruz has such a largo death rate from yellow fever the
Mexicans have named it _La Ciudad de los Muertos_ (the city of the
dead).

In Yucatan the Maya language is still used. It is very musical and is
written all in capitals.

It is considered polite and quite a compliment for a man to stare at
a lady on the streets. I might add that the men, by this rule, are
remarkably polite.

Families employ street musicians by the month, to visit them for a
certain time daily. The hand-organs there are most musical instruments.

Shoes are never marked with a number, but are fitted until they please
the buyer. The shoes worn on the street are what would be the pride of
an actress. They are very cheap.

The easiest English word for the Mexican to learn is "all right." Even
the Indians catch it quickly. They all like to speak English.

Butter is seldom seen in Mexico. The only way they have of getting it
is by its forming from the rocking on the burro's back while being
brought to town, it is skimmed off the milk by the hand and is sold at
a big price. It is never salted. The butter is always wrapped in corn
husks, looking exactly like an ear of corn until it is opened. They
also make cottage-cheese, and tying it up in green reeds sell it. Salt
is very expensive.

It costs a single man about one hundred and fifty dollars a month for
his room rent and board, he must also retain the chamber-maid and the
_patero_ (door-keeper,) with certain amounts. Young men never carry
night keys in Mexico, because they weigh about a pound. According to
law every door must be locked at ten o'clock, and all those entering
afterward must pay the _patero_ for unlocking and unbarring the heavy
portals.

The poor, when dead, are carried to the graveyard on the heads of
_cargadores._ If the coffin is only tied shut with a rope, it is
borrowed for the occasion. The body is taken out at the cemetery and
consigned, coffinless, to mother earth.

The Mexicans began to call the Americans _gringos_ during the war. They
say the way the title originated was this: at that time an old ballad,
"Green grows the Rushes, O!" was very popular, and all the American
soldiers were singing it. The Mexicans could only catch "green grows"
and so they have ever since called the Americans "gringos."

Newspapers are published every day in the week except Monday. Sunday is
always a feast day, and as no one will work then, the paper cannot be
gotten out for Monday.

Mexicans never suffer from catarrh; they say it is because they will
not wash the face while suffering from a cold. They say a green leaf
pasted on the temple cures headaches.

The women in Mexico are gaining more freedom gradually; they have them
now as telegraph and telephone operators. Some Mexican bachelors use
the telephone for an alarm clock, that is, they have the girls wake
them by means of the telephone placed in their room.

No bills are legal unless they are stamped. Every man has a peculiar
mark which he scratches beneath his name. It is a sort of a trade mark,
and makes his name legal.

The Indian women have some means of coloring cotton so that it will
never fade.

There are public letter writers on the plazas, where one can have the
correspondence attended to for a small sum.

Letter-writing is an expensive thing in Mexico; to all points not
exceeding sixteen leagues, they pay ten cents for a quarter of an
ounce, or fifty cents an ounce. Postal cards are two cents; to send
a letter to the United States only costs five cents. Every state in
Mexico has its own stamps.

Some haciendas are enormously large in Mexico. One man owns a farm
through which the railroad runs for thirty miles. It is said to
comprise ten thousand square miles.

The public schools in Mexico are similar to those in the States fifty
years ago; the schools are never mixed; the boys attend one place and
the girls another; the advanced teachers are elected, and are given
a house to hold the school in, and one hundred dollars a month for
conducting it. For the others they get a house somewhere, and from
thirty to sixty dollars; ten years ago girls were not taught spelling
or writing in public schools; they are now taught all the common
branches and English, which has replaced French; sketching, music,
fancy-work, and plain sewing; the hours are from 8 to 12.30, and from
2 to 6; they are thoroughly taught the geography of their own country,
but they absolutely learn nothing of other lands.



CHAPTER XXXV.


A FEW RECIPES FOR MEXICAN DISHES.


Probably some one would like to make a few of the dishes most common to
the Mexican table. Of course you will think them horrible at first, but
once you acquire the taste, American food is insipid in comparison.

Recipe for tortillas:--Soften corn in alkaline water, then grind it
fine, pat into round cakes, and bake on a thin, iron pan. Eat while
hot. They are made very good by wrapping them around meat, or a
seasoned pepper.

Alboudigas (meat balls):--Take equal parts of fresh pork and beef, say
one pound, cut as for sausage, put in salt, pepper, a small piece of
soaked bread, and one egg, well beaten; make into small balls, putting
in each a piece of hard-boiled egg, an almond and a raisin. In a dish
of hot lard put five or six crushed tomatoes, a little chopped onion,
salt, pepper, and broth. Let boil a few moments, and then put in the
balls. When the meat is cooked it is ready for the table.

Rice with chicken or fresh pork:--Wash and dry the rice; have a dish
of hot lard, put in the rice, fry a few moments, then add chopped
tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, two or three thinly sliced potatoes,
and a few pease; cook a few moments, then pour into it the chicken or
pork and some of the broth in which they have been boiled.

Stuffed red peppers:--Open the pepper, take out the seeds and wash
and dry carefully. Boil and then chop fine as much fresh pork as you
will need to stuff your peppers. In a dish of hot lard put the meat
with plenty of fine-cut tomatoes and onions, salt and pepper. Boil a
few moments, then add a little sugar, cloves, cinnamon, almonds, and
raisins cut in half, cook a little, then fill the peppers. If you
have eight peppers beat three eggs, whites and yolks separately; when
well beaten put together, and in this roll the peppers, having first
sprinkled over them a little flour. Have a dish of hot lard, to which
has been added a little ground tomato, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and a
little water. Boil a few moments, then put in the peppers, having first
fried them in hot lard. Boil a few moments, and they are ready for use.
The peppers can be filled with cheese if preferred, instead of meat.

Green peppers with eggs and cheese:--Roast the peppers over the coals,
take off the thin skin, take out the seeds, wash and cut into thin
strips. In a dish of hot lard put some tomatoes and onions, cut fine,
and about two cups of water. When boiling, break in as many eggs as
desired. When cooked, put in the peppers and slices of cheese. Rightly
prepared, it is delicious.

Cocoanut dulce:--Grate fine two cocoanuts. Put in a dish three pounds
of sugar, let boil, take off the scum, then add the cocoanut, stirring
all the time. After a little a bowl of cream, then later eighteen eggs,
well beaten. Let cook, stirring constantly, until, when you pass the
spoon through the middle of the mixture, you can see the bottom of the
dish; then take off. Put in platters. Peel and cut almonds in half; put
them in as thickly as you please. Pass over it a hot iron until nicely
smoothed.

Pineapple and sweet-potato dulce:--Grate pineapple, and boil sweet
potatoes, half and half. For one pineapple two pounds of sugar; let
boil and skim. Put in and boil, stirring all the time, until you can
see the bottom of the pan as the spoon passes through the center.

Rice and almonds:--One ounce of grated almonds, one ounce of rice
washed and ground; put in enough milk so it will pass through a cloth;
put this in a quart of milk, with three yokes of eggs and sugar to
taste; boil until well done; flavor to taste.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


SOME MEXICAN LEGENDS.


There is hardly a spot in Mexico that has not some romantic history
connected with it; and the tales are always so beautiful and full of
thrilling romance. I would like to live in Mexico some time, and devote
all my attention to gathering these interesting stories. I have given
samples of them in the history of Don Juan Manuel.

The Street of the Jewel is also connected with a story full of love and
its companion, despair. Here dwelled Gasper Villareal and his wife,
Violante Armejo. Gasper was a man of moderate means, but he had enough
to preserve his wife from labor. She was of wondrous beauty but quite
strange, she only cared to hide herself in her convent-like home. She
loved her husband, and he was as jealous as a Mexican can be.

One day a young noble, Diego de Fajardo, rode by the door, and, being
thirsty, he asked the mozo for a drink. Violante sat in the corridor,
looking upon the garden, and dreaming, doubtless, of her absent lord.
True to the instincts of her race, she ordered the mozo to take the
stranger a glass of wine. The servant did her bidding, explaining
to the young cavalier the reason of the change in his refreshments.
Diego de Fajardo felt that it would be churlish to ride away without
acknowledging the gracious hospitality. He tossed his bridle to the man
and passed into the garden.

Violante still sat in her hammock, garbed in spotless white, the
perfection of beauty, grace and innocence. The young _caballero_ had
not uttered his thanks until he had vowed to win Gasper Villareal's
lovely wife.

Day after day he watched the casa, waiting for an opportunity to find
the wife alone. At last fate favored him. It was near nightfall when he
saw the husband come forth, and, taking saddle, ride toward the city.
In a moment, eager and confident, he fell on his knees before Violante
and confessed his love.

She did not full into his arms, but she spurned him and with such anger
that he saw his conduct in its true light, and, repentant he arose from
his knees and left her. Violante started to her chamber to seek her
rosary and to cool her throbbing brow with the touch of holy water,
when her foot struck a sparkling object; it was a bracelet, with her
name, "Violante," in diamonds, close beside the coronet and arms of De
Fajardo.

As she stood her husband entered. Having to return for something, he
had been struck with horror to see a man rush from his gateway. There
stood his wife with the jewel in her hand, the evidence of her guilt.
Without a word he sunk his dagger in her breast. As she sunk lifeless
to the floor, he snatched the gleaming bracelet from her stiffening
fingers and left the house.

Diego do Fajardo was wakened in the morning by his mozo. Something had
happened and he was wanted to go out in the street to see if he could
understand it. Tremblingly he obeyed. On the pavement, Gasper Villareal
lay rigid, his garments soaked with his life's blood. Near the bronze
knocker of the massive door was a splendid diamond bracelet, suspended
on a blood-stained dagger.

In 1550 the lake of Texcoco overflowed, and almost submerged the City
of Mexico. Among the objects found drifting upon the water was a large
canvas, on which appeared a beautiful representation of the Virgin.
None could determine where it came from, so a chapel was built for it.
It is called "Our Lady of the Angels." For centuries it has received
the veneration of man.

Another inundation occurred in 1607, and all the chapel, except the
side holding the Virgin's picture, was washed away. Despite all the
storms the picture was said to be as bright as if just from the
painter's brush. A new chapel was built around this marvelous painting,
which stood until 1627, when another flood took it all away excepting
the one wall holding the Virgin's likeness. There, neglected and
unprotected, it stood as the storms had left it until 1745, when a
succession of public calamities drove the people to implore the succor
of the Virgin. A building was again erected around the uninjured
painting. Thus, until the present day, the people in need seek the
painting to pour forth their prayers at its feet.

El Desierto and its old Carmelite convent occupy the most charming
spot in Mexico. It is only fifteen miles from the capital, and the
way is along the most romantic and picturesque road a Southern clime
can produce. The forest that surrounds El Desierto is composed of the
largest trees in the valley, hardly excepting those of Chapultepec.
The convent was a group of massive buildings, domes and turrets, now
crumbling into decay. In 1625 the monks retreated to this wilderness
to mortify the flesh, and strange stories of their serio-jovial life,
their sparkling wines and romance of their hermit-like existence come
creeping down through centuries; the jolly monks are no more, and the
winds sigh through the mighty forest that has ridden romance, love and
tragedy from the world.

The conqueror, Cortez, not satisfied with robbing the grand old
Aztec king, Montezuma, of his land and life, also robbed him of his
daughter. The poor woman, after he deserted her, died in a convent,
leaving a daughter, the child of Cortez. This daughter of Cortez',
and granddaughter of Montezuma, was married very young to a Spanish
captain, Quinteros. There are now in Puebla descendants of that illegal
love.



CHAPTER XXXVII.


PRINCESS JOSEFA DE YTURBIDE.


I cannot close this little book without speaking of one of the most
remarkable and brilliant women in Mexico, the only daughter of the
emperor. After the execution of the emperor the family came to the
States, and settled in Philadelphia. Josefa was sent to Georgetown to
receive an English education, and she yet retains a love for America
and its people. When Maximilian entered Mexico he restored the titles
to the Yturbide family, and invited the cultured princess to become
a member of his imperial household. Subsequently Emperor Maximilian
adopted Augustin Yturbide, grandson of the late emperor, and appointed
the Princess Josefa guardian of the "prince imperial." Maximilian soon
recognized the wonderful executive abilities of the princess, and he
consulted her on momentous occasions. Had he taken her advice, I doubt
not but that Mexico would have had an empire to-day.

After the fall of Maximilian, Mrs. Yturbide (formerly Alice Green,
of Washington, D. C.) claimed and recovered her son, who had been
temporarily "heir presumptive" to the throne of Mexico. The Princess
Josefa went to the court of Austria. Nine years ago she returned to
Mexico, where she lives in seclusion.

She is one of the loveliest women, in every respect, I ever met. Her
rooms at the Hotel Humboldt are plain, but contain many little mementos
of former glory. The pictures and busts of the unfortunate emperor and
empress occupy prominent positions.

"Carlotta was only twenty-three years old when she came to Mexico,"
said the princess. "She was a beautiful girl, with a creamy complexion,
dark eyes and hair. She worshiped her young husband, as he did her, and
she was ambitious for his sake. What a sad fate was theirs!"

The princess then showed me five letters she had received from
Carlotta, written in English, after the emperor's death; they gave no
evidence of her insanity.

The princess has never received any recompense for the land which the
government took from her father, and even a pension due her, which now
amounts to some hundred thousands, has never been paid. She receives
many promises from Diaz but never the money.

The worst things the Mexicans ever did for themselves was to shoot
Maximilian. They have never had one quarter so good government since.
They had sworn good faith to the emperor and said if he sent part of
the French army back they would support him. He believed them, and when
he found that they were dishonest he applied to Napoleon for aid. When
he received no answer, the empress, eager to save her noble husband,
started to beg Napoleon personally for help, much against the wish of
Maximilian.

The republican powers getting too strong for the emperor, some advised
him to seek refuge until things grew calmer. The refuge he sought was
the prison they had prepared for him. He walked into it, and he never
came forth until the day he was shot. His bosom friend, Lopez, whom the
emperor had enriched, had made a general, and intrusted him with all
his secrets, betrayed him to his enemies. On June, 19, 1867, Maximilian
and his brave comrades, Miramon and Mejia, were led forth to a little
hill near Queretaro and shot. Maximilian's last words were: "Poor
Carlotta." Three little black crosses now mark the spot where those
noble men died.





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