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Separation.—An Adventure.—Copan River.—Don Clementine—A Wedding.— A Supper.—A Wedding Ball.—Buying a Mule.—The Sierra.—View from the Top.—Esquipulas.—The Cura.—Hospitable Reception.—Church of Esquipulas.—Responsibility of the Cura.—Mountain of Quezaltapeque.—A narrow Escape.—San Jacinto.—Reception by the Padre.—A Village Fete.—An Ambuscade.—Motagua River.—Village of San Rosalie.—A Death Scene.
Having decided that, under the circumstances, it was best to separate, we lost no time in acting upon the conclusion. I had difficulty in coming to a right understanding with my muleteer, but at length a treaty was established. The mules were loaded, and at two o'clock I mounted. Mr. C. accompanied me to the edge of the woods, where I bade him farewell, and left him to difficulties worse than we had apprehended. I passed through the village, crossed the river, and, leaving the muleteer on the bank, rode to the hacienda of Don Gregorio; but I was deprived of the satisfaction which I had promised myself at parting, of pouring upon him my indignation and contempt, by the consideration that Mr. Catherwood was still within the reach of his influence; and even now my hand is stayed by the reflection that when Mr. C, in great distress, robbed by his servant, and broken down by fever, took refuge in his house, the don received him as kindly as his bearish nature would permit. My only comfort was in making the lordly churl foot up an account of sixpences and shillings for eggs, milk, meat, <fcc., to the amount of two dollars, which I put into his hands. I afterward learned that I had elevated myself very much in his estimation, and in that of the neighbourhood
generally, by my handsome conduct in not going off without paying.*
My good understanding with the muleteer was of short duration. At parting, Mr. C. and I had divided our stock of plates, knives and forks, spoons, &c., and Augustin had put my share in the basket which had carried the whole, and these, being loose, made such a clattering that it frightened the mule. The beast ran away, setting us all off together with a crashing noise, till she threw herself among the bushes. We had a scene of terrible confusion, and I escaped as fast as I could from the hoarse and croaking curses of the muleteer.
For some distance the road lay along the river. The Copan has no storied associations, but the Guadalquiver cannot be more beautiful. On each side were mountains, and at every turn a new view. We crossed a high range, and at four o'clock again came down upon the river, which was here the boundary-line of the State of Honduras. It was broad and rapid, deep, and broken by banks of sand and gravel. Fording it, I again entered the State of Guatimala. There was no village, not even a house in sight, and no difficulty about passport. Late in the afternoon, ascending a little eminence, I saw a large field with stone fences, and bars, and cattle-yard, that looked like a Westchester farm. We entered a gate, and rode up through a fine park to a long, low, substantial-looking hacienda. It was the house of Don* C,fementino, whom I knew to be the kinsman of Don Gregorio, and the one of all others I would
* On Mr. Catherwood's second rait, finding the rancho of Don Miguel desert. ed, he rode to Don Gregorio's. The don had in the mean time been to Eaqnipulas, and learned our character from the cura ; and it is due to him to say. that he received Mr. C. kindly, and made many inquiries after me. The rest of the family were as cordial as before.
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have avoided, but also the very one at which the muleteer had determined to contrive a halt. The family consisted of a widow with a large family of children, the principal of whom were Don Clementino, a young man of twenty-one, and a sister of about sixteen or seventeen, a beautiful fair-haired girl. Under the shed was a party of young people in holyday dresses, and five or six mules, with fanciful saddles, were tied to the posts of the piazza. Don Clementino was jauntily dressed in white jacket and trousers, braided and embroidered, a white cotton cap, and over it a steeplecrowned glazed hat, with a silver cord twisted round as a band, a silver ball with a sharp piece of steel as a cockade, and red and yellow stripes under the brim. He had the consequential air and feelings of a boy who had suddenly become the head of an establishment, and asked me, rather superciliously, if I had finished my visit to the " idols;" and then, without waiting for an answer, if I could mend an accordion; then, if I could play on the guitar; then to sell him a pair of pocketpistols which had been the admiration of Don Gregorio's household; and, finally, if I had anything to sell. With this young gentleman I should have been more welcome as a pedler than an ambassador from any court in Europe, though it must be admitted that I was not travelling in a very imposing way. Finding I had nothing to make a bargain for, he picked up a guitar, danced off to his own music, and sat down on the earthen floor of the piazza to play cards.
Within, preparations were going on for a wedding at the house of a neighbour, two leagues distant, and a little before dark the young men and girls appeared dressed for the journey. All were mounted, and, for the first time, I admired exceedingly the fashion of the country in riding. My admiration was called forth by the sister of Don Clementino and the happy young gallant who escorted her. Both rode the same mule and on the same saddle. She sat sidewise before him; his right arm encircled her waist; at starting, the mule was rest iff, and he was obliged, from necessity, to support her in her seat, to draw her close to himself; her ear invited a whisper; and when she turned her face toward him her lips almost touched his. I would have given all the honours of diplomacy for his place.
Don Clementino was too much of a coxcomb to set off in this way; he had a fine mule gayly caparisoned, swung a large basket-hilted sword through a strap in the saddle, buckled on a pair of enormous spurs, and, mounting, wound his poncha around his waist, so that the hilt of *he sword appeared about six inches above it; giving the animal a sharp thrust with his spurs, he drove her up the steps, through the piazza, and down the other side, and asked me if I wanted to buy her. I declined; and, to my great satisfaction, he started to overtake the others, and left me alone with his mother, a respectable-looking, gray-haired old lady, who called together all the servants and Indian children for vesper prayers. f am sorry to say it, but for the first time I was reminded that it was Sunday. I stood in the door, and it was interesting to see them all kneeling before the figure of the Virgin. An old gray-nosed mule walked up the piazza, and, stopping by my side, put his head in the door, when, more forward than I, he walked in, gazed a moment at the figure of the Virgin, and, without disturbing anybody, walked out again.
Soon after I was called in to supper, which consisted of fried beans, fried eggs, and tortillas. The beans and eggs were served on heavy silver dishes, and the tortil
A WEDDING BALL. 165
las were laid in a pile by my side. There was no plate, knife, fork, or spoon. Fingers were made before forks; but bad habits make the latter, to a certain degree, necessary. Poultry, mutton, beef, and the like, do not come amiss to fingers, but beans and fried eggs were puzzling. How I managed I will not publish; but, from appearances afterward, the old lady could riot have supposed that I had been at all at a loss. I slept in an outbuilding constructed of small poles and thatched, and for the whole paid eighteen and three quarter cents. I gave a pair of earrings to a woman whom I supposed to be a servant, but who, I found, was only a visiter, and who went away at the same time that I did.
At a distance of two leagues from the hacienda we passed the house of the wedding-party. The dancing was not yet over, and I had a strong fancy to see again the fair-haired sister of Don Clementine Having no better excuse, I determined to call him out and "talk mule." As I rode up, the doorway and the space thence to the middle of the room were filled with girls, all dressed in white, with the roses in their hair faded, and the brightness of their eyes somewhat dimmed by a night's dissipation. The sister of Don Clementino was modest and retiring, and, as if she suspected my object, shrank back from observation, while he made all open a way for him and his guitar. I had no idea of buying his mule, but made him an offer, which, to my surprise and regret at the time, he accepted; but virtue is its own reward, and the mule proved a most faithful animal.
Mounted on my new purchase, we commenced ascending the great Sierra, which divides the streams of the Atlantic from those that empty into the Pacific Ocean. The ascent was rugged and toilsome, but in two hours