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character" should come to this! The woman was sleepless; a dozen times she came out to smoke a cigar or to drive away the hogs; and her harsh voice, and the screams from the house of mourning, made me rejoice when the cocks crew for morning.
Chimalapa.—The Cabildo.—A Scene of Revelry.—Gustatoya.—A Hunt for Robbers.—Approach to Guatimala.—Beautiful Scenery.—Volcanoes of Agua and Fuego.—First View of the City.—Entry into the City.—First Impressions.— The Diplomatic Residence.—Parties in Central America.—Murder of Vicepresident Flores.—Political State of Guatimala.—An embarrassing Situation. —The Constituent Assembly.—Military Police.
At peep of day I bathed in the Motagua. In the mean time the deaf and dumb boy prepared chocolate, and the corpse of the young man was borne to its final resting-place. I went over to the desolate house, bade farewell to the mourners, and resumed my journey. Again we had on our right the Motagua River and the mountains of Vera Paz. The road was level; it was excessively hot, and we suffered from thirst. At noon we stopped two hours at the village of Fisioli. Late in the afternoon we came upon a table of land covered with trees bearing a flower, looking like apple-trees in blossom, and cactus or tunos, with branches from three to fifteen feet long. I was in advance; and having been in the saddle all day, and wishing to relieve my mule, I dismounted and walked. A man overtook me on horseback, who touched me by telling me that my mule was tired. The mule, unused to being led, pulled back, and my new acquaintance followed, whipping her; and remembering the fable, and that I could not please everybody, I mounted, and we rode into Chimalapa together.
It was a long, straggling village, with a large church, but there was no cura, and I rode to the cabildo. This, besides being the town-house, is a sort of caravansary or stopping-place for travellers, being a remnant of Oriental usages still existing in Spain, and introduced into her former American possessions. It was a large building, situated on the plaza, plastered and whitewashed. At one end the alcalde was holding a sort of court, and at the other were the gratings of a prison. Between them was a room about thirty feet by twenty, with naked walls, and destitute of chair, bench, or table. The luggage was brought in, the hammock hung up, and the alcalde sent me my supper. Hearing the sound of a drum and violin, I walked to the house whence it issued, which was crowded with men and women smoking, lounging in hammocks, dancing, and drinking agua ardiente, in celebration of a marriage. The night before I had been present at a death-scene. This was an exhibition of disgusting revelry, and the prominent vagabond was disposed to pick a quarrel with me; seeing which, I quietly walked back to the cabildo, shut the door, and betook myself to my hammock.
We started early. Leaving the town, for some distance on each side was a fence made of a rail upon crotches four feet high, and filled with long pieces of tunos. The road was the same as we had found it on the preceding day, level, and abounding with the cactus. Again it was desperately hot, and in the afternoon we saw at the foot of a high mountain a cluster of cocoanut-trees, glittering in the sunbeams like plates of silver, and concealing the town of Gustatoya. At four o'clock we entered the town, beautifully situated, overlooking a valley in the rear of the square waving with Indian corn, and rode up to the house of the brother of Donna Bartola, our hostess of Gualan, to whom I was recommended by her.
I had a good supper of eggs, frigoles, chocolate, tortillas, and was lying in a hammock with my boots off when
the alcalde entered with a sword under his arm, followed by my host and several other persons, and told me that a party of robbers was out after me; that he had men on their traces, and wished to borrow my arms and servants. The latter I was willing enough to lend, for I knew they would find their way back; but the former, I thought, were more secure under my own eye. Being on the main road, I considered it so safe that I had that day taken off the caps of my pistols and gun; but, drawing on my boots, recapping and distributing my surplus arms, we sallied forth. The muleteer would not go, but the deaf and dumb lad, with a face of fire, drew his machete and followed. It was pitchy dark, and on first going out from the light I could not see at all, but stumbled along after my companions, who moved swiftly and without noise through the plaza, and along the whole length of the town. In the suburbs we approached a hut which stood alone, with the side toward us, closed, but the light of a fire issued from both ends; and here it was supposed the robbers were, unconscious of pursuit or suspicion. After a brief consultation, it was agreed that the party should separate, and one half enter at each end; and the alcalde’s charge was to shoot the villains rather than let them escape. Stealing toward the hut, we rushed in at the same time from the opposite sides, and captured an old woman, who sat on the ground replenishing the fire. She was not surprised at our visit, and, with a bitter laugh, said the birds had flown. At that moment we heard the report of a musket, which was recognised as the signal of the men who had been stationed to watch them. All rushed out; another report hurried us on faster, and very soon we reached the foot of a mountain. As we ascended, Vol I.-A A
the alcalde said that he saw a man crawling on his hands and feet up the side of the mountain, and, snatching my double-barrelled gun, fired at him as coolly as he would have done at a woodcock; all scattered in pursuit, and I was left with Augustin and the deaf and dumb boy.
Moving on, but not very fast, and looking back occasionally to the distant lights in the village, with an unknown mountain before me and a dark night, I began to think that it was about enough for me to defend myself when attacked; although the affair was got up on my account, it was straining a point for me to pass the night in helping to rid the town of its robbers. Next I reflected that, if the gentlemen we were in pursuit of should take it into their heads to double, my cap and white dress made me conspicuous, and it might be awkward to meet them at this place; and, in order to gain time for consideration what it was best to do, I walked back toward the town, and had not fully made up my mind when I reached the plaza.
Here I stopped, and in a few minutes a man passed, who said that he had met two of the robbers on the main road, and that they had told him they would catch me in the morning. They had got it into their heads that I was an aiddecamp of Carrera, returning from Balize with a large amount of money to pay the troops. In about an hour the alcalde and his posse comitatus returned. I had no idea of being robbed by mistake; and, knowing the facility with which the robbers might go ahead and take a long shot at me, I asked the alcalde to furnish me with two men to go in advance and keep a lookout; but I was heartily sick of the country and the excitement of its petty alarms.
Daylight dispelled the gloom which night had cast