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over my spirits. Leaving Gustatoya, for some distance I rode through a cultivated country, and the fields were divided by fences. Very soon I forgot all apprehensions of robbers, and, tired of the slow pace of the cargo-mules, rode on, leaving them far behind. At eleven o'clock I entered a ravine so wild that I thought it could not be the main road to Guatimala; there were no mule-tracks visible ; and, returning, I took another road, the result of which was that I lost my way, and rode the whole day alone. I could gain no certain intelligence of Augustin and the muleteer, but continued on in the belief that they were before me. Pushing on rapidly, at dark I rode up to a hacienda on one side of the road, at which I was very kindly received by the proprietor, who was a mulatto, and, to my great surprise, I learned that I had advanced to within one long day's journey of Guatimala. He made me anxious, however, about the safety of my luggage; but for that night I could do nothing. I lay down opposite a large household altar, over which was a figure of the Virgin. At about ten o'clock I was roused by the arrival of Augustin and the muleteer. Besides their apprehensions about me, they had had their own difficulties; two of the mules broke down, and they were obliged to stop and let them rest, and feed them. Early the next morning, leaving the luggage with the muleteer (which, by-the-way, was at that time a very imprudent proceeding), and taking merely a change of apparel, I set out with Augustin. Almost immediately we commenced ascending a rugged mountain, very steep, and commanding at every step a wild and magnificent view; and from the top saw, at a great distance below us, in the hollow of an amphitheatre of mountains, the village of El Puente, the ground around which was white, and trodden hard by caravans of mules. We descended to the village, and crossed the bridge, which was laid on a stone arch, thrown across a ravine with a cataract foaming through it; at this point we were completely encircled by mountains, wild to sublimity, and reminding me of some of the finest parts of Switzerland. On the other side of the bridge we commenced ascending another mountain. The road was winding, and, when very high up, the view of the village and bridge at the immense distance below was surpassingly fine. Descending a short distance, we passed a village of huts, situated on the ridge of the mountain, commanding on both sides a view of an extensive valley four or five thousand feet below us. Continuing on this magnificent ridge, we descended upon a table of rich land, and saw a gate opening into grounds which reminded me of park scenery in England, undulating, and ornamented with trees. In the midst of this stood the hacienda of San Jose, a long, low stone building, with a corridor in front; it was one of those situations which, when least expected, touch a tender chord, call up cherished associations, make a traveller feel as though he could linger around it forever, and particularly welcome to us, as we had not breakfasted.
It was a hacienda de ganados, or cattle-hacienda, and had hundreds of cattle roaming over it; but all that it could give us to eat was eggs, tortillas, and beans softened in hot water; the last being about equal to a basket of fresh chips. This over, we made a last push for Guatimala. The road lay over a table of land, green and rich as a European lawn, ornamented with trees, and with features of scenery peculiarly English; muleteers who had left the city at midnight, and had al
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ready finished their day's work, were lying under the shade of the trees, with their saddles and cargoes piled up like walls, and their mules pasturing near. Along the table was a line of huts, and if adorned instead of being deformed by the hand of man, this would be a region of poetic beauty. Indians, men and women, with loads on their backs, every party with a bundle of rockets, were returning from the "Capitol," as they proudly called it, to their villages among the mountains. All told us that two days before Carrera had reentered the city with his soldiers.
When we were yet two leagues from the city Augustin's horse gave out. I was anxious to have a view of the city before dark, and rode on. Late in the afternoon, as I was ascending a small eminence, two immense volcanoes stood up before me, seeming to scorn the earth, and towering to the heavens. They were the great volcanoes of Agua and Fuego, forty miles distant, and nearly fifteen thousand feet high, wonderfully grand and beautiful. In a few moments the great plain of Guatimala appeared in view, surrounded by mountains, and in the centre of it the city, a mere speck on the vast expanse, with churches, and convents, and numerous turrets, cupolas, and steeples, and still as if the spirit of peace rested upon it; with no storied associations, but by its own beauty creating an impression on the mind of a traveller which can never be effaced. I dismounted and tied my mule. As yet the sun lighted up the roofs and domes of the city, giving a reflection so dazzling that I could only look at them by stealth. By degrees, its disk touched the top of the Volcano del Agua; slowly the whole orb sank behind it, illuminating the background with an atmosphere fiery red. A rich golden cloud rolled up its side and rested on the top, and while I gazed the golden hues disappeared, and the glory of the scene was gone.
Augustin came along with his poor horse hobbling after him, and a pistol in his hand. He had been told on the way that Carrera's soldiers were riotous, and that there were many ladrones about the suburbs of the city, and he was in the humour to fire upon any one who asked a question. I made him put up his pistols, and we both mounted. An immense ravine was still between us and the city. It was very dark when we reached the bottom of this ravine, and we were almost trodden down by a caravan of loaded mules coming out. Rising on the other side to the top, we entered the outer gate, still a mile and a half from Guatimala. Inside were miserable huts, with large fires before them, surrounded by groups of drunken Indians and vagabond soldiers, firing their muskets at random in the air. Angustin told me to spur; but his poor horse could not keep up, and we were obliged to move on at a walk. As yet I did not know where to stop; there was no hotel in Guatimala. What's the use of a hotel in Guatimala? Who ever goes to Guatimala? was the answer of a gentleman of that place to my inquiries on this subject. I had several letters of introduction, and one was to Mr. Hall, the English vice-consul; and, fortunately, resolved to throw myself upon his hospitality.
We picked up a ragged Indian, who undertook to conduct us to his house, and under his guidance entered the city at the foot of a long straight street. My country-bred mule seemed astonished at the sight of so many houses, and would not cross the gutters, which were wide, and in the middle of the street. In spurring her over one, she gave a leap that, after her hard journey, made me proud of her; but she broke her bridle,
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and I was obliged to dismount and lead her. Augustin's poor beast was really past carrying him, and he followed on foot, whipping mine, the guide lending a hand before and behind. In this way we traversed the streets of Guatimala. Perhaps no diplomatist ever made a more unpretending entry into a capitol. Our stupid Indian did not know where Mr. Hall lived; there were hardly any people in the streets to inquire of, and I was an hour hauling my mule over the gutters and grumbling at the guide before I found the house. I knocked some time without receiving any answer. At length a young man opened the shutter of a balconied window, and told me that Mr. Hall was not at home. This would not serve my turn. I gave my name, and he retired; and in a few minutes the large door was unlocked, and Mr. Hall himself received me. He gave me as a reason for not opening sooner, that the soldiers had mutinied that day for want of pay, and threatened to sack the city. Carrera had exerted himself in trying to pacify them, and had borrowed fifty dollars from his (Mr. Hall's) neighbour, a French merchant; but the inhabitants were greatly alarmed; and when I knocked at his door he was afraid that the soldiers were beginning to put their threat in execution. Mr. H. had taken down his staff, because on their last entry, when he had his flag flying, the soldiers had fired upon it, calling it a bandera de guerra. They were mostly Indians from the villages, ignorant and insolent, and a few days before he had his hat knocked off by a sentinel because he did not raise it in passing, for which his complaint was then before the government.* The whole city was kept in a state of awe. No one ven
* It is due to Carrera to say, that by his orders the soldier received two hundred lashes.