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family party. The young men dispersed to sleep or to finish the night with merriment elsewhere, and Don Manuel and I retired to the house he had secured for us.
We were in our hammocks, talking over the affairs of the night, when we heard a noise in the street, a loud tramping past the door, and a clash of swords. Presently Mr. P.'s servant knocked for admission, and told us that a man had been killed a few doors off by a sword-cut across the head. Instead of going out to gratify an idle curiosity, like prudent men we secured the door. The tramping passed up the street, and presently we heard reports of firearms. The whole place seemed to be in an uproar. We had hardly lain down again before there was another knock at the door. Our host, a respectable old man, with his wife, slept in a back room, and, afraid of rioters, they had a consultation about opening it. The former was unwilling to do so, but the latter, with a mother's apprehensions, said that she was afraid some accident had happened to Chico. The knocking continued, and Raffael, a known companion of their son, cried out that Chico was wounded. The old man rose for a light, and, apprehending the worst, the mother and a young sister burst into tears. The old man sternly checked them, said that he had always cautioned Chico against going out at night, and that he deserved to be punished. The sister ran and opened the door, and two young men entered. We could see the glitter of their swords, and that one was supporting the other; and, just as the old man procured a light, the wounded man fell on the ground. His face was ghastly pale, and spotted with blood; his hat cut through the crown and rim as smoothly as if done with a razor, and his right hand and arm were wound
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in a pockel-handerchief, which was stained with t',ood. The old man looked at him with the sternness of a Roman, and told him that he knew this would be the consequence of his running out at night; the mother and sister cried, and the young man, with a feeble voice, begged his father to spare him. His companion carried him into the back room; but before they could lay him on the bed he fell again and fainted. The father was alarmed, and when he recovered, asked him whether he wished to confess. Chico, with a faint voice, answered, As you please. The old man told his daughter to go for the padre, but the uproar was so great in the street that she was afraid to venture out. In the mean time we examined his head, which, notwithstanding the cut through his hat, was barely touched; and he said himself that he had received the blow on his hand, and that it was cut off. There was no physician nearer than Guatimala, and not a person who was able to do anything for him. I had had some practice in medicine, but none in surgery; I knew, however, that it was at all events proper to wash and cleanse the wound, and with the assistance of Don Manuel's servant, a young Englishman whom Don Manuel had brought from the United States, laid him on a bed. This servant had had some experience in the brawls of the country, having killed a young man in a quarrel growing out of a love affair, and been confined to the house seven months by wounds received in the same encounter. With his assistance I unwound the bloody handkerchief; as I proceeded I found ray courage failing me, and as, with the last coil, a dead hand fell in mine, a shudder and a deep groan ran through the spectators, and I almost let the hand drop*
It was cut off through the back above the knuckles, and the four fingers hung merely by the fleshy part of the thumb. The skin was drawn back, and showed on each side four bones protruding like the teeth of a skeleton. I joined them together, and as he drew up his arm they jarred like the grating of teeth. I saw that the case was beyond my art. Possibly the hand might have been restored by sewing the skin together; but I believed that the only thing to be done was to cut it off entirely, and this I was not willing to do. Unable to give any farther assistance, I wound it up again in the handkerchief. The young man had a mild and pleasing countenance; and as thankful for my ineffectual attempt as if I had really served him, told me not to give myself any more trouble, but return to bed; his mother and sister, with stifled sobs, hung over his head ; his father retained the sternness of his manner, but it was easy to see that his heart was bleeding ; and to me, a stranger, it was horrible to see a fine young man mutilated for life in a street-brawl. As he told the story himself, he was walking with some of his friends, when he met one of the Spinosas from Guatimala, also with a party of friends. The latter, who was known as a bully, approached them with an expression in Spanish about equivalent to the English one, “I’ll give it to you.” Chico answered, “No you won’t,” and immediately they drew their swords. Chico, in attempting to ward off a stroke, received it on the edge of his right hand. In passing through all the bones, its force was so much broken that it only cut the crown and rim of his hat. The loss of his hand had no doubt saved his life; for, if the whole force of the stroke had fallen on his head, it must have killed him; but the unfortunate young man, instead of being thankful for his escape, swore vengeance against Spinosa. The latter, as I afterward learned, swore that the next time Chico should not escape with the loss of his hand; and, in all probability, when they meet again one of them will be killed.
All this time the uproar continued, shifting its location, with occasional reports of firearms; an aunt was wringing her hands because her son was out, and we had reason to fear a tragical night. We went to bed, but for a long time the noise in the street, the groans of poor Chico, and the sobbing of his mother and sister kept us from sleeping.
We did not wake till nearly ten o'clock. It was Sunday; the morning was bright and beautiful, the arches and flowers still adorned the streets, and the Indians, in their clean clothes, were going to Sunday mass. None except the immediate parties knew or cared for the events of the night. Crossing the plaza, we met a tall, dashing fellow on horseback, with a long sword by his side, who bowed to Mr. Pavon, and rode on past the house of Chico. This was Spinosa. No one attempted to molest him, and no notice whatever was taken of the circumstance by the authorities.
The door of the church was so crowded that we could not enter; and passing through the curate's house, we stood in a doorway on one side of the altar. The curate, in his richest vestments, with young Indian assistants in sacerdotal dresses, their long black hair and sluggish features contrasting strangely with their garb and occupations, was officiating at the altar. On the front steps, with their black mantons drawn over their heads, and their eyes bent on the ground, were the dancers of our party the preceding night; kneeling along the whole floor of the immense church was a dense
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mass of Indian women, with red headdresses; and leaning against the pillars, and standing up in the background, were Indians wrapped in black chamars.
We waited till mass was over, and then accompanied the ladies to the house and breakfasted. Sunday though it was, the occupations for the day were a cockfight in the morning and bullfight in the afternoon. Our party was increased by the arrival of a distinguished family from Guatimala, and we all set out for the former. It was in the yard of an unoccupied house, which was already crowded; and I noticed, to the honour of the Indians and the shame of the better classes, that they were all Mestitzoes or white men, and, always excepting Carrera's soldiers, I never saw a worse looking or more assassin-like set of men. All along the walls of the yard were cocks tied by one leg, and men running about with other cocks under their arms, putting them on the ground to compare size and weight, regulating bets, and trying to cheat each other. At length a match was made; the ladies of our party had seats in the corridor of the house, and a space was cleared before them The gaffs were murderous instruments, more than two inches long, thick, and sharp as needles, and the birds were hardly on the ground before the feathers of the neck were ruffled and they flew at each other. In less time than had been taken to gaff them, one was lying on the ground with its tongue hanging out, and the blood running from its mouth, dead. The eagerness and vehemence, noise and uproar, wrangling, betting, swearing, and scuffling of the crowd, exhibited a dark picture of human nature and a sanguinary people. I owe it to the ladie3 to say, that in the city they never are present at such scenes. Here they went for no other reason that I could see than because they were