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hurry that he forgot to bring with him his “Christian papers;” from which I inferred that he was what would be called in Maryland a runaway slave. He was a man of considerable standing, being fireman on board the steamboat at $23 a month; besides which, he did odd jobs at carpentering, and was, in fact, the principal architect in Yzabal, having then on his hands a contract for $3500 for building the new house of Messrs. Ampudia and Purroy. In other things, I am sorry to say, Philip was not quite so respectable; and I can only hope that it was not his American education that led him into some irregularities in which he seemed to think there was no harm. He asked me to go to his house and see his wife, but on the way I learned from him that he was not married; and he said, what I hope is a slander upon the good people of Yzabal, that he only did as all the rest did. He owned the house in which he lived, and for which, with the ground, he had paid twelve dollars; and being a householder and an American, I tried to induce him to take advantage of the opportunity of the padre's visit, and set a good example by getting married; but he was obstinate, and said that he did not like to be trammelled, and that he might go elsewhere and see another girl whom he liked better. While standing at his door, Mr. Catherwood passed on his way to visit Mr. Rush, the engineer of the steamboat, who had been ill on board. We found him in one of the huts of the town, in a hammock, with all his clothes on. He was a man of Herculean frame, six feet three or four inches high, and stout in proportion; but he lay helpless as a child. A single candle stuck upon the dirt floor gave a miserable light, and a group of men of different races and colour, from the
A GRAVE IN A FOREIGN LAND. 39
white-faced Saxon to the Indian and African, stood round him: rude nurses for one used to the comforts of an English home. I recollected that Yzabal was noted as a sickly place; Mr. Montgomery, who published an interesting account of his visit to Guatimala in 1838, had told me that it was running the gauntlet for life even to pass through it, and I trembled for the poor Englishman. I remembered, too, what it is strange that I had before forgotten, that here Mr. Shannon, our charge to Central America, died. Philip was with me, and knew where Mr. Shannon was buried, but in the dark he could not point out the spot. I intended to set out early in the morning; and afraid that, in the hurry of departure, I might neglect altogether the sacred duty of visiting, in this distant place, the grave of an American, I returned to the house and requested Sefior Ampudia to accompany me. We crossed the square, passed through the suburbs, and in a few minutes were outside of the town. It was so dark that I could scarcely see my way. Crossing a deep gulley on a plank, we reached a rising ground, open on the right, stretching away to the Golfo Dolce, and in front bounded by a gloomy forest. On the top was a rude fence of rough upright poles, enclosing the grave of some relative of Senor Ampudia; and by the side of this was the grave of Mr. Shannon. There was no stone or fence, or hardly any elevation, to distinguish it from the soil around. It was a gloomy burial-place for a countryman, and I felt an involuntary depression of spirit. A fatality had hung over our diplomatic appointment to Central America: Mr. Williams, Mr. Shannon, Mr. Dewitt, Mr. Leggett, all who had ever held it, were dead. I recollected an expression in a letter from a near relative of Mr. Dewitt: “May you be more fortunate than either of your predecessors has been.” It was melancholy, that one who had died abroad in the service of his country was thus left on a wild mountain, without any stone to mark his grave. I returned to the house, directed a fence to be built around the grave of Mr. Shannon, and my friend the padre promised to plant at its head a cocoanut-tree. At daylight the muleteers commenced loading for the passage of “the Mountain.” At seven o’clock the whole caravan, consisting of nearly a hundred mules and twenty or thirty muleteers, was fairly under way. Our immediate party consisted of five mules; two for Mr. Catherwood and myself, one for Augustin, and two for luggage; besides which, we had four Indian carriers. If we had been consulted, perhaps at that time we should have scrupled to use men as beasts of burden; but Señor Ampudia had made all the arrangements for us. The Indians were naked, except a small piece of cotton cloth around the loins, and crossing in front between the legs. The loads were arranged so as to have on one side a flat surface. The Indians sat on the ground with their backs against the surface; passed a strap across the forehead, which supported the load; and, adjusting it on their shoulders, with the aid of a staff or the hand of a by-stander rose upon their feet. It seemed cruel; but, before much sympathy could be expended upon them, they were out of sight. At eight o'clock Mr. C. and I mounted, each armed with a brace of pistols and a large hunting-knife, which we carried in a belt around the body; besides which, afraid to trust it in other hands, I had a mountain barometer slung over my shoulder. Augustin carried
pistols and sword; our principal muleteer, who was mounted, carried a machete and a pair of murderous spurs, with rowels two inches long, on his naked heels; and two other muleteers accompanied us on foot, each carrying a gun. . . A group of friendly by-standers gave us their adieus and good wishes; and, passing a few straggling houses which constituted the suburbs, we entered upon a marshy plain sprinkled with shrubs and small trees, and in a few minutes were in an unbroken forest. At every step the mules sank to their fetlocks in mud, and very soon we came to great puddles and mudholes, which reminded me of the breaking up of winter and the solitary horsepath in one of our primeval forests at home. As we advanced, the shade of the trees became thicker, the holes larger and deeper, and roots, rising two or three feet above the ground, crossed the path in every direction. I gave the barometer to the muleteer, and had as much as I could do to keep myself in the saddle. All conversation was at an end, and we kept as close as we could to the track of the muleteer ; when he descended into a mudhole, and crawled out, the entire legs of his mule blue with mud, we followed, and came out as blue as he. The caravan of mules, which had started before us, was but a short distance ahead, and in a little while we heard ringing through the woods the loud shout of the muleteers and the sharp crack of the whip. We overtook them at the bank of a stream which broke rapidly over a stony bed. The whole caravan was moving up the bed of the stream; the water was darkened by the shade of the overhanging trees; the muleteers, without shirts, and with their large trousers rolled up to the thighs and down from the waistband, were Vol. I.-F
scattered among the mules: one was chasing a stray beast; a second darting at one whose load was slipping off; a third lifting up one that had fallen; another, with his foot braced against a mule's side, straining at the girth; all shouting, cursing, and lashing: the whole a mass of inextricable confusion, and presenting a scene almost terrific.
We held up to let them pass; and, crossing the stream, rode a short distance on a level road, but over fetlock deep in mud; and, cutting off a bend, fell into the stream ourselves in the middle of the caravan. The branches of the trees met over our heads, and the bed of the stream was so broken and stony that the mules constantly stumbled and fell. Leaving this, and continuing on a road the same as before, in an hour we reached the foot of the mountain. The ascent began precipitously, and by an extraordinary passage. It was a narrow gulley, worn by the tracks of mules and the washing of mountain torrents so deep that the sides were higher than our heads, and so narrow that we could barely pass through without touching. Our whole caravan moved singly through these muddy defiles, the muleteers scattered among them and on the bank above, extricating the mules as they stuck fast, raising them as they fell, arranging their cargoes, cursing, shouting, and lashing them on. If one stopped, all behind were blocked up, unable to turn. Any sudden start pressed us against the sides of the gulley, and there was no small danger of getting a leg crushed. Emerging from this defile, we came again among deep mudholes and projecting roots of trees, with the additional difficulty of a steep ascent. The trees, too, were larger, and their roots higher and extending farther; and, above all, the mahogany-tree threw out its giant