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of the country, with a face that spoke even a warmer welcome than her words, "como non?" "why not?" and when she saw that our servant had pineapples in his alforgas, she asked why he brought them, and if he did not know that she had plenty.
The situation of the hacienda of San Antonio was wildly beautiful. It had a clearing for a cowyard, a plantation of corn, tobacco, and plantains, and the opening gave a view of the high mountains by which it was surrounded. The house was built of poles plastered with mud, and against the wall in front of the door was a figure of the Saviour on the cross, on a white cotton cloth hung round with votive offerings. The naked child which the mother carried in her arms was called Maria de los Angelos. While supper was in preparation the master of the house arrived, a swarthy, grim-looking fellow, with a broad-brimmed sombrero and huge whiskers, and mounted on a powerful young horse, which he was just breaking to the mountain-roads; when he knew that we were strangers asking hospitality, his harsh features relaxed, and he repeated the welcome the woman had given us.
Unfortunately, the boy of the muleteer was taken very ill; his master paid no attention to him, and, while the poor little fellow was groaning under a violent fever, ate on with perfect indifference. We made him a comfortable bed on the piazza, and Mr. Catherwood gave him a dose of medicine. Our evening passed very differently from the last. Our host and hostess were a kind-hearted and simple couple. It was the first time they had ever met with men from another country, and they asked many questions, and examined our little travelling apparatus, particularly our plated cups, knives, forks, and spoons; we showed them our
watches, compass, sextant, chronometer, thermometer, telescope, &c., and the woman, with great discernment, said that we must be very rich, and had “muchos idées,” “many ideas.” They asked us about our wives, and we learned that our simple-minded host had two, one of whom lived at Hocotan, and that he passed a week alternately with each. We told him that in England he would be transported, and in the North imprisoned for life for such indulgences, to which he responded that they were, barbarous countries; and the woman, although she thought a man ought to be content with one, said that it was no peccato or crime to have two ; but I heard them say, sotto voce, that we were “mas Christianos,” or better Christians than they. He assisted us in swinging our hammocks, and about nine o'clock we drove out the dogs and pigs, lighted cigars, and went to bed. Including servants, women, and children, we numbered eleven in the room. All around were little balls of fire, shining and disappearing with the puffs of the cigars. One by one these went out, and we fell asleep.
In the morning we all rose together. The boy was much better, but we did not think him in a condition to travel. His brutal master, however, insisted upon his going. For all that our kind friends had done for us, they would have charged us nothing; but, besides compensating them in money, we distributed among them various trifles, and, when bidding them farewell, I saw with regret a ring which I had given her sparkling on his finger. After we had mounted, the little boy whom we had met at the stream came staggering under a load of six freshly-cut pineapples; and even when we had started, the woman ran after me with a piece of fresh sugarcane.
All parted at the hacienda of San Antonio with kind feelings except our surly muleteer, who was indignant, as he said, that we made presents to everybody except to him. The poor boy was most grateful, and, unfortunately for him, we had given him a knife, which made the muleteer jealous.
Almost immediately from the hacienda we entered a thick wood, dense as that of the Mico Mountain, and almost as muddy. The ascent was toilsome, but the top was open, and so covered with that beautiful plant that we called it the Mountain of Aloes. Some were just peeping out of the ground, others were twenty or thirty feet high, and some gigantic stalks were dead; flowers which would have kindled rapture in the breast of beauty had bloomed and died on this desolate mountain, unseen except by a passing Indian.
In descending we lost the path, and wandered for some time before we recovered it. Almost immediately we commenced ascending another mountain, and from its top looked completely over a third, and, at a great distance, saw a large hacienda. Our road lay directly along the edge of a precipice, from which we looked down upon the tops of gigantic pines at a great distance beneath us. Very soon the path became so broken, and ran so near the edge of a precipice, that I called to Mr. Catherwood to dismount. The precipice was on the left side, and I had advanced so far that, on the back of a perverse mule, I did not venture to make any irregular movement, and rode for some moments in great anxiety. Somewhere on this road, but unmarked by any visible sign, we crossed the boundary-line of the state of Guatimala and entered Honduras.
At two o'clock we reached the village of Copan,
which consisted of half a dozen miserable huts thatched with corn. Our appearance created a great sensation. All the men and women gathered around us to gaze. We inquired immediately for the ruins, but none of the villagers could direct us to them, and all advised us to go to the hacienda of Don Gregorio. We had no wish to stop at a village, and told the muleteer to go on, but he refused, and said that his engagement was to conduct us to Copan. After a long wrangle we prevailed, and, riding through a piece of woods, forded once more the Copan River, and came out upon a clearing, on one side of which was a hacienda, with a tile roof, and having cucinera and other outbuildings, evidently the residence of a rich proprietor. We were greeted by a pack of barking dogs, and all the doorways were filled with women and children, who seemed in no small degree surprised at our appearance. There was not a man in sight; but the women received us kindly, and told us that Don Gregorio would return soon, and would conduct us to the ruins. Immediately the fire was rekindled in the cucinera, the sound of the patting of hands gave notice of the making of tortillas, and in half an hour dinner was ready. It was served up on a massive silver plate, with water in a silver tankard, but without knife, fork, or spoon; soup or caldo was served in cups to be drunk. Nevertheless, we congratulated ourselves upon having fallen into such good quarters. In a short time a young man arrived on horseback, gayly dressed, with an embroidered shirt, and accompanied by several men driving a herd of cattle. An ox was selected, a rope thrown around its horns, and the animal was drawn up to the side of the house, and, by another rope around its legs, thrown down. Its feet were tied together, its head drawn back by a rope tied from its horns to its tail, and with one thrust of the machete the artery of life was severed. Tho pack of hungry dogs stood ready, and, with a horrible clicking, lapped up the blood with their tongues. All the women were looking on, and a young girl took a puppy dog and rubbed its nose in the crimson stream, to give it early a taste for blood. The ox was skinned, the meat separated from the bones, and, to the entire destruction of steaks, sirloins, and roasting-pieces, in an hour the whole animal was hanging in long strings on a line before the door.
During this operation Don Gregorio arrived. He was about fifty, had large black whiskers, and a beard of several days' growth; and, from the behaviour of all around, it was easy to see that he was a domestic tyrant. The glance which he threw at us before dismounting seemed to say, ""Who are you?" but, without a word, he entered the house. We waited until he had finished his dinner, when, supposing that to be the favourable moment, I entered the house. In my intercourse with the world I have more than once found my overtures to an acquaintance received coldly, but I never experienced anything quite so cool as the don's reception of me. I told him that we had come into that neighbourhood to visit the ruins of Copan, and his manner said, What's that to me? but he answered that they were on the other side of the river. I asked him whether we could procure a guide, and again he said that the only man who knew anything about them lived on the other side of the river. As yet we did not make sufficient allowance for the distracted state of the country, nor the circumstance that a man might incur danger to himself by giving shelter to suspected persons; but, re