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A STUCCO ORNAMENT.
ered with stucco, which had fallen down; part of the roof had given way, and the floor was covered with ruins. In one of them was the same pitchy substance we had noticed in the sepulchre at Copan. The roof was formed of stones, lapping over in the usual style, and forming as near an approach to the arch as was made by the architects of the Old World.
In the back wall of the centre chamber was a doorway of the same size with that in front, which led to an apartment without any partitions, but in the centre was an oblong enclosure eighteen feet by eleven, which was manifestly intended as the most important part of the edifice. The door was choked up with ruins to within a few feet of the top, but over it, and extending along the whole front of the structure, was a large stucco ornament, which at first impressed us most forcibly by its striking resemblance to the winged globe over the doors of Egyptian temples. Part of this ornament had fallen down, and, striking the heap of rubbish underneath, had rolled beyond the door of entrance. We endeavoured to roll it back and restore it to its place, but it proved too heavy for the strength of four men and a boy. The part which remains is represented in the engraving, and differs in detail from the winged globe. The wings are reversed; there is a fragment of a circular ornament which may have been intended for a globe, but there are no remains of serpents entwining it.
There was another surprising feature in this door. The lintel was a beam of wood; of what species we did not know, but our guide said it was of the sapote-tree. It was so hard that, on being struck, it rang like metal, and perfectly sound, without a worm-hole or other symptom of decay. The surface was smooth and even, and from a very close examination we were of the opinion that it must have been trimmed with an in. strument of metal.
The opening under this doorway was what the al. calde had intended as the mouth of the cave that led to Palenque, and which, by-the-way, he had told us was so completely buried in El Monte that it would require two days digging and clearing to reach it. Our guide laughed at the ignorance prevailing in the village in regard to the difficulty of reaching it, but stoutly maintained the story that it led to Palenque. We could not prevail on him to enter it. A short cut to Palenque was exactly what we wanted. I took off my coat, and, lying down on my breast, began to crawl under. When I had advanced about half the length of my body, I heard a hideous hissing noise, and starting back, saw a pair of small eyes, which in the darkness shone like balls of fire. The precise portion of time that I employed in backing out is not worth mentioning. My companions had heard the noise, and the guide said it was “ un tigre." I thought it was a wildcat ; but, whatever it was, we determined to have a shot at it. We took it for granted that the animal would dash past us, and in a few moments our guns and pistols, swords and machetes, were ready; taking our positions, Pawling, standing close against the wall, thrust under a long pole, and with a horrible noise out fluttered a huge turkey-buzzard, which flapped itself through the building and took refuge in another chamber.
This peril over, I renewed the attempt, and holding a candle before me, quickly discovered the whole extent of the cave that led to Palenque. It was a chamber corresponding with the dimensions given of the outer walls. The floor was encumbered with rubbish two or three feet deep, the walls were covered with stuccoed
figures, among which that of a monkey was conspicu. ous, and against the back wall, among curious and interesting ornaments, were two figures of men in profile, with their faces toward each other, well drawn and as large as life, but the feet concealed by the rubbish on the floor. Mr. Catherwood crawled in to make a drawing of them, but, on account of the smoke from the candles, the closeness, and excessive heat, it was impossi. ble to remain long enough. In general appearance and character they were the same as we afterward saw carv. ed on stone at Palenque.
By means of a tree growing close against the wall of this building I climbed to the top, and saw another ed. ifice very near and on the top of a still higher structure. We climbed up to this, and found it of the same general plan, but more dilapidated. Descending, we passed be. tween two other buildings on pyramidal elevations, and came out upon an open table which had probably once been the site of the city. It was protected on all sides by the same high terraces, overlooking for a great distance the whole country round, and rendering it impossible for an enemy to approach from any quarter without being discovered. Across the table was a high and narrow causeway, which seemed partly natural and partly artificial, and at some distance on which was a mound, with the foundations of a building that had prob. ably been a tower. Beyond this the causeway extend. ed till it joined a range of mountains. From the few Spanish books within my reach I have not been able to learn anything whatever of the history of this place, whether it existed at the time of the conquest or not. I am inclined to think, however, that it did, and that mention is made of it in some Spanish authors. At all events, there was no place we had seen which gave us