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lOCRNEY CONTINUED. 221
Journey continued.—A Mountain Plain. — Lost Guides.— A trying Moment.— Agua Calientes.—A magnificent View.— Gold Ore.—San Sebastiano.— Gueguetenango. — Sierra Madre.—A huge Skeleton. — The Ruins.— Pyramidal Structures.—A Vault.—Mounds.—A welcome Addition.—Interior of a Mound. —Vases.—Ascent of the Sierra Madre.—Buena Vista.—The Descent.—Todos Santos.—San Martin.—San Andres Petapan.—A Forest on Fire.—Suffering of the Mules from Swarms of Flies.—San Antonio de Guista.
Early in the morning our mules were saddled for the journey. The gobernador and another friend of the cura came to receive parting instructions, and set off for Guatimala. The Indians engaged for us did not make their appearance; and, desirous to save the day, we loaded the mules, and sent Juan and Bobon forward with the luggage. In a little while two women came and told us that our Indians were in prison. I accompanied them to two or three officials, and with much difficulty and loss of time found the man having charge of them, who said that, finding we had paid them part of their hire in advance, and afraid they would buy agua ardiente and be missing, he had shut them up the night before to have them ready, and had left word to that effect with one of the servants of the cura. I went with him to the prison, paid a shilling apiece for their lodging, and took them over to the convent. The poor fellows had not eaten since they were shut up, and. as usual, wanted to go home for tortillas for the journey. We refused to let them go, but gave them money to buy some in the plaza, and kept the woman and their chamars as hostages for their return. But we became tired of waiting. Mr. Catherwood picked up their chamars and threw them across his saddle as a guarantee for their following, and we set off.
We had added to our equipments aguas de arma, being undressed goatskins embroidered with red leather, which hung down from the saddlebow, to protect the legs against rain, and were now fully accoutred in Central American style.
It was cold and wintry. We ascended and crossed a high plain, and at the distance of a league descended to a village, where we learned that Juan and Bobon had passed on some time before. Beyond this we ascended a high and rugged mountain, and on the top reached a magnificent plain. We rode at a brisk pace, and it was one o'clock before our jailbirds overtook us. By this time we were surprised at not overtaking our men with the luggage. We could not have passed them, for there was but one road. Since leaving the village we had not seen a single person, and at two o'clock we met a man with a loaded mule coming from Aguas Calientes, the end of our day's journey, who had not met them. Mr. Catherwood became alarmed, fearing that they had robbed us and run away. I was always careless with luggage, but never lost any, and was slow in coming to this belief. In half an hour we met another man, who told us that he had not seen them, and that there was no other road than the one by which he came. Since our apprehensions began, we had not been able to discover any tracks, but went on to within two leagues of our halting-place, when we stopped, and held one of the most anxious consultations that occurred in our whole journey. We knew but little of the men. Juan cheated us every day in the little purchases for the road, and we had detected him in the atrocity of keeping back part of the money we gave him to buy corn and sacate, and starving the mules. After a most unhappy deliberation, we concluded that
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they had broken open the trunks, taken out the money, thrown the rest of the contents down some ravine, mounted the mules, and made off. Besides money, beds, and bedding, these trunks contained all Mr. Catherwood's drawings, and the precious notebooks to which the reader is indebted for these pages. The fruits of all our labour were gone. In all our difficulties and perplexities we never had a more trying moment. We were two leagues from Aguas Calientes. To go on, rouse the village, get fresh horses, and return in pursuit, was our first idea; but this would widen the distance between us, and probably we should not be able to get horses.
With hearts so heavy that nothing but the feeble hope of catching them while dividing the money kept us from sinking, we turned back. It was four o'clock in the afternoon; neither our mules nor we had eaten anything since early in the morning. Night would be upon us, and it was doubtful whether our mules would hold out. Our prisoners told us we had been very imprudent to let the men set out alone, and took it for granted that they had not let slip the opportunity of robbing us. As we rode back, both Mr. C. and I brooded over an apprehension which for some time neither mentioned to the other. It was the letter I had written on behalf of the cura. We should again be within reach of Carrera. If the letter by accident fell into his hands, he would be indignant at what he considered my ingratitude, and he could very easily take his revenge. Our plans, however, were made up at once. We determined, at all events, not to go back to Guatimala, nor, broken as we were in fortune and spirit, to give up Palenque, but, if possible, to borrow money for the road, even if we set out on foot; but, o Gloria Eternal, as the official bulletin said of Carrera's victory, on reaching the top of a mountain we saw the men climbing up a deep ravine on the other side. We did not tell them our agony, but had not gone far before the Indians told all; and they were not surprised or hurt. How we passed them neither of us knew; but another such a spasm would have put a period to our journey of life; and from that time, however tedious, or whatever might be the inducements, we resolved to keep by our luggage. At dusk we reached the top of a high mountain, and by one of those long, steep, and difficult descents of which it is impossible to give the reader any idea, entered the village of Agua Calientes.
It was occupied entirely by Indians, who gathered round us in the plaza, and by the light of pine sticks looked at Carrera's passport. Not one of them could read it, but it was enough to pronounce the name, and the whole village was put in requisition to provide us with something to eat. The alcalde distributed the money we gave him, and one brought sixpence worth of eggs, another of beans, another of tortillas, another of lard, another of candles, and a dozen or more received sixpence apiece for sacate; not one of them would bring any thing until he had the money in hand. A fire was kindled in the square, and in process of time we had supper. Our usual supper of fried eggs, beans, tortillas, and chocolate, any one of them enough to disturb digestion in a state of repose, with the excitement and vexation of our supposed loss, made me ill. The cabildo was a wretched shed, full of fleas, with a coat of dust an inch thick to soften the hard earthen floor. It was too cold to sleep out of doors, and there were no pins to hang hammocks on, for in this region hammocks were not used at all. We made inquiries with the view
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of hiring for the night the bedsteads of the principal inhabitants, but there was not one in the village; all slept on the bosom of mother earth, and we had part of the family bed. Fortunately, however, and most imoortant for us, our mules fared well.
Early in the morning we resumed our journey. There are warm springs in this neighbourhood, but we did not go out of our way to visit them. A short distance from the village we crossed a river and commenced ascending a mountain. On the top we came upon a narrow table of land, with a magnificent forest on both sides far below us. The wind swept over the lofty height, so that with our ponchas, which were necessary on account of the cold, it was difficult to keep the saddle. The road was broken and stony, and the track scarcely perceptible. At about ten o'clock the whole surface of the mountain was a bare ridge of limestone, from which the sun was reflected with scorching heat, and the whiteness was dazzling and painful to the eyes. Below us, on each side, continued an immense forest of gigantic pines. The road was perfectly desolate; we met no travellers. In four hours we saw on our left, at a great distance below, a single hacienda, with a clearing around it, seemingly selected for a magnifi cent seclusion from the convulsions of a distracted country. The ridge was broken by gullies and deep ravines; and we came to one across which, by way of bridge, lay the trunks of two gigantic pines. My macho always pulled back when I attempted to lead him, and I remained on his back, and was carried steadily over; but at the other end we started at a noise behind us. Our best cargo-mule had fallen, rolled over, and hung on the brink of the precipice, with her feet kicking in the air, kept from falling to the bottom only by being
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