Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

the coast of Yucatan. Personally he was disposed to do all in his power to serve us, but there might be some risk in putting into port to land us. Knowing his fa. vourable disposition, we could not urge him; but Mr. Russell was his consignee, and by charter-party had a right to detain him ten days, and intended to do so; but he offered to load him in two days upon condition of his taking us on board, and, as Campeachy was blockaded, landing us at Sisal, sixty miles beyond, and the seaport of Merida. Captain Fensley assented, and we were relieved from what at the time we should have considered a great calamity. In regard to the project for the purchase of the ruins of Palenque, which I have before referred to, Mr. Russell entered into it warmly ; and with a generosity I cannot help mentioning, hardly to be expected from one so long from home, requested to be held liable for two thousand dollars as part of the cost of introducing them into the United States. In pursuance of my previous arrangement I wrote to the prefect, advising him of Mr. Russell's co-operation, and referring him to Pawling as my agent in settling the details of the purchase. This was enclosed in a letter from Mr. Russell to the same effect, which stated, besides, that the money should be paid the moment it was required, and both, with full instructions, were given to Pawling. The interest which Mr. Russell took in this matter gave me a flattering hope of success, and but for him, the scheme for making castings would have failed entirely. He was engaged in building an unusually fine house, and in order to finish it had sent to Campeachy for plaster of Paris, but not finding any there, had imported some from NewYork. Fortunately, he had a few barrels left; and but for this accident—there was none nearer than Vera

[ocr errors]

Cruz or New-Orleans—Pawling's journey, so far as related to this object, would have been fruitless. We settled the details of sending the plaster with Pawling to Palenque, receiving and shipping the castings to me at New-York, and on Saturday morning at seven o'clock bade farewell to Mr. Russell, and embarked on board the Gabrielacho. Pawling accompanied us outside the bar, and we took leave of him as he got on board the pilot-boat to return. We had gone through such rough scenes together since he overtook us at the foot of the Sierra Madre, that it may be supposed we did not separate with indifference. Juan was still with us, for the first time at sea, and wondering where we would take him next. The Gabrielacho was a beautiful brig of about one hundred and sixty tons, built under Captain Fensley's own direction, one half belonging to himself, and fitted up neatly and tastefully as a home. He had no house on shore; one daughter was at boarding-school in the United States, and the rest of his family, consisting of his wife and a little daughter about three years old, was with him on board. Since his marriage seven years before, his wife had remained but one year on shore, and she determined not to leave him again as long as he followed the seas, while he was resolved that every voyage should be the last, and looked forward to the consummation of every sailor's hopes, a good farm. His daughter Vicentia, or poor Centy, as she called herself, was the pet of all on board ; and we had twelve passengers, interesting to the Common Council of New-York, being enormous turtles, one of which the captain hoped would gladden the hearts of the fathers of the city at their fourth of July dinner. The reader cannot realize the satisfaction with which

Vol. II.

we found ourselves in such comfortable quarters on board this brig. We had an afternoon squall, but we considered ourselves merely passengers, and, with a good vessel, master, and crew, laughed at a distant bungo crawling close along the shore, and for the first time feared that the voyage would end too soon. Perhaps no captain ever had passengers so perfectly contented under storin or calm. Oh you who cross the Atlantic in packet-ships, complaining of discomforts, and threaten to publish the captain because the porter does not hold out, may you one day be caught on board a bungo loaded with logwood' The wear and tear of our wardrobe was manifest to the most indifferent observer; and Mrs. Fensley, pitying our ragged condition, sewed on our buttons, darned, patched, and mended us, and put us in order for another expedition. On the third morning Captain Fensley told us we had passed Campeachy during the night, and, if the wind held, would reach Sisal that day. At eight o'clock we came in sight of the long low coast, and moving steadily toward it, at a little before dark anchored off the port, about two miles from the shore. One brig was lying there, a Spanish trader, bound to Havana, and the only vessel in port. The anchorage is an open roadstead outside of the breakers, which is considered perfectly safe except during a northeast storm, when Spanish vessels always slip their cables and stand out to sea. In the uncertainty whether what we were going to see was worth the trouble, and the greater uncertainty of a conveyance when we wanted it, it was trying to leave a good vessel which in twenty days might carry us home. Nevertheless, we made the exertion. It was dusk when we left the vessel. We landed at the end

[ocr errors]

of a long wooden dock, built out on the open shore of the sea, where we were challenged by a soldier. At the head of the pier was a guard and custom house, where an officer presented himself to escort us to the commandant. On the right, near the shore, was an old Spanish fortress with turrets. A soldier, barely distinguishable on the battlements, challenged us; and, passing the quartel, we were challenged again. The answer, as in Central America, was “Patria libre.” The tone of the place was warlike, the Liberal party dominant. The revolution, as in all the other places, had been conducted in a spirit of moderation; but when the garrison was driven out, the commandant, who had been very tyrannical and oppressive, was taken, and the character of the revolution would have been stained by his murder, but he was put on board a bungo and escaped. We were well received by the commandant; and Captain Fensley took us to the house of an acquaintance, where we saw the captain of the brig in the offing, which was to sail in eight days for Havana, and no other vessel was expected for a long time. We made arrangements for setting out the next day for Merida, and early in the morning accompanied the captain to the pier, saw him embark in a bungo, waited till he got on board, and saw the brig, with a fine breeze and every sail set, stand out into the ocean for home. We turned our backs upon it with regret. There was nothing to detain us at Sisal. Though prettily situated on the seashore and a thriving place, it was merely the depôt of the exports and imports of Merida. At two o'clock we set out for the capital. We were now in a country as different from Central America as if separated by the Atlantic, and we began our journey with an entirely new mode of conveyance. It was in a vehicle called a calèche, built somewhat like the oldfashioned cab, but very large, cumbersome, made for rough roads, without springs, and painted red, green, and yellow. One cowhide trunk for each was strapped on behind, and above them, reaching to the top of the calèche, was secured a pile of sacate for the horses. The whole of this load, with Mr. Catherwood and me, was drawn by a single horse, having a rider on his back Two other horses followed for change, harnessed, and each with a boy riding him. The road was perfectly level, and on a causeway a little elevated above the plain, which was stony and covered with scrub-trees. At first it seemed a great luxury to roll along in a wheel carriage; but, with the roughness of the road, and the calèche being without springs, in a little while this luxury began to be questionable. After the magnificent scenery of Central America the country was barren and uninteresting, but we perceived the tokens of a rich interior in large cars drawn by mules five abreast, with high wheels ten or twelve feet apart, and loaded with hemp, bagging, wax, honey, and ox and deer skins. The first incident of the road ywas changing horses, which consisted in taking out the horse in the shafts and putting in one of the others, already in a sweat. This occurred twice; and at one o'clock we entered the village of Hunucama, pleasantly situated, imbowered among trees, with a large plaza, at that time decorated with an arbour of evergreens all around, preparatory to the great fete of Corpus Christi, which was to be celebrated the next day. Here we took three fresh horses; and changing them as before, and passing two villages, through a vista two miles long saw the steeples of Merida, and at six o'clock rode into the city. The houses were well built, with balconied

[graphic]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »