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There were no mountains; only some little inequalities which brought the head lower than the heels, and they seldom stumbled. In this way they carried us about three miles, and then laid us down gently on the ground. Like the Indians in Merida, they were a fine-looking race, with a good expression of countenance, cheerful, and even merry in their toil. They were amused at us because we could not talk with them. There is no diversity of Indian languages in Yucatan; the Maya is universal, and all the Spaniards speak it. Having wiped off the perspiration and rested, they took us up again; and, lulled by the quiet movement and the regular fall of the Indians' feet upon the ear, I fell into a doze, from which I was roused by stopping at a gate, on entering which I found we were advancing to a range of white stone buildings, standing on an elevation about twenty feet high, which by measurement afterward I found to be three hundred and sixty feet long, with an imposing corridor running the whole length; and on the extreme right of the building the platform was continued one or two hundred feet, forming the top of a reservoir, on which there was a windlass with long arms; and Indian women, dressed in white, were moving round in a circle, drawing water and filling their water-jars. This was called the haci. enda of Mucuyche. We entered, as usual, through a large cattle-yard. At the foot of the structure on which the building stood, running nearly the whole length, was a gigantic stone tank, about eight or ten feet wide, and of the same depth, filled with water. We were carried up an inclined stone platform about the centre of the range of buildings, which consisted of three distinct sets, each one hundred and twenty feet front. In that on los was the church, the door of which was open, and an old Indian was then lighting candles at the altar for vesper prayers. In front, setting a little back, were the apartments of the major-domo, and at the other end of the range the mansion of the master, un the corridor of which we were set down, and crawled out of our coaches. There was something monstrously aristocratic in being borne on the shoulders of tenants from such a hacienda as that we had left to this stately pile. The whole appearance of things gave an idea of country residence upon a scale of grand hospitality, and yet we learned, to our astonishment, that most of the family had never seen it. The only one by whom it was ever visited was the son who had it in charge, and he came only for a few days at a time, to see how things were conducted, and examine the accounts of the major-domo. The range consisted of a single suite of rooms, one in the centre about eighty feet long, and one on each side, communicating, about forty feet long each, and a noble corridor extended along the whole front and rear. We had an hour of daylight, which I could have employed very satisfactorily on the spot, but the servant urged us to go immediately and see a cenote. What a cenote was we had no idea, and Mr. C., being much fatigued, turned into a hammock; but, unwilling to lose anything where all was strange and unexpected, I followed the servant, crossed the roof of the reservoir, cemented as hard as stone, passed on to an open tank built of stone, covered with cement inside and out, about one hundred and fifty feet square and twenty feet deep, filled with water, in which twenty or thirty Indians were swimming ; and, descending to the foot of the tank, at the distance of about a hundred yards came to a large opening in the ground, with a broad
flight of more than fifty steps; descending which, I saw unexpectedly a spectacle of such extraordinary beauty, that I sent the servant back to tell Mr. Catherwood to come to me forthwith, if he had to be carried in his hammock. It was a large cavern or grotto, with a roof of broken, overhanging rock, high enough to give an air of wildness and grandeur, impenetrable at midday to the sun's rays, and at the bottom water pure as crystal, still and deep, resting upon a bed of white limestone rock. It was the very creation of romance; a bathingplace for Diana and her nymphs. Grecian poet never imagined so beautiful a scene. It was almost a profanation, but in a few minutes we were swimming around the rocky basin with feelings of boyish exultation, only regretting that such a freak of nature was played where so few could enjoy its beauties. On a nobleman's estate in England it would be above all price. The bath reinvigorated our frames. It was after dark when we returned; hammocks were waiting for us, and very soon we were in a profound sleep. Vol. II.
At daybreak the next morning, with new Indians and a guide on horseback from the hacienda, we resumed our journey. The surface of the country was the same, limestone with scrub trees. There was not soil enough to absorb the water, which rested in puddles in the hollows of the stones. At nine o'clock we reached another hacienda, smaller than the last, but still having a lordly appearance, where, as before, the women were drawing water by a wheel. The major-domo expressed his sense of the honour conferred upon him by our visit, and his anxiety to serve us, gave us a breakfast of milk, tortillas, and wild honey, and furnished us with other Indians and a guide. We mounted again; very soon the sun became intensely hot; there were no trees to shade us, and we suffered excessively. At half past twelve we passed some mounds of ruins a little off the road, but the sun was so scorching that we could not stop to examine them, and at two o'clock we reached Uxmal. Little did I think, when I made the acquaintance of my unpretending friend at the Spanish hotel in Fulton-street, that I should ride upward of fifty miles on his family estates, carried by his Indians, and breakfasting, dining, and sleeping at his lordly haciendas, while the route marked out for our return would bring us to others, one of which was larger than any we had
seen. The family of Peon, under the Spanish dominion, had given governors to the province of Yucatan. On the establishment of independence, its present head, a stanch Royalist, retired in disgust from all kinds of employment, and the whole of the large family estates were managed by the Señora Donna Joaquina. Unförtunately, Don Simon had left for Merida, and we had missed him on the way. Moreover, owing to the heat of the sun and our awkward saddles, we arrived at the end of this triumphal march in a dreadfully jaded and forlorn condition, and perhaps we never dismounted more utterly worn out and uncomfortable. The hacienda of Uxmal was built of dark gray stone, ruder in appearance and finish than any of the others, with a greater appearance of antiquity, and at a distance looked like an old baronial castle. A year before it had been given to Don Simon by his father, and he was making large repairs and additions to the building, though, as his family never visited it, and he only for a few days at a time, for what purpose I could not conceive. It had its cattle-yard in front, with tanks of water around, some with green vegetation on the top, and there was an unwholesome sensation of dampness. It had, too, its church, which contained a figure of nuestra Señor, “Our Lord,” revered by the Indians of all the haciendas around, the same of which had reached the household servants at Merida, and which was the first object that attracted the attention of our guide. The whole hacienda was immediately at our disposal; but, worn down with heat and fatigue, we took at once to our hammocks. The hacienda had two major-domos, one a Mestitzo, who understood the language and business, and in the other we found an acquaintance, or, at least, what seem