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The men were all away at work, and all day there was a procession of women in white cotton dresses moving from the gate to the well and drawing water. It was pleasant to find that marriage was considered proper and expedient, conducing to good order and thrift certainly, and probably to individual happiness. Don Sitnon encouraged it; he did not like to have any single men on the estate, and made every young Indian of the right age take unto himself a wife. When, as often happened, the Indian, in a deprecating tone, said, “No tengo Inuger,” “I have no woman,” Don Simon looked through the hacienda and found one for him. On his last visit he made four matches, and the day before our arrival the Delmonico major-domo had been to the nearest village to escort the couples and pay the padre for marrying them, the price being thirteen shillings each. He was afraid to trust them with the money, for fear they would spend it and not get married. The old major-domo was energetic in carrying out the views of his master on this important subject, and that day a delicate case was brought before him. A young Indian girl brought a complaint against a married woman for slander. She said that she was engaged to be married to a young man whom she loved and who loved her, and the married woman had injured her fair fame by reporting that she was already in “an interesting situation;” she had told the young man of it, said that all the women in the hacienda saw it, and taunted him with marrying such a girl; and now, she said, the young man would not have her. The married woman was supported by a crowd of witnesses, and it must be admitted that appearances were very much against the plaintiff; but the old major-domo, without going into the merits at all, decided in her faVol. II.-3 G
vour on broad grounds. Indignant at a marriage being prevented, he turned to the married woman and asked, What was it to her ? what right had she to meddle 2 what if it was true 7–it was none of her business. Perhaps the young man knew it and was party to it, and still intended to marry the girl, and they might have lived happily but for her busy tongue; and, without more ado, he brought out a leather whip cut into long lashes, and with great vigour began applying it to the back of the indiscreet communicator of unwelcome tidings. He wound up with an angry homily upon busybodies, and then upon women generally, who, he said, made all the difficulties on the hacienda, and but for them the men would be quiet enough. The matrons of the hacienda stood aghast at this unexpected turn of things; and, when the case was dismissed, all crowded around the victim and went away with her, giving such comfort as they could. The young girl went away alone; the hearts of her sex were steeled against her: in savage as in civilized life,
“Every wo a tear may claim,
In the afternoon Mr. Catherwood's fever left him, but in a very low state. The hacienda was unhealthy at this season; the great troughs and tanks of water around the house were green, and, with the regular afternoon rains, induced fatal fevers. Mr. Catherwood's constitution was already severely shattered. Indeed, I became alarmed, and considered it indispensable for him to leave the hacienda, and, if possible, the country altogether. To carry out my other plans, we intended at all events to return. We made a calculation that, by setting out the next morning, we could reach the
Spanish brig in time to embark for Havana, and in ten minutes' consultation we determined to break up and go home. Immediately we communicated our purpose to the major-domo, who ascended to the belfry of the church and called a coach, to be ready at two o'clock the next morning.