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INHABITANTS PROBABLY NOT EXTINCT. 457
ed to them; vigour and acuteness of intellect, knowledge and learning, have never been expended upon them. For centuries the hieroglyphics of Egypt were inscrutable, and, though not perhaps in our day, I feel persuaded that a key surer than that of the Rosetta stone will be discovered. And if only three centuries have elapsed since any one of these unknown cities was inhabited, the race of the inhabitants is not extinct. Their descendants are still in the land, scattered, perhaps, and retired, like our own Indians, into wildernesses which have never yet been penetrated by a white man, but not lost; living as their fathers did, erecting the same buildings of "lime and stone," "with ornaments of sculpture and plastered," "large courts," and "lofty towers with high ranges of steps," and still carving on tablets of stone the same mysterious hieroglyphics; and if, in consideration that I have not often indulged in speculative conjecture, the reader will allow one flight, I turn to that vast and unknown region, untraversed by a single road, wherein fancy pictures that mysterious city seen from the topmost range of the Cordilleras, of unconquered, unvisited, and unsought aboriginal inhabitants.
In conclusion, I am at a loss to determine which would be the greatest enterprise, an attempt to reach this mysterious city, to decipher the tablets of hieroglyphics, or to wade through the accumulated manuscripts of three centuries in the libraries of the convents.
Journey to Merida.—Village of Moona.—A Pond of Water, a Curiosity.—Atoms —Indian Runners.—Merida.—Departure.—Hunucama.—Siege of Campearhy. —Embarcation for Havana.—Incidents of the Passage.—Fourth of July at Sea. —Shark-fishing.—Getting lost at Sea.—Relieved by the Helen Maria—Passage to New-York.—Arrival.—Conclusion.
But to return to ourselves. At three, by the light of the moon, we left Uxmal by the most direct road for Merida, Mr. Catherwood in a coach and I on horseback, charged with a letter from the junior major-domo to his compatriot and friend, Delmonico's head chocolate-maker. As I followed Mr. C. through the woods, borne on the shoulders of Indians, the stillness broken only by the shuffle of their feet, and under my great apprehensions for his health, it almost seemed as if I were following his bier. At the distance of three leagues we entered the village of Moona, where, though a fine village, having white people and Mestitzoes among its inhabitants, travellers were more rare than in the interior of Central America. We were detained two hours at the casa real, waiting for a relief coach. At a short distance beyond, my guide led me out of the road to show me a pond of water, which in that country was a curiosity. It was surrounded by woods; wild cattle were drinking on the borders, and started like deer at our approach. At the distance of four leagues we reached the village of Aboula, with a plaza enclosed by a rough picket-fence, a good casa real and fine old alcalde, who knew our servant as belonging to the Peon family.
There was no intermediate village, and he undertook
AN AMUSING INCIDENT. 459
to provide us with relief Indians to carry the coach through to Merida, twenty-seven miles. It was growing late, and I went on before with a horse for change, to reach Merida in time to make arrangements for a caleche the next day.
Toward evening it rained hard. At dark I began to have apprehension of leaving Mr. Catherwood behind, sent the servant on to secure the caleche, and dismounted to wait. I was too dreadfully fatigued to ride back, and sat down in the road; by degrees I stretched myself on a smooth stone, with the bridle around my wrist, and, after a dreamy debate whether my horse would tread on me or not, fell asleep. I was roused by a jerk which nearly tore my arm off, and saw coming through the woods Indian runners with blazing pine torches, lighting the way for the coach, which had an aspect so funereal that it almost made me shudder. Mr. C. had had his difficulties. After carrying him about a league, the Indians stopped, laid him down, and, after an animated conversation, took him up, went on, but in a little while laid him down again, and, thrusting their heads under the cover of the coach, made him an eager and clamorous address, of which he did not understand one word. At length he picked up dos pesos, or two dollars, and gathered that they wanted two dollars more. As the alcalde had adjusted the account, he refused to pay, and, after a noisy wrangle, they quietly look him up on their shoulders, and began trotting back with him to the village. This made him tractable, and he paid the money, threatening them as well as he could with vengeance; but the amusing part was that they were right. The alcalde had made a mistake in the calculation; and, on a division and distribution on the road, by hard pounding and calculating, each one knowing what he ought to receive himself, they discovered that they had been paid two dollars short. The price was twenty-five cents per man for the first, and eighteen cents for every subsequent league, besides fifty cents for making the coach; so that, with four men for relief, it was two dollars for the first league, and a dollar and a half for every subsequent one; and a calculation of the whole amount for nine leagues was rather complicated.
It was half past one when we reached Merida, and we had been up and on the road since two in the morning. Fortunately, with the easy movement of the coach, Mr. C. had suffered but little. I was tired beyond all measure; but I had, what enabled me to endure any degree of fatigue, a good cot, and was soon asleep.
The next morning we saw my friend Don Simon, who was preparing to go back and join us. I cannot sufficiently express my sense of the kindness we received from himself and his family, and only hope that I may have an opportunity at some future time of returning it in my own country. He promised, when we returned, to go down with us and assist in a thorough exploration of the ruins. The Spanish vessel was to sail the next day. Toward evening, after a heavy rain, as the dark clouds were rolling away, and the setting sun was tinging them with a rich golden border, we left Merida. At eleven o'clock we reached Hunucama, and stopped in the plaza two hours to feed the horses. While here, a party of soldiers arrived from the port, waving pine torches, having just returned victorious from the siege of Campeachy. They were all young, ardent, well dressed, and in fine spirits, and full of praises of their general, who, they said, had remained at Sisal to attend a ball, and was coming on as soon as
EMBARCATION FOR HAVANA. 461
it was over. Resuming our journey, in an hour more we met a train of caliches, with officers in uniform. Wc stopped, congratulated the general upon his victory at Campeachy, inquired for a United States' sloop-ofwar which we had heard was there during the blockade, and, with many interchanges of courtesy, but without seeing a feature of each other's faces, resumed our separate roads. An hour before daylight we reached Sisal, at six o'clock we embarked on board the Spanish brig Alexandre for Havana, and at eight we were under way.
It was the twenty-fourth of June; and now, as we thought, all our troubles were ended. The morning was fine. We had eight passengers, all Spanish; one of whom, from the interior, when he came down to the shore and saw the brig in the offing, asked what animal it was. From my great regard to the captain, I will not speak of the brig or of its condition, particularly the cabin, except to say that it was Spanish. The wind was light; we breakfasted on deck, making the top of the companion-way serve as a table under an awning. The captain told us we would be in Havana in a week.
Our course lay along the coast of Yucatan toward Cape Catoche. On Sunday, the 28th, we had made, according to the brig's reckoning, about one hundred and fifty miles, and were then becalmed. The sun was intensely hot, the sea of glassy stillness, and all day a school of sharks were swimming around the brig. From this time we had continued calms, and the sea was like a mirror, heated and reflecting its heat. On the Fourth of July there was the same glassy stillness, with light clouds, but fixed and stationary. The captain said we were incantado or enchanted, and really it almost seem