« FöregåendeFortsätt »
PREPARATIONS FOR HOUSE KEEPING. 287
ribs fell down before him, conducted him to their huts, and gave him an invitation to return, and make them a visit on a certain day. On the day appointed the padre went with his sacristan, and found a gathering of Caribs and a great feast prepared for him. He remained with them some time, and invited them in re. turn to the village of Palenque on the day of the fête of St. Domingo. A large party of these wild Indians attended, bringing with them tiger's meat, monkey's meat, and cocoa as presents. They listened to mass, and beheld all the ceremonies of the Church; whereupon they invited the padre to come among them and teach them, and they erected a hut at the place where they had first met him, which he consecrated as a church ; and he taught his sacristan to say mass to them every Sunday. As the prefeto said, if he had lived, many of them would probably have been Chris. tianized ; but, unfortunately, he died; the Caribs re. tired into the wilderness, and not one had appeared in the village since.
The ruins lie about eight miles from the village, per. fectly desolate. The road was so bad, that, in order to accomplish anything, it was necessary to remain there, and we had to make provision for that purpose. There were three small shops in the village, the stock of all together not worth seventy-five dollars ; but in one of them we found a pound and a half of coffee, which we immediately secured. Juan communicated the gratifying intelligence that a hog was to be killed the next morning, and that he had engaged a portion of the lard; also, that there was a cow with a calf running loose, and an arrangement might be made for keeping her up and milking her. This was promptly attended to, and all necessary arrangements were made for vis.
iting the ruins the next day. The Indians generally knew the road, but there was only one man in the place who was able to serve as a guide on the ground, and he had on hand the business of killing and distributing the hog, by reason whereof he could not set out with us, but promised to follow.
Toward evening the quiet of the village was disturb. ed by a crash, and on going out we found that a house had fallen down. A cloud of dust rose from it, and the ruins probably lie as they fell. The cholera had stripped it of tenants, and for several years it had been deserted.
OUTFIT FOR VISITING THE RUINS. 289
Preparations for visiting the Ruins. - A Turn-out. - Departure.-The Road.
Rivers Micol and Olula.--Arrival at the Ruins.—The Palace.- A Feu-de-joie. -Quarters in the Palace.-Inscriptions by former Visiters.—The Fate of Beanham.- Discovery of the Ruins of Palenque. Visit of Del Rio.-Expedition of Dupaix.-Drawings of the present Work.–First Dinner at the Ru. ins.-Mammoth Fireflies.-Sleeping Apartments.-Extent of the Ruins.-Obstacles to Exploration.-Suffering from Moschetoes.
EARLY the next morning we prepared for our move to the ruins. We had to make provision for housekeeping on a large scale ; our culinary utensils were of rude pottery, and our cups the hard shells of some round vegetables, the whole cost, perhaps, amounting to one dollar. We could not procure a water-jar in the place, but the alcalde lent us one free of charge unless it should be broken, and as it was cracked at the time he probably considered it sold. By-the-way, we forced ourselves upon the alcalde's affections by leaving our money with him for safe-keeping. We did this with great publicity, in order that it might be known in the village that there was no “plata” at the ruins, but the alcalde regarded it as a mark of special confidence. Indeed, we could not have shown him a greater. He was a suspicious old miser, kept his own money in a trunk in an inner room, and never left the house without locking the street door and carrying the key with him. He made us pay beforehand for everything we wanted, and would not have trusted us half a dollar on any account.
It was necessary to take with us from the village all that could contribute to our comfort, and we tried hard to get a woman; but no one would trust herself alone
with us. This was a great privation; a woman was desirable, not, as the reader may suppose, for embel. lishment, but to make tortillas. These, to be tolerable, must be eaten the moment they are baked; but we were obliged to make an arrangement with the alcalde to send them out daily with the product of our cow.'
Our turn-out was equal to anything we had had on the road. One Indian set off with a cowhide trunk on his back, supported by a bark string, as the groundwork of his load, while on each side hung by a bark string a fowl wrapped in plantain leaves, the head and tail only being visible. Another had on the top of his trunk a live turkey, with its legs tied and wings expanded, like a spread eagle. Another had on each side of his load strings of eggs, each egg being wrapped carefully in a husk of corn, and all fastened like onions on a bark string. Cooking utensils and water-jar were mounted on the backs of other Indians, and contained rice, beans, sugar, chocolate, &c.; strings of pork and bunches of plantains were pendent; and Juan carried in his arms our travelling tin coffee-canister filled with lard, which in that country was always in a liquid state.
At half past seven we left the village. For a short distance the road was open, but very soon we entered a forest, which continued unbroken to the ruins, and probably many miles beyond. The road was a mere Indian footpath, the branches of the trees, beaten down and heavy with the rain, hanging so low that we were obliged to stoop constantly, and very soon our hats and coats were perfectly wet. From the thickness of the foliage the morning sun could not dry up the deluge of the night before. The ground was very muddy, broken by streams swollen by the early rains, with gullies in which the mules foundered and stuck fast, in some
THE RUINS OF PALENQUE.
places very difficult to cross. Amid all the wreck of empires, nothing ever spoke so forcibly the world's mutations as this immense forest shrouding what was once a great city. Once it had been a great highway, thronged with people who were stimulated by the same pas. sions that give impulse to human action now; and they are all gone, their habitations buried, and no traces of them left.
In two hours we reached the River Micol, and in half an hour more that of Otula, darkened by the shade of the woods, and breaking beautifully over a stony bed. Fording this, very soon we saw masses of stones, and then a round sculptured stone. We spurred up a sharp ascent of fragments, so steep that the mules could barely climb it, to a terrace so covered, like the whole road, with trees, that it was impossible to make out the form. Continuing on this terrace, we stopped at the foot of a second, when our Indians cried out “el Palacio," " the palace,” and through openings in the trees we saw the front of a large building richly ornamented with stuccoed figures on the pilasters, curious and elegant; trees growing close against it, and their branches entering the doors; in style and effect unique, extraordinary, and mournfully beautiful. We tied our mules to the trees, ascended a flight of stone steps forced apart and thrown down by trees, and entered the palace, ranged for a few moments along the corridor and into the courtyard, and after the first gaze of eager curiosity was over, went back to the entrance, and, standing in the doorway, fired a feu-de-joie of four rounds each, be. ing the last charge of our firearms. But for this way of giving vent to our satisfaction we should have made the roof of the old palace ring with a hurrah. It was intended, too, for effect upon the Indians, who had