Page:Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan.djvu/43

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15
A BAPTISM.

did not understand a word he said. I explained to Augustin in French, who explained to one of the men in Spanish, who explained to the women. This, of course, led to confusion; but all were so devout and respectful, that, in spite of these tribulations, the ceremony was solemn. When he came to the Latin parts, our friend rattled it off as fast as if fresh from the Propaganda at Rome, and the Caribs were not much behindhand.

The padre had told us of the passion of the Caribs for a multiplicity of names; and one of the women, after giving her child three or four, pointed to me, and told him to add mine. I am not very strict, but I did not care to assume wantonly the obligations of a godfather; and, stopping the ceremony, begged the padre to get me released with the best grace he could. He promised to do so: but it was an excessively hot day; the room was crowded, the doors choked up, and by this time the padre, with his Latin, and English, and French, and Spanish, was in a profuse perspiration, and somewhat confused. I thought myself clear, till a few moments afterward, a child was passed along for me to take in my arms; but I was relieved on one point: I thought that it was the lady who had become a mother without being a wife, that wished her child to bear my name, but it was another; still, I most ungallantly avoided receiving the baby. On going away, however, the woman intercepted me, and, thrusting forward the child, called me compadre; so that, without knowing it, I became godfather to a Carib child. Fortunately, its mother was an honest woman, and the father stood by at the time. In all probability, I shall never have much to do with its training; and I can only hope that, in due season, it will multiply the name, and make it respectable among the Caribs.

We returned to the steamboat, and in a few minutes were again under way, steering for the Rio Dolce. An amphitheatre of lofty mountains stretches for many miles along the coast, and back till they are lost to the sight; and on the right bank was one of the places I intended to visit.

It was four o'clock in the afternoon, and, in steering towards it, the captain told me that, if we cast anchor, it would be necessary to lie there till morning. I was loth to lose the only opportunity I shall probably ever have of stopping a steamboat; but I had an eager, almost a burning, curiosity, to see the Golfo Dolce, and we all agreed that it would be wanton to lose such an opportunity of seeing it to advantage. I therefore directed the captain to move close to the bank, and pass on.

The bank was elevated about thirty feet above the water, and rich and luxuriant as at Puenta Gorda. The site of the intended city was