Page:Mexico, California and Arizona - 1900.djvu/107

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89
THE RAILWAYS AT WORK.
V.


In all, the National has completed four hundred and sixty miles. It is said of late to have been sold to an English company. We need not forego our American pride in its early achievements, even if this be so. Perhaps such a transfer might be of benefit, in allaying the dread of an overweening American influence.

It was not done even to Toluca in my time. It has to face its most arduous engineering difficulties at the very beginning, and fortunately goes far more smoothly afterward. No less than seventeen bridges, of solid construction, had to be thrown across the little stream of the Rio Hondo in two or three miles of its course.

A pay-train on horseback started out from the central office every Saturday, to convoy the silver coin for the wages of the army of hands employed on the first section of twenty miles.

"Ride with us!" its members often hospitably urged, and I more than once accepted the invitation. It is an all-day adventure, and a fatiguing one. Behold us at early morning clattering out of the court-yard to ride up into the fastnesses of the mountains, a curious cavalcade. The treasure is packed upon the backs of a dozen mules, which are placed in the centre. A troop of Rurales (the efficient force organized by Porfirio Diaz for the better protection of the rural districts) takes the van. A numerous retinue of armed mozos of the company, with ourselves, bring up the rear. The young engineers, paymasters, and contractors, well mounted, with long boots and revolvers, present a handsome, half-military aspect.

We have presently lost sight of the city, and are upon