Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/102

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96
CROSSES BY THE ROADSIDE.

potlan, when we found ourselves upon the summit of a range of broken mountains, in a locality famous for its brigandage. The bandits, who have been so relentlessly pursued and are now being exterminated, formerly, rarely allowed a traveler to pass this point unrobbed. All along the road from Zapotlan, we had noticed large wooden crosses by the roadside. Each of these crosses bore an inscription giving the date of the murder of some traveler by the brigands, and such facts as might be known concerning him, with a request for travelers to pray for the repose of his soul. These crosses were, in nearly every case, adorned with fresh flowers, though they were often of great age, judging by their weatherstained and moss-grown condition.

From passages in Byron's Childe Harold, we learn that this custom is observed all over Spain, and I know, from personal observation, that it is common in all Spanish America. In the Apache Country of Arizona, I have many times seen the poor Mexican miners stay for hours, to erect a rude cross of stone over the remains of some victim of the relentless savages, although they were personally unacquainted with him, and knew naught of his history, only judging by his appearance that he was a Christian.

These gentlemen of the road are still numerous and daring. Only quite recently they kidnapped a gentleman at night in the streets of Zapotlan, and run him off to the mountains, where they kept him prisoner until his friends raised and forwarded to them one thousand dollars in coin; and a few days before, they attacked and routed the guard accompanying the brother of Mr. Oetling, North German Consul at Colima, within a few miles of Seyula, and he only saved himself by the fleetness