Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/171

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165
ST. JOHN OF THE LAKES.

scenery is mostly tame, and the country poor, and comparatively uninteresting.

Just as a heavy shower came upon us, we met the deputation of mounted citizens from San Juan de Los Lagos or "St. John of the Lakes," and dashing down a long, winding, well-paved grade, into a deep cañada, and over a high, well-built stone bridge, entered that substantial-looking city. A splendid house was provided for the company, and, as usual, we found that the family, having placed it at our disposal, had left it entirely themselves.

The District Judge, a young man, apparently of twenty-five years, who has the power of life and death over forty thousand people —there is no jury system here, and no appeal in criminal cases, though sentence of death passed by him must be confirmed by the Supreme Court of Mexico before it is finally executed— with the Political Prefect, and others, was in attendance to welcome Mr. Seward, and to see that the party wanted nothing. They told us that they had shot many robbers of late, but that there were still a number of very skillful ones in the vicinity.

Here and at Jalos, for the first time, we saw fences made on the simplest possible plan, from the great organo cactus. This cactus is eight-sided, and shoots up straight as an arrow, from ten to twenty-five feet in height, and five to eight inches in thickness. They cut the cactus into sections of the right length, stick the cut end into a trench, cover the dirt around it to the depth of a foot, and the fence is made. The pieces are set as closely together as possible, and, as they take root and grow for centuries, the fence improves with age, instead of going to decay like other fences. The