Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/177

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171
A MULISH FREAK.

with piles of rebosas on their shoulders, walk up and down among the crowd, and others, with brilliant-hued serapes and ponchos, hang their goods against the walls, while young girls and old women, nearly all with infants at their breasts, sit on the curb-stones and sell hot soups, etc., from jars, for half a cent a bowl.

We left Lagos Nov. 1, for a thirty-six mile ride to Leon, being led to expect a fine ride and easy trip. To cut off three or four blocks, the driver avoided the fine, new bridge and drove directly into the river, which came up to the body of the stage and was quite rapid and broad. The mules, suspicious of the security of the bottom, baulked in the middle of the stream, and not all the lashing by a half-dozen volunteer cockeros and postilions, and curses and blasphemy enough to sink a ship, would start them a foot. We were taken off in boats, and no sooner were we landed than we saw the pig-headed mules start up of their own free will and walk majestically ashore. Perhaps their hides did not suffer for that freak.

Then we entered a broad alameda lined with immense trees of the variety known farther north as the California pepper tree, but here as the Peruvian, which has drooping limbs and foliage, giving it the graceful appearance of the weeping willow, and is at this season covered with long clusters of bright red berries which inclose the pungent black pepper grains. This alameda is flanked by ditches inclosing cultivated fields, which are higher than the road. Of course we found it a river of mud and water, and almost impassable.

We had not gone a mile before we found our three luggage cars which had started before daylight all down in the mud and unloaded. Pleasant prospect indeed!