Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/182

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176
LEON BY LAMP-LIGHT.

purchases, sit on the benches, or promenade up and down. In company with Mr. Burgess, an American photographer resident here, Mr. Fitch and myself walked around in the crowd for some time. The booth-keepers cried their wares—fair women, old men and women, and children in rags or tastefully dressed, walked up and down, young men in broad sombreros and gorgeous serapes lounged around in groups, beggars, blind, ragged, filthy, and hideous, groveled on the pavement of the street and yelled forth their wants, and incessantly discoursed on the blessedness of giving in charity; while the church bells sent forth their clangor until the whole air was filled with a surging ocean of sound.

We were lost in the crowd, and admiration of the scene. Just then a party of tall young men, hustled us, and I, having had doubt, from the start, of the safety of money and valuables, which to a considerable extent I carried on my person, got on the outside. Unsuspecting Mr. Fitch, conscious of his own rectitude, and suspecting no one else, kept on a few seconds, and then suddenly discovered that the pocket in the skirt of his coat behind had been cut out, and he was minus a handkerchief, two pair of old kid gloves, and a pocket guide to Spanish conversation, which, if it proves as great a curse to the thief as it had been to the owner, will have a tendency to cause him to abstain from stealing for the remainder of his life. Our party adjourned at once to the house, determined to retire for the night in the best order possible.

Next morning I went out alone, and found the churches, as usual, filled with devout worshipers—even the pavement outside was covered with kneeling devotees. At one of them the janitor was just passing around a