Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/46

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40
CROSSING THE RIO DE SANTA MARIA.

ered with impenetrable thickets of small thorny shrubs, trees of the acacia species, cacti, creeping plants, and climbing vines, over a road heavy with the rains, and poor at best, brought us to the Rio de Santa Maria, a small stream in ordinary times, but now a tremendous torrent, thick with mud. It looked wholly impassable. On the opposite shore there is a village of palm-thatched bamboo huts, inhabited, with one exception, by families of the civilized and Christian Indians of the country—once peons, but now all enfranchised. The rocky banks were lined with dark-skinned men in loose, white cotton drawers and shirts, immense broad-brimmed hats, and with rawhide sandals on their feet. We signaled the boats on the opposite shore, and a party of the natives immediately put off into the raging torrent, some wading as far as possible and pulling the boat by main strength, others handling the paddles.

It looked like certain death, to attempt the passage of the torrent in those little boats, but we could not stay there for it to fall, and cross we must, or drown in the attempt. I essayed the passage first, and though we went bounding up and down like an india rubber ball, and took water several times, we made the riffle in safety, and soon after, Mr. Seward and the entire party were across, and proceeded to the house of the great landholder of the vicinity, Don Ignacio Largos. His house is of bamboo or cane, like the others, and has a mud floor, but everything is as clean and neat as the parlor of the most thrifty New England housewife, and his young wife—a comely woman of the Spanish blood and type—made us at home at once.

Don Ignacio, a man of about seventy years, but stout, and well preserved, with hardly a gray hair in his head,