Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/473

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457
BATTLE-SCARRED CHURCHES.

high price of raw cotton, the depressed state of trade, and an overstocked market, render all hope of profit from the working of the cotton factory out of the question, at present. The cotton mill was not running, but it was proposed to start it up again as an experiment, soon, and run it for a short time at least. The paper mill is kept running at a moderate profit.

The city stands in a narrow, but beautiful and very fertile valley, with towering, green, forest-clad mountains all around, and Orizaba, snow-crowned and glorious, looks down upon it. There may be eighteen thousand to twenty thousand people in the city, all told, of whom a large number are engaged in trade or in waiting for trade to come to them; I saw plenty of shops and stores, but few buyers for the wares exposed.

On the hill above the city, the French and Mexicans had a fight by night, the latter being surprised, panic-stricken, and routed, almost in a moment; they did better later in the war. My window faced a fine old church, in the front wall of which I counted a dozen cannon balls, and the tower appeared to have been occupied by sharp-shooters who were receiving like attentions from the opposing party, as it was pitted all over with marks of musket-balls, as if it had the small pox. I asked a man who stood in front of it, when and how the ball and bullet marks came there. He said, with a grim humor, that he did not remember; it was el costumbre del pais, (the custom of the country) and might have been done at any time within the last fifty years. God grant that it may be the custom of the country no longer, and that Orizaba and all Mexico may have seen the last of such scenes!

The French and mercenary troops in the employ of