Page:The food of the Gods - A Popular Account of Cocoa.djvu/152

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77
SECRET RITES.
thriving, many religious rites being performed at its planting by the Spaniards, which their slaves were not permitted to see. But it is probable that, where a nation as they removed the art of making cochineal and curing vanilloes into their inland provinces, which were the commodities of those islands in the Indians' time, and forbade the opening of any mines in them for fear some maritime nation might be invited to the conquering of them, so they might, likewise, in their transplanting cocoa from the Caracas and Guatemala, conceal wilfully some secret in its planting from their slaves, lest it might teach them to set up for themselves by being able to produce a commodity of such excellent use for the support of man's life, with which alone and water some persons have been necessitated to live ten weeks together, without finding the least diminution of health or strength."
 

However valuable this last quality rendered the newly-discovered drink, its method of preparation and the unwonted spices employed prevented its ready adoption abroad, although the Spaniards and Portuguese took to it more kindly than some of the northern races. Joseph Acosta, writing of Mexico and Peru, says:

"The cocoa is a fruite little less than almonds, yet