Page:Mexico, California and Arizona - 1900.djvu/207

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187
A BANQUET, AND A TRAGEDY, ETC.

ment of Rurales reined up at the station. At Amecameca there were as many as fifty of the latter, with drawn swords, all on white horses, which the firing made plunge with great spirit. At Ozumba was a battalion of mounted riflemen, under command of a handsome young officer in an eye-glass, who might have come fresh from the military school of Saint Cyr. The Indian populations, who could never have seen the locomotive before, maintained nevertheless, as their way is, a certain stoicism. There were no wild manifestations of surprise, no shouts; they even fired off their crackers with a serious air.

The line is a congeries of curves without end, to overcome the three-quarters of a mile grade perpendicular from Amecameca to Cuautla. Cuautla has seven thousand people. For the ten years, up to this time, there had not been even diligence communication with it, and the railway was an event indeed. The enterprise was carried through chiefly by the exertions of a Señor Mendoza Cortina, who has great sugar estates in the neighborhood. The streets were decorated with triumphal arches, and borders of tall banana-plants. They were shabby, and the place more squalid than is the rule in the temperate climates above. The Indians had an apathetic look. Few young and interesting faces were seen among them, but an extraordinary number of hags. I found in use some very pretty pottery, which I was told was made at Cuernavaca, forty miles away. Simple bits of stone and shell were impasted in the common earthenware with an effect like that of old Roman mosaic. There was a distinctly Indian Christ in the parish church. In the plaza in front stands a great tree, somehow connected with a noche triste of the patriot Morelos. Like Cortez at Mexico, he was forced to retreat one night in 1812, after a gallant resistance of sixty-two days to a siege by the Spaniards.