Page:Mexico, California and Arizona - 1900.djvu/215

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ploughing, with oxen and the primitive wooden plough, fertile ground around its base, and its dark mass is thrown out boldly against dazzling banks of cloud.


At Orizaba you are down in the tropics again, but not tropics of too oppressive a kind. A young friend from Mexico was making a visit there in a family to which I was admitted, and I was glad to see something of the lace in a domestic way. It has, say, fifteen thousand habitants. The Alameda, with its two fountains, stone seats, orange-trees, and other shrubberies, is very charming; so is the little Zocalo, by the Cathedral. There grows in the gardens here the splendid tulipan, a shrub size like the oleander, the large flowers of which glow from a distance like scarlet lanterns. Tall bananas bend over the neatly whitened houses. My Hotel de Diligencias was white and attractive. Next to it a torrent tumbled down a wild little gorge, amid a growth of bananas, and, passing under a bridge, turned flouring and paper mills. I had this under my eyes from my window; and I had also an expanse of red-tiled roofs, gray belfries and domes, and the bold hill of El Borrego beyond. The city is enclosed by a rim of hills. It was now the season when the rains were growing frequent; and a humid atmosphere, and wet clouds, dragging low and occasionally dropping their contents, kept the vegetation of a fresh, vivid green.

At the hotel table d'hôte a couple of young men of very Indian physiognomy—lawyers, I should judge, by profession talked—pantheism and such-like subjects in the tone of Victor Hugo's students. A lady whose husband was a general officer told me that she had been in