Page:Mexico, California and Arizona - 1900.djvu/224

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204
OLD MEXICO AND HER LOST PROVINCES.

recollect it as especially poor. The hotel—possibly it has improved by this time—was wretchedly kept and served. They gave us half a dozen kinds of meat in succession, without ever a vegetable, in such a luxuriance of them. The waiters were sunk in apathy, the management even more so. They seem often to say to you, with an ill-concealed aversion, at a Mexican hotel, "If you will stay, if you will insist on bringing your traps in, we will do what we can for you, but we are not at all anxious for it."

Pack-mules were kept in the court, and under a cloister at one side women and girls were stripping tobacco. Your room, at a provincial hotel, opens upon a gallery in which mocking-birds are hung in wooden cages—always one at least. It is the practice of the Mexican mocking-bird to sleep continuously throughout the day, so as to be in health and spirits for the exercise of the night. He begins at midnight, and continues his dulcet ingenuity of torture till daybreak. Naturalists have had much to say of the mocking-bird, comparing him to a whole forest full of songsters, and the like. It may be unwise to set up in opposition to so much praise, but there are times when a planing-mill in the vicinity, or a whole foundery full of trip-hammers, would be a blessing and relief in comparison.

Should the mocking-bird have injudiciously impaired his strength during the day, so as to allow of a brief respite, the interval is filled in by the shrill, quavering whistles of the street watchmen, who blow to each other every quarter of an hour during the night, to show that they are awake and vigilant.

You leave Cordoba at 4.30 in the morning; that is, if you go by the up-train. I was awakened an hour too soon at my hotel, which, having to call me, wanted it over as soon as possible. I had leisure while waiting to collect