Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/463

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447
THE HOME OF THE PALM AND MAGUEY.

money. He looks like a good, plain, honest American farmer of forty-five years of age, and is the last man in the world you would take for the hero of so many daring and recklessly brave exploits.

We were now in the maguey or aloe district of Mexico. This plant does not thrive well in the tierre caliente, but at the elevation of six to ten thousand feet above the sea, in this latitude is seen in its greatest perfection. Its home is the great valley and central plains of Mexico, though it is found as far north as Arizona. The whole country is covered with it in this vicinity. The houses are thatched with its leaves; ropes, matting, and cloth of a coarse texture are made from it; in fact, the common people are born, live, and get drunk and die on it in some form. Along here it is less used for making pulque than between Mexico and Puebla, and we saw thousands on thousands of plants with the center or flower stalk shooting up ready to burst into blossom. Each stalk is about the size of a common telegraph pole—perhaps three or four feet less in average height—and resembles—before the blossoms, have put forth—a gigantic asparagus shoot, in color and form.

The palm, of the stumpy, worthless variety known in Texas and Arizona as the "Spanish bayonet," is found here, covering all the hill-sides, and scattered along the roads. The mountains begin to lose their appearance of utter barrenness, and are clothed in dense chaparal or fair-sized juniper, cedar, oak, pine, and cypress trees; we were coming within the influence of the moist air of the Gulf of Mexico.

John Butler, Mr. Seward's dark servant, never had any patience with the Mexican servants with whom