Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/47

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perfect contrast to his comrade—a huge-boned, powerful man, with strongly marked features, half shrouded by a mass of tangled black locks; and who, we all agreed, would form the finest study in the world for a bandit. We never liked him or his looks, or his deep churchyard cough; but necessity has no law. They were both armed with rusty sabres; and Juliano had, moreover, stolen an unwieldy carbine from some dear confiding friend of his, and was wont to speak most confidently of his valour, and of the execution he was to perform in case of our being attacked by banditti, which was all along spoken of as a more than probable event. He had thrown us into convulsions of laughter at the very outset, at Pueblo Viejo, by a preliminary discharge of the mighty engine, which he had seen fit to indulge in previous to the real battle which he expected, when we saw his diminutive person fairly overthrown by the recoil.

Next in the train came Don Juan Espindola of Zacualtipan, the arriero; whom we had hired with a train of eight mules, to convey us and our baggage to the capital. He was a worthy man; and true, faithful and simple in manners, like most of his class. Our confidence in him was well placed.

The arriero is the carrier of New Spain, and the little honesty and uprightness to be found in the country, seem to have fallen exclusively to the share of those of his rank and profession. The most precious commodities are unhesitatingly delivered to his care, merely enclosed in bags for conveyance to the coast, and the arriero never fails to perform his contract. Espindola had come down to Tampico with a conducta; and there we engaged him for the return, with as many of his mules as were necessary. The remainder were sent in advance under his domestics or mozos, two of whom, however, accompanied us on foot as whippers-in; and fine, active lads they were. In them the Indian blood predominated over the European. The arriero had, with our concurrence, invited a certain friend of his, Don Gaetano, to accompany us, and to take advantage of our escort. To this arrangement we acceded with the more readiness,