Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/36

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guests. Vomito lurks in the streets of Vera Cruz to seize upon strangers and hurry them off to a wretched grave. All the pests of a tropical region infest the low lands running back from the sea. Splendid vegetation hides unpleasant animals, and snakes are lurking among the beautiful blue morning-glories that festoon the tangled forests. Let us hasten away from these dangers, and climb the slope that leads to a purer air.

We have escaped the terrors of the custom-house at Vera Cruz, from which, by the way, Cortés was exempt, and after a doubtful night in the hotel, serenaded by swarms of Vera Cruz mosquitoes, at early dawn we creep stealthily from our chambers, not to disturb the few misguided guests who mean to stay a little longer, and follow the dusky cargadores, bearing our baggage on their backs, down into the silent street. In Mexico there is no effort on the part of an hotel proprietor to speed the parting guest. He signs the bill overnight and betakes himself to repose, undisturbed by the exodus in early morning. The cargadores who have agreed to attend to the luggage rouse their sleeping prey and lead them through a wide, straight street to the railroad station. There is no sign of breakfast at the hotel. Nobody is stirring but one sleepy innkeeper. Hard by the station, as in every Mexican town, is a café, where excellent hot coffee is furnished, with plenty of boiled milk and good bread in many and various forms. Here we may sit and refresh ourselves with cup after cup, if we like, until the short, sharp whistle of the steam-engine warns