Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/231

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shutters. Their use was a matter of doubt to me, and I asked a friend their meaning. Then he explained: they were loopholes; I could convert my room into a regular block-house and stand a siege. My friend told me why the room had been loop-holed. When Hooper was here, some thief came and stole a fine revolver, then he came again and took away the holster, and a few nights later carried off the cartridges. Hooper was very wroth at this, though a moment's reflection would have convinced him that no thief who thought anything of himself would care for a revolver without holster or cartridges. But Hooper got angry, though he could never get sight of the robber, and various articles disappeared from time to time.

This was during a former visit of Hooper's to Mexico, two years ago. A lady was the next occupant of this room,—a woman of nerve and determination; she had the walls loop-holed, had a bell-rope, telephone, etc. attached, and calmly, awaited the robber.

He came; he shook the door gently, and tried to get it open; but this lady was ready for him. She opened fire at once, jingled the bell, and shouted through the telephone, and then sallied out, intending to surround the robber and capture him, with the aid of the party that was to come up the stairs to her rescue. During all this time she was letting off her revolver in a rather aimless way, and so the rescuing party halted beneath the stairs and inquired what she wanted. By the time they found out, after prudently waiting till her stock of ammunition was exhausted, they also found that the robber had escaped.

Information of such a character was calculated to increase my interest in the room, and to assure me of an acquaintance with a trait of Mexican character not at all desirable.

From the peculiar manner of construction of the buildings of the city of Mexico, with solid walls and flat stone roofs, all connected, a person can walk from one end of a block to the other—barring such interruptions as that lady purposed to offer—without any trouble whatever. The houses of the city are built in squares, or blocks, called manzanas[1] 200 varas, or

  1. A manzana is a square measure of 100 x 100 yards.