Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/59

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without the fatigue of going to hear it. There were two bands of students, one wearing dark cloaks and sombreros, and the other the Mexican colors, flags draped as cloaks, and hats with cockades. They were true students, and patterned after those famous ones of Salamanca, wearing in their hats the traditional spoon, knife and fork, or corkscrew, and with the devil-may-care air of contented and light-hearted youth.

They pass on, and the road is for a moment empty; another shout from the gamins, a hubbub of drum and cornet, and another body of curiously attired men comes along. These are the military, a burlesque on the Indian soldiers that assume to defend this peaceful country. They are dressed in uniform,—Mexican uniform: white pants and shirt, the latter outside and overshadowing the former,—and some of them drag along a wooden cannon.

Another crowd rushes around the corner, bearing a different flag. These are Cubans, and a fight is at once in progress, a sham fight, in which no blood is shed, but many prisoners are taken. The Cubans are routed, of course, and pursued down the street with great pretended slaughter. The Yucatecos return with several prisoners, and at once institute a mock trial, the prisoners, three in number, being chained with strings of spools to the cannon. The captain asks the corporal of the guard where he found these men, and is told that he found them in the country; that they had no arms, so his men surrounded and took them prisoners.

"Did you not find any other prisoners?"
"Si, Señor Capitan, a jug of aguardiente."
"And where is it?"
"The prisoners drank it."
"Then take them out to be shot."

A detachment marched off with the prisoners, and the ragged brigade went off in search of more glory. In the afternoon, at five, was the great paseo, when everybody who could hire a carriage joined in the procession that drove through the principal streets. Not all the carriages were elegant, being, most of them, of the country; but on this account they were all the more