Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/595

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587
ALONG THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY.

sheep, emaciated cows and bulls, are as thick along the track as tenpins in an alley; no sooner is one knocked over than its place is taken by another, urged up the bank by its exultant owner.

The engine emits a constant whistle of alarm, while the engineer pours out a stream of blasphemy that would terrify any but a Mexican, to whom profanity is as mother's milk. The very first telegram that came over the wire to our car was to warn the road-master that the captain of police was in waiting for him up the road, as an old ten-dollar bull had been killed the day before, and the grief of its owner was great. At the same time, a Mexican was killed,—probably as he was pushing the bull on to the track; and as the engineer had "skipped the Border," the only thing clear to the officials now was to calaboose the road-master. The gentleman whose presence was so much desired by them was my companion back to the river; and he went very cheerfully, with the prospect of that calaboose in the distance. But he was disposed to take a somewhat sinister view of the "Mexican movement," I fear, from some remarks he casually let drop on the way.

"Now," said he, calling my attention to the letters painted on every car,—F. C. I. M.,—"what do you suppose those stand for?"

"Why, that, I presume, is an abbreviation for the name of the company, in Spanish,—Ferro Carril Internacional Mexicana."

"No, sir," said he, with emphasis, "it means Fools Caught in Mexico, in the ranks of which your humble servant doesn't propose to train any longer than he can help."

He informed me that the road was being laid with fifty and sixty pound rails, the former from England and the latter from Germany, which are admitted in bond, duty free, at New Orleans. The Mexican laborers he found willing to work, though weak at first, but they rapidly improved with good food, to which all their lives they have been strangers.

We started back on a grain car, receiving a cheerful send-off from the telegraph operator, to the effect that five men had been murdered up the track by the Kickapoos,—which we fully