Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/74

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66
TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

in sight, and then the hacienda, into the yard of which we rode wildly, took out the mules, and carried our traps to the corridor,—and then asked permission to stop there. The proprietor was there, by some good fortune, and gave us the best he had at once. Hammocks were assigned us in a large room, our mules were stabled, and we were invited to partake of the hospitality of the hacienda for the week that we intended to stay there. It was a mile to the ruins, portions of which we found imbedded in the walls of the buildings and the fences. At the right hand of the corridor was the veritable "two-headed tiger" discovered and unearthed by Stephens, forty years ago, at the palace of Uxmal, and brought here by the present proprietor for safe-keeping; and a heap of small idols lay at the foot of a palm tree growing near it.

So much did the proprietor of Uxmal facilitate our preparations, that at ten o'clock we had traversed the intervening space between the hacienda and the ruins, and were at the base of the great pyramid. I do not know whether a writer ought to describe his sensations, or merely what he sees, leaving it for the reader to imagine what he would have thought and felt had he been there; but it may not be out of place to say that I was elated at the prospect of looking for the first time upon these magnificent ruins, and that a variety of emotions kept me in a state of expectation and pleasurable excitement. We climbed up the steep sides of the pyramid, generally known as the Casa del Adivino,[1] or "House of the Prophet," and from its summit, from the roof of its topmost building,—difficult to reach and offering precarious foothold,—a glorious panorama was spread before us.

West, directly below, was the Casa de las Monjas, or "House of the Nuns," in its ruins beautiful beyond description; south, the principal building of the group, the "House of the Governor,"

  1. Literally, "House of the Soothsayer," or "Diviner," but called "House of the Dwarf," from a fanciful legend, related by the natives, that it was built by a savage dwarf in a single night. The names of all the buildings are misnomers, their original ones (if they had any) having been forgotten, and replaced by comparatively modern appellations by the Spanish invaders.