Six Months In Mexico/Chapter 34
considerable labor in transferring them. The fourth week the head is white, and the worm has attained its normal growth. There is nothing now for the worm to do but loaf around and lunch on mulberry leaves until the eighth or ninth day after shedding its skin the fourth time, when he or she, as the case may be, proceeds to form its cocoon. It is then of a golden transparent color. It takes about five days for the industrious worm to finish its cocoon. Then, to destroy the moth inside, it is subjected to heat, and the cocoon is then ready for spinning.
When ready for use the cocoons are soaked in a tub of water until all the glutinous substance is removed. With a small whisk-broom the cocoon is brushed until ends, which are as fine as a cobweb, come loose. They will then reel off without breaking. One cocoon will give four hundred yards of raw silk.
Indian rubber trees are also easily cultivated in Mexico, and the demand for them is large. It's easy to make a comfortable income in Mexico, if one goes about it rightly.
LITTLE NOTES OF lNTEREST.
Superstition is the ruin of Mexico. While we were there some children found a shell containing an image of the Virgin. The matter was deemed miraculous, and they directly decided to build a chapel on the spot where the shell was found.
In the State of Morelos exists a stone that they say was used before the conquest to call the people to labor or to war. The stone appears to be hewn. In the center of the upper part is a hole which runs into the heart of the stone, forming a spiral. On fitting to this a mouth-piece and blowing, the sound of a horn is produced, somewhat melancholy in tone, but so loud that it can be heard a great distance; the ranchmen of that locality employ it as a means of calling their flocks and the animals quickly obey the summons. It is known as the “Calling Stone."
There is a tradition about this stone; they say that no difference where it is taken, that by some invisible means it always goes back to the spot it has occupied for the past century. They say that once it was even chained in a cellar, but in the morning it was missing, and when they searched for it, it was found in its old position.
Mexico abounds with the most beautiful and wonderful flowers. Many are unknown even to horticulturists. One of the novel flowers I heard of was one which grew on the San Jose hacienda, some twenty-two leagues from the City of Tehuantepec. In the morning it is white, at noon it is red, and at night it is blue. At noon it has a beautiful perfume, but at no other time. It grows on a tree.
There are very few fires in Mexico, and it is a blessing to the citizens; they have one fire company, but no alarms. When there is a fire the policemen nearest give the customary alarm, three shots in the air from his revolver; the next policeman does the same, and on up until they come to the policeman near the firemen’s office. The fires are always out or the place reduced to ashes before these noble laddies put in an appearance.
On every corner is hung a sign, giving a list of all the business places on that block.
The turkeys in Mexico are the most obliging things I ever saw; they are brought into town in droves and they never scatter, but walk quietly along, obeying the voice of their driver. If he wants a drink he makes them lie down and they stay until he returns.
Mail is delivered every day in the week, Sunday not excepted. Every letter-box contains a slip which the carrier fixes, which tells when the next collection will be made. Printed slips are published daily, and hung in the corridors of the post-office, of unclaimed letters and papers, and of those that have not gone out for lack of postage.
Houses are never labeled “To Let” when they are empty; a piece of white paper is tied to the iron balcony and everybody knows what it means. No taxes are paid on empty houses or uncultivated land. People never rent houses by the year, but by the day or week; they can move at any time they wish; this makes landlords civil.
Grass is cut in the park with a small piece of zinc, which is sharpened on a stone, and it is raked with a twig broom. No houses have bathrooms, but the city is well supplied with public swimming baths. One can have a room and private bath for twenty-five cents. Everybody of any note takes a bath every morning. It is quite a pretty and yet strange sight to see the beautiful young girls coming leisurely up the prominent thoroughfares early in the morning, with their exquisite hair hanging in tangled masses, often to their feet. They are always attended by a maid.
Mexican ladies have a contempt for people who do not have servants. They never carry anything on the streets; but always have a mozo, even to carry an umbrella.
Because Vera Cruz has such a large death rate from yellow fever the Mexicans have named it La Cindad de los Muertos (the city of the dead.)
In Yucatan the Maya language is still used. It is very musical and is written all in capitals.
It is considered polite and quite a compliment for a man to stare at a lady on the streets. I might add that the men, by this rule, are remarkably polite.
Families employ street musicians by the month, to visit them for a certain time daily. The hand-organs there are most musical instruments.
Shoes are never marked with a number, but are fitted until they please the buyer. The shoes worn on the street are what would be the pride of an actress. They are very cheap.
The easiest English word for the Mexican to learn is “all right.” Even the Indians catch it quickly. They all like to speak English.
Butter is seldom seen in Mexico. The only way they have of getting it is by its forming from the rocking on the burro's back while being brought to town. It is skimmed off the milk by the hand and is sold at a big price. It is never salted. The butter is always wrapped in corn husks, looking exactly like an ear of corn until it is opened. They also make cottage-cheese, and tying it up in green reeds sell it. Salt is very expensive.
It costs a single man about one hundred and fifty dollars a month for his room rent and board. He must also retain the chamber-maid and the patero (door-keeper,) with certain amounts. Young men never carry night keys in Mexico, because they weigh about a pound. According to law every door must be locked at ten o'clock, and all those entering afterward must pay the patero for unlocking and unbarring the heavy portals.
The poor, when dead, are carried to the graveyard on the heads of cargadores. If the coffin is only tied shut with a rope, it is borrowed for the occasion. The body is taken out at the cemetery and consigned, coffinless, to mother earth.
The Mexicans began to call the Americans gringos during the war. They say the way the title originated was this: at that time an old ballad, "Green grows the Rushes, O!" was very popular, and all the American soldiers were singing it. The Mexicans could only catch "green grows" and so they have ever since called the Americans "gringos."
Newspapers are published every day in the week except Monday. Sunday is always a feast day, and as no one will work then, the paper cannot be gotten out for Monday.
Mexicans never suffer from catarrh; they say it is because they will not wash the face while suffering from a cold. They say a green leaf pasted on the temple cures headaches.
The women in Mexico are gaining more freedom gradually; they have them now as telegraph and telephone operators. Some Mexican bachelors use the telephone for an alarm clock, that is, they have the girls wake them by means of the telephone placed in their room.
No bills are legal unless they are stamped. Every man has a peculiar mark which he scratches beneath his name. It is a sort of a trade mark, and makes his name legal.
The Indian women have some means of coloring cotton so that it will never fade.
There are public letter writers on the plazas, where one can have the correspondence attended to for a small sum.
Letter-writing is an expensive thing in Mexico; to all points not exceeding sixteen leagues, they pay ten cents for a quarter of an ounce, or fifty cents an ounce. Postal cards are two cents; to send a letter to the United States only costs five cents. Every state in Mexico has its own stamps.
Some haciendas are enormously large in Mexico. One