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START FOR CHAGRES.
the spur into my mule, and with one terrific leap we pass through unscathed. The demons gave chase, but borne on the wings of fear we soon reached the other side of the earth. Here everything appears strange; my mule has but two legs, and wears boots and spurs; I have four legs, and a pair of enormous ears; I am led up to a block and mounted by his muleship, who, after lighting his cigar, applies his spurs; I determined to reach the other side by recrossing his “Satanic majestie's” dominions, and after passing through the same horrifying scene, regained the starting point. I remounted my mule, which now seemed to have the usual number of legs, and after crossing sloughs and climbing mountains, we came to a precipice which he refused to descend. After repeated applications of the spur, he reared and plunged, and as he reached the brink of the precipice he settled back, and I passed over his head ; in passing over I caught hold of his ears, which, pulling out, I was precipitated into the abyss below. The concussion awoke me, and I found that I had fallen from my trunk, and was grasping tightly the bottoms of the legs of my pantaloons.
In the morning we had the satisfaction of learning that our mules had strayed, and were detained until 10 o'clock. We reached Gorgona at 4 P.M. As we were entering the town, we met a funeral procession headed by a fife and drum; the corpse borne on a bier with face uncovered, (coffins are not used, the mother of deceased standing in the door of her dwelling, uttering the most heart-rending exclamations. The whole was accompanied by the uncouth sound of a piece of old iron hanging in the church door, serving as a bell, and at this particular time undergoing a severe castigation. Towards evening, another corpse was borne along with the same accompaniments. The deceased was a small child; its head was decorated with flowers, its face uncovered, looking the very personation of sleeping in
We put up at the French Hotel, and learning that the Empire City was to remain but one day longer at Chagres, we resolved to embark early the next morning. We contracted with a native to take our party of eleven for $22, and at an early hour were en route. We glided down the river very pleasantly, propelled by three oarsmen, with our worthy captain at the helm.
After making two or three miles, we were brought to a dead stand on a sand-bar; our boatmen backed up, we mounted and were carried to the shore. They succeeded in getting the bungo over the shoal and we reëmbarked half a mile below.
It will be imagined that we had but little spare room in our craft after putting in eleven trunks, as many traveling-bags, as many pairs of blankets, and fifteen human beings. This was the case; and some of our passengers having tasted the luxury of a California life, looked upon our voyage down the river as a hardship unendurable, and censured the fellow-passenger who had made the contract. The latter worthy, feeling it an unjust imputation, gave the dissatisfied gentlemen above mentioned the privilege of taking passage in any craft that might come along. This led to personalities, and the feelings of our party were immediately in a state of ferment; brandy did not serve to allay the excitement, but seemed to add fuel, and we were on the eve of spontaneous combustion.
We arrived at a rancho, where it was proposed to dine. Here commenced a dissertation on "poco tiempo," (little time). These two words constitute almost the entire vocabulary of a native. Ask him how far it is to a rancho, “poco tiempo,” how far it is to water, “poco tiempo.” If they are employed by you, and
you allow them to stop under any pretext, they never start, but are always on the point of so doing; it is "poco tiempo."
We had contracted to be taken through by daylight, and we had no time to spare; but after dinner the crew and "el capitan" must have their "siesta." We would urge them to start, but they were fatigued, they would start “poco tiempo.” They would
caro agua," or caro cognac," and after a detention of two hours we got into the bungo and were in the act of shoving off, when they consented to come on board, and we were again under way.
I omitted our bill of fare at the above rancho. Our worthy hostess was on the shady side of forty, and surrounded by half a dozen "muchachos,” all as naked at they came into the world. Our hostess had paid a little more attention to her toilet, and seemed dressed with an express view to comfort, her entire wardrobe consisting of a pair slippers and a Panama hat. Our first dish was a stew of lizards and carna; this was served out in gourd-shells, which were held to our mouths, and the pieces of
ARRIVAL AT CHAGRES.
meat coaxed in with our fingers. Our second and last dish was boiled eggs. Our cook should have felt complimented, for we ate and drank everything in the house, and wanted more. She looked on with astonishment at the sudden disappearance of her stew and eggs, and said to one of our boatmen, "los Americanos tiena mucho hambre;" and so we were hungry, or we could not have relished lizards even when stewed, for I must confess my predilections were never very stongly in favor of that particular species of reptile. In passing along down, we came in contact with the carcase of a large alligator; it had been pierced by several balls, and was now borne along by the current, destined, per. haps, to take up its final rest in the bosom of the Atlantic. In the afterpart of the day we were overtaken by Mr. Miller of Gorgona, who was expressing to the steamer at Chagres the arrival of the Oregon at Panama. Night overtook us in a most discordant mood, and at a great distance from our destination.
We arrived at Gatun at 9 P.M.; some were in favor of stopping, others of continuing on, the former had the majority, and we made fast to the shore, and had another dissertation on "poco tiempo," and after an hour's detention were again under way.
At 2 A.M., we heard the sound of drums, and our boatmen cry out “fandango;" we could soon distinguish the ocean by the halo that rose from its surface, and could plainly hear the surf as it broke upon the beach. We could see the lights on the steamer that was at anchor outside, and an occasional light dodging about on shore.
At 3 A.M., we made fast to the American bank of the river, and had our baggage carried to the American Hotel. All were asleep, but we took possession of the dining-room and spread our blankets on the floor. The next morning we were all at breakfast precisely at the time and a little before.
CHAGRES, ITS GROWTH-GETTING ON BOARD THE EMPIRE CITY-MAGNIFICENT STEAMER
GOLD DUST ON BOARD-STEAMERS ALABAMA, FALCON, CHEROKEE, AND SEVERN-MY FRIEND CLARK ARRIVES ON BOARD-PREPARATIONS FOR STARTING—OUR STEAMER MAKES HER FIRST LEAP—“Apios"-CARIBBEAN SEA-HEAVY SEA ON-JAMAICA-PORT ROYAL -KINGSTON "STEADY"-BEAUTIFUL SCENE-ORANGE GROVES-PEOPLE FLOCKING TO THE SHORE-DROP ANCHOR-THE TOWN-GENERAL SANTA ANNA'S RESIDENCE-"COALING UP!-A PARROT PEDLER IN A DILEMMA.
CHAGRES had undergone a great change; the American side which had contained but one hut on my first arrival, now presented the appearance of a thriving village of substantial framed houses, and appeared a place of considerable business. (See Plate). The facilities for transportation up the river and across to Panama, were ample. Several express agencies had been established, and arrangements made on a gigantic scale for the transportation of goods up the river; several barges of the largest class, furnished with India-rubber covering to protect goods from the weather, and lighters of the greatest strength and capacity for the transmission of treasures to and from the steamers. In connection with these, there were mules stationed at Panama and Gorgona, to serve in the land transportation.
After breakfast I went off to the steamer Empire City, "prospecting." It was blowing a severe norther, and it was with much difficulty we reached the steamer, and more that we got on board of her. Iron steps were let down on the side of the steamer, and as she would roll to us, the steps would be immersed, and as she would commence to roll back, one of the passengers would stand ready and jump on. After an elevation of twenty or thirty feet, the steps would return for another passenger.
The accommodations on board were unparalleled. I immediately engaged passage and sent off for my trunk, which came on board in the afternoon, in charge of Mr. Jas. Rolfe Foster,