Imagens das páginas

Chapter Twenty-fifth





AFTER remaining three hours at Leon, we were again in motion; not, however, without the usual" poco tiempo." Our driver now had half a dozen "compañeros ;" and in this country people are slow, in mathematical progression, or retrogression—what takes one half an hour to do, takes three six hours. Our captain, however, worked out this problem with his cane upon the back of one of the drivers, which produced a very different result. Our team did not get hungry, nor our drivers fatigued; the latter manifested a particular a version to the captain's system of mathematics. The very sight of his cane would create a stampede

among them.

Our route, during the day, lay through a densely timbered country, the road muddy, and heat excessive; our team becoming much jaded. We moved on until 11 P.M., when, finding feed, we encamped for the night; we found neither a downy pillow nor a musquito net, but were obliged to drop down in the mud at the mercy of those vile insects. Three hours of rest sufficed, and at 2 A.M., we were again in motion, and at nine arrived at Pueblo Nueva. Here we found nothing new, excepting that the inhabitants wore hats and pantaloons. We had breakfast and were again in motion, our route, as on the previous day, being through a densely timbered country, with extremely muddy roads. I had purchased a horse and equipage, and anticipated a pleasant day's ride. My horse and myself were strangers, but I was soon in a fair way of ultivating his acquaintance. The


party had gone on. After arranging my saddle, I mounted, gave the word, and started, myself, but my horse did not; I applied my spur gently, but no signs of life; I applied both spurs, with the same result. I dismounted, examined the saddle, and finding all right, I again mounted; but with all my arguments I could not induce him to take the first step. Presuming there was something wrong, I again dismounted, and went into

I a critical examination. The saddle was properly adjusted, he had the usual number of legs, and seemed in good condition. There was nothing malicious in his eye, nor was he stuck in the mud. I cut a fair-sized cane and again mounted, but with this additional argument I could not induce him to move, although it was accompanied by the most vehement jestures. He would occasionally look me in the face, and seem to say, "I don't exactly understand what this means.” Three natives coming along at this particular juncture, I induced them to go behind and push; their first effort caused a general relaxation of the muscular system, and the next moment my horse was on his back, his eyes rolled up, the very picture of resignation ; I was looking around on the ground for the rider. We stood in momentary expectation of seeing him breathe his last, but he soon got up and very deliberately commenced eating; I tried to lead him, but no. As the natives were going in the same direction, we each cut a long pole and went behind, soon convincing him that he was a very fair traveler.

I soon overtook the captain, he being on foot, a short distance in the rear of the party, and informed him of the difficulty I had had with my horse. He thought it was owing to his reluctance at leaving home, and proposed to buy a half-interest, and I pay half the expenses of the cart. Two influences operated upon my mind in coming to a conclusion ; one, that my trunk was already on the cart, the other that I thought one owner quite in. sufficient for such a horse. The captain mounted, and I hurried on to overtake the team. Night soon overtook us, and with it a terrific thunder storm. It was extremely dark, and we were obliged to grope about to find our way, the rain pouring down in torrents. We had distanced the captain, but he soon informed us of his locality by bawling out lustily for help. We were startled, and hurried back to his assistance, when we found him

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mounted, the only difficulty being that our horse imagined himself stuck in the mud. The captain had exhausted all the arguments of spurs and stogy, but could not succeed in dispelling from his mind this strange hallucination. We cut a couple of saplings, and after warping him “fore and aft,” half a dozen times, he came to the conclusion that there must be some mistake about it, and moved on. We were destined to encounter other difficulties, for soon after overtaking our cart the axle broke, we unloaded, cut a new one, and after a detention of two hours, were again in motion.

As if to seal our fate for the night, our cart became entangled, and fastened in a mud-hole; this was a most inauspicious state of things, and to say that we were vexed is using a tame term. There is always one alternative, in our case there were two; we could either stand up in the rain, or lay down in the mud; we chose the former, and as soon as it was sufficiently light, disentangled our cart, and at nine arrived at Nagarotes.

We were in a sad plight to make our appearance among bright eyes. We were in a similar condition to the individual who had not slept any for three nights—last night, to-night, and to-morrow night, with the addition, in our case, of having been thoroughly saturated with rain. Our driver, as if to show his superior wisdom, took his hat from beneath a rawhide in the cart, and dressed in dry pants and shirt, the first clothing he had had on since our first acquaintance with him. Nagarotes is a miserable town; the inhabitants a mixture of Spanish and Indian, the latter predominating. They are all extremely robust and healthy in appearance.

After breakfast we moved on, and at 12 m. arrived at Lake Leon. The appearance of this lake as it opened to our view was peculiarly striking. It is shut in by lofty mountains, which tower up in innumerable peaks of volcanic origin, from many of which the smoke curls gracefully out, commingling with the clouds. From the center of the lake rises an island of conical form, which towers up as if to look into the surrounding craters. While our driver was feeding his team we prepared for a bath. We were, however, much disappointed in the anticipated pleasure, finding the heat of the water almost insufferable. Our first sensation was that of pain, and we were soon again in our


clothes. This phenomenon added a peculiar interest; the lake seemed a huge cauldron, steaming over an invisible furnace, the surrounding craters serving as flues or chimneys.

We passed along down to Matares, a small town situated on an eminence overlooking the lake, and inhabited by descendants of the African race. We breakfasted on chickens, frijoles, tortillos, eggs, &c., and after an hour's detention started for Managua. We passed through a delightful region of country, the soil, in many places, highly cultivated, bearing the impress of thrift and industry, I had not before seen in the country. Fruits

. grow in abundance, cattle had an unlimited range, and were the finest I ever saw; the country was broken, the mountains towering up to the clouds, and some covered with perpetual snow; but at their base were vales watered by mountain rivulets, and shaded by groves of orange and fig, seeming a retreat fit for the angels.

Night overtook us, and we encamped on the bank of the lake; starting early in the morning we descended a hill, being the immediate bank of the lake, and at sunrise arrived at Managua, which is situated at the foot of the lake. We breakfasted with Don Jose Maria Rivas. He was a man of much intelligence, and seemed to feel a lively interest in the affairs of the United States, as well as those of his own country. He alluded to General Taylor's career, and spoke of his death as a national calamity. We could not prevail upon him to accept remuneration for our breakfast, but pressed it upon a member of the family. We hope we may some day have the honor of serving the worthy Don at our own board.

After a detention of two hours, we were again under way, passing through a most delighful country, with highly cultivated plantations, watered by rivulets running from the mountains. We passed along on the margin of the stream which connects Lake Leon with Lake Nicaragua, running in the direction of the latter. After a fatiguing day's march night overtook us, and our driver very considerately got the cart fast in another mud. hole. We encamped, and soon had the satisfaction of hearing the rumbling of distant thunder, and soon were wet to the skin. In the morning at sunrise we were at Nindaree; soon after leaving this town we came to what appeared the ruins of

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