Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/214

This page has been validated.
208
LA PUEBLA.

gorgeous details, is of almost unrivalled magnificence. Our short stay was sufficient to show us that the mass of the population comprised a considerable number of leperos.

The city was in a disturbed state; and it was rumoured that the general feeling was hostile to the present government, and only awaiting an occasion for a demonstration in favour of the clergy now in disgrace. The bishop, the most energetic and talented man in the country, being personally obnoxious to the members of the present cabinet, which had given orders for his arrest, was at this time in concealment somewhere in the city; it was whispered in one of the convents.


As it was our intention to pursue our journey the following morning towards Jalapa, we lost no time in taking the necessary steps. A coach was hired with its train of mules, and an escort of five dragoons obtained for it, by an application to the commandant. As to M'Euen and myself, we stoutly determined to continue our route as hitherto, on horseback, and to trust to our savage appearance, or rather to the keeping of Providence, for escape from the dangers of the road to the coast.

At daybreak, April 26th, we were en route on the beaten track, and a barren one it was, after quitting the Haciendas de Trigo, or corn estates, in the vicinity of La Puebla, till we reached the swelling hills covered by a pine forest, known by the name of El Pinal. This is one of the most accredited stripping places on the road.

Here, hardly a month earlier, the diligence from Vera Cruz to the capital was robbed, with the most ludicrous regularity, for weeks together. When stopped, the passengers—who generally contrived to have nothing on their persons that was worth fighting about, and no arms to fight with—were told to alight, and to lie down in a row on their stomachs on the sand, into which their noses were unceremoniously thrust, with threats of instant death if they stirred. Their persons and the coach were then thoroughly rifled; and they were left, with the warning, that if any moved or looked up for the