Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/223

This page has been validated.
217
DESCENT TO THE COAST.

to be our fellow-voyagers in the packet; and, as the exact hour of sailing was now known, and our departure from Jalapa in company fixed for the evening of the following day, our short stay was fully occupied. In fact, far from being a day of repose, as was advisable, it was one of unremitting alacrity of body and mind.

To dismiss our retainers, to sell our horses and furniture, to make all the dispositions for final departure from the country, entailed upon us more fatigue than you can perhaps imagine.

But about noon, somehow or other, all was arranged! The arriero was on his way back to Perote, with the baggage of a party ascending to the capital. Garcia and Jose Maria, neither of whom had the slightest wish to risk their precious lives by advancing a step farther, were remunerated for their services; if not to their hearts' content, far beyond their deservings: and, masters of two of the horses of the train, were at liberty to seek other and equally gullible masters. Poor Pinto had to partake the fate of his comrades, and learn to obey another bridle and another spur, and those perhaps none of the mildest, being sold for less than the cost of his shoes. When I think that he may have found a hard master, I have sometimes regretted that I did not shoot him with my own hand; for he had been a noble and fleet horse when young, and one of some renown; and was still active and generous, notwithstanding his rough coat and wisp of a tail; and I had insensibly become attached to him. We had travelled three months cheerily together, and gone through many strange scenes; and when I passed my hand over his neck for the last time, I own that I felt a very disagreeable tightness about the lower end of the gullet. I love poor dumb beasts.

Since our first landing in America, Pourtales and myself had made trial of almost every imaginable mode of travel and locomotion—carriage, coach, gig, sulky, carryall, and carry nothing, mud waggon, dearborn, horse, mule, steamboat, steam carriage, goelette, shallop, skiff, wooden canoe, bark canoe, raft, rail, tree stump, the back of an Indian, and what not. We were now to