Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/224

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DESCENT TO THE COAST.

adventure our persons in yet another manner. The Mexican littera is a kind of oblong box, about a foot deep, three feet wide, and six feet long, unfortunately more frequently shorter than longer. Two long poles passing down and fastened to the sides, project ibre and aft, and serve as shafts for two mules, to whose pack saddles the ends are attached by straps. In short, a long box Histead of an upright one, a recumbent and supine position, instead of a sitting one, and two four-fooled porters instead of two biped ones, are the main points of difference between the littera and the sedan chair. It is furnished with a leather awning and cotton curtains, and ordinarily with a well-worn mattress, through which you may feel the rough boards upon which you recline.

We had heard the litter described as the most luxurious mode of travelling; and accordingly, each slipped into his independent vehicle, with a feeling of great satisfaction.

We formed a train of ten, with a horde of sumpter mules. Each litter, besides its two mules, was furnished with a mounted leader, a driver, and three spare animals, to serve as relays. The price of each, to the coast, was forty dollars.


So down the deep paved street we clattered, amid the plaudits of the poblanitas from window and balcony: we were soon beyond the town, and travelled forward for hours through the forests, which gradually changed their character—the oak and his congeners disappearing, and the mimosa taking their place.

Night soon closed in; and when we halted, we found it was four o'clock in the morning, and that we had reached the celebrated bridge called by the builders, Puente del Rey; still later, Puente Imperial; and now Puente Nacional; where we were to lie quiet for twelve hours, the heat being such as to forbid advance. We had passed, between waking and sleeping, the villages of Encero and Plan del Rio.

I was now in some degree authorized to judge of the luxury of the litter. Pourtales was, it is true, in ecstasy