Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/39

This page has been validated.

custom house, till such time as the goelette's papers were pronounced to be in order, in other words, till the parties should be agreed as to the amount of the bribe demanded by the authorities for the introduction of the contraband cargo. So here we were still in as great a dilemma as ever. No expostulation would serve our purpose for some days, and there seemed to be every probability of the vessel's being again blown out to sea, before the disgraceful intrigues should come to a conclusion, till, after much trouble and expense, we were allowed to anticipate her only, to go on board as she lay beyond the bar, and land our effects. Still difficulties beset our path, and what with one thing and another, a further detention of a fortnight was our destiny before we were enabled to complete our arrangements, and set out for the interior. The causes of this detention would have been ludicrous at any other time, but in our position they were serious enough.

Without entering into the detail, I may cull one or two pictures from the time thus spent, as they stand recorded in my memory, or on my journals.

I have casually mentioned the Pueblo Viejo, or old town. It was not unfrequently our wont, on the early mornings of those fervid days which filled up the intervals between the nortes, to hire one of the pleasant little boats, which were always at your command if you would pay for them, and seek under their white awnings on the breezy surface of the river, that comfort which the great heat of the weather denied ashore. My favourite excursion was to descend the Panuco, till we made the opening of the small broken channel which winds between oyster beds and green verdant banks, and forms the communication with the southern lagoon, upon whose shore the old settlement is situated. At such times the morning breeze would generally fill your sail, and bring you without much labour under the little thatched landing place, which, once the scene of so much bustle, is now nearly deserted.

The picturesque situation of Pueblo Viejo, and its old time-worn Spanish-built houses, lying at the foot of a steep