Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/48

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42
LA MESSA.

as, though evidently of a most unwarlike character, he added another to our number; and had moreover been one of our fellow-prisoners in the Halcyon. I should still mention two saddle mules; and then sum up our forces, as consisting, in all, of nine souls and seventeen quadrupeds. Whatever may have been the intrinsic value of our pluck, we certainly cut a rather imposing figure.

Till we should arrive at the town of Zacualtipan, within four or five days' journey of the capital, there was nothing to fear from banditti, if common report spoke truly.

Thus, you may imagine us, when once in motion on the morning of our quitting Tampico Alta, proceeding league after league, under any easy pace, through that beautiful undulating country, clothed with its gorgeous flowering thickets, to which 1 have already alluded. Many an expression of admiration burst from us as anew bird or splendid flower attracted our attention. An occasional shot hazarded at a rabbit or pheasant, alone broke the silence which reigned over this waste but beautiful region. After about seven leagues' ride, we halted for two hours at a rancho, or farm, or our breakfast of cabbage palm, salad, and eggs. Poor fare, you would say; but, truth compelling, I must admit that sundry additions were supplied from our travelling stores, and to name them would at once let you into the secret, that, however warlike, we were not to be classed with those doughty warriors of old, who had "no stomach but to fight."

From the vicinity of this farm, the undulating country for many miles became perfectly open, totally denuded of bushes, though occasionally studded with bands of thick forest, and altogether reminded us strongly of the great prairies, till about sunset, when we gained a swelling elevation affording a wide view towards the east. In that quarter the vast Laguna Tammiagua, only separated from the gulf by a narrow band of sand hills, extended as far as the eye could reach.

Shortly after, we arrived at a large hacienda, called