Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/53

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47
THE INDIAN HUT.

tort. However, there was no alternative; our animals must rest, if they might not eat; and we consequently unsaddled, and began to amuse ourselves, as we might, in looking at the bone of our costly ham, and the pounded contents of our biscuit bag, more especially as Espindola whispered to us to have a little patience. Five minutes passed by, and not a word was said. A packet of cigaritas was produced and passed round. What the old Venuses did not refuse, the young ones thought proper to accept. Espindola got into conversation by degrees with one of the elders, and Pourtales began to play the irresistible with another of the party. Good humour and confidence began to thaw distrust, and conquer prejudice. By-and-by, old and young began to move listlessly about. The charcoal fire was stirred up. Still there was no hurry. Another moment, and from under a cloth in a dark corner of the hut, the stone used in the preparation of tortillas cakes was produced; and, as though by accident, a bowlful of maize flour was discovered. As it was there, one of the old squaws fell to work to knead the bread; while the other, after looking very carefully about her, found a store of Chile and a bag of frijoles. This was not all. A guttural parley in their own language was followed by one of the girls stepping out with Espindola to a secret storehouse, from which he returned looking very sly with his arms full of rich golden ears of maize, and a bundle of fodder. By accident, a little loophole in the same quarter flew open, and the premises were immediately overrun by a quantity of poultry, rejoicing at their emancipation from the thraldom to which they had evidently been subjected on our approach. More wonderful than all, we found that, apparently, quite unsuspected by the possessors, the hens had employed their time while thus hidden from the light of day in the production of a dozen fine eggs. In short, within an hour after the hut had been at the extremity of famine, we were furnished with an excellent meal, and there were no signs at our departure that we left discontent behind us. This is strange, but nothing but what is very comprehensible; being a remnant of