Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/57

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CHICONTEPEC.

As to the mules, it was long before we saw them all arrive, and became reassured that one or other, with his precious load, had not capsized, or missed his way. Juliano and the two mozos had been faithful to their trust; but as to Miguel, we could hear nothing of him; and it was not till a couple of hours had gone by, and long after Espindola, finding there was no fodder here, had gone forward with the mules, leaving Juliano to escort us, that we heard from a passer-by, that he had been seen lying by the roadside many miles back. "Un borrachio!" (a drunkard!) said Juliano, with a significant shrug of his shoulders; always willing to throw odium on his fellow, and to contrast his own conduct, whenever it happened to be more correct, with that of his less crafty chum.

After a ride of many hours over difficult and steep ridges, and through close but fertile valleys under partial cultivation—often enveloped in mist, and continually a prey to doubt as to our ever finding our arriero—we at length stumbled upon him at the edge of dusk, tending his mules at an humble rancho, in a pretty valley nestled in the mountains. And here we brought our wet and fatiguing day's journey to a close, by erecting our camp beds under an open palmetto shed, drying our accoutrements as well as might be, enjoying our frugal meal, and betaking ourselves to repose.

At bedtime there were no signs of our borrachio; but in the middle of the night we found he had returned to his duty, as his churchyard cough was heard issuing from a shed on the premises.

The weather seemed now to have done its worst, and a cloudless dawn heralded forth a bright sunny day;how bright—how sunny—and how beautiful—amid such magnificent foliage and flowers, no pen can describe! In brief, you will hear no more of clouds for some days to come.

At noon, after traversing one considerable stream, we at length reached the valley of the Rio de la Cañada, a clear river, occupying at this time of the year but a small