Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/62

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TLACOLULA.

suited to the strength of the individual—how everything went by rule and square, and how seldom anything went wrong. The Mexican pack saddle would seem in itself to be a burden. A considerable variety is shown in the leather furniture, which is often embossed and embroidered in red and yellow, in addition to a name such as Bamonos, Abobo, Mejico. These names, however, may be said to belong more to the suit of harness than, as might be supposed, to the animal wearing it.

Once packed, and in motion, off the mules marched in Indian file; one pacing under the mountainous load of the camp beds, another laden with two portmanteaus, a third with carpet bags and canteen, and so forth, while the last scampered after his fellows with the odds and ends belonging to our travelling kitchen, often to the great danger of the pans which dangled from his sides.

On arrival at our place of repose they were unladen, and every set of furniture carefully arranged by itself in the most precise and exact order, while the emancipated animals made use of the first moment of liberty to indulge in a hearty shake, or rolls in the dust, followed up by that brief sententious bray, by which the mule expresses his feelings, in contradistinction to the full, round, sonorous, and protracted descant of his mother ass.

Old Bamanos, or "Let-us-be-jogging," was the most trusted, the most sapient, and the most morose of the train; and occasionally bestowed a brace of resounding kicks upon the hollow sides of Abobo, or another of his brethren, when he saw them in possession of a bush or pasture of particular succulence. He was the leader of the unled, and ordinarily followed his master.

We were fortunate in finding maize fodder in most of our halting places; but in default of this our providers were seldom at loss, but stripping particular trees of their nutritious foliage, supplied the necessities of their mules with what the thickets furnished.

As to our two varlets, when you have said of Miguel that he was a borrachio, you have recorded all the positive evil in his character that come within our notice; as to negative faults he had plenty, but what could be expect-