Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/82

This page has been validated.
76
REAL DEL MONTE.

The ascent of the great shaft of the Terreros, from the depth of nearly a thousand feet below the surface, by means of a series of perpendicular ladders, thirty-two in number, was one of the most fatiguing exploits which I ever undertook. We were, nevertheless, highly gratified by our adventure. It may yet be mentioned that the ore is transported to Regla, where it goes through the necessary processes for being converted into bullion, after which it is carried to the city of Mexico, and coined into dollars at the government mint. In this form it is exported.

The lust for gold which possessed the souls of the conquerors, condemned the aborigines of these central portions of America, to a system of oppression and tyranny in times past, which is almost inconceivable. As there was no personal danger to which the quest after the precious metals might expose the Spaniard that he would not dare; so there was no depth of cruelty to which he would not descend to further his debasing passion. Of this the traditions of the Indians preserve many striking illustrations.

I give you one anecdote—whether told before or not, I do not know—which was related to me, with others of the kind, in the mining district where such tales abound.

In an Indian village, farther to the north, say the Indians, there lived in the old Spanish times a padre: a man of simple and retired habits, who laboured to convert and maintain the inhabitants in the Catholic faith.

He was beloved by the simple tribe among whom he was domesticated, and they did not fail to prove their good will by frequent presents of such trifles as they found were agreeable to him. They say that he was a great writer; and occasionally received from the Indians of his parish a small quantity of finely coloured dust which he made use of to dry his sermons and letters. Knowing how much the padre loved writing, they seldom returned from the mountains without bringing him some. It happened that once upon a time, he had occasion to write to a friend of his, living in the capital, who