Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/130

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

came out "fresh as a daisy," saying he had been sleeping, and at once marched on to the floor, demanded the prettiest girl there for a partner, got her, and led the dance. The ball ended at one o'clock in the morning, and then the General saw us home, and kept our medical friend up all night, during which time he severely punished nineteen bottles of beer, one after the other. "To-night," said he, as we parted from him at dawn, "you're going to see something; I 'm going to get up the grandest fandango Timax ever had." Hearing this, we despaired of our turkey hunt entirely, as we were obliged to return to Merida two days later, or lose the steamer of that week for Mexico.

The General was as good as his word. At dark the musicos—musicians—came for us, headed by our friend, whom all the Indians and Mestizos of that section blindly worshipped. The musicos were clad in cotton drawers and shirts only, with high crowned straw hats; but they played as sweetly as if all were graduates from a musical college, and cost only fifty cents a head. The soul of the native-born Mexican and Yucateco takes as naturally to music as a woodchuck to clover; he twangs the guitar and blows the dulcet horn as perfectly as he dances, and he commences both immediately he leaves the cradle. The President and Chief Judge carried round some of the invitations. When we reached the Casa the General was seated in his robe of state,—a flowing camisa,—and smiled benignantly over everybody and everything. The same dazzling array of beautiful, jewel-bedecked Mestiza girls beamed upon us this evening as at the first baile, and soon all my friends were busy filling their books for the dances. There was no prescribed style of dress for the men: some wore their linen outside, fluttering in the evening air, some wore it inside, and some of the more aristocratic even wore coats, but all wore their hats.

Unobserved, in a corner, I was watching the strange costumes with keen relish, when the sharp eye of the General espied me, from his chair of state, beneath his own portrait draped in Mexican colors. "Hi, Señor Federico! why are you not dancing?"