Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/196

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TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

dressed in fine clothes, groaning under the weight of massive gold chains and chronometers,—men who shaved once every other day, got their boots blacked by the porter, and constantly threw out such like evidences of familiarity with a bank account,—having witnessed all this, I was not prepared for what I saw at that small station, where the mules kindly halted to allow us dusty travellers a chance to wash the dust out of our throats. It was this: a young man leaning against the doorpost.

Stalwart young men and doorposts are not uncommonly met with together, as many a young woman can testify; but it was not the young man especially, nor the doorpost, that riveted my gaze, but his costume. Beneath a great sombrero, with a brim little less than a yard wide, stood a woollen shirt and leather breeches, girt about with a pistol-belt full of cartridges, and stuck around with revolvers; a rifle leaned against the left arm, while the right hand of the owner of all this furniture was stroking a beard belonging to a countenance not at all unfamiliar. While I was beating my brains to recall where I had met this handsome ruffian before, summoning up Buffalo Bill, Davy Crockett, the ghost of Texas Jack, and all the rangers of the prairie that had crossed my track, this formidable being hailed me. He called me by name, and extended a palm horny with the blisters of two weeks in the field with compass and line. It was Smith, fellow-passenger on a previous steamer, who had exchanged a spick-and-span New York suit for the garb of the Mexican, and who wore girt about his loins the implements of warfare peculiar to the land of the Mexican; his countenance, which he was so careful to keep from being sun-burnt when on board steamer, was now a flaring red, and his hair, which he was wont to anoint with oil and part in the middle, was frowzy, and proclaimed by stray hairs from another species of animal, here and there, the color of the blanket he last slept in. As soon as I had discovered my friend in this disguise, and became convinced that it was not a highwayman lying in wait for my gold, we went in and cemented our friendship in the usual manner.