Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/293

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THE MEXICANS AT HOME.

and rather court it than otherwise. It perhaps comes of such perfect familiarity with fire-arms. Every lepero of distinction carries a revolver. Beg, borrow, or steal, a pistol he must and will have, and carry it in as exposed a place as possible. Should he arrive at the dignity of owning a horse,—though this is extremely improbable,—TLM D293 A lepero.jpgA LEPERO. the lepero becomes a most consummate fop, not only in regard to his horse, but to his equipments. He may parade himself with an incrustation on his skin of seven years' dirt, and with a shirt that has survived six months' continuous wear, but he will invariably carry a large nickel-plated revolver hanging at his side, and showing half its length of barrel below his jacket. To the butt of this revolver he will generally have a cord and tassel, or a steel or nickel-plated chain attached. If he is on horseback, he will have jingling bits, clanking sabre, and a saddle shining with silver ornaments; but he will never be without carbine or revolver. The result of all this display of fire-arms is, that they are perfectly familiar with weapons in a general way, and think no more of pointing a pistol at a man than at a post. It has almost superseded the knife, though that peculiarly Spanish weapon is not infrequently used.

It is a pleasure to me to be able to state that the present government has taken energetic measures looking towards a gradual reformation, if possible, of this worst portion of the criminal class, and the beneficial bullet has disposed of many of those who indulged in the pastime of the highwayman.

Two honest men next claim our attention, and then I have done with the people, except in genre, as we may meet them casually on the street, or in our travels. These are the policeman and the water-carrier,—the aguador. You meet the former on every corner and in every street, in times of peace; but