Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/39

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country, when the ancestors of these same people collected by thousands, eventually to oppose the march of the invaders, but prompted solely at first by no stronger motive than that of curiosity.

The train, drawn by an American engine and composed mainly of cars manufactured in the States, passed through a narrow, crowded street, and rested finally at the station. As in Northern cities, there were cabmen here, but they were perfectly indifferent as to whether one hired them or not. We finally captured one, succeeded in making him understand that we wished to engage him, and were driven through broad streets, between stone-walled houses, to the hotel.

The buildings display a style of architecture peculiar to the country, combining with the picturesqueness of Moorish and Spanish something that recalls the ruins of the Indian civilization upon which they are built. The larger structures, such as the hospital. Governor's palace, and city hall, have balconies projecting from their upper windows, while many of them are supported upon arches, the long colonnades of which have an imposing appearance. Most prominent among the peculiar features are the grated windows of all the houses. There is no glass in use here, but every window is enclosed by a grating of half-inch iron bars, which projects from the wall about a foot. Through these prison-suggestive windows, as we rode along in the gloom of early evening, I could see most attractive groups of lovely faces. Though there were here and there some with pale complexion, many that we saw that evening seemed of Indian descent. All had black hair, and great black, lustrous eyes, and most of them looked quite bewitching,—as they should, for they were señoritas, young ladies and misses.

The Hotel Mexico, where we stopped, faced the Plaza Mayor, or great central square, about which are arranged the principal buildings: the cathedral, with lofty towers and walls two centuries old, fronts the Casa Municipal, or city hall, erected sixty years ago; the hotel is one of a long block supported upon effective arches of masonry; opposite it, on the south side of the Plaza, is the oldest house in the city, built in 1549. A great