Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/447

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The guards rode ahead, then followed the seven silver-laden mules at a swift trot, which they kept up the whole distance, out and back, of fifty miles. A few miles out, after passing through great fields of maguey, over the muddiest of roads, between ditches white with the bloom of sagittaria, we reached San Estevan, where we again struck the track. A few miles beyond is Rio Hondo (the Deep River). Here we halted to pay away a few hundred dollars, then pursued our course again. At Rio Hondo is a large cotton and woollen mill, a model establishment, very large and complete. Ascending by a steep path to the barren table-land above, we had some eight miles of uninteresting road. Above Rio Hondo, which is twelve miles from Mexico, is the spot where poor Greenwood was murdered in 1880. He was an engineer in the employ of the company, who had gone out only a little in advance of his men, when he was shot, his murderers taking his horse, watch, and money. Though the Mexican government pretends to visit such villains with swift retribution, yet these murderers, though caught, have never suffered the penalty of their horrible crime. A cross marks the spot, one of many that adorn the road, over this long stretch of "bad lands."

On this road we were joined by a contractor, who soon left us, taking two mules with their loads of silver. The road-bed is out of sight from the plateau, as it follows the course of the Rio Hondo through deep cuts. Owing to the many cuts and bridges, work here is extremely difficult; there are twenty-six bridges in this section of three miles, and sixty between Mexico and Toluca. At a dismal village called San Bartolome, the laborers gathered about us, and one of the bags of silver was again opened, and a few hundred dollars paid out. Then we were in our saddles and off again.

Mr. Pritchard, the superintendent, had received intelligence that a party of bandits intended attacking the train somewhere along the route, and had with great difficulty secured the escort of rural guards from government. As it was, owing probably to our strong escort, we were not molested; but only the next day, a party of five, three on horses and two afoot, attacked and