Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/465

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A RIDE THROUGH A MINING REGION.

to state the number of marcos (a marco is about $8.85) to the monton, three thousand pounds. In locating mining property, an alien enjoys the same rights and privileges as a native."

The stronghold of the silver king, or of the "company," is at Real del Monte, two leagues from Pachuca, and several hundred feet higher. Here the little village is mined beneath all its area, and the hills about are full of tunnels, shafts, and adits. In going there you hire a horse and a mozo (a servant), and strike up and over the hills toward the east. As you mount higher and higher, and the road winds in and out, now at the base of a precipice, now at the top of another, now topping a deep ravine, now crossing a bridge, yet always climbing, you look down upon and over a glorious sweep of hill and valley; far down below is the Pachuca plain, covered with growing crops of barley, maguey, and wheat; in town, the most conspicuous objects are the bull-ring, the cathedral, the new theatre, and the old convent of San Juan de Dios. Many a mile of hill and plain are spread out before us, alternately claiming attention, till the outermost circle of all is reached, blue, dim, misty above which, full ninety miles away, grand, majestic old Popocatapetl thrusts his pointed helmet, crowned with perpetual snow, through clouds of silvery, dazzling white. At the summit of the ridge, descending the eastern slope, is a beautiful grove of Mexican oaks, crowning an oval hill, each tree a mound of verdure. Descending the hills, you come to others, upon and among which Real del Monte is built; far beyond may be seen some curiously formed rocks of immense size, called the PeƱas Cargadas, or "Loaded Rocks." It was here that the English Real del Monte Company took possession of the mines whence the Count of Regla extracted his great wealth, and, through reckless expenditure, managed to absorb $20,000,000, of capital, sent out to them from England, in twenty-five years. From this they realized but $16,000,000, "and the present proprietors enjoy the fruits of their labors at a cost of less than a million, with a fair prospect of realizing as large a treasure as that acquired by the first Count of Regla. This is one of the most extensive mines in the world, where an average of five