Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/478

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

right of way. There is room here for some reflection upon the rapacity and ignorance of some of these Mexicans, who throw every obstacle in their power in front of the wheels of progress.

Cuautitlan, another small town, reached in about two hours from Mexico, is much resorted to as a place for festive gatherings. Here the bull, the "noble patriarch of the herd," is taken from an uneventful life of inaction in the field, and permitted to try his prowess against the valiant Mexican. A flaming placard announced that there would be a bull-fight in this place that evening,—Esplendida Corrida de Toros en la Villa de Cuautitlan,—when there would be sacrificed Cuatro Tremendos y Bravos Toros.

A procession of beggars here invaded the train, and brought with them the odors of a dozen bone-boiling establishments; they also exhibited for our inspection a greater variety in deformity and mutilation than many a hospital can show in a year. These loathsome evidences of their claim upon humanity they thrust beneath our noses, expecting us to pay them for the privilege of inspection. After we had departed, and the strong breeze sweeping through the car had permitted us to indulge in a long breath, one of the engineers remarked that the civilizing effect of the "iron horse" was already being made manifest,—he had heard of several of these beggars having been run over. It has been a question among old residents in Mexico whether it would be better to leave the extermination of these wretches to the slow advance of the railroad, or to pass laws for their suppression and extinction. A most speedy way of killing them off has been suggested, which has the countenance of enlightened communities: it is to pass a law that every beggar shall bathe once a week,—there would not be one left alive at the end of a month's time.

At the hacienda of Huehuetoca. we were fairly in the dry country that forms a certain portion of Mexico, where acacias and cacti are the only plants of any size, and hills and plains alike are brown and treeless. In the crossing of the great ridge of hills that forms the outermost barrier around the valley of Mex-