Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/513

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but a medio each. These stones are quarried in the volcano, forty miles away, and brought here on the backs of Indians or donkeys. One can estimate the value of labor by this, for one of them must cost, from first to last, a week of work.

I enjoyed exceedingly my stay in Puebla, although while there I was in a constant state of agitation, owing to alarming telegrams from the North; for it was that memorable first week in July, 1 881. We in Mexico at first only received meagre news of the great calamity that had befallen the nation in the shooting of President Garfield, and in Puebla, where there were not half a dozen people who could speak English, there were no details given at all. The Fourth of July was a gloomy one, to me at least, for the day before came a telegram announcing that Garfield was dead, and that the United States was convulsed with war. It was nearly a week before the true version reached me, and during all that time I had no one speaking my own language to converse or condole with except a young Chicago merchant, whom fortune had thrown into Puebla against his will. He had come here with a large lot of improved agricultural machinery, including the latest inventions in mowers, reapers, threshers, etc., in company with several other Americans, to instruct the natives in their use. His companions had left the country, but he had not the means with which to get away, and was, to use his own expression, "in a frame of mind."

"It is just a holy terror," said he; "these people have just about worried me to death. Here I've been here more'n a year, and how many mowers and reapers do you think I've sold? Well, sir, I ain't sold one! These Mexicans are just a caution to snakes! Why, they come here and get one of my machines, and take it out on their plantations and smash it all to pieces, and then say 't ain't good enough for 'em. And the worst of it is, I have almighty hard work to get the pieces of that machine back to the shop. No machinery is good enough for 'em. Here are Mexicans who 've lived all their lives without seeing an improved machine of any kind, and who 've ploughed their land all their lives with a stick, that are just too wise to learn how to do anything.