Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/52

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lasts. The person next employing them is supposed to assume the debts of the Indian. Imprisonment for debt has been abolished; you cannot force a laborer to work out a debt, and at death all obligation of estate or family ceases. Wages are not high; a good cook gets but two dollars per month, and her assistants even less. A day-laborer gets two reales (twenty-five cents) a day, a good mason from sixty-two cents to one dollar and a half, TLM D052 Tortilla seller.jpgTORTILLA SELLER. and his attendants fifty cents; carpenters and blacksmiths, about the same.

The economy of the cuisine is something wonderful in its simplicity, even in the houses of the rich. Starting upon first principles, the Indian and Mestiza women who rule the kitchen prepare the farinaceous food in the same manner as they did a thousand years ago. For hundreds of years, the Indian women of the South have ground the corn for their daily bread, as at the present day, between two stones. They know no other way. One of them, being told that the women of the North had no such employment, exclaimed, in surprise, "Why, what do they find to do with themselves?" Night and day, these poor women labor at the mill. The smooth stone at which they work is called a metáte, from the Aztec metatl, and has long been in common use among the Indians all over our continent, specimens having been found in New Jersey, in Mexico, Yucatan, and the West Indies. Upon this metate the corn, pre-