Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/655

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town he visits; but as for this God-forsaken place, when I have said that it contains a few dilapidated buildings and an old church, with a miserable population, I have said about all."

It was after midnight when we arrived at Magdalena, formerly a frontier town of much importance, but of which, as I only saw it by moonlight, I will borrow a description by J. Ross Browne, who made his mark upon this country twenty years ago: "The town is like all I have seen in Sonora, a parched-up confusion of adobe huts scattered over the slope of a barren hill, like so many mud boxes. The earth and houses are pretty much of the same material and color, while mesquit and petayah are the chief surrounding objects of interest and ornament in the way of vegetable life." But I remember that, going southward to Magdalena, we ran through fields and gardens, that we sorely missed beyond, with large trees standing up invitingly draped in masses of tangled vines.

A curious fraud has been recently unearthed here, regarding a reported discovery of ancient ruins, said to be but four leagues distant from Magdalena, and consisting of "a pyramid with a base of 1,850 Feet, and a height of 750. On the walls of the gloomy rooms, cut out of solid stone, are numerous hieroglyphics, and representations of human forms, the hands of which, strange to say, have five fingers and one thumb, while the feet have six toes," etc.

Now, if these reports, frequently revived, ended with the papers that gave them birth, it would little matter; but, unfortunately, they have obtained credence, and have even been copied into an unreliable book on the Border States, the editor of which was more desirous to obtain notoriety than solicitous for the reputation of his work, and whose proceeding cannot be too strongly reprehended. As these mythical ruins were located on the borders of the Apache country, where a traveller ran extreme risk of his life, it will be seen what a reckless disregard these unscrupulous-men had for the lives of those who should be lured here by their malicious lies. I had intended visiting the locality myself, but was dissuaded therefrom by Captain Bourke, Aide-de-camp to General Crook, who assured me that