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LIFE SCENES IN MEXICO.
could offer you? Besides, now you know what they call a velorio. It is a resource
under grief or idleness; and, thanks to THE assembly to which Perico intro- me, you deserve the everlasting gratitude
duced me was a singular one. About of this worthy man, whose child, having twenty men and women of the lowest died under seven years of age, is now an class were seated in a circle, talking, angel above." And, on the strength of clamoring, and gesticulating; while, in a this gratitude, he took up a large glass corner, stood a table covered with all sorts of chinquirito, which he emptied at a of provisions, cups, bottles, and glasses ; draught. Thus was I made a spectator and the room was pervaded by a fetid of that barbarous custom which requires corpse-like smell, predominating over the a father to suppress his tears, hide his scent of cigars, sherry, and chinquirito, grief under a smiling face, and play the (brandy, made from the sugar-cane.) host to the first vagabond who, by the From a table apart came a noise of cop- invitation of a lamp, comes to cram himper-money, mingled with the technical self with meat and wine over the corpse term of moute, and the players were of his son, and consume that which would wrangling with all the vehemence which condemn a whole family to starve the strong liquors and heaps of small money next day. Among the women I saw one could excite ; but what struck me the pale face—one mouth which refused to most was exactly that object which the smile—and in this victim of superstition company seemed to have forgotten. Upon I recognized the mother, whose grief the a table was extended a child, apparently gossips were endeavoring to assuage-one about seven years old, whose pale face, by commenting on the illness and sufferstrewed with faded flowers, glassy eyes, ings of the deceased ; another by enumeand hollow leaden cheeks, showed that he rating the infallible remedies she would had fallen asleep in death some days be- have applied, if she had been consulted in fore. This object was dreadful in the time, such as St. Nicholas's plasters, demidst of inen and women, gambling, vo- coction of purslane, gathered on Good ciferating, laughing, singing like savages ; Friday, and filtered through a piece of the and the flowers which decked it only add- gown of a Dominican ; while the poor ed to its repulsiveness, while divesting it credulous mother turned away to wipe off of sympathy. Such was the retreat to her tears, believing that these remedies which the tender care of Perico conducted would have saved her child. During these me ; such the populace of Mexico—such consolatory efforts, cigarettes and draughts their religion has made them.
of sherry succeeded each other; the simOur entrance caused a general silence. ple games common in Spanish America A man, whom I soon found to be the mas- were then resorted to ; while the children, ter of the house and the father of the tired out, lay down to sleep in the corners dead child, rose to welcome us; but his of the room. countenance, far from being sorrowful, Retired into the deep embrasure of a seemed elated with joy and pride, as he window which looked into the street, I pointed to the numerous guests who met anxiously watched all Perico's movements, to celebrate his son's death, which, having suspecting that the protection so pertinataken place in childhood, they regarded ciously pressed upon me might conceal as an especial favor of Heaven. He wel
Perhaps my countenance comed us, saying that, at such a time, betrayed my apprehensions ; for the lépero strangers became friends; and, thanks to approaching, said, by way of consolationthe loquacity of Perico, who assured the “ You see, sir, that in killing a man, as people that it was impossible to kill a man in everything else, the first step is the more neatly than I had done, I was the ob- difficulty! Besides, perhaps your lampserved of all eyes. So, finding that I had lighter will be like my Englishman, who a part fixed upon me, I thought it prudent is now as well as ever. Those heretics to put my gloves into my pocket, and to have such tough lives! Ah! sir," he affect an assurance I was far from feeling. added, sighing, “ I have always regretted
“What think you of the lodging I have not being a heretic.” found for you ?" asked Perico, rubbing “ That you might have a tough life ?" his hands ; " is it not better than any I No, sir ; to make something of my ab.
juration. Unhappily, my character as a and a confused murmur attracted my atgood Christian is too well established.” tention, and I hid myself behind one of
“ But the gentleman you should have the inner shutters, so as to see and hear, killed ?" I said, my thoughts naturally re without being seen.
Half-a-dozen men verting to the melancholy young man I came from a street in front of me: the had seen kneeling before the Morgue. foremost wore a short cloak, which half “Do you think he is still alive ?"
hid the scabbard of his sword ; the others Perico shook his head and said, “ To- carried naked blades. By their timid morrow, perhaps, his foolish passion will step, a stranger might have taken them have cost him his life, and his sweetheart for culprits; but my experience knew that will not survive him. As to me I did not justice only moves thus stealthily, and I wish to make two victims at once; so I recognized the night patrol, consisting of gave up the business.”
a regidor, and alcade, and four assistants. “ Your feelings do you credit, Perico," “I wonder what the prefect is thinking I replied; and to profit by the favorable of,” said the man in the cloak, doubtless impression his answer had made, he said : one of those publican magistrates who
“ Certainly, one does not risk one's soul harbor criminals in the day and hunt them 80 much for a few piastres. But, à propos at night, “in sending us to these places of piastres, sir,” he added, holding out his where justice has never penetrated ? I hand, “I feel in luck, and your purse is should like to see him at this work." well filled ; if I should break the bank, I “ He would have taken care to bring promise to give you half my winnings." the fire-arms he refused us,” replied one
I did not think it prudent to refuse this who seemed the boldest ; " for criminals demand, and moute would relieve me for and malefactors are not generally content a time of his troublesome company ; so I with naked weapons like ours, as he may slipped a few piastres into the zaragate's experience, perhaps, whom we are desired hand. At that moment the hour of mid- to protect to-night.' night struck, when one of the guests rose, " When a man knows he has a chance and cried out in a solemn tone, “ It is the of being murdered at night, he might stay hour for souls in purgatory ; let us pray!" at home,” said the alcade.
The gamblers rose, games were sus “ There are some who are never afraid,” pended, and all present kneeled down. replied one of the men. The prayer was begun in a loud voice, 6 What o'clock is it?" asked the alcade, broken by responses at regular intervals, and he was told it was four o'clock, the and for the first time they seemed to re- speaker at the same time looking up at the collect the occasion of meeting. Imagine window, and adding, “I envy the folks these people, with their eyes dimmed by who are passing their night so gaily there." drunkenness, these half-naked women, met Thus speaking, the men walked along around a corpse decorated with flowers, the quay which edged the canal. Sudon their knees in a heavy atmosphere of denly the foremast man stumbled in the putrid and spirituous exhalations, and some darkness, and a person rose up. idea may be gained of the horrible and “Who are you?" demanded the alcade, strange scene which I was obliged to wit- in as authoritative a voice as he could ness. After prayers, the games were resumed. In order to repel sleep, as well “What does it matter to you?" replied as to gain a less noxious air, I had half the man, in a tone not less arrogant. opened the window, and looking forth into “Cannot one sleep in the streets without the darkness, I endeavored to find out in being questioned ?” what direction I was ; but I could see but “Folks sleep at home, as much as posa corner of sky, and it was cloudy. Isible,” stammered the alcade, evidently tried to recollect this canal, with its leaden frightened ; and the person thus surprised water, its dark, narrow streets, opening giving a shrill whistle, and pushing past at right angles to it, but in vain ; I had the magistrate, ran down the nearest entirely lost my bearings. Ought I to street; while, to my great astonishment, stay there any longer, or should I face the the patrol, instead of pursuing him, went dangers of an attempt to escape through away in an opposite direction, like people the alleys of this unknown suburb? While suspecting a snare. At this moment, I thus deliberating, the sound of footsteps felt a hand on my shoulder ; I turned round
shuddering, and saw Perico and the land- have been yours ; half my winnings are lord standing before me.
yours-they are fairly gained, and all this “ That was very like Navaja's whistle ; is false." he is on some business," cried the lépero, I once again cursed my acquaintance leaning out of the window ; while the with Perico, when a more serious affair landlord, with the trembling legs and turned the attention of the company from drunken eyes of a man who has too com- This was a violent scuffle between pletely fulfilled the duties of host, offered two men at the further end of the room. me a glass of liquor in his unsteady hand, Knives were used, the women screamed, saying
all was confusion, and blood would have “One might suppose, sir, that you de- followed; when, in the general struggle, spise the society of such poor folks as we the table on which lay the dead child was are ; you neither play nor drink, and yet overturned, and the corpse fell with a in certain cases play and brandy are a heavy sound, the flowers strewing the great comfort. You see, I have eaten floor. A circle was immediately formed and drunk to feast my friends, and I am round the profaned corpse, and above all easy, though I have spent all I had in the the tumult was heard the piercing cry of world. Well! if you like, I will wager the wretched mother, who threw herself my child's body. This stake," he con- wildly upon the remains of her child. tinued, with a confidential air, “ is as good I had seen too much of this, and rushed as any other, for I can lend it at a high to the balcony to ascertain whether fight price to some amateur of velorio." was possible ; but egress by this means
“ Play for the corpse of your child !" was closed to me. A man had just I cried.
emerged from one of the alleys, followed “Why not? It is done frequently. by others brandishing their swords. The Everybody is not so happy as to have an Navaja, whom Perico had recognized as angel in heaven ; and the corpse of this an associate, had doubtless gathered his little darling carries luck with it here band together; and, without being able to below."
help the victim, I might be present at one Ridding myself of the man's importu- of those nightly murders which are the nity as soon as I could, I looked toward dreadful glory of certain léperos. The the street again, but all was silent there, person pursued attained the wall of the while vague noises came occasionally from quay, and planted his back against it, while one of the lanes opening on the canal, and I distinctly heard him cry outI presently heard the sound of stealthy “ Back, cowardly villains! who fight footsteps. Leaning on the window, and five against one!” listening intently, I was expecting every Courage, boys!" cried the chief of the moment to hear the silence broken by a band. “A hundred piastres are at stake!”. cry of anguish, when noisy shouts in the What ensued need not be described. room attracted my attention. The orgies The unequal struggle lasted but a few were at their height; and the zaragate, seconds, and a shout of savage joy told whose continued good luck had excited how it had terminated. But the wretched the suspicions of his adversaries, was man thus basely beset still breathed, and vainly trying to draw around him the tat- even dragged himself to the bridge, waving ters of his olive mantle, which was torn the stump of his sword; but it was a into strips by his furious opponents, while last effort, and, again surrounded by the the most abusive names were showered wretches, he fell under their blows. By upon him from all sides.
the wan light which was burning before “I am a man of fortune !" cried the the souls in purgatory, I saw the five men fellow, impudently ; “it is as true as that lift a bleeding body, and throw it into the your rude hands have torn to tatters one canal, the leaden surface of which was of the handsomest cloaks I possess.” but for a moment agitated. In an instant
“ Insolent thief !” cried one of the play- the assassins had disappeared, and all had ers; "your cloak had as many rents as passed so rapidly, that I could have fanyour conscience !"
cied it a wretched dream; but I was pres“ You shall answer to me somewhere ently convinced that I was wide awake, else for this double insult. Sir,” he added, for, in a man on horseback, who came out calling to me, "pray be my surety, as I of the court of the house, I recognized
BY E, E. EDWARDS.
Perico, and in the horse I saw the noble
(For the National Magazine.] animal I had brought with so much diffi
THE WATERS OF MARAH. culty from the Hacienda de la Noria.
“Holloa ! fellow!" I cried; "this is too bad; you are stealing my horse !” “WATER! water!" went forth the sorrowing ory;
“Sir," replied Perico, with unshaken “ We die—we die : coolness, “I only remove a witness that Parch'd is the desert, barren is the plain ;
We look in vain might be decisive against your lordship.”
For morning dew, or the sweet summer rain: Such were the last words of the lépero, No blessed cloud floats o'er the torrid sky, as he spurred the horse, and galloped And 'neath its brazen arch in misery we die !"
Thus murmur'd Israel's host, but soon furiously off. Taking no leave of any one, I rushed forth in pursuit of the zaragate, Gleam'd, cool and beautiful, a crystal spring
A shout arose ; beneath the fiery noon but too late; I heard only a plaintive Gleam'd like an angel's wing neighing, and the noise of a gallop fade in That limpid wave. the distance. At full speed I ran down The murmuring host fell down, and homage gave
Unto the Power omnipotent to save, one of the dark alleys, and I must have
Then rush'd with eager haste wandered for some time in this wretched
And burning lips to taste labyrinth, for it was daylight before I That brimming cup of joy, amid the desert waste. found out where I was. Night had taught Another sorrowing wall went up on high; wisdom, and I resolved to make a legal The host fell to the earth, “O Master, why declaration of the accident I had caused Have we gone forth from Egypt's land to die?
The bitter waters mock our thirst, the evening before. I went to the criminal
The fountain of the desert is accursed, judge accordingly, but he was not yet And still we die !" come, and I was desired to wait in the
The Lord was strong to save. hall; there, overcome by fatigue and His prophet cast a palm into the wave, drowsiness, I fell asleep on a bench. | And lo! the bitter waters at his feet Confused dreams repainted the scenes I
Were rippling pure and sweet.
Then Israel rose to bless had witnessed; I thought I heard heavy The Power that saved them in the wilderness. noises round me, and then all was sudden
Ah! angel-guarded band ly still. I opened my eyes, and thought Well may your songs ascend that I was still under the influence of
Unto that Father friend nightmare. A handbarrow covered with
Who wander'd with you o'er that desert land
Who kept you in the hollow of his hand. a bloody cloth stood just at my feet, and an idea flashed across me that I had been
Are we not wanderers through a wilderness?
Is not that Power over us to bless? recognized, and that, by a refinement of
Doth he not lead us with a gentle hand savage justice, they intended to confront Toward the confines of a better land ? me with the man whose death I had caused. Have we not felt a burning drouth, I drew back to the end of the hall, unable Borne by hot breezes from a joyless south?
Have we not ofttimes paused upon the brink to bear the sight of the bloody cloth. By Of Marah's bitter fount, and stopp'd to drink, degrees I became more composed, and, And in our bitter anguish turn'd to die summoning courage, I raised the corner E'en while the healing palm was bending nigh? of the covering, and instantly recognized We faint with thirst, and lo! before our sight the victim. His pale, handsome face, the Gleam as through trees and bowers of delight forehead marked by a long, narrow scar,
Waves clear and bright.
Ah! bitterly we turn away, was too deeply impressed on my mind to
And woe betide the day be mistaken. The water-weeds which When to the barren wilderness we came covered his cheeks reminded me where To shrink and wither 'neath yon orb of flame the crime had been committed ; and this To look with longing eyes unto the brazen sky.
To murmur and to die. was the man whom I had seen die so val. But lo! a tree of life is growing nigh; iantly, and whom I knew to be so tenderly Its fadeless verdure droops above the wave. lamented. I let fall the cloth and departed. That healing palm Such are glimpses of these degraded peo
Can make each bitter drop a saving balm,
There Mercy waits to save. ple. The lesson may well be studied. It The bitter waters rippling at her feet solves the problem of the impracticability Grow pure and sweetof popular self-government among a people Fall down, immortal; praise and bless whose religion itself is an education only to The God that guides thee through the wildervice. When Christianity is thus perverted To him thy heartfelt song of triumph give,
ness; among the masses, all hope goes out.
And drink and live.
HOW CLAY CAN BE TURNED INTO make even grave philosophers hold up their
hands in amazement. At a meeting of the COIN.
Academy of Sciences in Paris, he laid beE once (pleasant delusion !) thought fore the learned assemblage long strips of
ourselves pretty well up in the cun sheet aluminum, ingots of the same metal, ning ways of science; and fancied, in com and medals of some inches diameter, which mon with many others, that after the had been struck at the Imperial Mint-all electric-telegraph, there was not much of which had been got out of clay by his more to be invented or discovered. But newly-discovered process. we have been made aware of our mistake, Such a result must be reckoned among and in a manner at once surprising and the great facts of science. Let us see wonderful. Though we were not born to how it is accomplished. In Wöhler's silver slippers, we might have .walked process, chloride of potassium was used. about in a pair every year of our life, if The process of M. Deville is somewhat we had but known as much as we know similar, but involves the use of chloride
There the precious metal lay before of sodium. The substances having been our eyes, but we would not open them wide heated in a porcelain crucible at a high enough to see it.
temperature, the aluminum is set free, and What was there in clay that we did not to quote the operator's own words," there know? The use which certain writers remains a saline mass, with an acid reacmade of it in pointing their morals was tion, in the midst of which larger or smallnot unfamiliar to us; and one among er globules of aluminum are found perfectthem had given us reason to believe, that ly pure.” even an imperial Cæsar, when dead, might Proceeding in his description, which we turn to clay; while others, of a jovial turn permit ourselves to relieve of some of its of mind, had made themselves merry on technicalities, M. Deville says: This metal the subject of topers moistening their clay. is as white as silver, and malleable and We were not ignorant, therefore, of the ductile to the highest degree. We find, morality of clay. Then we knew that however, on working it, that it offers a alum was got out of clay ; that alumina, greater resistance, from which we may which is only another name for clay, was suppose its tenacity to approach that of the most abundant of earthy bases, con iron. Cold hammering hardens it, but its stituting no small mass in the structure of former condition may be restored by rethe globe ;-moreover, that Sir Humphry melting. Its melting point differs but Davy had knocked down the notion of slightly from that of silver; it conducts alumina being an elementary substance, heat well ; and may be exposed to the air and had demonstrated it to be a metallic without any sensible oxydation. oxyd. All this we knew; but we did We learn further, that aluminum is pernot know that clay contained so large an fectly unalterable by dry or damp air; it amount of argentiferous metal, as to be may be handled and carried in the pocket one of the most valuable substances in without becoming tarnished, and it remains nature instead of one of the cheapest, and brilliant where fresh-cut tin or zinc loses apparently the most worthless.
its luster. Neither cold nor boiling water That it is so has been satisfactorily impairs its brightness ; even sulphuretted proved within the last year by M. Deville, hydrogen, that terrible blackener of plate, an ingenious Frenchman, who has carried finds it altogether insensible; nor does his experiments into the metallic consti- nitric acid, weak or concentrated, act tution of clay further than ever before. upon it. The only solvent yet known for Wöhler, a well-known German chemist, this apparently indestructible metal is had taken a step beyond Davy, and actually chlorhydric acid, which, by disengaging made a lump of clay give up its silver, or hydrogen, forms a sesquichloride of alualuminum, as the metal was called; but minum. it was only in tiny globules, somewhat re Here we let M. Deville speak for him. sembling seed-pearls in appearance. The self. “Any one,” he says, “ will compreresult was in no way equal to the cost and hend how a metal, white and unalterable labor of the experiment; still, a fact was as silver, which does not tarnish, which demonstrated. M. Deville, however, pro- is fusible, malleable, ductile, and tenacious, duces the metal in such quantities as to and which has the singular property of