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Full text of "A lady's ride across Spanish Honduras;"

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University of California Berkeley 




A LADY'S RIDE 
ACEOSS SPANISH HONDURAS 



ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN ' BLACK WOOD'S MAGAZINE' 



A LADY'S RIDE 
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS 



BY 

MARIA SOLTERA p 

5-/o4>7-& 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



i 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MDCCCLXXXIV 



TO THE DEAR MEMORY OF 
THE MOST REVEREND 

ROGER BEDE VAUGHAN 

LATE ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY, N.S.W. 

THIS RECORD OF MY WANDERINGS 
IS INSCRIBED. 



LIST OF ILLUSTKATIONS. 



HACIENDA NEAR SAN ANTONIO, . . Frontispiece 

SE DUEKMA HE SLEEPS, . . . To face page 158 

PASS BEYOND GOASCARON, ... 164 

COMAYAGUA, ,,207 

MANIOBAR, ...... ,,244 

POSADA NEAR SAN PEDRO SULA, . 276 



A LADY'S BIDE ACEOSS SPANISH 
HONDUKAS. 



CHAPTEE I. 

IT was the question of pounds, shillings, and 
pence. Should I take steamer from San Fran- 
cisco to Panama, cross the isthmus, and from 
the Atlantic side enter Spanish Honduras \ or 
had I better travel by steamer as far as Ama- 
pala, and thence take mules and ride across the 
country to San Pedro Sula my destination 
a distance of about two hundred and nineteen 
miles \ Thus was perplexed the mind of your 
globe-trotting servant " Soltera," as she pored 
over railway and steamboat guides and calcu- 
lated expenses, in her comfortable but very 
costly bedroom in the Palace Hotel, San Fran- 

A 



A LADY'S RIDE 



cisco, in the month of June, in year of grace 
1881. 

The steamer to Panama ! A fine expense ! 
And once arrived at that place, the end of the 
journey is not by any means reached. After en- 
during more or less sea-sickness, much thunder, 
and lightning unlimited, for about twelve days, 
there would be the further risk of catching the 
Panama fever. 

This fever is often irreverently styled the 
canal fever (in grim compliment to that cutting), 
and its general result is to put a decided stop to 
all plans and locomotion for many a day ; often 
for ever. Should I avoid that misfortune, there 
would be the certainty of being detained at some 
miserable place to wait for a vessel going to 
Puerto Cortez. A bill for " discomfort sup- 
plied," at a fearful charge of dollars, would be 
the inevitable result of that detention. 

Arrived at Puerto Cortez, which is also called 
Puerto Caballo, there would still be fifty miles 
to travel over mountains, through streams, and 
upon the ruins of the late Inter-Oceanic Rail- 
way of Honduras, till the haven of San Pedro 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 3 

Sula were reached. So far the one side of the 
question. 

Now for its converse. 

Take steamer as far as Amapala, which is the 
only Pacific port of entry to Spanish Honduras ; 
invade the consulate thereat ; make a friend and 
ally of good Senor Don Pedro Bahl ; ask him to 
provide mules, servant, and muleteer ; and thus 
ride straight and hard for San Pedro Sula. That 
is the better plan. It will also be the cheaper 
route; and I shall, by this means, enjoy the 
mountains I love so well, and see them in all 
their beauty, the grand Honduras mountains, 
over which few Englishmen, and still fewer 
Englishwomen, have ridden ! 

It has been ascertained, and I have been 
assured of this from Honduras, that the dangers 
of this route have been much exaggerated, the 
chief drawback being the bad roads and the 
peril of fording some of the streams. There 
exists also a great difficulty in obtaining food. 
But I shall have a servant and a muleteer to 
forage, and I can live as they do for twelve 
days or so (rash asseveration) ; and let me only 



A LADY'S RIDE 



come by a tolerable supply of milk, and I will 
travel far and well. 

Now falls on my soul the remembrance that 
I am alone in the world ; and at this moment 
the knowledge brings no pang. No one near 
of kin exists whose anxieties might deter me ; 
no loving heart will be broken should my por- 
tion be evil. Suffering, physical and mental, 
will fall upon myself solely ; and should this 
expedition end in the "last disaster," there re- 
main those outside the ties of kin, thank God, 
who will hold me in kindly remembrance and 
deal gently with my name. Let me forward 
whilst I have health and willing spirit. I am 
alone in the world. Yes ; but I go with God. 

" What are you doing, Soltera I why are you 
going to San Pedro Sula, and where on earth is 
the place ? " had inquired of me, some weeks 
previously, my handsome young cousin of the 
clan Campbell, who had come on board at 
Auckland, whereat the steamer Australia (in 
which I formed one of the passengers) touched, 
from lovely, hospitable Sydney. "We were bound 
to San Francisco, and had to stay a few hours in 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 5 

Auckland in order to take in the New Zealand 
contingent of mails and seafarers. This cousin 
and his wife were bound " home " on a visit, and 
it was quite in the usual accidental nature of 
things in travel, that we should thus meet with- 
out the slightest provocation thereto on either 
side. 

Kail and steam here gave evidence that the 
world is small enough to render chance en- 
counters with long-parted friends a common 
incident. 

Apart from the fact that the presence of this 
relative would contribute to throw an air of re- 
spectability over me, I was very glad to meet 
him, and to secure an auditor as to my plans 
and intentions. 

In answer to his inquiries, I informed Mr 
Campbell that San Pedro Sula was a large town 
in the Eepublic of Honduras, situate about fifty 
miles, or rather more, off the Atlantic coast, at 
the foot of a range of mountains, name forgotten. 
That its climate, according to a pamphlet com- 
piled by the Rev. Dr Pope, is salubrious (it is no 
such thing but the nights are bearable) ; that 



6 A LADY S RIDE 

a colony of Britons and some French people were 
being located thereat. In addition to this, the 
Government of Honduras was granting large 
concessions of land (quite true), and doing its 
utmost to get Europeans to make a settlement 
there. 

" What has all this to do with you ? " cut in 
my cousin, who seemed to fear that the whole 
contents of the pamphlet were about to be let 
loose upon him. 

" Simply this : as I speak Spanish fairly, and 
can be otherwise useful, I am invited (after some 
correspondence on the subject) to take charge 
of the school which is being erected for the 
colonists' children at San Pedro Sula. A salary 
has been guaranteed me ; and in addition to 
this, the Government will assign me a planta- 
tion of one hundred and sixty acres for the 
taking it, subject, of course, to its being cul- 
tivated and kept in order. Dr Pope writes me 
that a plantation once put in working trim, re- 
quires little further outlay, beyond the first or 
second year's expenses." 

" Who is this Dr Pope ? " 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 7 

" The agent of the Honduras Government 
and a Catholic priest. He has already located 
a number of families from Ireland, and he is to 
return shortly and fetch out four hundred more. 
The pamphlet is circulated as a proclamation 
and confirmation of his position to the outside 
world, and contains, both in the Spanish and the 
English language, a copy of all the engagements 
existing between the President of the Eepublic, 
Dr Soto, and this agent. There are also pub- 
lished letters of authority from most of the 
principal persons of the State, the Dutch con- 
sul, and the Bishop of Comayagua." 

" Coma what ? " 

" Comayagua," I replied, " the ancient capital 
of Spanish Honduras. The seat of government 
is transferred now to a town which lies further 
south of Comayagua. The name of this town 
is Tegucigalpa perhaps you like that better ? " 

" Don't chaff a fellow ; the names are wonder- 
ful ! What a country it must be to stand such 
queer-sounding appellations ! Excuse me fur- 
ther. Let me hope that you have not bought 
any land, or placed money in this agent's hands." 



A LADY'S HIDE 



" Certainly not. You know that I have been 
obliged to increase my pittance by taking 
pupils in Sydney. I am very, very sorry to 
part with these dear people ; but I am not get- 
ting younger, and I want to make a home of 
my own. This appointment will help me on 
till I do so. Don't you see \ " 

" Yes well and if it does not do, you can 
go back again. I dorr t know much about the 
matter, but I have always had the impression 
that the climate out there is rather awful. Hot 
as fire, is it not ? " 

" Not among the mountains," I retorted 
quickly ; for a shadow of suspicion must not 
be allowed to fall upon my beloved mountains. 
<e The climate is unhealthy, and worse, I know, 
on the sea-coast and low-lying plains ; but I 
shall be very little among these." 

" Haven't they a place there called Mosquito ? 
That sounds lively, but decidedly the reverse of 
pleasant, eh ? " 

" Mosquito, my good cousin, is another pro- 
vince altogether. Look at the map. You can 
abuse that as much as you please. San Pedro 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 9 

Sula lies in the interior of the country, and is 
surrounded by the mountains. The only draw- 
back of the situation is, that the town has been 
placed at their base." 

" What are these mountains called ? " 

"I do not know that they have any partic- 
ular designation ; but they form part of the 
chain of the principal range." 

"You seem to be pretty well up in the 
geography of these parts at any rate, and I 
hope you will not be disappointed ; for really, 
Soltera, this is an undertaking, and no mistake 
about it." 

" Yes ; and if you read in some newspaper a 
few months hence, that a lady unknown, to- 
gether with her mule, have been found at the 
bottom of a precipice, make up your mind that 
it is I. Better people can be spared; so any 
way I will try it. Besides, my late residence 
jn Fiji has given me an insight both as regards 
tropical and plantation life. I learnt a few 
things when in those lovely isles of the Pacific 
which I hope to turn to good account." (A 
year previously I had been employed as a fin- 



10 A LADY'S RIDE 

ishing governess in a planter's family in one of 
the islands of the Fijian group. This fact will in- 
form the reader that I add the crime of poverty 
to my other detriments.) 

The foregoing conversation will also explain 
the conflict anent ways and means which exer- 
cised me during my stay at San Francisco, and 
why the more perilous route chimed in so read- 
ily with my purse and proclivities. 

Time and the steamer vid the Mexican ports 
of Mazatlan, San Bias, Manzanillo, and Puerto 
Angel, saw me on my way to the Eepublic 
of Honduras, and bound for its port of entry, 
Amapala. 

This latter place is so rarely marked on the 
smaller maps, that I may mention that this 
town is situate on a small island in the bay of 
Fonseca ; and that most people revile it as 
being a hot, dirty, and not money-making place. 

Having "been and seen" the stores of the 
United States of American consul there, and 
witnessed the traffic which goes on in his well- 
stocked warehouse, I am much inclined to doubt 
the latter part of this assertion. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 11 

Public opinion, furthermore, appeared to be 
greatly aggrieved because tlie nightly lightning 
which always works with great vigour at Ama- 
pala has hitherto left the town intact, and this 
by a peculiar and persistent perversion of right 
and wrong. From the manner also in which 
some persons talked about this coast, I was led 
to believe that an inevitable lion was to be des- 
cried on its shores on the approach of a steamer, 
watching, it was implied, for the rare meat 
which, in the shape of a passenger, might de- 
scend upon Amapala. This lion also enjoyed 
the peculiarity of being reported as a "tiger," 
probably from the circumstance of an acclivity 
called " La Montana de los Tigres " being close 
to the landing-place, and whence the creature 
might have hailed. Before the journey had 
nearly ended, however, he had subsided (by de- 
scription) into a mountain-leopard. Bad enough ; 
but I never met him under any of these phases. 

Acapulco is the one of the Mexican ports at 
which we touched on our way down the coast, 
of which I shall ever retain a "pleasant 
memory." We arrived in its lovely harbour in 



12 A LADY'S BIDE 

the early morning; and the sight of the pictur- 
esque little town, over the red roofs of which 
the thin veil of the mists was slowly clearing 
itself away, reminded me of the face of a friend 
determined to wear a smile. Its situation be- 
tween two irregular and projecting tongues of 
land, with the background gradually widening 
and rising towards the hills, invests it with an 
air of coziness, and of being, at the same time, 
thoroughly well protected. 

A few trees, dotted about in all the beauty of 
unprecision, serve to relieve the whole landscape 
from the appearance of aridity so common to the 
majority of seaboard towns. Several broken 
rocks of peculiarly vivid colour jut out like an 
advanced-guard to the right of a long pier at 
the entrance, and upon this pier the natives, 
in full costume or in little costume, stand out 
in pleasing relief. Add to these the bright- 
coloured fruit and fish, lying in baskets of every 
shape and elegant texture, shrouded partially in 
grand green leaves, which of themselves suggest 
the idea of sheltering trees. Not overlooking, 
either, the delicate shell-work held up for sale 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 13 

in the hands of the loveliest female peasantry 
in the world ; the wonderful flowers ; the boats 
covered with every variety of gay awning, with 
the Mexican flag at their prow, dancing here 
and there on the liquid emerald of the sea. 

Look with me, reader, in this mirror; you 
will then have some idea of how appears, in 
everyday garb, Acapulco. 

" How lovely these Mexican girls are ! " said 
the ship's doctor to me as we neared shore, a 
party intending to spend a few hours on land 
whilst the good ship Colima took in cargo, and 
transacted the business which would detain her 
in harbour for the rest of the day. " Quite 
beautiful," continued the doctor, speaking to no 
one in particular, and keeping his eyes riveted 
upon a damsel who was waiting on the pier 
ready to pounce down upon us, and bewitch us 
into buying some of her shell-work. This was 
a wreath of stephanotis, most artistically made 
in small white shells, and as tastefully mounted 
with green silk leaves. It was a crown for a 
fairy queen. 

The doctor was a very young man indeed 



14 A LADY'S EIDE 

this was, I think, his first trip as doctor on 
board a steamer. He had talked during the 
voyage from San Francisco with much contempt 
concerning Mexico, the Mexicans, and all their 
ways and works. In fact he could see nothing 
admirable but the United States of America, 
and had repudiated with great energy the 
imputation often made by the passengers in 
general, that America is only biding her time 
to "annex" Mexico to the States. 

" Nothing of the kind," he would asseverate ; 
" you are all wrong ; the States would not take 
the country as a gift. A land that requires 
other people to point out her means of wealth, 
and invites foreigners to exploit her mines and 
build her railroads 1 A lazy, good-for-nothing 
set of men ; and as for the women " 

" Hold hard there, doctor," had retorted a 
young English engineer, who had embarked at 
Mazatlan on his way to join a mining-camp 
somewhere in Guatemala. " I give you the 
men ; but as for the women, nothing short 
of paradise can beat them. I was in Mexico 
last year, so I think I know something about 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 15 

it. I repeat, the ladies of Mexico are all 
lovely." 

This opinion was emphatically supported by 
a party of students fresh from college at San 
Francisco. These youths, who, in this most 
cosmopolitan of cities, must have seen many 
Mexican ladies, were unanimous in backing 
the engineer's assertion. This gentleman had 
a smattering of the Spanish language, and thus, 
with the alliance of the students, his position 
appeared to be impregnable ; but the American 
doctor stood to his guns. 

" Paradise, indeed I what have they to do 
with the place ? They are too lazy to walk 
in even if the door were opened to them. 
No brains no usefulness can't do a thing 
but thrum on a guitar. One American girl is 
worth a hundred of them. And as for beauty, 
dirty, brown skins glaring, beady, black 
eyes without intelligence. No ; 

" May I ask," interrupted the engineer, 
politely, "who is the one American girl worth 
half a hundred of well houris ? " 

" Angels," suggested one of the students. I 



16 A LADY'S RIDE 

think he suspected that the engineer's appel- 
lation might not be strong enough. 

The deep flush on the quiet impassive face 
of the doctor betrayed that the conversation 
had taken a turn quite unlocked for by him. 
Happily at that moment one of the stewards, 
sent by his chief, came to ask for some quinine 
pills. So the doctor got himself away, but not 
before he had heard one of the company assert, 
" The Americans certainly have their pretty 
women, like other nations ; but, good Lord ! 
' them have all of them voices Hke a peacock/ ' 

" Surely that is rather a sweeping assertion," 
I made reply to the passenger who had ven- 
tured it. 

" Not a bit of it," he answered, with all 
the hardihood of thorough conviction ; " that 
beautiful thing in woman, ' the soft low voice/ 
is utterly unknown in America. The children in 
the schools are taught to pitch their voices in a 
high key. It is part of their education. One can 
forgive a little of the peacock in a pretty woman; 
but when it comes to the plain ones, it makes 
one shiver whenever they open their mouths." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 17 

" I don't know," I replied ; " but somehow it 
does not seem to accord with our doctor's quiet 
gentle manner to accredit him with a fancy 
even for a girl with a harsh voice." 

" Can't help himself," was the rejoinder ; " and 
I know pretty clearly what I am talking about." 

This finished the conversation as far as I 
was concerned ; but I felt sure that the doctor, 
though out of sight, was near enough to hear 
these remarks. To prevent the subject coming 
up again, I asked a young lady of ten years of 
age to favour us with some music. 

That performance had the effect of sending 
every one at once out of the saloon ; and the 
next morning saw us invading a Mexican port, 
and admiring the beauty of " las Mejicanas." 

In the multiplicity of his occupations by 
night and day (for there was an apprehension 
of fever breaking out) our Esculapius had en- 
tirely forgotten the guerilla warfare of the 
preceding evening, or he would not have so 
enthusiastically exclaimed, " How lovely these 
Mexican women are 1 " 

Fortunately his opponent had seated himself 
B 



18 A LADY'S RIDE 

in the second boat, and so this involuntary 
applause fell only on my ear and upon those 
of the San Franciscan students. 

These were quite good-natured fellows, and 
their "chaff" was perfectly guileless of being 
personal or bitter. They, however, would have 
their say. 

" Well done, doctor ! " cried one who was 
called Paul by his confreres, and who seemed 
to be their leading spirit ; " a confession and 
retraction all in one. Now look here, doctor : 
you must buy that wreath ; and moreover, you 
must present it to some lady who is not an 
American. Do you consent ? " 

"Wa-al, and what then? I will buy the 
wreath ; and further, I can afford to say that 
I have been mistaken. There is great intel-r 
ligence in that ' Mejicana's ' eye. She is a 
wonderfully beautiful woman. Ask the price 
of the wreath and I will buy it, and present 
it to a lady not American.' 7 

True to his promise, the doctor, aided by 
the lad named Paul (who spoke English very 
fairly), immediately upon landing began to 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 19 

traffic with the Mexican girl, she, on her side, 
being more than willing. Let those whose sole 

o o 

acquaintance with shell-work is confined to the 
hideous productions exhibited at Brighton, Mar- 
gate, and others of Britain's coasts, know that 
on their side of the world never have nor never 
can be encountered those wonderful productions 
of sand and glue and buried mussel which con- 
stitutes nine-tenths of what is miscalled shell- 
work in the above-named places. 

The shells on the coast of Central America 
generally are exquisitely delicate, and thin to 
transparency. At a place called Acajutta, there 
is a beach so famous for its rose-coloured shells 
that it is commonly styled the bed of rose-leaves. 

The making of these shell-flowers is a pre- 
vailing industry along the coast, and the native 
women, especially the Indians and the Mexicans, 
derive a great emolument from their sale. The 
art is also much practised by ladies of higher 
rank, and it is taught as one of the accom- 
plishments in the convent schools. It is certain 
that nature gives a liberal helping-hand in the 
tints of rose and yellow which in these shells 



20 A LADY'S HIDE 

are remarkably natural ; but a good deal must 
be accorded to the delicate touch and elegant 
taste of those who arrange these charming 
bouquets. 

The wreath being bought, it was not difficult 
to guess who was to be its recipient. Close 
beside me stood a young Irish lady, who, with 
her family, was on her way from Japan to New 
York vid Aspinwall. The mother having the 
care of a young infant, had asked me to chap- 
eron "Beauty" and her sister on this little 
expedition. At this moment I forget the 
lady's Christian name. She was called Beauty 

O'H all over the ship ; and she deserved 

the appellation, being a simple innocent girl, 
charming in every way. 

Three cheers from .the lads, interlarded with 
the complimentary expressions of " Good com- 
rade m an of good heart of honour," &c., 
notified the extreme satisfaction of the students 
at this assignment of the purchase ; whilst the 
sapphire blue eyes of the girl beamed with 
gratitude as she warmly tendered her thanks. 
The doctor really at that moment did receive 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDUEAS. 21 

the reward of virtue that is, if virtue ever does 
get any reward outside of tracts and little books. 

A fellow-passenger, who rejoiced in the name 
of Cookes, here remarked that he liked senti- 
ment and all that sort of thing in its place. 
He had come to Acapulco to see the peak of 
distant Popocatepetl, "that splendid mountain, 
madam," he continued, particularly addressing 
himself to me, " which has his head covered 
with clouds all the year round, and which 

Here interposed Serior Hernandez, a gentle 
well-bred Spaniard, who might pass for being 
perfectly sane, did he not acknowledge to the 
ambition of becoming at no distant date presi- 
dent of one of the Central American republics. 
The Senor's knowledge of English was limited, 
but he had caught enough to understand 
that Popocatepetl was being misrepresented. 
" Pardon me, his head is not always in the 
clouds," said he, taking up Mr Cookes ; " and 
if we want to see him in all his glory we must- 
walk a short way into the country. In such 
splendid weather, I think we should be able to 
count upon a very clear view." 



22 A LADY'S RIDE 

" Do you know the way ? " inquired Mr 
Cookes, who spoke the Castilian language re- 
markably well. 

" I was here many years ago, but I think I 
can remember the route ; there is no time to 
lose. Eemember our captain's words as we 
left : ' If you do not return by five o'clock I 
shall not wait, but sail away.' ' 

This admonition put us on our mettle, and 
taking the middle of the road, we set out on 
our expedition. The streets of Acapulco as 
they recede from the shore are hilly, and full 
of sand and large holes. An attempt has for- 
merly been made to repair them here and there, 
but the result is not a success. Some of the 
houses are very solidly built, with stone pillars 
supporting the porticoes, and with broad stone 
seats, firmly built in the wall, within these. 
Apparently there was not a glass window in 
the place, all these apertures being filled with 
light lattice-work, painted a dull red colour. 
In some casements thin bars of iron, placed 
diagonally, admitted air and light. 

The public school window was so furnished, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 23 

and a thick shutter hung outside, which could 
be closed at pleasure, according to the strength 
of the sun and glare. The schoolroom seemed 
to be very roomy and clean, and its walls 
were evidently of great thickness. We looked 
through the iron lattice, and saw the scholars 
busy at work. The master came forward and 
bowed, and at a sign from him all the pupils 
who were seated rose to their feet. This, from 
all appearance, did not seem to be the first time 
that the school had been noticed by strangers. 
A few little fellows poked their heads through 
the lower bars; and some big ones, who had 
got into the street, followed us for a short dis- 
tance as we wended on our way. They soon 
turned back, and sped away to school again 
with the speed of deer. Somebody was await- 
ing them ! 



24 A LADY'S RIDE 



CHAPTER II. 

FORWARD being the word, we quickly cleared 
the town of Acapulco. Its outskirts bear a 
cultivated appearance, owing to the rows of 
trees which are planted for some distance at 
the side of the footpath. At this season they 
bore a bunchy mauve-coloured flower, some- 
thing between the lilac and the beautiful 
climber Wistaria ; but the blossom was not 
so clearly defined, and it crumbled away in the 
hand at the slightest touch. 

It was pleasant to find the China rose (with 
such a lovely pink on its cheek !) peeping out 
here and there from a dilapidated hedge. This 
place must surely be some deserted garden. A 
look through a gap confirmed this conjecture, 
as we descried several tall hollyhock-looking 
plants, bearing about them a decided air of 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 25 

culture. They appeared as if they were on guard, 
distracting by their gaudy array the attention 
of the passers-by from the desolation within. 

A party endowed with plenty of life and 
tongue generally travels quickly, and gets over 
a good span of ground and time at almost 
imperceptible speed. This was certainly the 
case with us as on and on we went, admiring 
the fantastic peaks and heights by which the 
near distance was intersected, and grumbling 
a little when the ascent became more abrupt, 
and the road rougher. Very shortly granite 
rocks, and their usual companion the dwarf 
cactus, stood out upon the scene ; the huts, 
too, had become more sparse ; these were little 
else than bare poles, with their roofing com- 
posed of dirty skins and palm-leaves. Then 
utter desolation : for nothing living, save a 
large hare, which darted into some brushwood 
in the background, gave evidence that any 
created thing existed here. 

My surprise was great when I heard this 
animal declared to be a hare. "It is so large 
and black," objected I. 



26 A LADY'S HIDE 

" Years ago, when I landed from a merchant 
vessel here for a day, this place was overrun by 
hares. I remember we made a party to go into 
the interior and shoot them. They were mostly 
large, and the flesh was very coarse/' made 
answer Mr Cookes. 

" You have been here before ? " inquired 
Beauty O'H . 

"I have been almost all over Mexico and 
the coast," returned Mr Cookes ; " but I 
was only on shore at Acapulco for the one 
day I allude to, and that was twenty years 
ago." 

" This is how you come to speak Spanish so 
well," said the same young lady. 

" Yes ; I kept it up in Mexico ; but I learned 
the language in Spain, in the old country. 
When very young I was sent into a counting- 
house at Cadiz ; but I soon tired of that, and 
turned sailor." 

" You know all about Popocatepetl then ? " 
continued Beauty. 

"No; I don't feel interested in mountains; 
I have seen such a lot of them. This one is the 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 27 

highest in America, they say ; but it is only, 
after all, a volcano out of work." 

" Doctor," said she, turning round, and speak- 
ing to him with an air of confidence ; " you 
know something about this mountain. Why is 
it thought so much of, and where did it get 
its frightful name?" 

"It got ^ its frightful name in very far off 
times," replied that gentleman; "I cannot tell 
you when, but it was so called when the Span- 
iards invaded Mexico, and conquered that coun- 
try. The meaning of Popocatepetl is * The hill 
that smokes.' ' 

" It does not smoke now ? " 

" No ; but at the time of the invasion I allude 
to, it was in full play ; and the eruption was so 
terrific, and lasted so long, that the Indians be- 
lieved it to be the portent of the destruction of 
their city. You should read ' The Conquest of 
Mexico,' by Prescott. You will learn all about 
it far better in that work than from me." 

" Prescott is an American 1 " 

" Yes," returned the doctor, proudly ; " and 
his writings are accepted as being standard 



28 A LADY'S EIDE 

works in all the civilised world. If you prefer 
to select an English author on the subject, read 
Kobertson." 

" Certainly not," replied the girl hastily ; 
" you Americans are so touchy. I only inquired 
what Prescott's nationality was, to satisfy my 
own ignorance." 

" Come up here, all of you," shouted a voice 
from the front the owner being perched on an 
elevated ridge a little to the right, and taking 
advantage of the height to look down upon us 
with the air of a discoverer. This was the stu- 
dent Paul. 

We hastened to obey. The other students 
helped up the girls, the Spaniard helped me, and 
I hauled Mr Cookes, who was lame, with my 
disengaged hand, the doctor propelling him in 
the rear. 

Hats off, shouting, and an improvised war- 
dance on the part of the students, announced us 
to be in the presence of Popocatepetl, that is, 
as far as eyesight was concerned. Actually it 
was many, many leagues away in the far 
distance. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 29 

In the far distance true ; but well did we 
discern this magnificent peak, shooting like a 
monolith straight and fair into the clouds. Was 
his form irregular ; had he gaping wounds, black 
with cinder and burn, and disfigured by smoke ? 
The rich soft mantle of snow veiled all these ; 
and troops of smaller cones far and wide, more 
sober in their greyer tones, clustered around him 
to conceal his scars and his power for evil. 
From the point whence we viewed him, he was 
the giant grand and beautiful, and we ignored 
the destructions which he had wrought. 

" Let him not arouse," pray we ; for should 
His hand unloose him, who can tell what miseries 
the pent-up fires of a century may rain on the 
earth ? 

Some longing, lingering looks, and we descend 
into the road which will take us back to the 
town I Our tongues are free, for the weird 
solemn scene had subdued the youngest of us 
into silence. 

Now we all burst forth into praise, and admire 
ourselves intensely for undertaking this pilgrim- 
age. Ere long it leaks out that some of us are 



30 A LADY'S RIDE 

tired, and all confess to feeling very hungry and 
thirsty. 

Good Senor Hernandez is equal to this 
occasion. 

" I have an old friend," said he, " whose 
hacienda is very near the town, it will not be 
many steps out of the way. If he does not 
happen to be at home, some of the family will 
be. They are kind, h'ospitable people, and will 
make us welcome." 

" But we are such a gang," one of our number 
reminded Sefior Hernandez. 

" Never mind ; there is plenty of room, and 
my friend is a Spaniard of pure race." This 
last expression meant many things ; amongst 
which the declaration of there being no admix- 
ture of Indian blood in the composition of Senor 
Hernandez's friend was one ; another, that a 
true Spaniard never quarrels with the number 
of his guests. 

So we hied to the hacienda of Senor Don 
Can dido, and were admitted through a broken 
gate into a piece of ground, half coffee planta- 
tion, half garden, and whole wilderness, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 31 

brilliant flowers dotting themselves here and 
there, mostly set on tall stalks. They reminded 
me somewhat of some pert damsels I have seen, 
who were determined not to be overlooked. 

A long low building stood in the centre of 
this enclosure ; and presently there poured out 
from this men, women, dogs, unlimited in num- 
ber as they appeared, followed by a very hand- 
some lad who carried a gun in his hand. In- 
troductions over, we were soon seated in the 
broad verandah which is generally the place 
of social gatherings in these Spanish houses. 
Some handsomely netted hammocks and some 
plain grass ones were slung between the several 
posts of the verandah. Out of one of these a 
head was raised up, and as quickly popped back 
again. 

" It is only Pepita," said the lady of the 
house, in explanation. " Poor Pepita ! she runs 
about too much. Sleep on," she continued, 
addressing the bulge in the hammock; "these 
good friends will excuse thee." And she gave 
the hammock a swing, which, I suppose, sent 
Pepita off to the land of Nod, but which effec- 



32 A LADY'S EIDE 

tually roused a cross parrot which had been 
reposing with its mistress, and which flew out 
of its enclosure, and without the slightest pro- 
vocation made straight for me and attempted 
to bite my feet. Failing in this, the bird clung 
to my skirts, and attempted to climb upon me 
beneath them. I tried to push the creature 
away, but it seemed bent upon tasting European 

flesh ; and as the O'H girls were afraid to 

touch it, I had to rise to my feet and hurl it 
from me. Just then the handsome lad who 
was called, I heard, Jaime (this is pronounced 
Ha-ee-may, and is Castilian for our ugly, abrupt 
James) caught sight of what was going on, 
and proceeded to put a stop to the parrot's 
annoyance, for it was rushing at me again. 

Don Jaime left the verandah-post against 
which he had been leaning as he chatted to 
Seiior Hernandez, and brought out from some 
corner a long and very thin bamboo switch. 
With this he administered four or five cuts 
sharply across the back and wings of the bird, 
reproving it as he did so just as if it had been 
a child under correction. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 33 

"Ah, naughty Marquita! Take thy whip- 
ping ; this is to teach thee manners. Wicked 
bird I How dare you try to bite ! " 

I had never seen a bird whipped before ; and 
fearing that he might do it a mischief, I begged 
the lad to refrain. 

" She must be tamed," replied the lad, as he 
desisted at once ; " she is of a very strong kind, 
and her temper is that of the demonio. No, I 
would not hurt her ; I know how much to cor- 
rect her." 

All this time the bird was yelling and 
squeaking like a veritable demonio, and flew 
to the roof of the verandah, describing wide 
circles about Don Jaime's head, and making 
as if she would attack him with all the strength 
of her will. The bamboo switch was evidently 
a factor in the case ; and at length she flew up 
into a corner and contented herself with emit- 
ting now and then some peculiar sounds, which 
possibly might be hard bird-swearing. 

The party at the other end of the verandah 
talked calmly on, and never appeared even to 
notice the hubbub which this had occasioned. 

c 



34 A LADY'S RIDE 

I suppose in these parts it is not the correct 
thing to expend unnecessary strength upon 
being surprised. 

Some excellent coffee and fruit were handed 
to us, and at the same time cigars were offered 
to all who would accept them. The lady of 
the house presented her own to me, first light- 
ing it and giving it two or three puffs at her 
mouth as she did so. This is the most compli- 
mentary manner of presenting a cigar, and I 
felt sorry that natural and national prejudices 
obliged me to decline the civility. The hostess 
soon found a grateful recipient in one of our 
fellow-travellers, and then she and her daugh- 
ters smoked away as hard as any three London 
cabmen. 

The Misses O'H - proposed to stroll out 
into the garden, and the handsome Jaime put 
down his coffee-cup and attended us. He 
plucked some fine China roses, and placing 
these against a background of coffee-tree stems 
laden with berries, produced three beautiful 
and unique bouquets. This young gentleman 
told us that he was a nephew of the owner of 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 35 

the house, and that he was paying a visit at 
this time to Acapulco. We were all very much 
taken with the appearance of the youth, and his 
kind unaffected manner was truly charming. 

" What a lout the ordinary British youth of 
the same age would be in this position ! " said 

the eldest Miss O'H to me, as we walked 

behind the others. " He would be wishing all 
of us in Japan, and suffer the extreme of misery 
in his own mind." 

" True," I answered ; " but remember, when 
the ordinary British lad arrives at maturity, he 
generally remains in the plenitude of strength 
and manhood for many years. When Lubin is 
fifty, Antonio will be looking, and probably 
feeling, sixty-five. The Spanish women, you 
know, are considered to be old at thirty ; but 
they are formed and lovely at fifteen." 

"I do not understand why this should be," 
continued my young friend. 

" Nor I either. I suppose it is in some degree 
a fulfilment of the doctrine of compensation." 

"Ah! that is my father's favourite theory, 
don't you know ? " 



36 A LADY'S RIDE 

" No, dear Hibernia, I did not know ; but I 
agree with your father. I confess to being a 
great believer in the doctrine of compensation." 

" Have you had any compensation in your 
life for your early troubles ? None of us have, 
and papa has been done out of a lot of money/' 
said the girl. 

" So have I also ; but compensation may not 
come in the way we-expect. Good health, hap- 
piness, getting married, my dear, on your part, 
and not getting married on mine, may perhaps 
be a compensation for the loss of money." 

So preached I ; and the kind-hearted girl 
pressed my arm, and said she only wished that 
I had a large fortune, and that I could finish 
my journey with her and her family. This 
could not be, for the O'H a were on their 
way to New York. 

Now were gathered together our forces, for 
we must be back on our way to the vessel. 
The doctor was missing. Somebody surmised 
that he had already returned to the ship. How- 
ever, we unanimously decided that he would 
turn up somewhere ; and then we all took leave, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 37 

having well enjoyed our simple and cordial 
entertainment. 

" Ah I there you are, doctor ; we could not 
think what had become of you," exclaimed 
Mr Cookes, as he caught sight of that gentle- 
man sitting on a step busy overhauling the 
contents of a candle-box-looking article. " We 
thought you had turned back for metal more 
attractive the Mexican shell- worker." 

"You thought wrong, then. I strayed out 
of the way to look for some marine plants, for 
I aspire to be a little of a botanist. Not having 
the faintest idea where you had got to, I walked 
straight here ; for you would be obliged to pass 
this place to get to the pier." 

" This place " was a large and well-stocked 
store, hung without and within with a wonder- 
ful collection of articles, and kept by a veritable 
Englishman. I wanted some large white hand- 
kerchiefs wherewith to cover my shoulders dur- 
ing my proposed ride, as the back of the neck, 
at the juncture of the head with the spine, is 
the part which should be more carefully covered 
even than the head itself under a burning sun. 



38 A LADY'S RIDE 

The girls, too, wanted the .gayest handker- 
chiefs they could find, to remind them of Mexico 
when they arrived at home. 

We were supplied with what we required at 
a terrific prioe. The shopkeeper must have 
netted forty per cent on an average upon our 
purchases. 

" We pay very high for the privilege of deal- 
ing with a countryman/' remarked Mr Cookes. 
"The French, Greeks, and Spaniards certainly 
do bleed foreigners pretty freely, but it is re- 
served to the English all over the world to 
overcharge and swindle those of their own 
nation. Other peoples are considerate to their 
own, but we are above the weakness of making 
any exception." 

" Really ? " 

" That is my experience in these countries. 
Depend upon it, the worst people to be encoun- 
tered in any part of the world are the low 
whites," went on Mr Cookes. "They get all 
they can out of the natives, and then, in some 
cases, go home and cant about the wickedness 
of the heathen." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 39 

This is in a measure true, as I knew by ex- 
perience in the Fiji Islands, and from statements 
of friends on whom I could rely. 

Eeturning in the boat to the vessel, I found 
myself again seated near the doctor. He asked 
me to spare him a stem of the coffee-berries. 

" I want them," said he, with a little hesita- 
tion, " for a ' school marm.' She is a good girl, 
and, though an American, she has the low soft 
voice so beautiful in woman." Here the doctor 
looked very valiant, as if he would not recede 
an inch from what he had averred. 

I handed him the stem of coffee-berries, and 
with it the finest of my roses. "The ' school 
marm ' will be the doctor's wife some fine day, 
I predict," said I, shaking him by the hand. 
" Now, do you dry that rose, and some far-off 
time you may chance upon it, and remember 
our little excursion in Acapulco." 

The good gentleman returned the pressure of 
my hand, and merely replied, "Yes; this has 
been a red-letter day." 

" May all go well with you. Good-bye." 

The boat had touched the ship's stair, and 



40 A LADY'S RIDE 

the doctor, after placing me on the lower step, 
ran rapidly up on deck. Thus vanished out of 
my sight, probably for ever, one of my pleasant 
travelling friends. 

The captain was standing on board as we 
ascended. " I have not had time to say much 
to you," said he, addressing me ; " but I hear 
you are going to the Honduras. Surely it is 
a terrible journey for -you to take alone ! " 

" I do not fear a little hardship," said I, 
perhaps too confidently. "I am the daughter 
and sister of English soldiers, and my bringing 
up has never been luxurious. Circumstances 
in later years have compelled me to depend on 
myself." 

"It is a wonder to me/' continued the cap- 
tain, " that your relatives allow you to go.". 

" I have no near relations, and I go to make 
a home of my own. "We have all of us our 
troubles, captain ; do not discourage me. Hith- 
erto I have got on very well, and the world in 
general is kind to lone female travellers." 

" Yes, the civilised world." The captain here 
shook his head. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 41 

I turned aside to answer a summons. The 
speaker was a bedroom steward. " Mr Smith 
sends me to ask you to get together your things, 
please, for the boat will be ready in twenty 
minutes to take you on board the Clyde." 

I looked at my roses and my beautiful bunch 
of coffee-berries, and handed them silently over 

to the youngest Miss O'H ; for the truth 

must out I was to say good-bye, and leave 
these friends of a few days "for ever and a 
day," as the saying goes. Yes ; there stood the 
vessel alongside of the Colima, the steamer 
which we had seen in the harbour before we 
went ashore. She was called the Clyde, was 
smaller than the Colima, and warranted slow. 

This vessel had been all day taking in and 
discharging cargo, and now was ready to re- 
ceive the last of the passengers of the Colima 
who might be bound to the intermediate ports. 
The future mission of the Colima was to dash 
down to Panama without a stoppage ; whilst 
the Clyde was to dawdle leisurely along the 
coast, stop at every port, and to cast anchor 
every night from sundown to sunrise. 



42 A LADY'S RIDE 

" Why is this ? " I inquired of Mr Smith, the 
head steward, that kindest and most courteous 
of head stewards, wherever the others may be. 

"The navigation is particularly dangerous 
along that coast, and in some places the water 
is very shallow and abounds in shoals. The 
steamers always lay-to at night. The voyage 
down there will be very tedious, and the heat 
terrible, you'll find," returned Mr Smith. " Do 
not be startled at the lightning. It is very 
alarming to a stranger, but you will soon be 
accustomed to that. This is the season for it." 

" We have had a pretty fair share since we 
left San Francisco. . Will it be worse as we go 
further south ? " I inquired. 

4 'No; but you will think more of it, as you 
will be lying still, and the steamer also. I 
mention the subject, to assure you that I have 
never heard of any vessel being struck ; and 
although moving objects, they say, run less risk, 
the lightning on this coast seems to respect 
vessels at anchor." 

"Are any more of our passengers changing 
for the Clyde ? " I inquired. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 43 

" One steerage passenger, a gentleman in 
every sense of the word. He goes only as far 
as La Union, but he is willing to be useful to 
you if he can. I am sorry to say that terrible 
'lady/ Mrs C., and her children, will be your 
only companions. I transferred them to the 
other ship three hours ago, and they have been 
shrieking ever since. By the way," continued 
Mr Smith, with his good-natured laugh, " the 
captain of the Clyde is in a terrible fright as 
to what you may be like, as these C/s are the 
only specimens he has of the Colima's passen- 
gers, and Mrs C. talks of her friend the English 
lady 1 " 

I had only spoken to this individual once. 
She was a demi- semi -gentle worn an, and her 
manners and appearance were very unfortu- 
nate. Her hardness to one of her children, 
and the brazen way in which she had informed 
the passengers in general that she had come 
away in debt, and evaded her tradespeople in 
San Francisco, had caused us to dislike her 
thoroughly. 

We found that her husband was captain of 



44 A LADY'S RIDE 

a mine somewhere on the coast of Guatemala, 
and that she and her family were on the way 
to join him. According to her own account, 
she had left San Francisco in disguise ; but 
from various discrepancies in her narrations, I 
was led to think that she preferred being taken 
for a vagabond than to pass as one of w^hom 
there was nothing particular to be said. 

Here they are, the boat and Mr Smith wait- 
ing to transfer me to the Clyde. He brings in 
his hand a glass of champagne, which is sent, 
he says, " with the Colima's compliments/ 7 

The O'H 's and students say good-bye with 

all the kindliness of their nature ; and gentle, 
unassuming Senor Hernandez tells me not to 
keep him waiting, for he is coming on board 
with me to introduce me to the captain. And 
so I get away, with a benison in my heart on 
these kindly strangers. This was all my adieu, 
for I could not speak. El buen Dios los guarde 
muchos anos ! (May God grant them many 
years !) 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 45 



CHAPTER III. 

THE steerage passenger described by the head 
steward as being a thorough gentleman was 
already seated in the boat which was to 
convey us on board the Clyde. I saw at a 
glance that he was one of Britannia's sons, 
very poor, perhaps, but bearing withal that 
unmistakable air of "breed," which neither 
wealth, nor education even, has ever succeeded 
in imitating with success. The true stamp 
of nature's gentleman, the best of all, is ever 
inborn. This fellow - wanderer assisted us to 
seats, and then we exchanged a few words as 
we were being rowed to our new vessel. I 
gathered from these that this passenger was 
bound for the mines in Guatemala ; and he 
added to this information an avowal of his 
determination never to set foot in England 



46 A LADY'S EIDE 

until he should return rich, or at least inde- 
pendent. 

" I am going to work as a common miner," 
continued this young man, with great decision, 
" whether my family like it or not. They sent 
me off to make my way as best I could in the 
colonies ; and because I could not get a situa- 
tion as a clerk in an office the moment I 
landed, it is assumed that I am idle and all 
the rest of it ; and so I am going to take my 

own way of it, and stick to the work that has 

JM 
been offered to me on this side." 

Mr Smith, who sat opposite, listened to all 
this, and then said : " You came from Sydney, 
sir, did you not ? " 

" Yes ; I worked my passage to 'Frisco, and 
am now on my way to join a mining camp." 

From what transpired further, I found that 
this young man was but one of the many who 
suffer from the extraordinary delusions under 
which many patres familiarum, uncles, and 
widowed mothers of our nation labour with 
regard to the demand and supply of educated 
labour in the colonies. Generally speaking^ 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDUEAS. 47 

when a young gentleman betrays, or has be- 
trayed, a proclivity for spending too much 
money, or cannot get what is called genteel 
employment at home, or has perhaps com- 
mitted himself in an act of grave misdoing, 
there is always some fool at hand to suggest 
his being sent out to the colonies. If he may 
consent to enter farm or domestic service, to 
learn a trade, or undertake any manual labour 
well, let him go. " But no," says pater- 
familias; "Dick has had a good education, he 
must go out as a gentleman. What he has 
learned in the office here will suffice to place 
him at once; and Crammer, the emigration 
agent, assures me that young men are sure to 
be provided for at once in the colonies." And 
so, with perhaps one respectable introduction, 
and much oftener without any, young hopeful or 
hopeless is sent on his way. He perhaps makes 
some inquiries on his journey, and falls in gen- 
erally with those who note only the successes. 

" Look how well have succeeded MacWuskey 
and O'Scamp ! and they landed in the colony 
without a pound, sir ! " 



48 A LADY'S RIDE 

Very true of forty years agone ; but now are 
changed days, and the field, in the older towns 
at least, is full; besides, the sons of the colon- 
ists must have their innings. 

Thus it is, that when Dick and Tom Clerk, 
London, first arrive in Sydney, for instance, 
they walk, poor fellows, day after day, from 
office to wharf, and from wharf to store count- 
ing-house, seeking work in all honesty, and 
finding none. In some instances they get 
promises, but in general they are recommended 
to betake themselves to the bush ; and in some 
few cases they are roughly repelled, and re- 
quested not to bother. Desperation, as they 
find their small means diminishing, leads them 
to invade the offices of the governor, the in- 
spector of police, and the immigration agent. 
Each and every one of these would do his best 
to help, but he has already a list of applicants 
as long as his arm. The answer to inquiries 
for employment is invariably the same. "You 
must wait. I will try and help you, if you 
can stay for a month or so ; if not, I advise 
you to go into the bush as soon as you can." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 49 

There it is ; Clerk, London, cannot wait. 
He was sent out with a very small sum, and 
most of this is already spent for everyday 
wants. He would go into the bush now, but 
he cannot command the railway fare. 

In nine cases out of ten, the family of the 
clerk has never supplied one shilling to enable 
him to exist until work is found. So deeply 
rooted is the idea that a man can get into a 
merchant's office (this is the favourite vision) 
the moment almost that he lands in Australia, 
that provision for a month in advance is 
seldom thought of. And so the family feel 
very aggrieved when they get the intelligence 
that Dick is hauling coals on a wharf, and that 
Tom is driving cattle at Tumberumba. 

Ah ! how often comes the news that the 
one is dying in hospital, dependent upon the 
benevolence of a citizen and a sister of mercy ; 
and that the other, not finding employment, 
has disappeared, no one knows whither I 

Our boat is dancing attendance now, for we 
have to wait till a barca from the shore, un- 
lading fruit, sheers aside. This conversation 

D 



50 A LADY'S RIDE 

is Greek to Senor Hernandez, but he smiles 
good-naturedly, and tells the young man that 
a great deal can be done in mines. This much 
the Senor has gathered. 

Mr Smith here asked if the mounted police of 
Sydney were not a very efficient body of men ? 
" Very," I replied ; " the force is chiefly 
constituted of young men who have originally 
emigrated with the -intention of filling very 
different positions. They are well off, for 
the inspector of police takes great interest in 
those who buckle cheerfully to their work, and 
he always employs a fit man when he can. 
The mounted police, however, has its limits, 
and cannot be regarded as a refuge for the 
destitute. I strongly advise every man who 
emigrates to the colonies to learn a trade, or 
follow some manual labour. Clerks and school 
teachers abound there ad nauseam, and it is 
neither wise nor honest to advise one to add 
to the number." 

"You are quite right," answered the steerage 
passenger. " I suppose you have had some ex- 
perience in the matter ? " 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 51 

" The sad experience of being applied to by 
more than one gentleman's son to lend him a 
few shillings wherewith to purchase a meal." 

" This must be very often the result of their 
own imprudence," said Mr Smith. 

" In some cases, unfortunately ; but bad 
management and ignorance on the part of 
people at home have a good deal to do with 
it. If the lad is not to be trusted with 
money, why cannot parents or guardians send 
it out to some bank or responsible person ? 
This, I am told, has been urged both publicly 
and privately. You know as well as I do that 
banishment to the colonies has been a favourite 
remedy for ne'er-do-weels at home. Happily 
the colonies will no longer put up with our 
scapegraces and incapables ; but work cannot, 
at first, be got for even the most deserving." 

Space is now made for us, and we clamber 
up the iron steps of the Clyde. Mr Smith has 
something to say to his confrere in that 
vessel. I hear later on that it is an injunc- 
tion to take care of me. A Chinaman comes 
to tell me that my baggage is in the cabin 



52 A LADY'S EIDE 

No. 2, which I am to occupy alone. This 
last news is very pleasant, and I am com- 
forted also when I see that No. 2 is a deck 
cabin, and that the berth is furnished with 
white curtains. This will enable me to keep 
the door open during the night. Mrs C. and 
her children are to occupy No. 1, so there 
will be just companionship enough without 
too near proximity. - 

The sunset is over, and Senor Hernandez 
and I sit on a bench and watch the lightning. 
It has become quite a familiar object now ; and 
we both admire this wonderful feature of the 
nights on this coast with deep interest. We 
talk about Old Spain, I remember, and my 
good friend is delighted to find that I am 
the daughter of an officer who fought for 
that country in the last Peninsular war. 
Now Mr Smith comes to say good-bye, and 
to carry away this kindly gentleman. The 
parting is quickly over, and I plunge into 
my cabin and become "Soltera" once more. 

Four o'clock A.M. is the correct hour for 
rising at sea in Central America. After a 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 53 

night of great heat, I had just fallen asleep 
as the vessel moved out of port ; ten minutes 
afterwards I was roused by a succession of 
shrieks. The cause proved to be Mrs C. cor- 
recting one of her children with a box-strap ; 
and so my intention of remaining in my berth 
was completely frustrated, as far as sleep was 
concerned, for, to drown the child's yells, the 
elder sister had commenced a series of dismal 
tunes on an accordion. Sam the Chinaman, 
who had brought me a cup of tea, was dread- 
fully scandalised. 

" Very bad lot," remarked the Celestial, as 
he handed in my tea through the window 

which looked out on to the deck. " Ole 

t 

gentlemans other side, he swear awful at the 
noise, and me don't wonder. Ay ! wait till 
captain come on deck, he soon see. Come 
again soon." This last promise was in ref- 
erence to bringing me more tea, I suppose ; 
for my friend had shot away like an arrow 
at the sound of a voice which was inquiring 
for that " heathen Sam " in anything but 
dulcet tones. 



54 A LADY'S RIDE 

There were few passengers present at the 
usual hour of breakfast, and of these I alone 
represented womankind. What were called 
gentlemen were anything but attractive speci- 
mens of their order. They all ate and drank 
in silence, fed with their knives, and never 
had the civility to pass a single thing on the 
table to me. They certainly knew what was 
the business of the table-steward, and, I con- 
clude, did not care to interfere with it. The 
captain, of whom I had heard most favourable 
report, was ill, and confined to his cabin. 

Here was one of the varieties of travel with 
a vengeance ; but we cannot have everything 
couleur de rose; and as no company is better 
than uncongenial company, I tucked myself 
into a shady corner on deck, nursed the 
purser's cat, and read Jules Verne's 'Twenty 
Leagues under the Sea/ If anything dis- 
tracted my attention, it was the remembrance 
of the Colima and her seafarers : but the copy- 
book slips of my early days impressed upon me 
that comparisons are odious ; and so I tried 
very hard to put everything but the present 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 55 

out of my mind, and in a sort of way I 
managed to succeed. 

A day and a night certified each other with 
regular monotony, the heat becoming more in- 
tense. At length we made Port Angel. The 
port presents a fine bold coast, but it bears the 
reputation of being extremely unhealthy. An 
enormous old lady of colour got in here : it 
was quite a work of mechanism to get her 
hoisted up the side. This was the first and 
last I ever saw of her, as she went straight 
to her cabin, and remained there till I disem- 
barked at Amapala. She was accompanied by 
a nephew, who seemed to be very nervous and 
shy; so these were no great acquisition. 

A laughable mistake had caused me to be 
sick and qualmish on this day. Mrs C., who 
treated me very civilly, asked me to divide a 
bottle of congress -water with her, both of us 
looking upon it as a kind of effervescent, such 
as lemonade or soda-water. 

The Chinaman who had brought it up of 
course made no explanation. Mrs C. divided 
the contents of the bottle into two glasses, and 



56 A LADY'S RIDE 

we both drank off a good portion of the most 
abominable decoction I ever tasted, at a gulp. 
Simultaneously, we put down the glasses, and 
glared at each other. 

" What have you given me ? " I at last gasped 
out. 

" It's poison ! I am sure it's poison ! " shrieked 
Mrs C. " Sam, Chinese fool, come to me this 
minute ! You have brought poison here ! " 

Sam was not within hail ; but one of the 
hitherto dumb male passengers was passing, 
and he was startled into opening his lips. 

" Why you have not been drinking this 
to quench your thirst, have you ? " said he, as 
he took up a glass. 

" Yes ; we thought it was a cooling drink.' 7 

The man could not restrain a laugh. Who 
could ? This beverage was a strong medicine 
diluted Epsom salts, and something more 
and ranked among the ship's remedies for bilious 
attacks and other ailments. We had taken 
enough for four people, and we naturally must 
expect to feel the effects of the medicine severely. 

" If you had wanted to ward off fever, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 57 

you could not have managed it more effect- 
ually," continued our interlocutor. " Let me 
advise you to eat something substantial, and 
avoid tea and soups for a day or two." So 
saying he turned on his heel, and we had the 
satisfaction of hearing him laugh like a fiend as 
he went down to the saloon. 

Mrs C. hurled the congress-water bottle into 
the sea, and sent for some brandy. We took 
about a teaspoonful apiece, and were not, after 
all, made very ill. Possibly the dose was good 
for us ; but we both, I think, will " squirm " to 
the end of our lives at the mention of congress- 
water. 

The next day being the " glorious Fourth of 
July," some recognition of the event must take 
place. Early in the morning, the C. girls' awful 
accordion was in full play, the purser following 
suit upon another, till we were nearly all made 
wild with the noise; for the music had been 
supplemented by a fire of crackers, and human 
yells were added to these. 

Happily the captain, though an American, 
did not appreciate this manner of celebrating 



58 A LADY'S RIDE 

the national glorification day. He was pos- 
sessed of great taste and refinement, and he 
would do a thing well, or leave it alone ; so 
these rejoicings were put an end to, and a very 
good dinner was served in the saloon in honour 
of the day. Captain C. was a remarkably hand- 
some and agreeable man ; and I always look 
back upon him as being my model American. 
Of course there are many such, but I have not, 
hitherto, been fortunate enough to meet them. 

Three days passed wearily away, as the heat 
in the day had become most oppressive : it was 
a dull, sickly kind of heat, which seemed to 
permeate through the system and absorb all 
strength. The sea-air, and a violent thunder- 
storm which took place one night, kept us 
alive. 

We stopped at one or two ports ; passengers 
coming and going by units, and twos and threes, 
as the case might be. The C. children became 
so unmanageable as the days went by, that I 
really could not help feeling some compassion 
for the mother. To keep these rioters a little 
quiet, the officers of the ship supplied them 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 59 

with oranges, nuts, and other fruit, in unlimited 
quantity. The heaps of peel, skins, and other 
debris at our cabin-doors testified to the justice 
done to these refreshments, and Sam the China- 
man had to come and sweep " twice a-day," as 
if he were cleaning up after a herd of swine. 
This extra office, it may be supposed, did not 
tend to increase his admiration for the family. 

It was a great incident in our career when 
we reached a small port, the name of which is 
not in my journal, to see a boat come off shore, 
bringing towards us two passengers, some bales, 
and a heap of cocoa-nuts. These last were the 
special attraction, for nothing quenches the thirst 
more quickly than the water which is contained 
in the cocoa-nut before it turns to milk and 
kernel. The ship's store of cocoa-nuts was ex- 
hausted ; and we were not only thankful to 
see a new supply, but hugged ourselves in the 
opinion that they might be fresh. 

An unlocking of the door of an unoccupied 
cabin on the other side of mine announced that 
we were going to have a new neighbour. Sam 
informed us that a gentleman was going to 



60 A LADY'S RIDE 

occupy it who was sick, " very muchee sick. 
He waitee in boat now got own servant; he 
waitee for more mans pull him up side." 

Mrs C. became violently excited at this piece 
of news. " Very ill, is he \ " exclaimed she. 
" Speak the truth, Sam, he has got the fever 
you know he has. Don't contradict me ; it can 
be nothing else than fever." 

" No, not anything like that, missee," returned 
the patient Celestial. " Him have fever ? No, 
no ; captain know better ; captain no let fever 
in here, eh ! " 

There was some reason in this ; and though 
Mrs C. had replied, " Then it will turn to 
fever," my fears were instantly allayed. I re- 
membered how strict were all precautions taken 
on board against even a suspicion of " El Vom- 
ito," as is called the terrible yellow fever of these 
coasts. A family of five children, however, fully 
justified Mrs C/s alarm. 

Presently a scuffling and shuffling of feet 
approached our quarters, and on standing aside 
we gave place to an exceedingly large stout 
gentleman who was leaning on the arm of his 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 61 

servant. Behind these came a sailor with a 
portmanteau and a canvas sack, tied in the 
middle like a mail-bag, minus its seal. Sam 
darted to the front in order to show the 
cabin. 

The gentleman was a Briton without a doubt. 
He was dressed in a suit of white linen, and a 
long pugaree dangled from his green hat. His 
face was ghastly pale, and his head was laid on 
his servant's shoulder. He evidently was suffer- 
ing greatly, and appeared to be almost insensible. 
As I looked at him it occurred to me that he 
might have had a sunstroke. 

The servant got his master into his cabin, and 
presently one of the ship's officers came to assist 
in getting this stout gentleman into his berth. 
The servant, who was a ladino (mixture of 
Spanish and Indian), was but a lad, of at 
most seventeen years, and must have been 
quite unable to deal single-handed with so 
inert a load. 

During dinner Captain C. told me something 
about this new passenger. " He is travelling," 
said he, "for a firm at New York, and, like 



62 A LADY'S RIDE 



most men down here, he is looking after 



mines." 



" He seems to be very ill," I said. 

" Oh, that will pass off during the night. 
He is merely suffering from giddiness from 
exposure to the sun, and from getting into 
an awful rage to boot. Just fancy ! he stood 
in the boiling heat for about two hours dis- 
puting a charge on his baggage ! The custom- 
house officer came on board with him to explain 
how he appears to be so ill. It's a mercy that 
he escaped a sunstroke. Will you take some 
curry ? It is very good." 

I got the curry, and the captain went on. 
" And only about two pesetas " (less than two 
shillings) 1 " This is just like the usual run of 
Englishmen ; they will bear an overcharge of 
pounds with fair equanimity, but when the mat- 
ter is one of sixpence, they swear and tear till 
they have scarcely a breath left ! " 

" Two pesetas seem hardly worth while to dis- 
pute about," said I. 

" The principle of the thing is always the rea- 
son given when the sum is a trifle ; and it is so, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 63 

but it is lost labour to rave at these people ; they 
do not understand, as a rule, one quarter of what 
k said to them. I have seen men stand whilst 
a foreigner, an opponent, is telling them, in the 
strongest of mixed idioms, that they are fools 
and villains, quietly stand, with a half-pitying 
smile on their faces, as if they were disputing 
with a child, and must make allowance." 

" But if they don't understand 1 " 

"It would be much the same if they did. 
They know well enough that they are being 
abused, and bow and flourish between the lulls 
in the conversation in the calmest manner. That 
is so aggravating to the English and Americans ! 
These take it as meant for impertinence ; I, who 
have had experience, know that it results from 
pure indifference and the languor induced by 
the climate." 

" I have been told that these Central Amer- 
icans stick very closely to the point where 
money is concerned," said I. 

"That they do. Our friend up-stairs had, 
after all, to pay the two pesetas, or leave his 
baggage behind. And so, what with the excite- 



64 A LADY'S RIDE 

ment and exposure, he nearly succeeded in 
bringing on a fit. However, the physicking he 
has had will set him up all right by to-morrow." 

This was cheering news, and Mrs C. retired 
to rest with a peaceful mind. 

On the morrow the stranger was reclining in 
a bamboo-cane chair beneath the awning. He 
did not look quite well, but his appearance was 
certainly more comfortable than that presented 
on the preceding day. 

I bade him good morning and inquired after 
his health. Mr Z.'s fine grey eyes lighted up as 
I addressed him. 

" Ah ! " he exclaimed, " I could not be mis- 
taken; I was sure that you were an English- 



woman ! " 



I confirmed his opinion. 

" You are not belonging to that woman and 
those horrible children \ " he continued, speaking 
with much disgust, and indicating the C. party 
with his thumb. 

" No ; I am only acquainted with them by 
the accident of travel." 

" Excuse me, I am a plain man ; what on 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. Co 

earth brings a lady such as you in this part of 
the world?" 

I told him, as briefly as I could, what my 
position was. He snorted and grunted, and fin- 
ally said 

" I hope you won't get murdered. By the by, 
San Pedro Sula, that is not a bad place when 
you get to it ; I should very much like to go 
there myself, but the travelling 

The ladino boy, with a polite " Con permiso," 
stated that he had been at San Pedro Sula. It 
was "a beautiful place," he said. 

" He was there," continued the master, " help- 
ing to build that confounded railway. There's 
a mess 1 A lot of rascals in London set that 
floating. It ought to have paid ; yes, paid well ; 
but in these places there is no one to look after 
things, and the whites are quite as ready to 
swindle one another when there is nothing to be 
got out of foreigners. Would you believe it, 
ma'am," continued the poor gentleman, " that a 
wretched Scotchman, one of my own country- 
men, actually upheld the custom-house clerk, 
through thick and thin, in the matter of 

E 



66 A LADY'S RIDE 

an overcharge which was made on my bag- 
gage ! " 

I expressed my regret to hear this, but 
ventured the observation that perhaps the 
Scotchman thought that the official was ri^ht. 

o o 

"Nothing of the kind," replied my friend 
with great energy ; " he only wanted to curry 
favour and stick to his berth. Fancy their 
having the audacity to charge me wharfage 
dues for that bag of cocoa-nuts there ! " con- 
tinued Mr Z., warming with his subject; "a 
few cocoa-nuts that I had bought and sent down 
the night before only ! The thing is mon- 
strous ! I could have done without the fruit, 
as I am going to La Libertad only; but they 
threatened to detain iny portmanteau if I did 
not pay all the dues. So I was obliged to pay 
two pesetas, as I had not time to waste. They 
got a bit of my mind, though ! " 

Here we both laughed ; and as Mr Z. was 
in the main a good-natured person, his wrath 
quickly evaporated in the safety-valve, which 
I, as an unprejudiced listener, seemed to re- 
present. 



ACEOSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 67 

" La Libertad is the next port that we stop 
at," I say, in order to ward off any further 
reference to this gentleman's annoyances. 

" Yes ; I get off thexe, as I have to go up 
into the interior on business. You will have 
a terrible time of it going across to San Pedro. 
I have often thought of going there ; but from 
what I have heard about the roads, and the 
starvation, and the chances of attack (chances, 
mind, I say for I don't want to frighten you, 
but there is nothing really to eat), and other 
discomforts, I have decided to give up the idea. 
I should like, however, to accompany you/' he 
added, after a short pause. 

" Why not \ " say I, catching at the opportun- 
ity of securing a travelling companion. " You 
and your servant and mules joined with mine 
(for I am to hire a lad and muleteer at Ama- 
pala), would make quite a respectable company. 
We should protect the one the other, if needs 
be. I have little fear, and surely there must be 
something to be got to eat. How do the people 
live themselves \ " 

"A plantain and a cigarillo is all they re- 



68 A LADY'S EIDE 

quire/' replied Mr Z. " You will suffer very 
much from want of food. Take w r hat you can 
with you. For myself, I could not do without 
my dinner more than twice a- week. I have 
always been accustomed to live well. No, no 
at my time of life it would not do. Glad the 
consul at Amapala will look after you. Have 
you got a revolver ? " . 

" A revolver ! No. I never fired one in my 
life," I replied in terror. " I would much rather 
be without one." 

" Wait a moment," replied Mr Z. He rose 
and went into his cabin, returning with a ma- 
hogany case. He opened this, and displayed 
reposing therein two revolvers, one a large 
weapon, the other some sizes smaller. 

" This is the jewellery I travel with," he con- 
tinued ; " but the smaller revolver is of no use 
to me. I bought this, intending it for a wed- 
ding present to a girl in the interior; but the 
poor thing died suddenly, and so I have a re- 
volver to spare. This is for you," he said, put- 
ting it into my hand. 

I thanked him for his kindness, but I put it 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 69 

back, saying that I could never make up my 
mind to fire it. 

" Do you think," he asked, " that a man dies 
any sooner because he has made his will \ " 

" No ; what do you mean ? " 

" I mean that danger will not come upon you 
because you possess a revolver. Come, don't be 
proud, take this from an old man and a coun- 
tryman. We are in a strange land, and we 
ought to help one another if we can." 

Set before me in this manner, to refuse would 
have been worse than impertinence. I therefore 
accepted the revolver, lamenting only, that I 
could not there and then enter a shooting-gal- 
lery, and there make my mark. So I said. 

Mr Z. replied, " You are a sensible woman, 
and I am very much obliged to you for your 
company. Wish I was going with you ; but 
can't can't see my way." So saying he plung- 
ed into his cabin, and I was left in the warlike 
attitude of holding a revolver. 



70 A LADY'S RIDE 



CHAPTEK IV. 

No wonder that Master C., who had bundled 
himself towards the end of the deck whereon I 
was standing, looking, I have no doubt, ruefully 
upon this acquisition, should exclaim as he saw 
me " You have got a revolver there, stranger, 
and you are in a jolly fix, ain't you now, how to 
fire it off?" 

That was just my difficulty, so I replied meek- 
ly, " Can you tell me if it is loaded ? " 

" Why, don't you know ? " replied the youth 
with great contempt. 

" Mr Z. has just given it to me, and I forgot 
to ask him if it were loaded or not. Do you 
know anything about revolvers ? " 

" Should rather think I did," was the response. 
" Let us have a try." As he spoke he took the 
weapon out of my hand, and soon solved the 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. VI 

doubt, as he discharged a ringing shot over the 
ship's side. 

The report brought two or three of the stew- 
ards to where we stood, wanting to know what 
the noise was about. 

" Did ye think I had killed yer grand- 
mother \ " answered the youth very rudely. 
Then as he saw the purser coming along, he 
changed his tone, and commenced to explain the 
situation, asseverating very strongly that the re- 
volver would be in far better hands if the lady 
would give it to him. 

As no one made any reply to this, Master C. 
addressed himself directly to me. " It is a jolly 
good revolver," he said, " and no use to a woman. 
Come now, I'll give yer five dollars for it ; that's 
a fair deal ! " 

" I have told you that Mr Z. has made me a 
present of this revolver ; pray restore it." 

As the young gentleman seemed more than 
unwilling to part with this, his neighbour's pro- 
perty, the purser intervened, and speedily sim- 
plified the proceedings. 

He rapped the boy's head, hurled him aside, 



72 A LADY'S EIDE 

and held the revolver in his own hands, within 
a minute of time ; and then in a calm, deliberate 
manner he showed me how to manage this mur- 
derous little instrument. 

"You had better let your mozo carry this 
for you," said this good-natured gentleman. 
" I think I have a little case somewhere which 
this will fit into. I will look at once, as early 
to-morrow we reach La* Libertad, and I shall be 
busy/' So saying, he withdrew. 

The day and the night passed, and the early 
morning found me fast asleep when the port of 
La Libertad was reached and left. As soon as 
I made my appearance on deck, one of the 
stewards accosted me, as he pointed to the can- 
vas bag which had come on board with Mr Z. 

"The gentleman left his compliments for you, 
madam," he said ; " and I was to give you 
these cocoa-nuts. Mr Z. thought you might like 
them. Mr Z. would like to have shaken hands 
with you, but he would not have you called. 
He told me to say that he hoped you would 
have a good journey, and to be sure and get 
provisions wherever you can." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. V3 

This was the first and last I have seen of 
Mr Z., but I shall always have a kindly remem- 
brance of this sympathising eccentric fellow- 
traveller. 

La Union was to be our next port, and in 
consequence the whole of the C. family were in 
a state of high excitement, as this was their 
point of debarkation. Great was the scrubbing 
and dressing ; and as some of their old clothes 
were cast into the sea, I rescinded the wish of 
my heart, viz., that the accordion would be 
assigned to the deep in their company. Much 
as we all had suffered from that instrument, and 
often as we had vowed vengeance against it, I 
don't think any one even shivered as the eldest 
C. girl performed " Home, sweet home " for the 
last time. It was an " adieu " to us in a man- 
ner, and they were going home to "father." 
The children looked softened, too, as they were 
put into fresh raiment ; and Master C. was so 
civil to me that I made over the bag of cocoa- 
nuts to him and his on the spot. 

Amapala was the next port, so I made my 
arrangements, and we were all in marching 



74 A LADY'S RIDE 

order when, some hours later, we stood opposite 
La Union. 

Like most places on this coast, La Union 
appeared to be an assemblage of red-tiled roofs, 
built in groups, the gaps being filled up by 
dwarf, green shrubs, and here and -there by a 
tall palm-tree : the shore low and sandy, and 
looking as if quite ready to slip into the sea on 
the smallest provocation. This is a place of some 
magnitude, however, and is more regularly built 
farther in the interior. A good deal of trade is 
done here, and La Union holds the reputation 
of being an improving and progressive town. 

The boats going to and from, the port to a 
ship is, I think, always an object of interest to 
the seafarers, even if there is nothing concerned 
but a passing interest in the scene. On this 
occasion I looked across the water with more 
than ordinary curiosity, as the anxiety displayed 
by the C. family to greet the husband and 
father had quite enlisted my sympathies. Sev- 
eral boats had come to the ship's side, convey- 
ing merchandise and visitors, but no Mr C. put 
in an appearance. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. To 

The patience of the younger girl was becom- 
ing exhausted, and she had just fetched her 
breath for a scream, when a sailor came on the 
poop, and presented a letter to Mrs C., the 
mother. This was to tell her that Mr C. was 
far away up the country, but that he had de- 
puted the vice-consul to meet her and her chil- 
dren, and that apartments would be ready for 
her in La Union. 

The poor woman was at once disappointed and 
relieved. Very soon a large boat was waiting 
at the ship's side. A nice pleasant-looking man 
stepped on board, and it was announced that he 
had come, as requested, to fetch away Mrs C. 

Whilst the luggage was being put in the boat, 
the consul held a little chat with me, and offered 
to take me over with them to see La Union, and 
partake of the hospitality of his house. There 
would be a difficulty about my return, and the 
time was very short, so I was obliged to decline 
the favour. All over the world the American 
men are particularly kind to lone females, and I 
scored this gentleman as one example more on 
my list. 



76 A LADYS RIDE 

After a short conference with the captain, the 
consul and his charges took their departure. 
Mrs C/s blue feather and the redoubtable accor- 
dion perched on a mountain of baggage were the 
last we saw of this family. Now for Amapala. 

" I shall order a particularly good dinner on 
your account, as you will dine before you leave 
us," said Captain C., laughing. "What do 
you like best \ You know it will be long before 
you get a decent meal again." 

This hard fact had by this time been pretty 
well impressed upon me ; but as I am not one 
to " suck sorrow through the long tube," I 
replied, " Do not discourage a lone female, if 
you please ; other people have passed through 
rough travelling, and why should not I ? " 

The captain was too kind-hearted to inten- 
tionally cause me any alarm, but recommended 
the only working part of the Honduras railway 
that which runs from San Pedro Sula to 
Puerto Cortez as the most direct route to get 
out of the country. 

We were seated at the promised good dinner 
when the port of Amapala was reached. " Mr 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 77 

Bahl, the consul, will come on board," somebody 
said. " Don't hurry ; he will take his time, and 
so will we." 

Apparently the consul did take his time, for 
we waited long before the custom-house boat 
put off from the shore. As it came nearer, we 
saw that two persons occupied it, a little white 
man, and a very large and very black man. 

" The consul is not coming this time," said 
an officer ; " here's his clerk and the captain." 

" Captain who VI could not help repeating. 

" Oh," laughed the purser, " that black fellow 
is called ' captain ' on account of his warlike 
performances. He has fought, he says, in three 
of the revolutions in which this country de- 
lighted to revel some years ago ; and, according 
to his own account, he was the means of routing 
the enemy on more than one occasion." 

" Do you believe this ? " 

" Not a word. The captain is an awful fel- 
low to brag, but he can work and does work ; 
I will say that for him." 

" What brings him here ? " I ask. 

" He is the consul's servant, and I daresay 



78 A LADY'S RIDE 

has been sent to fetch or carry something for 
the custom-house. I hope to goodness he has 
brought some fresh fish," continued the purser. 
" Have you your letter of introduction to Mr 
Bahl 1 As he is not here, you had better send 
it to the clerk. That gentleman is transacting 
some business with Captain C. just now, but I 
will see about it." 

Presently up came the clerk. He was a dap- 
per little man with a large white face, which 
did not impress me very favourably as to the 
salubrity of Aniapala. I found, however, on 
conversing further, that he was ready to voucli 
that Amapala was a perfect sanitarium. " Fever ! 
yah no ! " exclaimed he, in drawled out Eng- 
lish. " People die I Yes, some time all must ; 
but fever here ah, no, no ! " 

" Nor snakes neither," interposed the chief 
engineer, with a wink at his neighbour. 

" Nor yet snakes no, no ; mountain-leopards, 
one or two never seen all nonsense." 

" But these mountain-leopards used to be 
called tigers," persisted the engineer. "Why, 
that mountain over there is still called the 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 79 

Mountain of Tigers La Montana de los Tigres. 
You have it in both languages." 

The little clerk would not admit the tigers, 
and knew nothing about the reason why the 
mountain indicated should bear such an ominous 
name. I was now told that my departure would 
be a matter of five minutes only ; .and I em- 
ployed these in bidding farewell to the captain 
and officers of the good steamer Clyde. God 
bless them all, wherever they may be now. 
They were very, very kind to " Soltera." 

When I was seated in the boat, the little 
clerk told me that I would have to spend a 
night, or perhaps two nights, in Amapala. The 
consul was a bachelor, and his sister-in-law was 
unfortunately away on a visit. " I will give 
the note when we land ; I don't think the office 
will be closed," said he. 

When we did land, it was quite dark. The 
black man took the luggage out of the boat, 
wading with it to the shore, for the boat could 
not come quite up to the landing-place. This 
done, he seized me as if I had been a cat, 
without word or sign, and from his strong 



80 A LADY'S EIDE 

arms I was deposited on the strand of Am- 
apala. 

" Wait, wait a bit, ya-ar," said this huge 
porter. " Clerk him gone into office to talk 
to consul, let him read letter. You brought 
letter 'troduction, eh ?" 

"Yes. I hope I shall not have to wait long." 

" No ; consul read Jetter, and send him 
ar-ders." 

I suppose the consul did read the letter, for 
the clerk came out, and, poking in the dark 
to find me, said 

" The consul will write or send to you early 
in the morning : the only decent posada in 
Amapala is close here. You had better leave 
your heavy luggage in the office ; I will take 
care of it. Now, captain, take the lady's port- 
manteau." 

My black friend shouldered the portmanteau, 
and with " You follow me close ; I all right ; 
you trust me ; I as good as English," I threaded 
my way through what in courtesy must be called 
the streets of Amapala. The posada was not 
quite so near as I had thought ; and as soon 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 81 

as we had quite quitted the shore the black man 
said, " You wa-ant to go into the country, over 
the mountains'?" 

"Yes, I wish to get off as quickly as 
possible." 

" Have you got serva-ant ? I know good 
serva-ant, speak English wa-al ; he knows all 
over the country is strong good cook. But 
it will cost you money, ah." 

"Will if?" I replied quickly, for I saw at 
once what he was driving at ; " I do not intend 

going beyond a certain sum, and " 

" Wha-at will you call that Sum in dollars ?" 
" Never you mind, you are the consul's cook, 
and this is of no import to you." 

" Ah, ya-as, ya-as ; but if you make it worth 
while to ta-ake me 'long, you find it will be 
good. I know country I respettable serva- 
ant." 

We had arrived at the posada by this time. 
Only one door was open, and within could be 
seen, by the light of a solitary candle, a long 
brown table on which some glasses stood. 

A figure came forth from behind this barrier. 
F 



82 A LADY'S RIDE 

He was a nice-looking lad, and was, moreover, 
that rara avis, a very clean-looking lad. 

" Oh, it's you," he said to the black. 

" Ya-as. I bring this lady here. Consul sent 
me with her, 'cause I speak English so well. 
Great comfa-art, have man about you that knows 
well how to speak English I" continued this 
conceited fellow, turning to me. 

" Will you arrange for me to have a decent 
room and some refreshment presently ?" said I. 
" Where is the woman of the house ? I wish 
to speak to her." 

" Oh no, I arrange," continued the black man. 
"You see I speak English." 

" But I suppose the hostess speaks Spanish," 
I replied, cutting him short ; and in that lan- 
guage I asked the lad to go and find her. 

He did so, and a tall pleasant-looking woman 
returned with him. She said she could sup- 
ply me with what I required, and then the ques- 
tion of charges came under discussion. 

The " captain " here intervened and meddled 
to such an extent, that the lad, evidently an- 
noyed at his bad manners, said, " Hold thy 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 83 

tongue ; the Senora understands pretty well the 
language ; she knows what is right to pay." 

I really did not know, but I felt grateful 
to the youth for endeavouring to quench this 
nuisance, and so answered that the consul knew 
that I would pay what was just. Then I gave 
this very disagreeable porter a peseta (English, 
tenpence) for carrying the portmanteau, and 
very heartily gave him good-night. 

Two men came in as the " captain " went out, 
and we were much amused to hear him inform- 
ing them of the charge he was taking of the 
English lady. " Grand thing to speak English," 
I heard him say in that language, as he finally 
took himself off. 

The men naturally scanned me after this re- 
mark, but respectfully and without showing any 
curiosity. They ordered " vino bianco," and sat 
themselves down to smoke. 

" Pray excuse our taking you through the 
wine-shop," said the landlady, " but we have 
mislaid the key of the other door. It will be 
found to-morrow. See, Eduardo, take that box 
into the room for the lady." 



A LADY'S RIDE 



A lantern was brought, and we passed through 
the back of the bar, and came out upon a wide 
verandah, which was bordered by a narrow strip 
of garden bounded by a high wall. 

We entered the guest-chamber. Had I been 
qualifying for prison life, here was an oppor- 
tunity for commencing an apprenticeship. The 
room was large, the aperture for the window 
closed by a heavy shutter with a bar across it ; 
red tiles, discoloured by dirt and grease, com- 
posed the floor, and the dust lay in little heaps 
in some of the ridges of the most uneven ones. 
A bed covered by a bull's hide in place of a 
mattress, and a leathern pillow, were the cor- 
rect thing here to serve as a place of rest. A 
wooden table placed against the wall, and 
a rockiog - chair in fair condition, completed 
the furniture. Not a vestige of toilet -ware 
of any sort ; not a drop of water nor any 
towel. 

The lad deposited the portmanteau on the 
floor, and as this cheerful apartment was per- 
vaded by a frowsy smell, I asked him to open 
the shutter. He hesitated, and looked inquir- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 85 

ingly at the landlady. Not understanding the 
reason of this, I said 

" There are iron bars, or a lattice, behind the 
shutter ; nobody can get in ; I want air." 

" No, no," answered the landlady ; " but at 
night, it was possible very rare once in a 
lifetime a serpiente (snake) might crawl 
through." 

" Keep the shutter close then," I replied with 
energy. " I did not think snakes came so near 
the houses. How dreadful ! " 

The boy explained that about a fortnight 
before a small serpiente had crawled one hot 
night through the lattice-bars, and descended 
into this chamber. " There was a large growth 
of thick damp herbage under the wall on that 
side," he said, " and it might be that a snake's 
hole was' there." 

" But why on earth is it not cleared or burnt 
out ? " said I ; "it is very dangerous for every 
one to let the herbage remain there/' 

" Quien sabe ? " he replied ; and then the 
opposite door was pointed out to me as being 
the one through which I could enter from the 



86 A LADY'S RIDE 

street. This was a very strong door, but it was 
unlocked, the key being missing, as I was told 
on my arrival. There was a latch, by which 
the occupant could open it when the impedi- 
ment enforced by the lock should be removed. 

The landlady proposed to fetch a sheet and 
a pillow-slip, and then she added, with an air 
of triumph, "I shall bring you some tea only 
think tea. I know* the English like that. 
What I have is very good, a present from an 
Englishman : he was hard to wait on, and he 
abused everything, but he had a good heart, 
Senora, and he gave me two pounds of beautiful 
tea." 

" That was for your own drinking 1 " 

" No, I don't like it much. The Englishman 
said, he was a coarse man, Senora, he would 
leave it for me to give to any poor devil of his 
country who might come to stay here." 

She laughed as if it was the finest joke, and 
never seemed to perceive the sarcasm which 
might be veiled in the guise of this speech and 
present : under the circumstances I was very 
glad to represent the " poor devil." She went 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 87 

out laughing heartily, and the boy and I and 
the lantern were left alone. 

" Can you get me a little water 1 " I asked 
him, and a here I could not summon the 
Spanish for basin, so I had recourse to signs. 

" Oh yes, I know wash face ; leave it to me, 
I will bring what you want. I waited on an 
American lady once in travelling, and she liked 
much water," and as he spoke, he darted off 
with the lantern. I sat down on the bed, 
hoping that the tea would be brought quickly, 
and wondering what the beverage would be 
like. 

The landlady returned with a candlestick in 
one hand in which was set up a large wax 
candle ; under her arm was bundled the pro- 
mised bed-linen, which, rather to my surprise, 
was clean and fine, the upper hem of the sheet 
being bordered with wide lace. The pillow T -slip 
was trimmed in like manner ; and when the 
bed was made up and a scarlet coverlet thrown 
over all, the bedplace really looked like 'a bright 
spot in this desert, and I began to expect other 
improvements. 



88 A LADY'S HIDE 

Time brought the tea, and very good it 
proved. The English gentleman had evidently 
taught the hostess how to make use of his gift. 
The boy, too, brought toilet-ware piece by piece 
in spasms, and lastly a large red earthen jar 
full of water. He had fetched it from a well 
close at hand, and it was delightfully pure and 
fresh. 

The lad withdrew, and then returning to the 
door summoned the landlady. A great whisper- 
ing went on for some minutes : at length my 
hostess returned, and said in rather a mysterious 
manner, " You are going to Comayagua, are you 
not ? " 

" I shall pass through that town," I answered ; 
" but why do you ask ? " 

" Oh, the boy comes from that part, and he 
does not want to remain in Amapala. Why 
not take him as your mozo ? He is a good lad, 
and I would like to get him a place." 

" He is in your employ, is he not ? " I asked. 

" What you may call employ, yes ; but there 
is nothing to do for a lad like him. He sells 
wine for me, true ; but I cannot pay him 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 89 

trade very dull, and very few come to stay at 
this posada. The lad only lives by doing a 
little tailoring here and there." 

I thought this plan might do, as the landlady 
seemed so independent of Eduardo's services. 
She proceeded to give him a good character, 
and I promised that the consul's opinion should 
be taken on the matter. Good night was given, 
and I went to the door to fasten it after the 
woman's departure. It was closed by a latch ; 
but it was perfectly innocent of either lock or 
bolt. There was nothing for it but to put the 
handle of my tooth-brush across the latch, and 
within it ; and retire to bed with trust in Pro- 
vidence. 

The next day came a note from Mr Bahl, 
telling me that I must wait one day at the 
posada, and he would arrange everything for 
my travelling onward ; the lad Eduardo was 
required to attend at the office, if I would 
signify my intention of engaging him ; and 
would I call early the day afterwards? 

Little to do, nothing to see ; heat and mos- 
quitoes to endure, such was the portion of the 



90 A LADY'S RIDE 

waiting-hours. At the dinner-time I went into 
the dining-room, thinking it would be well to 
eat something substantial, and a number of 
dishes on the table seemed to offer a choice. 

Variety there was, and very unappetising 
variety. The soup, called chicken -broth, was 
nothing better than drowned hen ; and the 
meat, cut in strips, looked like leathern sandals 
from the remotest antiquity. Everything that 
could be chopped up was chopped up ; veget- 
ables which would have passed muster had they 
been served whole, were tormented into squash, 
and little black beans in yellow dishes were the 
only edibles which, owing to their small size, 
had escaped the universal carnage. 

Some persons present, however, did justice to 
this feast. Long may there be found some to 
do so ! For myself, I was thankful when the 
time arrived to pay a visit to the consul. 






ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 91 



CHAPTER Y. 

THE consul's office in Amapala was a comfort- 
able edifice, composed of whole store, half office, 
and half court of justice. 

It was situated near the water's edge, and 
entered by a broad flight of stone steps. These 
gradients were very much the worse for wear, 
being persistently embroidered by detachments 
of the loungers of Amapala, which consisted 
generally of idle young lads who stuck like 
mussels, and peered within, and smoked and 
spat without, with intolerable pertinacity. A 
sortie made from the interior sometimes suc- 
ceeded in dislodging them ; but this effort on 
the part of the consul's clerks more usually 
ended in strong language and violent perspir- 
ation than in any satisfactory result. I believe 
an earnest hope is daily avowed, that somebody 



92 A LADY'S RIDE 

coming in may effectually clear away impedi- 
ments by treading the life out of some of these 
human pests. 

Unfortunately also for the business public, 
a large ceiba tree fronting the right side of the 
building spread wide its arms of dark leaves, 
and beneath this shade were clustered mules, 
water-carriers, citizens in various styles of dress 
and undress, water -jars, melons, and naked 
brown children. 

The grouping certainly was picturesque. 
But how Consul Bahl has stood for so many 
years, as he has done, the nuisance of a con- 
versazione and debating club combined, held 
within four feet of his house of business, sur- 
passes my comprehension. 

Through a part of this assemblage I wended 
my way in the early morning of the day pre- 
ceding that on which I was to start for Aceit- 
ufia. The youths on the steps made room for 
me with some alacrity ; and it was whispered 
among them that perhaps it was not so sure 
that Eduardo Alvarez was going with me. 
There had been no agreement drawn up by 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 93 

El Consul, they knew ; perhaps the Senora 
would choose some other mozo (lad). The 
meaning of these remarks was simply this : 
Eduardo was a little in arrear for his lodgings 
and other matters, and unless I would advance 
him a part of his wages to pay his debts, he 
could not leave Amapala. Concerning this, I 
thought it well to consult Mr JBahl, and further, 
to ascertain whether that gentleman would 
recommend me to engage him. 

The little white-faced clerk who had brought 
me from the ship was on the look-out for my 
visit. A curtain was drawn aside at a corner 
of the office a few minutes later, and Mr Bahl 
stepped forth. He was tall, gentlemanlike, 
and very kind in his manner. (The American 
men, all the world over, are always kind to 
women.) He said I had a long journey to go 
certainly, but I must not believe all the non- 
sense I may have heard about robbers, and all 
the rest of it. Common caution, and to refrain 
from travelling at dusk, were recommended. 

" I sent you word last night," continued the 
consul, " that I cannot provide you with the 



94 A LADY'S RIDE 

mules you require here ; and as for a muleteer, 
there is not one in the place I can recommend." 

"You are sure that the custom-house officer 
at Aceituna can get these ? " I inquired 
anxiously. 

" A man has gone over there to fetch some 
things I want from the custom-house. I sent 
a note by him to Mr Z. asking if he can supply 
your requirements. If he cannot, which I don't 
think likely, there is nothing to be done but to 
send or go to La Brea : very good animals can 
be got at La Brea." 

" Why are they so scarce here ? " said I. 

"Just as it happens; there are plenty when 
not wanted. I hope you will cross to Aceituna 
though ; it will save you some leagues of rough 
road travelling. My large boat will take you 
across in rather more than an hour, and you 
could start as soon after landing at Aceituna 
as you choose." 

I acceded gratefully to this proposition, and 
then made inquiry concerning Eduardo Alvarez. 

" He came down to speak to me last night," 
replied Mr Bahl. " I suppose he has told you 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 95 

that he wants a little money in advance, should 
you engage him ? " 

" Yes ; he wants to pay a few little debts, he 
tells me. The people of the house give him a 
good character, and I like the lad's appearance." 

" As far as I know, the lad is decent enough. 
Like all his race, he is apt to be idle ; but really 
there is little employment here for a tailor, 
and that is the trade by which he supports 
himself. 

"By the by," continued the consul, "as he 
comes from Comayagua, I certainly advise you 
to engage him, as you will have to take that 
route, and it is a great thing to secure a guide 
who knows some part of the country." 

Then a lounger on the steps was despatched 
to summon Eduardo Alvarez. This youth soon 
made his appearance, and entered the office with 
a whole train of his confreres peeping in at the 
door. A rush was made at them by the little 
clerk, which frustrated them, evidently, in the 
intention of being within earshot. A chair was 

o 

handed to me, and the consul and the lad carried 
on a conference behind the curtain. 



96 A LADY'S RIDE 

The result of the interview was to this effect : 
I was to engage Eduardo Alvarez as my servant 
from Amapala to San Pedro Sula ; to pay him 
fifteen pesos (something under three pounds 
English money), and to allow him at the rate 
of a peseta (tenpence) a-day for his maintenance. 
I agreed to advance eight pesos, to enable him 
to pay his debts' ; and so that arrangement 
was concluded. 

" I will draw up the regular official agree- 
ment before you start," said the consul; "it 
will be better for Eduardo not to be too sure 
of the engagement ; and I must be satisfied 
that he does pay what he owes. Never mind 
about the money ; I will give him the eight 
pesos, and you can settle with me to-morrow." 

" Have you a hammock in your store ? " I in- 
quire ; "it will be such a comfort in the places 
through which we may have to pass." 

U A hammock will save you many annoy- 
ances, as you will not be obliged to rest on the 
horrid bed-places of the country ; and the lad 
can look out for a verandah to sling it in. I 
would advise you also to take a mosquito-net. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 97 

A coarse green net is best. White attracts the 
flies at night." 

We go into the store, and I select these 
articles. "Then," said the consul, "you have 
brought your side-saddle with you, of course ? " 

" Side-saddle ! No ; I never thought of it. 
Can't I hire that with the mule ? " 

"I am afraid not here. A lady's saddle is 
private property, generally speaking. You may, 
perhaps, purchase one from some of the women 
about. Some one may like to make a little 
money. Eduardo, go out and ask among the 
women whether they know of any one who has 
a lady's saddle to sell." 

As he went off Mr Bahl added, " I cannot 
come with you, but be sure and don't give more 
than twelve pesos." The lad very soon exe- 
cuted the consul's bidding, and in a short 
time were collected ten or twelve persons, 
declaring they all possessed the very thing. 
Eduardo found himself suddenly an important 
personage. 

" Bring all of you the saddles you have to 
sell, and put them here," said he, indicating 

G 



98 A LADY'S RIDE 

a vacant spot, which looked like chocolate- 
powder. " I must see what they are like be- 
fore I advise the Senora to purchase." 

Away flew the women, and in a very short 
space of time several very extraordinary speci- 
mens of the leather trade were exhibited. In 
the general excitement, the lad had overlooked 
me altogether, and the others did not know 
that I understood the idiom. 

" What do you think she will pay for this ? " 
asked one, as she held up an enormous side- 
saddle, which was deficient in girths and stirrup, 
and which burst out in all directions with lumps 
of hair and padding. " Say fifteen pesos ? " 

An indignant " vaya, vaya " (get along) was 
the only attention bestowed on this candidate. 

"Here is a saddle a splendid saddle," said 
another, as she clutched the article from the 
head of a boy, who was carrying it into the 
ring. " See here ! real Mexican ; look at the 
embroidery. The English lady can have it for 
eighteen pesos. Too much ? " continued she ; 
"no; these English can pay. Say eighteen 
pesos, mozo, and there will be one for thyself." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 99 

Eduardo stooped down and examined this 
last offering. " This might do ; but, see, the 
pommel is half broken through. Is there any 
way of getting this repaired ? " he inquired. 

"Ah, without doubt," replied the owner. 
" I can take it to Ignacio Gomez ; he will make 
it all safe by manana " (to-morrow). 

The indefinite space of time indicated by 
manana was known well enough to Eduardo. 
He might very likely see no more of that saddle 
for a week. He, however, said nothing to this, 
but assured the woman that the lady would 
not give that price. 

"Ah, but tell her that there is no other in 
the place," suggested a bright spirit. 

"That won't do, woman/' retorted Eduardo. 
" The consul told the Senora that he knew there 
was a side-saddle belonging to the custom-house 
officer's wife at Aceituna." 

" She would not sell it," suggested a man. 

" She might hire it, though," interposed a fat 
woman, crowned with a bright yellow handker- 
chief. " No, no ; the saddle must be bought 
here, good lad : the widow Niccoli has a 



100 A LADY'S RIDE 

woman's saddle. Wait here : I will go and 
look for the widow Niccoli." 

She sped away, and returned with a side- 
saddle, it is true ; but such a rag ! It could 
hardly hold together on the woman's head. 

Yes, it wanted this and that, she agreed, 
as Eduardo pointed out its shortcomings. " Ah, 
yes, the rats must have eaten this piece of the 
flap, and there are no girths. Well, we will 
put these on. Mozo, this saddle will last for a 
little way ; and then, you know, you can buy 
another farther on. The English lady won't 
mind. They can pay, these English I Ah 

What answer Eduardo was prepared to give 
to this free - and - easy proposition, I do not 
know ; and as my patience was getting ex- 
hausted, and my back was beginning to frizzle 
with the heat of the sun, I determined to cut 
matters short. Walking into the circle, I said 
in the best Spanish I could command, " I will 
not buy one of these ; and, moreover, I will not 
give more than twelve pesos for the best saddle 
in Amapala." 

Such an interruption in most places, and with 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 101 

most people in any other part of the civilised 
world, would have called forth some excuses, 
or necessitated a speedy retreat, on the part 
of even the most hardened. Here, if the 
effect were electrical, it was in quite another 
way. 

" Ah se habla nuestra idioma ! " (she speaks 
our idiom) exclaimed the fat wretch who had 
proposed to cheat me so unblushingly. " Como 
es ella bonita, ed pequenita para una Inglesa" 
(she is nice-looking, and small for an English- 
woman). The others crowded round me, some 
taking and stroking my hands, expressing re- 
gret that they did not know that I understood 
their "idioma." 

It was difficult to know what to say, but I 
thought it right to express my surprise that 
they should combine to take advantage of a 
stranger, and that stranger a " Soltera," I added 
with great emphasis. 

" Ah, they were sorry ; they did not know ; 
and all English have gold. No, they were 
wrong ; a Soltera should have sympathy. 
But ah, they were so poor 1 It was so hard to 



10.2 A LADY'S EIDE 

live ! &c., &c. Have we not to live in all 
countries, Seiiora \ " 

I told them I was poor too, and that to pay 
a fair price was all I could do. So saying, I 
left them, and went straight to the posada. 

The sun was now so powerful that it was a 
relief to undress and lie down. Hardly had I 
settled for a sleep, than a thud resounded upon 
the outer door, the one which opened on the 
street. 

" Who is there ? What do you want ? " 

" It is Antonio. He has a word to say." 

" I do not know Antonio. Has the consul 
sent you 1 " 

" No, Senora. I want you to take me as 
' wiozo de mano,' for your journey." 

" Thank you ; but I have engaged Eduardo 
Alvarez." 

" Think it over again, Seiiora. I should suit 
far better. I am a man of confidence, of matur- 
ity. Eduardo is only a boy, and ah ! he knows 
nothing. Let me see you, Senora." 

" It is impossible," I replied, " I am going 
to rest for a few hours ; I cannot talk more." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 103 

"Well, then, I return again," contested the 
voice of Antonio. 

" No, no/' I called out ; " once for all, I have 
engaged Eduardo." 

" I know the agreement has not been signed ; " 
persisted my tormentor, "will you see me be- 
fore you sign the agreement, Senora ? " 

"No, don't come again," replied I, in a very 
decided tone. There is a lingering at the door, 
and at length Antonio takes himself off. 

" Evidently no business is private here," say 
I to myself, as I roll the mosquito-net round 
me, and fall into a refreshing sleep. 

A long time after this, as it appears to me, 
three gentle taps are heard upon the opposite 
door, opening into the garden of the posada. 

This is free from public intrusion, and I call 
"Come in" through the mosquito-net. Edu- 
ardo appears, carrying on his head a side- 
saddle. He brings it towards me, and I put 
out my hand to touch it. There is no question 
of this : it is a beautiful, nearly new, lady's 
saddle, and it appears to be in excellent 
order. 



104 A LADY'S RIDE 

I ask Eduardo whence he has procured this 
treasure ? 

"From the widow of the consul's brother. 
Senor Bahl thought of her just after you 
left the office, and he sent his mozo to see 
about it." 

" The lady," he added, " would come and 
visit you, but she lives a little way in the 
country ; and we go to Aceituna to-morrow 
morning." 

" I am really very much obliged to the lady," 
I answered, as I looked at the pretty saddle of 
scarlet leather, handsomely stitched over with a 
flower pattern ; " what am I to pay \ " 

" Twelve pesos, the sum the consul told you," 
the lad replied; " and, Senora, the lady is to 
give me a peso for carrying, and going to her. 
You do not object, Senora ? " 

" Certainly not ; you have earned the money 
fairly. Am I to pay you now ? " 

" No, Senora ; you are to pay to-morrow to 
the consul. We have to go to the office early, 
to get my agreement made out, I was desired 
to tell you. Will you go into the comedor 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 105 

(dining-room), or shall I bring you something 
here?" 

Kecollecting what was the fare on the pre- 
ceding day, I elect to stay where I am, and ask 
the lad to bring me some coffee, and, if possible, 
a roll of bread with it, and some bananas. 
Directly after I had discussed this meal, which 
was all very good of its kind, I dressed and 
went out to sit in the verandah on the garden- 
side of the posada. 

Hardly had I sat there many minutes, when 
a lad belonging to the house announced that 
the consul's black cook wanted to see me. 

" Ask him what he wants ? " I rejoined. 
" Does he bring a note from Senor Bahl \ " 

In these countries, the most trifling commu- 
nications between English-speaking people are 
always effected by note or letter. To trust to 
messages here would be the height of madness. 

" No," answered the mozo ; " the cook wants 
to see you himself." Before I could resolve 
whether I would receive him or not, the man 
stood before me. 

Pulling off his cap, he said, " Very faine night, 



106 A LADY'S RIDE 

ma'am very fa-ine. You comprehend me 
English ? " 

" Yes ; what do you come here for ? And, 
please, stand a little aside ; I want all the air I 
can get." He smelt of fish and black man very 
strongly ; and this, combined with a soup p on of 
kerosene oil, somewhere near, was too much for 
my olfactory nerves. 

" Oh ya-as, ya-as, suttingly. What I going 
say is very private. You go way to-morrow ? " 

"Yes; what of that?" 

"Wa-ay, you know, you want servant, 
ma'am, strong, fight the way, 'sperience, a 
very 'spectable servant, eh \ " 

" I have got one. Your master has made the 
necessary arrangements with Eduardo Alvarez. 
You need not take any trouble about this," I 
answer. 

" Eduardo Alvarez. Bah ! He worth nothing 
't-all ; poor trash only boy in wine-shop ; go 
about country mending clothes ; he suit you I 
No. Besides, Consul Bahl has hot drawn out 
'greement." 

"That will be done to-morrow morning," I 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 10 7 

said ; and, to get rid of him, I rose to go into 
my room as I spoke. 

The fellow, however, was too quick for me, 
and he planted his square, powerful frame in 
my path. 

" Look yaare," said he ; " you take me along. 
I sa-arve you well good fight good cook. It 
will cost you money, but I am good serva-ant, 
ah. I quite fit to take care of a lady." 

What I should have done I can scarcely say, 
as there was no one that I could call, the house- 
hold being all within doors, or clacking on the 
other side of the verandah. Most unexpectedly 
I got immediate and efficient aid in the advent 
of " Lobo," one of the dogs of the house. 

Now Lobo was a very delightful little beast, 
and we had become great friends. He bore the 
character of being such a fool, that he would 
put up with anything. Great, therefore, was 
my surprise when I saw him fly towards the 
" captain," every nerve in his body shaking with 
rage. 

With a yell the "captain" bounded past me, 
and was away down to the shore before I could 



108 A LADY'S EIDE 

speak. I had not been informed that Lobo 
had a special dislike to black people ; and to 
the " captain " in particular. I felt very much 
obliged to the dog also, for giving me an oppor- 
tunity of seeing the " captain's " good fight ; 
the insertion of the letter "1" describes the 
thing much more accurately. 

Once more we go to the consul's office at an 
early and punctual time. Eduardo meets me, 
arrayed in a clean shirt and a large Panama hat. 
Kind Mr Bahl takes me into his store, and gives 
me one or two edible matters, to help out the 
rations ; amongst which, two tins of portable 
soup were particularly acceptable. 

The boat is being got ready, and time passes, 
so that we are already nearly an hour late in 
starting. 

Mr Bahl asked me if I had not been a good 
deal pestered by lads " applying personally " 
for the situation which Eduardo Alvarez now 
filled. 

I said that there had been some other can- 
didates, and that one of them was a personal 
friend of his own. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 109 

" A personal friend of mine ? I have not the 
faintest idea to whom you can allude." 

" A military character one who has done 
wonders in three revolutions." 

" Ah ! I see now ; you mean that black ras- 
cal, my cook." 

"The very person. He has tormented me 
nearly out of my senses to take him with me," 
I answered. 

" I wish you had told me this before, the 
fat rascal. What I have done for him for 
he quarrels with most of his employers would 
take too long to tell. He gets good wages, very 
good wages ; and now that he is used to the 
place, he wants to go off." 

" I think this sort of thing is the fashion 
all the world over ; but I should never have 
taken the man. I don't like him," I 
replied. 

" When you are fairly gone, I will speak to 
him about his conduct. He never asked my 
permission, or hinted, even, that he wanted to 
leave," returned Mr Bahl, with great indig- 
nation. 



110 A LADY'S RIDE 

There was not a chance of our being fairly 
gone yet awhile ; for the boat was not in sight, 
and there were no preparations going on either 
in office or store, as far as I could see, to expe- 
dite matters. I ventured to remark that it was 
getting late. 

" Oh yes," returned the consul ; " we don't 
mind for an hour or so here. You will soon 
fall into the custom of the country. There is 
no fuss and flurry, and things, in the long-run, 
turn out just as well. One of the boatmen has 
not come round, but it will all be well. Just 
sit down in the office, and wait a little/' 

So I sat in the office, and Eduardo hied to the 
steps, and was soon in high gossip with all the 
loungers in Amapala. 

Another half-hour passed, and then the little 
clerk, seeing that I was getting impatient, came 
from behind his railed-ofF space, and informed 
me that the boat would be ready very soon ; he 
had heard the boatman's voice. Would I not, 
in the meantime, take a glass of beer ? Mr Bahl 
had desired him to offer it. 

I was very hot, and drank the small glass of 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. Ill 

Bass's ale with relish ; and I svas further quite 
mollified on seeing the boat at the landing-place, 
and Eduardo pulling in the luggage. There 
was a good deal of delay before all was ready ; 
but at last everything was on board, and we 
were seated in the boat and bound for Acei- 
tuna. 

" You will not be able to get on to-day," were 
the consul's last words ; " better stay at Aceituna 
for the night, and start at daybreak to-morrow. 
Good-bye. Take care of the lady, Eduardo." 
So saying, the kindly gentleman turned into his 
office. 

Eduardo showed me his contract paper as we 
went along. I had the original in my pocket, 
having signed it, as well as he, the first thing 
after, arriving at the office. 

" Mine is a copy, I know ; but the consul 
gave it to me, because I want to show it to my 
friends when we arrive at Comayagua," the lad 
said. " I hope you will stay a day at Coma- 
yagua, Senora." 

" I hope so : you will be able to go to your 
friends for a few hours," I replied. 



112 A LADY'S RIDE 

" And if I serve you well, will you keep me 
when we arrive at San Pedro Sula ? " 

" That I cannot promise ; but you may be 
sure that I will do what I can to help you. If 
I cannot retain you, I daresay other people will 
require your services." 

We had now got into the open sea, and only 
the red roofs and tufted palm-trees of Amapala 
could be seen in the distance. There was a light 
wind, and the fresh air was most invigorating, 
as we skirted some mountainous land, which in 
some parts was thickly overgrown with brush- 
wood and dark herbage ; in others the coast was 
nearly bare. 

The place looked so bleak and solitary, that I 
was prompted to ask one of the boatmen if any 
wild animals existed there. 

" Oh yes/' he replied, "there are some; muy 
malos, muy malos " (very evil, very evil). 

" What are their names ? " I inquired ; for I 
thought here might prove the solution of the 
tiger question. 

" Serpents one or two very bad kinds and 
other creatures." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 113 

" What are the names of the 'other creatures ' ?" 

" Tigers of the mountain. Ah ! I should not 
like to walk in that brushwood ; would you, 
Candido ? " said the man, appealing to his fel- 
low-labourer. 

I afterwards learned, from reliable authority, 
that what are designated " tigers of the moun- 
tain," are, in reality, small leopards. But they 
are fierce enough, and in many instances have 
taken human life. The skin of these animals is 
very beautiful, and forms sometimes the chief 
ornament of a Hondureian house. 

After an hour's good rowing, the boat was 
turned into a narrow creek, bordered on either 
side with overhanging trees. This was, in a 
measure, a relief from the heat of the sun, 
which, in spite of the awning, was beginning to 
penetrate through my hat. Here was little to 
interest us, save sometimes the having to exert 
ourselves in order to keep the boughs of the 
trees out of our faces. The creek grew nar- 
rower, and at length a short point of land gave 
evidence that we were in front of the custom- 
house at Aceituiia. 

H 



114 A LADY'S RIDE 



CHAPTEK VI. 

MR Z., the custom-house officer, handed me out 
of the boat and conducted me into his dwelling. 
This was a low thatched house, separated only 
by a mound and a damp patch of grass from 
the edge of the creek. The entrance opened 
upon the principal room, which was a combina- 
tion of reception and store room. The sides of 
the boarded walls were fitted up with tiers of 
wooden shelves, and on these lay packages of 
all shapes and sizes. Bales of cocoa-nut fibre 
seemed to predominate ; and several layers of 
cow-hides made great show on the low shelves. 
Bushels of what I supposed to be grain, or 
seeds, were huddled here and there ; and a 
great heap of white beans, and a measure on 
the top of it, entirely filled one corner. 

The ground was the usual earthen floor, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 115 

stamped as hard as iron, and depressed here 
and there; so much so, that it required some 
attention to walk safely over it. 

A handsome hammock, slung from the rafters 
of the roofing, and a wooden table, were all the 
furniture of this department. For ornament 
there was hanging on a nail a large-sized em- 
broidery frame ; upon the canvas of this was in 
course of representation a very gay macaw con- 
templating some remarkably fine grapes. A 
Berlin-wool-work pattern was displayed open on 
a nail higher up, and thus could be seen in its en- 
tirety the magnitude of the macaw's temptation. 

The custom-house officer, following the direc- 
tion of my eye, said "Mi sposa, that is her 
work/' Somebody came to the aperture which 
divided this apartment from an inner one. This 
was mi sposa, a pretty Indian girl, who appeared 
to be many years younger than her lord, and 
who was followed by a still younger girl, whom 
she presented to me as her sister. They both 
wore the nagua costume, though it differed a 
little from the strict Mexican style. The nagua 
costume consists of a chemise, very fully plaited 



116 A LADY'S RIDE 

at the arms and round the shoulders, leaving the 
throat bare. A thick strand of hair generally 
furnishes the back expanse between the nape of 
the neck and the shoulders, and a shapely bodice 
of some bright colour covers the person to the 
waist. The Mexican girl here indulges in pet- 
ticoats of various lengths till the feet are reached ; 
but these Hondureian women were content with 
one short garment, comely enough, but not so 
picturesque ; and they lacked the silver orna- 
ments and embroidery which add so much to 
the " make-up " of the Mexican lady. 

The beautiful eyes and shapely feet of the 
custom-house officer's wife, however, were at- 
tractive enough ; and her cultivated voice and 
elegant pronunciation showed that she had re- 
ceived some education. I pointed to her work- 
frame, and asked her where she had learnt to 
embroider. 

" A la escuela, muy buena escuela," she re- 
plied (at school, a very good school) ; and added, 
in her beautiful idiom, " my husband is English; 
he married me because I have had some edu- 
cation." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 117 

Arid for more than that, thought I, as I 
glanced at this elegant creature ; but I looked 
very serious and practical, and remarked in 
reply that " education is a grand thing for 
everybody." 

" Ah, yes/' cut in the younger sister, " when 
it is properly applied." 

I was so astonished at this remark, from such 
a person and in such a place, that I was startled 
into asking her what she meant. 

" I mean that very wicked things are often 
done by educated people," returned the damsel, 
with a jerk of her head. " I have my reasons," 
she continued, " but I will not say more." 

" Very wicked things are often done," I re- 
plied, " by people who profess much religion ; 
we must not judge by individuals. These 
matters must be viewed in a broad and general 
way." 

" No doubt the Senora is right," was the 
answer ; " but I have my reasons. Ah, I have 
heard some fine tales, about people from Europe 
too ! " 

I daresay she had ; but the subject dropped 



118 A LADY'S RIDE 

as the sister asked me to go into her room 
and take off my hat. " You will sleep here," 
said she, indicating the hammock with her 
hand, " and the guarda costa will look to your 
mozo.*' 

" The guarda costa what is that ? " 

" See here," she answered, opening the door, 
which had been kept fast closed for coolness' 
sake; "these are the guarda costa" (coast- 
guard). 

A few very fine-looking men, some in shirts 
and drawers, some with jackets in addition, and 
all bearing muskets of a very old-fashioned 
pattern, were walking to and fro. One of them, 
a remarkably strong-looking man, kept regular 
pace, and tramped up and down with the regu- 
larity of a British sentinel. 

Mr Z. here joined us. He said, " This is the 
man I propose to send with you to - morrow. 
Will you speak with me when you have taken 
off your hat ? I want to tell you what I have 
done for the journey." 

I retired with the Senora. Her bedroom 
was boarded off from the room we had quitted, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 119 

and quite as miserable in its accommodations as 
the rest of the dwelling. 

On returning to the outer room, Mr Z. asked 
me to buy the animals required for the journey, 
and named a price, which even I, in my inex- 
perience, knew to be exorbitant, and said so. 

" The price of mules has risen considerably," 
urged Mr Z. ; " they are so much required in 
the mining districts now." 

" Very possibly, but I will not buy any mules; 
I shall be happy to hire those you have as far 
as Arimesine. Mr Bahl told you in his note 
the price I ought to give." 

There was no more to be said to this, and the 
wife proposed that we should go out and see the 
animals. 

A coast -guard -man brought round a small 
chestnut mare, a nice-looking creature, but 
" weedy " withal. 

" There," said the custom-house officer, "is 
the one I have arranged that you shall ride. 
That belongs to mi sposa ; it is a great pet ; 
mi sposa often goes long distances on her with- 
out attendance." 



120 A LADY'S RIDE 

In the meadow was a very nice-looking macho 
(male mule), which was pointed out as beiog 
the one for Eduardo's use. 

" Where is the baggage-mule ? " I inquired. 

" Oh, he will come round in the morning. 
He is resting in a stable close by." Abel, 
the man who was to go with us, grinned. I 
thought there was some mystery here. 

The early dawn, which is lovely in this 
country, brought with its first glimmer coast- 
guard-men, the mare, the mule, and the baggage- 
mule ; the latter we were particularly delighted 
to see. To my amusement Mr Z. offered to sell 
me the three at a considerable abatement of the 
price urged the day before. Fortunately I ad- 
hered to my resolution of hiring only. 

On being mounted, I found that the pommel 
of the saddle was fixed immovably on the left 
side. There was no time to alter this, and in 
consequence, on setting off, I began to realise 
that it was anything but pleasant to ride faster 
than a walk at first. 

"Never fear, Senora," said Abel at length; 
" we have a long way to go, and if we are to 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 121 

arrive at Arimesine to-night we must get on a 
little faster." 

Being accustomed, or nearly so, to the motion 
induced by the difference between the English 
and Spanish way of mounting, 'my confidence 
returned, and I declared myself ready to increase 
the speed. 

" Wait till we turn off to the left, Senora ; 
there will be more shade, and then we can get 
on well," Abel remarked encouragingly. 

Eduardo had ridden a good deal in advance ; 
as he neared the road turning to the left, we 
saw the baggage -mule suddenly break loose 
from his hold, and dart at full speed among 
the trees, Eduardo following as hard as he could 
gallop. 

This made the mare a little restive, but 
Abel's strong arm subdued her. " Let us turn 
into the left path," said he; "you will have 
to dismount and wait whilst I go on. The 
baggage-mule has bolted." 

Turning into the road on the left, which was 
little more than a bridle-path through shrubs 
and nice soft grass, the man dismounted me, 



122 A LADY'S RIDE 

at the same time tying the mare to a low bush. 
There was plenty of grass, and so this one of 
the party, at least, was very much at ease. 

" You won't mind being left a short time," 
said Abel ; "it is quite safe. I had better 
follow Eduardo quick. Ah, it was time," he 
said, returning with something in his hand. It 
was my dressing-comb, in two parts, and full 
of dirt and sand. 

I accompanied him a little way, and had the 
pleasure of picking up one of my slippers, part 
of a little book, and many other things with 
which my handbag had been packed. Further 
on lay my long tin box, unfastened, indeed, but 
stove in by what was unmistakably a violent 
kick in the wrong direction. 

" Ah," said Abel, contemplating this, " the 
mule is wild ; he has rushed against the trees, 
and the baggage has got loose ; I hope there is 
no accident. Sefiora, I am sorry to leave you 
alone, but I had better get on to Eduardo." 

So he sped away at a flying swing-trot, and I 
was left literally to pick up the pieces. 

A little further on was what I recognised to 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 123 

be a shirt which I had bought at Senor Bahl's 
store to present to Eduardo. The boy was so 
delighted with it, that he had said he would 
wear it when he arrived at Comayagua to visit 
his friends. Here it was, then, in pieces, and 
a part of it torn quite out. The ground bore 
marks of hoofs in all directions. 

All the little things I had collected for re- 
freshment on the road were destroyed without 
mercy. Here some biscuits ground to powder, 
and amalgamating freely with mother earth ; 
there some plantains and bananas reduced to 
pulp ; in another place was my tin of portable 
soup, stove in, and almost unrecognisable. 

Fortunately, perhaps, I had so much to do 
in getting these fragments together, that I had 
scarcely time to think how unlucky this first 
start of mine had been. Two hours at least 
would have been wasted, and there would be 
no time for rest in the middle of the day. Hav- 
ing gathered together all I could find, I sat 
down on a large stone close to the mare, with 
the collection by my side, and with anything 
but satisfaction in my mind. 



124 A LADY'S RIDE 

Half an hour must have passed, and then the 
mare began to fidget and look about her. She 
had heard voices, and she almost tried to put 
down her head on my shoulder. It has been 
said that she was a pet animal ; and really her 
action seemed to say, " Don't you hear that ?" 

I by this time had heard the voices distinctly; 
so I stood up beside the animal and waited for 
the speakers. 

Eound a little winding projection, which jutted 
out on the principal path, came two quiet-look- 
ing men towards me. Lifting his sombrero (that 
ugly thing, the hat proper, is unknown in Hon- 
duras), the elder of them said, " We are sent 
to help you, Seiiora, English lady. We have 
met Abel and the 771020. Mule very bad very 
savage ; won't allow itself to be loaded again. 
Abel thought you would allow us to take you 
on. We are woodcutters, and Abel knows us." 

I turned to mount, the younger lad helping 
me. As I did so, I expressed a hope that 
Eduardo was not hurt. 

" No ; he is a good rider, and the other mule 
behaved well. But how are you to get on 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 125 

quien sabef That mule is el demonio him- 
self." 

The men took the long box between them, 
and a parcel was made of the debris. We soon 
reached Abel and the lad, who were sitting on 
a little bank. The riding-mule was browsing 
calmly enough; the baggage-animal was tied 
to a tree, and was still stamping with rage. 

" What are we to do V I inquired in de- 
spair. " Had we not better go back?" 

" We will try and see if the baggage-mule 
will bear loading again," said Abel ; "it would 
be such a loss to return. We will try." 

The four men approached the offender, and 
were most gentle in their treatment. All was 
to no purpose. As soon as he felt the load 
on his back, he started violently, and rushed 
against the tree, with the determined purpose 
of pushing it off. Abel now pulled out his 
handkerchief and. blindfolded the animal. 

This had the effect of quieting it, and as it 
was nearly exhausted from kicking, the load 
was replaced without much exhibition of feel- 
ing on the sufferer's part. 



126 A LADY'S RIDE 

Everything being packed, we went on our 
way, one of the woodcutters undertaking to lead 
the refractory mule. As long as we went slowly 
all was satisfactory ; but the moment we at- 
tempted to get out of a walk the mule showed 
fight. Even the baggage was of no avail. 

The woodcutters were obliged to leave us ; 
they had their work in another direction, and 
they could not lose time. " I am very sorry 
very much ashamed," said the elder, with em- 
phasis on the last word, " that the custom-house 
officer should have let you hire that beast. It 
is a robbery; the mule is not half broken; it 
is quite young, and I do not think it has carried 
a load more than thrice in its life." 

" Abel has not told me that," said I. 

" How should he ? He is a soldier, and he 
has to obey the customs officer ; he must not 
speak ; but he knows as well as I do that 
the creature does not belong to the customs 
officer. Senor Z. has hired it from a charcoal- 
burner who lives near him, and I have no 
doubt he has made a good thing of it. You 
have paid beforehand?" 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 127 

" Yes ; I Lave hired these three animals to 
take us to Arimesine." 

" May you get there to-night ! Adios, Senora; 
muchas gracias" as I put a trifle in his hand. 
Thus speaking, our two assistants wended their 
way. 

The situation was certainly very unsatisfactory, 
and Abel's replies to my inquiries did not tend 
to enliven matters. " At this rate," the man 
said, " we shall never reach Arimesine to-night ; 
and I am under orders to bring back the ani- 
mals early to-morrow morning." 

" But the delay is entirely your master's fault; 
he had no right to give me an unbroken animal 
to carry the baggage. If we cannot reach Arime- 
sine to-night, what are we to do ?" 

" We must stay at a place called Goascaron; 
the head man there will take you in. He is 
an Italian doctor, and keeps a store. Oh, muy 
bruta muy bruta ! " (horrid brute) broke off 
Abel, as the mule turned sharp round and liter- 
ally ploughed the earth with its feet, refusing 
to stir, though Eduardo dragged it with all 
his strength. 



128 A LADYS RIDE 

Here was a nice state of things 1 It was 
equally impossible to advance or retire. For- 
tunately, as we were consulting whether we 
really ought to return to Aceituiia, we met a 
countryman, who was riding a nice-looking 
mule. To him Abel hastened with all speed. 
A short conference, and matters were to go on 
well-oiled wheels I hoped. The baggage was 
transferred from the refractory baggage-mule to 
the consul's riding-mule, and the countryman 
lent his animal for our use. Then our ram- 
pageous friend was given over to the man's keep- 
ing, and some arrangement was made as to 
how this treasure was to be restored to his 
owner. It was disgusting to see him go off 
as meek as a mouse the moment that he was 
led away. 

" These creatures are very wise," Abel said ; 
" that brute knows as well as I do that he 
has had the best of it. I know that man : he 
is going to take it to a stable." Then he con- 
tinued with a grin, " The master won't like our 
turning Carlos into a baggage-mule, though." 

" The master has behaved very badly through- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 129 

out. Are you really obliged to take the mules 
back in the night V 1 

" I must obey orders, Seiiora ; I am a soldier." 

" We have lost so much time, that I am 
sure I cannot ride to Arimesine; under the best 
circumstances it would have been a long stretch. 
Very well ; I will stop at Goascaron, and I 
shall write to Consul Bahl and tell him how 
badly Mr Z. has behaved. He must have known 
that we could not reach Arimesine to-night." 

"I cannot say, Seiiora; but it is a great 
many leagues off." 

" How many ?" 

Abel could not tell. In this country it is 
equally impossible to ascertain correctly either 
the length of a distance or the time of day. A 
wholesale importation of clocks and milestones 
would certainly prove a national benefit in 
this direction. 

The sun was now fierce, and we had quitted 
the shade of the forest and scattered trees. 
Eduardo dismounted and offered Abel his turn 
to ride ; but this strong, cheery man declined. 
" Let me ride when I am tired," he said. " I 

i 



130 A LADY'S RIDE 

will stay by the Senora; it is very tiresome 
for her to use a saddle with the pommel placed 
on the side opposite to the one she is accus- 
tomed to ; the mare, too, is fidgety." 

So she was. A passing bird, a stray cow 
tearing at a hedge, all startled her ; and farther 
on, when we met a drove of mules, she rushed 
into the middle of it, turning round and round, 
and exhibiting a strong inclination to bolt. 
Abel explained that horses have in general a 
very strong dislike to stranger-mules; for this 
reason they are seldom stabled together. The 
mare agreed very well with the mules at home, 
because they were accustomed to each other and 
had been reared together. 

We got on, however, at a fair speed, halt- 
ing two hours afterwards by a pretty running 
stream to take some refreshment. Eduardo 
sought among the huts of the country village 
near, and succeeded in obtaining some milk, 
tortillas, and a delicious water-melon. 

The men went to a little distance to smoke, 
and I took advantage of the opportunity to 
bathe my feet in the lovely stream. They 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 131 

were burning from my wearing black boots, 
a most unwise article of dress to adopt in 
tropical countries. 1 had a little tin case, 
containing a square of soap, which, fortunate- 
ly, was in my pocket, and so it escaped the 
devastation caused by the baggage-mule ; and 
with thankfulness for this comfort, I revelled 
in the pebbly delicious water. 

The painter of river scenery can nowhere in 
the wide world find more charming subjects 
for his brush than the lovely water-courses of 
Spanish Honduras. The cascades among the 
mountains are simply magnificent, and deserve 
to be classed among the finest in any land. 
The lowest and dirtiest of villages in the in- 
terior can generally show a beautiful running 
stream in its midst ; and it is, I think, in con- 
sequence of this, that typhoid fever and blood- 
poisoning are unknown. 

These pests are not at this time the correct 
thing to die of in Honduras, as appears to be 
the case in our own land. Can it be that 
polluted water is in reality the mainspring of 
half the ailments of the English people ? My 



132 A LADY'S HIDE 

fervent wish for Honduras is that she may ever 
deserve her name. Hondo, being interpreted, 
means a pond or brook ; and the brooks of 
this fair region are so pure and health-giving, 
that when the iron hand of progress penetrates 
here, may its mission be other than that of 
tainting, for commercial greed, the life of a 
country. 

Ah, how many in our own England turn to 
spirits and to beer, because the only water to 
which they have access is poisoned by chem- 
ical drugs, or is made the receptacle of all 
foul things 1 

A weary ride in burning sun and over rough 
road brought us to the outskirts of Goascaron. 
My strength was nearly spent, owing to the 
badness of the road and the uneasy motion 
caused by the manner of riding. 

Strong, kind Abel more than once carried 
me over the smaller streams ; for, as the dark- 
ness came on, the mare plunged unsteadily, 
and sometimes carried me into very deep 
water. The heat, too, had been very pros- 
trating ; and so it was with a feeling of 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 133 

relief that I heard a clear incisive voice call 
out, " Is that the lady from Aceituna ? " Ed- 
uardo had ridden on in advance, and the Italian 
doctor was standing at his side waiting to re- 
ceive us. 



134 A LADY'S EIDE 



CHAPTEE VII. 

WEARY and wayworn on the outskirts of Goas- 
caron, and depressed by my misadventures with 
the baggage-mule, I was right glad to hear the 
voice of the doctor calling out, "Is that the 
lady from Aceituna?" 

" Senor, si," responded Abel on my behalf; 
" and a very weary day the lady has had. I will 
tell you about it presently. Come, Eduardo, hold 
the mare whilst I lift her from the saddle." 

The Italian doctor, however, anticipated the 
attention ; and somehow (for the power of as- 
sisting myself had left me) I was seated in a 
rocking-chair, and a short man with finely cut 
features was looking steadily in my face. 

" You are faint from over-fatigue," he said ; 
"there is nothing more the matter. You want 
a little cognac." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 135 

He went to fetch this, and I was soon revived 
by swallowing a portion of the stimulant. But 
I was aching with a dull pain from head to foot, 
and it was with difficulty that I could speak. 
It was as from a long distance off that I heard 
Abel recapitulating all our misfortunes, small 
enough, perhaps, in the temperate zone, but 
with the sun at 102 in the shade, otra cosa 
(another thing), as the Spaniards say. 

" You should have rested in the middle of 
the day," the doctor added decisively. " It 
was a shameful thing to send an unbroken 
animal; and you don't mean to tell me that 
you are going to take the cattle back to- 
night 1" 

" Such are my orders," replied Abel. 

"But the lady has hired them, and I suppose 
has paid for them, to take her as far as Arime- 
sine ? " 

" She has, Senor ; but, you see, she has not 
got there. I am ready to go on now, but I 
think it will be too far for the lady. I am 
very sorry. What can I do ? " 

The doctor pondered a moment. " You had 



136 A LADY'S EIDE 

better return : stay, and refresh for a couple of 
hours. There is a good moon too. I can pro- 
vide mules here to carry the lady on. Better 
that she should lose a little than get ill. By 
the way," continued the doctor quickly, " was 
this lady "told that she had hired animals by 
time, or did she understand that you were to 
return with them to-night under any circum- 
stances ? " 

" She says, Senor, that she understood that 
the mules were at her disposal until she should 
arrive at Arimesine." 

"Ah, well, I am glad it is a Briton, and not 
any one of this country, who could behave so 
badly to a woman, and to one travelling alone 
too." 

" Trust the British for cheating and swindling 
one another whenever they can get the chance 
in an out-of-the-way country; mind I say in 
an out-of-the-way country," shouted a voice, 
which was undoubtedly an English one, though 
employing the Spanish language with more force 
than accuracy. 

" I wonder who on earth this can be ! " 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 137 

thought I to myself, as the speaker went on 
to question Abel with more or less bad Spanish, 
garnished with a round British oath here and 
there. It was not long before the mystery was 
solved ; for a large, red-faced, choleric-looking 
man, with a merry twinkle in his eye, stood 
before me. He looked what he eventually 
turned out to be a retired captain in the 
British merchant service. 

" I beg your pardon, madam," he said ; " but 
I heard that travellers had come in, and 
one of them an English lady. I am sorry 
you have had such a day of it very sorry. 
Now if you would like to go on with the 
animals in a few hours, I will take precious 
good care they don't return to Aceituna till 
you have done with them. I am a match 
for Abel, though he is a big fellow/' 

" Oh no, thank you," I replied hastily ; 
" Abel has been so good, so attentive to 
me, I would much rather not go on. In 
fact, I am so tired that I am thankful to 
rest here." 

" All right, then ; but if I were you, I would 



138 A LADY'S EIDE 

write to Consul Bahl, who is an honest man, 
and tell him how this precious custom-house 
officer has behaved. Bah ! what makes Eng- 
land send all her rubbish out here \ " 

" Not all, surely," I replied " there must 
be many exceptions." 

"Just you look at that Honduras railway, 
madam," he went on. " That railway was 
planned and carried out* by a parcel of fellows 
sitting in their offices in London. The pros- 
pectuses they issued were all deceptive ; people 
were deluded into investing their money and 
taking shares in it ; a great crash came, and 
many of the best people here were utterly 
ruined. Some of these fellows, I know, sub- 
scribed to the Society for the Propagation of 
the Gospel, and others for the Conversion of 
the Jews. Bah ! yah, yah ! bosh ! " 

The doctor intervened. He remarked that 
the captain had lost greatly in this Honduras 
railway himself, and the very mention of the 
subject made him nearly bola. 

" Bola ; what does that mean?" I inquire. 

" Drunk. He is morally so now ; and 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 139 

perhaps/' added my new friend, "he may be 
a little so physically : it is his weak point." 

A very pretty Indian girl, with sweet eyes 
and a timid manner, now came forward. She 
said, " We cannot make you very comfortable 
to-night, Senora, but to-morrow it will be 
better. Don Graciano says you must stay 
over to-morrow." 

I went with her into the house, and there, 
partitioned off, in a corner of the long low 
store, was a comfortable bed, screened from 
the public view by some clever arrangement 
of blankets and coverlets. Eduardo, by desire 
of the host, had put in some toilet-ware. This 
was a great comfort; for the Hondureians, as 
a rule, are quite independent of this necessity 
of life : indeed, in the interior of the country, 
to possess even the meanest article of crockery, 
is to be accredited with more than the usual 
means of supporting life. Thus, in the opinion 
of many, Don Graciano would be accounted a 
well-to-do (hombre de bien), if not a rich man. 

Abel came to take leave of me before I re- 
tired, and it was with real regret that I parted 



140 A LADY'S RIDE 

with this honest, kindly guide. I pressed a little 
remembrance into his hand, and thanked him 
sincerely for the help he had given me. 

" I shall keep this for my next little 
daughter," the stalwart fellow answered. " I 
will put it round her neck, and call her 
Inglesa. Adios." 

The tramp of the mare and the mules told 
us that Abel was on the way back to his 
gracious master; and so we all turned to our 
beloved sleep. It was strange on the next 
morning, in looking through the blankets, to 
find myself lying in bed in a general store. 
Yes ; there were the shelves laden with jars 
of pickles, bottles of wine, tea -canisters, and 
kerosene -lamps. Other shelves held a variety 
of articles, all suited to the requirements of 
country life; and a compartment was entirely 
fitted up with drugs and medicine -bottles, 
supported at one end by a pestle and mortar, 
and at the other by a large glass machine, 
which in shape was a cut between a hot- 
water bottle and a pillar post-box. A curling 
projection, also of glass, rendered this article 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 141 

a subject of my earnest scrutiny. A small chair 
in the angle of this compartment, and a tiny 
table before it, seemed to announce that this 
was the professional part of the establishment. 

A knock from somewhere brought me to 
my manners ; and I had just time to close 
the loophole in the curtains when I heard a 
voice from somewhere follow the knock from 
somewhere. 

" Excuse me, Seiiora," called my host, " but 
you had better rise now. We open very early 
in these parts, and people may be coming into 
the store earlier than you may like. Are you 
better ? " 

" Much, thank you/' I called out in response, 
"but still very tired, and my bones ache." 

"I have prepared some medicine for you to 
take "later in the day. Your mozo will bring 
some water." Almost immediately a large red 
pitcher, of the form they used long years ago 
in old Egypt, was poked under the blanket, 
and I quickly proceeded to avail myself of 
this, to me, the greatest comfort in life viz., 
cold-water ablution. 



142 A LADY'S BIDE 

I got dressed in time to avoid coming in 
contact with some men who had entered by 
the large oak door of the store ; they were 
all talking " mule," and were smoking like 
limekilns. 

The doctor had been hovering about some- 
where, and finding me ready, took me, sans 
ceremonie, into an inner apartment. There, 
on an iron bedstead completely covered by a 
mosquito-net, lay the young girl I had seen 
the night before, fast asleep, with a naked 
brown baby of about three months old lying 
on her bosom. Don Graciano, with a smile 
which singularly softened his hard well -cut 
features, put his hand beneath the curtain 
and brought out the little creature, which he 
hugged with the fondest pride. " My little 
daughter my first-born/' said he. "Look, 
Senora, she is plump and very clean. I 
follow the English fashion, and my little 
one has her bath night and morning. Is it 

o o 

not so, my pearl ? " 

"My pearl," who was as brown as a berry, 
danced and kicked and looked great things. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 143 

This infant had certainly much " speculation 
in its eyes ; " and its dark nature's costume 
never seemed to make me aware that this 
little specimen of humanity was entirely " in 
the nude." 

Passing through this room I was conducted 
to the back verandah ; here were tables and 
chairs, and some coffee-cups put out in array, 
apparently for immediate use. In an incred- 
ibly small space of time the mother of the 
infant was at my side : she seemed to be 
washed and dressed by a feat of legerdemain. 
She called a mozo, who was evidently in the 
service of the house, and handed the child to 
him, speeding her way with great alacrity into 
the cocina (kitchen). 

The cocinas are always built apart from the 
dwelling-house in these countries ; they are 
composed principally of the baked mud called 
adobe. The batterie de cuisine is not extensive, 
the chief utensils being, usually, a small furnace, 
a portable grate, a stone for rolling and baking 
tortillas, a plate or two, and a coffee-pot. The 
smoke may escape from the hole in the roof, or 



144 A LADY'S RIDE 

it may gush out at the door, just as it happens : 
nobody cares for such a trifle as this. 

Don Graciano came out on this verandah. 
" We shall have coffee directly," he said ; " but 
the regular breakfast is a little before mid-day. 
Mozo, place the chairs/ 7 And he took the 
infant as he spoke. 

Some delicious coffee and maize-cakes were 
brought, and we sat down to the table. I 
hesitated a moment, and then said, "Should 
we not wait for the Senora \ " 

" Oh no," replied the husband ; " she is busy 
in the kitchen ; she does not take her meals 
with me. Now I want to tell you I think I 
can get mules and a muleteer for you : I have 
been speaking to Eduardo. Not a bad lad, but 
he is idle ; mind you keep him to his work, 
and make him wait upon you. Well, as I 
was saying, there are some very good mule- 
teers in Goascaron just now, and I can re- 
commend one especially. He is a good walker, 
and a first-rate man in his way. Will you 
allow me to see him for you '( " 

I reply gratefully, "Yes, by all means." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 145 

" Possibly I may be able to manage for you. 
Marcos is not cheap, but his mules are thor- 
oughly good ; and as you have some awkward 
rivers to ford, his strength and his knowledge 
you will find valuable. M ozo ! mo zo ! " 

"Estoy aqui, Senor" (I am here, sir), gasped 
the little lad, as he emerged from the cocina 
with his mouth crammed with tortilla, and his 
hands full of some mess of cake and honey. 

He was ordered, as I gathered, to summon 
Marcos somebody, and Vicente somebody else, 
and above all the " Sir," and to be quick about 
it. The rapidity of the Italian must have been 
like an electric shock to the semi-Hondureian, 
semi-Spanish lad ; but he was evidently accus- 
tomed to it. 

Eduardo had a lazy, lounging, happy-go- 
lucky way of going about his business, which 
made him appear to be more indolent than 
he really was. The doctor fell upon him as 
he observed him lounging beyond the ver- 
andah, " Have you looked after the lady's 
baggage 1 " said he. 

" I have received no orders," replied the 

K 



146 A LADY'S RIDE 

mozo. " What am I to do, Senora \ " with a 
slight emphasis on the Senora. 

I looked at Don Graciano, who remarked, 
"Your tin box is very dirty, and the rest of 
the baggage looks as if it had been rolled in 
clay. It is in the stable ; and you," added 
he, turning to Eduardo, "had better go and 
clean it ; you have nothing to do." 

The youth bowed himself out of the way 
with the usual placid composure of the Spanish 
race. "Ah," said Don Graciano, with an air 
of disgust, "these fellows won't hurry them- 
selves for anything under the sun : this is one 
of the true breed. Now mind, Senora, mind 
you make him stick to his work." 

Don Graciano here left me, being inquired 
for from outside ; and presently I heard his 
voice in full swing short, decisive, and in- 
cisive taking the lead amongst several others, 
whose numbers seemed to increase as the min- 
utes passed on. 

" No ; once more no, Enrico," said my host ; 
"you will not do. Your animals are bad, and 
you are idle in starting. The Senora must not 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 147 

take you. Ah, here is El * Sir.' What do you 
say, ' Sir ' ; do you advise this man to travel 
with your countrywoman ? " 

A rampaging and snorting, together with 
the answer, instructed me that the individual 
addressed as El "Sir" was no other than the 
English captain. 

" My goodness, gracious, patience, no ! " re- 
sponded El " Sir." " There is only one of these 
fellows fit for this kind of journey ; that is 
Marcos. Where is she ? " 

The " she " was supposed to indicate me ; 
and Don Graciano came out, and brought me 
into the little coign of vantage which served 

o o 

as the consulting-room. 

The present business being " mule," the 
company were convened at the lower end of 
the store. There were some respectable-look- 
ing men among these ; they had evidently 
been summoned to hold this convenio, and I 
felt sure that the Italian doctor would do his 
very best for me. Somehow I relied more 
upon him than upon El " Sir," although the 
latter was an Englishman. 



148 A LADY'S RIDE 

" May I go beyond the price you mentioned 
last night I " asked the doctor, in a low tone. 
" Marcos is here : he demands more than any 
other muleteer, but his mules are far superior 
to those of the others, I think/' 

I thought the matter over, and gave the 
doctor full authority to arrange as was best. 
"Kemember," I added, "that money is an 
object to me." 

By this time the man alluded to as Marcos 
had entered the store, and seated himself on 
the low counter in a free-and-easy manner. 
The rest stood round, and, with cigar illos in 
their mouths, talked and bargained and ges- 
ticulated in a manner which would not have 
disgraced a market-place in Paris. Here and 
there a man would make some reference to "la 
Senora " ; and one fine fellow made a short 
run at me, in order to impress upon my mind 
that El "Sir" knew nothing about the busi- 
ness, and, in fact, would be very much better 
in the sea. 

The Hondureians, I observed, consign their 
obnoxious or troublesome acquaintances to El 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 149 

Mar (the sea), very much as we consign our 
own "objectionables" to Jericho or to Hong 
Kong. 

About half an hour passed in this way : no 
actual business was done, and some of the men 
left, promising to come back and resume the 
subject later in the day. "The Senora does 
not set out till to-morrow morning," one of 
them said. 

" And not then, if she is not quite rested and 
well," said the kindly host. 

One by one the muleteers left, talking outside 
upon the subject of my journey. 

Marcos then sprang off the counter and came 
towards me. Taking my hand, he brought me 
to the principal door of the store. {l Senora," 
said he, " look at that mule ; she is a noble 
mule. Luisa will carry you till she drops. So 
gentle, too," the man continued, as he stroked 
her head. " La querida ! " (The dear one.) 

She was a handsome beast, mouse-coloured, 
with black ears and large intelligent eyes. I 
really admired her, and delighted Marcos by 
repeating after him, "La querida." 



150 A LADY'S RIDE 

" You will take me 1 " said the man. " I am 
half Indian, and the Indian always has the fine 
ear and the rapid tread. I can write too, and I 
can read," added he. " A good priest held an 
Indian school. Some of them are bad here, 
Seiiora, but this one, Seiiora I he was good 
to the Indian race/' 

" I will speak to Don Graciano. He thinks, 
however, that you ask too much." 

" Then, Senora, I will put it like this. You 
shall pay me the sum I shall agree on, and you 
can ride at leisure ; no hurry. I will bide your 
time ; and if you like to go quick one day and 
slow the other, all the same to me. I should 
like to go with you. 3 ' 

"Will you be careful in crossing the rivers, 
and assist me in the difficulty of passing the 
rough places ? I am afraid you may be impa- 
tient with me, Marcos, for I am not a bold rider." 

"By the dear Christ that died for us," said 
the man, making the sign of the cross, " I will 
serve you faithfully and well." 

I felt that he was sincere.; and so, on going 
into the house, I requested the Don to draw up 
the necessary agreement. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 151 

" Now take this draught I have prepared for 
you/' said this active man, who never seemed to 
forget anything or anybody. "Best a little 
now, and after that I hope you will accompany 
me to the bull- chase." 

" What ! a bull-fight \ " said I, in astonishment. 

" I said a hull-chase, Senora ; quite a different 
thing." 

" What is the difference ? " 

" It is the custom here annually to allot three 
young bulls to the hamlet, in order to improve 
or raise the farm stock. On a certain day the 
bulls are let out of the corral, and the young 
men of the parish chase them, the bulls having 
a fair start. 

" The animal, when caught, is brought into 
an enclosed space, garlanded with ribbons, and 
adjudged publicly to the victor. It is a pretty 
sight ; for, whilst the chase is going on, the 
other men dance with the girls to the sound of 
a very fair brass band. I want you to see how 
well we can conduct our fiestas among the 
mountains." 

This fiesta was the cause of the presence of 
so many muleteers in Goascaron : they were to 



152 A LADY'S RIDE 

take part in the dance, but none of them, I 
think, entered for the chase. 

Late in the afternoon the doctor, in gala cos- 
tume, knocked at my enclosure, and was ready 
to escort me to the meadow where the dance 
was to be held. 

" Where is the Senora ? " asked I. 

" She is not coming. She must remain and 
attend to the infant. Our female servant is to 
go to the general ball in the evening, and all 
the mozos are gone to see the chase." 

The sound of a clarionet and horn playing a 
lively measure announced that we were near 
the scene of amusement ; a rushing noise, and 
voices shouting from afar, proclaimed that el 
toro negro (the black bull) had been loosed, and 
was far away, flying up the hill, with a score or 
more of young men provided with lassos tear- 
ing at full speed on mule-back after him. 

The first dance was the graceful ronda of the 
muleteers. 

This is called ronda, because the dancers are 
surrounded by their mules, which are all decked 
with their gayest trappings ; some of these bear- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 153 

ing panniers, sometimes filled with flowers, 
sometimes filled with babies. These last gen- 
erally accompanied the band vocally, and ad 
nauseam. 

It was very interesting to watch the evolutions 
of this graceful dance, and the unerring precision 
with which the men and women mazed between 
the quadrupeds, waltzed back, formed a ring in 
the centre, and finished all by the head muleteer 
raising his machete, as he stood alone in the 
centre of the ring and shouted, " Evviva la ron- 
da de los mulateros ! " (Long live the muleteers* 
dance ! ) After that there was some very good 
waltzing, the step being accurately turned, al- 
though the men wore their mountain boots, 
which are heavy. The dance was held under 
two immense trees, just in the hollow formed 
between two slopes; but still the heat was 
great, and I wondered how they could work 
away as persistently as they did. 

The women and girls wore the white mantilla, 
in honour of the day, short white dresses decked 
with some bright embroidery worked in the 
material, and all wore flowers. The elder 



154 A LADY'S RIDE 

women and chaperons were dressed usually in 
dark raiment, with the graceful black mantilla 
thrown over the head. I grieve to say that this 
elegant article of dress is giving place to a 
style of horrid little hat, which a French com- 
mercial traveller, some two years ago, had in- 
troduced into the country. A young stumpy 
girl, arrayed in one of these, I saw pegging 
away with a mozo of Don Graciano's ; and as 
she appeared to have put everything she pos- 
sessed in the way of ribbon and flowers upon 
the said hat, I earnestly hoped that the awful 
spectacle she presented would alarm the be- 
holders into declaring for the mantilla for ever. 
Shouts and huzzas and a rush of the dancers 
to an enclosed space, announced the capture of 
the black bull. He had run well, it was said, 
and therefore all the more merit for the captor ; 
and so they both received a wonderful ovation. 
As the stranger, I was requested to place the 
red cord, which is usually thrown round the 
bull's neck after the chase, into the hand of the 
victor. As I did so, some one in authority pro- 
claimed that this toro had been fairly chased 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 155 

and lassoed by Trasquito Gomez, and was now 
his lawful prize. Did any one deny it ? No ; 
and so Trasquito and the toro went off to their 
dwelling-place. Another bull was let out of the 
corral, and given seven minutes' start. The 
young men and the mules and the lassos were 
hard at work, and the dancers and the band re- 
turned to the great chestnut-trees. 

I was getting tired, so after drinking a glass 
of mountain wine to the health of Goascaron, 
Don Graciano conducted me back to his home. 
On the way he told me that he had made a fair 
arrangement with the muleteer Marcos, as to 
my journey. "He is as wild as a hawk," said 
Don Graciano, "and will have the uttermost 
farthing; nevertheless, take him, for he is a 
splendid muleteer, and his beasts are first-rate." 

The Indian girl with her baby this time 
covered by the white linen scarf which de- 
pended from the mother's head opened the 
door. She told me there was to be a dance 
on a large scale in the evening, for the gente 
ordinario (common people), and that Marcos 
and Eduardo would both be there. 



156 A LADY'S RIDE 

"You will not start very early, then," said 
Don Graciano with a smile. 

At break of day I was out, as I wanted to 
look at the scene of the dance and the chase, 
but to my disappointment a heavy mist hid 
all from sight. I had not been in the village 
church, so I wended my steps to it, and push- 
ing the door open, I walked in. Small and 
poorly furnished ; but kneeling before the little 
altar were two or three worshippers gathered 
together. That half-hour was sacred to them 
and to me. 

The mist by this time had entirely cleared 
away, and now, behold the sky ! a sea of opal 
light, upon which floated minute masses of soft 
pink colour. One of the largest of these rested 
for a time upon the summit of one of the lower 
mountain-peaks, as if a rose had fallen thereon 
and waited to be kissed. 

A few moments later and the whole of the 
rosy tufts had faded away like a shower of 
leaves, and a blue-green light shimmered in 
their wake, the herald of the sun. 

He rose at once in the full glory of his 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 157 

strength, enveloping cloud and colour in his 
golden robe ; flushing high mountain and lowly 
canon with his regal tints, and upon all things 
making his presence to be felt. I wondered 
not, at the moment, at the devotion of the 
ancient Persian, nor at that of the Indian, 
whose morning " prime " was the worship of 
El Sol. 

My own (weak woman's) tribute was a gush 
of tears. It could not be restrained, all was so 
beautiful and so grand ; and Nature seemed to 
greet, with a mother's love, one who was alone 
in the world I 

A hot day was imminent ! The prearranged 
hour of starting was already long past, for I 
had wished to be in the saddle before the air 
became as heated as white steel. The axiom 
that time was made for slaves, is very rigidly 
enforced by example in these regions ; and 
nobody ever is or can be punctual to an exact 
or specified hour. Forty minutes' " law " is by 
no means considered to be a liberal allowance. 

Doubtless the ball of the previous evening 
had been late, and both Marcos and Eduardo 



158 A LADY'S HIDE 

might be sleeping the sleep of the "danced 
out." I remember, too, that I have been young 
myself, and how often a servant has had to wait 
up for me and mine till we should return from 
a friendly " hop " or a county ball. Poor fel- 
lows ! they have a hard life, and a dance to 
them only comes once or twice a-year. Let 
them sleep on. 

Thus musing, I refrained from tapping on 
the wooden shutter, beneath which Marcos was 
stretched on a bench, prone and motionless. 

Presently there arose sounds of hurry-scurry 
in the little piazza in front of Don Graciano's 
house, a stamping of mules, added to the 
chatter of some four or five women who were 
full of gossip, probably about the preceding 
day's fiesta. 

Opening the shutter full wide, and looking 
through the iron bars which did duty for a 
window, I saw that the muleteer had risen, 
scared awake, no doubt, by the women's 
tongues. Nobody had aroused him intention- 
ally, for the Spaniards and most others allied 
to them by blood have a particular objection 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 159 

to awakening a sleeper. The most important 
business can and must wait : El Senor is asleep, 
and cannot be disturbed. No matter whether 
the slumber be in regular course ; whether of 
fatigue and exhaustion, or merely the temporary 
siesta induced by heat and languor, or idle- 
ness. " Se duerme " is conclusive : leave the 
sleeper in peace, till Nature in her own time 
shall unclose his eyes. 

There was plenty to attend to ; for to load 
a baggage-mule requires some skill and great 
care. Much suffering is often caused to ani- 
mals through carelessness in this respect. It 
was very interesting to watch the proceedings 
of Marcos. How carefully he arranged the 
cloths which are first placed on the animal's 
back before the luggage is strapped on, and 
how cleverly he weighted every article, in order 
to give the burden an equal poise ! Eduardo 
assisted in this, and Don Graciano looked at- 
tentively to the saddling of the mule that was 
to carry me. 

" I will now go and take leave of the Seiiora," 
I said, and betook myself to the back verandah. 



160 A LADY'S RIDE 

The girl had her little naked baby on her arm ; 
I took it from her, and kissing it, said, "You 
will have so much pleasure in rearing this little 
one ; and from what Don Graciano has told me, 
you must be in the way of making a nice for- 
tune for her before many years have passed 
over your heads." 

" Perhaps so," she answered, her quiet equable 
tones being somewhat broken, as I patted her 
naked shoulder and pressed her hand, to thank 
her for her hospitality. " I shall never forget 
you," she went on to say " never. The sound 
of your voice, Senora, falls like the drop of cold 
water when one dies of thirst." 

This elegant compliment, expressed so simply 
in the loveliest language in the world, touched 
me much more than it flattered me. It was 
the outcome of woman's sympathy with woman. 
I had taken her hand with marked respect, and 
treated her as the mistress of the house ; and 
the avowal of my indebtedness, addressed to 
herself directly, seemed to give her the utmost 
satisfaction. " Va con Dios," she said, after a 
short pause, and turned into the cocina, evi- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 161 

dently not venturing to accompany me to the 
front court. A thought flashed into my mind 
like lightning ; I wonder it had not occurred to 
me before. This must be the case. Don Gra- 
ciano is evidently a man of superior station 
and education, and a pure white ; the girl is 
as unmistakably of Indian blood. Here is an 
example of following out " el costumbre del 
pais" / (the custom of the country.) 

Whether my conjectures were ill-founded or 
not (and I only based them on the state of sub- 
jection in which this young woman seemed to 
live), I had no time for speculation, as the 
object of my rumination was waiting, hat in 
hand, to assist me to mount. To lift a lady 
guest into the saddle, and to walk at the head 
of the mule and conduct it and its burden 
some way into the open, is one of the duties of 
hospitality in these far-off hamlets. It is a 
remnant of the courtesy of the ancient races : 
the lowest as well as the highest all rigidly 
observe this custom. 

The last arrangements for departure were 
soon made, and I, a timid rider, felt that Luisa 

L 



162 A LADY'S RIDE 

the mule, and myself, would travel amicably 
together. Gentle, handsome beast ! It says 
well of her that she carried me nearly one hun- 
dred and sixty miles without hap or hazard. 

This happy result, on my part, was more of 
good luck than of good guidance. 

The macho was a little tiresome to start, and 
he danced about vigorously, with Eduardo on 
his back. It then transpired that he was a 
young, high-couraged animal, and that Marcos 
was taking him this long journey in order to 
tame him and complete his education. It came 
out afterwards that Marcos intended to sell him 
on the return journey, and would no doubt be 
able to do so at a high price. I was glad to hear 
this, as it secured good treatment to the animals ; 
not that I think Marcos was naturally cruel, but 
he was a hard man, and I do not do him injus- 
tice in saying, that to make money by the ser- 
vice of his mules was his first and paramount 
consideration. 

" Marcos is a good muleteer," said Don Gra- 
ciano, in allusion to him in our parting words, 
" but he dearly loves money. Mind everything 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 163 

is included in his contract with you ; and be sure 
you do not give him a cuarto to pay for forage 
or stabling of the mules in the places you may 
have to stay in. He will try this, probably; but 
be sure there is generally plenty of grass and 
water, and the animals are always better when 
they feed out at night." 

Marcos and Eduardo then came up, and re- 
ceived from me & peseta each for their daily 
expenses ; and it was agreed I should dispense 
this sum to them every morning on starting, and 
thus save difficulty in the accounts. We were 
now fairly on our way to the mountains, and, 
in a few words more, Don Graciano gave me 
" God-speed." 

" Marcos will bring me word of you when he 
returns home with the mules," he said lastly. 
This hospitable stranger now bent his way to 
his dwelling-place, and I felt as if I had left a 
friend. 



164 A LADY'S RIDE 



CHAPTER YIIL 

WE travelled a few miles in silence, for the 
men were evidently languid from the want of 
sleep, and I was too much engrossed by the 
beauty of the scenery, and in admiration of the 
glorious country through which we were passing, 
to need conversation. Luisa, the mule, carried 
me well, and her even pace left me at liberty to 
enjoy the sweet air of these magnificent Hondu- 
reian mountains, so little known to the outside 
world, and so little appreciated by those who 
dwell around them. 

Here, rock, wood, tree, shrub, and water are 
on a grand scale all, so to speak, the best of 
their kind ; and the humble wild flowers, adorn- 
ing the far-stretching fertile valleys which slope 
between the clefts, are rich in colour, and far 
from wanting in perfume. The varying lights 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 165 

the glimmering opal and the deep purple haze 
alternating with the fairest blue of the heaven 
and the blackest depth of the cloud as we 
passed on our way, presented a scene, the like 
of which I had never seen before, and never 
expect to see again. 

I may write, perhaps, with some partiality ; 
for what the sea is to many, the mountains are 
to me. I was born amongst them, in the grand 
Pyrenees, and so I am their daughter. When 
sickness of body and sorrow of heart fall upon 
me, I will arise and flee to the mountains. My 
strength surely comes from them. 

We ascended higher, and in the elastic air the 
men became refreshed, and as hunger and noon- 
day approached, we agreed to halt. There was 
a hacienda picturesquely built in a cleft of the 
ranges. To this we wended our way, and were 
glad to see the chestnut-trees stretching grand- 
ly in front of this demesne. Here was shelter 
for the animals, since the grass and shade were 
deep all around ; and we human beings could 
sling a hammock on the lowest branches of the 
fine trees. 



166 A LADY'S EIDE 

The baggage-mule was disencumbered of my 
hammock and the little bag of provisions only. 

" We have only a short time/ 7 said Marcos ; 
" and as it is her first day's journey she will not 
be distressed if she is not unladen until night." 

Soon after, the lady of the hacienda came out. 
" My servants saw you camping," she said with 
a charming smile. " We have illness in the 
house, and so my cousin and I have come to pay 
our compliments here. I regret that I cannot 
ask you under my roof." 

The young lady alluded to as " my cousin " 
was a most lovely daughter of old Spain, about 
fifteen years of age. She said little, but seemed 
interested to meet, for the first time in her life 
(it appeared), an English lady, travelling through 
Spanish Honduras. 

This simple courteous welcome quite relieved 
me ; for I confess I had felt somewhat abashed 
at walking, literally with bag and baggage, into 
a stranger's territory, and using it as if it were 
an inn. 

" I will send you some milk and coffee," the 
lady said ; " and after that, I would recommend 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 1G7 

you to take a siesta. You seem to have good 
guides and animals. Ah, you want them in 
these parts I Adios." 

The milk and coffee, so liberally promised, 
came by the hand of a mozo of the place. He 
told us that his mistress possessed large herds of 
cattle ; indeed, as far as eye could range, the 
fields and slopes were dotted thickly with kine. 
Then after helping me into the hammock, this 
mozo laid himself down between my two com- 
panions, and the whole three of them slept sound- 
ly with only the fallen timber for a pillow. I, 
in my more elevated position, simply rested, and 
bestowed a benison upon the soul who first in- 
vented the hammock. 

Exactly as two hours had passed, Marcos was 
on his feet. A muleteer is warranted to awake 
at any moment, and so he almost always does. 
It is the only action of punctuality in the whole 
republic. 

The mozo gave us a helping hand, and we 
started at a good round pace for Arimesiiie. It 
was nearly dark when we rode up to the princi- 
pal house in this place. The village was merely 



168 A LADY'S RIDE 

a broken square of thatched and yellow- washed 
hovels ; the principal one was posada, general 
store, and forage " emporium " combined. No- 
thing of interest here, as my journal runs : 

" Keached Arimesine at seven. Passed a 
fairly good night, as the woman of the house 
possessed some notions of propriety. Quite in 
clover, for I had a railed-off space wherein to 
swing my hammock, divided from the public 
room by my travelling rug and a shawl hung 
on a high clothes-horse. The men slept in the 
verandah. There was a white basin in the 
establishment, and Eduardo got this filled with 
water, and in a manner I managed to wash." 

We were on our way very early the next 
morning, and travelled at a good pace. The 
country had become a little more broken, and 
foliage in great luxuriance was beginning to dis- 
appear. Marcos gathered me some bunches of 
the quinine tree, which is a graceful shrub in all 
its stages. The flower is white, and is in shape 
a cross between the pentstemon of our gardens 
and the stephanotis. The latter lovely parasite 
we saw at various intervals in great profusion. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 109 

The peculiarity in the growth of the stephanotis 
is that it requires a background of some other 
climber to support it, and at the same time give 
it a slight protection from the sun. Thus aided, 
the plant will reach to an immense height, and 
I have seen it winding round the trunks of large 
trees, and spreading rich bunches of its blossoms 
far and wide, even if it have the slenderest stem 
of some other parasite round which to wind 
itself. Quite alone, the plant usually shrivels 
up, and at best deteriorates. 

As we rode onward the sandy ridges became 
toilsome to the mules' feet, and it was here that 
we first found a specimen of the water-giving 
plants of the country. Eduardo recognised it 
instantly, and as he cut its thick stringy stem 
with his machete, a watery fluid oozed out, 
which had rather a sweet taste. The mozo had 
forgotten the name of this plant, but said it 
was common in Honduras. He mentioned 
another of rarer species, which he termed peli- 
groso (dangerous) and which from its descrip- 
tion must, I think, have referred to the Mimer- 
sopa balata, an india-rubber water-giving plant. 



170 A LADY'S RIDE 

A story is told that a Frenchman passing 
through Guiana met with this curious produc- 
tion of nature. The coolness of the fluid as he 
tasted it induced him, as a precautionary meas- 
ure, to qualify it with some kind of alcohol. 
The juice of the shrub coagulated in the unfor- 
tunate traveller's stomach, and after a time of 
intense suffering he died. An examination took 
place, and it was found ~that the internal organs 
were literally closed up by india-rubber. 

Thus it should be well understood by travel- 
lers in tropical countries that every care must 
be taken in the use of these wonderful vegetable 
alleviators of human misery thirst. 

The increasing heat, and the disappointment 
of not being able to meet with any refreshment 
in any one of the cottages which we passed, 
were making us all feel more or less out of 
sorts. Passing a narrow rivulet, I asked Marcos 
to fill me the gourd-shell, which wayfarers here 
always carry at their girdle, with water. " I 
am so thirsty," I said; "please attend to me 
quick." 

Instead of complying with my request, the 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 171 

man turned round, and resolutely refused. " Not 
a drop, Seiiora," said he ; " it would hurt you. 
Your muleteer must not let you drink here ; 
it would be bad for your health." 

" Why, Marcos?" 

" Because, Senora, the bottom of this rivulet 
is muddy ; there is no sand nor gravel; and look 
see ! you would not like to risk swallowing 
one of these I" He pointed to a plant near the 
mule's hoof : it was covered with dark-brown 
blossoms, which turned out, on inspection, to 
be leeches. 

" No, no," said Marcos, " not of this for 
you, Senora, nor for Eduardo, or the beasts. I 
know my duty." 

I was sure that he did ; and though my 
thirst was great, I said no more on the water 
question, but instead I proposed that we should 
share a bottle of wine, which Don Graciano had 
generously given me, as he said, "for emer- 
gencies." 

The bottle was soon produced from the can- 
vas saddle-bags carried by the baggage-mule, 
speedily uncorked, and a draught poured out 



172 A LADY'S RIDE 

for me. No sooner had I tasted it than I re- 
turned the gourd to Marcos, with an expression 
of disgust. 

Marcos tasted, and then did Eduardo : wry 
faces and sputtering were the immediate effects 
of the taste of the potion on both. 

The matter soon explained itself. The heat 
of the sun and the jogging pace had turned 
the wine into very strong and very stringent 
vinegar. There was no help for it, and it was 
decided that we had better get on to San Juan 
del Norte as fast as possible. 

We had met a peasant in the morning, on 
his way to work in a maize-field : he directed 
us to San Juan del Norte, as being a good station 
whereat to pass the night and replenish our 
commissariat, which was becoming very low. It 
was therefore with great vigour that we pushed 
on to San Juan del Norte. 

The character of the land had now greatly 
changed, and we passed through marshy grass- 
land, which presented no interesting features, 
and was very heavy for the mules' feet. We 
travelled through this for some time, and a 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 173 

thick soft rain, which fell with the dusk, did 
not improve matters. At length, in a down- 
pour, we did reach San Juan del Norte, Eduardo 
having ridden forward to secure accommodation, 
and search out the most decent dwelling. 

I saw by the expression of the lad's face, as 
we rode into a little square of mean houses, that 
he was far from being delighted with the quar- 
ters which necessity had forced upon us. " It 
is a dreadful place, Senora," said he, in a whisper ; 
" I have been to two houses, but this old woman's 
seems the best." 

I looked round before dismounting, and per- 
ceived an old woman, who might be any age 
she liked to call herself after seventy, with white 
hair, and a very handsome pair of black eyes 
and eyebrows. She was followed by a train 
of men, who might be her sons and grandsons ; 
and beyond these were several girls, mostly of 
the lowest class, who stared with all their might, 
but said nothing. These were waiting to see 
me dismount. 

Whether the cause was fatigue, combined with 
the long fast and the damp, I never could ex- 



174 A LADY'S EIDE 

plain, for I had not felt ill ; but as soon as 
Marcos had placed me on the ground, the whole 
of San Juan del Norte seemed to revolve on a 
pivot, and I fell down in a dead faint. A sen- 
sation of being dragged forward, and the sound 
of voices a long way off, was the last percep- 
tion of my senses. For many minutes all things 
were lost in utter unconsciousness. 

The return to life was not effected in the 
usual method of administering cold water, smell- 
ing-salts, or other restoratives suitable to the 
attack ; but the pungent aguardiente (brandy), 
which Marcos not only applied to my nostrils 
but forced down my throat also, was strong 
enough to rouse a rhinoceros from the deepest 
swoon. 

My eyes quickly opened, and half raising 
myself in the hammock, I gasped out, " Oh, 
give me air ! Marcos, send these people away ; 
and where did you get that horrid stuff ? " 

The old woman here advanced, and stood on 
her dignity. " Senora," said she, " do not be 
offended ; these people come to receive you after 
the fashion of the country; it is our custom 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 175 

when the stranger enters our village for all the 
inhabitants to come out and offer welcome. The 
rain has prevented many from being here; but 
see, there are still some few." 

Looking past her, I saw that a number of 
persons were standing in a group near the door, 
and evidently with the intention of staying 
there until something should be said or done. 
So, getting out of the hammock, weak and 
giddy enough, I managed to bow to the com- 
pany, and say to the old woman in particular, 
that I hoped the inhabitants would excuse me, 
for I was really ill, and it was imperative that 
I should be alone for a while. 

The company in general seemed inclined to 
linger ; but Marcos strode amongst them, and 
with a sweep of one hand opened the door, 
whilst with the other he signed to them to 
make speedy exit. This was done with the 
air of an emperor, and without the utterance 
of a single word. 

Marcos then asked Eduardo to go and look 
after the mules, and turning to the woman 
said 



176 A LADY'S EIDE 

" Hay leche aqui ? " (Have you milk here ?) 

" Nada" (none), was the reply. 

" Hay carne o tortillas ? " (Have you meat or 
bread ?) 

" No/' was the decided reply. 

" Hay cafe ? " (Have you coffee ? ) 

" Tampoco." (Nor that either.) 

Here was a state of things ; and though the 
woman was perfectly civil, she did not make 
the slightest attempt to alleviate matters. 

The muleteer, with a shrug of his shoulders, 
then went out, saying he must go and buy food, 
wherever he could find it, and I was left alone 
with the " lady " of the house. 

" Can I not have some place where I can be 
private ? " I asked her gently. " Any corner 
will do, as I have brought my own hammock." 

" You can sling your hammock from these 
hooks," she replied, pointing to two large iron 
bars which projected from the solid beam run- 
ning along the roof. 

" But have you no sleeping apartments for 
the females of your family ? " I inquire. 

" What for ? We all sling our hammocks 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 1*77 

at night in this room. I have a bed -place, 
because I am too old to move about much. 
We lie down in our clothes, and when the men 
go out to work in the morning, then we dress." 

The guides coming in soon after the close 
of this dialogue, I consulted with them as to 
what was to be done ; and asked if my ham- 
mock could not be slung in the verandah at 
the back of this dwelling. 

I was told that this was impossible. The 
rain was pouring steadily down. I must lie 
down in my clothes, and we would get away 
as early as possible on the morrow. Mean- 
while Marcos had been able to get some coffee 
made, and he suggested that in the absence of 
my guides to fetch this, I might change my 
shoes and arrange my dress as best I could. 

There was nothing else to be done ; and after 
my hammock was slung, and the mosquito-net 
thrown over it, I was supposed to be " quite 
private," although in the course of the evening 
six persons of different sexes stepped into the 
other hammocks, and laid themselves down for 
the night's rest. The old woman took off her 



178 A LADY'S HIDE 

upper garment, tied her head up in a cotton 
handkerchief, stepped into her bed -place, and 
without curtain or mosquito-net travelled off 
to the land of Nod. 

The rain had driven the mosquitoes into the 
dwelling, and at a later hour these pests became 
intolerable. A stir from without arrested my 
attention, and presently a lad with an iron 
brasier entered, lighte'd a candle which was 
stuck against the wall, and returning to the 
brasier, seemed to stir it up. At that instant 
a smoke and a most fearful smell pervaded the 
whole room, suffocating and nauseous in the 
extreme. I drew my net over my head, and 
lay wondering what this could mean ; but no- 
body else seemed to be annoyed, or even to 
take notice of the nuisance. A more miser- 
able night I never passed ; and it was with 
the greatest thankfulness that I saw a gleam 
of the morning's light through the door which 
opened to let the first riser out. 

Eduardo soon entered, and expressed a hope 
that I had not suffered from the smoke, a 
flavour of which still pervaded the apartment. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 179 

" It is worse than peat," lie said, " for it is 
the droppings of the stable and cow- shed, 
which, when dry, are burnt, and are the most 
effectual remedy known against an invasion of 
mosquitoes at night ; but I know, Senora, you 
must have been nearly poisoned by the smell." 

Soon after, the 'mules and baggage were 
ready, and Marcos informed me with great 
satisfaction that he had been able to procure 
a supply of queso (cheese). This " cheese " is 
really nothing better than curd, very sour and 
hard, turned up with yellow borders. Being 
very much compressed, it takes up small space, 
and is usually eaten with tortillas in all parts 
of the interior. 

We took leave of the woman of the house, 
and as I pressed a small gratuity into her 
hand, I thanked her for the shelter her roof 
had afforded us. This was but right, as it 
was quite in her power to have refused us 
admission altogether ; and it was not for a 
traveller to grumble when the entertainment 
provided was such as the highest and lowest 
in the country are accustomed to as a matter 



180 A LADY'S RIDE 

of course ; and, indeed, they know no other. 
A bowl of milk had been procured, which I 
drank before mounting, and thus I felt pro- 
visioned for the day. 

Our journey, after some miles of travel, began 
to be on the ascent, and shortly we were far up 
the mountains. Here, losing the luxuriance of 
herbage and grass, we came upon rock, and 
cedar and pine trees. Clumps of these last 
grew in great profusion, scenting the air with 
the peculiar healthy smell of the Aleppo fir, 
which, alternating with masses of the elegant 
deodara tree, gave a magnificent clothing to 
tracts of land which might otherwise be bare. 
The mountain was not a high one, but the 
descent on the other side was so abrupt that 
I was glad to get off and walk, notwithstanding 
that the path was little else than an assemblage 
of loose stones, mingled with gravel and dust. 
Gradually this path narrowed, and we entered 
a high defile, so full of rock, and holes, and 
enormous roots of trees, that every step had to 
be picked with care, and our wary baggage- 
mule slipped for the first time, and more than 



ACEOSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 181 

once seemed on the verge of tumbling head 
over heels. 

Here I could not help admiring the wonderful 
skill, and, I may say, the tact of both mule and 
muleteer. Did Marcos run forward, and, by the 
short rope which was attached to the head, guide 
the baggage-mule to another part, or jump with 
her from stone to stone, Luisa would stop, look 
at what was going on in front, and imitate 
precisely what her companion was being led 
to do. The macho, being younger, required 
all Eduardo's care, and it often displayed an 
inclination to kick every stone to pieces that 
came in its way. Sometimes the beasts would 
decline to walk where Marcos guided them ; 
and when they refused the path, it was always 
because insecure stones or a hole were in the 
way, or some obstacle which the muleteer had 
overlooked. Marcos, on his part, never insisted 
where the mules steadily refused to go onwards. 
" They are very wise," said he ; " they know 
better where to walk than I do. They like 
my help when they really need it, poor 
mules 1 " 



182 A LADY'S EIDE 

Then with a touch or a pat the mules were 
told conversationally how hard it was for us 
others ; and further on the man called, " Mulas, 
mulas, do you not hear the sound of the water ? 
On, my mulas, on." 

A grateful sound we all heard, that of a low 
rushing noise, rising and falling like the murmur 
of the wind. It was the voice of a brawling 
stream, which flowed at the outlet of the defile. 
Save the rush of little children's feet over an 
upper floor, there is no sound sweeter to me 
than the rippling of a running stream over a 
pebbly bed in the hot summer-tide. Weary and 
travel-stained as we were, what in nature could 
give us kinder welcome than the call of the 
delicious water, with its wealth of cascade and 
spout and gentle flow ? Water that here con- 
tained within itself a myriad of loving voices, 
one of which specially seemed to tell us that it 
was waiting to lave our feet, and spread out 
wide a veil of argentine drops, should we de- 
scend further into its depths to bathe and live. 

We had heard its call from afar ; and now 
the mules quickened their pace and snuffed the 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 183 

air, and we Human things pulled ourselves to- 
gether, and marched bravely forward, for down 
a winding path in front we had descried a glint 
of the tossing stream a friend indeed. 

Eduardo ran forward, and, boylike, dashed 
into the brook, danced from stone to stone, aod 
danced again, and plunged his head into the 
water, and shouted, " La agua, la querida 
agua / " (the water, the beloved water I) and 
then, between him and Marcos, I was taken 
from the saddle, and in their strong arms I 
found myself seated on the bank on the opposite 
side, wondering. 

A moment or two afterwards a gourd-shell 
was filled for my use, and I was asked to drink 
to El Hondo, the water -god of this lovely 
region, from whom old legend saith the name 
of Honduras is derived. 

Dear water-sprite, whoever you may be, or 
whoever you may have been, I did drink to 
you with a benison ; for did I not feel thankful 
that at last in your sweet domain I could in- 
dulge in the salutary life-giving bath ? I for- 
got San Juan del Norte and all its woes, as I 



184 A LADY'S RIDE 

called to my attendants to search for a seclud- 
ed spot in which I might wash and be clean. 
Eight willingly did I drink to El Hondo. 

The mules were taken across and unloaded. 
There was plenty of grass, and we decided to 
remain two hours in this shady spot ; for here 
it would seem that the sun had retired in favour 
of El Hondo, and we were willing to take 
advantage of the comforts which were poured 
upon us. Eduardo routed from among the 
wraps an old blue bathing-gown, which had 
generally served as a mattress for my hammock ; 
and armed with soap and towels, I made my 
way to the primitive bathing-place. 

" Now, Senora," said this good young fellow, 
" you will be as private as possible, and we will 
go a good way off, and will be sure to watch and 
prevent anybody coming near you. Marcos and 
I will light a fire and make the coffee, and we 
can eat our breakfast before you are finished. 
And I will have your breakfast ready ; we have 
got eggs ; and then when you breakfast, we can 
smoke and sleep ; eh, Senora ? " 

This arrangement suited me well, and I found 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 185 

my way a little up-stream, to a curvature in the 
bank, which served admirably for the purpose, 
as it was screened by a mass of low-spreading 
bushes, and in its centre stood a high stone, over 
which a mimic cascade just made impetus 
enough to act as a shower-bath. It would be 
ungracious to pass over the enjoyment of the 
delicious luxury, without a word to those who 
sit at home, and perhaps cannot believe that a 
bath can be taken in this wise in the open air 
without some infringement of delicacy. 

" My friends," I reply to such objectors, 
" there is much more immodesty in the bathing- 
places of Brighton, Havre, Dieppe, where the 
meretricious costumes displayed under the name 
of ' bathing-dress/ are enough in many cases to 
strike terror into the most hardened beholder. 
Witness the fat objects who crusade down the 
beach in bolster-cases, short at knee, and de- 
nuded at bosom ; and who know, and are not 
unwilling to know, that their masculine acquaint- 
ance are looking on with more or less of criticism, 
according as their feelings may be benevolent or 
malevolent." 



186 A LADY'S RIDE 

Here there was no gaping, grinning crowd, 
and I felt strong in the conviction that my guides 
would abhor the slightest attempt to look upon 
me until I should be dressed. Had I gallivanted 
about in a harlequin's attire, such as is seen 
constantly on the persons of the bathers at fash- 
ionable watering-places in England, they, in 
their uncivilisation, would have regarded me 
with the greatest contempt, and perhaps would 
have called me mad. So my bath was begun 
and ended in enjoyable ease and privacy; and 
my bathing-gown being taken to a bush whereon 
the sun did shine, I had nothing to do but eat 
my breakfast spread on soft grass, about which 
grows, in great profusion, many varieties of the 
Digitalis. 

The mules had also undergone a rubbing and 
scrubbing ; the harness and baggage were neatly 
stowed away under the trees ; and the men, after 
attending to my wants, turned to a smoke and 
a sleep. 

They had earned the luxury well and fairly, 
and so I promised to act sentinel ; and whilst 
they slept, I sat under a tree, and arranged the 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 187 

pages of my journal, a little grey bird, with scar- 
let-tipped wings, just looking near now and then 
to see that Soltera was doing the thing fairly. 

The delicious coolness and silence of the 
place were more than compensation for the late 
wretched night; and it was with real reluc- 
tance that I called out " Time," when the two 
hours allotted for rest had passed away. 

The sun was fierce when, after a careful reload- 
ing, we again set out : the journey was to be all 
hill- work, up the side of a grand mountain, which 
in a short time became so toilsome, that it was 
all I could do to keep my seat, and even Marcos 
was glad to ride longer in his turn with Eduardo 
than was his wont. 

Our accommodation on this night was more 
comfortable, it being at a farmhouse a little off 
the highroad. The next day presented no par- 
ticular features ; and the day after that I had 
occasion to take advantage of Don Graciano's 
caution with respect to Marcos' propensity for 
making money in all shapes and ways. 

We arrived at a small village, to find that the 
public schoolroom had been most kindly placed 



188 A LADY'S RIDE 

at our disposal by the master. My hammock 
was to be slung in the room, and the men were 
to sleep in the verandah on benches. 

I had just settled myself for the night, when, 
to my surprise, Marcos lifted the latch and 
walked in. 

" Senora," said he, " I want half a dollar, 
please." 

"What for? Why do you come at this 
time ? " 

" I have put the mules into the stable of the 
place, and I want the money to pay for them." 
This with a very decided air. 

"No, Marcos," I replied, "I will not give you 
the money. In the first place, you had no busi- 
ness to put the mules in the public stables with- 
out consulting me ; in the second place, you 
know you expressly promised never to do so 
unless there were a scarcity of grass and water." 

" There is a scarcity of grass and water here." 

" That is strange, Marcos ; the schoolmaster 
told me that there was abundance of both ; 
besides, I saw Luisa feeding in a meadow not 
an hour ago." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 189 

" Then you will not pay for stabling, Senora." 

" Most certainly not ; you can do so if you 
choose," I replied. 

" Senora," answered Marcos, " if you do not 
give me the money, I will leave you and go home 
when we get to Comayagua." 

" No, Marcos ; if you leave me, you will go to- 
morrow morning. We can settle at the office of 
the alcalde here ; you will have broken your en- 
gagement, and so I must place the papers before 
the alcalde, and he will arrange what I am to 
pay you. Good night ; shut the door behind 
you, and don't come in here till I call. Now go." 

The man stared at me, but said nothing. 
After waiting a moment, he turned on his heel 
and went out, shutting the door with a clang. 

The situation was uncomfortable enough, but 
I was determined not to be victimised. The 
matter certainly was small, but to accede to 
this demand would only be to open the way 
to further extortion. I plumed myself, too, 
on the way I had dragged in the alcalde, as 
I had not the faintest idea whether such a func- 
tionary existed in the place or not. My sheet- 



190 A LADY'S RIDE 

anchor was in reality the schoolmaster, who 
had promised to call upon me in the morning. 
But alcalde sounded legal and formal, and I 
felt sure that the word had vanquished Marcos 
utterly. 

Eduardo knocked very early in the morning, 
and brought in a large red jar of soft water and 
some nice towels sent by the worthy school- 
master. The lad looked at me as if something 
was to be said, but I resolutely held my peace. 
Had I not heard voices in confabulation under 
the verandah ? 

1 'Go arid find out, Eduardo, where the office 
of the alcalde is," I said at length ; " we cannot 
start till I have seen him." 

" Senora, the mules are saddled, and we are 
going to take our coffee, and Senora, Marcos 
would like to speak to you now Senora ; it 
was the aguardiente." 

" Let Marcos come in at once," I replied, 
throwing my large shawl over me, and looking 
as if I had never heard of the man in my life. 

Marcos came to me. "Oh, Senora, do not 
mind the foolish words I said last night," the 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 191 

muleteer exclaimed, looking quite subdued ; " it 
was all a mistake. I am ready to go. The 
mules are saddled. Senora, I will take care of 
you, and see that you cross the Juan." 

" Very well, Marcos/' I answered, " you can 
do as you- please, and I want to start early. Go 
and get your breakfast now, like a good fellow 
(buen hombre). I am sure you will take me 
across the river safely." 

This time the man went out with a laugh, and 
I laughed in my sleeve, thankful to have escaped 
the necessity of consulting the alcalde, and all 
the annoyances which the interview would have 
surely entailed. 

We were soon on our way, led out for a short 
distance by the courteous schoolmaster. He had 
heard from Eduardo, it appeared, all the partic- 
ulars of the little skirmish with Marcos, and he 
congratulated me on my victory. 

" The men tell me you are a brave little lady," 
said he. 

" I ought to be. I am the daughter and the 
sister of two brave men who fought and died for 
their country." 



192 A LADY'S EIDE 

" God rest them ! Go you with God." This 
was the schoolmaster's farewell. 

Fairly now on the trot, our object was to cross 
the river Juan before night, as reports from va- 
rious persons had agreed as to its being much 
swollen by recent rain, and that its condition 
was not favourable for passing over. We there- 
fore travelled fast, hardly waiting to take food. 
After a few hours we found ourselves on the 
banks of a wide river, in company with some 
Indian women who were filling their water-jars 
at the stream. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 193 



CHAPTER IX. 

THERE was the river Juan. As the true Portu- 
guese speaks of the Tagus as " El Senor Tajo" 
(the Lord Tagus), so do the Hondureians, in 
another form of speech, accord the greatest 
dignity to the river Juan, although it is not, 
by any means, the most important stream of 
the country. " El hermoso ! el rey de los rios 
de las Honduras " (the beautiful ! the king of 
the rivers of Honduras). Mr Stephens, in his 
' Central America/ alludes to this river as the 
"tortuous river Juan." Well, there it was, 
broad, turbulent, almost defiant. I felt that 
this love of the Hondureians was likely to be 
too much for me, as, on looking across, I dis- 
cerned what might be a low hurdle of rocks, 
standing almost in its centre, very irregular in 

N 



194 A LADY'S RIDE 

form, and literally showing their teeth, for they 
were jagged almost to a point. 

The water leapt and swirled over and about 
these in all directions. The very sound was a 
laugh aimed against us, and the solemn dark 
trees which bordered the side were very far 
from being an enlivening feature in the pros- 
pect. The sun had become overcast, and the 
only colour in the scene was the strip of 
yellow path down which we had wound, our 
noble selves, and the crimson handkerchiefs 
on the heads of two Indian women, who were 
squatting on the river's edge watching their 
naked children, busy making " mud pastry," 
much after the fashion of the small people 
whose dwellings are on the banks of the Lea, 
Trent, or Thames. 

A cross macaw, whose frequent and discor- 
dant screech fell on my ear like a "jeer in the 
voice," was evidently secreted somewhere. 

" Here you are ; the river is very much 
swollen, you'll perceive, there is no ford, 
and you will have to pass over how you can. 
Ya ah ! " Thus croaked the bird ; and the 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 195 

human voice of Marcos was of still more 
dreary portent, as he exclaimed to his com- 
rade, "No hay vado ; y mas, no hay canoa" 
(no ford ; and worse, no canoe). Eduardo re- 
mained silent, and walked to and fro, looking 
at the water as if he had a personal quarrel 
with everything around, and with it in par- 
ticular. At length I said, " There ought to 
be a canoe here ; where, I wonder, is the man 
who owns it?" 

A shrug of the shoulder and a flourish was 
the only reply, and then Marcos solved the 
difficulty with the usual Hondureian platonism, 
" No hay remedio" (there is no remedy). The 
action that accompanied these words further in- 
timated " There is nothing for it but sink or 
swim : the river must be crossed, ford or no 
ford, and the sooner we go the better." Ob- 
viously there was no remedy; and the men 
turned their drawers up to their knees, folded 
their jackets on their heads, and prepared to 
walk into the water. The elder of the two 
Indian women now came towards me. Placing 
one small brown hand on the mule's neck, and 



196 A LADY'S RIDE 

almost caressing my knee with the other, as I 
sat humped up to keep clear of being wet, 
she said, " Es muy peligroso, senora, muy 
peligroso ; no anda " (it is very dangerous, 
lady ; do not go). 

I knew instinctively, and as well as she did, 
that it was very dangerous ; but what could 
be done? And I turned to Marcos with this 
inquiry. 

The man replied in his usual incisive and 
somewhat peremptory tones, " We must cross 
at once, Eduardo, and I will go first; he will 
lead the baggage -mule, and I will follow on 
the macho. When Luisa sees the macho well 
into the water, the creature will follow at once. 
Now stick on hard" (this being expressed as 
" apargate muy fuerte "). With this admoni- 
tion he seized the hem of my dress, and 
began to roll it up in a rough fashion, to pre- 
vent it being immersed in the water. 

The Indian interposed : " Let me do that for 
the lady, you must not touch her in that 
manner ; " and pushing Marcos aside she ar- 
ranged my garments most comfortably. Then 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 197 

she said, with oh ! such pathos in her voice, 
"The river is so strong it is very dangerous. 
You will go ; but ' ay di mi/ you have much 
courage." 

Much courage ! Had she felt my throbbing 
pulse ; could she but know, kind soul, the 
struggle that was going on in my proud 
English heart not to appear to be afraid I 
True, my words were measured, and I smiled 
because I felt I must not give way one inch ; 
but if this were courage, it was merely the 
desperation of "no hay remedio " : nothing 
more nor less. 

The men, meanwhile, had driven their beasts 
into the water. The mules here went straight 
enough ; and having got them safely to their 
work, Marcos turned round and hailed to me 
to follow close on. I patted the woman on 
the shoulder, saying as I did so, " Adieu, good 
friend all will be well/' and gathered up the 
reins to ride away. Luisa, however, would 
not move, and as I urged her towards the 
water, she trembled so violently as to shake 
me perceptibly where I sat. The touch of the 



198 A LADY'S RIDE 

switch and all my adjurations, sole and com- 
bined, here fell unregarded on mind and matter. 
Luisa would not stir, but gathered her four hoofs 
as close as she could beneath her, and stuck 
them in the muddy soil. The fact that this 
high-couraged and gentle creature continued 
to tremble, and appeared to be paralysed with 
terror, scattered all my resolution, and I turned 
myself half round to avoid the sight of the 
water. 

The Indian woman now darted towards me 
with a cry, followed by her companion, and 
raising her arms in the air. " La muleta no 
se va. Senora, por amor de Dios no anda ! " 
(The mule won't go. Lady, for the love of 
God remain ! ) 

Whatever I might have done it is impossible 
even to conjecture, for the mule had taken all 
power of action out of my governance. She 
still stood like a rock, looking sideways now 
and then at the water, and shaking with fear. 

Marcos had turned round, and evidently un- 
derstood the position. Coming back to within 
speaking distance, he shouted " Stay where 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 199 

you are; Eduardo and I will get to the other 
side, and then return for you." So they went ; 
and as they swayed from right to left, and in 
their course across described a semicircle, it 
was plainly to be seen that the current was very 
strong. It was a regular buffet for a while. 
At last we saw that the men had landed 
safely, and soon I espied the macho tied to 
a tree exactly opposite to where we were 
standing for the especial benefit of Luisa. A 
few shakings and a little further undressing, 
and then the guides came across for me. 

As they neared the shore, I took up the 
tremble which Luisa had at this juncture dis- 
carded ; but I managed to appear calm, and 
to thank the Indian women for their com- 
panionship, giving them at the same time a 
peseta (English shilling) to remember me by. 
The elder kissed my hand ; and in that glorious 
language in which the Emperor Charles V. is 
accredited to have said we should pray to God, 
she took her farewell leaving me to God. 
" Be not afraid, dear one " (her words may 
be interpreted) ; " the good Father will take 



200 A LADY'S HIDE 

you over the river the Father whose love 
will grant you many years. Go with Him. 
Adios." 

The love of the Father ! Ah ! fellow-men 
and fellow-women, do we not somewhat and 
sometimes, in our worship of the Son and in our 
veneration of His Mother, totally pass over the 
love of the Father? I repeated the Indian's 
words, and I am not ashamed to add that I 
learned a lesson from them. 

The strong hand of Marcos was now on the 
rein, Eduardo was ordered to the off side, and 
the mule and her burden were dragged forwards 
into the stream with but scant ceremony. Soon 
the might of the waters fell on us, together with 
the swirl and the swim of the rushing current, 
as we neared the centre of the river. Luisa stum- 
bles on a stone, the men prop her up lustily ; 
but the mad racing of the current makes me 
blind and dizzy, for more than once we are half 
turned round; so I clutch the muleteer's head in 
answer to his injunction of apargate bien, and 
feel sure that this water is to be my last bed. 
However, Luisa bears up, and seems to have 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 201 

lost her fears, thanks to the supporters which 
gave the animal confidence ; and this in its 
turn, in some magnetic force, rouses me to ex- 
ertion, and I hook my knee against the pommel 
of the saddle, and sit as firmly as I can in obe- 
dience to the reiterated command of apargate 
bien ! Luisa staggered here and there, and at 
one time it seemed as if we must be swept away. 
We had not described a large enough circle, 
it appeared, when passing the middle rocks. 
There was a prolonged struggle on our part, 
stimulated on the mule's part by a terrific bray 
from the macho. In a few moments his bosom 
friend, with her legitimate rider on her back, 
was hauled safely to land. 

A gasp and a sob, and I stood between the 
men, as they dismounted me. My boots were 
like soaked sponge ; and the smell of wet 
leather was the pungent odour which recalled 
me to my clear sense. We looked across the 
water, to see the Indian women with their chil- 
dren grouped around them, looking eagerly to- 
wards us. One of them raised her arm, and 
pointed upwards. Then every one of them 



202 A LADY'S RIDE 

waved their hands, and turned swiftly up the 
path. Kind, simple people, I shall never see, 
them again ! May the love of the Father keep 
them ever from harm ! 

" We have passed a great peril, Seiiora," said 
Eduardo, after a few moments' silence, as he 
made the " holy sign." The men both bowed 
their heads reverently, and I think we all 
thanked the Lord in sincerity and truth. I, 
however, could not help shuddering as I looked 
at the river ; and to get rid of the feeling, I 
took to walking up and down, telling the men 
that I was very cold. We had nothing with us, 
save a few tortillas, which the men ate as they 
rubbed the mules and arranged their furniture. 
Fortunately the baggage-mule had come off bet- 
ter than any of us. This was owing to the 
perfect manner in which she had been loaded, 
and also from her being a very tall animal. 

" You must mount quickly, for the sun will 
soon be down," said Marcos ; " we shall scarcely 
have time to get to Narango." 

A little delay to arrange our own toilets, and 
we were on the route again, the beasts and 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 203 

their riders being none the worse for their 
bath. 

Marcos had soon returned to his usual 
equanimity, and, as usual, he " improved the 
occasion " to his own benefit. 

"Senora," said he, as we rode along, "we 
both got very wet, both Eduardo and I, in the 
river, and you have nothing here to give us. 
There is very good beer in Comayagua ; when 
we arrive there, will you give us a bottle of beer 
for getting you over the Juan ? It is a proud 
thing to have forded the Juan ; that is worth a 
large bottle of beer, Senora." 

" Oh yes, yes," I replied hastily, vexed at his 
cupidity, and not being inclined to talk. " You 
shall have the beer when we get to Comayagua/' 
It was a rash promise, for a bottle of beer in 
Comayagua costs four shillings ! 

It was some time before we could find accom- 
modation, however humble ; and it was only by 
taking a side path and riding into the interior 
that we could discover a single dwelling. At 
length a thatched farm -looking dwelling of the 
poorest description, but prettily situated on a 



204 A LADY'S RIDE 

rising knoll, came in view; and with some 
trepidation we inquired if we could be sheltered 
for the night. A pleasant - looking young 
woman came out, followed by some fine chil- 
dren and two lean dogs. 

" My husband is over the mountain,' 7 she re- 
plied, in answer to our inquiries : "if the lady 
can put up with me and the children, we shall 
be proud to receive you. Here, Vicente ! " 

The individual so hailed was a wonderfully 
handsome boy, more Spanish than Indian. 
Without a word he began to unload the mules, 
and by this act he secured the goodwill of my 
attendants at once. 

" Come into the kitchen, lady," said my host- 
ess ; " oh, how damp your clothes are ! There 
is a good fire there, for I have been cleaning up 
since the man went away." 

She led the way to a building a little apart 
from the principal part of the house. It was 
only an erection of baked mud and sticks, but 
there was a bright wood-fire burning on one 
side, and a kind of oven in the centre. The 
woman brought out the only chair, and then 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 205 

knelt down to help to draw off my boots, which 
were really little better than pulp. 

" If you will send the younger of my guides 
with the little maleta (portmanteau), I shall be 
very much obliged to you," I said ; " and can 
you give me something to eat soon ? " 

" Yes ; I will kill a fowl for you, Senora : for 
the men there is dried venison (my husband 
hunted it last year) and tortillas. I can let you 
have some light wine, if you would think it 
good enough." 

" Thank you, but I would rather have some 
coffee." 

" You shall have it, Senora. Now you dress 
here, and I will go and catch the fowl." 

In a few minutes Vicente poked my portman- 
teau into the room, and on looking about I 
found a jar of water ; and so, with a little man- 
agement, I made a decent, and certainly a much 
more respectable appearance than before. 

Whilst the fowl was cooking, I strolled into a 
kind of orchard, where there was a round table 
and a seat. This, I found, Eduardo had placed 
for me, he knowing by this time how much I 



206 A LADY'S RIDE 

hated the usual household smells of these parts. 
A small kerosene lamp was brought also, for it 
was beginning to get dark ; and when the meal 
appeared (the fowl stewed in rice), I ate with 
such a relish, that I am afraid the two lean dogs 
must have looked upon me at the time as a 
very hopeless addition to the household. I 
should add, however, that they did get the 
remains of this feast. 

The night was fairly comfortable, and it was 
with a feeling of gratitude that I wished the 
hostess good-bye. lc I would not accept any 
pay, Senora," the simple creature said ; " but 
we are so poor, and we have so many children 
to feed." 

We inquired about our way to Comayagua, 
and she told us that we ought to arrive there 
the day after at farthest. " Go to the Posada 
Victorine," said she ; "it is a good place, and 
Madame Victorine will make you comfortable. 
Ah ! she has got money, has Madame Vic- 
torine." 

I was glad to hear of a comfortable, decent 
place, as I was anxious to remain a day or 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 207 

two at Comayagua, in order to refresh the 
whole party. Eduardo, too, was anxious to 
see his friends who lived there ; and as he 
was to go on with me to San Pedro Sula, it 
was but natural that a day or two's halt 
would be especially pleasing to him. Marcos 
was totally indifferent on the matter. 

Our march being now entirely in the low- 
lands, the heat had become most oppressive, 
and to travel in the middle of the day was 
a risk to health and strength. The mules, 
too, were showing signs of fatigue, and grass 
and water were beginning to fail, and had 
become very inferior in quality. It was there- 
fore imperative to get quickly into Comay- 
agua. 

It was a joyous sight, when, between rich 
ilex trees, we saw the walls and fluted tile 
roofs of the ancient capital of Spanish Hon- 
duras. The city is picturesquely built, but its 
silent, grass-grown streets, its air of poverty, 
and the absence of busy stirring life, all 
announce that its glory has departed. There 
is consequently much jealousy of Tegucigalpa, 



208 A LADY'S BIDE 

the present capital, wherein the President, Dr 
Soto, now dwells. 

It was about noon when we wound in from 
some pretty country by a circular path, and 
arrived baked and weary at Madame Vic- 
torine's posada. The great heavy gates were 
closed, and a bell, ponderous enough for a 
cathedral, clanged the intelligence that stran- 
gers were waiting without. A mozo came 
out, looked at us, speedily shut the gate, and 
vanished. 

In a few moments a plump, nice-looking 
woman came through the gates, her head 
covered with a pocket-handkerchief. "En- 
trez, descendez, Madame ; descendez vite, je 
vous prie. Le diner nous attend. Ah, ma 
foi, le soleil vous a mal traite ! Mais entrez." 
So saying, she nearly pulled me off my mule, 
and took me through the court-yard into the 
house. 

A younger woman was seated at a table 
upon which the noonday dinner was spread. 
She gave me kindly welcome, and told me 
not to talk, but to sit down and eat. " I have 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 209 

looked at you through the little window in 
the court-yard," she added, with the utmost 
frankness ; " you are going to stay, so eat now, 
and take a siesta afterwards." 

There were stewed pigeons, I remember, and 
some macaroni before me, but I could not eat ; 
I only felt a longing to lie down on the floor. 
The elder woman was equal to the occasion. 
She went to a cupboard and brought out a 
bottle of cognac. " That is what you want/' 
said she in the French language ; " drink of 
it it is quite pure ; you have been too long 
in the sun." So speaking, she thrust a tall, 
narrow glass of brandy -and -water into my 
hand, and stood over me like an amateur 
policeman till I had swallowed its contents. 

" Now, eat of the pigeon ; don't refuse ; you 
will be drunk, and that would be shocking, 
you know," continued she, with a humorous 
twinkle of the eye ; " shock -ing, eh, my friend ?" 

I laughed, for the remedy had already 
" fetched up " my spirits ; and I found shortly 
that both pigeon and rice-pudding were, after 
my late experiences, very luxurious fare. 

o 



210 A LADY'S RIDE 

Some hours after we were again seated to- 
gether, and then Madame Victorine informed 
me that she and her sister were going away to 
France in ten days, and that the establishment 
was in some confusion, because they were pack- 
ing up, and preparing to make over the concern 
to a manager, who was to act for her for a 
year. 

" So you are welcome to stay for a day or 
two ; but I cannot treat you well. We are 
killing the old poultry and pigeons now," con- 
tinued Madame, " and there are not many pro- 
visions of any kind in the house." 

I hastened to assure her that one day would 
do ; but she insisted upon my remaining two 
days. " Eduardo is with his friends, and Mar- 
cos is at a muleteer's posada. The mules are 
in my stable ; they cannot be turned out here. 
Now, come into the verandah, and we will take 
our coffee there," said she. 

" I think," said the sister, whose name was 
Mathilde, "you are the lady who is going to 
San Pedro Sula ; indeed our mozo learned this 
from your guides. Do you know the doctor 1 " 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 211 

" Not personally, only in the way of business," 
I replied. I thought I saw a look of intelli- 
gence pass between the sisters, but it was so 
slight that I was perhaps mistaken. Then the 
elder said : " You promised the men some beer, 
did you not, after crossing the Juan 1 The 
muleteer has been twice here asking for it, but 
I would not have you disturbed, and he will 
come this evening." 

" Trust Marcos for forgetting to claim any- 
thing that will save his own pocket," I thought ; 
and then added aloud, " Can you supply me 
with some, and allow me to settle with you ? " 

" My stores are quite exhausted, but when 
the man returns I will give him some of my 
best wine. I am the only importer of good 
beer in Comayagua, but your guides will be 
only too glad to get wine. I will see the man, 
and you can pay me for the wine. Do not let 
the muleteer purchase it ; he will make you pay 
a fine price." 

A bath and a clean bed quite restored me, 
and I was able to go out and look about. The 
fine old church is in bad preservation, and the 



212 A LADY'S RIDE 

bells, which are said to be made of silver, give 
forth anything but a musical sound. The edifice 
was, however, clean, and it contained some 
curious relics. On my return I found Eduardo 
waiting to see me. 

"I thought," said Madame, "that you would 
like to pay your respects to the Bishop. The 
palace is close by ; send the mozo with your 
compliments, and inquire at what time his 
lordship will receive you." 

Eduardo was despatched, and returned with 
a message to the effect that the Bishop would 
gladly receive me at four in the afternoon. At 
that hour Eduardo attended me to the palace, 
which was enclosed within a high wall, and 
entered by a plain handsome gate. This opened 
on a court which was surrounded by a garden. 
The centre part of the garden was laid out in 
parterres, intersected by low cane fences. These 
were interwoven and nearly hidden by large 
masses of convolvuli in luxuriant flower, blue, 
striped, white, pink, and the loveliest of all, the 
pure white bell, with a touch of mauve colour 
in the depths of its corolla. These spread them- 



ACKOSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 213 

selves in all directions, and a little clipping here 
and training there would have been an improve- 
ment. A splendid specimen of the date-palm 
a tree which seems to be honoured above its 
fellows in all parts grew at each corner of the 
plot, and afforded plentiful shade. The court 
was open to the sky, and a widely paved portico 
ran round it : on this opened the doors of the 
several rooms occupied by the establishment. 
The roofing of these was composed of the usual 
red tiles, fluted in wavy form, the common 
covering of Hondureian houses. The building 
was of one storey, the better to be able to with- 
stand a shock of earthquake. 

A youth, in resemblance something between 
an acolyte and a gentleman usher, admitted 
us. This official wore black knee-breeches, 
and black silk stockings, which were partially 
hidden by a black silk gown his robe of office 
probably. He was bareheaded, and his hair, 
which was raven black, seemed to grow from 
the top of the scalp only, and hung straight 
downwards like a large tassel. He reminded 
me of a Christ's Hospital boy who had been 



214 A LADY'S RIDE 

dyed. This young gentleman's face lacked 
refinement somewhat, but his manner was 
very courteous without being in the least 
servile. 

" You are more than welcome," he said ; "El 
Senor Obispo [the Lord Bishop] is always so 
glad to receive strangers, and a lady from 
England is a rare visitor indeed. You are 
the first of that nation that I have seen, for I 
have never been out of Comayagua." 

He passed before us, and ushered me into 
a room which seemed to serve as a place of 
waiting for visitors to the palace, and others 
who could not be left standing in the outer 
court. The furniture of this apartment was 
very simple ; but some beautifully woven 
matting covered the floor. The book-shelves 
contained works of devotion principally, and 
on a side table stood a stereoscope, a French 
newspaper, and some photographs. I think 
the only picture here was a very fine en- 
graving of the Cathedral of Leon in Old 
Spain. A rocking-chair stood out comfort- 
ably near the door ; and a bunch of lovely 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 215 

oleander-blossoms was lying upon it, just giv- 
ing a touch of colour to the cool tones of the 
surroundings. 

A few minutes elapsed, and the attendant 
reappeared to take me into the Bishop's pres- 
ence. Eduardo came forward and made as if 
he would like to accompany me ; but he was 
waived back, and told to wait till the Senora 
should summon him. 

We crossed to the opposite side of the court, 
and I was shown into a large cool apartment, 
which was very sparsely and poorly furnished. 
A few pictures covered with glass were its 
only decorations. Shortly afterwards a tall 
spare man entered the room, vested in the dress 
of a dignitary of the Eoman Catholic Church. 
This was the Bishop of Comayagua a man of 
gentle manner and peace - loving disposition, 
but now bowed down with years, and a sufferer, 
like many other unoffending persons, from the 
ruin which successive revolutions had wrought 
upon the country. 

The first salutations ended, the Bishop con- 
gratulated me on being an inmate of Madame 



216 A LADY'S RIDE 

Victorine's establishment, and then inquired if 
I was going far ? 

I replied, " I am on my way, my lord, to San 
Pedro Sula," then seeing that this icformation 
only caused a look of surprise, I continued : "I 
wrote to your lordship announcing my intention 
of going to San Pedro Sula, on the Doctor's 
invitation, to superintend his school there." 

" I never received that letter. He has never 
either personally or otherwise mentioned the 
subject to me." 

" Perhaps your lordship will kindly inform 
me whether the doctor had obtained your sanc- 
tion to open a school for the colonists ; and 
also, whether he was authorised by either 
yourself or the Government to select the 
teacher." 

" Seiiora, I never heard of the proposition." 

" But surely you are aware, my lord, that in 
the pamphlet published, and, as I believe, sanc- 
tioned by the Government, your signature ap- 
pears to a document which tells the world that 
you heartily approve of all that this person is 
doing for the education of the colonists, and 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 217 

you further pledge yourself to support him as 
much as you can." 

" That is true in a general sense; and eighteen 
months ago, every one of the undertakings with 
regard to the immigrants seemed in a prosperous 
state. But things have changed, lamentably 
changed." 

" Why, my lord, what is the reason of this 
change ? I have the letter, written to me at 
Sydney, a very short time ago, which gives a 
very prosperous account of the settlement." 

The Bishop moved uneasily, and said some- 
thing about some persons being possessed of a 
sanguine temperament. 

"It is true, is it not, that the Government 
of Honduras gave a grant of land some time 
ago for the express purpose of building a school- 
room ? Moreover, the Doctor is written of as 
being a personal friend of Dr Soto, the present 
President," I affirmed decisively. 

"You are right. Dr Soto was very ready, 
when the colony was first settled, to afford the 
promoter every encouragement. He looked 
upon his efforts in introducing labour as a very 



218 A LADY'S RIDE 

great step for the improvement of the whole 
country ; but I believe there is a diminution in 
their personal friendship. This," continued 
his lordship, " is what I hear ; I do not state 
this last on my own authority." 

"Has the Doctor influence to secure me a 
plantation ; or does the assignment rest entirely 
with the Government 1 " I asked. 

" The assignment of land is entirely in the 
hands of the Government, and the concessions 
made are generally very liberal. There is plenty 
of land to be had, but care should be taken in 
selecting it," replied the Bishop. 

" I should so like to have a place of my 
own/' I replied. " I am fond of teaching ; but 
it is not pleasant to live in other people's 
houses, generally speaking. To make a home 
of my own was the chief reason that induced 
me to come to Honduras." 

" You can, I assure you, be very useful," said 
the Bishop, with more warmth of manner ; " the 
mothers in the country are very anxious to have 
their children educated. You might easily find 
private pupils, should you prefer this." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 219 

"At present, my lord, I consider myself 
under engagement to the person who wrote to 
me ; I am only sorry that I set out without 
hearing from you/' 

" Will you have any objection to tell me 
what position he offered you, and also what 
salary ? " 

" In answer to my letter saying that I must 
secure pupils, or even boarders, if I took up 
land in Honduras, in order to pay the first 
expenses, he wrote that he would immediately 
make me teacher of the colonists' school at a 
moderate salary the amount was not given ; 
and further, that I could increase my means by 
playing the organ in his church." 

At this the Bishop stared, but said nothing. 
He might well be dumfounded ; for I found, 
on arriving at San Pedro Sula, that neither 
organ nor any other instrument of music had 
been seen in the church since it was built long 
years ago. 

The Bishop might have given the Doctor the 
credit of having lately introduced that " modern 
innovation," the harmonium, into the church. 



220 A LADY'S RIDE 

This, of course, I have no means of knowing, 
as the old gentleman persevered in the utmost 
reticence, and he did not give utterance to any 
speculative opinions. He looked down, and 
then suddenly raised his head with the inquiry, 
" Have you sent any money on to the Doctor \ " 

" No, my lord; I am expending money enough 
in travelling so far." 

" True." And as if* anxious to change the 
subject, the Bishop spoke of her Majesty the 
Queen of England. "We, as Catholics," said 
the gentle old man, " were so touched to hear 
of the sympathy shown by Queen Victoria to the 
ex-Empress of the French on the death of her 
son. Ah, ah ! " continued he, " the old stay, 
and the young are taken away. Your royal 
family loved the poor young lad, and they did 
the kindest thing of all they attended him to 
his grave ! Ay di mi ! But your Queen makes 
no difference between Catholic and Protestant 
in her friends ; she treated the Imperial Prince 
with noble kindness. I have prayed for her : 
she has a large heart." 

After some observations about the Ritualist 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 221 

party in England, in which he seemed to take 
an intelligent interest, the Bishop rose. He 
passed with me to the threshold, pointing out 
one or two pictures as he did so. These were 
very old, and represented portraits of remark- 
able ugliness. Then the old man gave me his 
blessing, and I was again standing in the outer 
court. 



222 A LADY'S EIDE 



CHAPTER X. 

" WELL, Senora, how do you like our Bishop ? " 
was Eduardo's eager inquiry, as the portal of 
the palace was closed against us. " Is he not 
good and gentle ? " 

" I like the Bishop very much, Eduardo ; but 
I think he appears to be rather old for his 
important position." 

" He wants money, like all in Honduras. 
The revolutions and the Honduras railway have 
taken all the money. I am glad, Senora, how- 
ever, that the failure of the railway was caused 
by British mismanagement, and not by ours. 
My father lost much by it, and they say that 
the Bishop held a great many shares in that 
railway." 

The Honduras railway had been so often flung 
in my face whenever the subject of honesty had 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 223 

happened to come under discussion, that I 
always changed the conversation as soon as 
possible. This time I said, " Have you seen 
Marcos 1 " 

" Yes, Senora ; and he tells me that he has 
heard in Comayagua that you are a relative of 
the Doctor at San Pedro Sula. Is that true, 
Senora \ " 

" Certainly not : I never saw the man in my 
life. Tell Marcos this. I suppose he is living 
with the gossips of the town, who invent news 
for want of something to talk about." 

We found Madame anxiously awaiting our 
return ; and as I entered she darted forwards 
and exclaimed, " Ah I the Bishop has told you 
all about the Doctor ; ah ! indeed he must have 
said a great deal about him. Do tell me, Senora, 
I am interested for you, although I have not 
spoken. I suppose his lordship told you much, 
eh?" 

" On the contrary, his lordship said very 
little. That which renders me now very un- 
comfortable, is what the Bishop did not say/' 
I replied sadly. 



224 A LADY'S RIDE 

"Ah!" replied Madame, speaking as fast as 
possible, in the French tongue, " he must have 
the prudence, the caution ; you know so little, 
and perhaps he thought that I was wise, and 
had not informed you much. Did his lordship 
ask you of me ? " 

<f I told him that I was in your house ; he 
said you were a kind-hearted woman." 

" Ah ! no more : well he did not tell you, and 
it is possible that it would be of much difficulty 
to state the things in a foreign tongue. His 
lordship not altogether comprehend you ; and, 
on the other side, you not quite understand 
him. Is it not ? " 

This was more than likely, and would account 
very strongly for the Bishop's reticence ; so I 
replied, " I am afraid the Bishop did not quite 
make out my Spanish here and there." 

" Very possibly, yet you do well fairly well. 
Confide to me ; the Bishop, did he not tell you 
one thing about the Doctor ? " 

" Only that the colony was not nearly so pros- 
perous as it was at first, and that things are 
changed. His lordship either could not or 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 225 

would not say wherefore. One thing," I 
continued, " the Bishop did assert, and that 
was that your President, Dr Soto, is by no' 
means satisfied with the Doctor, and seemed 
to infer that he (Dr Soto) is not friendly with 
him." 

"Ah! how could he be? But I won't say 
more. I don't want to gossip about the man in 
my house ; and perhaps after all, Senora after 
all, he may not be so bad. I don't know him," 
she answered. 

" I wish you would tell me honestly what 
you have heard about him, or what is your 
reason for saying he may not be so very 
bad." 

" Well, it is for yourself to judge how to act. 
He is no longer a priest of the diocese of Hon- 
duras. That is what the rumour is. Myself, 
I do not know ; but if this is true, the Bishop 
would have said. Eh \ " 

" His lordship certainly ought to have done 
so," I replied, greatly startled at this news ; 
" but why is he no longer a priest of the 
diocese ? " 



22f5 A LADY'S HIDE 

" Ah ! that I cannot say. The Bishop was 
obliged to suspend him, because the petition 
from the people of San Pedro Sula was so 
strong that his lordship could not act other- 
wise. You see 1 " 

"No, I don't see. If he be suspended, he 
would hardly be living at San Pedro now." 

"Oh! that is the difficulty. The church is 
locked up ; there is no one officiating. I tell 
you what ; you turn your mule's head and go 
back, that is my advice." 

"I cannot; I have not money enough," I 
answered. " My expenses are all paid or pro- 
vided for to San Pedro. The men's agreements 
are signed for that. If things do not suit, I 
will get private pupils, and return to England 
as soon as I can." 

" That will cost money," said Madame. 

"Yes; I shall have to wait till I can get 
funds sent from England to bring me away. 
But I will not think that things are so bad : 
the Doctor's suspension may be only temporary. 
If otherwise, he would never have written and 
engaged me to come to Honduras." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 227 

" I think he must have got into trouble after 
he had written to you to come. That is very 
likely. You have not put any money into his 
hands, have you 1 " 

" Not any ; I expect him to put money into 
mine," I answered with a laugh. 

"Oh 1 I am glad he has not any of your 
money," said the kind-hearted Frenchwoman. 

Thus, between Madame's knowing and not 
knowing, added to the reticence of the Bishop, 
I had learned enough to make me very un- 
comfortable. I resolved, however, to act in 
a straightforward manner, and so I said to 
Madame, "There is a telegraph line between 
Comayagua and San Pedro Sula, is there 
not ? " 

" Certainly not very good ; it breaks often, 
but it does work. Do you want to send a 
telegram ? " 

" Yes ; I shall telegraph to the Doctor to 
announce that I am setting off for San Pedro, 
and to request him either to meet me there, or 
send some one to represent him." 

" Good very good ; write the telegram in 



228 A LADY'S RIDE 

Spanish. Stay I will do so for you ; I have 
more experience : and let me add that you 
request an answer." 

" There will be scarcely time, I think ; but, 
at any rate, he will have to prepare to receive 
me. There is nothing for it now but to make 
the best of the situation, and try and shake off 
evil impressions." 

With this resolution I buried myself in the 
depths of a wide clean hammock, and rocked 
away " dull care " till the call for supper came. 

The lively chat at Madam e's table served 
for a while at least to dispel a tendency to 
a despondent state of mind, and after supper 
I was too busy in making preparations for the 
onward march to dwell upon what I had heard ; 
and so night drew on, and in the early morning 
afterwards I was fresh, and willing to continue 
the journey to San Pedro Sula. 

" One word more I have to say to you," said 
Madame, as she stood with her sister in the 
courtyard looking at the preparations for depar- 
ture. " You may remain at San Pedro, or you 
may find it wiser to leave it. Now Mr De Brot, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 229 

the consul at Puerto Cortez, is an honourable, 
kind man, and he does banking business. You 
write to him; he will know how to get your 
money from England; but, dear lady, do not 
allow any one but him to have anything to 
do with business of any kind for you, whether 
you go or stay. I mean money business/' she 
continued, with a knowing waggle of her 
head. 

" Now I must transact my own little business 
with you," I said. " Let me know what I am 
indebted to you for my board and lodging." 

" Ah 1 bah ! nonsense 1 " returned Madame. 
" You pay ! No, indeed, you won't ; I am too 
glad to see a lady. You can settle for the 
mules in the stable ; but for entertainment 
in my house, no, never never. See, too, 
we are going away ; you have taken only the 
remnants of food old pigeons, end of this, 
scrap of that ; no, such is not my usual table 
for strangers." 

So I settled a very modest score for the 
stabling of the mules, and then Madame in- 
formed me that she and her sister would be 



230 A LADY'S RIDE 

a night in San Pedro Sula very shortly, on 
their way to Puerto Cortez, from whence they 
were to sail to New York. " We shall meet 
again," said Madame Yictorine, "so I shall 
only say au revoir." 

We issued out at the great portal of the 
shady court into a blazing sun, but we were 
all refreshed and comforted by our rest ; and 
Luisa was so frisky that it was difficult to hold 
her in. I gave my grateful thanks to both of 
the ladies for their hospitality; and the last 
words I heard from the Posada Victorine were 
the stringent tones of Madame repeating her 
injunctions as to caution. 

The macho was so wild that he and Eduardo 
were sent on first, and enjoined to keep out of 
Luisa's sight, as that animal seemed very much 
inclined to " bolt " ; for she persistently imi- 
tated her mate in all his ways, good or evil, 
and he evidently had come into the world as 
a racing character. Marcos placed the staid 
baggage-mule in front of Luisa, and at a quick 
trot we passed on our way. 

Madame Victorine had put down on paper 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 231 

the names of the places wherein it would be 
best to stop. We had left the grand scenery 
here, but still we passed through some fine 
country very badly cultivated. At this point 
my journal runs : " Halted for a few moments, 
fifteen miles from Comayagua, at the house of 
Don Somebody Navarro, a sickly man, who 
hospitably gave me some milk and bread. This 
Senor is reputed rich, but his surroundings are 
most miserable. He spoke English, having 
lived in Cuba. The men got provisions in 
the village, so our store is ample. 

" Crossed rather a dangerous but narrow river 
in the afternoon. I managed the mule pretty 
fairly and without help : in consequence, Marcos 
condescended to inform me that I was much 
improved in my riding. The fact is that Luisa 
is getting to know me, and the kindly beast 
does her best to travel gently. Arrived at a 
place called ' Quevos.' Here we spent the 
night ; and the house which we had selected 
was quiet and respectable. It was kept by a 
poor widow, and it was the cleanest house I 
had seen. In the evening the woman asked 



232 A LADY'S RIDE 

ine if I would object to joining in the evening 
prayer ? 

" ' Object ! ' I replied ; * I am only too glad 
to join with Christians in His praise and His 
worship/ 

" She told me that the revolution had swept 
away the church of the village. The late euro, 
of the parish was dead, and there was no money 
to pay another, as the present Government re- 
fused all aid. 'So,' said she, 'a few of us join 
in the morning and evening prayer. We will 
not live like heathens.' The room was care- 
fully swept out, and shortly afterwards about 
a dozen persons of both sexes entered the room, 
and dropped on their knees. A curtain was 
drawn aside, and displayed a small altar on 
which stood a cross, and before it a little vase 
filled with lovely flowers. A few prayers were 
said, and a hymn was sung, and then all silently 
departed. It was a simple heartfelt service ; 
truly that of the two or three gathered together 
in Christ's name." 

This from my journal, July 25 : 

"A long ride was before us on the follow- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 

ing morning, as we were anxious to cross the 
river Blanco by daylight ; and I was told that 
the stream, though very narrow at the crossing- 
point, was dangerous on account of a peculiarly 
rapid under-current, which it required some 
dexterity to fight against. It was a comfort 
to hear, however, that a canoe was always on 
the side of this stream. It was arranged that 
we should sleep at Santa Yzabel after crossing 
the Eio Blanco (White Eiver). The Eio Blanco 
here is little more than a narrow and deep strait 
reputed to be very dangerous. An Indian sits 
all day in a canoe, to be ready to convey pas- 
sengers and their baggage to the opposite side. 

" The mules and cattle are sent into the 
stream, and they swim to shore : the bath is 
very refreshing to them, as they get but scanty 
attention, generally speaking, in the matter of 
cleansing. However, it is looked upon as a 
great nuisance to have to take all the baggage 
from off the sumpter-mule and the saddles from 
the others, only to replace all, twenty minutes 
later, on the opposite side. 

" The crossing -place at this point is very 



234 A LADY'S RIDE 

picturesque, the bank rising to a mound on 
one side of the path, whereon the interlaced 
branches of two magnificent tamarind - trees 
threw their arms far over the water. The 
lovely crimson creeper, Prendas de Amor 
(Links of Love), carpeted the ground in great 
profusion. This creeper has no perfume ; but 
it is an error to suppose that all the wild 
flowers in these countries are scentless. At 
this spot, too, the grass was unusually soft 
and green ; and at the root of the trees grew a 
cream-coloured flower, bearing a violet eye, the 
name of which it was impossible to discover. 

" Save the quinine-tree, I had never been 
able to ascertain the name of any shrub or 
flower, from either Eduardo or Marcos. The 
former sometimes characterised a bird, and he 
was always on the alert to gather any edible 
fruit that might show itself from out of the 
hedge or thick-growing foliage. 

" Now, crossing the river Blanco is to be 
undertaken, and remembering my experience 
of the Juan, I look upon the canoe and the 
Indian with the utmost satisfaction. Two 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 235 

Spanish herdsmen with a flock of superb cattle, 
a peasant with his wife and mule, and lastly, 
a long string of charcoal-laden mules, attended 
by their drivers, had convened here from other 
directions, and waited to cross the stream. 
One boatman and one canoe for the work I 
It was lucky that the great proportion of this 
assemblage could be independent of the In- 
dian's aid. 

" The personnel and baggage would cause 
fetching and carrying enough, and, of course, 
with so much business on hand, there must be 
a convenio on the matter. So the men got out 
their cigarillos, and we two women, after being 
dismounted, bowed to each other and exchanged 
some words, and then looked about for a 
seat under the tamarind-trees. I had already 
selected my spot, but Eduardo intervened. 
' Not so near the roots, Seiiora ; there may be 
snake-holes about them. Come farther down 
here ; there is plenty of shade, and the grass is 
short : there is nothing here wherein a serpent 
can hide.' ' 

The trail of the serpent is over it all, then ? 



236 A LADY'S EIDE 

But I remembered that these reptiles are in 
general very fearful of the human proximity, 
and the most audacious culebra would hardly 
dare to come among so many. There was 
plenty of shade under the tree, as Eduardo said, 
far away from the roots ; and the longing for 
rest was strong upon me. No wonder that so 
it was in such a place, so cool and secluded, 
a spot, too, wherein, for a short time at least, 
we were safe from the bite of insects, and where 
myriads of butterflies of every shape and form 
and size served to brighten the scene with 
gorgeous colour, and add their quota of cheer- 
fulness to the *hard work of life, round which 
they whirled and fluttered. We deserved our 
rest, for all of us had ridden many leagues. 

However, before I seat myself under the 
friendly tree, I must see that Eduardo unsaddled 
Luisa properly. This supervision was necessary, 
as the young fellow had a habit of letting the 
saddle slip to the ground, pommel downwards. 
What would become of me should this most 
useful of projections become damaged or broken 
off at this stage of the journey ? I was feel- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 237 

ing weaker, so every risk which would incur 
discomfort was to be avoided. 

The saddle was carried into the shade of a 
shrub, and then I took my seat and signed to 
the country-woman to come and sit near me. 
A little brandy-and-water in the travelling flask 
and a few tortillas were all the fare I had to 
offer. This I proposed to share with the stranger, 
to which she readily assented ; and on her own 
behalf she produced some queso, and some dried- 
looking green fruit which was far from invit- 
ing. A few slices of roasted plantain rolled up 
in leaves gave a better turn to affairs, and the 
final appearance of a bottle of milk was really 
to this feast creme de la creme. 

The men meanwhile unloaded the mules, chat- 
tering and gesticulating as they did so. The 
delight of the animals as their packs disappeared 
was curious to witness, and our usually staid 
baggage-mule gave expression to her satisfac- 
tion by kicking her neighbours right and left, 
and lashing at everything she could lay heels on. 

The first excitement of freedom being over, 
she rolled on the soft sweet grass, and then 



238 A LADY'S RIDE 

walked in among the charcoal mules and began 
deliberately to bite and kick at them. A shout 
from Marcos and a tremendous whack from his 
stick acted as a deterrent ; and with the ob- 
jurgatory, "Ah, mula redonda !" (0 fool of a 
mule !) our friend was " chivied" up a bank, and 
made to wait there until her turn for the swim 
should come. This was well for the human 
as well as for the animal kind, for a stray blow 
might have fallen upon some of us ; and it 
is well known that a kick from a mule is far 
more severe, in degree, than a kick from a horse. 
My companion expressed the opinion that the 
refractory beast had been bitten by the mule- 
fly, for it was still running about, and rubbing 
and kicking against the bushes. The agony 
from the bite of this fly is very great, and in 
passing through swamps the insect is sure to 
be lying in wait. It is large in size, and bears 
some resemblance to the bluebottle-fly ; gener- 
ally it makes its attack near the eye. " I know 
a little about the matter," continued my infor- 
mant, " and I assure you a fly will hang about 
one particular mule for many leagues after its 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 239 

' habitat ' has been passed. A good muleteer 
always looks out for this pest, and is careful 
to take it off the animal, for not only does 
it sting deep, but it also draws a good deal 
of blood." 

We talked and rested for nearly an hour. 
The Indian who owned the canoe had been in- 
vited to land and to partake of the men's rations, 
and the poor fellow seemed to enjoy most thor- 
oughly the kindness and good companionship 
which he had fallen in with. The country- 
woman told me that her husband bred mules 
on a ranche in the interior, and that they were 
on the way to Santa Cruz to receive the money 
for a sale of animals which he had made to the 
engineer of the railway works near that town. 
" They would not stop at Santa Yzabel, as we 
intended to do," she said, because they had 
friends in the interior some miles farther on, 
and they could reach the place before nightfall. 

The crossing was effected, but it took a long 
time, owing to the troublesome current. This 
was so rapid, that even our audacious friend, 
the macho, refused point-blank to enter the 



240 A LADY'S EIDE 

water, and had finally to be lugged forward by 
the head, and pushed vigorously from behind, 
to get him afloat. When fairly in the water, 
he refused to come out, and amused himself 
by swimming round the canoe, to the utmost 
peril of that frail transport. The Indian, agile 
as a monkey, at a sudden turn leapt on his back ; 
and so, with the help of another man, this 
wretch was hauled, braying and stamping, to 
the opposite shore. The observations of Marcos 
on this occasion are not fit to be recorded to 
ears polite ; but nevertheless, he never laid a 
finger on the beast. 

Was not the macho a valuable animal, and 
was not Marcos expecting to sell him well on 
the return journey? 

All being at length happily managed, we 
friends of an hour took farewell of each other, 
and sped on our several ways. A few miles' 
distance brought my party to Santa Yzabel, 
which, instead of being a village, as we had 
expected, was merely a '" half farm, half hut, 
lonely dwelling. It was particularly rich in 
grass, and this delighted Marcos for his mules' 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 241 

sake. I, on my own part, revelled in the pure 
milk, in strolling among the cows, and inhal- 
ing the air, which here was quite redolent of 
wild thyme. 

The woman of the house was very obliging, 
but she possessed little wherewith to replenish 
our commissariat. A tough fowl, and a few 
tortillas which she baked expressly for us, were 
all that she could procure. The night was 
wretched, and this had the salutary effect of 
causing us to strike our tents very early on the 
following morning. A bowl of milk was my 
own breakfast, and it was a chance if I could 
get anything more for many hours. 

My journal of July 27, may be admissible 
here : 

" We rode several miles, and passed some 
glorious cedar-trees. Here, for the first time, 
I saw that lovely bird the Cardinalis r ultra, 
which is remarkable for being so nervous con- 
cerning its own safety as never to build unless 
it feels itself to be perfectly safe. It will some- 
times choose five or six different places before 
it finishes its nest. The highest and darkest 



242 A LADY'S RIDE 

cedar-tree is its usual habitat, and its song is 
very peculiar, something between a warble and 
a whistle. It derives its name from the splen- 
dour of the crest, which is of a brilliant scarlet 
colour, intermixed here and there with a few tips 
of peacock-green hue. The female has no crest, 
but she is an elegantly shaped bird. 

" It was the peculiar note of this songster that 
first drew Eduardo's attention to our beautiful 
neighbour. As the ground was soft, and we had 
been treading upon a thick layer of fragrant 
cedar-needles, it was possible that there had not 
been noise enough to startle the bird. His mag- 
nificent crest glanced through the background 
of dark cedar foliage with great effect. We 
stopped simultaneously; and Eduardo, stepping 
up to me, said ' Senora, will you lend me the 
revolver? I can bring him down/ 

" ' No, Eduardo, it would be cruelty; besides, 
the bird would be torn to pieces ; don't think of 
shooting it.' 

" 'But, Senora, I would like the feathers.' 

" ' Very well, Eduardo, I can only say, if you 
shoot that bird, I will not give you the revolver, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 243 

as I had intended to do, when we arrive at San 
Pedro Sula.'" 

This settled the matter, and Eduardo returned 
the little case to the canvas bag from which he 
had half withdrawn it. 

We had never, as yet, had occasion to use this 
implement as a weapon of defence, but I had 
from time to time allowed the lad to discharge 
it ; for, by the generosity of the officer of the 
Clyde, suitable ammunition had been also sup- 
plied with the little case. Eduardo had taught 
me the use of the weapon, and I had more than 
once discharged it for practice; but I never 
was quite happy when handling it, and I rather 
looked forward to the time when I could safely 
get rid of it. 

Marcos was beginning to be impatient at the 
delay, and suddenly raised a shout. This had 
the effect of scaring the birds, one or two of 
which flew with a shrill cry to some more dis- 
tant trees. We saw them more perfectly by this 
means, and thus satisfied, I cared little for being 
peremptorily hurried on by the muleteer. 

My journal goes on to say that we arrived 



244 A LADY'S HIDE 

next at a place called Maniobar. Very pretty, 
but the inhabitants were holding some races, and 
this being the case, we could procure neither 
food nor shelter. These were the most churlish 
beings we had encountered. Nothing for it but 
to ride to Coalcar. 

In another way Maniobar was remarkable : it 
was here that we saw a large poisonous snake. 
The reptile literally crawled between the feet of 
the baggage-mule ; and Luisa, with the instinc- 
tive horror which all mules have of snakes, 
nearly jumped her own height from off the 
ground. The men drew out their machetes 
quickly ; but the reptile was too quick for them, 
and raising its crest with a hiss, it glided be- 
neath some bushes. This was rather a narrow 
escape. 

The night was particularly wretched ; and the 
place at which we halted was so uninviting, that 
I proposed, as the moon was full, to travel at 
night. 

The mozos evidently feared, as they always 
had feared, to travel after dusk, so this was neg- 
atived. The result was " I had my hammock 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 245 

slung outside, and made the best of it. Swarms 
of mosquitoes, and very little to eat and drink." 

The next entry records a far more pleasant 
experience. " After a weary ride, we arrived at 
Santa Cruz. This town is built with some reg- 
ularity, and is far in advance of many that we 
have passed. We went first to the principal inn, 
but finding that the proprietor owned a farm- 
house in the neighbourhood which was on our 
route, we decided to go there. As Marcos 
wanted to linger in the town, he readily agreed 
to go to the farm with me and the mules, if I 
would grant him and Eduardo leave of absence 
till nine o'clock in the evening. I agreed to this ; 
and by three o'clock in the afternoon I was left 
in the hands of a cheery Spanish woman, who 
was wife of the landlord of the inn at Santa 
Cruz." 

It was a great treat to meet with one of so 
much refinement as this lady proved to be ; and 
when I had bathed and dined comfortably, I 
quite enjoyed the walk with her in the cool of 
the evening. She was the very description of 
woman which Honduras wanted, and as we sat 



246 A LADY'S RIDE 

in the veranda-h taking coffee, I could not help 
telling her so. 

" We have had many misfortunes of late years, 
Senora," she said, " and many bad examples from 
those who assume to teach us progress in com- 
mercial transactions. Just look now at that 
Honduras railway ! It might have made the 
country ! Ah, Senora ! we have to thank the 
British people for ruining our trade and com- 
merce for many years to come. Ruin and loss 
make women hopeless, Senora, and that has been 
the case in Spanish Honduras. However, we 
are hoping now for brighter days. America is 
bringing in both labour and money. Yes, I 
think better times are coming. God grant it ! " 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 247 



CHAPTER XL 

WHEN the hour came round for starting on the 
following morning, I, for the first time during 
this journey, evinced the greatest reluctance to 
depart; for never had I been so comfortably 
lodged, or enjoyed so much privacy. 

I could not help saying this much to the 
padrona, when she brought me a capital break- 
fast, nicely laid out on a tray covered with fair 
linen. 

" Put off the start for an hour," said she ; 
"your men are languid this morning, for they 
made the most of their holiday yesterday, and 
are disposed to rest. I will take you round the 
farm ; the morning is cool as yet." 

We went to the dairy farm, where there were 
a large number of beautiful cows with their 
calves, which gave plenty of occupation to four 



248 A LADY'S EIDE 

or five lads and girls, who, though poorly clad, 
looked healthy and bright. Two young women 
were busy in the laundry, from whence the 
clean smell of wood-ashes boiling in a caldron 
to make the lye announced that linen washed 
in that establishment would get fair play, and 
not be bedevilled with chemical soaps and 
other abominations, the only use of which is 
to save the necessary hand and arm work of 
the washerwoman (so called), and destroy the 
material. 

Skirting a small bakehouse, we passed through 
a gate into the garden. This was only in course 
of formation, and was evidently the pride of 
the padrona. It was delightful to find sweet- 
peas and mignonette growing in a nicely laid 
out border; indeed, in this delicious air and 
at this elevation, many English flowers would 
flourish luxuriantly. My hostess possessed a 
large collection of garden seeds, and she was 
trying experiments with all in their turn. 

Among the deciduous plants, I was shown a 
pretty flowering shrub called the " Spinarosa." 
I perceive, by the way, that a perfumery-house 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 249 

in London is advertising a new scent which 
bears this name. May all success attend it ! 
for nothing can be more delicate than the fra- 
grance of the Spinarosa flower ; and, like pure 
water, its specific virtue is imperceptible, though 
perfection is the virtue which characterises it as 
a whole. The padrona had imported two of 
these shrubs from Guatemala, but I believe the 
plant is to be found in the Honduras also. 

Time will not halt even in Vera Cruz, and 
soon Marcos hunted me to the garden, with the 
intimation that I must mount speedily. On 
returning to the house to complete preparations, 
I found amongst my effects some cotton print, 
which I presented to my kind hostess, as it was 
enough to make a dress for her little girl. I had 
bought the material, together with some good 
embroidery, to make a short dressing-gown for 
myself so this, fortunately, made the gift a 
respectable one. As to accepting any remuner- 
ation in the shape of money for my entertain- 
ment, the kind creature quite repudiated the 
idea. " She was so happy to receive one with 
whom she could converse," she said ; " and was 



250 A LADY'S RIDE 

I not a ' Soltera ' ? And why was this ? And 
oh ! the world was so hard." 

Thus speaking, the padrona walked at the 
mule's head, and led me down through the 
broken fences which bounded the untidy land 
outside her domain into a lovely dell, down 
which sparkled a running stream, babbling 
musically, and seeming to cast up diamonds of 
yellow light upon Luisa's hoofs, as she splashed 
into the centre of its bed. There we parted, 
with the sisterly kiss of peace, and I carried 
away with me a very tender memory of Vera 
Cruz. Ay di mi ! Vera Cruz ; True Cross. 
May not its signification in part be realised in 
all the realms of earth, where parting, even 
with a stranger, gives the heart a pang ? 

The path became very stony in a couple of 
hours after leaving the dell, and we pronounced 
it to be only inferior in disagreeables to a val- 
ley of flint, some miles in length, which we 
traversed after we had long left Comayagua 
behind us. 

Here Luisa was startled by a heifer which 
plunged out of a hedge on hearing our approach, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 251 

and so took me into the depths of a thicket, 
wherein I lost my veil and the brim of one side 
of my hat. This loss may appear too insig- 
nificant to record ; but the effect of this slight 
accident was, that at night, the skin of the one 
side of my throat and face was peeled away in 
strips, and it was some days before the pain 
quite left me. Such is the strength of the fierce 
heat of the noonday sun in Honduras. 

The penalty of our late start was paid not 
only by having to suffer great heat, but also by 
the necessity of rapid travelling. We had 
literally wandered up hill and down stream. 
As the evening waned we found ourselves enter- 
ing upon a large tract of plain, upon which 
nothing seemed to grow but tall grass of a pale- 
green colour, and a few distorted shrubs. 

What was that in the distance ? It appeared 
like the monument of a woman placed on a high 
pedestal, and nearer was another which bore the 
form of a lion couchant. Now we passed a 
group of enormous boulder-like stones, some of 
which presented an uncouth and grotesque re- 
semblance to lions and to dogs. Far away on 



252 A LADY'S EIDE 

the plain, detached and scattered, rose up those 
enormous figures ; some without any definable 
shape, others, again, gigantic and weird-like in 
the deepening shadow of the evening. I re- 
membered that we had to cross over a bend of 
the river Palenque, and the thought darted 
through my mind that these stones might in 
some way belong to the curious ruins found 
by Messrs Stephens and Catherwood in their 
researches through Central America, and at 
Palenque especially. But so far as I have seen, 
these stones bear no sculpture, nor do they con- 
vey the idea that they have ever belonged to 
temple or palace, or that they have been con- 
nected in one building of any kind. 

Presently I halted with the intention to 
examine a small stone, close to which I passed ; 
but Marcos prevented this, with the strongest 
determination expressed in the grip of his lean 
brown hand. " Es un mal lugar" (it is a bad 
place), said he; "un lugar de los muertos" (a 
place of the dead). I attempted no more, for 
the increasing darkness and the silence of my 
attendants communicated a chill to my own 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 253 

spirits. The only clear idea in my mind was, 
that we were not far from Omoa, and Omoa is 
not many miles away from Copan the place 
whereat Mr Stephens, if I mistake not, met 
with the most elaborate of the sculptured 
idols. 

My attendants, though they made no sign, 
were evidently scared. They kept the animals 
closer together, and we proceeded at a very 
brisk trot. One of the shapes reminded me so 
much of the story in the ' Arabian Nights ' of 
the man who was transformed partially into 
marble, that, in association with the surround- 
ings, I began to wonder if this also were not an 
Arabian Night's dream. 

The rest were a little in front of me, for the 
path had narrowed, and we were passing on the 
side of a clump of trees. Suddenly a dark 
mass, preceded by a rush, fell on Luisa's neck. 
She nearly jumped her own height from the 
ground ; and I mechanically drew the revolver 
from the leather pocket which hung at my 
girdle and fired, throwing the weapon down in 
a fright at what I had done. The machetes of 



254 A LADY'S RIDE 

the two men were in the body of the mass 
simultaneously, and I learned that I had fired 
into the tail of what on inspection turned out 
to be a coyote. A coyote here is said to be the 
offspring of the dog and the fox. They are 
dangerous if met with in packs. This turned 
out to be a half-starved creature, which might 
have been attracted by some dried venison-meat 
which was dangling at the saddle of the macho 
mule which Eduardo was leading just in front. 
To my surprise, Luisa was not in the least 
restive ; the macho, on the contrary, made 
violent attempts to wrench the rein from 
Eduardo and bolt. 

" Now, Senora," said Marcos, as he picked 
up the revolver, " you must ride quick, very 
quick ; this beast may have a mate. They 
are seldom alone, and that might be perilous. 
Vamos, despacheo " (Let us go with speed). 

We mounted accordingly, Marcos flying ahead 
with rapid step, and we following at a good pace, 
till we had left the p]ain behind us. It was 
nearly dark when we drew up at the gate of a 
maize -field, through which Marcos passed ; for 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 255 

he had with his hawk's eye descried the roof of 
a dwelling jutting out just beyond it. 

Eiding through the field, we came in front of 
the building, which was low and covered by an 
overhanging thatch this serving evidently as a 
verandah. The whole place looked so miserable 
that I urged the guides to ride on, or even to 
try and reach Potrerillos (our station for San 
Pedro Sula), as the moon was full, and the road 
perfectly plain. By this time an old man, fol- 
lowed by his family, came to the edge of a wide 
trench, which separated the garden and hut 
from where we waited, and inquired what we 
wanted. 

Marcos told him to put back his three lean 
dogs, which barked furiously the whole time, 
and then he would tell him. 

A discussion ensued, and the upshot was that 
we must decide to remain where we were, at 
least till daybreak. 

" It is not safe to go on," the old man said ; 
" the malagente (bad people, or robbers) are 
about in these parts." It was for that reason 
that he had dug this wide trench before his 



256 A LADY'S RIDE 

garden, and put his dogs to sleep in it at 
dusk. 

Discretion at this juncture was certainly the 
better part of valour ; and the plank which 
belonged to this excavation being laid across 
it, we entered the dominions of Senor Juan 
Masaveo. This individual prided himself upon 
being a Spaniard of pure race, and told us that 
he belonged to Catalonia. A cursory glance at 
the premises convinced me that I had better lie 
down, as I was, in my hammock ; and so this 
article was swung in the cart-shed, which had 
been newly thatched. The youngest dog turned 
out to be a most friendly little beast, and a few 
scraps which I gave him made him a firm ally; 
whereupon, an intimacy being established, he 
laid himself down under the hammock ; and 
I think he was quite equal to making a dash, 
on my account, upon any intruder who might 
venture into the shed, or molest me in any 
way. 

At the earliest glint of dawn Eduardo thrust 
in his face, and announced that there was 
nothing to eat, and that the mules (which had 



ACKOSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 257 

certainly been better off) could be ready in an 
hour. 

" We cannot get any milk here, Sefiora," the 
lad continued, " until the vaca (cow) comes 
down from her pasture on the hillside." 

"When is this vaca likely to appear 1" I 
asked. " Does not the woman know ? " 

The reply was conveyed in that inimitable 
shrug of the shoulders and flourish of the hand 
with which the Hondureians answer inquiries 
and solve difficulties. 

" What do these people live on themselves ? " 
I persisted ; for I was weak from want of food, 
and I thought the cow might be as necessary for 
some of them as for me. 

" Oh, raw plantains, dried venison, and a kind 
of soup made of maize. The men had this 
before going to work." 

" Then there is nothing for us to depend 
upon but this vaca" I said. "Can she not 
be searched for? I would pay for it." 

" She will come when she chooses," replied 
Eduardo, never making the least attempt or sug- 
gestion that he might go and seek the animal 



258 A LADY'S HIDE 

himself. " I have brought you some water, 
Senora," he continued ; " they have a nice well 
here." 

The water was a blessing, and after using it 
freely, I felt better, and able to start for Potre- 
rillos. The idea of getting away was a tonic in 
itself. 

The men had fallen back upon a few strips of 
dried venison, but the mules had been fully fed 
and watered ; and I was pleased to find that, 
by dint of good travelling, we might reach 
Potrerillos by ten o'clock in the morning. 

My host, old and poor as he was, accompanied 
me over the chasm, mounted me, and walked a 
short distance at the mule's head. I asked him 
if he could tell me anything about the stones 
and the plain we had passed through on the 
preceding night. He shook his head,, and only 
replied that it was a place of the dead dead 
many centuries ago. That was all he knew, he 
said. 

At the parting, on a turn between two slopes, 
Eduardo handed up the little dog, and the old 
man literally glowed with pleasure when I put 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 259 

a peseta (lOd.) between his paws, and gave him 
a tender pat. His owner promised to be kind 
to him for my sake, and then, with the benison, 
" El buen Dios le guarde muchos anos ! " (May 
God spare you many years !), the old man doffed 
his cap and went his way. 

Ten o'clock found us at Potrerillos, and after 
making inquiry, we rode up to the house of 
Monsieur St Laurent, who, it appears, held the 
position of head-man of the town. This posi- 
tion throughout Honduras is a post very diffi- 
cult to define or explain ; and how the individ- 
ual occupying it arrives at this dignity, I found 
it equally impossible to fathom. It depends 
neither on age, nor talent, nor length of resi- 
dence in the place. I drew the conclusion, at 
last, that some one individual possessing a little 
more energy than usual, combined with some 
commercial stake in the country, assumed the 
leadership of the community, and the commun- 
ity fell in with the arrangement as a matter of 
course, it being a convenience generally, and a 
saving of trouble to all. 

Monsieur St Laurent received us very cour- 



260 A LADY'S RIDE 

teously, but he imparted a piece of information 
which, for the time being, was highly unsatis- 
factory to me, and this was that the railway 
between Potrerillos and San Pedro Sula was 
quite unserviceable ; in fact it had become so 
broken down that for some months the railway 
plant had been taken away, and nothing was 
left but the rails and a broken-down bridge or 
two. "We have now to ride to San Pedro 
Sula," said M. St Laurent ; " the road is very 
good, and it is under fifty miles' distance. Eest 
here, if you like, to-night, and set off at four 
to-morrow morning ; you will then reach San 
Pedro easily in the afternoon." 

But Marcos here intervened. He had been 
engaged, he said, by contract to take the lady to 
the railway station at Potrerillos. Well, there 
was no railway station ; further, he was to be 
paid in the head-house of Potrerillos in the pre- 
sence of the head-man. Well, there was the 
head-man; let the lady fulfil her part of the 
contract and pay him, and let him depart." 

In vain did Monsieur St Laurent urge the 
muleteer to finish the journey, and take me on 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 261 

to San Pedro. He was obdurate, and even an 
appeal to his self-interest was, for a wonder, 
quite superfluous. He had gained as much as 
he wanted, the man said, and the lady could 
hire fresh mules here. It was not worth his 
while to cross the Palenque either; he wished 
to return quickly, for he hoped to sell the macho 
and the baggage-mule at Vera Cruz. So pro- 
nouncing, Marcos drew his copy of our contract 
from his pocket, and flourished it before Mon- 
sieur St Laurent. 

For the benefit of those who have not made 
mule-journeys, I subjoin a copy of this contract, 
which may prove useful to intending mountain 
travellers. No one should travel far without 
being provided with a form of this kind ; as it, 
being stamped with the Government seal, serves 
as a protection in out-of-the-way places, besides 
acting as a restriction, if necessary, on the mu- 
leteer. 

Copy of Contract (Translation). 

"I, Marcos Carcamo, undertake to conduct 
Seiiora ' Soltera ' to the railway station at Potre- 
rillos for San Pedro Sula, charging twelve pesos 



262 A LADY'S RIDE 

(crowns) for each one of three mules, and eleven 
pesos for myself as muleteer and confidential 
man of the said lady, the whole amounting to 
forty-seven pesos. 

"And we both and each agree that this 
money shall be paid to me by Seiiora ' Soltera/ 
in the head-house (for the security of each of us) 
at Potrerillos at the end of the journey. 

" Given at Groascaron, this fourteenth day of 
July, one thousand eight hundred and eighty- 
one. 

(Signed) "MARCOS CARCAMO. 
"MARIA 'SOLTERA,' 
" or MARY LONE. 
(Stamped) 
" Twelve reales." 

Here folloius the receipt. 

" I have received the amount of forty-seven 
pesos, as promised above, and I am thoroughly 
satisfied. MARCOS CARCAMO. 

" Witnesses. 
"EDUARDO ALBAREZ. 
"ALFREDO ST LAURENT." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 263 

Marcos signed his name in such good hand- 
writing that M. St Laurent inquired where he 
had been taught. 

" The good priest who was kind to the 
Indians taught me," he answered. "I knew 
more some years ago ; but now he is dead 
and gone, I don't care to learn from any one 
else ; besides, I am too old." 

He then turned to me, and asked me to 
furnish him with a certificate testifying to his 
efficiency as a guide, and also to his having 
served me with fidelity. 

This I did cheerfully, and then he went out 
with Eduardo, and dismounted the luggage, and 
took off my saddle from Luisa's back. I came 
out to wish this tried friend a kind good-bye, 
and Marcos was so pleased that he said he 
should tell of the incident in Goascaron. The 
English lady had kissed his mule ! 

Doubtless it might be considered a gushing 
thing to do, but I am not ashamed of the 
action, and I shall ever feel grateful to this 
patient intelligent creature for the way in 
which she carried me never flagging, never 



264 A LADY'S EIDE 

sulky, and wanting no reward but a handful 
of bread and salt. Had Marcos been as 
tender-hearted as she, I might have ridden 
her to San Pedro Sula. The knowledge of 
this made my adieus to her owner rather 
frigid. 

" As you oblige me to hire other animals and 
another guide, Marcos/' I said, " I cannot add 
any present to your pay. Good-bye to you, 
and take care of Luisa." 

Madame St Laurent now joined us, and in- 
vited me to come into the private part of her 
house and take some refreshment. Eduardo 
was handed over to the mozo of the house, and 
we were both so thankful for our quarters that 
the question of getting to San Pedro did not 
for the moment trouble us. I found Madame 
St Laurent very agreeable and friendly, and she 
was also a woman of advanced education. Our 
conversation soon verged round to the gentle- 
man in whom I was so much interested. "Do 
you know that he is expected here to-day ? " 
she inquired. 

"No," I replied; "unless he has come to 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 265 

meet me, in answer to a telegram I sent him 
from Comayagua." 

" I do not think that is likely ; as we hear 
that he is on the way to Comayagua. He stays 
at a house in this town when he passes through, 
and if he arrives to-day, I shall know of it, and 
will let you know. If he does not appear, it is 
possible that you may meet him on the road to- 
morrow." 

" Very strange, is it not, that he should be 
leaving San Pedro just as I enter it ? " 

Madame smiled, and looked at her husband, 
and then said " There has been a great change 
in the colony during the last few months : 
several of the colonists have returned home; 
others have gone to Guatemala; very few re- 
main there now." 

" Are you sure of this, Madame 1 " I asked. 

" Quite sure, for many families pass through 
here, and they speak more or less freely ; it 
seems they have been deceived in many ways. 
They complained solely of one person ; and the 
only fault they find with the Government is, 
that it has allowed itself to be hoodwinked by 



266 A LADY'S KIDE 

this man, and is so slow in redressing their 
wrongs." 

" What are these particular wrongs ? " 

" It is said that when he chartered the vessel 
to bring these colonists here, he made the 
majority of them confide their money to him, 
and that they cannot get a settlement. Then 
there is a notion abroad that he is no priest, 
but a former Protestant minister, who came 
here with questionable recommendations. How- 
ever, there is no doubt about his suspension, as 
another priest is appointed to his cure. I am 
glad of this for your sake, for the new priest is 
a quiet and earnest man." 

" I was told at Comayagua that the person in 
question does not recognise his sentence of sus- 
pension," I answered. 

" That is absurd/' replied Madame, " for the 
church is locked up, and the alcalde will only 
give up the key to the newly appointed priest. 
It is said that his predecessor will never be 
reinstated. Indeed, how can it be otherwise 1 
It is a great pity, for no one entered upon an 
undertaking with finer prospects. The Govern- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 267 

ment was liberal ; the Presbyterian alcalde and 
the Protestant Consul at Puerto Cortez both 
helped, and were anxious to receive the col- 
onists." 

" And these," interposed Monsieur St Lau- 
rent, " were mostly of a respectable class of 
Irish small farmers. They brought a little 
money, and I think with a different leader 
they would have done well. Land has been 
given whereon to build a school, but the school 
is not even begun." 

" What could induce him to write and en- 
gage me to come and superintend this school I ". 
I inquired. 

Madame laughed. " I cannot say," she said 
at length ; " but I daresay you will get that ex- 
plained at San Pedro. Now, if you will go and 
rest, we will see what we can do in getting you 
mules. I know of one which you can ride, and 
that is the principal part of the business." 

A room like a small barn was assigned to me, 
and Madame had sent in a bath, water, and 
towels ; and Eduardo having looked to my 
comforts, asked leave to go with Monsieur St 



268 A LADY'S SIDE 

Laurent's mozo to look after a mule for himself 
and a baggage-mule. 

" There is a very good muleteer in Potrerillos 
just now," the lad said ; "he has only been 
back one day from a long journey ; his name 
is Andreas, and he is well known. I am re- 
commended to apply to him." 

I did not meet my kind hosts till sundown, 
and then Madame knocked and entered with a 
glass of white wine and a biscuit in her hand. 
" Will you come and see my garden," said 
she, "and then take supper with us at eight 
o'clock?" 

This invitation was most acceptable, and the 
garden was in every respect a pleasant garden, 
and one which testified most thoroughly to the 
clever and perfect manner in which the French 
all over the world utilise space, and ornament 
unsightly places. The vine and some luxuriant 
creepers shadowed the deep embrasured win- 
dows, and the palisades round the house were 
painted a cool green, through which the lovely 
fringe-tree, shortened and pruned, was twisted 
thickly enough to thoroughly shade the plants 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 269 

within. A large barrel kept for watering the 
garden was so deeply shrouded by clematis that 
it appeared to be literally embedded in a huge 
white muff. Eows of magnificent balsams, 
mostly of red and orange colours, were planted 
regularly on either side of a broad gravel-walk, 
and here it was that Madame and I walked and 
talked until supper-time. 

At that meal Eduardo waited, and I found 
that everything was prepared for the start at 
five o'clock on the morrow. The muleteer, 
Andreas, was to come with us, and the Palen- 
que river would be crossed in a canoe : the only 
trouble on the way would be the loading and 
unloading the animals, and to this we had be- 
come accustomed. 

Even here the demon of unpunctuality held 
its sway, and notwithstanding all the efforts of 
Monsieur St Laurent, it was fully an hour past 
the appointed time before we started for San 
Pedro Sula. In spite of the hot sun, Madame 
came out with a mosquito-net over her head to 
say good-bye, attended by the 771020, bearing 
a cup of coffee made in the perfect manner 



270 A LADY'S EIDE 

which seems to be a heaven-born gift of the 
French. 

A kind adieu did these good friends give me, 
and as Andreas was swift of foot, we were soon 
well on our way. 

Save that the country was better cultivated, 
it presented no very remarkable beauties, but 
we passed some fine macaws in the trees; in- 
deed, some of the smaller bushes were literally 
covered with these living jewels. Passing 
through the woods, the cooing of the doves, 
and the whistle of the Cardinalis rubra assim- 
ilated well with the distant murmur of the 
river, which they bounded to the extent of 
some miles. At length the crossing-place was 
reached ; Andreas hailed the canoe, and the 
boatman, taking me over first, seated me in 

' O ' 

a shady wood-house, in company with a calf 
and two kids. Looking between the cracks 
of the planks, almost sheer down into the river, 
I felt disappointed at its muddy and unpictur- 
esque appearance at this point; so inferior to 
the lovely Blanco. The banks plastered with 
mud and sedge, with here and there a few 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 271 

unhappy -looking reeds penetrating the ooze, in 
company with shreds of leather and rope (rem- 
nants of former crossings), gave me the idea of 
a river in ruins : Palenque in all its variations 
seemed to breathe nothing but mystery and 
desolation. 

Our halt for the day was on the outskirts of 
a pretty little assemblage of houses, all built 
with very high conical thatched houses. We 
bivouacked under some magnificent trees, and 
Andreas fetched from a garden in the neigh- 
bourhood a supply of the most excellent water- 
melons I have ever seen. A few pence bought 
six of these, and the owner of the garden kindly 
sent a rock-melon in addition, for the especial 
delectation of the Senora. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch ; and as 
the grass and water were good, our animals 
also fed in comfort, although the halt here was 
necessarily a short one. 

Our way was now through the real palm- 
forest of Honduras, lovely, tangled, unculti- 
vated, damp, and picturesque. 

All trace of path being lost, we mazed in and 



272 A LADY'S EIDE 

out where the ground was firmest, and free 
from the sprawling uncovered roots of trees, 
and the festoons of parasite plants which trailed 
from above, bidding fair sometimes to encircle 
us and lift us off our mules. Absalom here 
would not have required an oak-tree. 

We had just passed through a piece of 
marshy land, and emerged more into the open, 
when we saw two 'mounted figures coming 
towards us, the one on a handsome mule, the 
other on a well-bred-looking mare. The rider 
of the latter was an elegant-looking man ; the 
other short and stout, but bearing what is 
called a good-natured-looking face. 

Andreas exclaimed, " Here is Dr Pope, 
Senora the short one ; the other is Don 
Jesus Gonsalez, the Justice of the Peace of 
San Pedro Sula." 

I immediately urged on my mule, and struck 
across the path in front of the riders. Bowing 
to the short man, I said, " I believe I have the 
honour of addressing the Kev. Dr Pope. I am 
Maria Soltera. Have you received the telegram 
I sent you from Comayagua ? " 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 273 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE individual thus addressed hastened towards 
me, but it was plainly to be seen by his coun- 
tenance that this meeting was the reverse of 
pleasant. Hastily rallying himself, he began 
to explain in a rapid tone that he had not 
replied to my telegram because he had hoped 
to reach Comayagua before I left it. He 
thought I would wait till I heard from him, 
and so forth. 

I replied that I assumed he had left for 
Europe, and reminded him that in his last 
letter to me he had mentioned that this was 
probable, and that in consequence his agent 
would be left with full power to act in his 
stead. 

" Oh yes, yes/' replied Dr Pope ; " but my 
departure for Europe is delayed. I have a 



274 A LADY'S BIDE 

great deal of law business to attend to in- 
deed I am going to Comayagua at this moment 
on a most important lawsuit, and cannot be 
back for a fortnight; in the meantime I have 
arranged with a lady at San Pedro Sula to 
receive you till I return." 

" The delay is unfortunate," I answered ; 
ei but as I am nearly knocked up by much 
travelling and hardship, I shall be glad of a 
few days' idleness. Will you be good enough 
to give me the address of the house that I 
am to go to 1 " 

The gentleman, turning round, addressed him- 
self to the muleteer, speaking in remarkably 
good Castilian ; then, continuing his conver- 
sation with me, he added 

" I am. afraid you will find everything very 
rough, as I have not had time to order a 
mattress for your bed; but you have in your 
journey been accustomed to sleep on bare 
boards," he added, in a jaunty tone, " and so 
you will not mind." 

" I beg your pardon, sir," I replied ; " I have 
been provided with my own hammock ; and I 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 275 

take leave to say, that at the end of so long a 
journey, decent accommodation should be pro- 
vided for me." 

I spoke slowly, looking at him steadily ; for 
by his later tone I felt that he could be very 
impertinent both with and without provocation. 

" Dona Engracia will do all she can to make 
you comfortable, I am sure," he said apologeti- 
cally ; " but you must not expect English cus- 
toms here." 

To this I made no reply, but inquired how 
soon it would be before he returned to San 
Pedro Sula? 

"It depends upon business," he replied. "I 
have also to attend a Synod to which the 
Bishop has summoned me ; but I daresay I 
can get excused from being present at the 
meeting." 

"Very strange, the Bishop did not mention 
this when I saw him at Comayagua," I answered. 

" Have you seen the Bishop ? Did you tell 
him you were coming here," he asked quickly, 
his face lighting up with a mingled expression 
of suspicion and interest. 



276 A LADY'S RIDE 

" I paid my respects to his lordship, and I 
told him I was coming here. To my surprise 
the Bishop hardly spoke of you, and certainly 
he was quite ignorant of your having arranged 
to bring me here," I replied. 

" Well, this is not the place wherein we can 
carry on a conversation on the matter. I re- 
gret," continued he, " that I cannot turn back 
with you now. Kindly go to the house of 
Dona Engracia, and I will write you an ex- 
planatory letter from Comayagua, and send it 
by special messenger. Your neighbour will be 
Don Pedro Sturm, a Norwegian doctor, who has 
lived many years in San Pedro Sula ; he will 
gladly be of service to you." 

The Justice of the Peace, who had waited 
patiently during this conversation, now came 
up and made some polite observations, and 
then we took leave and went on our several 
ways. But still the thought ran through my 
mind, What could induce him to invite me 
to San Pedro Sula? 

Leaving the plantations, we splashed through 
a broad stream, and, after riding over the ruins 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 277 

of a part of the late Honduras railway, we at 
dusk entered into San Pedro Sula. 

The environs of this town are far from mi- 
pleasing, and several respectable houses, erected 
mostly by German merchants, lent an air of 
stability to the town which could not fail to 
impress a stranger favourably. It was some 
little time before we found the house to which 
we had been directed ; and when we did so, it 
seemed to me that the name of Dona Engracia 
did not command much respect. We made our 
way to a mean-looking dwelling, and at our 
summons a most unprepossessing woman made 
her appearance at the door. 

"Are you Dona Engracia?" inquired Eduardo, 
looking aghast. 

"Yes," replied the woman, who was bare- 
necked and bare-headed, and had her chin 
bound up with a dirty rag ; " and I suppose 
this is the lady I am to expect?" 

"You are right," I answered. "Have you 
prepared any accommodation for me ? " 

" Enter, and see," was the reply. 

I dismounted, and was ushered through an 



278 A LADY'S EIDE 

outer room furnished with shelves. Upon these 
were laid a few vegetables and some plantains. 
Opening another door with a flourish, an inner 
room was revealed, which contained two beds, 
one of which was furnished with bedding of 
some sort, whilst the other was perfectly bare, 
with the exception of a large bull's hide, which 
was laid over the bars of the bedstead as an 
under-covering. Not a vestige of matting, or 
of any other furniture, did this apartment con- 
tain. It was miserable in the extreme. 

" Is this the room assigned to me ? " I asked 
at length, my heart really sinking into my boots. 

" Si, Senora, si, y conmigo " (Yes, lady, yes, 
and with me). The conmigo was drawled out 
with a flourish. 

" This will not do for me," I answered. " I 
will have a room to myself, and shall go 
straight to the best inn ; where is it ? " And 
I turned to go out. 

The muleteer, Andreas, who had been stand- 
ing on the outer step, now spoke, and with 
some indignation in his tone. " This is no 
place for you, Senora ; you had better come 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 279 

to Chicaramos. I know Chicaramos ; you will 
be much better off there." 

Eduardo was with the animals, and in high 
converse with a nice intelligent -looking lad, 
dressed in neat white raiment, wearing a 
Panama hat and a gay pugaree. " I am 
Don Pedro Sturm's servant the doctor next 
door. He has sent me to show you the inn," 
the lad explained. " Permit me to accom- 
pany you to the Posada Chicaramos." 

I thanked the lad gratefully, and we were 
soon on the march again. " What an extra- 
ordinary name ! " I said to the lad. " Is Chica- 
ramos a village or a suburb ? " 

" No, Senora," he replied ; " Chicaramos is 



a woman." 



" A woman 1 " 

" Yes, Senora. Her real name is Francisca 
Ramos ; the contraction of Francisca is Chica, 
and so the name has all got run into one. She 
is called Chicaramos all over the country. She 
is a wonderful woman." 

I was too exhausted to inquire in what might 
consist the wonders of Chicaramos, but con- 



280 A LADY'S RIDE 

tented myself by inwardly hoping that she might 
turn out to be an entirely different person from 
the one we had just left ; and thus hoping, we 
rode up to the portal of the Posada Francisca 
Ramos, which was its polite designation. 

The house was built in a square, the later 
and new addition being a salon and a billiard- 
room, which the owner had erected out of the 
money made by boarding and lodging the 
engineers and others concerned in building the 
Honduras railway. On this night this salon 
showed to the greatest advantage, as a ball was 
about to be held therein, and the long room was 
gay with light and flowers and brightly painted 
cane seats. It was for this reason that we were 
kept waiting a little at the half-opened door, 
although voices and exclamations were heard 
in all directions, and in all keys of the gamut. 

Our guide proposed that we should go round 
to the other side, and enter the court-yard 
through the great gates, where we would most 
probably find some one to attend to us. This 
being done, a mozo flew towards us, declaring 
that the hotel was full on account of the ball. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 281 

The Senora could have refreshment, but not a 
room all were engaged, &c., &c. 

Never heeding this, we rode into the centre 
of the court-yard and dismounted. A hand- 
some untidy-looking woman, dressed in a bright 
blue muslin dress, came up and looked at me, 
then turned away, and went into the house 
through a door on the right-hand side of 'the 
square. 

" That is Chicaramos's daughter-in-law," said 
our new friend ; " the wife of the hijo mayor 
(eldest son). They live on this side of the 
square, and their front door opens into the busi- 
ness street. She has gone to look for her 
husband." 

Almost as he spoke a plain genteel-looking 
young man came out and advanced towards me. 
" My mother is busy," he said, " preparing for 
a ball, which is to take place here in an hour. 
The house is full, but if you will accept a bed- 
room in our part of it, it can be made ready at 
once. You will have to pass through our room, 
but you will not mind that." 

This was the best thing I could do; and 



282 A LADY'S RIDE 

accommodation being found for the muleteer 
and Eduardo, our guide took his leave, say- 
ing that his master, Don Pedro Sturm, would 
call on me on the morrow. 

After a slight supper, which I took at a round 
table, with the son's wife staring at me from the 
opposite side, I was making ready to go to rest, 
when the door opened, and a lady, in a yellow 
silk dress, black lace trimming, and rich gold 
ornaments, entered. As she closed one door, 
the son's wife rose quickly, and rushed out at 
the other. 

It seemed probable that these two women 
were not d'accord. 

Chicaramos for it was she came forward in 
a graceful manner, and apologised for the neg- 
ligent way in which I had been received, but 
expressed a hope that " mi hijo mayor " (my 
eldest son) had represented her properly. 

She was a handsome woman ; and from the 
manner in which she looked about, I saw that 
she managed well the affairs of her household. 
She then added that I might be kept awake 
by the music and the rattle of the billiard-balls, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 283 

but to-morrow, being Sunday, would be a quiet 
day. 

I was conducted to a room on the ground- 
floor, which was paved with red tiles, and was 
as mean as possible in its surroundings. How- 
ever, it did contain some crockery ware, and 
this fact of itself announced Chicaramos to be 
a well-to-do woman. Two window apertures, 
filled by massive shutters, which served to keep 
the room dark and cool, rejoiced my sight, as 
the window-frames were so wide that plenty 
of air could always enter, and mosquitoes, ad 
libitum, at night. 

A voluble young Creole woman had been sent 
to help me, and she was loud in her expressions 
of surprise that a gentlewoman should have come 
to San Pedro Sula to superintend the school. 

" But the doctor is quite done up now," 
added this damsel ; " and you have had a long 
journey for nothing." 

" Why did he bring me, I wonder ? " was the 
answer I made. 

She could not say. 

" Where does the agent, Mr Brady, live ? " I 



284 A LADY'S RIDE 

inquired. " I wish to see him the first thing in 
the morning." 

" He lives very near this," was the reply ; 
" and I will go to him to-morrow morning." 

" Thank you. Good night." 

In spite of the drawbacks to repose enumerated 
by Chicaramos, I did sleep, and that long and 
well; and it was late (for Honduras) almost 
seven in the morning when Eduardo knocked, 
and announced that Andreas must return at 
once to Potrerillos, and that he only waited to 
be paid. 

This business was transacted through the win- 
dow ; and then I told Eduardo that I would 
pay him during the day, and that he must look 
at once for other employment, for I could not 
afford to keep a servant longer. 

" I have thought over this, Senora," answered 
the lad ; " and as the billiard-marker is going 
to leave in a day or two, I shall apply for the 
place. You see, by this I can be near you, and 
do many little things for you till you leave for 
Puerto Cortez and for England. This is not a 
place for you, Senora." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 285 

" But I have not money enough with me to 
get out of it," I answered ; " and, Eduardo, 
though I like to have you near me, I would 
rather you were not a billiard-marker : it is 
not good for you. Cannot you get some other 
occupation ?" 

" Not at present. I have made inquiries, and 
I am told, Senora, that Chicaramos's service is 
the best in the place/' 

Everything about the premises was very quiet, 
the day being Sunday, and the inmates being 
tired also with the dance of the preceding even- 
ing. Some large patient oxen were looking out 
of their open stall at the lower end of the court; 
and some cocks and hens chased one another in 
various directions ; whilst a number of pigeons 
flew to and fro, and settled on the roofs of the 
various out-houses which surrounded this en- 
closure. A large pepper-tree overshadowed the 
lower buildings, and an impudent lora (small 
parrot) walked about and kept the whole in 
order. Altogether it was a pretty court for 
an inn. 

The next sign of life was a rattling sound, 



286 A LADY'S RIDE 

and the voice of woman, neither soft nor low, 
calling upon the household, and hijo mayor 
especially, to arise. Soon the voice travelled 
in my direction, and my hostess looked through 
the aperture at me, pushing the shutter back on 
its hinges as she bade me " Good morning." 

" I am glad to see you, Seiiora," I said. " I 
want to arrange to stay here a short time till 
my business is concluded. What am I to pay 
you for board and lodging ? by the day, we 
had better say, as my affairs are uncertain." 

Senora Eamos reflected a moment, and then 
said : " My charges are 5s. a-day ; but if you 
remain by the week they will be a, peso (4s. 2d.) 
per day. I hope you will stay, as I hear the 
charge of the public school is to be offered to 
you." 

" I have not heard of this, Senora." 

u I daresay not, but the matter was discussed 
among a few last night after the dance was 
over. Don Pedro Sturm, the head doctor here, 
is one of the municipal council, and he will 
call upon you to-morrow. They all talk before 
me," continued Chicaramos, elevating her head, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 287 

"as I am one of the principal people in the 
place." 

I bowed at this, and told her that I did not 
feel justified in doing anything till I had come 
to an arrangement with Dr Pope. 

" Oh, as to Pope/' continued the Senora with 
the greatest contempt, "he can't do anything 
here. Ah, the money he owes me 1 And when 
I sent in my bill he threatened me with the 
law-courts. Ho, Vicente I " holloaed the Senora 
to a fat mozo who was slinking along the other 
side of the yard, "you have been too long in 
your bed. Chop up some wood, and tell 
Elenita to bring the Senora here a glass of 
milk." 

Then she darted into my side of the house, 
and I heard her rattling up mi hijo mayor and 
his wife without the smallest ceremony, at the 
door of the room next to me. 

A glass of milk was brought by the trim little 
girl called Elenita ; and she told me that her 
grandmother bade her say that I had better 
dine in my own room always, as Senora Kamos 
never allowed meals to be taken in the salon 



288 A LADY'S EIDE 

under any circumstances. And she thought 
the English lady would not like to dine in 
the public room, over which her daughter-in- 
law presided. 

I thought it well to close with this arrange- 
ment, and had subsequently reason to congratu- 
late myself that I had done so. . 

Mr Brady called the next morning, and it 
was very much to his own surprise that I in- 
formed him that he was Dr Pope's agent. He 
was a good-natured -looking young man, with 
some means, I was informed;, and it was 
between him and Dr Pedro Sturm that Dr 
Pope was now living. 

An entry in my journal of August 2, 1881, 
runs as follows : " Don Pedro Sturm called, and 
we had a discussion about my taking the public 
school. Nothing, however, can be arranged 
about this until the Governor of Santa Barbara 
comes here, which may be in a month, or in 
two months, or next year. Everything seems 
to be a matter of manana, and salary, a very 
unknown quantity." 

Don Jesus Gonsalez also came to see me on 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 289 

the same subject. This gentleman seems to 
have influence with the governor, and expressed 
his intention of writing to that dignitary, and 
urging the matter. By the way, I got set 
down by Chicaramos for taking exception at 
the name of Jesus for an ordinary appellation 
(although it is pronounced "Hesooz"). 

" I thought you were superior to cant, 
Senora," flared up my hostess. "You northern 
people have your Christian ; and pray, what 
is the name of Christina but little Christ 1 
Caramba ! " 

I confessed that I had not sufficiently studied 
the meaning of Christian names, but stuck to 
it that Christian seemed less familiar than the 
other sound. 

For some mornings I had observed several 
little children in the court-yard, and I inquired 
if these belonged to the house \ 

"Not exactly," Elenita answered; "but we 
take care of one or two. That little Felipe is 
a poor orphan, and grandmother has adopted 
him ; that other is not a child of matrimonio, 
but the pobiecita (poor thing) cannot help that, 



290 A LADY'S RIDE 

and we promised the mother when she was 
dying to take care of her. Of course/' con- 
tinued the girl, " the father cannot come here, 
for the mother was our friend." 

Ah ! respectable, moral England, is it not too 
often the case with you,, that the betrayed girl 
and her child are spurned to the dust, whilst 
the man goes free, and society opens her doors 
wide unto him, and even caresses him for the 
wrong he has done ? I have often admired 
the kindness of the Hondureians to deserted 
children ; most houses have one or two in 
charge, and the charity is given without 
ostentation and as a matter of course. These 
outcasts are received really as members of the 
family, and I have never heard of their entrance 
causing vexation or annoyance to any of the 
other members of it. 

Dr Otto, the latest imported medical prac- 
titioner in San Pedro Sula, also called upon 
me. He was a young man of strong opinions, 
and never evinced the slightest qualm in calling 
a spade a spade. He was a German, and spoke 
English remarkably well. Being of very " ad- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 291 

vanced" opinions, he seemed to have but one 
object, and that was to make money as fast as 
possible. Chicaramos was a patient of his ; but 
she was a match for him, as, his fees being high, 
she raised the rent of his house accordingly, the 
doctor being her tenant. The humour with 
which the lady confided this piece of diplomacy 
to me was enough to make a cat laugh. 

With such a character, my correspondent, of 
course, could not be let off; indeed the young 
gentleman said so much, that I at last asked 
him if he were not afraid to venture such and 
such observations. " Not a bit," was the reply ; 
" and now, can you bear to hear an unpleasant 
truth ? " 

" Keally, sir, I have had to bear so much 
lately that I think I can stand anything." 

" Very well. Now, you wonder why Pope 
brought you here ; I will tell you. He is 
played out; he thought if you came that he 
would get a footing in the schoolhouse which 
would have been assigned for your use. This 
would give him a home ; for the rest, he hoped 
you would bring a little money wherewith to 



292 A LADY'S RIDE 

set a plantation going; in fact you told him 
so in one of your letters." 

" How do you know this ? " I asked aghast. 

" It is simply told. A young lad, whom I 
know something about, was sitting with the 
fellow when the runner brought your letter. 
Pope was in an indiscreet mood, so he read 
a portion of the letter out, remarking, 'The 
lady has a little money, so I shall invite her 
to corne.' ' 

This was, as I found, the true explanation ; 
and as Dr Pope had no house of his own, the 
Government refusing to assign him one after 
the first year, the idea of taking up his abode 
in the schoolhouse must have been a most con- 
venient scheme. All was frustrated by the 
people rising en masse against him and de- 
manding his expulsion. 

That a colony was never more recklessly 
ruined, let all the officials, English, Spanish, 
and Hondureian, tell. 

Don Jesus brought his wife to visit me, and 
a very sweet young woman I found her to be. 
She often sent preserved fruits and chocolate, 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 293 

and good Don Pedro Sturm sent in some light 
wine. These gifts were most acceptable, as 
Chicaramos's table was of the most coarse and 
meagre description, and the cooking was filthy. 
Many a day an egg and a cup of coffee were my 
only meal. My living could not have cost her 
more than fourpence a-day on the average ; but 
it was in these ways that Chicaramos proved 
herself a wonderful woman. As Dr Otto often 
remarked, a mat, some raw plantains, and a 
stream of running water in the midst of the 
village, were all that was necessary to keep the 
inhabitants of San Pedro Sula alive. What 
could other people want with more ? 

The alcalde often came to see me in the 
evenings, and to him I owe some of the pleas- 
antest hours I spent in San Pedro Sula. He 
was a Scotchman by birth, but had become 
quite a naturalised Spaniard, speaking the lan- 
guage well. He it was who was keeping the 
key of the church, and this he handed over to 
the new priest one sunny morning, singing a 
psean over the fact that this act completely 
ousted the late incumbent. "And now, my 



294 A LADY'S RIDE 

dear lady," said he, " a ball is to be given in a 
night or two to celebrate the fourth anniversary 
of the Government of Honduras, and I am 
charged by the municipal committee with this 
letter of invitation to you." 

So saying, Don Juan pulled out an elegantly 
written note of invitation, addressed to me as 
Senora Maria, the English stranger. 

At first I felt inclined to refuse, but, on 
reflection, I saw that it would be ungracious 
to do so. The hand of friendship had been 
so cordially held out that it was with lighter 
heart that I selected evening raiment to wear 
the first time for many weeks wherein to 
appear at the ball, given, as usual, at Chica- 
ramos's salon. 

Whilst I was dressing, I thought I heard 
voices in dispute in the part of the house occu- 
pied by hijo mayor; a door was banged with 
more than ordinary force after a scuffle from 
within ; then all was silent. It was some one, 
perhaps, who had forced himself in to see the 
preparations. Thus I dismissed the subject 
from my mind. I should hardly have noticed 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 295 

this, but I fancied I had previously heard foot- 
steps approaching my apartment. 

My toilet finished, I went into the salon, 
which was really very tastefully decorated and 
lighted. As nobody had come in, I drew a 
rocking-chair to the large entrance door, and 
sat watching the fire-flies as they powdered the 
grass opposite with their golden sparks. Bril- 
liant lightning flashed in the far distance, which 
contrasted in fantastic guise with the gloom of 
an unusually still night, there being neither 
tingle of guitar nor rattle of billiard-balls, and 
few people were moving about. 

Presently my attention was attracted to a 
white object moving in a straight line towards 
the house. What it was it was impossible to 
discover : perhaps a visitor arriving in fancy 
dress ! The figure crossed the grass and stood 
before me. It was the Kev. Dr Pope, hatless, 
wearing a man's night-shirt over his clothes, 
and bola (Spanish for intoxicated). 

Surprise held me to my seat, and prudence 
chained my tongue. He glared at me, and 
opened his lips as if to speak ; then he looked 



296 A LADY'S BIDE 

over my head into the salon, as if he were 
searching for some one, gave a lurch, turned on 
his heel, and was gone ! 

I rose, shut the door, and went through the 
salon into the patio. Eduardo was at a table 
washing some glasses ; he anticipated my in- 
quiry, for he said 

"Not now, Senora I will come to you the 
company has arrived." 

The door which I had shut in such haste was 
thrown open, and the company walked in by 
twos and threes, and then seated themselves 
round the room, the principal ladies occupying 
the rocking-chairs. Soon followed the music ; 
the musicians three in number playing some 
selected piece, now entered, and they were 
listened to with marked silence to the end. 

I could not help contrasting this politeness 
with the rude inattention which I have seen 
displayed in circles of far higher pretension 
during the execution of instrumental music by 
some amateur, or even professional performer. 
In both cases the music seems to be regarded 
solely as an aid to conversation, and the per- 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 297 

former receives the tribute of silence only when 
the instrument ceases to vibrate. 

The young men moved among the ladies with 
well-bred ease, and when the Lanza was called 
every one stood up. The Lanza, I was told, is 
an old national dance, and it always stands first 
on the programme. The gentlemen select their 
partners, and those who do not join reseat them- 
selves. In the old times referred to, the cav- 
aliers carried short lances, and crossing these 
in some turns of the dance, the ladies passed 
beneath them. 

The air of the dance is of itself very mon- 
otonous, the art of playing it consisting in strict 
emphasis on some few notes. The figure is not 
unlike the last the fifth in the set of our 
" Lancer Quadrilles." There is a good deal of 
advancing and retiring in ring, and an in-and- 
out chain, in the mazes of which each one pur- 
posely loses his partner. A movement, which I 
do not pretend to describe, brings her back 
again, and the whole is wound up with the 
graceful waltz. 

Yes ; as it is danced by this people, it is 



298 A LADY'S RIDE 

graceful and even dignified. Strict attention 
is given to the execution of the step, and the 
time is often marked on the part of the gentle- 
man by a sharp quick stamp on the floor. The 
figures of both waltzers undulate with the 
motion of the feet; indeed, the seriousness 
with which all is gone through, indicates that 
in the mysteries of the dance at least the 
Hondureians agree tKat what is worth doing at 
all is worth doing well. 

The gentlemen dance quite as persistently as 
the ladies, and their manner in soliciting a 
partner is highly respectful always. 

Between the dances, at intervals, refreshments 
were handed about ; and these were upon a 
most limited scale, the whole consisting, gener- 
ally, of a small glass of liqueur, a larger one of 
water, and a few little fancy cakes. Outside, 
at the table in the patio, some of the gentlemen 
could be descried indulging liberally in bottled 
beer and other liquids. This expenditure, and 
the hire of the salon, was Chicaramos's harvest. 
Such a thing as a ball-supper had never been 
heard of in the whole of the Honduras. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 299 

Cigars and cigarillos really seemed to be the 
bread of life here, to judge by the numbers 
which were smoked by both sexes in that en- 
tertainment. During the interval allowed to 
the musicians they smoked too, and long be- 
fore the ball was over the floor had become 
quite disgusting from the expectoration ; and 
the smell of tobacco which pervaded the salon 
from end to end was enough to poison a whole 
province. 

I remained no longer, and withdrew unper- 
ceived to my den. The lightning was playing 
in the distance, but it was of the harmless 
summer kind, and so I watched it between 
my half-opened shutters without fear, indeed 
with somewhat of interest. The contrast be- 
tween the solemn night, with its flashing zig- 
zag lightning, which resembled an array of 
scimitars, withheld only by the Great Captain's 
hand from leaping down and scattering de- 
struction on the earth, and the dance and 
glare, and paltry talk close by, was sufficiently 
striking. A few moments later, and Eduardo 
stood beneath the window. 



300 A LADY'S RIDE 

"That drunken man was the doctor," said 
I, in a tone which might be taken either as 
assertative or interrogative. 

" Yes, Senora ; he came into the other house. 
Hijo mayor did his best to persuade him to 
retire; but it was of no use. I came in be- 
hind him, and not knowing who it was, I 
took him by the shoulders and put him into 
the street." 

" He must have come round afterwards to 
the front door, where I was sitting," I said. 

" That was it, Senora ; I hear that he is 
afraid to see you, and keeps out of the way. 
He must have returned to enter the house, 
but he did not expect to meet with you." 

" How do you know, Eduardo ? " 

" Chicaramos hears plenty of remarks from 
the people who come into the store, Senora ; 
and so much news gets into the billiard-room." 

" Well, when you have a spare moment, will 
you go to Dr Otto, and ask him to call upon 
me as soon as it may be convenient, to-morrow? 
Be sure and ask Senora Eamos's leave before 
you go." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 301 

" Certainly, Senora ; good night." 
The lad went his way, and I remained at 
the open shutter watching the lightning and 
thinking. This, then, was no scandal, as to 
the man's personal habits : under any circum- 
stances, it would be neither safe nor proper to 
hold any appointment under such a person ; 
and it was evident that very little could be 
done with the Justice of the Peace, or the 
Governor of Santa Barbara either. The latter, 
I knew, had promised to come to San Pedro 
Sula to inspect matters generally, and to es- 
tablish a public school, eight times in so many 
months, and had failed to put in an appearance 
up to the present time. The alcalde was very 
much my friend ; but it had been hinted to me, 
more than once, that this functionary was only 
anxious to keep me in the place because I was 
an Englishwoman, with whom he, being partly 
a Scotchman, found it pleasant to converse. 
Be this as it may, one thing was certain, Don 
Juan Jack, with all his goodwill, could not 
command either the Governor of Santa Barbara 
or the public funds of San Pedro Sula. 



302 A LADY'S HIDE 

My best plan, therefore, was to leave as soon 
as possible ; for though Chicaramos behaved 
well in the main, yet her menage was so 
wretched that semi-starvation was what I was 
paying for at the rate of four shillings a-day. 
I was determined to consult Dr Otto, and 
then act as he should advise. 

The doctor came early in the morning. 
Nothing could of course be said until the 
gentleman had gone through his usual objur- 
gatory language against the Spaniards, the 
natives, the Governor, Don Juan Jack, and 
the inhabitants generally and severally ; one 
was a rascal ; the Justice of the Peace was a 
dawdle ; the Governor never kept his word ; 
and Don Pedro Sturm was a fool. Chica- 
ramos had the brains of the whole lot. 

"Now, Dr Otto, if any one else had de- 
claimed against any one of these persons in the 
way you have done, you would be the very 
first to defend him. I do not like to hear a 
word against Don Pedro Sturm. He has been 
kind to me." 

" Well, all right; he is kind, certainly." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 303 

" I want your wisdom now to bear upon my 
affairs. I am certain it will not do to stay 
here ; both time and money are being wasted, 
and I hear nothing can be done about the 
public school till the Governor of Santa Bar- 
bara arrives." 

"Don't you rely on his coming;- and the 
chances are if he does come and I don't 
believe he will, for he is like all the rest 
of these dawdling, offputting, gandering 
idiots " 

"Now, doctor, no abuse. I want to know 
if you think I had better write at once to 
Mr De Brot, the consul at Puerto Cortez, and 
ask him to arrange the necessary business for 
getting money from England to take me away. 
The truth is, I feel weaker, and I think I have 
a little fever on me now, and I dread being ill 
here." 

" If you get ill you can't go ; write to 
Mr Albany Fonblanque, the consul at New 
Orleans : that will be quicker. Mr De Brot 
is at his country place just now, on one of 
the islands, so there would be delay if you 



304 A LADY'S RIDE 

consult him. Fonblanque is a thorough man 
of business, and if you write and state the 
case plainly, he will give you the best atten- 
tion. The Wanderer will sail from Puerto 
Cortez in three days, and your letter will be 
in time that is to say, if that infernal ' Ma- 
quina ' does not break down, or they forget 
the mail -bag, or devise some blunder which 
could only occur in these regions. Now, mind 
you write a short intelligible letter to Fon- 
blanque, and to the point/' 

"Trust me. I think I will ask Mr Fon- 
blanque to send it on to my lawyer in London," 
I replied. 

"Yes, that is a sensible idea. Now, never 
mind more business, but look here, Mopsey has 
come to see you." 

As he spoke, the doctor lugged out of his 
capacious pocket a huge silk pocket-handker- 
chief, which was tied at the four corners in a 
loose knot. He opened this, and forth came 
Mopsey, the little pet parrot. 

" You don't mean to say that you carry the 
bird about in this fashion ? " I asked. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 305 

" Why, yes ; you see he mopes when I go out, 
and is utterly miserable, and so I shall carry 
him when I go my rounds. They are so gentle 
and lovable are these loras." 

Certainly Mopsey was a true specimen of 
what Dr Otto said of the race. It was curious 
to see the little bird climbing up his shoulder 
and sitting on his head, and testifying her de- 
light in many caressing ways ; the doctor's fiery, 
excited-looking face being at the same time 
smoothed into a somewhat benevolent mould, 
as he rendered up his finger as a perch for 
his pet and addressed her as " Du." 

We chatted a little while, and I could not help 
wishing that this gentleman, so brilliant and 
agreeable, could bestow a little of the goodwill 
which he testified towards the animal creation 
upon the human portion of it also. Some bitter 
wrong, or maybe, a long course of being mis- 
understood, (and what more hardening to the 
spirit than this ?) must have turned a naturally 
good disposition into gall ; and it was only by 
an occasional flash of sympathy, expressed as 
if he were ashamed of it, that I discovered 

u 



306 A LADY'S BIDE 

that Dr Otto possessed a vein of human 
feeling. 

One thing I had resolved upon, and that was, 
that some final understanding must be come 
to with Dr Pope, and that if I had an inter- 
view with him, it should take place in the 
presence of witnesses. I therefore wrote to Dr 
Sturm, in whose house he was staying, and also 
to the lawyer of San Pedro Sula, stating my 
intention of applying for my travelling expenses, 
and asking for a legal opinion upon the matter. 

These two gentlemen called upon me on the 
following day, and informed me that at first 
Dr Pope expressed himself willing to see me 
in their presence, but afterwards shirked doing 
so, and had requested them to apply to me for 
a copy of his letter in which he had so specially 
engaged me to come to San Pedro Sula. 

I felt inclined to refer his reverence to his 
own copy of the letter written to me; but as 
it was important to see what he meant to do, 
I consented, and sent him a copy of his letters, 
adding that I retained duplicates of all my cor- 
respondence with him. 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 307 

This last piece of information, I was told, 
considerably surprised him, and the next day I 
received a note from the lawyer, saying that Dr 
Pope did not look upon that letter as an agree- 
ment ; but he proposed, if I would consent, 
that the matter should be referred to Mr De 
Brot, the consul at Puerto Cortez, for arbi- 
tration. I was strongly advised to accept 
these terms, the lawyer adding that Mr De 
Brot was an upright and most conscientious 
man. 

" You have had quite expense enough," said 
this gentleman when I saw him the next day, 
" and I do not wish to hamper you with law. 
The proposal came from Pope himself; it is 
no suggestion of mine, or of Don Pedro Sturm. 
I may add that if you see fit to accept this 
proposition, Dr Pope will undertake to pay 
your expenses to Puerto Cortez ; you can then 
see the consul personally." 

The dismay of this generous gentleman was 
indeed only overpowered by his disgust, when, 
on the following morning, he found that Dr 
Pope had stolen off on his mule during the 



308 A LADY'S RIDE 

night to Puerto Cortez, forgetting to leave the 
funds for my journey behind him. 

This, however, was of little consequence, as 
I could despatch my letters to the consul by 
the train, and I would prefer going to the port 
when I could be sure that I was leaving the 
country. So I wrote my letters and waited 
patiently: 

Little remains to be recorded of this weary 
stay at San Pedro Sula, and my journal at this 
period runs only that one day telleth another 
and one night certifieth another. A touch of 
fever; no news from the Governor of Santa 
Barbara about the school ; a letter of promises 
and no results from one Government official or 
another ; a pleasant chat with the alcalde, 
and this was about the sum of my life for up- 
wards of a month. 

At length came a letter from Mr Fonblanque 
announcing that money had been placed in his 
hands, and that he would send a sum by the 
Wanderer steamer, which would sail in a few 
days from New Orleans to Puerto Cortez. Tele- 
graph and steam and business-like lawyers in 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 309 

London had greatly facilitated matters, and I 
was free to depart at once. 

As the Wanderer steamer only remained at 
Puerto Cortez twenty-four hours, and I was 
anxious to get away quickly, I found I must start 
without delay. 

Dr Otto, who had gone down to the port on 
business, sent me a telegram, desiring me to 
start without an hour's delay, in order to catch 
the steamer for New Orleans. 

As the train for Puerto Cortez did not run 
for two days, I was obliged to ride ; and thus, 
from force of circumstances, I have traversed 
the province of Spanish Honduras from Ama- 
pala to Puerto Cortez on mule-back. Don Pedro 
Sturm got mules and a confidential man for me, 
and bidding adieu to Chicaramos, I set off for 
Puerto Cortez. 

Although the distance was under forty miles, 
the road was so abominably bad, and the deten- 
tions in consequence were so great, that it was 
literally impossible to reach the port before 
the Wanderer sailed. 

It was at the ranche of General Z , where 



310 A LADY'S RIDE 

I had halted for refreshment, that I was told 
this : " You cannot ride out at night," said the 
general. " Man as I am, I would not attempt 
to do so. The road is dangerous in daylight. I 
cannot allow you to pass my door; so pray, 
Senora, dismount and stay here till to-morrow. 
You can take time, and it will only be a detention 
of fourteen days before the Wanderer returns." 

Accustomed as I had been to delay and dis- 
appointment, this was a bitter trial, and I could 
not refrain a burst of tears. Everything seemed 
to go against me. The general turned away to 
call his niece ; her pleasant face acted like a 
cordial, and after a few moments I was able to 
say that I would take the advice so generously 
proffered. 

" You surely must have been late in setting 
off," said General Z - ; " under the best of 
circumstances you could only have reached Pu- 
erto Cortez an hour before the steamer sailed." 

I handed him the telegram which Dr Otto 
had despatched. 

" When did you get this ? " he inquired. 

" Late last night." 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 311 

" You ought to have had it six hours earlier 
or more. This telegram has been delayed. Some 
fault in the telegraph office, nobody knows, or 
will know, why ; but it is very provoking." 

It was indeed, but there was no use in repin- 
ing ; and as I knew that there was a respectable 

house to go to, kept by Madame B , in 

Puerto Cortez, I tried to make the best of the 
matter. My chief anxiety was about the money. 

" The purser of the Wanderer has very pro- 
bably left that in the charge of Mr De Brot for 
you," he said. " Nobody will wonder at your 
non-appearance ; they are all up to the ways of 
the country. Go in and take some refreshment, 
and then I will escort you and Anita to the 
corral. I have some fine horses to show you." 

I took leave of the general and his pretty 
niece in better spirits on the following morning, 
and as haste was not now necessary, I was 
more at liberty to admire the wild magnificent 
country which extends to within a few miles 
of the port. 

In addition, I bore with the greatest sang 
froid the total immersion of the baggage-mule 



312 A LADY'S EIDE 

in a swamp, and the delay and worry of getting 
her out again. This accident happened, fortu- 
nately, near a native village, and so assistance 
was easily obtained. Owing to the detention 
which this occasioned, it was late before we 
reached Madame's house. 

This good lady was on the look-out for us, 
and her brother helped me from the saddle 
almost before the mule had come to a standstill. 
" We are not astonished at your being late," he 
said, " but all is arranged. Mr De Brot has got 
your money, and we will make you comfortable 
here till the Wanderer returns, and my sister's 
charges will be moderate." 

How many, how very many simple kind 
people are there after all in Honduras ! 

Puerto Cortez is not much better than a sandy 
swamp, only waiting an opportunity to slip into 
the sea and be lost for ever as a human dwell- 
ing-place. Its only sight is at the shed which 
forms the terminus of the railway communi- 
cation between it and San Pedro Sula. There, 
piled up in rust and dust, are to be seen heaps 
of material imported to form the railway of 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 313 

Honduras. Bolts, tires, wheels, rails, chains, 
and various other of the material necessary to 
make a railway, are to be found piled up in pro- 
fusion in this place ; and the Hondureian points 
at it with a kind of grim delight as he tells you 
that thousands of pounds are rotting there. 

Let us hope that this waste is only temporary. 
Late letters inform me that Dr Fritz Gartner 
and Mr Shears, American citizens, have entered 
into a contract with the Government of Hon- 
duras for the navigation of the Ulua river and 
its tributaries, the Venta and the Blanco. This 
accomplished, the reconstruction of the railway 
is sure to follow. 

The menage of Madame B - was on a much 
more liberal scale than that of Chicaramos ; and 
in consequence my strength partially returned 
to me, although I suffered fearfully from the 
sand-flies, which at Puerto Cortez are minute 
demons. Mr De Brot was also kind and atten- 
tive, but, as a matter of business, Dr Pope's 
name had been scarcely mentioned. 

At length a missive, which ran as follows, 
was handed to me one hot morning : 



314 A LADY'S BIDE 

"I, John Frederic De Brot, Her Britannic 
Majesty's Consul at Puerto Cortez : 

" Whereas Miss Mary and the Kev. Dr 

W. L. Pope have consented to submit to my arbi- 
tration the question in dispute between them, 
about the unnecessary expenses accrued to the 
former in a useless voyage to this country ; and 
whereas I declared myself willing to accept the 
office of arbitrator in* this matter, I have come 
to the following decision, based on the letters 
and other documents presented to me : 

" That the Kev. Dr Pope pay to Miss Mary 

the half of the expenses she has incurred 
in her voyage to and from this country. 

" Given under my hand and seal, this tenth 
day of October 1881. 

(Signed) "J. F. DE BROT, 

British Consul." j 

" You will never get a penny from Pope, I am 
sure," said Mr De Brot, when I called to thank 
him for this document. " Still, I think it will 
be a satisfaction to you to have your own state- 
ments thus, as it were, publicly substantiated ; 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 315 

I only wish that you had insisted upon a 
lega lagreement before you started, but in the 
face of such a letter as Pope's last one to you, 
I rlo not wonder at this idea not occurring to 
you." 

"The matter at this point, Mr De Brot," I 
replied, "just resolves into this :. nothing suc- 
ceeds like success. Had this matter turned out 
fortunately, every one would have said, What 
an enterprising woman e Soltera/ is ! so sensible 
to go abroad, where there is so much more open- 
ing for employment, and all the rest of it. As 
it is, I am considerably out of pocket, and many 
of my friends, I feel sure, will be more ready 
to blame than to sympathise with me in the 
matter. However, the world on the whole is 
kind, and I shall be able to work the lost 
money back in some way ; you know ' Voy con 
Dios' is my motto." 

Mr De Brot asked if I had thought of 
putting the affair into the law - courts of 
Honduras, in the case of Dr Pope's refusing 
to pay. 

" Certainly not," I replied ; "it would be a 



316 A LADY'S RIDE 

degradation not only to myself, but also to my 
family. Your decision establishes my claim 
and my honour ; for the rest, I am content to 
let this unworthy man go his way." As I said 
this, the quaint old Italian proverb ran through 
my mind " Evil does not always come to do 
hurt." 

" I am glad to hear you say this/' replied 
the consul ; " but I boil with indignation when 
I think of this man. However, you are better 
off than many." 

" May I ask if you have seen Dr Pope since 
he received his copy of the arbitration 1 " 

" He came to my office last night, but he 
was in such a state that I refused to see him. 
Depend upon me, if I can get any money out 
of him for you, I will do so." 

"I suppose," continued Mr De Brot, his 
handsome kind face lighting up with a smile, 
" after this experience you will never believe 
more in anything or anybody \ " 

" Not quite so bad as that," I replied : " has 
not the golden cord of others' kindness run like 
a string to hold me up through all my troubles \ 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 317 

Believe me, I am not ungrateful, and I shall 
often think with pleasure of the people of 
Honduras." 

My journal further runs, 14th October 
1881:- 

"Keceived a kind note from Mrs Barlee, 
asking me to spend a few hours at Govern- 
ment House at Belize, when the Wanderer 
should touch there on her way to New 
Orleans. 

"The captain and some of the passengers 
of the ship Cyprio have just come in from 
Belize. 

"Saturday, 1 5th. A red-letter day, and 
quite a return to civilisation. Spent day on 
board the Cyprio, and played whist and the 
piano. Mrs Kindred, Mrs Brodie, Mrs Brocke- 
ley, Mr M'Cullock, and the chief officer, to- 
gether with the captain. What people could 
be kinder or nicer ? 

"Sunday, 1 6th. Called to say 'adieu' to 
good, kind Mr De Brot. 

"Monday, \ltli. Sailed by the Wanderer 
for New Orleans. On the 19th arrived at 



318 A LADY'S RIDE 

Belize, and spent a delightful afternoon with 
Mr and Mrs Barlee. Their sympathy and 
kindness I will never forget. 

"October 2&th. Arrived at New Orleans. 
Whether it is the reaction or the development 
of incipient illness, I know not, but here I must 
stay and rest. My strength is gone ; there is 
neither fight, nor struggle, nor travel in me. 
Mr Albany Fonblanque has procured me quar- 
ters in the house of the lady where he himself 
resides, and I hear Mrs Glenn is the best house- 
keeper and nurse in the world. Mr Fonblanque 
tells me that it is semi-starvation which ails 
me, and that the beautiful winter season of 
New Orleans will set me up." 

So I made up my mind to remain and make 
my home for a time in the elegant comfortable 
house of Mrs Glenn. 

A few weeks quite restored me. How could 
it be otherwise, with the surroundings I have 
described ? Who can read the works of Albany 
Fonblanque without feeling certain that in his 
society, and in that of the friends he gathered 
round him, "Soltera" found enjoyment and rest ? 



ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS. 319 

From this delightful "winter city" I have 
come home, poorer (God help me !) but wiser, 
and happy. The law of kindness has turned 
what was bitter into sweet. To this law I 
appeal, should ' ' Soltera " be fortunate enough 
to find readers of her account of her ride across 
Spanish Honduras. Vale. 



THE END. 



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