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W A I K N A; 





829 & 3S1 PEAKL 8TKEET. 


Entered, aceordicg to Act of Congress, iu the year 1356, by 

Hakper 4 Bbotbees, 
In the Clerk's Office of tha Southera District of New York. 

Hosted byGoOgle 

P E E F A E . 

Scene. — A lonely sliere. 
Enter Taneek and MOSQUITO Maw. 

Well, my dark friend, who are you ? 

" Waikna .'" A man ! 

And -what is your nation ? 

" Waikna .'" A nation of men ! 

Pretty good for you, my dark friend ! There 
was once a great nation — a few old bricks are about 
all that remains of it now — ^whose people were 
proud to caU themselves — — hut then what do 
you know about the Eomans ? 

" Him good for drink^ — him grog ?" 

Bah ! No ! 

"Den no good ! bah, too !" 

Exewnt ambo. 

Now such a dialogue took place, or might have 
taken place, on the Mosquito Shore. For all 


artistic purposes it did take place ; and, as my 
book is chiefly devoted to the Mosquito man and 
his country, it shall he called Waikna— a word 
that, in the Mo8C[uito tongue, means simply Man, 
but which is proudly claimed as the generic 
itioQ of the people of the entire coast. 




Tempted— Painting a Portrait-Tiio Schooner Pifnce Albert— CaptalD m 
Orew— Antonio— SmperatllinnB — Gathering of tlio Storm— A Scono . 

Roncador"— The Eacape— Coisl Cays— Scene with the Dead—A Might 
FeTei^Dclirium— lalani Scenea— Turtles— A cruel Practice— Bail hoi 
in Encounter— Eevolvers verms KnlveB— Departnre from "El Eonot 
'"— blBUd of Frotidence— A Soena of Eevelry- Away for the Jton- 


Approach to Blueflclda— Au Impprlsl City— New Qnartars— Mr. Hodgson 

—The MnSQUlto King—" George William Clarence] "—Grog uef s«s Goapei 

—The " Big-Drunk"-r-A Moaqnilo Funeral— aingujar Practlcea— SunereU- 

tlons— An Ul-fMed Colony-Sad EefleoUons 

Hama Indians— Depsrtnro from Blneflelde— Canoe Voyage- Slrango Com- 
punlonBhip— The " HsuloTer"— Onr first EnCBmpment— Epicurean Epl- 
eoae— TTight under the Tmpica— Life on the lagoons— Pearl Cay Lagoon 
—Climbing after Cocoa-Suta— A aolitary Graye- Mangroyes— eoldior 

Sambo Settlement—" A King-Paper"— Extraordinary Kcception— Captain 
Drummer — Khi^s House— Vanilla Plant — Phllanthiopy— A Dance — 
"Spoiled Ilead"— Ehe-Ught Fishing— N^ht Scene 

Vliitto thsTniile Osye— Spearing Turtle- Jnmphig Tmtle—Betnm to the 
Lagoon— 03 again— Natiye Indigo— Another ffou/ower— Tropioal Tor- 
ments— Braying the Bar— Great Elyer— Temporal Camp— Conthmoua 
Gain— Dolefnl Dnmpa— Freaks of the Flood— Kain, Bain 1— Oraw-Fiah— 
" El Moro"— The Mauzaniiia— GliavaB— The Eelease , , , , 1 




On the Blrer— Bttong Cnrrents— An Indisn Vlllige— A Woolwa Welcome 
—Ceremonious KocepUon— EelaHoDo of the Indians— Their Eabit!— A 
Tabooed BaUbllslinicnt— Prctjectcd Sport— HimtiDe tlie MBnltna — HabiM 
of the Animftl— The Attack— Great Esoitement— Succeeafnl Qqjimre— Di- 


Dopntture— The Planlaio-Tiee— Eiablre— ifoctuinal Noises— ■' Slitring up 
the Animals"- At Sea Again— Mollusca of the Caribbean— "Walpasiia— The 
MoonHt Ocean— Fi-inia-pulkaElTei^Vlnes and Vetdure—SaTannahs— Vil- 
lage of QuaDiwatla— Inhospilable Beoeptiou— A Eetreat— Fatal Bneonn- 
tei^A Trial o( Cunning— Tropical Thnnder-Stoi™- A Second Encounter 
— Tha right, and the Triumph—Flisht— Asylnm in the For eat— The Bi- 


'J^plI Camp— A Piotnresqne Kotreat— "Wild Life— Pslm Wine— Queen of the 
Forest— Fine Bidgea— Parrots and Paroqnets—AFright— "Only a Dante" 
-Trapping the Tapir— Successful Eeault— Narrow Escape— "An Army 
irtth Banners" — Honey-beei-OomniunJoE with Natnia— Onoa mote on 


goona— Aqufltlo Birds— ailk-Cotton Tree— Water Plant— Nigbt TiaTeling 
— Tongla lagoon- Fishing— A Disagreeable Discovery- The Chase— Proa- 
pact of a Fighi^^uccessrul Device— Diamond out Diamond— Safely olt— 
WaTa lagoon- Attack of raver— PrimMve PhjBlo— Poisonous Keptiles— 
My Poyer Boy Bitten- The Core 1' 


Leave I'ever Camp— Tonias Indians— Formal Eeceptlon— Singular Prae- 
tloos— Toivka Marriage- Eitraordinaij Ceromaniis- Prcsenls ProplUa- 
tory— ShoaMcring the Kesponsiblllty— MaiTlaBe Festival- How to get 
Dmnt:— The End of it— Wild Animals— Indian EabbllB— The CnrKisow- 
Chachalaca—SibBonite— Elver Turtle— Savory OooHng . . 2i 


Duckwatta Lagoon— Aboriginal Eell<a— Sandy Hay— Mosquito Fashions- 
Sambos of Sanday Bay— Qeneral Peter Slam— An English Captain— Bra- 
lalilj— Interference- A Drunken Debanch— Mishia Drink— Dances and 
Songs— A Snkla Woman— Opportune Warning— Hurried Departure— 
PonerorUieSukias— MakingMlshla—ADisgDatiiigOperation . .2 



itpa Gracias— Its lulialjilaDts— Fine SaTannnh— 3am;bo Pmetiees— Motel 
Mode of HunUng— Island of Ssn Ho— Mangrove Oyeters— Wal of the 8u- 
tia— A Myslsrious Scoross— Snparatltloiia of Uie Saniboa— Wulasha and 
Lewlre— Charaotev and Habits of [he Mosqnitos— DrBOkenneas— Decroaso 
— FesUval o( the Denil—Naw Plans— EiTor 'Wfinks ot SegoTia— Ignan^— 


«y— End of tlie Savannalis— Infiian Vniage~Tlio 
Ldvontnre— Sanctuaiy of the BnliiB— Hosom-Bal, 
■a— Mjataries— Enlns among the Mountains— Seii- 


L"p the Cape Eiter— Impoaiog Sceneiy-Sform among the Monntains— In- 
flaonoe of the Moon'e Bays— Eivei- Ti.-olas— Mountain Streams— Plotu- 
ifsque Embarcadem— A Sweet Encampment— An Accident— laW up— 
Send oft the Foyer Boj- for Help— SBOeay EecoTery— Monkeys— An En- 
connter with tha Piga— To Eat or to be Eaten, a wide Differonce— Ketmn 
of the Poyei— Atandoninent of the Canoe—" El More" again— Ascent of 
the Mountains— Another Temporal— Kefiectlons onFijd .21 


The Crest of the Mountains— A Desert Waste— Descent-Elo Gnallambie— 
Sold Waahlng- Tha Poyer -Village— Habits of the Poyera— Plantations- 
Poisoning Ksli- Primitive Arts— Indian Naiads— Patriarohai Government 
—Departure- Klo Amaowass— Rio Fatncs—" Gateway of Hell"— Ap- 
proach to the Sea— Brus Lngoon ffi 


Arrival at Bnis— A Festival- Hospitality- Loss of the Poyer Bor-Cfvtltza- 
tion of the Caribs—Coeoa-Groves— Sanitary Preaiuilona- -Wild-rig or 
Banyan-Tree- Habits ot the Catibs— Industjy— The Mahoganj-Cnttcrs— 
Calabratlon of their Ectam— A Carih Danflj'— Polygamy^ingular Prac- 
tieffl— A Carih Crow— Departure- Tha Bay of Hondnraa— The Bottom of 
the Sea— Island of Guanaja— Night-Sombre Soliloqniea- Antonio's Secret 
—The Eoushig of the Indians— Deep-Md Sohemea of Eovonge— The Voice 


B— NoiTSi 

C— MosQnn 

Hosted byGoOgle 


8. THE AETIST, . . 






a. A8AILI A 8AIL1 



















93. YILLAQB OF QUAMWATLA..,....,.,, 

























-■ p AT B 





^^\l\ -I, 

MONTH m Jamaica ih enough 
fui anj sinnei's punishment, 
let alone that of a tolerably 
good Chnstian At any i ate, 
a week hid given me a surfeit of King&ton, with 
its amietei, tropical Jews, and variegated inhabit- 
ant b, one-half black, one-third brown, and the 
balance a-i fan as could be e\pected, consideiiu^ 
the abominable, unintelligible Congo-English which 
they spoke. Besides, the cholera which seems to 



be domesticated in Kingston, and to have be- 
come one of its local institutions, liad begun to 
spread from the stews, and to invade the more 
civilized parts of the town. All the inhabitants, 
therefore, whom the emancipation had left rich 
enough to do so, were flying to the mountauis, 
with the pestilence following, hke a sleuth-hound, 
at their heels. Kingston was palpably no place 
for a stranger, and that stranger a poor-devil artist. 

The cholera had cheated me of a customer. I 
was moody, and therefore swung myself in a 
hammock, ht a cigar, and held a grand incLuisition 
on myself, as the poets are wont to do on their 
souls. It ran after this wise, with a very little noise 
hut much smoke: — 

"Lite ia pleasant at twenty-six. Do you hke 
life ?" 


" Then you can't like the cholera ?" 

No t— with a hurried pull at the cigar, 

" But you'll have it here '." 

Then I '11 he off! 

" Where ?" 

Any where ! 

"G-ood, but the exchecLuer, my hoy, how about 
that ? You can't get away without money." 

There was a long pause, a great cloud of smoke, 
and much swinging in the hammock, and a final 
echo — 

Yea, I must have money ! 
I I got up, spasmodically opened my portman- 


THE abtist'b soliloquy. 15 

teau, dived deep amongst collars, pencils and foul 
linen, took out my piu^e, turned its contents on the 
table, and "began to count. 

Forty-three and a half, forty-four, forty-five, and 
this handful of small silver and copper. Call it 
fifty in all, 

" Only fifty dollars !" ejaculated my mental in- 

Only fifty ! responded I. 

"'T won't do !" 

I ht another cigar. It was clear enough, it 
would n't do ; and I got into the hammoct again. 
Commend me to a hammock, (a fita hammock, 
none of your canvas ahominations,) and a cigar, as 
valuable aids to meditation and eelf-commnnion of 
all kinds. There was a long silence, but the in- 
CLuisitibn went on, until the cigar was finished. 
Finally " I '11 do it !" I exclaimed, in the voice of a 
man determined on some great deed, not agree- 
able but necessary, and I tossed the cigar stump 
out of the window. But what I determined to do, 
may seem no great thing after all ; it was only to 
paint the portrait of my landlady. 

" Yes, 1 11 paint the old wench 1" 

Now, I am an artist, not an author, and have 
got the cart before the horse, inasmuch as my 
narrative does not preserve the " harmonies," as 
every well-considered composition should do. It 
has .iust occurred to me that I should first have 



told who I am, and how I came to he in Jamaica, 
and especially in that filthy place, Kingston. It 
is n't a long story, and if it is not too late, I will 
tell it now. 

As all the world knows, there are people who sell 
rancid whale oil, and deal in soap, and affect a 
great contempt for artiats. They look down grand- 
ly on the quiet, pale men who paint their hroad red 
faces on canvas, and seem to think that the few 
greasy dollars which they grudgingly pay for theii' 
flaming immortahty, should he received with meek 
confusion and Hushing thanke, as a rare exhihition 
of condescension and patronag'e. I never liked such 
patronage, and therefore would' paint no red faces. 
Bat there is a great difference between red, bulbous 
faces, and rosy faces. There was that sweet girl at 

the boarding-school in L Place, the Baltimore 

girl, with the dark eyes and tresses of the South, 
and the fair cheek and elastic step of the North ! 
Of course, I painted her portrait, a dozen times at 
least, I should say. I could paint it now ; and I 
fear it is more than painted on my heart, or it 
would n't rise smiling here, to distract my thoughts, 
make me sigh, and stop my story. 

An artist who would n't paint portraits and had 
a soul above patronage — what was there for him to 
do in. Kew York ? Two compositions a year in the 
Art Union, got in through Mr. Sly, the manager, 
and a friend of mine, were not an adequate support 
for the most moderate man. I '11 paint grand his- 
torical paintings, thought I one day, and atraight- 



way purchased a large canvas. I had selected my 
aubjectj Balboa, the discoverer of the Paciiic, bear- 
ing aloft the flag of Spain, rushing breast-deep in 
ita waves, and claiming its boundless shores and 
nixmberlesB islands for the crown of Castile and 
Leon. I had begun to sketch in the plumed In- 
dians, gazing in mute surprise upon this startling 
scene, when it occurred to me — ^for I have patches 
of common sense scattered amongst the flowery 
fields of my fancy — to count over the amount of 
my patrimonial portion. Grand historical paintings 
req^uire years of study and labor, and I found I had 
but two hundred doUars, owed for a month's lodg- 
ing, and had an unsettled tailor's account. It was 
clear that historical painting was a luxury, for the 
present at least, beyond my reach. It was then 

some evil spirit, (I strongly suspect it was the ,) 

taldng the cue doubtless from my projected picture, 

" Tiy landscape, my hoy ; you have a rare hand 
for landscapes — good flaming landscapes, full of 
yellow and vermilhon, you know t" 

Although there was no one in the room, I can 
swear to a distinct slap on the back, after the em- 
phatic " you know" of the tempter. It was a true 
diabolical suggestion, the yeUow and vermillion, 
but not so sulphurous as what followed : — 

" Go to the tropics boy, the glorious tropics, 
■where the sun is supreme, and never shares his do- 
minion with blue-nosed, leaden-colored, rheumy- 
eyed frost-gods ; go there, and catch the matchless 



tints of the skies, the lining emerald of the forests, 
and the light-giving azure of the ■waters ; go where 
the birds are rainbow-hued, and the very fish are 
golden ; where — " 

But I had heard enough ; I wae blinded by the 
dazzhng panorama which Fancy swept past my 
vision, and cried, with enthusiastic energy, 
" Hold ; I '11 go to the glorious tropics !" 
And I went — more's the pity — in a little dirty 
schooner, full of port and flour ; and that is the 
way I came to be in Jamaica, dear reader, if you 
want to know. I had been there a month or more, 
and had wandered all over the really magnificent 
interior, and filled my portfolio with sbetchee. But 
that did not satisfy me ; there were other tropical 
lands, where Nature had grander aspects, where 
there were broad lakes and liigh and snow-crowned 
volcanoes, which waved their plumes of smoke in 
mid-heaven, defiantly, in the very face of the sun ; 
lands through whose ever-leaved forests Cortez, 
Balboa, and Alvarado, and Cordova had led their 
mailed followers, and in whose depths frowned the 
strange gods of aboriginal superstition, beside the 
deserted altars and unmarked graves of a departed 
and mysterious people, Jamaica was beautiful cer- 
tainly, but I longed for what the transeendentalists 
call the sublimely-beautiful, or, in plain English, 
the combined sublime and beautiful — for, in short, 
an equatorial Switzerland. And, although Jamaica 
was fine in scenery, its dilapidated plantations, and 
iilthy, lazy negroes, already more than half relapsed 



into native and congenial barbarism, were repug- 
nant to my Ameriean notions and tastes. They 
grinned around me, those negroes, when I ato, and 
scratched their heads over my paper when I drew. 
They followed me every where, hke black jackals, 
and jabbered their incomprehensive lingo in my 
ears until they deafened me. And then their odor 
under tropical heats t Faugh ! " 'Twas rank, and 
smelt to heaven !" 

I had, therefore, come down from the interior to 
set up my easel in Kingston, paint a few views, and 
thereby raise the wind for a trip to the mainland. 
Of course, I did not fly from painting red-faced 
portraits in the United States, to paint ebony ones 
in Jamaica. My scruples, however, did not apply 
to customers. There was a " hrown man," which is 
genteel Jamaican for mulatto, who was an Assem- 
bly-man, or something of the Mnd, and wanted a 
view of the edifice at Spanish-town, whejrein he 
legislated for the " emancipated island." I had 
agreed to paint it for the liberal compensation of 
twenty pounds, But one hot, murky morning, my 
brown lawgiver took the cholera, and before noon 
was not only dead, but buried— and my picture 
only half-finished ! Mem. As people have a prac- 
tice of dying, always get your pay beforehand. 

Voltaire, I believe, has said, that if a toad were 
asked his ideal of beauty, he would, most likely, 
describe himself, and dwell complacently on a cold, 
clammy, yellow belly, a brown, warty, corrugated 
back, and become ecstatic on the subject of goggle 



eyes. And, I verily believe, tliat if my landlady 
had been asked the same cLuestion, she would have 
coquettishly patted up her ■woolly curls over each 
oleaginous cheek, and glanced toward the mirror, by 
way of reply. Black, glossy black, s.nd/at, marvel- 
ously fat, yet she was possessed, even she, of her 
full share of feminine vanity. There was no mis- 
taking, from the first day of my arrival, that her 
head was running on a portrait of herself. She was 
fond of money and penurious, and careful, there- 
fore, not to venture upon a proposition until she 
had got some kind of a clew as to what her immor- 
tality would be likely to cost. I had, however, 
diplomatically evaded all of her approaches, up to 
the unfortunate day when my Assembly-man died. 
She brought me the news herself, and saw that it 
annoyed rather than shocked me, and that I stop- 
ped painting with the air of a man abandoning a 
bad job. She evidently thought the time favorable 
for a coup de ma/in ; there was a gleam of cunning 
in her little, round, half-buried eyes, and the very 
ebony of her cheek lightened palpably, as she said : 

" So your picture wiE be no good for nothing ?" 


" You have not got the — — ?" 

And she significantly rubbed the fore-finger of 
one hand in the palm of the other. 

No ! 

There was a pause, and then she resumed : 

" I want a picture !" 




" A picture, you know !" 

And now sKe complacently stroked down her troad 
face, and exhibited a wide, vermilion chaem, with 
a formidable phalanx of ivories, hy way of a sug- 
gestive smile. 

No, I never paint portraits ! 

" Not for ten pounds ?" 

No ; nor for a hundred, — go I 

And my landlady rolled herself out of the room 
with a motion which, had she weighed less than 
two hundred, might have passed for a toss. 

It was oa the evening of this day, and after this 
conversation, one half of the Assembly-house at 
Spanish-town staring redly from the canvas in the 
comer, that I lay in my hammock and soliloquized 
aa aforesaid. It wae thus and then, that I resolved 
to paint my landlady. 

And having now, by means of this long paren- 
thesis, restored the harmonies of my story, and got 
my horse and cart in correct relative positions, I am 
ready to go ahead. 

I not only resolved to paint my landlady, but I 
did it, right over the half-finished Assembly-house, 
It was the first, and, by the blessing of Heaven, so 
long as there are good potatoes to be dug at the 
rate of six cents the bushel, it shall he my last por- 
trait. I can not help laughing, even now, at that 
fat, glistening face, looking for all the world as if 
it had been newly varnished, surmoiinted by a 



gaudy red scarf, wound round the head in the-form 
of a peaked turbau ; and two fafc arms, rolling 
down like elephants' trunks against a white rohe 
for a background, which concealed a hnst that 
pa^seth description. That portrait—" long may it 
wave !" as the man said, at the Kossuth dinner, 
when he toasted " The day we celehrate !" 

My landlady was satisiied, and generous withal, 
for she not only paid me the ten pounds, and gave 
me my two weeks board and lodging in the bargain, 
but introduced me to a colored gentleman, a friend 
of hers, who sailed a little schooner twice a year to 
the Mosquito Shore, on the coast of Central Amer- 
ica, where he traded off refuse rum and gaudy cot- 
tons for turtle-shells and saisaparilla. There was a 
steamer from Kingston, once a month, to Oartha- 
gena, Chagres, San Juan, Belize, and "along 



j;liore ;" but, for obvious reasons, I could not go 
in a steamer. 80 I struck up a bargain with the 
fragrant skipper, by the terms of which he bound 
Iiimself to lanii me, hag and baggage, at Bluefields, 
the seat of Mosquito royalty, for the sum of three 
pounds, "currency," 

Why Captain Ponto (for eo I shall caU my land- 
lady's friend, the colored skipper) named his little 
schooner the " Prince Albert," I can not imagine, 
unless he thought thereby to do honor to the Queen- 
Consort ; for the aforesaid schooner had evidently 
got old, and been condemned, long before that lucky 
Dutchman woke the echoes of Grotha with his baby 
cries. The " Prince Albert" was of about seventy 
tons burden, built something on the model of the 
"Jung-frau," the firat vessel of the Netherlands 
that rolled itself iato New York bay, like some un- 
wieldy porpoise, after a rapid passage of about six 
months from the Hague. The wise men of the 
Historical Society have satisfactorily shown, after 
long and ditigeiit research, that the "Jung-frau" 
measured sixty feet keel, sixty feet beam, and 
sixty feet hold, and was modeled after one of 
Eubens' Venuses, The dimensions of the " Prince 
Albert" were every way the same, only twenty feet 
less. The sails were patched and the cordage 
spUced, and she did not leak so badly as to recLuire 
more than six hours' steady pumping out of the 
twenty-four. The crew was composed of Captain 
Ponto, Thomas, his mate, one seaman, and an In- 



dian boy from. Yucatan, whose business it was to 
cook and do the pumping. As may be supposed, 
the Indian boy did not mst for want of occupa- 

It was a clear morning, toward the close of De- 
cember, that Captain Ponto's wife, a white woman, 
with a hopeful family of six children, the three eld- 
est with shirts, and the three youngest without, 
came down to the schooner to see us off. I watched 
the parting over the after-bulwarks, and observed 
the tears roll down Mrs. Ponto's cheeks as she bade 
her sable spouse good-hy, I wondered if she really 
could have any attachment for her husband, and if 
custom and association had utterly worn away the 
natural and instinctive repugnance which exists be- 
tween the superior and inferior races of mankind ? 
I thought of the condition of Jamaica itself, and 
mentally inquired if it were not due to a grand, 
practical misconception of the laws of Nature, and 
the inevitable result of their reversal ? It can not 
be denied that where the superior and inferior races 
are brought in contact, and amalgamate, there we 
uniformly find a hybrid stock springing up, with 
most, if not all of the vices, and few, if any of the 
virtues of the originals. And it will hardly be ques- 
tioned, by those experimentally acquainted with the 
subject, that the manifest lack of public morality and 
private virtue, in the Spanish- American States, has 
followed from the fatal facility with which the Span- 
ish colonists have intermixed with the negroes and 
Indians, The rigid and inexorable exclusion, in re-, 



spect to the inferior races, of tlie dominant blood 
of North America, flowing through different chan- 
nels perhaps, yet from the same great Teutonic 
source, is one grand secret of its vitaUty, and the 
best safeguard of its permanent ascendency. 

Mrs. Ponto wept ; and as we slowly worked our 
way outside of Port Eoyal, I could see her waving 
her apron, for she was innocent of a more classical 
signal, in fond adieus. We finally got out from 
under the lee of the land, and caught in our sails 
the full trade-wind, blowing steadily in tlie de- 
sired direction. I sat long on deck, watching the 
receding island sinking slowly in the bright sea, 
until Captain Ponto signified to me, in the patois 
of Jamaica, which the deluded people flatter them- 
selves is English, that dinner was ready, and led 
the way into what he called the cabin. This cabin 
was a little den, seven feet by nine at the utmost, 
low, dark and dirty, with no light or air except 
what entered through the narrow hatchway, and, 
consequently, hot as an oven. Two lockers, one on 
each side, answered for seats by day, and, covered 
with suspicious mattresses, for beds by night. The 
cabin was sacred to Captain Ponto and myself, the 
mate having been displaced to make room for the 
gentleman who had. paid three pounds for his pas- 
sage ! I question if the " Prince Albert " had ever 
before been honored with a passenger ; certainly not 
since she had come into the hands of Captain Ponto, 
who therefore put his best foot forward, with a full 
consciousness of the importance of the incident. 


Ponto had "been a slave once, and was consecLuently 
imperious and tyrannical now, toward all people in 
a subordinate relation to himself. Yet, as he had 
evidently been owned by a man of consequence, he 
had not entirely lost hia early deference for the 
white man, and sometimes forgot Ponto the cap- 
tain in Ponto the chattel. It was in the latter 
character only, that he was perfectly natural ; 
and, although I derived no little amusement from 
his attempts to enact a loftier part, I shall not 
trouble the reader with an episode on Captain 
Ponto. He was a very worthy darkey, with a 
strong aversion to water, both exteriorly and in- 
ternally. The mate, and the man who constituted 
the crew, were ordinary negroes of no possible ac- 

But Antonio, the Indian boy, who cooked and 
pumped, and then pumped and cooked — I fear ho 
never slept, for when there was not a " sizzling " in 
the little black caboose, there was sure to be a 
screeching of the rickety pump — Antonio attracted 
my interest from the iiist ; and it was i 
when I found that he spoke a little ] 
perfect in Spanish, and withal could read in both 
languages. There was something mysterious in 
finding him among these uncouth negroes, with 
his relatively fair skin, intelligent eyes, and long, 
well-ordered, black hair. He was like a lithe 
panther among lumbering bears ; and he did 
his work in a way which accorded with his In- 
dian character, without murmm\ and with a kind 



of silent doggedness, that implied but little re- 
spect for his present masters. Ho eeldom replied 
to their orders in words, and then only in mono- 
syllables. I asked Captain Ponto about him, but 
he knew nothing, except that he was from Yucatan, 
and had presented himself on board only the day 
previously, and offered to work his passage to the 
main land. And Captain Ponto indistinctly inti- 
mated that he had taken the boy solely on my ac- 
count, which, of cotirse, led to the inference on my 
part, that the captain ordinarily did his own cook- 
ing. He also ventured a patronizing remark about 
the Indians generally, to the effect that they made 
very good servants, " if they yere kept under ;" 
which, coining from an es-slave, I thought rather 

All this only served to interest me the more in 
Antonio ; and, although- I succeeded in engaging 
him in ordinary conversation, yet I utterly failed in 
drawing him out, as the saying is, in respect to his 
past history, or future purposes: Whenever I ap- 
proached these subjects he became silent and im- 
passible, and bis eyes assumed an expression of cold 
inquiry, not unmingled with latent suspicion, which 
half inclined me to beheve that he was a fugitive 
from justice. Yet he did not look the felon or 
knave ; and when the personal incLuiries dropped, 
his face resumed its usual pleasant although sad 
expression, and I became ashamed that I had sus- 
pected him. There was certainly something sin- 
gular about Antonio ; but, as I could imagine no 



very profound mystery attaching to a cook, on 
hoard of the " Prince Albert," after the first day, I 
made no attempts to penetrate his secrets, but 
sought rather to attach him to me, as a prospect- 
ively useful companion in the country to which I 
was bound Si I relieved him occasionally at the 
pump although he jrot feted aga net t and 

finally, to the horror of Captain Poiito, and the 
palpable high disdain of the mate, I became so in- 
timate with him as to show him my portfolio of 
drawings. His admiration, I found to my surprise, 
was always judiciously bestowed, and his apprecia- 
tion of outline and coloring showed that he had 
the spirit of an artist. Several times, iu glancing 



over the drawingSj he stopped short, looked up, his 
face full of intelligeiice, as if about to speak, and I 
paused to listen. Each time, howeverj the smile 
vanished, the flexible muscles ceased their play and 
became rigid, and a cold, fllmy mist settled over the 
clear eyes which had looked into mine. "Whatevet 
was Antonio's secret, great or small, it was evi- 
dently one that he half-wished, half-feared to re- 
veaL I was puzzled to think that there could 
exist any relation between it and my paintings ; 
but Antonio was only a cook, and so I dismissed all 
reflection on the subject. 

On our third day out, the weather, wliicb up to 
that time had been clear and beautiful, began to 
change, and night settled black and threatening 
around us. The wind had increased, but it was 
loaded with sultry vapors— the hot breath of the 
storm which was pressing on our track. Captain 
Ponto was not a scientific sailor, and kept no other 
than what is called "dead reckoning." He had 
made, the voyage very often, and was confidant of 
hie course. "Upon that point, therefore, I gave 
myself no uneasiness ; not so much from faith in 
Captain Ponto, as because there was nothing in the 
world to be done, except to follow his opinion, 
Kevertheless the captain was serious, and eousulted 
an antediluvian chart which he kept in his cabin. 
It was a Rembrandtish picture, that negro tracing 
his forefinger slowly over the chart, by the light of 
a candle, which only half revealed the little cabin, 
while it brought out his grizzly head and anxious 



face in strong relief against tlie darkness. What 
Captain Poiito learned from all this study is more 
than I can tell ; but when he came on deck, he 
ordered a reef to be made in the sails, and a 
variation of several points in our couree, for the 
wind not only freshened, but veered to the north- 
east. The hot blasts or puffs of air becajne more 
and more frequent, and occasional sheets of light- 
ning gleamed along the horizon. The sea, too, 
was full of phosphorescent light ; fiery monsters 
seemed to leap around us and wreath and twine 
their livid volmnes in our wake. I could hear the 
hiss of their forked tongues where the waters closed 
under our stem. I stood, leaning over the bul- 
warks, gazing on the gleaming waves, and thinking 
of home — for the voyager on the great deep always 
thinks of home, when darkness envelops him, and 
the storm threatens — when Antonio silently ap- 
proached, so silently that I did not hear him, 
and took his place at my side. I was somewhat 
startled, therefore, when, changing my position a 
httle, I saw, by the dim, reflected light of the sea, 
his eyes fixed earnestly on mine. " Ah, Antonio," I 
said, " is that you ?" and I placed my hand famil- 
iarly on his shoulder. He shrank beneath it, as if it 
had been fire. " What 's the matter ?" I exclaimed, 
reproachfully ; " have I hurt you ?" 

" Pardon me 1" he ejaculated, rather than spoke, 
in a voice deep and tremulous ; " I know now that 
it is not you who will die to-night !" 

" What do you mean ? You are not afraid, Anto- 



nio ? Who thinks of dying ?" I rephed, in a light 

" No 1 it is not myself. I was afraid it might be 
you ; for, sir," and he laid a hand cold and clammy 
as that of a corpse on mine ; " for, sir, there is 
death on hoard this vessel \" 

This was said in a voice so awed and earnest that 
I was impressed deeply, in spite of myself, and for 
some moments made no reply, " You talk wildly, 
Antonio," 1 finally said ; "we are going on hravely, 
and shall all be in BluefieMs together in a day or 

" All of us, never," he rephed, " never ! The Lord, 
who never lies, has told me so ]" and, pressing near 
me, he drew from his bosom something resembling 
a small, round plate of crystal, except that it 
seemed to he slightly luminous, and veined or 
clouded with green. " See, see !" he exclaimed, 
rapidly, and held the object close to my eyes. I 
instinctively obeyed, and gazed intently upon it. 
As I gazed, the clouds of green seemed to concen- 
trate and assume a regular form, as the moisture of 
one's breath passes away from a mirror, until I 
distinctly saw, in the center, the miniature of a 
human head, of composed and dignified aspect, hut 
the eyes were closed, and all the lineaments had the 
rigidity of death, 

" Do you see ?" 

"I do!" 

" It is Kucimen, the Lord who never lies I" and 
Antonio thrust his taUsman in his bosom again, 



and slowly moved away. There was no mistake in 
wliat I liad seen, and although I am not supersti- 
tious, yet the feehng that some catastrophe was 
impending gathered at my heart. It was in vain 
that I tried to smile at the Indian trick ; the earnest 
voice of the Indian hoy still sounded in my ears, 
" All of -as, never I" What reason should he have 
for attempting to practice his Indian diablerie 
on any one, least of all on me ? I rejected the 
thought, and endeavored to banish the subject from 
my mind. 

Meanwhile the wind had gathered strength, and 
Captain Ponto had taken in sail, so that we had no 
more standing than was necessary to keep the vessel 
steady before the wind. The waves now began to 
rise, the gloom deepened, the hot puffs of air 
became more and more frequent, and the broad 
lightning-sheets rose from the horizon to the very 
zenith. The thunder, too, came rolhng on, every 
peal more distinctly, and occasional heavy drops of 
rain fell with an ominous sound on the deck. The 
storm was evidently close at hand ; and I left the 
aide of the vessel, and approached the little cabin 
to procure mj poncho, for I preferred the open deck 
and the storm to the suffocation below. The hatch- 
way was nearly closed, but there was a hght within. 
I stooped to remove the slide, and in doing so 
obtained a fuU view of the interior. The spectacle 
which presented itself was so extraordinary that I 
stopped short, and looked on in mute surprise. 
The candle was standing on the locker, and kneel- 



ing beside it was tlie captain. He was stripped to 
the waistj and held in one hand what appeared to 
be the horn of some animal, in which he caught the 
blood which dripped from a large gash in the fleshj 
part of his left arm, just above the elbow, while he 
muttered rapidly some rude and strangely-sounding 
words, unlike any I had ever before heard. My 
first impression was that Antonio had tried to fulfill 
his own prediction, by attempting the life of the 
captain ; but I soon saw that he was performing 
some religious rite, a sacrifice or propitiation, such' 
as the Ohi men etm teach in Jamaica and Santo 
Domingo, and which are stealthily observed, even by 
the negroes professing Christianity and having a 
nominal connection with the church. I recognized 
in the horn the mysterious gre-gre of the Gold Coast, 
where the lowest form of fd^ish worship prevails, 
and where human blood is regarded as the most 
acceptable of sacrifices. Kespecting too rigidly all 
ceremonies and rites, which may contribute to the 
peace of mind of others, to think of disturbing them, 
I silently withdrew from the hatchway, and left the 
captain to finish his debasing devotions. In a short 
time he appeared on deck, and gave some orders in 
a calm voice, as one reassured and confident. 

I was occupied below for only a few minutes, 
yet when I got on deck again the storm was upon 
us. The waves were not high, but the water 
seemed to be caught up by the wind, and to be 
drifted along, like snow, in blinding, drenching 
sheets. I was nearly driven off my feet by its 



force, and would have been carried overboard bad I 
not become entangled in the rigging. The howling 
of the wind and the hissing of the water would have 
drowned the loudest voice, and I was so blinded by 
the spray that I could not see. Yet I could feel 
that we were driving before the hurricane with 
fearful rapidity. The very deck seemed to bend, as 
if ready to hreat, beneath our feet. I finally sufB- 
ciently recovered myself to be able, in the pauses of 
the wind, and when the lightning fell, to catch 
glimpses around me. Our sails were torn in tatters, 
the yards were gone, in fact every thing was swept 
from the deck except three dark figures, like myself, 
clinging convulsively to the ropes. On, on, hiilf- 
buried in the sea, we drifted with inconceivable 

Little did we think that we were rushing on a 
danger more terrible than the ocean. The storm had 
buffeted us for more than an hour, and it seemed as 
if it had exhausted its wrath, and had begun to 
subside, when a sound, hoarse and steady, but 
louder even than that of the wind, broke on our 
ears. It was evident that we were approaching it, 
for every instant it became more distinct and omin- 
ous. I gazed ahead into the hopeless darkness, 
when suddenly a broad sheet of hghtning revealed 
immediately before us, and not a cable's length 
distant, what, under the lurid gleam, appeared to 
be a wall of white spray, dashing literally a hun- 
dred feet in the air — a hell of waters, from which 
there was no escape. ".E? Boncador!" shrieked the 



captain, in a voice of utter despair, that even then 
thrilled hhe a knife in my heart. The fearful 
moment of death had come, and I had barely time 
to draw a full breath of preparation for the strug- 
gle, when we were hterally whelmed in the raging 
waters. I felt a shock, a sharp jerk, and the hiss 
and gurgle of the sea, a sensation of immense 
pressure, followed by a blow like that of a heavy 
fall. Again I was lifted up, and again struck 
dowuj but this time with less force. I had just 

enough consciousness left to know that I was strik- 
ing on the sand, and I made an involuntary effort 
to rise and escape from the waves. Before I could 
gain my feet I was again struck down, again and 
again, until, nearer dead than alive, I at last suc- 
ceeded in crawling to a spot where the water did 
not reach me, I strove to rise now, but could not ; 
and, as that is the last thing I remember distinctly 
of that terrible night, I suppose I must have fallen 
into a swoon. 


A, I \\ ^ ^\ 

?0W lon^ I lemamed insensible I 
tnow not, but when my conscious- 
SB letuined, whicli it did slowly 
' ~' like the hftmg of a turtain, I ftlt 
that I was severely huit , and, betore opening; my 
eyes, tried to dnye away my terrible recollections, 
as one rousing from a troubled dream tries to ban- 
ish its features from his mind. It was in vain ; 
and, with a sensation of despair, I opened my eyes ! 
The morning sun was shining with blinding brU- 
Kancy, and I was obliged to close them again. 
Soon, however, I was able to bear the blaze, and, 
painfully lifting myself on my elbow, looked around 
me. The sea was thundering with awful force, not 
on the sandy shore where I was lying, but over a 
reef two hundred yards distant, within which the 
water was calm, or only disturbed by the combing 
waves, as they broke over the outer barrier. Here 


"el bonoadob." 37 

the first and only object which attracted my atten- 
tion was our schooner, lying on her beam ends, high 
on the sands. The sea, the vessel, the blinding 
snn and glowing sand, and a bursting pain in my 
head, were too palpable evidences of my misfortune 
to be mistaken. It was no dream, but stern and 
severe reality, and for the moment I comprehended 
the truth. But, when younger, I had read of ship- 
wrecks, and listened, with the interest of childhood, 
and a feehng half of envy, to the tales of old sailors 
who had been cast away on desert ebores. And 
now, the first shock over, it was almost with a 
sensation of satisfaction, and something of exulta- 
tion, that I exclaimed to myself, "shipwrecked at 
last t" Eobinson Crusoe, and EeiUy and his com- 
panions, recurred to my mind, and my impulse was 
to leap up and commence an emulative career. 
But the attempt was a failure, and brought me 
back to stern reality, in an instant. My limbs were 
torn and scarified, and my iace swoUen and stifi". 
The utmost I could do was to sit erect. 

I now, for the first time, thougkt of my compan- 
ions, and despairingly turned my eyes to look for 
them. Close by, and nearly behind me, sat Anto- 
nio, resting his head on his hands. His clothes 
were hanging around him in shreds, his bait was 
matted with sand, and his face was black with 
dried blood. He attempted to smile, but the grim 
muscles could not obey, and he looked at me in si- 
lence. I was the first to speak : 

Are you much hurt, Antonio ? 



" The Lord of Mitnal never lies !" was hie only 
reapoiiBe ; and he pointed to the talisman on his 
swarthy breast, gleaming like polished silver in the 
sun. I remembered the scene of the previous night, 
and asked ;— 

Are they all dead ? 

He shook his head, in sign of ignorance. 

"Where are we, Antonio ? 

" This is El Roncador !" 

And so it proved. "We were on one of the nu- 
merous coral keys or cays which stud the sea of the 
Antilles, and vrhich are the terror of the mariners 
who navigate it. They are usually mere hanks of 
sand, elevated a few feet above the water, occasion- 
ahy supporting a few bushes, or a scrubby, tempest- 
twisted palm or two, and only frecLuented by the 
sea-birds for rest and incubation, and by turtles for 
laying their eggs. Around them there is always a 
reef of coral, built up from the bottom of the sea by 
those wonderful architects, the coral insects. This 
reef surrounds the cay, at a greater or less distance, 
Hke a ring, leaving between it and the island prop- 
er a belt of water, of variable depth, and of the 
loveliest blue. The reef, which is sometimes scarce- 
ly visible above the sea, effectually breaks the force 
of the waves ; and if, as it sometimes happens, it 
be interrupted so as to leave an opening for the ad- 
mission of vessels, the inner belt of water forms a 
safe harbor. Except a few of the larger ones, none 
of these cays are inhabited, nor are they ever fre- 
quented, except by the turtle fishers. 


"el roncadob." 39 

It was to the peculiar conformation of these 
islands that our safety was owing. Our little vessel 
had heen driven, or lifted by the waves, completely 
over the outer reef. The shock had torn us from 
our hold on the ropes, and we had drifted upon the 
comparatively protected sands. The vessel too, 
had been carried upon them, and the waves there 
not being sufHciently strong to break her in pieces, 
she was left high and dry when they subsided. 
There was, nevertheless, a broad break in her keel, 
caused probably by striking on the reef. 

Two of the five human beings who had been on 
board of her, the captain and his mate, were drown- 
ed. We found their bodies ; — but I am anticipat- 
ing my story. When we had recovered ourselves 
sufficiently to walk, Antonio and myself took a sur- 
vey of our condition. " El Koncador," the Snorer, 
is a small cay, three (juarters of a mile long, and at 
its widest part not more than four hundred yards 
broad,— a mere bank of white sand. At the east- 
ern end is an acre or more of scrubby bushes, and 
near them three or four low and distorted palm- 
trees. Fortunately for us, as will be seen in the 
sequel, " El Eoncador" is famous for the number 
of its turtles, and is frequented, at the turtle season, 
by turtle-fishers from Old Providence, and some- 
times from the main land. Among the palm- 
trees, to which I have referred, these fishermen had 
erected a rude hut of poles, boards, and palm- 
branches, which was literally withed and anchored 
to the trees, to keep it from being blown away by 


40 THE MoequiTO bhore. 

the high winda. It was with a heart fuU of joy 
that I saw even this mde evidence of human intelH- 
gence, and, accompanied hy Antonio, hastened to it 
as rapidly as my hruised hmbs would enahle mo. 
We discovered no trace of recent occupation as we 
approached, except a kind of furrow in the sand, 
like that which some Bea-monster, dragging itself 
along, might occasion. It led directly to the hut, 
and I followed it, with a feeling half of wonder, 
half of apprehension, As we came near, however, 
I saw, through the open front, a Hack human fig- 
ure crouching within, motionless as a piece of 
bronze. Before it, stretched at length, was the 
dead body of Captain Ponto, The man was Frank, 
of whom I have spoken, as constituting the crew of 
the Prince Albert. It was a fearful sight ! The 
body of the captain was swollen, the limbs were 
stiff and spread apart, the mouth and eyes open, 
and conveying an expression of terror and utter de- 
spair, which makes me shudder, even now, when I 
think of it. Upon his breaet, fastened hy a strong 
cord, drawn close at the throat, was the mysterious 
gre-gre horn, and the gash in his arm, from which 
the poor wretch had drawn the blood for his un- 
availing sacrifice, had opened wide its white edges, 
as if in mute appeal against his fate. 

The negro sailor had drawn the body of the 
captain to the hut, and the trail in the sand was 
that which it had made. I spoke to him, but he 
neither replied nor looked up. His eyes were fixed, 
as if by some fascination, on the corpse. Antonio 



exhibited no emotion, but advancing close to the 
body lifted the gre^gre horn, eyed it curiously for a 
moment, then tossed it contemptuously aside, ex- 
claiming :— 

" It oould not save him : it is not good !" 
The words were scarcely uttered, when the 
crouching negro leaped, like a wild beast, at the 
Indian's throat ; but Antonio was agile, and evaded 
his grasp. The next instant the poor -vtretch had 
returned to his seat beside the dead. The negro 
could not endure a sneer at the potency of the 
gre-gre. Such is the hold of superstition on the 
human mind I 

I tried to induce the negro to remove the body, 
and bury it in the sand ; but he remained silent and 
impassible aa a stone. So I returned with Antonio 
to the vessel, for the instincts of life had coine 
bact, "We found, although the little schooner had 
been completely filled, that the water had escaped, 
and left the eai^ damaged, but entire. Some of 
the provisions had been destroyed, and the re- 
mainder was much injured. Nevertheless they 
could be used, and for the time being, at least, we 
were safe from starvation. My spirits rose with the 
discovery, and I almost forgot my injuries in the 
joy of the moment. But Antonio betrayed no 
signs of interest. He lifted boxes and barrels, and 
placed them on the sands, as deliberately as if un- 
loading the vessel at Kingston, I knew that it was 
not probable the wrecked schooner would suffer 
further damage from the sea, protected as it was 



"by the outer reef, yet I sought to make asaurance 
douMy sure, hy removmg what remained of the 
provisions to the hut by the palm-trees, Antoaio 
suggested nothing, hut impHcitly followed my di- 

"We had got out most of the stores, and carried 
them above the reach of the waters on the sands, 
when 1 went hack to the hut, with the determina- 
tion, by at once assuming a tone of authority, to 
have the negro remove and bury the body of 
the captain. I was stu^rised to find the hut 
empty, and a trail, like that which had attracted 
my notice in the morning, leading off in the direc- 
tion of the bushes, at some distance from the hut. 
I followed it ; and, in the centre of the clump, dis- 
covered the negro filling in the sand above the 
corpse. He mumbled constantly strange guttural 
words, and made many mysterious signs on the 
sand, as he proceeded. When the hole was entirely 
filled, he laid himself at length above it. I waited 
some minutes, but as he remained motionless, re- 
turned to the hut. We now commenced carrying 
to it, such articles of use as could be easily removed. 
But we had not accomplished much when Frank, the 
negro, presented himself ; and, approaching me, in- 
c[uired meekly what he should do. He was least 
injured of the three, and proved most serviceable in 
clearing the wreck of all of its useful and moveable 

By night I had bandaged my own wounds and 
those of my companions, and over a simple but 



profuse meal, forgot the horrors of the shipwreck, 
and gave myself up, with real zest, to the pleasures 
of a cast-away ! I camiot well describe the sensa- 
tion of mingled novelty and satisfaction, with which 
I looked out from the open hut upon the turbulent 
waters, whence we had so narrowly escaped. The 
sea still heaved from the effects of the storm, but 
the storm itself had passed, and the full tropical 
moon looked down calmly upon our island, which 
seemed silvery and fairy-Hke beneath its rays. 

At first, all these things were c[uietirig in their in- 
fluences, but as the night advanced I must have be- 
come feverish, for notwithstanding the toils of the 
day, and the exhaustion of the previous night, 1 
could not sleep. My thoughts were never so active. 
All that I had ever seen, heard, or done, flashed 
back upon my mind with the vividness of reality. 
But, owing to some curious psychical condition, 
my mind was only retrospectively active ; I tried in 
vain to bring it to a contemplation of the present 
or the future. Incidents long forgotten jostled 
through ray brain ; the grave mingling strangely 
with the gay. Now I laughed outright over some 
freak of childhood, which came back with primitive 
freshness ; and, next moment, wept again beside the 
bed of death, or found myself singing some hitherto 
unremembered nursery rhyme. I struggled against 
these thronging memories, and tried to ask myself 
if they might not be premonitions of delirium. I 
felt my own pulse, it beat rapidly ; my own fore- 
head, and it seemed to burn. In the vague hope of 



averting whatever this strange mental activity 
might portend, I rose and walked down to the edge 
of the water. I rememher distinctly that the shore 
seemed hlack with turtles, and that I thougM them 
creations of a disordered fancy, and became almost 
mad under the mere apprehei^ion that the mad- 
ness was upon me. 

I might, and undouhtedly would, have become 
mad, had it not been for Antonio. He had missed 
me trom the hut ; and, in alarm, had come to seek 
me. I felt greatly reheved when he told me that 
there were real turtles on the shore, and not mon- 
sters of the imagination ; and that it was now the 
season for laying their eggs, and therefore it could 
not be long before the fishers would come for their 
annual supply of shells. So I suffered him to lead 
me hack to the hut. When I laid down he took 
my head between his hands, and pressed it steadily, 
but apparently with all his force. The effect was 
soothing, for in less than half an hour my ideas had 
recovered their equilibrium, and I fell into a slum- 
bet, and slept soundly until noon of the following 

"When I awoke, Antonio was sitting close by me, 
and intently watching every movement. He snjiled 
when my eyes met his, and pointing to his forehead 
said significantly — 

" It is all right now !" 

And it was aU right, hut I felt weak and feverish 
still. A sound constitution, however, resisted aU 
attacks, and it was not many daj's before I was able 



to move around our sandy prison, and join Antonio 
and Trank in catching turtles ; for, with more fore- 
sight than I had supposed to belong to the Indian 
and negro character, they were laying in a stock of 
shells, against the time when -we should find an op- 
poiftunity of escape. Upon the side of our island, to 
which I have alluded as covered with bushes, the 
water was comparatively shoal, and the bottom 
overgrown with a species of sea-graas, which is a 
principal article of turtle-food. The surface of the 
water, alao, was covered with a variety of small blub- 
ber fish, which Antonio called hy the Spanish name 
of dedcdcs, or thimbles — a name not inappropriate, 
since they closely resembled a lady's thimble both 
in shape and size. These, at the spawning or egg- 
laying period of the year, constitute another article 
of turtle-food, During the night-time the turtles 
crawled up on the shore, and the females dug holes 
in the sand, each about two feet deep, in which 
they deposited from sixty to eighty eggs. These 
they contrived to cover so neatly, as to defy the 
curiosity of one unacquainted with their habits. 
Both Antonio and Frank, however, were familiar 
with turtle-craft, and got as many eg^ as we de- 
sired. When roasted, they\are really delicious. 
The Indians and people of the coasts never destroy 
them, being careful to promote the increase of this 
valuable sheU-flsh, But on the main land, wild 
animals, such for instance as the cougar, frecLuently 
come down to the shore, and dig them from their 
resting places. Occasionally they capture the turtles 



themselves, and dragging ttem into the forest, kill 
and devour thorn, in epite of their shelly armor. 

It was during the night, therefore, that Antonio 
ind Prink who kept themaeh es concealed in tho 
bushes rushed out ujon the turtles, and with uon 
hooks tumtd them on then back«, when they ht- 
came powerless and incipable of moving The diy 
folbwmg, they diagged them to the most dibtint 
p irt of the island, wheie they " shelled ' them , — a 

cruel process, which it made my fle'5h creep to 
witness Before descnbmg it, however, I must ex 
J lam that ilthough the hitits of ill vaneties of 
the turtle are much the same, yet their uses are 
very different. The large, green turtle is best 
known ; it frequently reaches our markets, and its 
flesh is esteemed, by epicures, as a great delicacy. 



The flesh of the smaller or hawk-bill variety is not 
80 good, but its shell is most Taluable, being both 
thicker and better-colored. What is called tor- 
toise-Bhell is not, as is generally supposed, the bony 
eoTCring or shield of the turtle, but only the scales 
which cover it. These are thirteen in number, 
eight of them flat, and five a little curved. Of the 
flat ones fom- are large, being sometimes a foot 
long and seven inches broad, semi-transparent, 
elegantly variegated with white, red, yellow, and 
dark brown clouds, which are fully brought out, 
when the shell is prepared and polished. These 
laminse, as I have said, constitute the external 
coating of the solid or bony part of the shell ; and 
a large turtle affords about eight pounds of them, 
the plates varying from an eighth to a quarter of an 
inch in thickness. 

The fishers do not kill the turtles ; did they do 
so, they would in a few years estenninate them. 
When the turtle is caught, they fasten him, and 
cover his back with dry leaves or grass, to which 
they set fire. The heat causes the plates to separ- 
ate at their joints. A large knife is then carefully 
inserted horizontally beneath them, and the lam- 
inse Hfted from the hack, care being taken not to 
injure the shell by too much heat, nor to force it 
off, until the heat has fully prepared it for separa- 
tion. Many turtles die under this cruel operation, 
but instances arc numerous in which they have 
been' caught a second time, with the outer coating 
reproduced ; but, in these cases, instead of thirteen 



pieces, it is a single piece. Ae I have already said, 
I could neVer "bring myself to witness this cruelty 
more than once, and was glad that the process of 
" scaling" was carried on out of sight of the hut. 
Had the poor turtles the power of shrieking, they 
would have made that harren island a very heU, 
with their cries of torture. 

"We had heen nearly two weeks on the island, 
when we were one morning surprised by a sail on 
the edge of the horizon. "We watched it eagerly, 
and as it grew more and more distinct, our spirits 
roee in proportion. Its approach was slow, but at 
noon !Frank declared that 
it was a turtle schooner 
fiom the island of Oata 

rina or Providence, and that it was making for " El 
Koncador," And the event proved that he was 
right ; for, about the middle of the afternoon, 
she had passed an opening through the reef, and 
anchored in the still water inside. She had a crew 
of five men, in whom it was difficult to say if 
white, negro, or Indian blood predominated. They 
apnVi. a Y^-qA_ol ^atois , In which Spanish was the 
leading element. And although we were unquah- 


sospioioua VISITORS. 49 

fiedly glad to see them, yet they were clearly not 
pleased to see us. The pair6n,, or captain, no 
sooner put his foot on shore, than aifecting to re- 
gard us as intruders, he demanded why we were 
there ? and if we did not know that this island 
was the property of the people of Catarina ? We 
replied hy pointing to our shattered schooner, when 
the whole party started for it, and unceremoni- 
ously hegan to strip it of whatever article of use or 
value they could find, leaving us to the pleasant 
reflections which such conduct was hkely to suggest. 
While this was going on, I returned to the hut, 
and found that Antonio and Frank had already re- 
moved the shells which they had procured, as also 
some other valuables which we had recovered from 
the wreck, and had buried them in the sand — a 
prudent precaution, which no douht saved us much 
trouble. A httle before sundown, our new friends, 
having apparently exhausted the plunder, came 
■teooping back to the hut, and without ceremony or- 
dered us out. I thought, although the physical 
force was against us, that a httle determination 
might make up for the odds, and firmly rephed that 
they might have a part of it, if they wished, but 
that we were there, and intended to remain. The 
patron hereupon fell into a great passion, and told 
his men to bring up the machetes — ugly instru- 
ments, half knife, half cleaver. " He would see," 
be said, in his mongrel tongue, " if this white vil- 
lain would refuse to obey him." Two of the men 
started to fulfill his order, while he stood scowling 


50 THE MOayL^ja'D SHORE. 

in tlie doorway. When they had got off a little dis- 
tance, I unrolled a blanket in which I had wrapped 
our pistols, and giving one to Frank, and another 
to Antonio, I took my own revolver, and passed 
outside of the liut. The patron fell hack, in evi- 
dent alarm. 

" Now, amigo," said I, " if you want a fight, 
you shall have it ; hut you shall die first !" And I 
took dehberate aim at his hreast, at a distance of 
less than five yards. " Mother of Mercy !" he ex- 
claimed, and glanced round, as if for support, to 
his followers. But they had taken to their legs, 
without waiting for further proceedings. The 
patron attempted to follow, hut I caught him by 
the ann, and pressed the cold muzzle of the pistol 
to his head. He trembled Kke an aspen, and sunk 
upon the ground, crying in most abject tones for 
mercy. I released him, but he did not attempt to 
stir. The circumstances were favorable for negotia- 
tion, and in a few minutes it was arranged that we 
should continue to occupy the hut, and that he 
should remain with us, while his crew should stay 
on board the vessel, when not engaged in catching 
turtles. He did not like the exception in his favor ; 
but, fearing that he might pull up anchor and leave 
us to our fate, I insisted that I could not forego the 
pleasure of his company. 

The reader may he sure that I had a vigilant eye 
on our patron, and at night either Antonio or 
Prank kept watch, that he should not give us the 
shp. He made one or two attempts, but finding us 



prepared, at tlie end of a couple of daya, resigned 
himself to his fate. Contenting ourselves with our 
previous spoil, we allowed the new comers to pur- 
sue the fishery alone. At the end of a week I 
discovered, hy various indications, that the season 
was nearly over, and, accordingly, mating a care- 
less display of my revolver, told the captain that I 
thought it would be more agreeable for us to go on 
hoard his schooner, than to remain on shore. I 
could see that the proposition was not acceptable, 
and therefore repeated it, in such a way that 
there was no alternative hut assent left. He was a 
good deal surprised when he discovered the amount 
of shells which we had obtained ; and when I told 
him that he should have half of it, for carrying us 
to Providence, and the whole if he took us to Blue- 
fields, hjs good nature returned. He asked pardon 
for his rudeness, and, slapping his breast, pro- 
claimed himself " im homhre bueno," who would 
take us to the world's end, if I would only put up 
my horrible pistol. That pistol, from the very first 
day, had had a kind of deadly fascination for the 
patron, who watched it, as if momentarily expecting 
it to discharge itself at his head. And even now, 
when he alluded to it, a perceptible shudder ran 
through his frame. 

Two days after I had taken up my c[uarters on 
board of the little schooner, which, in age and accu- 
mulated filth, might have been twin-brother of the 
Prince Albert, we set sail from " El Koncador." 
As it receded in the distance, it looked very heauti- 



ful — an opal in the sea — and I could hardly reahze 
that it was nothing more than a reef-girt heap of 
desert sands. 

Although friendly relations had hee 
with the pition, foi the crew seemed nea 
I kept mysclt const mtly on my guard against foul 
play. AntoniD was hleeplessly vigilant. But the 
patron, so fir trom havmg evil designs, appeared 
realH to ha\e taken i liLmg to me, and expatiated 

upon the delights of Providence, where he repre- 
sented himself as being a great man, with much un- 
couth eloquence. He promised that I should be 
well received, and that he would himself get up a 
dance— which he seemed to think the height of 
civihty — in my honor. 

About noon, on our third day from "El Ronca- 
dor," the patron pointed out to mo two light blue 
mounds, one sharp and conical, and the other round 
and broad, upon the edge of the horizon. They 
were the highlands of Providence, Before night, 
we had doubled the rocky headland of Santa Cata- 
lina, crowned with the ruins of some old Spanish 
fortifications, and in half an hour were at anchor, 



alongside a lai^ New Granadian schooner, in the 
small hut sm^ harbor of the island. 

This island is almost unknown to the world ; it 
has, indeed, very httle to commend it to notice. 
Although accounted a single island, it is, in fact, 
two islands ; one is six or eight miles long, and 
four or five broad, and but moderately elevated ; 
while the second, which is a rooty headland, called 
Catarina, is separated from the main body by a 
narrow but deep channel. The whole belongs ■ to 
New Granada, and has about three hundred inhab- 
itants, extremely variegated in color, but with a 
decided tendency to black This island was a 
famous resort of the pirates, during their predom- 
inance in these parts, who expelled the Spaniards, 
and built defences, by means of which they several 
times repelled their assailants. 

The productions consist chiefly of fruits and vege- 
tables ; a little cotton is also raised, which, with the 
tnrtle-shells collected by the inhabitants, constitutes 
about the only export of the island. Vessels coming 
northward sometimes stop there, for a cargo of 
cocoa-nuts and yucas. 

As can readily be imagined, the people are very 
primitive in their habits, living chiefly in rude, 
thatched huts, and leading an indolent, tropical 
life, swinging in their hammocks and smoking by 
day; and dancing, to the twanging of guitars, by 
night. My patron, whom I had suspected of being 
something of a braggart, was in reahty a very con- 
siderable personage in Providence, and I was re- 



ceived with great favor by the people, to whom he 
introduced me as his own " very special friend," I 
thought of our first interview on "El Eoncador," 
hut suppressed my inclination to laugh, as well as I 
was ahle. True to hia promise, the second night 
after our arrival was dedicated to a dance. The 
only preparation for it consisted in the production 
of a number of lai^e wax candles, resembling 
torches in size, and the concoction of several big 
vessels of drink, in which Jamaica nun, some fresh 
juice of the sugar-cane, and a c^uantity of powdered 
peppers were the chief ingredients. The music 
consisted of a violin, two guitars and a queer Indian 
instrument, resembhng a bow, the string of which, 
if the critic will pardon the bull, was a brass wire 
drawn tight by means of a perforated gourd, and 
beaten with a stick, held by the performer, between 
his thumb and forefinger. 

I cannot attempt to describe the dance, which, 
not over delicate at the outset, became outrageous 
as the calabashes of liquor began to circulate. 
Both sexes drank and danced, until most could 
neither drink nor dance ; and then, it seemed to me, 
they all got into a general quarrel, in which the 
musicians broke their respective instruments over 
each other's heads, then cried, embraced, and were 
friends again, I did not wait for the end of the de- 
bauch, which soon ceased to be amusing ; but, with 
Antonio, stole away, and paddled off to the httle 
schooner, where the last sounds that rung in my ears 
were the shouts and discordant songs of the revelers. 



Providence, it can easily be understood, offered 
few attractions to an artist minus the materials for 
pursuing liia vocation ; and I was delighted when I 
learned that the New Grranadiau schooner was on 
the eve of her departure for San Juan de Nicara- 
gua. Her captain readily consented to land me at 
Bluelields, and our patron magnificently waived all 
claims to the tortoise-shells which we had obtained 
at "El Eoncador," I had no difiiculty in selling 
them to the captain of " El General Bolivar" for the 
unexpected sum of three hundred dollars. Fifty 
dollars of these I gave to the negro Frank, who was 
quite at homo in Providence. I offered to divide 
the rest with Antonio, hut he refused to receive any 
portion of it, and insisted on accompanying me 
without recompense. " You are my brother," said 
he, " and I will not leave yon." And here I may 
add that, in all my wanderings, he was my constant 
companion and firm and faithful friend. His his- 
tory, a wild and wonderful tale, I shall some day 
lay before the world ; for Antonio was of regal 
stock, the son and lieutenant of Chichen Pat, one 
of the last and bravest of the chiefs of Yucatan, 
who lost his life, under the very walls of Merida, in 
the last unsuccessful rising of the aborigines ; and I 
blush to add that the fatal bullet, which slew the 
hope of the Indians, was sped from the rifle of an 
American mercenary ! 



|HE approach to the coaet, near 
Bluefields, holds out no delusions. 
The shore is flat, and in all respects tame and un- 
interesting, A white line of sand, a green belt of 
trees, with no relief escept here and there a soli- 
tary palm, and a few hlue hills in the distance, are 
the only objects which are offered to the expectant 
eyes of the voyager. A nearer approach reveals a 
large lagoon, protected by a narrow belt of sand, 
covered, on the inner side, with a dense mass of 
mangrove trees ; and this is the harbor of Bluc- 
flelds. The entrance is narrow, but not difficult, at 
the foot of a high, rocky bluff, which completely 
commands the passage. 

The town, or rather the collection of huts called 
by that name, Uea nearly nine miles from the en- 
trance. After much tacking, and backing, and 
filling, to avoid the innumerahie banks and shal- 



Iowa in the lagoon, we fiually arrived at the anchor- 
age. We had hardly got our anchor down, before 
we were hoarded by a very pompous black man, 
dressed in a shirt of red check, pantaloons of white 
cotton elotli, and a glazed straw hat, with feet in- 
nocent of ahoeSj whose office nobody knew, further 
than that he ^vas called " Admii'al Eodney," and 
was an important functionary in the " MoacLuito 
Kingdom," He bustled about, in an extraordinary 
way, hut his final purpose seemed narrowed down 
to getting a dram, and pocketing a couple of dol- 
lars, slily slipped into his hand by the captain, just 
before he got over the side. When he had left, we 
were told that we could go on shore. 

Bluefields is an imperial city, the residence of the 
court of the MoscLuito Kingdom, and therefore 
merits a particular description. As I have said, it 
is a collection of the rudest possible thatched huts. 
Among them are two or three framed buildings, 
one of which is the residence of a Mr. Bell, an 
Englishman, with whom, as I afterwards learned, 
resided that world-renowned monarch, " George 
William Clarence, King of all the Mo8C[uitos." 
The site of the huts is pictureeque, being upon 
comparatively high ground, at a point where a con- 
siderable stream from the interior enters the lagoon. 
There are two villages ; the principal one, or Blue- 
fields proper, which is much the largest, containing 
perhaps five hundred people ; and " Oarlsruhe," a 
kind of dependency, so named by a colony of Prus- 
sians who had attempted to establish themselves here, 



biit wliose colony, at the time of my visit, had utterly 
failed. Out of more than a hundred of the poor 
people, who had been induced to come here, but 
three or four were left, existing in a state of great 
debiUty and distress. Most of their companions 
had died, but a few had escaped to the interior, 
where they bear convincing witness to the wicked- 
ness of attempting to found colonies, from north- 
ern chmates, on low, pestiferous shores, under the 

Among the huts were many palm and plantain 
trees, with detached stalks of the papaya, laden 
with its large golden fruit. The shore was lined 
with canoes, pitpans and dories, hoUowed from the 
trunta of trees, all sharp, trim, and graceful in 
shape. The natives propel them, with great rapid- 
ity, by single broad-bladed paddles, struck vertical- 
ly in the water, first on one side, and then on the 

There was a large assemblage on the beach, when 
we landed, but I was amazed to find that, with few 
exceptions, they were all unmitigated negroa, or 
Sambos (i. e. mixed negro and Indian). I had 
heard of the Mosquito shore as occupied by the 
Mosquito Indians, but soon found that there were 

* Tho dory ig nsaaily hollowed ftom a solid pieoa of jnaiK^any or 
codar, and is from twenty-fivo to fifty feet in longtli. This kind of 
vessel is found ao buoyant and safe, that persons, accustomed to the 
management of it, often fearlessly venture out to sea, in weather 
when it might be unsafe to trust to Teasels of a lai^er kind. 

The pitpan is another variety of canoe, excelling the ^rg in 
point of speed. It is of the same matorial, differing only in being 


few, if any, pure Indians on tlie entire coast. The 
miserable people who go by that name are, in real- 
ity, Sambos, haying a considerable intermixture of 
trader blood from Jamaica, with which island the 
coast has its principal relations. The arrival of the 
traders on the shore is the signal for unrestrained 
debauchery, always preluded hy the traders baptiz- 
ing, in a manner not remarkable for its delicacy or 
gravity, all children born since their last visit, in 
whom there is any decided indication of white blood. 
The names given on these occasions aro as fantastic 
as the ceremony, and great Hherties aro taken with 
the cognomens of aU notabilities, living and dead, 
from " Pompey" down to " Wellington." 

Our first concern m Bluefields was to get a roof 
to shelter us, which we finally succeeded in doing, 
through the intervention of the captain of the 
" Bolivar." That is to say, a dilapidated negro 
from Jamaica, hearing that I had just left that de- 
lectable island, claimed me as his countryman, and 
gave me a little deserted thatched hut, the walls of 
which were composed of a Hud of wicker work of 
upright canes, interwoven with palm leaves. This 
structure bad served him, in the days of bis pros- 
perity, aa a kitchen. It was not more than ten feet 
Bciuare, but would admit a hammock, hung diago- 
nally from one corner to the other. To this abbre- 
viated establishment, I moved my few damaged ef- 
fects, and in the course of the day, completely do- 
mesticated myself. Antonio exliibited the greatest 
i and industry in making our quarters com- 



fortable, and evinced an elagticity and cheerfulness 
of manner unkn own before. In tlie evening, he re- 
sponded to the latent inquiry of my looks, hy say- 
ing, that Ms heart had hecome Hghter since he had 
reached the continent, and that his Lord gave prom- 
ise of hetter days. 

" Look I" he exclaimed, as he lield up his talis- 
man before my eyes. It emitted a pale light, 
which seemed to come from it in pulsations, or 
radiating circles. It may have been fancy, but if 
so, I am. not prepared to say that all which we deem 
real is not a dream and a delusion 1 

My host was a man of more pretensions than 
Captain Ponto, but otherwise very much of the 
same order of African architecture. From his 
cautious eilenco, on the subject of hia arrival on the 
coast, I inferred that he had been brought out as a 
slave, some thirty-five or forty years ago, when several 
planters Irom Jamaica attempted to estabHsh them- 
selves here. However that may have been, he 
now called himself a "merchant," and appeared 
proud of a Httle coUeetion of " oenaburgs," a few 
red bandanna handkerchiefs, flanked by a dingy 
cask of what the Yankees would call "the rale 
critter," which occupied one comer of his house or 
rather hut. He brooded over these with unremit- 
ting care, although I believe I was his only cus- 
tomer, (to the extent of a few fish hooks), during my 
stay in Bluefields. He called himself Hodgson, 
(the name, as I afterwards learned, of one of the 
old British superintendents,) and based his hopes 



of family immortality upon a son, whom he respect- 
fully called Mister James Hodgson, and who was, 
he said, principal counselor to the king. This in- 
formation, commimicated to me within two hours 
after my arrival, led me to beUeve myself in the 
line of favorahle presentation at court. But I 
found out afterwards, that this promising scion of 
the house of Hodgson was " under a cloud," and had 
lost the sunshine of imperial favor, in ( 
of having made some most indiscreet < 
when taken a prisoner, a few years before, by the 
Nicaraguans. However, I was not destined to pine 
away my days in devising plans to obtain an intro- 
duction to his Mosc[uito Majesty. For, rising early 
on the morning subsequent to my arrival, I start- 
ed out to see the sights of Bluefields, Follow- 
ing a broad path, leading to a grove of cocoa-nut 
trees, which shadowed over the river, tall and trim, 
I met a white man, of thin and serious visage, who 
eyed me curiously for a moment, bowed slightly, 
and passed on in silence. The distant air of an 
Englishman, on meeting an American, is general- 
ly reciprocated by e(iuaUy frigid formality. So I 
stared coldly, bowed stiffly, and also passed on, I 
smiled to think what a deal of affectation had been 
wasted on both sides, for it would have been uji- 
natural if two white men were not glad to see each 
others' faces in a land of ebony like this. So I in- 
voluntarily turned half round, just in time to witness 
a similar evolution on the part of my thin friend. It 
was evident that his thoughts were but reflection* 



of my own, and being the younger of the two, I re- 
traced my steps, and approached him witli a laugh- 
ing " Grood morning I" He responded to my saluta- 
tion with an equally pregnant " G-ood morning," at 
the same time raising hia hand to his ear, in token 
of heing hard of bearing. Conversation opened, 
and I at once found I was in the presence of a man 
of superior education, large experience, and alto- 
gether out of place in the Mosquito metropolis. 
After a long walk, in which we passed a rough 
board structure, surmounted by a stumpy pole, 
supporting a small flag — a sort of hybrid between 
the Union Jack and tlie "Stars and Stripes" — 
called by Mr. Bell the " House of Justice," I ac- 
cepted his invitation to accompany him home to 

Hie house was a plain building of rough boai'ds, 
■with several small rooms, all opening into the prin- 
cipal apartment, in which I was invited to sit down, 
A sleepy-looking black girl, with an enormous shock 
of frizzled hair, was sweeping the floor, in a languid, 
mechanical way, calculated to superinduce yawning, 
even after a brisk morning walk. The partitions 
were hung with many prints, in which " Her Most 
Gracious Majesty" appeared in all the multiform 
glory of steel, lithograph, and chromotint. A gun 
or two, a table in the comer, supporting a confused 
collection of books and papers, with some ropes, 
boots, and iron grapnels beneath, a few chairs, a 
Yankee clock, and a table, completed the furniture 
and decoration of the room, I am thus particular 



in this inveotory, for reasons which will afterward 

At a word from Mr. Bell, the torpid black girl 
disappeared for a few moments, and then came 
back with some cups and a pot of coffee. I ob- 
served that theie were three cups, and that my host 
filled them aU, which I thought a little eingular, 
since there were but two of us. A faint, momen- 
tary Buepieion crossed my mind, that the female 
polypus stood in some such relation to my host as 
to warrant her in honoring us with her company. 
But, instead of doing so, she unceremoniously 
pushed open a door in the comer, and curtly ejacu- 
lated to some unseen occupant, " Get up \" There 
was a kind of querulous response, and directly a 
thumping and muttering, as of some person who 
regarded himself as unreasonably disturbed. Mean- 
while we had each finished our first cup of coffee, 
and were proceeding with a second, when the door 
in the corner opened, and a black boy, or what an 
American would be apt to call, a " young darkey," 
apparently nineteen or twenty years old, shuffled up 
to the table. He wore only a shirt, unbuttoned 
at the throat, and cotton pantaloons, scarcely but- 
toned at all. He nodded to my entertainer with a 
drawling " Momin', sir !" and sat down to the third 
cup of coffee. My host seemed to take no notice of 
him, and we continued our conversation. Soon 
after, the sloven youth got up, took his hat, and 
slowly walked down the path to the river, where I 
afterward saw Mm washing his face in the stream. 



As I was about leaving, Mr. Bell kindly volun- 
teered his services to me, in any way they might bo 
made available, I thanked Mm, and suggested 
that, having no object to accomplish except to 
" scare up" adventures and seek out novel sights, I 
should be obliged to him for an introduction to the 
king, at some future day, after Antonio should have 
succeeded in rejuvenating my suit of ceremony, now 
rather rusty from saturation with salt water. He 
smiled faintly, and said, as for that matter, there 
need be no delay ; and, stepping to the door, 
shouted to the black youth by the river, and beck- 
oned to him to come up the bank. The youth put 
on his hat hurriedly, and obeyed. "Perhaps you 
are not aware that is the king ?" observed my 
host, with a contemptuous smile. I made no reply, 
as the youth was at hand. Ho took off his hat 
respectfully, but there was no introduction in the 
case, beyond the c[uiet observation, "George, this 
gentleman has come to see you ; sit down 1" 

I soon saw who was the real " king" in Blueflelds. 
" Greoi^e," I think, had also a notion of his own on 
the subject, but was kept in such strict subordina- 
tion that he never manifested it by words. I found 
him shy, but not without the elements of an ordi- 
nary English education, which he had received in 
England. He is nothing more or less than a negro, 
with hardly a perceptible trace of Indian blood, and 
would pass at the South for "a likely young fellow, 
worth twelve hundred doUars as a body-servant I" 

The second day after my arrival was Sunday, and 



in the forenoon, Mr. Bell read the service of the 
English Church, in the " House of Justice." There 
were perhaps a dozen persons present, among them 
the king, who was now dressed plainly and becom- 
ingly, and who conducted himself with entire pro- 
priety, I could not see that he was treated with 
any special consideration ; while Mr. Bell received 
marked deference. 

It is a curious fact that although the Enghsh 
have had relations, more or less intimate, with this 
shore, ever since the pirates made it their retreat, 
during the glorious days of the buccaneers, they 
have never introduced the GrospeL The religion of 
the "kingdom" was declared by the late king, in 
his will, to be " the Established Church of Eng- 
land," but the Established Church has never taken 
steps to bring the natives within its aristocratic 
fold. Several dissenting missionaries have made 
attempts to settle on the coast, but as the British 
ofBcers and agents never favored them, they have 
met with no success. Besides, the Sambos are 
strongly attached to heathenish rites, half African 
and half Indian, in which what they call "hig 
drunJc^' is not the least remarkable feature. Some 
years ago a missionary, named PiUey, arrived at 
Sandy Bay, for the purpose of reclaiming the "lost 
sheep," A house was found for him, and he com- 
menced preaching, and for a few Sundays enticed 
some of the leading Sambos to hear him, by giving 
them each a glass of grog. At length, one Sabbath 
afternoon, a considerable number of the natives 



attended to bear the stranger talk, and to receive 
the usual spiritual consolation. But the demijohn 
of the worthy minister had been exhausted. He 
nevertheless sought to compensate for the deficiency 
by a more vehement display of eloc[uence, and for a 
time fiattered himself that he was producing a last- 
ing impression. His discourse, however, was eud- 
denly interrupted by one of the chiefs, who rose and 
indignantly exclaimed, "All preach — no grog — no 
good 1" and with a responsive " No good !" the 
audience followed him, as he stalked away, leaving 
the astonished preacher to finish his discourse to 
two or three Englishmen present. 

In Bluefields the natives are kept in more re- 
straint than elsewhere on the coast ; hut even here 
it has been found impossible to suppress their tra- 
ditional practices, especially when connected with 
their superstitions. My venerable friend Hodgson, 
after " service," informed me that a funeral was to 
take place, at a small settlement, a few miles up 
the river, and volunteered to escort me thither in 
his pitpan, if Antonio would undertake to do the 
paddling. The si^gcstion was very acceptable, 
and after a very frugal dinner, on roast fish and 
boiled plantains, we set out. But we were not 
alone ; we found dozens of pitpans starting for the 
same destination, filled with men and women. It is 
impossible to imagine a more picturesque spectacle 
than these light and graceful boats, with occupants 
dressed in the brightest colors, darting over the 
placid waters of the river, now gay in the sun- 


COINt TO \ tUNEK^L tl7 

light, and inon sobered m tlie fehodowa of the trees 
whith fctudded the binks Theie wab a keen 
Htiife among the loweis, whu, imid shouts and 
^creet-hea, m which both men and wjmen jjmod 
exerted themselves to the utmo'*t E\ en Antomo 
smiled \t the scene, 
but it WIS halt cnn 
temptuoufely for lie 
maintained, m n. 
spect to these mon 
grels, the\e of 
con'icions supenoiitj 

Less than an hour brought us in view of a little 
collection of huts, grouped on the shore, under the 
shadow of a cluster of palm-trees, which, from a 
distance, presented a picture of entrancing beauty. 
A large group of natives had already collected on 
the shore, and, as we came near, we heard the 
monotonous beating of the native drum, or tum- 


turn, relieved "by an occasional low, deep blast on a 
lai^e hollow pipe, which sounded more hke the dis- 
tant bellowing of an ox than any thing else I ever 
heard. In the pauses, we distinguished suppressed 
wails, which continued for a minute perhaps, and 
were then followed by the monotonous drum and 
droning pipe. The descriptions of similar scenes in 
Central Africa, given to us by Olapperton and 
Mungo Park, recurred to me with wonderful vivid- 
ness, and left the impression that the ceremonies 
going on were rather African than American in 
their origin. 

On advancing to the huts, and the centre of the 
group, I found a small pitpan cut in half, in one 
part of which, wrapped in cotton cloth, was the 
dead body of a man of middle ago, much emaciat- 
ed, and horribly disfigured by what is called the 
hvlpis, a species of syphihtic leprosy, which is al- 
most universal on the coast, and which, with the 
aid of rum, has already reduced the population to 
one half what it was twenty years ago. This dis- 
gusting disease is held in such tenor by the Indians 
of the interior, that they have prohibited aU sexual 
relations, between their people and the Sambos of 
the coast, under the penalty of death. 

Around the pitpan were stationed a number of 
women, with palm tranches, to keep off the flies, 
which swarmed around the already festering corpse. 
Their frizzled hair started from their heads like the 
snakes on the brow of the fabled Gorgon, and they 
swayed their bodies to and fro, keeping a kind of 





tread-mill step to the measure ol' the doleful tum- 
tum. With the exception of the men who beat the 
drum and hlew the pipe, these women appeared to 
be the only persons at all interested in the pro- 
ceedings. The rest were standing in groups, or 
squatted at the roots of the palm-trees, I was be- 
gianing to get tired of the performance, when, with 
a suddenness which startled even the women around 
the corpse, four men, entirely naked excepting a 
cloth wrapped round their loins, and daubed over 
with variously-colored clays, rushed from the inte- 
rior of one of the huts, and hastily fastening a 
piece of rope to the hah" of the pitpan containing 
the corpse, dashed away towards the woods, drag- 
ging it after them, lite a sledge. The women with 
the Gorgon heads, and the men with the drum and 
trumpet, followed them on the run, each keeping 
time on his respective instrument. The spectators 
all hurried after, in a confused mass, while a big 
negro, catching up the remaining half of the pit- 
pan, placed it on his head, and trotted behind the 

The men bearing the corpse entered the woods, 
and the mass of the spectators, jostling each other 
in the narrow path, kept up the same rapid pace. 
At the distance of perhaps two hundred yards, 
there was an open place, covered with low, dank, 
tangled underbush, still wet from the rain of the 
preceding night, which, although unmarked by any 
sign, I took to be the burial place. When I came 
up, the half of the pitpan containing the body had 



been put in a ehallow trench. The other half was 
then inverted over it. The Gorgon-headed women 
threw in their palm-hranches, and the painted 
negroes rapidly filled in the earth. While this was 
going on, some men were collecting sticks and 
palm-branches, with which a little hut was hastily 
built over the grave. In this was placed an earthen 
vessel, filled with water. The turtle-spear of the 
dead man was stuck deep in the ground at his head, 
and a fantastic fellow, with an old mnsket, dis- 
charged three or four rounds over the spot. 

This done, the entire crowd started back in the 
same manner it had come. No sooner, however, 
did the painted men teach the village, than, seizing 
some heavy mocAeies, they commenced cutting down 
the palm-trees which stood around the hut that 
had been occupied by the dead Samho. It was 
done silently, in the most hasty manner, and when 
finished, they ran down to the river, and plunged 
out of sight in the water — a kind of lustration or 
purifying rite. They remained in the water a few 
moments, then hurried back to the hut from which 
they had issued, and disappeared. 

This savage and apparently unmeaning ceremony 
was explained to me by Hodgson, as follows : 
Death is supposed by the Sambos to result from 
the influences of a demon, called Wulasha, who, 
ogre-like, feeds upon the bodies of the dead. To 
rescue the corpse from this fate, it is necessary to 
lull the demon to sleep, and then steal away the 
body and bury it, after which it is safe. To this 



end they tring in the aid of the droway drum and 
droning pipe, and the women go through a slow 
and soothing dance. Meanwhile, in the recesses of 
some hut, whore they eaimot be seen hy Wulasha, 
a certain number of men carefully disguise them- 
selves, so that they may not afterwards he recog- 
nized and tormented ; and when the demon is sup- 
posed to have heen lulled to sleep, they seize the 
moment to hury the body. I could not ascertain 
any reason for cutting down the palm-trees, except 
that it had always heen practiced hy their ances- 
tors. As the palm-tree is of slow growth, it has re- 
sulted, from this custom, that they have nearly dis- 
appeared from some parts of the coast. I could 
not learn that it was the habit to plant a cocoa-nut 
tree upon the hirth of a child, as in some parts of 
Africa, where the tree receives a common name with 
the infant, and the annual rings on its trunk mark 
his age. 

If the water disappears from the earthen vessel 
placed on the grave, — which, as the ware is porous, 
it seldom fails to do in the course of a few days, — it 
is taken as evidence that it has been consumed by 
the dead man, and that he has escaped the maw of 
Wulasha. This ascertained, preparations are at 
once made for what is called a Seekroe, or Feast of 
the Dead — an orgie which I afterwards witnessed 
higher up the coast, and which will he described in 
due course. 

The negroes brought originally from Jamaica, as 
also most of their descendants, hold these barbar- 



OTIS practices in contempt, and liury their dead, aa 
they say, " English-gentleman fashion." But while 
these practices are discountenanced and prohihited 
in Bluefields proper, they are, nevertheless, univer- 
sal elsewhere on the Mosquito Shore, 

I cannot omit mentioning here, that I paid a 
visit both to the estahlishment and the huiial-place 
of the ill-fated Prussian colony. Many of the 
houses, now rotting down, had been brought out 
from Europe, and all around them were wheels of 
carts falling in pieces, hameasea dropping apart, 
and plows and instruments of cultivation rusting 
away, or slowly burying themselves in the earth. 
They told a sad story of ignorance on the part of 
the projectors of the establishment, and of the dis- 
appointments and sufferings of their victims. The 
folly of attempting to plant an agricultural colony, 
from the north of Europe, on low, murky, tropical 
shores, is inconceivable. Again and again the at- 
tempt has been made, on this coast, and as often it 
has terminated in disaster and death. It was tried 
by the French at Tehuantepec and Cape Grracias ; 
by the English at Vera Paz and Black River ; and 
by the Belgians and Prussians at Santo Tomas and 
Bluofields. In no instance did these establishments 
survive a second year, nor in a single instance did a 
tenth of the poor colonists escape the grave. The 
Prussians at Bluefields suffered fearfully. At one 
time, within four months after their arrival, out of 
more than a hundred, there were not enough retain- 
ing their health to bury the dead, much less to 



attend to the aicb. The natiyea, jealous of the 
strangers, ■would ueither assist nor come near them, 
and absolutely refused to seR them the scanty food 
requisite for their suhsistence. This feeling was 
rather encouraged than otherwise, by the traders on 
the coast, who desired to retain the monopoly of 
trade, as they had always done a preponderance of 
influence among the natives. They procured the 
revocation of the grant which had been made to 
the Messrs. Shepherd of San Juan, from whom the 
Prussians had purchased a doubtful title, and 
threatened the stricken strangers with forcible ex- 
pulsion. Death, however, soon reheved them from 
taking overt measures ; and, at the time of my 
visit, two or three haggard wretches, whose languid 
blue eyes and flaxen hair -contrasted painfully with 
the blotched visages of the brutal Sambos, were all 
that remained of the unfortunate Pmssian colony. 
The burying place was a small opening in the 
bush, where rank vines sweltered over the sunken 
graves, a spot reeking with miasmatic damps, from 
which I retreated with a shudder. I could wish no 
worse punishment to the originators of that fatal, 
not to say, criminal enterprise, than that they 
should stand there, as 1 stood, that Conscience 
might hiss in their ears, " Behold tliy work !" 



"\T \DE roa ly inquinea in Bh e 

JL I n o ler to decide on my fu 

^ e movements to all of whi h Mr 

Bell gi^e me most ntelhgent an 
Bwers At lirst I } 0} ose 1 to ascen I the Blueflel Is 
nver which tikes ts use m the mounta nouy d stnct 
of Segovia in Nicaragua, and which ia reported to he 
nav^ble, foT canoee, to within a short distance of 
the great lakes of that State, from which it is only 
separated hy a narrow range of mountains. Upon 
its hanks dwell several tribes of pure Indians, the 
Oookras, now but few in number, and the Eamas, 
a large and docile tribe. Several of the latter visit- 
ed Blueflelds while I was there, bringing down 
dories and pitpans rudely blocked out, which are 
afterwards finished by persons expert in that art. 
They generally speak Spanish, but I could not learn 
from them that their country was in any respect rc- 


le, or that it held out any prospect of com- 
pensation for a visit, unless it were an indefinite 
amount of hunger and hard work. So, although I 
had purchased a canoe, and made other prepara- 
tions for ascending the river, I determined to pro- 
ceed northward along the coast, and, embarldng in 
some turthng vessel from Cape Graeias, proceed to 
San Juan, and penetrate into the interior by the 
river of the same name. 

This, I ascertained, was all the more easy to ac- 
complish, since the whole Mosquito shore is lined 
with lagoons, only separated from the sea hy narrow 
stripe of land, and so connected with each other as 
to afibrd an interior navigation, for canoes, from 
Bluefields to Graeias. So, procuring the additional 
services of a young Poyas or Paya Indian, who had 
been left from a trading schooner, I hade "His 
Mosquito Majesty" and his governor good-hy, took 
an affectionate farewell of old Hodgson, and, with 
Antonio, sailed away to the northern extremity of 
the lagoon, having spent exactly a week in Blue- 
fields. ■ 

It was a bright morning, and our little sail, filled 
with the fresh sea-breeze, carried us gayly through 
the water. Antonio carefully steered the boat, and 
my Foyer hoy sat, fike a bronze figure-head, in the 
bow, while I reclined in the centre, luxuriously 
smoking a c^ar. The white herons flapped lazily 
around us, and flocks of screaming curlews whirled 
rapidly over our heads, I could scarcely compre- 
hend the novel reality of my position. The Robin- 



Bon CruBoe-ish feeling of my youth, came "back in 
all of its fresimeaa ; I had my own boat, and for 
companions a descendant of an aboriginal prince, 
the possessor of a mysterious talisman, devotedly 
attached to me, half friend, half protector, and a 
second strange Indian, from some unknown interior, 
silent as the unwilling genii whom the powerful 
spell of Solyman kept in obedience to the weird 
necromancers of the East. It was a strange posi- 
tion and fellowship for one who, scarcely three 
]nonths before, had carefully cultivated the friendly 
interest of Mr. Sly, with sinister designs on the 
plethoric treasury of the Art Union, in New York I 

I gave myself up to the delicious novelty, and 
that sense of absolute independence which only a 
complete separation from the moving world can in- 
spire, and passed the entire day in a trance of 
dreamy dehght, I eubsec[uently passed many sim- 
ilar days, but this stands out in the long perspec- 
tive, as one of unalloyed happiness. " 'Twaa worth 
ten years of common life," and neither age nor suf- 
fering can effiice its bright impress from the crowd- 
ed tablet of my memory 1 

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon, when 
we reached the northern extremity of the lagoon, 
at a place called the Haulover, from the circum- 
stance that, to avoid going outside in the open sea, 
it is customary for the natives to drag their canoes 
across the narrow neck of sand which separates 
Bluefields from the next northern or Pearl Kay 
Lagoon. Occasionally, after long and heavy winds 



from the eastward, the waters are forced into the 
lagoons, 80 as to overflow the belt of land which 
divides them, when the navigation is uninter- 

In order to be able to renew our voyage early 
next morning, our few effects and 8toree were carried 
across the portage, over which our united strength 
was sufficient to drag the dory, without difficulty. 
All this was done with prompt alacrity on the part 
of Antonio and the Poyer boy, who would not allow 
me to exert myself in the sHghtesfc. The transit 
was effected in less than an hour, and then we pro- 
ceeded to make our camp for the night, on the 
beach. Our little saU, supported over the canoe by 
poles, answered the purpose of a tent. And as for 
food, without going fifty yards from our fire, I shot 
half a dozen curlews, which, when broiled, are cer- 
tainly a passable bird. Meanwhile, the Poyer boy, 
carefully wading in the lagoon, with a light spear, 
had struck several fish, of varieties known as snook 
and ffrowper ; and Antonio had collected a bag full 
of oysters, of which there appeared to be vast 
banks, covered only by a foot or two of water. 
They were not pearl oysters, as might be inferred 
from the name of the lagoon, but similar to those 
found on our own shores, except smaller, and grow- 
ing in clusters of ten or a dozen each. Eaten with 
that relishing sauce, known among travelers as 
■'hunger aauce," I found them something more 
than excellent,— they were delicious. 

While I opened oysters, by way of helping my- 



self to my princely first courso, the Indians busied 
themselves with the fleh and birds. I watched their 
proceedings with no little interest, and as their 
mode of baking fish has never been set forth in the 
■cookery books, I give it for the benefit of the gas- 
tronomic world in general, which, I take it, is not 
above learning a good thing, even from a Poyer 
Indian boy. A hole having been dug in the sand, 
it was filled with dry branches, which were set on 
fire. In a few minutes the fire subsided in a bed of 
glowing coals. The largest of the fish, a grouper, 
weighing perhaps five pounds, had been cleaned 
and stuffed with pieces of the smaller fish, a few 
oysters, some sliced plantains, and some slips of the 
bark of the pimento or pepper-tree. Duly sprink- 
led with salt, it was carefully wrapped in the broad 
groen leaves of the plantain, and the coals raked 
open, put in the centre of the glowing embers, with 
which it was rapidly covered. Half an hour after- 
ward, by which time I began to believe it had been 
reduced to ashes, the bed was raked open again and 
the fish taken out. The outer leaves of the wrapper 
were burned, but the inner folds were entire, and 
when they were unrolled, lite the cerements of a 
mummy, they revealed the fish, " cooked to a 
charm," and preserving all the rich juices absorbed 
in the flesh, which would have been earned off by 
the heat, in the ordinary modes of cooking. I after- 
ward adopted the same process with nearly every 
variety of large game, and found it, like patent 
medicines, of " universal application." Commend 



me to a young ware& " done brown" in lilie manner, 
aa a dish fit for a king. But of that anon. 

By and hy the night came on, hut not as it comes 
in our northern latitudes. Night, under the tropics, 
falls like a curtain. The sun goes down ■with a 
glow, intense, hut hrief. There are no soft and lin- 
gering twilight adieus, and stars lighting up one by 
one. They come, a laughing group, trooping over 
the skies, like hright-eyed children relieved from 
school. Befleeted in the lagoon, they seemed to 
chase each other in amorous play, printing spark- 
ling kisses on each other's luminous lips. The low 
shores, lined with the heavy-foliaged mangroves, 
looked like a frame of massive, antic[ue carving, 
around the vast mirror of the lagoon, across whose 
surface streamed a silvery shaft of light from the 
evening star, palpitating like a young bride, low in 
the horizon. Then there were whispered " voices 
of the night," the drowsy winds talking themselves 
to sleep among the trees, and the little ripples of the 
lagoon pattering with liquid feet along the sandy 
shore. The distant monotonous beatings of the 
sea, and an occasional sullen plunge of some ma- 
rine animal, which served to open momentarily the 
eyelids drooping in slumbrous sympathy with the 
scene — ^these were the elements which entranced 
me during the long, delicious hours of my first 
evening, alone with Nature, on the Mosquito 
Shore ! 

My dreams that night so blended themselves 
with the reality, that I could not now separate 



them if I would, and to this day I hardly know if 
I slept at all. So completely did my soul go out, 
and melt, and harmonize itself with the scene, that 
I began to comprehend the Oriental doctrine of 
emanations and absorptions, which teaches that, as 
the body of man springs from the earth, and after 
a brief space, mingles again with it ; so his soul, 
part of the Ureat Spirit of the Universe, flutters 
away like a dove from its nest, only to return, after 
a weary flight, to fold its wings and once more melt 
away in Nature's immortal heart, and uncreated and 

Before the dawn of day, the ever-watchful Anto- 
nio had prepared the indispensable cup of coffee, 
which is the tropical specific against the malignant 
night-damps ; and the first rays of the sun shot 
over the trees only to fall on our sail, bellying with 
the fresh and invigorating sea-broeze. We laid our 
course for the mouth of a river called Wawashaan 
ihwas or wass, in the dialect of the interior, signi- 
fying water), which enters the lagoon, about twenty 
miles to the northward of the Haulover. Here we 
were told there was a settlement, which I deter- 
mined to visit. As the day advanced, the breeze 
subsided, and we made slow progress. So we pad- 
dled to the shore of one of the numerous islands in 
the lagoon, to avoid the hot sun and await the 
freshening of the breeze in the afternoon. The 
island on which we landed appeared to he higher 
than any of the others, and was moreover rendered 
doubly attractive by a number of tail cocoa-nut 



palmB, that clustered near the beach. We ran our 
boat ashore in a little cove, where there were traces 
of fires, and other indications that it was a favor- 
ite stopping-place with the natives. A narrow trail 
led inward to the palm-trees. Leaving the Foyer 
boy with the canoe, Antonio and myself followed 
the blind path, and soon came to an open space 
covered with plantain-trees, now much choked with 
bushes, hut heavily laden with fruit. The palms, 
too, were clustering with nuts, of which we could 
not, of course, neglect to take in a supply. Near 
the trees we found the foundations of a house, after 
the European plan, and, not far from it, one or two 
rough grave-stones, on which inscriptions had been, 
rudely traced ; but they were now too much oblit- 
erated to be read. I could only make out the figure 
of a cross on one of them, and the name " San 
Andres," which is an island off the coast, where it is 
probable the occupant of this lonely grave was horn. 
To obtain the cocoa-nuts, which otherwise could 
only have been got at by cutting down and destroy- 
ing the trees, Antonio prepared to climb after 
them. He had brought a kind of sack of coarse 
netting, which he tied about his neck. He next 
cut a long section of one of the numerous tough 
vines which abound in the tropics, with which he 
commenced braiding a large hoop around one of the 
trees. After this was done, he slipped it over his 
head and down to his waist, gave it a few trials of 
strength, and then began his ascent, literally walk- 
ing up the tree. It was a curious feat, and worth a 


deecription. Leaning back in this hoop, he planted 
his feet firmly against the trunk, clinging to which, 
first with one hand, and 
then with the other, he 
worked up the hoop, tak- 
ing a step with every up- 
ward movement. Nothing 
loth to exhibit his skill, in 
a minute he was sixty feet 
from the ground, leaning 
hack securely in his hoop, 
n 1 fill n^ 1 1 sick w th the 
n t'^ This do t he swing 
h s load o e 1 a si oulders 
gras] ed the tree m his 
aim let the hoop fall and 
. raj Uy to the gioiml 
The wh le occ ij ed less 
t me than I ha e con me 1 
n wntm„ an ic 
count of it 

Loaded with nuts 
plantams and a 
species of anona 
called lour op we 
returned to tl e 
I oat where the w 
tei witl which the 
green c coa nuts are 
filled, tempered with a little Jamaica rum, pma 
d maiar los animalicos, "to kill the aniraalcu- 


THE M A N G J( O V E . 


Iffi," as tho Spanish eay, made a cooling and re- 
freshing beverage. 

In the afternoon we again emharked, and before 
dark reached the mouth of the Wawashaan, which 
looked like a narrow arm of the lagoon, but which, 
we found, when we entered, had considerable cur- 
rent, rendering necessary a brisk use of our paddles. 

rii banks near the lagoon, 
wcie low, and the ground back 
' of them appaiently swampy, 
MANSBOYE SWAMP and dousely covercd with man- 
cpove tieet This tree is uniTeraal on the MoscLUito 
coast lining the shoes of the lagoons and livers, 
as high up as the salt water reaches. It is unlike 
any other tree in the world. Peculiar to lands over- 
flowed by the tides, its trunk starts at a height of 
from four to e^ht feet from the ground, supported 



by a radiating eeiies of emooth, reddish-brown roots, 
for all the world like the prongs of an inverted can- 
delabrum. These roots interlock with each other in 
such a manner that it is utterly impossible to pene- 
trate between them, except by laboriously cutting 
one's way. And even then an active man would 
hardly be able to advance twenty feet in a day. The 
trunk is generally taU and straight, the branches 
numerous, but not long, and the leaves large and 
thick ; on the upper surface of a dark, glistening, 
unfading green, while below, of the downy, whitish 
tint of the poplar-leaf. Lining the shore in dense 
masses, the play of light on the leaves, as they are 
turned upward by the wind, has the glad, billowy 
effect of a field of waving grain. The timber of the 
mangrove is sodden and heavy, and of no great 
utihty ; but its bark is astringent, and excellent for 
tanning. Its manner of propagation is remarkable. 
The seed Consists of a long bean-like stem, about 
the length and shape of a dipped caudle, but thin- 
ner. It hangs from the upper limbs in thousands, 
and, when perfect, drops, point downward, erect in 
the mud, where it speedily takes root, and shoots 
up to tangle still more the already tangled man- 
grove-swamp. Myriads of small oysters, called the 
mangrove-oysters, cling to the roots, among vi'hich 
active little crabs find shelter from the pursuit of 
their hereditary enemies, the long-legged and 
sharp-billed cranes, who have a prodigious hank- 
ering after tender and infantile shell-fish. 

The Mosquito settlement is some miles up the 



river, and we were unable to reach it before dark; so, 
on arriving at a spotwhere the ground became higher, 
and an open space appeared on the bank, ive came 
to a halt for the night. We had this time no flsh 
for supper, but, instead, a couple of quams, a spe- 
cies of small turkey, which is not a handsome bird, 
but, nevertheless, delicate food. Many of these 
flew down to the shore, as night came on, selecting 
the tops of the highest, overhanging trees for their 
roosting-plaees, and offering fine marks for my 
faithful double-barreled gun. 

The mosc[uitoe8 proving rather troublesome at 
the edge of the water, I abandoned the canoe, and 
spreading my blanket on the most elevated portion 
of the bank, near the fire, was soon asloep. Before 
midnight, however, I was roused by the sensation 
of innumerable objects, with sharp claws and cold 
bodies, crawling over me. I leaped up in alarm, 
and hastily shook off the invaders. I heard a crack- 
hng, rustling noise, as of rain on dry leaves, all 
around me, and by the dim light I saw that the 
ground was alive with crawhng things, moving in 
an unbroken column toward the river. I felt them 
in the pockets of my coat, and hanging to my 
skirts. My nocturnal interview with the turtles at 
"El Eoneador" recurred to me, and Coleridge's 
f lines^ 

" The very sea did rot- 

Oli Christ, that this should tc ! — 
And Biimy things did Crawl with If 
fpon the slimy seal" 



Half fearing that it might fee my own disordered 
fancy, I shouted to Antonio, who, qmck as light, was 
at my side. He stirred up the fire, and laughed 
outright ! We had been invaded hy an army of 
soldier-crabs, moving down from the high back- 
grounds. Antonio had selected his bed for the 
night nearest the river, and the fire, dividing the 
host, had protected him, while it had turned a double 
column upon me. I could not myself help laughing 
at the incident, which certainly had the quality 
of novelty. I watched the moving legion for an 
hour, but there was no perceptible decrease in the 
numbers. So I laid down again by the side of An- 
tonio, and slept quietly until morning, when there 
were no more crabs to be seen, nor a trace of them, 
except that the ground had been minutely punctured 
all over, by their sharp, multitudinous claws. 

It was rather late when we started up the river. 
We had not proceeded far before we came to an 
open space, where there were some rude huts, with 
canoes drawn up on the bank, in front. A few 
men, nearly naked, shouted at us as we passed, in- 
quiring, in broken English, what we had to sell, 
evidently thinking that the white man could have 
no purpose there unless to trade. We passed 
other huts at intervals, which, however, had no 
signs of cultivation around them, except a few 
palm and plantain-trees, and an occasional small 
patch of yucas. The mangroves had now disap- 
peared, and the banks began to look inviting, cov- 
ered, as they were, with large trees, including the 



caoba, or mahogany, and the gigantic ceiba, all 
loaded down with vines. Thousands of parrots 
passed over, with their peculiar short, heavy flut- 
ter, and loud, querulous note. In the early morn- 
ing, and toward night, they heep up the most ve- 
hement chattering, all talking and none listening, 
after the manner of a Woman's Rights Convention. 
There were also gaudy macaws, which floated past 
like fragmeota of a rainbow. In common with the 
parrots, they always go in pairs, and when one is 
found alone, he is always silent and sad, and acts 
as if he were a lone widower, and meditated sui- 

On the occasional sandy reaches, we saw groups 
of the Boseate Spoonbills, with their splendid plum- 
age. The whole body is rose-col- 
ored ; but the wings, toward the 
shoulders, and the feathers around 
the base of the neck, are of a 
bright scarlet, deepening to blood- 
red. But they form no exception 
to the law of compensations — in 
mechanics, called equiHbrium, and 
in mathematics equations, since, '"^™ spoonbill." 
while beautiful in plumage, they are sinfully i^ly 
in shape. And I could not help fancying, when I 
saw. them standing silent and melancholy on saags, 
contemplating themselves in the water, that, as with 
some other kinds of birds, their brilliant colors gave 
them no joy, coupled with so serious a drawback in 
form. I shot several, from which the Foyer boy 



selected the most beautiful feathers, which he 
afterward interwove with others from the macaw, 
parrot, and egret, in a goi^eous head-dress, as a 
present to me. 

Toward noon we came to a cleared space, much 
the largest I had seen on the coast ; and, as we ap- 
proached nearer, I saw a house of European con- 
struction, and a large field of sugar-cane. In strik- 
ing contrast with these evidences of industry and 
civilization, a Sambo or Mo8C[uito village, made up 
of squalid huta, half buried in the forest, filled out 
the foreground. I recognized it as the village of 
Wasswatla (literally Watertown), the place of our 
destination. It, nevertheless, looked so uninviting 
and miserable, that had I not been attracted by 
the Christian establishment in the distance, I 
should have returned incontinently to the lagoon. 

My unfavorable impressions were heightened on a 
nearer approach. As we pushed up our canoe to 
the shore, among a great variety of dories and 
other boats, the population of the village, including 
a large number of dogs of low degree, swarmed 
down to siuTey us. The juveniles, were utterly 
naked, and most of the adults of both sexes had 
nothing more than a strip of a species of cloth, 
made of the inner bark of the ule or India-rubber 
tree (resembling the tappa of the Society Island- 
ers), wrapped around their loins. There was scarce- 
ly one who was not disfigured by the blotches of 
the tulpis, and the hair of each stood out in fright- 
ful frizzles, " like the quills on the fretful porcu- 



pine." Most of the men carried a abort spear, 
pointed with a common triangular file, carefully 
sharpened by rubbing on the stones, which, as I 
afterward learned, is used for striking turtle. 

Forbidding as was the appearance of the assem- 
blage, none of its indiyiduals evinced hostility, and 
when I jumped ashore, and saluted them with 
"Good morning," they all responded, " Mornin', 
sir .'" brought out with an indescribable African 
drawl. Two or three of the number volunteered to 
help Antonio draw up our boat, while I gave vari- 
ous orders, in default of knowing what else to do. 
Luckily, it occurred to me to produce a document, 
or pass, with which Mr. BeU had kindly furnished 
me before leaving Blueflelds, and which all seemed 
to recognize, pointing to it respectfully, and ejacu- 
lating, " King paper ! King paper !" It was fre- 
quently called afterward, " the paper that talks." 
This precious document, well engrossed on a sheet 
of fools-cap, with a broad seal at the bottom, ran 
as follows : — 

" MoB(\mto Eingliont. 
" George "William Clarence, by the Grace of 
God, King of the Mosquito Territory, to our trusty 
■and well-beloved officers and subjects, Greeting ! 
We, by these presents, do give pass and license to 
Samuel A. Bard Esquire, to go freely through our 
kingdom, and to dwell therein ; and do furthermore 
exhort and command our well-beloved officers and 
subjects aforesaid, to give aid and hospitality to the 



aforesaid Samuel A. Bard Esquire, whom we hold 
of high esteem and consideration. Given at Blue- 
fields, this day of — , in this the tenth year 

of our reign." 

(Signed,) ^i p 

The ejaculations of " King paper ! King paper 1" 
were followed by loud shouts of " Oapt'n ! Gap- 
t'n !" while two or three tall feUows ran off in the 
direction of the huts. I was a little puzzled hy the 
movement, hut not long left in doubt as to its ob- 
ject, for, in a few moments, a figure approached, 
creating hardly less sensation among the people, 
than he would have done' among the " boys" in the 
Bowery, I at once recognized him as the " Oap- 
t'n," whose title had been so vigorously invoked. 
He was, to start with, far from being a fine-looldng 
darkey ; but all natural deficiencies were more than 
made up by his dress. He had on a most venerable 
cocked hat, in which was stuck a long, drooping, 
red plume, that had lost half of its feathers, look- 
ing hke the plumes of some rake of a rooster, re- 
turning, crestfallen and bedraggled, from an unsuc- 
cessful attempt on some powerful neighbor's haremi 
His coat was that of a post-captain in the British 
navy, and his pantaloons were of blue cloth, with a 
rusty gold stripe running down each side. They were, 
furthermore, much too short at both ends, leaving an 
y projection of ankle, as well as ahroad strip 





of dark skin between the waistband and the coat. 
And when I say that the captain wore no shirt, was 
rather fat, and Kis pantaloons deficient in buttons 
wherewith to keep it appropriately closed in front, 
the active fancy of the reader may be able to com- 
plete the picture. He bore, moreover, a huge cav- 
alry sword, which looked all the more formidable 
from being bent in several places and very ruaty. 
Ho came forward with deliberation and gravity, and 
I advanced to meet liim, " king paper" in hand. 

When I had got near him, he adjusted himself in 
position, and compressed his lips, with an affecta- 
tion of severe dignity. Hardly able to restrain 
laughing outright, I took off my hat, and ealuted 
him with a profound bow, and " Gfood morning. 
Captain 1" He pulled off his hat in return, and 
undertook a bow, but the strain was too great on 
the sole remaining button of his waistband ; it gave 
vfay, and, to borrow a modest nautical phrase, the 
nether garment " came down on the run 1" The 
captain, however, no way disconcerted, gathered it 
up with both hands, and held it in place, while I 
read the " paper that talked." 

The upshot of the ceremony was, that I was wel- 
comed to "Wasswatla, and taken to a largo vacant 
hut, vrMch was called the "king's house," and dedi- 
cated to the G-enius of Hospitality. That is to say, 
the stranger or trader may take up his abode there, 
provided he can dislodge the pigs and chickens, who 
have an obstinate notion of their own on the sub- 
ject of the proprietorship, and can never be induced 



to surrender their prescriptive rights. The " king's 
house" was a simple shed, the ground within trod- 
den into mire by the pigs, and the thatched roof 
ahove half blown away by the wind. But, even 
thus uninviting, it was better than any of the other 
and drier huts, for the fleas, at least, had been suf- 
focated in the mud, Befqre night, Antonio had 
covered the floor, a foot deep, with cahoon leaves, 
and, with the aid of the Poyer boy and one or two 
natives, seduced thereunto by what they universally 
call " gi'og," had restored the roof, and built up a 
barricade of poles against the pigs. These were 
not numerous, but hungry and vicious ; and, finding 
the barricade too strong to be rooted down, they 
tried the dodge of tho Jews at Jericho, and of Cap- 
tain Crockett with the bear, and undertook to squeal 
it down ! They neither ate nor slept, those pigs, I 
verily believe, during the period of my stay ; but 
kept up an incessant squeal, occasionally relieving 
their tempers by a spiteful drive at the poles. Be- 
tween them and pestilent insects of various kinds, 
my slumbers were none of the sweetest, and I reg- 
istered a solemn vow that this should be my last 
trial of Mosquito hospitality. 

In the afternoon I had a visit from the captain, 
who told me that his name was "Lord Nelson Drum- 
mer," and that his father had been " &overnor" in 
the section around Pearl-Gay Lagoon. He had laid 
aside his official suit, and with simple breeches of 
white cotton cloth, and a straw hat, afforded a 
favorable contrast to his appearance in the mom- 



iiig. He spoke Englisli — ijuite as well as the ne- 
groea of Jamaica, and generally made himself un- 
derstood. From him I learned that the house, 
which I had seen in the clearings, had been huilt, 
many years before, by a Trench Creole from one of 
the islands of the Antilles, who at one time had 
there a lai^e plantation of coffee, cotton, and sugar- 
cane, from the last of which he distilled much rum. 
Drummer was animated on the subject of the rum, 
of which there had been, as he said, "much 
plenty I" But the Frenchmen had died, and al- 
though his family kept up the establishment for a 
little while, they were obliged to abandon it in the 
end. The negroes who had been brought out, soon 
caught the infection of the coast, and, slavery hav- 
ing been prohibited (by the British Superintendent 
at Belize !), became idle, drunken, and worthless. 
Some of them BtiU lingered around Wasswatla, 
gathering for sale to the occasional trader, a few 
pounds of coffee from the trees on the plantation, 
which, in spite of years of utter neglect, still bore 
fruit. The abandoned cane-fieHs furnished a sup- 
ply of canes, at which all the inhabitants of Wass- 
watla, old and young, were constantly gnawing. 
In fact, this appeared to be their principal occu- 
pation. I subsequently visited the abandoned es- 
tate. It was overgrown with vines and hushes, 
among which the orange, Ume, and coffee-trees 
struggled for existence. The house was tumbling 
into ruin, and the boilers in which the sugar had 
been made, were full of stagnating water, I re- 



tumed to the squalid village, having learned an- 
other philosophy in the science of philanthropy ; 
and with a diminishing inclination to tolerate the 
common cant about " universal brotherhood 1" 

The soil on the "Wawaahaan is rich and product- 
ive. It seems well adapted to cotton and sugar. 
The climate is hot and humid, and I saw many of 
the natives much reduced, and suffering greatly 
from fevers, which, if not violent, appear, neverthe- 
less, to be persistent, and exceedingly debilitating. 
The natural products are numerous and valuable. 
I observed many indian-rubber trees, and, for the 
first time, the vanilla. It is produced on a vine, 
which climbs to the tops of the loftiest trees. Its 
leaves somewhat resemble those of the grape ; the 
flowers are red and yellow, and when they fall off 
are succeeded by the pods, which grow in clusters, 
]ike our ordinary beans. Green at first, they change 
to yellow, and finally to a dark brown. To be pre- 
served, they are gathered when yellow, and put in 
heaps, for a few days, to ferment. They are after- 
ward placed in the sun to dry, flattened by the 
hand, and carefully rubbed with cocoa-nut oU, and 
then packed in dry plantain-leaves, so as to confine 
their powerful aromatic odor. The vanilla might 
be made a considerable article of trade on the 
coast ; but, at present, only a few dozen packages 

Lord Nelson, as I invariably called the captain, 
domesticated himself with me from the first day, 
and ate and drank with me—" especially the lat- 


ter." And I soon found out that there was a direct 
and intimate relation, between his degree of thirst 
and his proteetatione of attachment. He even 
hinted his intention to get up a musMa feast for 
me, but I would not agree to stay for a sufficient 
length of time. 

Finally, however, a grand iisHng expedition to 
the lagoon was determined on, and I was surprised 
to see with bow much alacrity the proposition wa« 
taken up. The day previous to starting was de- 
voted to sharpening spears, cleaning the boats, and 
paddles, in all of which operations the 
worked indiscriminately with the men. 
Plantains were gathered, and, as it seemed to me, 
no end of sugar-canes from the deserted plantation. 
In the evening, which happened to prove clear, the 
big drum was got out, fires lighted, and there was a 
dance, as Lord Nelson said, "Mosquito fashion," 
My part of the performance consisted in keeping up 
the spirit of tho drummeni, by pouring spirits down, 
which service was responded to by a vehemence of 
pounding that would have done credit to. a militia 
training. I was surprised to find how much skill 
the performers had attained ; but afterward dis- 
covered that the drum is the favorite instrument on 
the coast, and is called in recLuisition on all occa- 
sions of festivity or ceremony. The dance was un- 
couth, without the merit of being grotesque ; and 
long before it was finished, the performers, of both 
sexes, had thrown aside their totirnous, and aban- 
doned every shadow of decency in their actions. 



Lord Nelson Tiegan to grow torpid early in the 
evening, and, before I left the scene, had been 
carried off dead drunt. Next morning he looked 
rather downcast, and complained that the mm 
"had spoiled his head." 

It was CLuite late when our flotiUa got under 
way, with a large dory, carrying the big drum, 
leading the van. There were some twenty-odd 
boats, containing nearly the entire population of 
the village. This number was increased from the 
huts lower down, the occupants of which hailed ns 
with loud shouts, and hastened after us with their 
canoes. We went down the river with the current 
very rapidly, the men paddling in the maddest way, 
and shouting to each other at the top of their 
voices. Occasionally the boats got foul, when the 
rivals used the flat of their paddles over each 
other's heads without scruple. I was considerably 
in the rear, and, from the sound of the blows, im- 
agined that every skull had been crushed ; but next 
moment their owners were paddling and shouting 
as if nothing had happened. !From that day, I had 
a morbid curiosity to get a Mosquito skull ! 

We all encamped at night, on the sandy beach 
of a large island, in the centre of the lagoon. The 
reader may be sure that I made my own camp at a 
respectable distance from the rest of the party, 
where I had a quiet supper, patronized, as usual, 
by Captain Drummer. As soon as it became dark, 
the preparations for fishing commenced. The 
1 were left on the beach, and three men ap- 



portioned to each boat. One was detailed to pad- 
dle, another to. hold the torch, and the third, and 
most sMUful, acted aa striker or spearsman. The 
torches were made of splinters of the fat yellow 
pine, which abounds in the interior. The spears, I 
observed, were of two kinds ; one firmly fixed by a 
shank at the end of a long light pole, called fiira- 
nock, which is not allowed to escape the hand of 
the striker. The other, called waisko-dusa, is 
much shorter. The stafi^ is hollow, and the iron 
spear-head, or harpoon, is fastened to a line which 
passes through rings hy the side of the shaft, and 
is wound to a piece of light-wood, designed to act 
as a float. When thrown, the head remains in the 
fish, while the line unwinds, and the float rises to 
the surface, to be seized again by the fisherman, 
who then hauls in his fish at his leisure. "When the 
fish is large and active, the chase after the float 
becomes animated, and takes the character of what 
fishermen call " sport," 

As I have said, no sooner was it dark than the 
boats pushed off, in different directions, on the la- 
goon. My Foyer hoy had borrowed a waisko- 
dusa, and with him to strike, and Antonio to 
paddle, I took a torch, and also glided out on the 
■water. My torch was tied to a pole, which I held 
over the how. Antonio paddled slowly, while the 
Foyer boy, entirely naked (for the strikers often go 
overboard after their own spears), stood in the how, 
with hia spear poised in his right hand, eagerly in- 
clining forward, and motionless as a statue. He 



was perfect in form, and his bronze limbs, juet 
tense enough to display witbout distorting the 
muscles, were brought in clear outline against the 
darkness by the light of the torch— reveahng a fig- 
ure and pose that would shame the highest achieve- 
ments of the sculptor. It was so admirable that I 
quite forgot the fisher in the artist, when, rapid as 
hght, the arm of the Poyer hoy fell, and the spear 
entered the water eight or nine feet ahead of the 
boat. The motion was so sudden, that it nearly 
startled me overboard. At first, 1 thought he had 
missed his mark, but I soon saw the white float, 
now dipping under the water, now jerked this way, 
now that, evincing clearly that the spearsman had 
been true in hie aim. A few strokes of Antonio's 
paddle brought the float within reach of the striker, 
who began, in sporting phrase, to " land" the fish. 
It made a desperate struggle, and, for awhile, it 
was what is called a " tight pull " between the 
boj md the hsh Neverfchele««, he was hnilly got 
m, ind jrcved to 1 e what is tailed a June, or Jew- 
fish (foiarinui), by the Enghsh, and Palj>n by tho 
native*' In point of dehcaij and iiL.haes'i of flavor, 
this fihh is unequaled by any other found m these 
seis The one which wo obtained weighed not far 
tiom eighty pcunds Some of them have been 
knjwn to weigh two or three hundred pounds. Our 
prize made a great disturbance in our little canoe, 
to which Antonio put a stop by disemboweling him 
on the spot, after which we resumed our sport. 
We were successful in obtaining a number of rock- 


fish, and several si&oko, or sheep's-heads. Ambi- 
tious to try my skill, I took the Poyer boy's place 
for awMle, I was astonished to find how perfectly 
clear the water proved to bo, ujider the light of the 
torch. The bottom, which, in the broad daylight, 
had been utterly invisible, now revealed all of its 
mysteries, its shells, and plants, and stones, with 
wonderful distinctness. I observed also that the 
fish seemed to be attracted by the light, and, in- 
stead of darting away, rose toward the surface and 
approached the boat. I allowed several opportuni- 
ties of throwing the spear to slip. Finally, a fine 
sheep's-head rose just in front of me ; I aimed my 
spear, and threw it with such an excess of force as 
literally to drive the dory from beneath my feet, 
precipitating myself in the water, and knocking 
down and extinguishing the torch in my ungraceful 
tumble. The spear was recovered, and I felt rather 
disappointed to find that it was innocent of a fish. 
Antonio suggested that he had broken loose, which 
was kind of him, but it would n't do. As we were 
without light, and, moreover, had as many fish as 
we could possibly dispose of, we paddled ashore. 

Up to this time, I had been so much absorbed 
with our own sport, that I had not noticed the other 
fishers. It was a strange scene. Each torch glow- 
ed at the apex of a trembling pyramid of red hght, 
which, as the boats could not he seen, seemed to be 
inspired with life. Some moved on stately and slow, 
while others, where the boats were rapidly whirled 
in pursuit of the stricken fish, seemed to be chasing 



each other in fiery glee. Every Buccessfiil throw 
was hailed with vehement shouts, heightened by 
loud blows made by striking the flat of the paddle 
on the surface of the water. All along the shore, 
the women had lighted fires whereat to dry the fish, 
which, in this climate, can not be kept long without 
spoiling. ■ The light from these fires caught on the 
heavy foliage of the shore, and revealing the groups 
of half-naked women and children, helped to make 
up a scene which it is difficult to paint in words, 
but which can never be forgotten hy one who has 
witnessed it. 

It was past midnight before the boats all returned 
to the shore ; and then commenced the drying of 
the fish. Over all the fires, just out of reach of the 
flames, were raised frame-works of canes, like grid- 
irons, on which the fish, thinly sHced lengthwise, 
and rubbed with salt, were laid. They were repeat- 
edly turned, so that, with the salt, smoke and heat, 
they were so far cured in the morning, as to require 
no further attention than a day or two of exposure 
to the sun. Our Jew-fish was thus prepared, and 
afterward stood us in good stead, much resembling 
smoked salmon, but less salt. While Antonio super- 
intended this operation, I cooked the head and 
shoulders of the big fish in the sand, after the man- 
ner I have already described, and achieved a signal 
success, inasmuch as the dish was well seasoned with 
" hunger sauce." 


arouud them. 

FF the mouth of Peail Oi> Li^ on 
are numeious cije whiLti iii fact 
^i\e their namot theligo n They 
are celebrated for the niimher and 
Tariety of turtles found on and 
fo much delighted with our 
torch-light fishing, that I hecame eager to witness 
the sport of turtle-hunting, which ia regarded by the 
Mosc[uitoa as their noblest art, and in which they 
have acquired proverbial expertness. Drummer 
required only a little persuasion and a taste of rum, 
to undertake an expedition to the cays. As this 
involved going out in the open sea, he selected four 
of the largest pitpans, to each of which he assigned 
the requisite number of able-bodied and expert men. 
The women and remaining men were left to continue 
their fishing in the lagoon. My canoe was much 
too small to venture off, and accordingly was left in 



ctarge of the Poyer boy, "who, armed with my 
double-barreled guiij felt himself a host. With 
Antonio, I waa given a place in the largest pitpan, 
commanded by Harris, Oaptain Drummer's " c[uar- 
ter-maeter," tvho was much the finest specimen of 
physical beauty that I had seen among the Samboe. 

I was cLuite concerned on finding how little pro- 
visions were taken in the boats, since bad weather 
often keeps the fishermen out for two or three 
weeks. But Drummer insisted that we should find 
plenty to cat, and we embarked. "We caught the 
land-breeze as soon as we got from under the lee of 
the shore, and drove rapidly on our course. Although 
the sea was comparatively smooth, yet the boats all 
carried such an amount of sail as to keep me in a 
state of constant nervousness. One would scarcely 
believe that the Mosquito men venture out in their 
pitpans, in the roughest weather with impunity, 
riding the waves like sea-guUs. If upset, they right 
their boats in a moment, and with their broad pad- 
dle-blades clear them of water in an incredibly short 
space of time. 

We went, literally, with the wind ; and in four 
houra after leaving the shore, were among the cays. 
These are very numerous, surrounded by reeft, 
through which wind intricate channels, all well 
known to the fishers. Some of the cays are mere 
heaps of sand, and half-disintegrated coral-rock, 
others are larger, and a few have bushes, and an 
occasional palm-tree upon them, much resembling 
" El Koncador." It was on one of the latter, where 



there were the ruins of a rude hut, and a place 
scooped in the sand, containing brackish -water, 
that we landed, and made our encampment, No 
Booner was this done than Harris started out with 
his boat after turtle, leaving the rest to repair the 
hut, and arrange matters for the night. Of course 
I accompanied Harris, 

The apparatus for striking the turtle is esceed- 
ingly simple, corresponding exactly with the waisko- 
dusa, which I have described, except that instead 
of being barbed, the point is an ordinary triangular 
file, ground exceedingly sharp. This, it has been 
found, is the only thing which will pierce the thick 
armor of the turtle ; and, moreover, it makes so 
small a hole, that it seldom kills the green turtle, 
and very shghtly injures the scales of the hawkbiU 
variety, which futnishes the shell of commerce. 

Harris stood in the bow of the pitpan, keeping a 
sharp look out, holding his spear in his right 
hand, with hie left hand behind him, where it an- 
swered the purpose of a telegraph to the two men 
■who paddled. They kept their eyes fixed on the 
signal, and regulated their strokes, and the course 
and speed of the boat, accordingly. Not a word 
was said, as it is supposed that the turtle is sharp 
of hearing. In this manner we paddled among 
the cays for half an hour, when, on a slight motion 
of Harris' hand, the men altered their course a lit- 
tle, and worked their paddles so slowly and quietly 
as scarcely to cause a ripple. I peered ahead, but 
saw only what I supposed was a rock, projecting 



above the water. It was, neverttelesB, a turtle, 
floating lazily on the surface, as turtles are wont to 
do. Notwithstanding the caution of our approach, 
he either heard us, or caught sight of the boat, and 
sank while we were yet fifty yards distant. There, 
was a quick motion of Harris' manual telegraph, 
and the men began to paddle with the utmost ra- 
pidity, striking their paddles deep in the water. In 
an instant the boat had darted oyer the spot where 
the turtle had disappeared, and I caught a hurried 
glimpse of him, making his way with a speed which 
quite upset my notions of the ability of turtles in 
that line, predicated upon their unwieldiness on 
land. He literally seemed to slide through the 

And now commenced a novel and exciting chase. 
Harris had his eyes on the turtle, and the men 
theirs on Harris' telegraphic hand. Now we darted 
this way, then that ; slow one moment, rapid the 
next, and anon stocli still The water was not so 
deep as to permit our scaly friend to get entirely 
out of reach of Harris' practiced eye, although to 
me the bottom appeared to be a hopeless maze. As 
the turtle must rise to the surface sooner or later 
to breathe, the object of the pui^uer is to keep near 
enough to transfix him when he appears. Finally, 
after half an hour of dodging about, the boat was 
stopped with a jerk, and down darted the spear. 
As the whole of the shaft did not go under, I saw it 
had not failed of its object. A moment more, and 
Harris had hold of the line. After a few struggles 



and spasmodic attempts to get away, his spirit gave 
in, and the tired turtle tamely allowed himself to 
be conducted to ■ tho shore. A few sharp strokes 
disengaged tho fUe, and he was turned over on his 
back on the sand, the veiy picture of utter helpless- 
ness, to await our retum, I havo a fancy that the 
expression of a turtle's head, and half-closed eyes, 
under such circumstances, is the superlative of 
saintly resignation ; to which a few depreciatory 
movements of his flippers come in as a sanctimoni- 
ous accessory, like the upraised pajme of a well-fed 
]!! n 

This " specimen," as the naturalists would say, 
proved to be of the smaller, or hawk-biU variety, 
the flesh of which is inferior to that of the green 
turtle, although hawk-bills are most valuable on 
account of their shells. So wc paddled off again. 



keeping cloae to the cays and reefs, where the water 
is shallow. It was nearly dark hefore Harris got a 
chance at another turtle, which he struck on the 
bottom, at least eight feet helow the surfiice. 
This was of the green variety ; he was lifted in the 
hoat, and his head unceremoniously chopped off, 
lest he should take a spiteful nip at the hams of 
the paddlers. 

We wound our way back to the rendezvous, pick- 
ing up our hawk-bill, who was that night unmer- 
cifully put through the cruel process, which I have 
already had occasion to describe, for separating the 
scales from the shell, after which he was permitted 
to take himself off. I may here mention, that be- 
sides the two varieties of turtle which I have 
named, there is another and lai^er kind, called 
the loggerhead turtle (Tesiwdo Garetta), which re- 
sembles the green turtle, but is distinguished by 
the superior size of the head, greater breadth of 
shell, and by its deeper and more variegated colors. 
It grows to be of great size, sometimes reaching one 
thousand or twelve hundred pounds ; but its flesh 
is rank and coarse, and the laminte of its shell too 
thin for use. It, nevertheless, supplies a good oil, 
proper for a variety of purposes. 

That evening, we had turtle steaks, and turtle eggs, 
roasted turtle flippers, and calUpash and callipee 
(the two latter in the form of soup), — in fact, turtle 
in every form known to the Mosquito men, who 
weU deserve the name of turtle-men. The tmi-le 
conceals its eggs in the sand, but the natives are 


"jumping turtle." hi 

ready to detect indications of a deposit, wliicli ttey 
verify by thrusting in the sand the iron ramrod of 
a musket, an operation which they call " feeling 
for eggs." 

About midnight, it came on to rain heavily, and 
continued all the next day, so that nothing could 
be done. The time was " put in" talking turtle, and 
Harris got eo warmed up as to promise to show me 
what the MoscLuito men regard a^ the ne plus ultra 
of sldll in turtle craft, namely, ''jumping turtle." 
He did not explain to me what this meant, but 
gave me a significant w^g of the head, which is a 
Mo8C[uito synonym for nous verrons. 

The third day proved propitious, and Harris was 
successful in obtaining several fine turtles. About 
noon he laid aside his spear, and took his position, 
entirely naked, keeping up, nevertheless, his usual 
look-out. We were not long in getting on the 
track of a turtle. After a world of maneuvering, 
apparently with the object of driving him into shal- 
low water, Harris made a sudden dive overboard. 
The water boiled and bubbled for a few moments, 
■when he reappeared, holding a iine hawk-biU in 
his outstretched hands. And that feat proved to 
be what is called "jumping a turtle." It often 
happens that bunghng fishermen get badly bitten 
in these attempts, which are not without their dan- 
gers from the sharp coral rocks and spiny sea-eg^. 

During the afternoon of the fourth day, we re- 
turned to the lagoon, taking with us eight green 
turtles, and about ninety pounds of ilne shell. We 



found that most of tlie party wliicli we had left had 
gone back to the village, whither Drummer and his 
" quarter-master" were urgent I should return with 
them. But Waeswatla had no further attractions 
for me, and I was firm in my purpose of proceeding 
straightway up the coast. 

With many last turns at the grog, I parted — not 
■without regret— rwith Driunmer and Harris, giving 
them each a gaudy siik handkerchief, in acknowl- 
edgment of two fine turtles which they insisted on 
my accepting. Harris also gaye me his turtle- 
spear, and was much exalted when I told him that 
I should have it engraved with his name, and hung 
up in my waila (house) at home. 

Peari-Cay Lagoon is upward of forty miles long, 
hy, perhaps, ten miles wide at its broadest part. 
There are three or four settlements upon it, the 
principal of which are called Kirka, and English 
Bank, I did not visit any of these, but took my 
course direct for the upper end of the lagoon, where, 
as the chain of salt lakes is here interrupted for a 
considerable distance, there is another haulover 
from the lagoon to the sea, I saw several collec- 
tions of huts on the western shore, and on a small 
island, where we stopped during the mid-day heats, 
I gathered a few stalks of the jiqmlite (ImMgofera 
disperTna), or indigenous indigo-plant, which may 
be ranked as one of the prospective sources of 
wealth on the coast. 

We arrived at the haulover in the midst of a 
drenching thunder-storm, which lasted into the 



night. It waa impossible to light a fire, and so we- 
drew up the canoe on the beach, and, piling our 
traps in the centre, I perched myself on the top, 
where, with the sail thrown over my head, I enact- 
ed the part of a tent-pole for the Hve-long night t 
My Indian companions stripped themselves naked, 
rubbed their bodies with palm oil, and took the 
pelting with all the nonchalance of ducks. For 
want of any thing better to do, I ate plantains and 
dried fish, and, after the raip subsided, watched the 
brilliant fire-fliee, of which hundreds moved about 
lazily under the lee of the bushes. The atmos- 
phere, after the storm had subsided; was murky and 
sultry, making respiration difficult, and inducing a 
sense of extreme lassitude and fatigue. Every 
thing was damp and sticky, and so saturated with 
water, that it was impossible for me to lie down, I 
applied to my Jamaica for comfort, hut, in spite of 
it, relapsed into a fit of gluTns, or " blue-devils." 
To add to my discomfort, innumerable sand-flies 
came out, and, soon after, a cloud of moaquitos, 
while a forest-fuU of some kind of tree-toad struck 
up a doleful piping, which proved too much for 
even my tried equanimity. I got up, and strode 
back and forth on the narrow sand-beach, in a ve- 
hement and intemperate manner, wishing myself in 
New York, any where, even in Jamaica ! The re- 
membrance of my first night on the shores of the 
lagoon only served to make me feel the more 
wretched, and I longed to have " some gentleman 
do me the favor to thread on the tail of me coat I" 



Toward daylight, however, my companions had 
contrived to make up a sicHy flre, in the smoke of 
which I sought refuge from the mosq^uitoes and 
sand-fliee, and became soothed and Booty at the 
same time. Day came at last, but the eun was ob- 
scured, and things wore hut shght improvement on 
the night. I found that we were on a narrow strip 
of sand, scarcely two hundred yards wide, covered 
with scrubby buahea, interspersed with a few twist- 
ed trees, looking like weather-beaten skeletons, be- 
yond which was the sea, dark and threatening, 
■under a gray, iilmy sky, Antonio predicted a 
storm, what he called a temporal, during which it 
often rains steadily for a week. Under the circum- 
stances; it became a pregnant question what to do : 
whether to return down the lagoon to some more 
eligible spot for an encampment, or to push out 
boldly on the ocean, and make an effort to gain the 
mouth of a large river, some miles up the coast, 
called Eio Grande or Great River. 

I resolved upon the latter couree, and we drag- 
ged the canoe across the haulover. Although the 
surf was not high, we had great difficulty in 
launching our boat, which was effected by my com- 
panions, who, stationed one on each side, seized a 
favorable moment, as the waves fell, to drag it be- 
yond the line of breakers. While one kept it sta- 
tionary with his paddle, the other, watching his op- 
portunity, carried off the articles one by ono, and 
finally, stripping myself, I mounted on Antonio's 
shoulders, and was deposited like a sack in the 



boat. We paddled out until we got a good offing, 
then put up our sail, and laid our course nortb- 
florth-weet. The coast was dim and indietinct, but 
I had great faith in the Poyer hoy, whose judgment 
had tlius far never failed. About four o'clock in 
the afternoon, we came in sight of a knoll or high 
bank, which, covered with large trees, rises on the 
north side of the mouth of Great Eiver, constitut- 
ing an excellent landtoark, I was in no wise sorry 
to find ourselves nearing it rapidly, for the wind be- 
gan to freshen, and I feared lest it might raise such 
a surf on the bar of the river as to prevent us from 
entering. In fact, the waves had begun to break at 
the shallower places on the bar, while elsewhere 
the north-east wind drove over the water in heavy 
swells. The sail was hastily gathered in, and my 
Indians, seizing their paddles, watched the seventh, 
or downing wave, and, by vigorous exertion, cheer- 
ing each other with shouts, kept the canoe at its 
crest, and thus we were swept majestically over tho 
bar, into the comparatively quiet water beyond it. 
Half an hour afterward, the great waves broke on 
the very spot where we had crossed, in clouds of 
spray, and with the noise of thunder ! 

The mouth of Great Kiver is broad, but entirely 
exposed to the north-east ; and, although it is a 
large stream, the water on its bar is not more than 
iive or six feet deep, shutting out all large vessels, 
which otherwise might go up a long way into the 
country. There are several islands near the mouth. 
On the innermost one, which toward the sea is 



bluff and Mgh, we made our encampment. It ap- 
peared to me as favorable a spot as we could find, 
Tvbereon to await tbe temporal which Aatonio had 
predicted, and tbe approach of which became ap- 
parent to even tbe most impracticed observer. For- 
tunately, with Harris' turtles, we felt easy on the 
score of food. So we dragged the canoe high up on 
tbe bank, and while I kindled a Are, my companions 
busied themselves in constructing a shelter over tbe 
boat. Stout forked stakes were planted at each 
end of the canoe, to support a ridge-pole, with other 
shorter ones supporting the outer poles. To these, 
canes were lasbed transversely, and over all was 
woven a thatch of cahoon, or palmetto-leaves. Out- 
side, and on a line with tbe eaves, a Httle trench 
was dug, to carry off the water, and preserve the 
interior from being flooded by what might run 
down tbe slope of the ground. So rapidly was aU 
this done, that before it was quite dark the but was 
so far advanced as to enable us to defy the rain, 
wbicb soon began to fall in torrents. The strong 
Boa wind drove off tbe mosquitos to tbe bush on tbe 
main-land, so that I slept comfortably and well, in 
spite of the thunder of the sea and the roaring of 
tbe wind. 

For eight days it rained almost uninterruptedly. 
Sometimes, between nine and eleven o'clock, and 
for perhaps an hour near sunset, there would be a 
pause, and a luU in the wind, and a general light- 
ing up of the leaden sky, as if tbe sun were about to 
brealt through. But tbe clouds would gather again 


tKOPICAL "temporal." 


darker than ever, and the rain set in with a steady 
pouring unknown in northern latitudes, For eight 
mortal days we had no ray of sun, or moon, or star I 
Every iron thing became thickly coated with rust ; 
our plantains began to spot, and our dried fish to 
grow soft and mouldy, requiring to be hung over 
the small fire which wo contrived to keep alive, in 
one comer of our extemporaneous hut. 

After the third day, the water in the river began 
to rise, and during the night rose more than eight 
feet. On the fifth day the current was full of large 
trees, their leaves still green, which seemed to be 
bound together with vines. In the afternoon down 
came the entire thatched roof of a native hut, which 
lodged against our island, bringing us a most accept- 
able freight, in the shape of a plump two-months 



old pig. Hie fellow-voyager— strange companion- 
ship i— was a tame parrot, with clipped wings, who 
looked melancholy enough when rescued, hut who, 
after getting dry in our hut, and soothing his appe- 
tite on my plantains, first hecamo mhthful, then 
boisterous, and finally mischievous. He was im- 
mediately installed as one of the party, and made 
more noise in the world than all the rest. To me 
he proved an unfailing source of amusement. He 
was respectful toward Antonio, but yicious toward 
the Foyer boy, and never happy except when 
cautiously stealing to get a bite at his toes. When 
Buccessful in this ho became wild with dehght, and 
as noisy and vehement as a lucky ^Frenchman. It 
was one of his prime delights to gnaw off the corks 
of my bottles ; and he was possessed of a most in- 
sane desire to get inside of my demijohn, mistak- 
ing it, perhaps, for a wicker cage, from which he 
imagined himself wrongfully excluded. Antonio 
called him " El Moro," the Moor, for what reason 1 
did not understand, and the name suiting me as 
well as any other, I baptized him with water, " El 
Moro," and got an ugly pinch on the wrist for my 

Our young porker escaped drowning only to fall 
into the hands of the Philistines ; we had nothing 
to feed him ; he might get away ; he was, more- 
over, invitingly fat ; so we incontinently out his 
throat, and ate him up ! 

During our imprisonment, my companions weie 
not idle. Upon the island were many mohoe-tvees. 



the bark of which is tough, and of a fine, soft, 
white fibre. Of this they collected considerable 
quantities, which the Poyer boy braided into a sort 
of cap, designed as the foundation of the elegant 
feather head-dress which he afterward gave me ; 
while Antonio, more utilitarian, wove a small net, 
not unlike that which we use to catch crabs. He 
at once put it into recLuisition to catch craw-fish, 
which abounded among the rocks to the seaward of 
the island. But before entering upon the subject 
of oraw-flgh, I may say that the mokoe bark, from 
its fine quality, and the abundance ia which it may 
be procured, might be made exceedingly useful for 
the manufacture of paper-— an article now becom- 
ing scarce and dear. 

The crai/ or craw-jish resemble the lobster, but 
are smaller in size, and want the two great claws. 
Their fiesh has more flavor than that of either the 
crab or lobster, and we found them an acceptable 
addition to our commissariat. There were many 
wood-pigeons and parrots on the island, but my gun 
had got in such a state, from the damp, that I did 
not attempt to use it. 

Our protracted stay made a large draft on our 
yueas and plantains, and it became important to us 
to look out for fruit and vegetables. The current 
in the river was too strong, and too much obstruct- 
ed with floating timber, to permit us to use om- 
boat. The water, even at the broadest part of the 
stream, had risen upward of fifteen feet, equivalent 
to a rise of twenty or twenty-five feet in the inte- 



rior ! The banks were overflowed ; the low ialanda 
outside of us completely submerged and our own 
space much circumscribod. A few plantain-trees, 
which we had observed on the first evening, had 
been broken down or swept away, and we were fain 
to put ourselves on a short allowance of vegetables. 
One morning, during a pause in the rain, I ven- 
tured out ; and, after a little search, found a tree, 
resembling a pear-tree, and bearing a largo quan- 
tity of a small fruit, of the size and shape of a crab- 
apple, and exactly like it in smell. I cried out de- 
lightedly to Antonio, holding up a handful of the 
supposed apples. To my surprise, he shouted, 
" Throw them down ! throw them down !" explain- 
ing that they were the fruit of the m.angeneel or 
mamaniUa, and rank poison. He hurried me away 
from the tree, assuring me that even the dew or 
rain-drops which fell from its loaves were poisonouF, 
and that its influence, like that of the fabled upas, 
is so powerful as to swell the faces and limbs of 
those who may be ignorant or indiscreet enough 
to sleep beneath its shade ! I found out subse- 
(juently, that it is with the aerid mflky juice of this 
tree that the Indians poison their arrows. I ever 
afterward gave it a wide berth. In shape and 
smell is is so much like the crab-apple that I can 
readily understand how it might prove dangerous to 
strangers. Under the tropics, it is safe to let wild 
fruits alone. Antonio, more successful than myself, 
found a large quantity of ffuavas, which the natives 
eat with groat relish, but which to me have a disa- 


THE BELBASl!. 121 

greeable aromatic, or rather, musky taste. 80 I 
stuck to plantains, and left my companions and 
" El Moro" to enjoy a monopoly of guavas. 

\Finally, tho windows of heaven were closed, the 
rain ceased, and the sun came out with a bright, 
well-washed face. It was none too soon, for every 
article which I possessed, clothing, books, food, all 
had begun to spot and mould from tho damp. I 
had myself a sympathetic feeling, and dreamed at 
night that 1 was covered with a green mildew ; 
dreams so vivid that I once got up and went out 
naked in the raiii, to wash it off ! 

After the leaves had ceased to drip, we stretched 
lines between the trees, and hung out our scanty 
wardrobe to dry. I rubbed and brushed at my 
court suit of hlack, but in vain. What with salt 
■water at " El Koncador," and mould here, it had 
acquired a permanent rusty and leprous loot, which 
half inclined me to follow the Poyer hoy's sugges- 
tion, and soak it in palm oil I Few and simple as 
were our ecLuipments, it took full two days to redeem 
them from the effects of the damp. My gun moro 
resembled some of those c[iiabit old flre-locks taken 
from wrecks, and exhibited in museums, than any 
thing useful to the present generation. In view of 
aU things, I was fain to ejaculate, Heaven save me 
from another "temporal" on the Most[uito Shore ! 


jfe cjssva'u 

T was thiee days after the ram had 
ceased, before we could embirk on 

I the river, and e\eii then its cuirent 
was angary and turbid and filled 
with, floating trees We liugged the banks in our 
accent, dirtins^ tiora mt side of th'' etieani tj the 
other, to aviil OTirseh es of the ?ac7-''e('' oi eddies, 
somLtimG'i lining by in -unsuccessful attempt, all we 
had gained by half an hour of hard paddling. The 
banks were much torn by the water ; in some places 
they had fallen in, carrying many trees into the 
stream, where they remained anchored to the shore 
by the numerous tough vines that twined around 
them. Elsewhere the trees, half undermined, leaned 
heavily over the current, in which the long vines 
hung trailing in mournful masses, like the drooping 
leaves of the funeral willow. The long grass on the 
low islands had been beaten down, and was covered 



with a slimy deposit, over which stalked hungry 
water-birds, the snow-white ibis, and long-shanked 
crane, in search of wonns and insects, and entangled 

We were occupied the whole day, in reaching the 
first settlement on this river — a picturesque collec- 
tion of low huts, in a forest of palm, papaya, and 
plantain- trees. Near it were some considerable 
patches of maize, and long reaches of yucas, scLuash, 
and melon-vines. There were, in short, more evi- 
dences of industry and thrift than I had yet seen on 
the entire coast. 

As we approached the bank, in front of the huts, 
I observed that all the inhabitants were pure In- 
dians, whom my Foyer hoy hailed in his own tongue. 
I afterward found out that they were Woolwas, and 
spoke a dialect of the same language with the 
Foyers, and Cookras, to the northward. As at 
Wasswatla, nearly all the inhabitants crowded 
down to the shore to meet me, affording, with their 
slight and symmetrical bodies, and long, well- 
ordered, glossy black hair, a striking contrast to the 
lai^e-beUied, and spotted mongrels on the Wawa- 
shaan. I produced my "King-paper," and ad- 
vanced toward a couple of elderly men bearing 
white wooden wands, ■which I at once conjectured 
were insignia of authority. But no sooner did 
they get sight of my " King-paper," than they 
motioned me back with tokens of displeasure, 
exclaiming, "Sax! sax!" which I had no dif- 
ficulty in comprehending; meant "take it away!" 



So I folded it up, put it in my pocket, and ex- 
tended mj hand, which was taken by each, and 
shaken in the most formal manner, "When the men 
■with the wands had finished, all the others came 
forward, and went through the same ceremony, 
most of them ejaculating, interrogatively, Nakisma ? 
which appears to be an exact eijuivalent of the 
English, " How are you ?" 

This done, the men with the wanda beckoned to me 
to follow them, which I did, to a large hut, neatly 
wattled at the sides, and closed by a door of 
canes. One of them pushed this open, and I en- 
tered after him, followed only by those who had 
wands, the rest clustering like bees around the 
door, or peering through the openings in the wat- 
tled walls. There were several rough blocks of wood 
in the interior, upon which they seated themselves, 
placing me between them. AU this while there 
■was an unbroken silence, and I was quite in a fog 
as to whether I was held as a guest or as a prisoner. 
I looked into the faces of my frionda in Tain ; they 
were as impassible as stones. I, howcrer, felt re- 
assured when I saw Antonio at the door, his face 
wearing rather a pleased than alarmed expression. 

We sat thus a very long time, as it appeared to 
me, when there was a movement outside, the crowd 
separated, and a man entered, bearing a large 
earthen vessel filled with liquid, followed by two 
girls, with baskets piled ■with cakes of corn meal, 
fragments of some kind of broiled meat, and a 
quantity of a paste of plantains, having the taste of 



figs, and called bisbire. The eld eat of the men of 
wands fiUed a small calabash, with the liquid, 
touched it to his lips, and passed it to me. I did 
the same, and handed it to my next neighbor ; but 
he motioned it back, exclaiming, " Dis ! dis '." 
drink, drink t I found it to he a species of pahn- 
wine, with which I afterward became better ae- 
cLuainted. It proved pleasant enough to the taste, 
and I drained the calabash. Another one of the 
old men then took up some of the roaat meat, tore 
o±f and ate a little, and handed the rest to me. 
Not slow in adaptation, I took all hints, and wound 
up by making a hearty meal. The remnants 
were then passed out to Antonio, who, however, 
was permitted to wait on himself. 

I made some observations to Antonio in Spanish, 
which I perceived was understood by the principal 
dignitary of the wands, who, after some moments, 
informed me, in good Spanish, that the hut in 
which we were, was the cabtldo of the village, and 
that it was wholly at my service, so long as I chose 
to stay. Ho furthermore pointed out to me a rude 
drum hanging in one corner, made by stretching 
the raw skin of some animal over a section of a hollow 
tree, upon which he instructed me to beat in case I 
wanted any thing. This done, he rose, and, followed 
by his companions, ceremoniously retired, leaving 
me in quiet poeseesion of the largest and best hut 
in the village. I felt myself quite an important 
personage, and ordered up my hammock, and the 
various contents of my canoe, with a degree of sat- 



isfaction which I had not experienced when waging a 
war against the pigs, in the " King's house" at 

I Bubsequently ascertained that all of the ideas 
of government which the Indians on this river pos- 
eess, were derived from the Spaniards, either de- 
scending to them from former Spanish estabHsh- 
ments here, or obtained from contact with the 
Spaniards far up in the interior. The principal 
men were called " alcaldes" and many Spanish 
worda were in common use, I discovered no trace 
of negro blood among them, and found that they 
entertained a feeling of dislike, amountiog to hostil- 
ity, to the MoscLuito men. So far as I could ascer- 
tain, while they denied the authority of the Mos- 
quito king, they sent down annually a certain 
quantity of sarsaparUla, maize, and other articles, 
less as tribute than as the traditionary price of 
being let alone by the Sambos, In former times, it 
appeared, the latter lost no opportunity of kidnap- 
ping their children and women, and selUng them to 
the Jamaica traders, as slaves. Indeed, they some- 
times undertook armed forays in the Indian terri- 
tory, for the purpose of taking prisoners, to be sold 
to men who made this trafBc a regular business. 
This practice continued down to the abolition of 
slavery in Jamaica — a measure of which the llos- 
quito men greatly complain, notwithstanding that 
they were not themselves exempt from being occa- 
sionally kidnapped. 

The difficulty of entering the Rio Grande, and 



the absence of any considerable traffic with the 
natives on its banks, are among the causes which 
have contributed to keep them free from the de- 
grading influences that prevail on the Mosquito 
Shore, They rely chiefly upon agriculture for their 
support, and fish and hunt but little. They have 
abundance of maize, yucas, cassava, sc[uashes, plan- 
tains, papayas, cocoa-nuts, and other fruits and 
vegetables, including a few limes and oranges, as 
also pigs and fowls, and higher up the river, in the 
savannah country, a few horned cattle, I observed, 
among the domestic fowls, the true Muscovy duck, 
and the idigenous hen or chachalaca. 

The people themselves, thoi^h not tall, are well- 
made, and have a remarkably soft and inoffensive 
expression. The women— and especially the girls — 
were exceedingly shy, and always left the huts when 
I entered. The men universally wore the ule toiir- 
nou, or breech-cloth, but the women had in its 
place a piece of cotton cloth of their own manufac- 
ture, striped with blue and yeUow, which hung half- 
way down the thighs, and was supported above the 
hips by being tucked under in some simple, but, to 
me, inexplicable manner,* The young girls were 
full and symmetrical in form, with fine busts, and 
large, lustrous, black eyes, which, however, always 
had to me a startled, deer-like expression, I saw 

* The blue dye, uaeil in. coloring by these Indians, is made Itom 
the jiqidlite, which, as I have said, ia indigenous on the coast. The 
jellow from the aaotta, called aahiota, the same used to give the color 
known as nankeen. The tree producing it ia abundant tliroughout 
all Central America. 

Hosted byGoOgle 


no iire-arma among the men, although they s 
to he acq^uainted with their use. They had, in- 
Btead, fine hows and arrows, the latter pomted with 
iron, or a species of tough wood, hardened in the 
fire. The hoys universally had blow-pipes or reeds, 
with which they were very expert, killing ducks, 
curlews, and a kind of red partridge, at the distance 
of thirty and forty yards. The silence with which 
the light arrow is sped, enahles the practiced hun- 
ter frequently to kill the greater part of a flock or 
covey, hefore the rest take the alarm. 

My hfe in the cahildo was unmarked hy any ad- 
venture worth notice. I received plantains, fowls, 
whatever I desired, Aladdin-like, hy tapping the 
drum. This was always promptly responded to hy a 
couple of young Indians, who asked no questions, and 
made no replies, hut did precisely what they were 
hid. Neither they nor the alcaldes would accept 
any thing in return for what they furnished me, be- 
yond a few red cotton handkerchiefs, and some 
small triangular files, of which old Hodgson had 
wisely instructed me to take in a small supply. They 
all seemed to he unacquainted with the use of 
money, although not without some notion of the 
value of gold and sUver. I saw several of the wo- 
men with rude, light bangles of gold, which metal, 
the alcaldes told me, was found in the sands of the 
river, very far up, among the mountains. 

Among the customs of these Indians, there is one 
of a very curious nature, with which I was made 
acquainted by accident. Nearly every day I strolled 



off in the woods, with a vague hope of some time 
or other encountering a tvaree, or wild hog (of 
whose presence in the neighborhood, an occasional 
foray on the maize fields of the Indiana bore wit- 
ness), or perhaps a peccari/, or some other large 
animal As the bush was thick, I seldom got far 
from the beaten paths of the natives, and had to 
content myself with now and then shooting a 
curassow, in Ueu of higher game. One day, I 
ventured rather further up the river than usual, 
and came suddenly upon an isolated hut. Being 
thirsty, I approached with a view of obtaining some 
water. I had got within perhaps twenty paces, 
when two old women dashed out toward me, with 
vehement cries, motioning me away with the wild- 
est gestures, and catching up handfuls of leaves 
and throwing them toward me. I thought this 
rather inhospitaMe„and at first was disposed not to 
leave. But, finally, thinking there must be some 
reason for all this, and seeing that the women ap- 
peared rather distressed than angry, I retracted my 
steps. I afterward found, upon inquiry, that the 
hut was what is called tabooed by the South Sea 
Islanders, and devoted to the women of the village, 
during their confinement. As this period ap- 
proaches, they retire to this secluded place, where 
they remain in the care of two old women for two 
moons, passing through lustrations or purifications 
unknown to the men. While the woman is so con- 
fined to the hut, no one is allowed to approach it, 
and all persons are especially cautious not to pass it 



to the windward, for it is imagined that hj so doing 
tlie wind, which supplies the hreath of the newly- 
horn child, would be taken away, and it would die. 
This singular notion, I afterward discovered, is also 
entertained by the Mo8c[uito people, who no doubt 
derived it from their Indian progenitors. 

The course of life of the Indians appeared to be 
exceedingly regular and monotonous. Both men 
and women found abundant occupation during the 
day ; they went to bed early, and rose with the 
dawn. Although most of them had hammocks, 
they universally slept on what arc called crickeries, 
or platforms of canes, supported on forked posts, 
and covered with variously-coloi-ed mats, woven of 
the bark of palm branches. I observed no drunken- 
ness among them, and altogether they were c[uiet, 
well-ordered, and industrious. In aK their relations 
with me, they were respectful ^d obliging, but ex- 
ceedingly reserved, I endeavored to break through 
their taciturnity, but without success. Hence, after 
a few days had passed, and the novelty had worn off, 
I began to weary of inactivity. So I one day pro- 
posed to the principal alcalde, that he should 
undertake a hunt for the tilbia, mountain cow, or 
tapir, and the peccary, or Mexican hog. He re- 
ceived the proposition deferentially, but suggested 
that the manitus, or sea-cow, was a more wonderful 
animal than either of those I had named, and that 
it would not be difEcult to find one in the river. I 
took up the hint eagerly, as I had already caught 
one or two glimpses of the manitus, which had 



greatly roused my curiosity^ The drum was there- 
upon beaten, and the alcalijes convened to consult 
upon the matter. They all came with their wands, 
and after due deliberation, fixed upon the next 
night for the expedition. Boats were accordingly 
got ready, and the hunters sharpened their lances 
and harpoons. The latter resembled very much 
the ordinary whaling harpoons, but were smaller in 
size. The lances were narrow and sharp, and 
attached to thin staffs, of a very tough and heavy 
wood. Notwithstanding that Antonio smiled and 
shook his head, I cleaned my gun elaborately, and 
loaded it heavily with balL 

Before narrating our adventure in the pursuit of 
the manitus, it will not be amies to explain that 
this animal is probably the most remarkable one 
found under the tropica, being amphibious, and the 
apparent connecting link between quadrupeds and 
fishes. It may perhaps be better compared to the 
seal, in its general characteristics, than to any other 
sea-animal. It has the two fore feet, or rather 
hands, but the hind feet are wanting, or only appear 
as rudiments beneath the skin. Its head is thick 
and heavy, and has sometiiing the appearance of 
that of a hornless cow. It has a broad, flat tail, or 
integument, spreading out horizontally, like a fan. 
The skin is dark, corrugated, and so thick and hard 
that a bullet can scarcely penetrate it, A few scat- 
tered hairs appear on its body, which has a general 
resemblance of that of the hippopotamus. There 
. varieties of the manitus, but it is an 



animal wliicli appears to te little known to natural- 
ists. Its habits are very imperfectly undeietood, 
and the natives tell many extraordinary stories 
ahout it, alleging, among other things, that it can 
be tamed. It is herbivorous, feeding on the long 
tender shoots of grass growing on the banlcs of the 
rivers, and will rise nearly half of its length out of 
water to reach its food. It is never found on the 
land, where it would he utterly helpless, since it 
can neither walk nor crawl. 

It is commonly from ten to fifteen feet long, huge 
and unwieldy, and weighing from twelve to fifteen 
hundred pounds. It has breasts placed betweciU 
its paws, and suckles its young. The male and 
female are usually found together. It is extremely 
acute in its sense of hearing, and immerges itself 
in tits water at tlie slightest noise. Great tact and 
caution are therefore necessary to Idll it, and a 
manitee hunt puts in requisition all the craft and 
sldll of the Indians, 

The favorite hour for feeding, with the manitus, 
is the early morning, during the dim, gray dawn. 
In consequence I was called up to join the hunters 
not long after midnight. Two large pitpans, each 
holding four or five men, were put in requisition, 
and we paddled rapidly up the river, for several 
hours, to the top of a long reach, where there were 
a number of low islands, covered with grass, and 
where the hanks were skirted by swampy savan- 
nahs. Here many hushes were cut, and thrown 
lightly over the boats, so as to make them resemble 




floating trees. We waited patiently until the 
proper hour arrivedj when the boats were cast loose 
from tho shore, and we drifted down with the cur- 
rent. One man was placed in the stem with a 
paddle to steer, another with a harpoon and line 

ciouclied in the how, while the rest, keepmif their 
long keen lances ckii of impediment*", knelt on the 
hottom AVo glided down m perfect sdence, one 
hoat close to eich bank I kept my eyes opened 
to the widest and m the dim hght got c|.uite ex- 
ated ovei a dozen logs oi sd, which I mistook tor 
mamtee But the hnnteis mide no sign, and we 
diifted on, until I got impatient, ind liegan to 
feai thit oui expedition might piove a failute, 
Eiit of a sudden, when I least expected it, the man 
in the bow launched his harpoon. The movement 
■was followed by a heavy plunge, and in an instant 
the boat swung round, head to the stream. Before 



I eould fairly comprelieiid what was going on, the 
boughs were all thrown overboard, and the men 
stood with their long lancea poised, ready for in- 
stant use. We had run out a lai^e part of the 
slack of the harpoon-line, which seemed to be fast 
to some immovablo object. The bowsman, how- 
ever, now began to gather it in, dragging up the 
boat slowly against the current. Suddenly the 
manitus, for it was one, left his hold on the bottom, 
and started diagonally across the river, trailing us 
rapidly after hira. This movement gradually 
brought him near the surface, as we could see by 
the commotion of the water. Down darted one of 
the lances, and under again went the manitus, now 
taking his course with the current, down the 
stream. The other boat, meantime, had come to 
our assistance, hovering in front of us, in order to 
fasten another harpoon the instant the victim 
should approach near enough to the surface. An 
opportvmity soon offered, and he received the second 
harpoon and another lance at the same instant. All 
this time I had both barrels of my gun cocked, 
feverishly awaiting my chance for a shot. Soon the 
struggles of the animal became less violent, and he 
several times came involuntarily to the surface. I 
watched my chance, when his broad head rose in 
sight, and discharged both barrels, at a distance of 
thirty feet, startling the hunters quite as much- as 
they had disconcerted me. It was the Lord's own 
mercy that some of them did not get shot in the 
general scramble 1 



The manitue, after receiving the second harpoon, 
became nearly helpless, and the Indians, apparently 
secure of their object, allowed the boats to drift 
■with him c[metly down the river. Occasionally he 
made an ineffectual attempt to dive to the bottom, 
dashing the water into foam in his efforts, but long 
before we reached the village he floated at the sur- 
face, CLuite dead. The morning was bright and 
clear when we paddled ashore, where we found 
every inhabitant of the place clustering to meet us. 
When they saw that we had been successful, they 
set up loud shouts, and clapped their hands with 
vigor, whence (as this was the only manifestation of 
excitement which I had seen) I inferred that the 
capture of a manitus was regarded as something of 
a feat, even on the Mosquito Shore. 

Ropes were speedily attached to the dead animal, 
at which every body seemed anxious to get a chance 
to pull, and it was dragged up the bank triumph- 
antly, amid vehement shouts, I had been some- 
what piqued at the contempt in which my gun had 
been held, and had been not a httle ambitious of 
being able to say that I had kiUed a manitus, and 
as, after my shot, the animal had almost entirely 
ceased its struggles, I thought it possible I had 
given it the final coup, and might conscientiously 
get up a tolerable brag on my adventure, over 
Mr. Sly's punch, when I returned to New York. 
It was with some anxiety, therefore, that I investi- 
gated its ugly head, only to find that my balls had 
hardly penetrated the skin, and that the hide of the 




manitus is proof against any thing in the shape of 
firearms, except, perhaps, a Minie rifle. And thus 
I was cheated out of another chance for immortal- 
ity I Lestj however, my story that the hide of the 
manitus is an inch thick, and tough as whale- 
bone, should not be credited, I had a strip of it cut 
off, which, when dried, became like horn, and a ter- 
ror to dogs, in all my suhsecLuent rambles. I suspect 
there are some impertinent curs here, in New York, 
who entertain stinging recollections of that same 
strip of manitua-hide ! Dr. Pounder, my old school- 
master, I am sure, would sacrifice his eyes, or per- 
haps, what is of equal consequence, his spectacles, 
to obtain it ! 

But whilo my balls were thus impotent, I found 
that the lances of the Indians had literally gone 
through and through the manitus. The harpoons 

did not penetrate far, their purpose being simply to 
fasten the animal. The lances were the fatal in- 
struments, and I afterwards saw a young Indian 
drive his completely through the trunk of a full- 
grown palm-tree. This variety of lance is called 
silah, and is greatly prized. 

There were great doings in the vQlage over the 



manitus. Beneath the sHn there was a deep layer 
of very sweet fat, below which appeared the flesh, 
closely resembling beef, hut coarser, and streaked 
throughout with layers of fat. This, when broiled 
before the fire, proved to bo tender, well-flavored, 
and altogether delicious food. The tail is eeteemed 
the most delicate part, and, as obeorved by Captain 
Henderson, who had a trial of it on the same shore, 
" is a dish of which Apicins might have been proud, 
and which the diecriminating palate of Heliogoba- 
lu8 would have thought entitled to the most distin- 
guished reward !" The better and more substantial 
part of the animal, namely, the flesh, was carefully 
cut in strips, rubbed with salt, and, hung in the sun 
to dry, made into what the Spaniards caU tasqjo. 
The other portions were distributed among the va- 
rious huts, and the tail was presented to me. When 
I came to leave, I found that the cured or tasajoed 
flesh had also been preserved for my use. Broiled 
on the coals, it proved CLuite equal to any thing I 
ever tasted, and as sweet as dried venison. And 
here I may mention that the flesh of the manitus, 
like that of the turtle, is not only excellent food, 
hut its effects on the system are beneficial, particu- 
larly in the cases of persons afflicted with scorbutic 
or scrofulous complaints. It is said these find 
speedy relief from its free use, and that, in the 
course of a few weelis, the disease entirely disap- 


I signiiied 
to mv fuends that I should be Lom 
pfUed, on the following day to 
leive them and pxnsue my voyage 
up the coait I had ^upjosed that 
i in interior connection between Great 
Kiver ind the lagoons which led to Cipe Gracias, 
but fDund that thej commenced with a stieam some 
twenty miloH to the northward, cilled " Suook 
Cieek, ind that it would he neceasiij to trust our 
httle bolt i^m to the sea 

The announcement of my intended departure was 
received without the slightest manifestion of feel- 
ing, but, during the evening, the inhabitants vied 
with each other in loading the canoo with fruits 
and provisions. They were, in fact, so lavish of 
their presents, that I was unable to accept them 
all, and had to leave more than half of what they 



brought me, I, nevoitlieleas, made special room 
for the tascg'oed manitus, and took all the Msbire 
which was "brought. As I have aheady explamed, 
the hisUre ia a paste made of ripe plantains, hav- 
ing about the consistency, and very much the taste, 
of dried fige. It ia made into rolls, closely wrapped 
in the leaves of the ti-ee on which it grows, which 
preserve it perfectly, and it thus becomes an article 
of prime value to the voyager.* 

I left the village with as much ceremony as I had 
entered it. The Alcaldes hearing their wands, 
escorted mc down to the water, where I was obliged 
to shake hands with all the people, each one ex- 
claiming, "Bisaiia/" equivalent to "Good-bye!" 

♦ Tha plantain and the banana are varietiea of the same plant 
They not only constitute marked feahires in the luioriant foliage of 
the tropica, but their fruit snppliea tlie place of bread, and forms tbe 
primap^ pan of the fbod of the people. They lliriTe best in a ricli, 
moist Boil, and are gener^y grown in regular walks, from shoota or 
bulba like those of the air-plant, which continually sprii^ up at the 
roola of the parent stem. Thoy aie very rapid in their growth, pro- 
ducing fruit within a twelyemonth. Moreover, not being dependent 
upon Hie seaaona, a constant supply is kept up during the year ; for, 
while one stem drops beneath ita load of ripe frail, another throws 
out its long flower-spike, and a third ahowa tlie half-formed cluster. 
The fruit is very nutritivei and is eaten in a great variety of forme — 
raw, boHed, roasted, mid fried — and in nearly every stage of its growth, 
as well when green as when yellow and mature. Humboldt tells 
ns, that it affords, in a given extent of ground, forty-four times more 
nutritive matter than the potato, and one hundred and thirty-thrao 
times more than wheat. As it requires httle if any care in the culti- 
vation, and produces thus perennially and abundantly, it may be 
callBd an "institution fertile encouragement of laainesa." On the 
banks of all the rivers on the Mosquito Shore, it ia found growing 
wild, from slioots brought down from tha plantations of the In- 
dians, and which have taken root where thoy were lodged by die 



They stood on the bank until we were entirely out 
of sight. I left them with admiration for their 
primitive habits, and genuine though formal hospi- 
tality. Although, in their taciturnity, they were 
not unlike our own Indians, yet, in all other re- 
spects, they afforded a very striking contrast to 
them. The North American savage disdains to 
work ; his ambition lies in war and the chase ; but 
the gentler dweller under the tropics is often indus- 
trious, and resorts to hunting only as an accessory 
to agriculture. 

The ceremonies of my departure had occupied so 
much time that, when we reached the mouth of the 
river, it was too late to venture outside. So we 
took up our quarters, for the night, in our old en- 
campment, on the island. The moon was out, and 
the evening was exceedingly beautiful — so beauti- 
ful, indeed, that I might have fallen into heroics, 
had it not been for a most infernal concert kept up 
by wild animals on the river's banks. I at first sup- 
posed that all the ferocious beasts of the forest had 
congregated, preparatory to a general fight, and 
comforted myself that we were separated from them 
by the river. There were unearthly groans, and 
angry snarls, and shrieks, so hke those of human 
beings in distress as to send a thrill through every 
nerve. At times the noises seemed blended, and 
became sullen and distant, and then so sharp and 
near that I could hardly persuade myself they were 
not produced on the island itself I should have 
passed the night in alarm, had not Antonio been 



there to explain to me that most, if not all these 
sounds came from what the Spaniards call the 
" tnono Colorado," or howling monkey. I after- 
ward saw a specimen — a large, ugly heast, of a 
dirty, brick-red color, with a long beard, but other- 
wise like an African baboon. Different from most 
other monkeys, they remain in nearly the same 
places, and have favorite trees, in which an entire 
troop will take up its quarters at night, and open a 
horrible serenade, that never fails to fill the mind 
of the inexperienced traveler with the most dismal 
fancies. Notwithstanding Antonio's cxplaaatione, 
they so disturbed my slumbers that I got up about 
midnight, and, going down to the edge of the 
water, fired both barrels of my gun in the direction 
of the greatest noise. But I advise no one to try a 
similar experiment. All the water-birds and wild 
fowl roosting in the trees gave a sudden flutter, and 
set up responsive croaks and screams, from which 
the monkeys seemed to derive great encourage- 
ment, and redoubled their howling. I was glad 
when the unwonted commotion ceased, and the deni- 
zens of the forest relapsed again into their chronic 

A large proportion of tropical animals are em- 
phatically " children of the night." It is at night 
that the tiger and maneless Mexican lion leave 
their lairs, and range the dense forests in pursuit 
of their prey, rousing the peccary and tapir from 
their haunts, and sending them to seek refuge in 
the thickets, where crashing of bushes and eplash- 



inga in hidden pools testify to the blind fear of the 
pursued, and the fierce instincts of the pursuera. 
A sudden plunge of the alligator from the hants, 
will Btartle the wild birds on the overhanging trees, 
and in an instant the forest resounds to the wild 
cries of the tiger, the plaints of the frightened 
monkeys, and the shrieks and croaks of the numer- 
ous water-fowl ; while the wakeful traveler starts 
up and hastily grasps his faithful gun, surprised to 
find the wildemess, which was so still and slumber- 
ous under the noonday heats, now terrible with 
savage and warring life. 

Toward morning the commotion in the forest 
subsided, and I was enabled to snatch a few hours 
of slumber. I awoke to find the sun just streaking 
the horizon, and the boat all ready for departure. 
Antonio had cut two trunks of the buoyant moAoe 
tree, which were lashed to the sides of our boat to 
act as floats, and prevent us from being overturned 
by any sudden flaw of the wind. "We passed the 
bar without much trouble, and made a good offing, 
before laying our course for " Snook Creek." The 
■wind was fresh, and the water bright and playful 
under the blue and cloudless sky. I leaned over 
the side of our frail boat— scarce a speck in the broad 
breast of the ocean — and watched the numerous 
marine animals and mollusca that floated past ; 
the nautilus, " small commodore," with its tiny sail 
and rosy prow, the pulsating rhisostoma, and the 
hemice, with its silken hair — most fragile fbi-ms of 
life, and yet unharmed dwellers in the mighty sea, 



wliich mocke at the strength of iron, and uiider- 
mhies continents in its wrath ! 

During the afternoon we came close in shore, 
keeping a sharp look-out for the mouth of " Snook 
Creek." There are, however, no landmarks on the 

entire coast ; throughout it wore the same flat, mo- 
notonous appearance — a narrow strip of sand in front 
of a low impenetrable forest, in which the fierce 
north-easters had left no large trees standing. 
Hence it is almost impossible for voyagers, not inti- 
mately acc[nainted with the shore, to determine their 
position. My Poyer boy had coasted here but once, 
and I found, toward evening, that he was of opinion 
that we had passed the mouth of the creek of which 
we were in search. So we resolved to stand along 
the shore for either Walpasixa or Prinza-pulka, 
where part of the hull of an American ship, wrecked 
sometime before, still remained as a guide to 

As the sun went down, the wind fell, and the 


144 riiK -MOSQurjo mhohk. 

moon camo tip, Hlictlding its li;^lu u])oii llie liraad, 
amooth swells of the ma, silvoi -bmnislR'il u|uiii oqo 
side, and on the otlier dark l)iit cIimv, like tho 
8liado«^ on polislied steel. Wo lowyrcil o\u' U8el«s» 
sail, aiid my companioDs took their paddles, kisep- 
iug time to a Idtid of chant, led oif hy Antonio, the 
Foyer hoy joining in tlie Bwolling chorus. The 
melody was very eimplo, and, like that of all purely 
Indian chante, Bad and plaintive, I have often 
thought, in listening to them, thftt they wore the 
wails of a people coiiscioiis of their deoay, over a 
contmcnt Hlippiii^;- fmm Slieir j^ras!|), imd a puwcr 
hrokon forcvii ! 

T lay lonj^, WiU(;liiiig the shore as it glided past, 
and listening to the tinkle of the water under our 
prow, but finally fell into a deep and dreamiest 
slumber, rocked by the ocean in ita gentlest mood. 
When I awoke we had already passed the Prinaai- 
pnlkii har, and were fastened to the branches of a 
large tree, which had become cntanged among the 



mangroves, on the banks of the river. It was with 
no small degree of satisfaction that I found we had 
now an uninterrupted river and lagoon navigation 
to Cape G-raciaSj and that we should not again he 
obliged to venturo, with our little boat, upon the 
open sea. 

The Prinza-pnlka seemed rather an estuary than 
a river, and was lined with an impenetrable forest 
of mangroves. These were covered with flocks of 
the white ibia, and, as we advanced up the stream, 
we came upon others of a rose color, looking like 
bouquets of flowers among the green leaves of the 

At the distance of three miles, the river banks 
grew higher, although densely covered with wild 
plants and vines, which seemed to have subdued 
the forest. The few trees that were left were clus- 
tered all over with twining rope-plants, or Uanes, 
sometimes hanging down and swinging in mid-air, 
and again stretched to the ground, like the cord- 
age of a ship, supporting in turn, hundreds of 
creepers, with leaves of translucent green, and 
loaded with clusters of bright flowers. An oc- 
casional fan-palm thrust itself above the tangled 
verdure, as if struggling for Kght and air ; while the 
broad leaves of the wild plantain emerged here and 
there in groups, and the slender stalks of the 
bamboo-cane, fringed with delicate leaves like those 
of the willow, bent gracefully over the water. At 
the foot of this emerald wall was a strip of slimy 
earth, and I observed occasional holes, or tunnel- 


146 THE MoSQurro shore, 

like apertures, tiiroiigh which the alligator trailed 
his hideouB length, or the larger land-animals came 
down to the water to drink As we glided hy one 
of these openings, a tapir suddenly projected Ms 
head and ugly prohoscis, but, startled hy our canoe, 
as suddenly withdrew it, and disappeared in the 
dart recesses of the impenetrable jungle, in which 
it is beyond the power of man to penetrate, except 
ho laboriously carves his way, foot hy foot, in the 
matted mass. 

About ten o'clock we reached the mouth of a 
narrow creek, or stream, diverging from the river 
imder a complete canopy of verdure. Up this creek, 
my Foyer assured me, the Prinza-pulka village was 
situated, 80 we paddled in, and, after many wind- 
ings, finally came where the vegetation was less 
rank, and the banks were higher and firmer, I 
began to breatho freer, for the air within these 
tropical fastnesses seemed to me loaded with mias- 
matic damps, like the atmosphere of a vault. As 
we proceeded, the country became more and more 
open, and the water clearer, revealing a gravelly 
bottom, until, at last, to my surprise, we came upon 
broad savannahs, fringed, along the water, by 
narrow belts of trees. Through these I caught 
glimpses of gentle swells and undulations of land, 
upon which, to my further amazement, I saw 
clumps of pine-trees ! I had supposed the pine to 
be found only in high, temperate latitudes, and 
could scarcely believe that it grew here, side by 
side with the palm, almost on a level with the sea, 



until I was assured by my Poyer that it abounded 
iu all the savannahs, and covered all the plateaus 
and mountains of the interior, 

A bend in the creek brought us suddenly in view 
of a group of canoes, drawn up on the shore, in 
front of a few scattered huts. One or two women, 
engaged in some occupation at the edge of the 
water, fled when they saw us, scrambling up the 
bank in evident alarm. As we approached nearer, 
I saw through the bushes a number of men hurry- 
ing back and forth, and calling to each other in 
excited voices. Before we had fairly reached the 
landing-place, they had collected among the canoes, 
whence they motioned us back with violent ges- 
tures. Some were armed with spears, others had 
bows and arrows, and two or three carried muskets, 
which they pointed at us in a very careless and un- 
pleasant manner. I observed that they were Sam- 
bos, like those at Wasswatla, equally frizzled about 
the head, and spotted with the bulpis. "Whenever 
we attempted to approach, they shouted " Bus 1 
hus '" and raised their weapons. The Poyer boy 
responded by calling " Wita," i. e., chief, or head 
man. Hereupon one of the number came forward a 
little, and inquired " Inglis / Inglis ?" pointing to 
mc. I held up my pass, and, remembering Wass- 
watla, pointed to it, exclaiming, " King paper ! 
king paper !" This seemed to produce an impres- 
sion, and we made a movement to land, but up 
came the guns again, their muzzles looldng as large 
as church doors. Things certainly appeared squally, 



and I was a little puzzled what to do. Prudence 
suggested that we should retreat, hut then that 
might be understood aa an evidence of fear, which, 
with savins, as with wild heaets, ie a auie way of 
inviting attack. I preferred, therefore, to await 
quietly the result of a conference which seemed to 
he going on, and in which I noticed I was frequently 
pointed out, with very suggestive gestures. While 
this was "going on, Antonio carefully got out ray 
gmi and revolver, handing me the latter in such a 
maimer as not to attract notice. He had evinced 
a h%h consideration for it, ever since, it had played 
so large a part in my first interview with the patron 
at " El Eoncador." 

After much dehate, two of the Samhos, including 
the head man, pushed off to us in a canoe, under 
the cover of the weapons of those on shore. They, 
however, fell back in evident alarm when they 
caught sight of my revolver, I therefore laid it 
down, extended both open hands, and hailed them 
with the Mosquito salutation, which applies equally 
at all hours of the day and night, " Good morning !" 
They replied, with the universal drawl, " Mormn', 
sir .'" I put my " king paper" forward, very con ■ 
spicuously, and read it through to them, no doubt 
to their edification. The head man said, " Good ! 
good 1" when I had finished, hut nevertheless 
seemed suspicious of the contents of our boat, in- 
quiring, in a broken way, for " Osnaberga," and 
" pauda," or powder. I explained to them, as well 
as I could, that we were not traders, which piece of 



information did "not seem to please them. But 
pfhen they caught sight of my demijohn, they 
evinced more amiahility, which I hastened to 
heighten hy giving them a calabaeh of the contents. 
They afterward aignified their willingnesB to let 
me go ashore, if I would first give them my gun 
and revolver, which I sternly and peremptorily refus- 
ed to do. They finally paddled to the shore, motion- 
ing foi us to follow Upon landing I gave them 
each a dram, which was hwallowed m a hieath, 
■with uneciuivocil feigns "f lehsh The head men. 

after another ineffectual attempt to induce me to 
surrender my revolver, led the way up the bank, 
Antonio and the Poyer boy remaining with the 

The village was very stragghng and squalid, al- 
though the position was one of great beauty. It 
stood on the edge of an extensive savannah, cov- 
ered thickly with coarse grass, and dotted over 



with little clusters of bushes, and clumps of dark 
pines, more reaembling a rich park, laid out with 
coneummate still, than a scene on a wild and un- 
known skore, under the tropics. As we advanced, 
I observed that the huts were all comparatively 
new, and that there were many burnt spots, mark- 
ed by charred posts and half-burned thatch-poles. 
Among the rubbish, in one or two places, I noticed 
fragments of earthenware of European manufac- 
ture, and pieces of copper sheathing, evidently from 
some vessel. 

I was conducted to the head man's hut, where 
room was made for me to sit down on one of the 
criekeries. Some kind of fermented drink was 
brought for me, which I had great difficulty in de- 
cUning. In fact, I did not like the general aspect 
of things. In the first place, there were no women 
visible, and then the ugly customers with the guns 
and spears, when not scrutinizing me or my re- 
volver-— which seemed to have a strange fascination 
in their eyea — ^were engaged in a very sinister kind 
of consultation. 

The head man seemed particularly anxious to 
know my destination, and the purposes of my visit. 
My suspicions had been roused, and I represented 
myself as a little in advance of a large party from 
the Cape, bound down the coast, and incLuired, in 
return, what Idnd of accommodations could be pro- 
vided for my companions when they arrived. This 
rather disconcerted him, and I thought the oppor- 
tunity favorable to fall back to the boat, now fuUy 



convinced that some kind of treachery was meditat- 
ed. A moTement was made to intercept me at the 
door, ])ut the presented muzzle of my revolver 
opened the way in an instant, and I walked slowly 
down to the landing, the armed men following, and 
calling out angrily, '' Mer'kamanI Mer'kaman!" 
Antonio stood at the top of the bank, with my gun, 
his face wearing an anxious expression. He whis- 
pered to me hurriedly, in Spanish, that half a dozen 
armed men had gone down the creek in a hoat, and 
that he had no doubt the intention was to attack 

In fact the cowardly wretches were now brandish- 
ing their weapons, and uttering savage shouts. I 
at once saw that there was but one avenue of es- 
cape open, namely, to take to our boat, and get 
away as fast as possible. I waited until my com- 
panions had taken their places, and then waUied 
down the bank deliberately, and entered the canoe. 
A few rapid strokes of the paddles carried us well 
clear of the shore, before the Sambos reached the 
top of the bank. I brought my gun to hear upon 
them, determined to fire the instant they should 
manifest any overt act of hostility. They seemed 
to comprehend this, and contented themselves with 
running after us, along the bank, shouting " Mer'ka 
man !" and pointing their weapons at us, through 
the openings in the hushes. 

"We were not long in getting beyond their reach, 
but they nevertheless kept up loud, taunting shouts, 
while we were within hearing. I counted this a 



lucky escape fi-om the viDage, but was not at my 
ease about the party which had gone down the creek. 
I felt sure that they were in ambush in some of the 
dark recesses of the banks, and that we might 
be attacked at any moment. Both Antonio and 
myself, therefore, sat down in the bottom of the 
canoe, closely watching the shores, while the Poyer 
boy paddled noiselessly in the stem. It was now 
near night, and the shadows gathered so darkly 
over the narrow stream that we could see nothing 
distinctly. On we went, stealthily and watchfully. 
We had reached the darkest covert on the creek, a 
short distance above its junction with the river, 
when a large canoe shot from the bank across our 
bows, with the evident purpose of intercepting us. 
At the same instant a flight of arrows whizzed past 
us, one or two striking in the canoe, while the 
others spattered the water close by, I at once com- 
mehced firing my revolver, while Antonio, seizing 
the long manitee^pear, sprang to the bow. At the 
same instant our canoe struck the opposing boat, as 
the saying is, "head on," crushing in its rotten 
sides, and ewamping it in a moment. Antooio gave 
a wild shout of triumph, driving his spear at the 
struggling wretches, some of whom endeavored to 
save themselves by climbing into our canoe. I 
heard the dull tohug of the lance as it struck the 
body of one of the victims, and, with a sickening 
sensation, cried to the Poyer, who had also seized a 
lanco to join in tho slaughter, to resume his paddle. 
He dill so, and in a few seconds we were clear of the 


Hosted byGoogle 



Bcene of our encounter, and gliding away in the 
darkness. I caught a ghmpse of the struggling 
figures clinging to their shattered boat, and utter- 
ing the wildest cries of alarm and distress. The 
quick ear of Antonio caught responsive shouts, and 
it soon hecame evident that we had heen followed 
by hoats from, the village. 

Convinced that we would be pursued, and that if 
overtaken we should be borne down by numbers, the 
question of our safety became one of superior craft, 
or superior speed. I was disposed to try the latter, 
but yielded to Antonio, who, watching an opportu- 
nity, ran our boat under an overhanging tree, where 
the tangled bank cast an impenetrable shadow on 
the water. Here we breathlessly awaited the course 
of events. It was not long before we heard a shght 
ripple, and through the uncertain light I saw three 
canoes dart rapidly and silently past. The pureuers 
evidently thought we had reached the river, where 
the mangroves and impenetrable jungles on the 
banks would effectually prevent concealment or 
escape. Believed from the sense of immediate 
danger, it became a vital question what we should 
next do to secure our ultimate safety. The moon 
would soon be up, and our pursuers, not finding us 
on the river, would at once divine our trick, and, 
placing us between themselves and the town, render 
escape impossible. To abandon our boat was to 
court a miserable death in the woods, Antonio 
suggested the only feasible alternative. There 
were but three canoes, and when they reached the 



river, he shrewdly reasoned, two would follow our 
most probable track down the stream, while the 
third would doubtless search for us above. Our 
policy, then, was to follow in the wake of the latter, 
until it should be as widely separated from aid as 
possible, and then, by a sudden coup-de-main, either 
disable or paralyze our opponents, and make the 
best of our way into the interior, where we could 
not fail to find creeks, and other places of refuge 
from pursuit. 

My companions stripped themselves, so as not to 
be encumbered in the water, in ease of accident, and 
I followed their example, retaining only my dark 
shirt, lest my white body should prove too conspic- 
uoua a mark. I carefully loaded my pistols, put a 
handful of buck-shot in each barrel of my gun, and 
we starteddown the creek. A few moments brought 
us to the river, but we could neither see nor hear 
the canoes of our enemies. We turned up the 
stream, paddling rapidly, but silently, and keeping 
close to the shore. Every few minutes Antonio 
would stop to listen. Meantime, I hailed with joy 
some heavy clouds in the East, which promised to 
prolong the obscurity, by hiding the light of the 
rising moon. 

The excitement of the night of the terrible storm, 
in which I was wrecked on "El Roncador," was 
trifling to what I experienced that evening, paddling 
up the dark and sullen river. I exulted in every 
boat's length which we gained, as tending to make 
the inevitable contest more equiil,. ^md welcomed 



every ebon fold of cloud which gathered in the hori- 
zon. I felt that a thunder-storm was brooding ; 
and the marshaling of the elements roused still 
more the savage desperation which gradually ab- 
sorbed every other feeling and sentiment. At first, 
every nerve in my syetem vibrated, and I trembled 
m every limb ; I felt like one in an ague fit ; but 
this soon passed away — every muscle became tense, 
and I felt the strong pulsations in my temples, as 
if m.olten iron was coursing through the veins. I 
no longer sought to avoid a contest, bnt longed, 
for the hour to come when I could shed blood. 
Every moment seemed an age, and I know not how 
I subdued my impatience. 

Meantime the threatened storm gathered, with a 
rapidity peculiar to the tropics on the eve of a 
fervid day, and the darkness became so dense that 
we several times run our boat against the bank, 
from sheer inabihty to see. Suddenly the dark vail 
of heaven was rift, and the lurid lightning fell with 
a blinding flash, which seemed to sear our eye-balls. 
An instant after rolled in the deep-voiced thunder, 
booming awfully among the primeval forests. A 
few rain-drops followed, which struck with steel-hke 
sharpness on the naked skin, and hot puffs of air 
came soughing along the river. A moment after 
the heavens again glowed with the lightnings, glar- 
ing on the dark breast of the river, and revealing, 
but a few yards in advance "of us, the hostile canoe, 
returning from what its occupants no doubt n 
as a hopeless pursuit. Their loud shout of s 



defiance and joy was cut short "by the heavy roU of 
the thimder, and, an instant after, the hows of our 
boats came together. They glanced apart, and I 
waa nearly thrown from my balance into the water, 
for I had risen, the more surely to pour the contents 
of my gun into the midst of our assailants. Another 
shout followed the shock, and I heard the arrows, 
shot at random in the darkness, hiss past our heads. 
I reserved my fire until the lightning should fall 
to guide ray aim. I had not long to wait ; a third 
flash revealed the opposing boat ; I saw that it was 
fiUed with men, and that in their midst stood the 
treacherous head man of the village. The flash of 
my gun, and that of the lightning, so far as human 
senses could discern, were simultaneous ; yet instan- 
taneous as the whole transaction must have been, I 
saw my victim fall, and heard his body plunge in 
the water, before the report had been caught up by 
the echo, or drowned by the thunder. I shall never 
forget the shriek of terror and of rage that rung out 
from that boat to swell the angry discord of the ele- 
ments. Even now, it often startles me from my 
sleep. But then it inspired me with the wildest 
joy ; I shouted back triumphantly, and tossed my 
arms exultingly in the face of the unblenching dark- 
ness. A few more arrows, a couple of musket-shots, 
fired at random toward us, and the combat was 
over. We heard wails and groans, but they grew 
fainter and more distant, showing that our enemies 
were dropping down the river. Another flash of 



lightning disclosed them drifting along the hant, 
and beyond the reach of our weapons. 

Our purpose was now aceompHshed ; our foes 
were behind us, and before us an unknown mesh of 
lagoons and rivers. We bad no alternative but to 
advance, perhaps upon other and more formidable 
dangers. However that might be, we did not stop 
to consider, but all through the stormy night plied 
our paddles with incessant energy. About midnight 
we came to a small lagoon, on the bants of which 
wo observed some fires, but the sky was still over- 
cast, and we escaped notice. Toward morning the 
moon came out, and we directed our boat close in 
shore, so as to take refuge in some obscure creek 
during the day. An opening finally presented it- 
self, and we paddled in. As we advanced it became 
narrow, and was obstructed by drooping branches 
and fallen trunks. Under some of them we forced 
our boat with difSculty, and others we cut away 
with our machetes. After iniinite trouble and labor 
we passed the mangix)ve-swamp, and came to high 
grounds, on which were many coyol palm-trees, and 
a few dark pines. Here, exhausted with our ex- 
traordinary efforts, and no longer sustained by ex- 
citement, we made a hasty encampment. To guard 
against surprise Antonio undertook the first watch, 
and, wrapping myself in my blanket, I fell into a 
profound slumber. 

And now, to remove any mystery which might 
attach to the hostile conduct of the Sambos at 
Qwafntoatla (for that was the name of the inhos- 



pitable village), I may explain that, in September, 
1849, the bark "Simeon Draper," from New York, 
bound for Chagrea, with passengers for California, 
was wrecked on the coast, near the mouth of the 
Prinza-pulka River, The remains of her hull I 
have alluded to, as now constituting one of the 
principal landmarks on that monotonous shore. 
Her passengers all escaped to the land, and suc- 
ceeded in recovering most of their effects. They 
were soon discovered by the Sambos of Quamwatla, 
who, affecting friendship, nevertheless committed 
extensive depredations on fhe property of the pas- 
sengers. Strong representations were made to the 
head man, but without effect ; in fact, it soon be- 
came evident that he was the principal instigator 
of the robberies. The news of the wreck spread 
along the coast, and a large number of Sambos 
gathered at the village. As their numbers in- 
creased, they grew bold and hostile, until the po- 
sition of the passengers became one of danger. 
They finally received intimations that a concerted 
attack would soon be made upon them, which they 
anticipated by an assault upon the Sambo village. 
The inhabitants, taken by eurprise, flod after a few 
discharges of the rifles and revolvers, and the viUage 
was set on tire and burned to the ground. The 
wrecked Americans were not afterward disturbed, 
and their condition becoming known in San Juan, 
a vessel was dispatched to their relief, and they 
were taken off in safety. 

It was not until I arrived at Cape G-racias that I 



became acquainted with these facts, which account- 
ed for the appearance of things in Quamwatla, and 
explained the hostility of the natives. Every Eng- 
lishman on the coast is a trader, and as I disowned 
that character, and, moreover, carried a revolver, 
they were not long in making up their minds that 
I was an AmoTican. 

Under all the circumstances of the case, our es- 
cape was almost miraculous. I suhsequently ascer- 
tained that three of our asaaUantB had been killed 
outright in the two encounters, and that the treach- 
erous head man had died of his wounds. 

It is "with no feeling of exultation that I raention 
this fact ; for, so long as I live, I shall not cease to 
lament the necessity, which circumstances imposed 
upon me, of taking the life of a human being, how- 
ever debased or criminaL I know of no sacrifice 
which I would not now make to restore those mis- 
erable wretches to their deserted huts, and to the 
rude affection of which even savages are capable. 
The events of that terrible night have left a shadow 
over my heart, which time rather serves to deepen 
than to e&ce. 


i reception at Quamwatla had eei 

y not been A a kind to inspire 
us with the most cheerful anticipa- 
tions. We knew that a vast net-work of lagoons, 
rivers, and creeke extended to Cape Gracias, but of 
the character and disposition of the people, scatter- 
ed along their tangled shores, we were utterly igno- 
rant. Turning back was not to be thought of ; and 
going ahead was a matter which req;uired caution. 
Should we be bo unfortunate as to get involved in 
another fight, we could hardly expect to get off so 
easily as we had done in our last encounter. 

Under all the circumstances, we concluded that, 
inasmuch as our place of refuge seemed secure, and 
withal was not deficient in resources, it would be 
the wisest plan to remain where wc were until the 



pursuit, which we were sure would be made, should 
have been abandoned ; or, at least, until the waning 
of the moon should afford us a dark night, wherein 
we could pursue our voyage unobserved. With this 
sage resolution, we set to work to establish a tem- 
porary camp. 

As I have said, the little creek, which we had fol- 
lowed, led us to the base of a range of low hills, or 
rather ridges or swells of land, where the ground 
was not alluvial, but dry and gravelly. Those 
ridges could hardly be called savannahs, although 
they were covered with a species of coarae grass, 
relieved, here and there, by clumps of gum-arabic 
bushes, groups of pine-trees, and an occasional 
coyol, or spiny-palm. Between these comparative- 
ly high grounds and the lagoon, intervened a dense, 
impenetrable mangrove-swamp, pierced by a few 
choked channels formed by the small streams com- 
ing down from the hills. 

I selected the shelter of a clump of fragrant 
pines for our encampment, where the ground was 
covered with a soft, brown carpet of fallen leaves. 
A rope stretched between the trees supported our 
little saU, which was spread out, tent-wise, by poles. 
Under this my hammock was suspended, affording 
a retreat, shady and cool by day, and secure from 
damps and rains at night. 

In a little grassy dell, close by, was a clear spring 
of water. We lit no fires except at night, lest the 
smoke might betray us ; and only then in places 
whence the light could not be refl.ected. 



Accustomed as ■were my companions to wild and 
savage life, they seemed to enjoy the danger and 
the seclusion in which we found ourselves. It gave 
them an opportunity to display their skill and re- 
sources, and they really assumed toward me an air 
of complacent patronage, something like that of a 
city Aa6i(w^ toward his country cousin, when show- 
ing to him the marvels of the metropolis. 

One of Antonio's earliest exploits, after out reso- 
lution to stop had heen taken, was to cut down a 
numher of the rough-looking palm-trees. In the 
trunks of these, near their tops, where the leav^ 
sprang out, he carefully chiseled a hole, cutting 
completely through the pulp of the tree, to the 
outer, or woody shell. This hole was again cov- 
ered with the piece of rind, which had first been 
removed, as with a lid. I watched the operation 
curiously, but asked no questions. In the course of 
the afternoon, however, he took ofi^ one of these 
covers, and disclosed to me the cavity filled with a 
frothy lic[uid, of the faintest straw tinge, looking 
like delicate Sauteme wine. He presented me with 
a piece of reed, and with a gratified air motioned 
me to drink. My early experiments with straws, in 
the cider-barrels of New England, recurred to me 
at once, and I laughed to think that I had come to 
repeat them under the tropica. I found the juice 
sweet, and slightly pungent, but altogether rich, 
delicious, and invigorating. As may be supposed, 
I paid frequent visits to Antonio's reservoii^. 

This palm bears the name of coyol among the 



-ds, and of cookatruoe among the MoscLuitos. 
Its juice ia called by the focmer Vino de Coyol, 
and by the Indians generally Ohicha (cheechee) — a 
name, however, which is apphed to a variety of 
drinks. When the tree is cut down, the end is 
plastered with mud, to prevent the juice, with 
which the core is saturated, from exuding, A holo 
is then cut near the top, as I have described, in 
which the liquid is gradually distilled, filhng the 
reservoir in the course of ten or twelve hours. This 
reservoir may be emptied daily, and yet be con- 
stantly replenished, it is said, for upward of a 
month. On the third day, if the tree be exposed to 
the sun, the juice begins to ferment, and gradually 
grows stronger, until, at the end of a couple of weeks, it 
becomes intoxicating — thus affording to the Sambos 
a ready means of getting up the " big drunk," The 
Spaniards afBrm that the " vino de coyol" is a spe- 
cific for indigestion and pains in the stomach. 

The nuts of this variety of palm grow in large 
clusters. They are round, containing a very solid 
kernel, so saturated with oil as to resemble refined 
wax. It is in all respects superior to the ordinary 
cocoa-nut oil, and might be obtained in any desir- 
able (quantity, if means could be devised for separat- 
ing the Iiernel from the shell. This shell is thick, 
hard, black, capable of receiving the minutest carv- 
ing, and most brilliant polish, and is often .worked 
into ornaments by the Indians, 

In thf moist depressions, or valleys, near our 
encampment, we also found another variety of 




palm, -whicli often stands the traveler, under tin 
tropica, in good stead, as a substitute for other anc 
better vegetable food. I mean the Palmetto Boyal 
ov Mountain Cabbage {Are- 
(« oUracea), ■which hat 
jubtly been called tht 
* " Queen of the Forest." H 
glows to a great height, 
irequently no thicker than 
a man's thigh, yet rising 
upward of a hundred and 
iifty feet in the air. Kc 
other tree in the world 
equals it in height oi 
beauty. The trunk swells 
moderately a short distance 
above tha.root, whence it 
tapers gently to its emerald 
crown, sustaining through- 
out the most elegant pro- 

The edible part, or " cab- 
bage" (as it is called, from 
some fancied resemblance 
in taste to that vegetable), 
constitutes the upper part 
of the trunk, whence the 
PALMETTO ROYAL. fohage spHngs. It resem- 
bles a tall Etruscan vase in shape, of the liveliest 
green color, gently sweUing from its pedestal, and 
diminishing gradually to the top, where it expands 



in plume-like branches. Trom the very centre of 
this natural vase rises a taU, yellowish spatha, or 
sheath, terminating in a sharp point. At tho 
bottom of this, and inclosed in the natural vage 
which I have described, is found a tender whito 
core, or heart, varying in size with the dimensions 
of the tree, hut usually eight or ten inches in cir- 
cumference. This may he eaten raw, as a salad, 
or, if preferred, fried or boiled. In taste it resem- 
bles an artichoke, rather than a cabbage. 

The Indians climb this palm, and, dexterously 
inserting their knives, contrive to obtain the edible 
part without destroying the tree itself. By moans 
of the same contrivance which he made use of in 
obtaining the cocoa-nuts, on the island in Pearl 
Cay Lagoon, Antonio kept ua supplied with palm 
cabbages, which were our chief reliance, in the vege- 
table line. I found that they were most palatable 
when properly seasoned, and baked in the ground, 
with some strips of manitee fat, after the manner 
which I have already described. 

The fruits of this treo are small, oblong berries, 
of a purplish blue, about the size of an olive, inclos- 
ing a smooth, brittle nut, which, in turn, covers a 
cartUaginoua kernel. 

The pine ridges were not deficient in animal life, 
A few large cotton-trees grew on the edge of the 
mangrove-swamp, which were the nightly resort of 
parrots and parocLuets, who came HteraUy in clouds, 
and then the calfings, scoldings, frettings, and 
acreamings that took place would have drowned the 



confusion of the most vicious rookery extant. In 
the eyening and morning it was really difficult for 
us to make each other hear, although our camp was 
distant more than two hundred yards irom the 
roosts. The parrots are often eaten hy the 
natives, in default of other food, but they are 
tough, hard, dry, and tasteless. Not so, however, 
with the quails, which were not only numerous, 
hut so tame, or rather so unsuspecting, that we 
could catch as many as we wanted, in the simplest 
kind of traps. We adopted this method of pro- 
curing such game as the Poyer hoy did not kill 
with his how, instead of using my gun, the report 
of which might betray ns. 

Day hy day we extended our excursions farther 
from the camp, every step reveahng to me, at least, 
something novel and interesting. I think it was 
the third day after our arrival, when we came upon a 
patch of low ground, or jungle, densely wooded, and 
distant perhaps half a mile from our encampment. 
Attracted by some bright flowers, I penetrated a 
"few yards into the bushes, where, to my surprise, I 
came upon what appeared to he a well-beaten path, 
which I followed for some distance, wondering over 
the various queer traclra which I observed printed, 
here and there, on the moist ground. While thus 
engaged, I was startled by the sound of some animal 
approaching, with a dull and heavy, hut rapid tread. 
Looking up, I saw a lead-colored beast, about the 
size of a lai^e donkey, its head drooping between 
its fore-legs, coming toward me at a swinging trot. 



Thinking lie was charging upon me direct, I leaped 
into the bushes, mth the intention of climbing up a 
tree. But before I could effect my object, the 
monster lumbered past, taking not the slightest 
notice of my presence, I breathed freer, when I 
saw hia broad buttocks and little pig-like tail disap- 
pearing down the path, and I made my way out of 
the jungle, in a manner probably more expeditious 
than either graceful or valorous. Antonio, who 
was dodging after a fat currassow, had heard the 
noise, and was witness of my retreat. He seemed 
alarmed at first, but only smiled when I explained 
what I had seen. In fact, he appeared to think it 
rather a good joke, and hurried off to examine the 
tracks. He came back in a few minutes, and re- 
ported that my monster was only a dante, which I 
took to be Bome kind of Indian lingo for at least a 
hippopotamus, or rhinoceros, 

" "We shall have rare sport," he continued, " in 
catching this dante. It wiU be equal to hunting 
the manitus," 

I found, upon inquiry, that the da-nte is called, 
in the Mosquito dialect, tilba or tapia, which names 
at once suggested tapir, an animal of which I had 
read, but of which I had very vague notions. 

The Foyer boy seemed delighted with the news 
that there was a tapir about, and in less than five 
minutes after, both he and Antonio were sharpen- 
ing their spears and lances, with palpable design on 
my monster's hfe. They told me that the tapir 
generally keeps quiet during the day, wandering 



out at night, usually in fixed haunts and hy the 
same paths, to take exercise and obtain his food. 
I was not a little relieved when they added that he 
never fights with man or beast, hut owes his safety 
to his speed, thick hide, and ability to take to the 
water, where he is as much at home as on land, 
Bwimraing or sinking to the bottom at his pleasure. 
He is, nevertheless, a headlong beast, and when 
alarmed or pursued, stops at nothing — - vines, 
hushes, trees, rocks, are all the same to him ! 
He would do well for a crest, with the motto, 
" Neck or Nothing I" 

In shape, the dante or tapir (sometimes called 
mountain cow) is something like a hog, but much 
larger. He has a similar arched hack ; his head, 
however, is thicker, and comes to a sharp ridge at 
thp top. The male has a snout or sort of proboscis 
hanging over the opening of the mouth, something 
like the trunk of an elephant, which he uses in like 
manner. This is wanting in the female. Its ears 
are rounded, bordered with white, and can be drawn 
forward at pleasure ; its legs are thick and stumpy ; 
its fore-feet or hoofs are divided into three parts or 
toes, with a sort of false hoof behind ; but the 
hind feet have only three parts or divisions. Its 
tail ia short, and marked by a few stiff hairs ; the 
skin so hard and sohd as generally to resist a mus- 
ket-hall ; the hair tliin and short, of a dusky 
brown ; and along the top of the neck runs a bristly 
mane, which extends over the head and down the 
snout. He has ten cut ting- teeth, and an equal 



niuttber of grinders in each jaw ; features which 
separate him entirely from the ox-kind, and from 
all other ruminating animals. He lives upon plants 
and roots, and, as I have said, is perfectly harmless 
in disposition. The female produces but one young 
at a hirth, of which she is very tender, leading it, 
at an early age, to the water, and instructing it to 

This description finished, the reader is ready to 
accompany us in our nocturnal expedition against 
the tapir. Before it became dark, Antonio, accom- 
panied by the boy, went to the thicket which I 
have described, and felled several stout trees across 
the path, in such a manner as to form a kind of 
cul de sac. The design of this was to airest the 
animal on his return, and enable us to spear him 
before he could break through or disengage himself. 
"We went to the spot early in the evening, and, as 
the moon did not rise until late, Antonio caught 
Ilia hat half-full of fire-flies, which served to guide 
us in the bush. He then pulled off their wings and 
scattered them among tho faUen trees, where they 
gave light enough to enable us to distinguish ob- 
jects with considerable clearness. Notwithstanding 
Antonio's assurances that the tapir was a member 
of the Peace Society, I could not divest myself of 
the alarm which he had given me in the morning) 
and I was not at all sorry to find that my compan- 
ions had selected a spot for their abattis, where an 
overhanging treo enabled me to keep out of harm's 
way, yet near enough to take a sly drive with my 



lance at the tapir, if he should happen to come that 

Antonio aud the Poyer boy took their stations 
among the fallen trees ; I took mine, and ■we await- 
ed the dante's pleasure. I strained my eyes in Tain 
endeavors to penetrate the gloom, and held my 
breath full half the time to hear the expected tread. 
But we peered, and listened, and waited in vain ; 
the flre-flies crawled away in every direction, and 
yet the tapir obstinately kept away. Finally, the 
moon came up ; and by-and-hy it rose above the 
trees — and still no tapir ! 

My seat on the tree became uncomfortable, and 
I instituted a comparison between tapir and 
manitus-hunting, largely to the advantage of the 
latter ; and, finally, when Antonio whispered " He 
is coming t" I felt a willful disposition to contradict 
him. But my ear, meanwhile, caught the same 
dull sound which had arrested my attention in the 
morning ; and, a few moments afterward, I could 
make out the beast, in the dim light, driving on at 
the same swinging trot. Eight on he came, heed- 
less and headlong. Crash ! crash ! There was a 
plunge and struggle, and a crushing and trampling 
of branches, then a dnll sound of the heavy beast 
striking against the unyielding trunks of the fallen 
trees. He was now fairly stopped, and with a 
shout my companions drove down upon him with 
their lances, which rung out a sharp metallic sound 
when they struck his thick, hard hide. It was an 
exciting moment, and my eagerness overcoming my 



pradence, I slipped down the tree, and joined in the 
attack. Blow upon blow of the lances, and I could 
feel that mine struck deeply into the flesh, it seemed 
to me into the very vitals of the animal But the 
strokes only appeared to give him new strength, 
and gathering back, he drove again full upon the 
opposing tree, bearing it down before him. I had 
just leaped upon the trunk, the better to aim my 
lance, and went down with it hestdlong, almost 
under the feet of the struggUng animal, one tramp 

of whose feet would have crushed me hke a worm. 
I could have touched him with my arm, he was so 
near ! I heard the alarmed shriek of Antonio, 
when he saw me faU ; but, in an instant, he leaped 



to my side, and, ehortenihg his lance, drove it, with 
desperate force, clean through the animal, bring- 
ing him to bis knees. This done, he grappled me 
as he might an infant, and before I was aware of 
it, had dragged me clear of the fallen timber. 
The blow of Antonio proved fatal ; the tapir fell 
over on his aide, and in a few moments was quite 

The Foyer boy was dispatched to the camp for 
fire and pine splints, which, stuck in the ground 
around the tapir, answered for torches. By their 
light my companions proceeded to cut up the spoil, 
a tedious operation, which occupied them until day- 
Hght. I did not wait, hut went back to my ham- 
mock, leaving them to finish their work, undis- 
turbed by my c[uestions. 

When I awoke in the morning, I found Antonio 
had the tapir's head baking in the ground, from 
whence rose a hot but fragrant steam. It proved to 
be very good eating, as did also the feet and the 
neck, but the flesh of the animal in general was 
abominably coarse and insipid, although my com- 
panions seemed to relish it greatly. I found it, like 
that of the manituB, exceedingly laxative. 

Some idea may be formed of the tapir's tenacity 
of life, when I say that I counted upward of thirty 
lance-thmsts in the body of the one we killed, none 
of which were less than sis inches deep, and nearly 
all penetrating into the cavity of the body 1 It 
rarely happens, therefore, that the animal is killed 
by the individual hunter. The hide is quite as 



thick, and I tliink harder than that of the manitus, 
which, when dried, it closely resembles. 

I should weary the reader were I to enter into all 
the details of our life at the " Tapir Camp," as I 
called it, in honor of the exploit I have just re- 
counted. During the eight days which we spent 
there, I learned more of nature and her works than 
I had known before. I spent hours in watching the 
paths of the hlack ants, tracing them to their nests 
in the trees, wMch were dark masses, as large as a 
barrel, made up of fragments of leaves cemented 
together. From these paths, which were from four 
to six inches wide, all grass, leaves, sticks, and 
other obstructions, had been removed, and along 
them poured an unbroken column of ants, thousands 
on thousands^ those bound from the nest hurrying 
down one side of the path, and those bound in, each 
carrying aloft a piece of green leaf, perhaps half an 
inch scLuare— a mimic army with banners — ^hurry- 
ing up the other. I amused myself, sometimes, by 
putting obstructions across the path, and watching 
the surging up of the interrupted columns. Then 
could be seen fleet couriors hurrying off to the nest, 
and directly the path would be crowded with a 
heavy reinforcement, invariably headed by eight or 
ten ants of larger size, who appeared to be the en- 
gineers of the establishment. These would climb 
over and all around the obstruction, apparently cal- 
culating the chances of effecting its removal. If 
not too heavy, they disposed their regiments, and 
dragged it away by a. ^and simultaneous effort. 



But if, on examiaation, they tliouglit its removal 
impossible, they hurried to lay out a road around it, 
clearing away the grass, leaves, twigs, and pebbles 
with conaummate skill, each column working toward 
the other. The best drilled troops could not go 
more systematically and intelligently to work, nor 
have executed their task with greater alacrity and 
energy. No sooner was it done, than, putting 
themselves at the head of their worides, the engi- 
neers hastened back as they came, ready to obey 
the next requisition upon their strength and aldll 

Here I may mention that there is no end of ants 
under the tropics. They swarm every where, of un- 
numbered varieties — from little creatures, of micro- 
scopic proportions, to those of the size of our wasp. 
It is always necessary, when on land, to hang one's 
provisions by cords from the branches of trees, or 
they would literally be eaten up in a single night. 
There is one variety, called the hormegas, hy the 
Spaniards, which has an insatiate appetite for 
leather, especially hoots, and will eat them full of 
holes in a few hours. All the varieties of acacias 
teem with a sniall red, or " fire ant," whose bite is 
like the prick of a red-hot needle. The unfortunate 
traveler who gets them in any considerable numbers 
on his person, is driven to distraction for the time 
being. It is difficult to imagine keener torment. 

Thousands of small, hght-colored bees gathered 
round the fallen trunks of the coyol-palms, to col- 
lect the ]ioney-like Hquid that exuded here and 
there, as the juice began to ferment. I soon ascer- 



tained that they were etingless, and amused myself 
in watching their industrious zeal. I gradually 
came to observe that when each had gathered his 
supply, he rose, by a eucceesion of circuits, higli in 
the air, and then darted off in a certain direction. 
Carefully watching their course, I finally traced 
them to a low, twisted tree, on the edge of the 
swamp, in the hollow of which they had their de- 
pository. Of course, I regarded this as a fortunate 
discovery, and we were not slow to turn it to our 
advantage. I had less scruples in cutting down the 
tree, and turning the busy little dwellers out on the 
world, since they had no winter to provide for, and 
could easily take care of themselves. The supply 
of honey proved to bo very small, and seemed to 
have been collected chiefly for the support of the 
young bees. We obtained only four bottles ftdl 
from the tree. In taste it proved to be very unlike 
our northern honey, having a sharp, pungent, half- 
fermented flavor, causing, when eaten pure, a chok- 
ing contraction of the muscles of the throat. An- 
tonio mixed some of it with the " vino de coyol," 
which, after fermentation, produced a very delicious, 
but strong, and most intoxicating kind of liqueur. 

On the afternoon of the eighth day, the moon 
having reached her last quarter, we packed our 
little boat, and just as the night foil, worked our 
way slowly through the little, obstructed canal to 
the lagoon, which now expanded to the north. We 
paddled boldly through the middle, the better to 
avoid observation from the shore. The night was 



dark, but wonderfully still, and I could hear dis- 
tinctly the sound of drums and revelry from the 
villages on the eastern shore, although they must 
have been fuUy three miles distant. 

I left " Tapir Camp" with real regret. The days 
bad glided by trancLuilly, and I bad enjoyed a calm 
content, to which I had before been a stranger. 
For the firat time, I was able to comprehend the 
feeling, gathering strength with every day, which 
induces men, sometimes the moat brilliant and pros- 
perous, to banish themselves from the world, and 
seek, in utter retirement, the peace which only flows 
from a direct converse with nature, and an earnest 



LONGr the coafit, frrin the Pimza 
pulba nver northwird, is I liave 
said, stretches a net-worlv of iivera 
and lagoons, for a distance of at least one hundred 
and fitty miles, terminating neai Cape &-racias 
These lagoons are broad and t,hilluw, and IjorJered 
by estenbive marshes Wheiever the diy giuund 
does appeir, stiange to saj, it is generillj ib a 
sandy sayannah, undulating, and supporting few 
trees cTCtpt the led, oi long-lea\ed pine These 
savannahs are only adapted lor grazing, since the 
soil is too light and poor for cultivation, and fails to 
support any of the staple products, or any of the 
many esculent vegetables of the tropics, except the 
And although the few scattered inhabit- 



ants of the Mosquito Shore, above the Prinza- 
pnlka, live upon the borders of the lagooua, select- 
ing generally the savannahs for their villages, it 
is because they are essentially fishers, and derive 
their principal support from the sea. The islands 
of the coast abound with turtle, and the rivers, 
creeks, and lagoons teem with fish of nearly every 
variety known under the tropics. The few vegeta- 
bles which they require are obtained from the 
banks of the rivers in the hack country, where the 
streams flow through their proper valleys, and be- 
fore they are lost in the low grounds of the coast. 
The plantations on these rivers belong to the In- 
dians proper, whose numbers increase toward the 
interior, and who supply the Sambos, or coast-men, 
not only with vegetables, but also with the various 
kinds of boats which are used by them, receiving in 
exchange a few cottons, axes, trinkets, and other 
articles which are brought by the foreign traders. 
The character and habits of these Indians are 
widely different from those of the coast-men. The 
latter are drunken, idle, and vicious, while the 
former are mild, industrious, and temperate. The 
differenced which I have indicated between the In- 
dian settlement on the Rio Grande and the Sambo 
village of Wasswatla, hold equally true throughout, 
except that the farther the traveler proceeds north- 
ward from Bluefields, the more debased and brutal 
the Sambos become. 

In attempting to thread my way through the 
maze of waters before us, I kept the facts which I 




have recounted constantly in view, and 
rather to penetrate inland, than diverge toward the 
coast. So, vrhenever two or more channels pre- 
sented themselves, I universally took the inside 
one. This frequently led us into the rivers flowing 
from the interior, hut their current speedily enahled 
us to correct these mistakes. 

No incident relieved the monotony of our first 
night, after leaving " Tapir Camp." Toward morn- 
ing we paddled into the first opening in the man- 
groves that held out promise of concealment. We 
had the usual difficulties to encounter — fallen trees, 
and overhanging hmhs ; hut when the morning 
hroke we had worked our way to a spot where the 
creek expanded into a kind of suhordinate lagoon, 
very shallow, and full of sandy islets, partly covered 
with grass and water-plants. At one spot on the 
shore the ground was elevated a few feet, support- 
ing a numher of large and ancient trees, heavily 
draped with vines, under wliich we encamped. 

After a very frugal meal, mj hammock was sus- 
pended between the trees, and I went to sleep. 
About noon I awoke, and spent the rest of the day 
in watching the various forms of animal life which 
found support in these secluded wilds. It seemed 
to me as if all the aquatic birds of the world were 
connregated there, in harmonious conclave. Long- 
shanked herons, with their necks drawn in, and 
their yellow bills resting on their breasts, stood 
meditatively on a single leg ; troops of the white and 
scarlet ibis trotted actively along the open sands ; 



and round-tailed darters, with their enaky necks 
and quick eyes, alighted in the trees around us — 
the only birds of all that assemblage which seemed 
to notice our intmaion ! Then there were cranes, 
and gaudy, awkward spoon-billa (clownish million- 
aires !) and occasionally a little squadron of blue- 
winged teal paddled gracefully by. 

Overhead, a few noisy macaws sheltered them- 
selves from the noon-day heats. Among these, I 
saw, for the first time, the green variety, a more 
modest, and, to my taste, a far more beautiful bird, 
than his gaudier cousin. The large trees to which 
I have alluded, were of the variety known as the 
ceiba, or silk-cotton tree. They were now in their 
bloom, and crowned with a profusion of flowers of 
rich and variegated colors, but chiefly a bright car- 
nation. It was a novel spectacle to see a gigantic 
tree, five or six feet in diameter, and eighty or 
ninety feet high, sending out long and massive 
limbs, yet hearing flowers like a rose-bush — a sort 
of man-milhner ! Viewed from beneath, the flow- 
era were scarcely visible, but their fragrance was 
overpowering, and the ground was carpeted with 
their gay leaves and delicate petals. But seen 
from a little distance, the ceiba-tree in bloom is one 
of the most splendid productions of Nature— -a gi- 
gantic bouquet, which requires a whole forest to sup- 
ply the contrastiug green 1 The flowers are rapidly 
succeeded by a multitude of poda, which grow to 
the size and shape of a goose-egg. When ripe, they 
burst open, revealing the interior filled with a very 



soft, light cotton or silky fibre, attached as floats to 
diminutive seeds, which are thus wafted far and 
wide by the winds. This process is repeated three 
times a year. I am not aware that the cotton has 
ever been manufactured, or applied to any more 
useful purpose than that of stuffing pillows and 

The trunk of the oeiba, however, is invaluable to 
the natives. The wood is easily woilced, and is, 
moreover, light and buoyant, and not liable to split 
by exposure to the sun. For these reasons, it is 
principally used for dories, pitpans, and the differ- 
ent varieties of boats required on the coast, al- 
though, for the smaller canoes, the cedar and ma- 
hogany are sometimes substituted. The mahogany 
boats, however, are rather heavy, while the cedar is 
liable to spUt in what is called " beaching," I have 
seen dories hollowed from a single trank of the ce- 
bia, in which a tall man might comfortably lie at 
length across tke bottom, and which were capable 
of carrying fifty persons. 

But the oeibas of our encampment supported, 
besides their own verdure, a mass of lianes or 
climbers, of many varieties, as also, numerous par- 
asitic plants, and among them the wild-pine or rain- 
plant, which served us a most useful purpose. Sev- 
eral of these grew in the principal forks of the trees, 
to the height of from four to six feet. Their leaves 
are broad, and wrap round on themselves, like a 
roll, forming reservoirs, in which the rain aud dew 
ja collected and retained, safe from sun and wind. 



Each leaf will liold about a q^uart of water, which 
looks clear and tempting in its greeiij translucent 
gohlet. Had it not heen for the rain-plant, we 
would have suffered very often from thirst, among 
those brackish lagoons, where fresh water is ob- 
tained with difficulty. 

With the night, we resumed our stealthy course 
to the northward, guided by the familiar north star, 
which here, however, circles so low in the horizon, 
as hardly to he visible above the trees. The long 
and narrow lagoon contracted more and more, until 
it presented a single channel, perhaps a hundred 
yards wide, closely lined with mangroves, which, 
rising like a wall on both sides, prevented us from 
making out the character of the back country. In 
passing through some of the numerous bends, I 
nevertheless caught star-light glimpses of distant 
hills, and high grounds in the direction of the in- 
terior. The channel soon began to trend to the 
north-east, and there was a considerable current in 
that direction. I was concerned lest, notwithstand- 
ing all my caution, I had lost the clew to the la- 
goons, and taken some one of the outlets into the 
sea. We nevertheless kept on, steadily and rapidly, 
discovering no signs of habitations on the banks, 
until near morning, when my suspicions were con- 
firmed by a monotonous sound, which I had no dif- 
ficulty in recognizing as the beating of the sea. I 
was therefore greatly relieved when the narrow 
channel, which we were traveling, expanded sud- 
denly into a heautiful lagoon, which I subsequently 



ascertained was called "Tongla Lagoon." It is 
triangular in shape, extending off to the north- 

I was weary of dodging tlie Sambos, and deter- 
mined, as the wind was blowing fresh, to put up 
our sail, and standing boldly through the lagoon, 
take the rislt of recognition and pursuit. Thero 
never was a brighter day on earth, and our little 
boat seemed emulous to outstrip the wind. Gather- 
ing confidence from our speed, I got out my fishing 
hue, and, attaching a bit of cotton cloth to the 
hook, trailed it after the boat. It had hardly 
touched the water before it was caught by a kind 
of rook-flah, called snapper by the English resi- 
dents, and cowatucker by the Mosquitos. It is only 
from ten to twelve inches in length, but broad and 
heavy. Antonio recognized it as one of the best of 
the small fishes, and I continued the sport of catch- 
ing them, until it would have been wanton waste to 
have taken more. I found them to be of two 
varieties, the red and black, of which the latter 
proved to be the most delicate. I also caught two 
fish of a larger kind, called baracouta, each about 
twenty inches in length, resembling our blue-fish. 
It is equally ravenous, and has a like firm and pal- 
atable flesh. I am not sure that it is not the true 
blue-fish, although I afterward caught some in the 
Bay of Honduras which were between three and 
four feet in length. 

In order to get the fuH benefit of the land-breeze, 
we kept well over to the seaward or eastern side 



of the lagoon. As the lagoon narrowed, our course 
gradually brought us close in shore. I had observed 
some palm-trees on the same side of the lagoon, but 
the ground seemed so low, and tangled with ver- 
dure, that I doubted if the trees indicated, as they 
usually do, a village at their feet. I nevertheless 
maintained a sharp look-out, and kept the boat as 
near to the wind as possible, so as to slip by with- 
out observation. It was not until we were abreast 
of the palms, that I saw signs of human habita- 
tions. But then I made out a large number of 
canoes drawn up in a little bay, and, through a nar- 
row vista in the trees, saw distinctly a considemble 
collection of huts. There were also several of the 
inhabitants moving about among the canoes. 

I observed also that our boat had attracted atten- 
tion, and that a number of men were hurrying down 
to the sboi-e. I was in hopes that they would be 
content with regarding us from a distance, and was 
not a little annoyed when I saw two large boats 
push from the landing. "We did not atop to specu- 
late upon their purposes, hut shook out every thread 
of our little sail, and each taking a paddle, we fell 
to work with a determination of giving our pursuers 
as pretty a chase as ever came off on the Mosquito 
Shore. It was now three o'clock in the afternoon, 
and I felt confident that we could not be overtaken, 
if at all, before night, and then it would be com- 
paratively easy to elude them. 

Our pursuers had no sails, but their boats were 
larger, and numerously manned by men more used 


THE chase!- 189 

to the paddle than either Antonio or myself. While 
the wind lasted, we rather increased our distance, 
hut as the sun ivent down the breeze declined, and 
our sail hecame useless. So we were ohhged to 

take it in, and trust to our paddles, alone. This 
gave OUT pursuers new courage, and I could hear 
their shouts echoed back from the shores. When 
night fell they had shortened their distance to less 
than half what it had been at the outset, and were 
so near that we could almost make out their words ; 
for, during quiet nights, on these lagoons, voices 
can he distinguished at the distance of a nule. The 
lagoon narrowed more and more, and was evidently 
getting to he as contracted as the channel by which 
we had entered. This was against us ; for, al- 
though we had almost lost sight of our pursuers in 
the gathering darkness, our safety depended entirely 
upon our slipping, unobserved, into some narrow 
creek. But we strained our eyes in vain, to discover 



such a retreat. The mangroves presented one dark, 
unbroken front. 

The conviction was now forced upon me that, in 
Bpito of all our efforts to avoid it, we were to he 
involved in a second fight. I laid aside my paddle, 
and got out my gun. And now I experienced again 
the same ague-like sensations which I have de- 
scribed as preceding our struggle on the Prinza- 
pulba. It required the utmost effort to keep my 
teeth from chattering audibly. I had a singular 
and painful sensation of fullness about the heart. 
So decided were all these phenomena, that, not- 
withstanding our danger, I felt glad it was so dark 
that my companions could not see my weakness. 
But soon the reins in my temples began to swell 
with blood, pulsating with tense sharpness, like the 
vibration of a bow-string ; and then the muscles 
became rigid, and firm as iron. I was ready for 
blood ! Twice only have I experienced these terri- 
ble sensations, and God grant that they may never 
agonize my nerves again ! 

Our enemies were now so near that I was on tho 
point of venturing a random long shot at them, 
when, with a suppressed exclamation of joy, Anto- 
nio suddenly turned our canoe into a narrow creek, 
where the mangroves separated, like walls, on either 
side. Where we entered, it was scarcely twenty 
feet wide, and soon contracted to ten or twelve. 
We ghded in rapidly for perhaps two hundred 
yards, when Antonio stopped to listen. I heard 
nothing, and gave the word to proceed. But the 



crafty Indian said " No ;" and, earefnlly leaning 
over the edge of the boat, plunged his head in the 
water. He held it there a few seconds, then started 
up, exclaiming, " They are coming !" Again we 
hent to the paddles, and drove the boat up the 
narrow creek with incredible velocity, 

I was 80 eager to get a shot at our pursuers that 
I scarcely comprehended what he meant, when, 
stopping suddenly, Antonio pressed his paddle in 
my hands, and, exchanging a few hurried words 
with the Poyer boy, each took a machete in his 
mouth, and leaped overboard. I felt a eudden 
suspicion that they had deserted me, and remained 
for the time motionless. A moment after, they 
called to me from the shore, " Paddle ! paddle !" 
and, at the same instant, I heard the blows of their 
machetes ringing on the trunks of the mangroves. 
I at once comprehended that they were felling trees 
across the narrow creek, to obstruct the purauit ; 
and I threw aside the paddle, and took my gun 
again, determined to protect my devoted friends, at 
any hazard. I never forgave myself for my mo- 
mentary but ungenerous distrust ! 

Our pursuers heard the sound of the blows, and, 
no doubt comprehending what was going on, raised 
loud shouts, and redoubled their speed. Kling ! 
Ming .' rang the machetes on the hard wood ! Oh, 
how I longed to hear the crash of the falling trees ! 
Soon one of them began to crackle — another blow, 
and down it fell, the trunk splashing gloriously in 
the water t Another crackle, a rapid rastling of 



branches, and aaothcr splash in the water ! It was 
our turn to shout now ! 

I gave Antonio and the Poyer boy each a hearty em- 
brace, aa, dripping with water, they clambered back 
into our little boat. "We iiowpushed a fewyardeup the 
stream, stopped close to the slimy bank, and awaited 
our pursuers. "Come on, now," I shouted, "and 
not one of you shall pass that rude barrier alive I" 

Tho first boat ran boldly up to the fallen trees, 
hut tho dischai^e of a single barrel of my gun sent 
it back, precipitately, out of reach. We could 
distinguish a hurried conversation between the 
occupants of the first boat and of the second, when 
the latter came up. It did not last long, and when 
it stopped, Antonio, in a manner evincing more 
alarm than he had ever before exhibited, caught 
me by the arm, and explained hurriedly that the 
second boat was going back, and that the narrow 
creek, in which we were, no doubt communicated 
with the principal channel by a second mouth. 
While one boat was thus blockading us in front, 
the second was hastening to assaU us in the rear I 
I comprehended the movement at once. Our dehb- 
eration was short, for our lives might depend upon 
an improvement of the minutes. Stealthily, scarce 
daring to breathe, yet with the utmost rapidity 
possible, we pushed up the creek. As Antonio had 
conjectured, it soon began to curve back toward 
the estuary. Wo had pursued our course perhaps 
ten or fifteen minutes — they seemed hours ! — when 
we overheard the approach of the second boat. 



We at once drew ours close to the bank, in the 
gloomiest covert we could find. On came the boat, 
the paddlers, secure of the success of their device, 
straining themselves to the utmost. There was a 
moment of keen suspense, and, to our inexpressible 
relief, the boat passed by us. We now resumed 
our paddles, and hastened on our course. But before 
we entered the principal channel, my companions 
clambered into the overhanging mangroves, and in 
an incredibly short space of time had fallen other 
trees across the creek, so as completely to shut in 
the boat which had attempted to surprise us. 

The device was successful ; we soon emerged from 
the creek, and the sea-breeze having now set in, 
favorably to our course, we were able to put up our 
sail, and defy pursuit. We saw nothing afterward 
of our eager friends of Tongla Lagoon ! 

Some time past midnight we came to another and 
larger lagoon, called " Wava Lagoon,"- and, weary 
and exhausted from nearly two days of wakefulness, 
hard labor, and excitement, we ran our boat ashore 
on a little island, which presented itself, and drag- 
ged it up into the hushes. We kindled a fire, cook- 
ed our fish, and then I lay down in the canoe, and 
went to sleep. I had entire confidence that we 
would not be pursued further, as we were now a 
long way from the coast, and in the country of the 
unmixed Indians, who, so far from recognizing the 
assumptions of the Sambos, hold an attitude so de- 
cidedly hostile toward them that the latter seldom 
venture into their territory. 



I awoke near noon, but unrefreshed, with a dull 
pain in my head, a sensation of chilliness, great las- 
situde, and an entire absence of appetite. Had 
our encampment been more favorable, I should not 
have attempted to move ; but the island was small, 
without water, and, moreover, too near the channel 
leading to Tongla Lagoon to be a desirable resting- 
place, So we embarked about midday, and stood 
across the lagoon for its western shore, where the 
ground appeared to rise rapidly, and high blue 
mountains appeared in the distance. The sun 
shone out clearly, and the day was sultry, but my 
chilliness increased momentarily, and, in less than 
an hour after leaving the island, I foimd myself 
lying in the bottom of the canoe, wrapped in my 
blanket, and for the first time in my hfe, suffering 
from the ague. The attack lasted for full two 
hours, and was followed by a bursting pain in my 
head, and a high fever, I had also duU pains in 
ray back and limbs, whieh were more difficult to be 
borne than others more acute. 

At four o'clock in the afternoon, Antonio put 
*;he boat in shore — ^for I was too iU to give direc- 
tions — where a bluff point ran out into the lagoon, 
forming a small bay, with a smooth, sandy beach. 
A little savannah, similar to that which I have de- 
scribed at Tapir Camp, extended back from the 
bluff, near the centre of which, at its highest point, 
which commanded a beautiful view of the lagoon, 
rose a single clump of pines. Here my companions 



carried me in my hammock, and here they liaetily 
arranged our camp. 

When the eun went down, my fever Buhsided, 
but was followed by a profuse and most debihtating 
sweat. Meantime Antonio had collected a few nuta 
of a kind which, I afterward ascertained, is called 
by the English of the West Indies physic-nut 
{jatropha), which grows on a low bush, on all parts 
of the coast. These he rapidly prepared, and admin- 
istered them to me. They operated powerfully, both 
as an emetic and cathartic. "When their effects had 
ceased, I fell asleep, and slept until morning, when 
I awoke weak, hut free from pain, or any other symp- 
tom of illness. I congratulated myself and An- 
tonio, but he dampened my spirits sensibly by ex- 
plaining that, however well I might feel for that 
day, I would be pretty sure to have a recuiTcnce of 
fi^ver on the next. And to mitigate the severity of 
this, if not entirely to prevent it, he presented to me 
a calabash, of reddish-looking lic[uid, which he called 
cinchona, and told me to drink deeply. Heavens 1 I 
shall never forget the bitter draught, which he com- 
mended to my unwilling lips every two hours during 
that black day in my calendar I I know what it is 
now, for my Mosquito experiences have entailed 
upon me a sneaking fever and ague, which avails 
itself of every pretext to remind me that we are in- 
separable. Looking to my extensive consumption 
of quinine, I have marveled, since my return, that 
the price of the drug has not been doubled ! Others 
may look at the stock quotations, but my principal 



interest in the commercial department of the morn- 
ing paper, ia the " ruling rate" of qwinine ! Not 
having, as yet, discovered any considerable advance, 
I begin to doubt the dogma of the economists, that 
" the price is regulated by the demand." 

Antonio was right. The next day came, and at 
precisely twelve o'clock came also the chill, the 
fever, the dull pains, and the perspiration, but all in 
a more subdued form. I escaped the physic-nuts, 
but the third day brought a new supply of the bit- 
ter liq^uiii, which Antonio told me was decocted 
from bark taken from the roots of a species of 
mangrove-tree. I have never seen it mentioned 
that the cinchona is found in Central America, but, 
nevertheless, it is there, or something so nearly like 
it, in taste and effects, as to be undistinguishable. 
Thin slips of the bark, put into a bottle of rum, 
made a sort of cordial or bitters, of which I took 
about a wine-glassful every morning and evening, 
during the remainder of my stay on the coast, with 
beneficial results. 

I had three recurrences of the fever, but the sun 
passed the meridian on the sixth day without biing- 
ingwith it an attack — thanks to the rude but effect- 
ive "healing art" of my Indian companions. Ex- 
perience had taught them about all, I think, that 
has ever been learned in the way of treatment of 
indigenous complaints. It is only exotic diseases, or 
sweeping epidemics, that carry death and desolation 
among the aborigines, whose ignorance of their na- 
ture and remedies invests them with a terror which 



enhances the mortality. Not only was the - treat- 
ment to which I was subjected thoroughly correct, 
hut the dieting was perfect. The only food that 
was given to me consisted of the seeds of the okra 
(which is indigenous on the coast), flavored by 
being boiled with the legs and wings of quails, and 
small bits of dried manitee flesh. I only outraged 
the notions of my rude physiciaps in one respect, 
viz., in insisting on being allowed to wash myself. 
The Indians seem to think that the effect of water 
on the body, or any part of it, during the period of 
a fever, is little less than mortal — a singular notion, 
which may have some foundation in experience, if 
not in reason. The Spaniards, wisely or fooUshly, 
entertain the same prejudice ; and, furthermore, 
shut themselves up closely in dark rooms, when at- 
tacked by fever. At such times they scarcely com- 
mend themselves pleasantly to any of the senses. 

From the open, airy elevation where our camp 
was estahhshed, as I have already said, we had an 
extensive and beautiful view of the lagoon. We 
saw canoes, at various times, skirting the western 
shore, and, from the smote which rose at intervals, 
we were satisfied that there were there several Indian 
villages. As soon, therefore, as I thought myself re- 
covered from my fever, which was precisely at one 
o'clock past meridian, on the sixth day (the fever 
due at noon not having " come to time"), I was 
ready to proceed to the Indian towns. But our de- 
parture was delayed for two days more by an un- 
fortunate occurrence, which came near depriving 



the Foyer boy of his life, and me of a valuable as- 
sistant ; for, while Antonio was supreme on land, 
the Poycr boy was the leader on the water, I al- 
ways called him — Mosquito fashion — " admiral." 

It aeems that, while engaged in gathering dry 
wood, he took hold of a fallen branch, under which 
was coiled a venomous snake, known as the tama- 
gasa (called by the English tommy-gojf, and the 
MoacLuitos piuta^sura, or the poison snake). He 
had scarcely put down his hand when it struck 
him in the arm. He killed it, grasped it by the 
tail, and hurried to our camp, I was much alarm- 
ed, for his agitation was extreme, and his face and 
whole body of an ashy color, Antonio was not at 
hand, and I was at an utter loss what to do, beyond 
tying a ligature tightly around the arm. The 
Foyer, however, retained his presence of mind, and, 
unrolling a mysterious little bundle, which con- 
tained his scanty wardrobe, took out a nut of about 
the size and much the appearance of a horse-chest- 
nut, which he hastily crushed, and, mixing it with 
water, drank it down, Ey this time Antonio had 
returned, and, learning the state of the ease, seized 
his machete, and hastened away to the low groimds 
on the edge of the savannah, whence he came back, 
in the course of half an hour, with a quantity of 
some kind of root, of which I have forgotten the 
Indian name. It had a strong smell of musk, im- 
possible to distinguish from that of the genuine 
civet. This he crushed, and formed into a land of 
poultice, bound it on the woiinded arm, and gave the 



boy to drink a strong infusion of the same. This 
done, he led him down to the beach, dug a hole in 
the moist sand, in which he buried his arm to the 
shoulder, pressing the sand closely around it. I 
thought this an emphatic kind of treatment, which 
might be good for Indians, but which would be 
pretty sure to kill white men. The boy remained 
with his arm buried during the entire night, but, 
nest morning, barring being a little pale and weak 
from the effects of these powerful remedies, he was 
as well as ever, and resumed bis usual occupations, 
A light blue scratch alone indicated the place 
where he had been bitten. 

The tamagasa (a specimen of which I subse- 
q^uently obtained, and which now occupies a distin- 
guished place among the reptiles in the Philadel- 
phia Academy), is about two feet long. It is of 
the thickness of a man's thumb, with a lai^e, flat 
head, and a lump in the neck something like that of 
the cobra, and is marked with alternate black and 
dusky white rings. It is reputed one of the most 
venomous serpents under the tropics, ranking nest 
to the beautiful, but deadly corral. 


HEOM our miBfirtunes I named our 
I en impment n Wa%i Lagoon 
Fe\ei Canp altli u^h o far 
fiom contra ting the fe^er theie I im sme it was 
its open ai d elevated pos tion which contiil uted to 
my recovery The fev r was rather due to over ex 
ertion and expo ure at ni^ht foi the ni^ht damps 
on all 1 w 01 t Tinier the tropics aio unijuestion 
ibly deadly and the tra^elei cannot he too careful 
m avoiding them Early m the afternoon of the 
day of our depaiture from Fever Camp wc en 
ttred a Hrge streim flowing mto the lagoo i from 
the n rth we t upcn the bank& of which judging 
fiom the duection of the bmoke we had seen the 
Indian villages weie situated We weie not m s 
taken Before night we came to a village larger 



than that on the Rio Grande, but in other respects 
much the same, except that it stood upon the edge 
of an extensive saYannah, instead of on the skirt of 
an impenetrable forest. Around it were extensive 
plantations of cassava, and other fruits and vege- 
tables, growing in the greatest luxuriance, and indi- 
cating that the soil of the inland savannahs does not 
share the aridity of those nearer the coast. This 
was further evinced by the scarcity of pines, 
which were only to be seen on the ridges or gentle 
elevations with which the surface of the savannah 
was diversified. 

Our appearance here created the same excite- 
ment which it had occasioned at the other places we 
had visited, and our reception was much the same 
with that which we bad experienced on the Eio 
Grande. Instead, however, of being met by men 
with wands, we were welcomed by five old men, one 
of whom vacated his own hut for our accommoda- 
tion. None here could speak either English or 
Spanish intelligibly, but the affinity between their 
language and that of my Poyer enabled him to 
make known our wants, and obtain all usefid infor- 
mation. We were treated hospitably, but with the 
utmost reserve, and during my whole stay, but a 
single incident relieved the monotony of the village. 
This was a marriage— and a very ceremonious affair 
it was. 

These Indiana, I should explain, are called Tow- 
kas, or Toacas, and have, I presume, all the general 
characteristics and habits of the Oookrasand Wool- 



was. These do, in fact, constitute a single family, 
although displaying dialectical differences in their 

Among all these Indians, polygamy is an excep- 
tion, while among the Sambos it is the rule. The 
instances aie few in which a man has more than one 
wife, and m theie cases the eldest is not only the 
head of the family, hut exercises a strict supervision 
over the others The hetrothals -are made at a very 
early age, hy the parents, and the affianced children 
are marked in a corresponding manner, bo that one 
acquainted with the practice can always point out 
the various mates. These marks consist of little 
hands of colored cotton, worn either on the arm, 
ahove the elbow, or on the leg, below the knee, 
which are varied in color and number, so that no 
two combinations in the village shall be the same. 
The combinations are made by the old men, who take 



care tliat there shall he no confusion. The bands 
are replaced from time to time; as they become 
worn and faded. Both boys and girls also wear a 
necldace of variously-colored shells or heads, to 
which one is added yearly. "When the necklace of 
the hoy counts ten heads or shells, he is called 
•mukasal, a word signifying three things, viz., ten, 
,all the fingers, and half-a-man. When they mimber 
twenty, he is called 'all, a word which also signifies 
three things, viz., twenty, both fingers and toes, 
and a man. And he is then effectively regarded as 
a man. Should his affianced, by that time, have 
reached the age of fifteen, the marriage ceremony 
takes place without delay. 

As I have said, a sleek young Towka waa called 
upon to add. the final bead to his string, and take 
upon himself the obligations of manhood, during 
my stay at the village. The event had been an- 
ticipated by the preparation of a canoe full of 
palm-wine, mixed with crushed plantains, and a 
little honey, which had been fermenting, to the 
utter disgust of my nostrils, from the date of my 
arrival. The day was observed as a general holiday. 
Early in the morning all the men of the village as- 
sembled, and with their Imives carefully removed 
every blade of grass which had grown up inside of 
a circle, perhaps a hundred feet in diameter, situ- 
ated in the very centre of the village, and indicated 
by a succession of stones sunk in the ground. The 
earth was then trampled smooth and hard, after 
which they proceeded to erect a little hut in the 



very ceiitre of the circular area, above a large flat 
stone which was permanently planted there. This 
hut was made conical, and perfectly close, except 
an opening at the top, and another at one side, 
toward the east, which was temporarily closed with 
a mat, woven of palm-bark. I looked in without 
hinderance, and saw, piled up on the stone, a quan- 
tity of the dry twigs of the copal-tree, covered with 
the gum of the same. The canoo full of liquor was 
dragged up to the edge of the circle, and literally 
covered with small white calabashes, of the size of 
aji ordinary coffee-cup. 

At noon, precisely, all the people of the village 
hurried, without order, to the hut of the bride- 
groom's father. I joined in the crowd. We found 
the " happy swain " arrayed in his best, sitting de- 
murely upon a bundle of articles, closely wrapped in 
a mat. The old men, to whom I have referred, 
formed in a line in front of him, and the eldest 
made him a short address. When he had fin- 
ished, the next followed, until' each had had his 
say. The youth then got up quietly, shouldered 
his bundle, and, preceded by the old men, and 
followed by his father, marched off to the hut 
of the prospective bride. He put down his load 
before the closed door, and seated himself upon it 
in silence. The father then rapped at the door, 
which was partly opened hy an old woman, who 
asked him what he wanted, to which he made some 
reply which did not appear to be satisfactory, when 
the door was shut in his face, and he took his seat 



tesideliis son. One of the old men then rapped, 
■with precisely the same result, then the next, and 
so on. But the old women were obdurate. The 
bridegroom's father tried it again, but the she- 
dragons would not open the door. The old men 
then seemed to hold a council, at the end of which 
a couple of drums (made, as I have already ex- 
plained, by stretching a raw skin over a section of a 
hoUow tree), and some rude flutes were sent for. 
The latter were made of pieces of bamboo, and were 
shaped somewhat like flageolets, each having a 
mouth-piece, and four stops. The sound was dull 
and monotonous, although not whoUy unmusical. 

Certain musicians now appeared, and at once 
commenced playing on these instruments, breaking 
out, at long intervals, in a kind of supplicatory 
chant. After an hour or more of this soothing and 
rather sleepy kind of music, the inexorable door 
opened a little, and one of the female inmates 
glanced out with much affected timidity. Here- 
upon the musicians redoubled their efforts, and the 
bridegroom hastened to unroll his bundle. It con- 
tained a variety of articles supposed to be accept- 
able to the parents of the girl. There was, among 
other things, a machete, no inconsiderable present, 
when it is understood that the cost of one is gener- 
ally a large dory, which it requires months of toil 
to fashion from the rough trunk of the gigantic 
ceiba. A string of gay glass beads was also pro- 
duced from the bundle. All these articles were 
handed in to the women one by one, by the father 



of the groom. With every present the door opened 
wider and wider, until the mat was presented, when 
it was turned hack to its utmoetj reveahng the 
bride arrayed in her "prettiest," seated on a 
crickery, at the remotest comer of the hut. The 
dragons affected to he absorhed in examining the 
presents, when the bridegroom, watching his oppor- 
tunity, dashed into the hut, to the apparent utter 
horror and dismay a£ the women ; and, grasping the 
girl hy the waist, shouldered her like a sack, and 
started off at a trot for the mystic circle, in the centre 
of the village. The women pursued, as if to over- 
take him and rescue the girl, uttering cries for help, 
wliile all the crowd huddled after. But the youth 
was too fast for them ; he reached the ring, and 
lifting the vai! of the hut, disappeared within it. 
The women could not pass the circle, and all 
stopped short at its edge, and set up a chorus of 
despairing shrieks, while the men all gathered 
within the charmed ring, where they squatted them- 
selves, row on row, facing outward. The old men 
alone remained standing, and a bit of hghted pino 
having meanwhile been brought, one of them ap- 
proached the hut, Kfted the mat, and, handing in 
the fire, made a brief speech to the inmates. A 
few seconds after an aromatic smoke curled up from 
the opening in the top of the little hut, from which 
I infer that the copal had been set on fire. What 
else happened, I am svne I do not know ! 

When they eaw the smoke, the old women grew 
silent and expectant ; but, by-and-by, when it suh- 



sided, they became suddenly gay, and " went in 
strong" for the feetmties, whicli, up to this time, I 
must confess, I had thought rather slow. But here 
I may explain, that although the bridegroom haa 
no choice in the selection of his wife, yet if he have 
reason for doing BO, he may, while the copal is 
burning, take her in his arms, and cast her outside 
of the circle, in the open day, before the entire peo- 
ple, and thus rid himself of her forever. But in 
this ease, the matter is carefully investigated by the 
old men, and woe betide the wretch who, by this 
pubhc act, has impeached a girl wrongfully ! Woe 
ec^ually betide the girl who is proved to have been 
" put away" for good reasons. If, however, the copal 
burns out quietly, the groom is supposed to be sat- 
isfied, and the marriage is complete. 

The copal, in this instance, burned out in the 
most satisfactory manner, and then the drums and 
flutes struck up a most energetic air, the music of 
which consisted of about eight notes, repeated with 
difterent degrees of rapidity, by way of giving va- 
riety to the melody. The men all kept their 
places, while I was installed in a seat of honor be- 
side the old men. The women, who, as I have 
said, could not come within the circle, now com- 
menced filling the calabashes from the canoe, and 
passing them to the squatting men, commencing 
with the ancients and the "distinguished guests" — for 
Antonio and my Foyer were included in our p&ty. 
There was nothing said, but the women displayed 
the greatest activity in fihing the emptied cala- 



bashes, I scKin discovered that every body was de- 
liberately and in cold blood getting up of what 
Captain Drummer called the "big drunk !" That 
■was part of the performance of the day, and the 
Indians went at it in the most orderly and expedi- 
tious manner. They wasted no time in coyish pre- 
liminaries — a practice which might be followed in 
,more civilized countries, to the great economy, not 
only of time, but of the vinous. It was not from 
the love of the drink that the Towkas imbibed, I 
can well believe, for their chicha was bad to look at, 
and worse to taste. 

With the fourth round of the calabashes, an oc- 
casional shout betrayed the effects of the chicha 
upon some of the weaker heads. These shouts be- 
came more and more frequent, and were sometimes 
uttered with a savage emphasis, which was rather 
startling. The musicians, too, became more ener- 
getic, and as the sun declined, the excitement rose, 
until, unable to keep quiet any longer, aU hands 
got up, and joined in a slow, swinging step around 
the circle, beating with their knuckles on the empty 
calabashes, and joining at intervals in a kind of re- 
frain, at the end of which every man struck the 
bottom of his calabash against that of his neigh- 
bor. Then, aa they came round by the canoe, each 
one dipped his calabash full of the contents. The 
liquid thus taken up was drunk at a single draught, 
and then the dance went on, growing more rapid 
with eyery dip of the calabash, It got to the stage 
of a trot, and then a fast pace, and finally into 


DEAD drunk! 'ZW 

something little eliort of a gallop, 1311* still in per- 
fect time. The rattling of the calabashes had now 
grown so rapid, as almost to he continuous, and the 
motion so involved and quick, that, as I watched it, 
I felt that kind of giddiness which one often expe- 
riences in watching the gliding of a swift current 
of water. This movement could not he kept up 
long, even with the aid of chicha, and whenever a 
dancer became exhausted, he would wheel out of 
line, and throw himself flat on his face on the 
ground. Finally, every one gave in, except two 
young follows, who seemed determined to do, in 
their way, what other fast young men, in other 
countries, sometimes undertake to accomplish, viz. : 
drink each other down, or " under the tablo." They 
danced and drunk, and were applauded by the wo- 
men, but were so closely matched that it was im- 
possible to tell which had the best chance of keep- 
ing it up longest. In fact, each seemed to despair 
of the other, and, as if by a common impulse, both 
threw aside their calabashes, and resolved the con- 
test from a trial of endurance into one of strength, 
leaping at each other's throats, and fastening their 
teeth like tigers in each other's flesh. 

There was instantly a great uproar, and those of 
the men who had the abihty to stand, clustered 
around the combatants in a confused mass, shout- 
ing at the stretch of their lungs, and evidently, as I 
thought, regarding it as a " free fight." But there 
was little damage done, for the old men, though 
emphatically "tight," had discretion enough to send 



the women for thongs, with which the pugnacious 
youths were incontinently bound hand and foot, and 
dragged close to the hut in the centre, and there 
left to cool themselves off as they were hest able, no 
one taking the shghtest notice of them, " Verily," 
I ejaculated to myself, " wisdom tnoweth no 

The dance which I have described was resumed 
from time to time, until it became CLuite dark, when 
the women brought a large number of pine splinters, 
of which the men each took one. These were lighted, 
and then the dancers paced up to the little hut, and 
each tore off one of the branches of which it was 

built, finally disclosing the newly-mamed couple 
sitting demurely side by side. As soon as the hut 
was demolished, the groom quietly took his bride 
on his back — ^hterally " shouldering the responsibil- 
ity !" — and marched off to the hut which had previ- 



oualy been built for his accomniodation, escorted by 
the procession of men with torches. This was the 
final ceremony of the night, although some of the 
more dissipated youths returned to the canoe, and 
kept up a drumming, and piping, and dancing, 
until morning. Next day every body brought pres- 
ents of some land to the newly-married pair, so as 
to give them a fair start in the world, and enable 
them to commence life on ecLual terms with the best 
in the village. 

It would be difficult to find on earth any thing 
more beautiful than the savannah which spread out, 
almost as far as the eye could reach, behind the 
Towkas vzUage. Along the river's bank rose a tan- 
gled wall of verdure ; giant ceibas, feathery palms, 
and the snake-like trunks of the mata-pah, all 
bound together, and draped over with cable-like 
lianes, (the tie-tie of the English,) and the tena- 
cious tendrils of myriads of creeping and fiowering 
plants. Unlike the wearying, monotonous prairies 
of the West, the savannah was relieved by clumps of 
acacias — among them the delicate-leaved gum-ar- 
abic — palmettos, and dark gi-oups of pines, arranged 
with such harmonious disorder, and admirable pic- 
turesque effect, that I conld scarcely believe the 
hand of art had not lent its aid to heighten the ef- 
forts of nature in her happiest mood. 

Finding retreats in the dense coverts of the jun- 
gles on the river's bank, or among the clustering 
groups of bushes and trees, the antelope and deer, 
the Indian rabbit and giheonite, wandered securely 



over the savannah, nipping the young grass, iw 
chasing each other in mimic alarm. Here, too, 
might be observed the crested cnrassow, with his 
stately step, the plumptitudinous qualm, and the 
crazy chachaica, (cogMencoi,) besides innumerable 
quails— -all fitting food for omnivorous man, hut so 
seldom disturbed as not to recognize him as their 
most dangerous enemy. Then night and morning 
the air was filled with deafening parrots, noisy ma- 
caws, and quick-darting, chattering paroquets. 

I rose early every day, and with my gun in my 
hand, strayed far over the savannah, inhaling the 
freshness of the morning air, and shooting such 
game as looked fat, tender, and otherwise accept- 
able to my now fastidious appetite. The curaesow, 
(called cosm by the Mosquitos,) is one of the finest 
birds in the world. It is about the size of the tur- 
key, but has stronger and longer legs. The plumage 
is dark brown or black, ash-colored about the neck, 
and of a reddish brown on the breast. On its head 
it has a crest of white feathers tipped with black, 
which it raises and depresses at pleasure. The flesh 
is whiter than that of a turkey, but rather dry, re- 
quiring a different mode of cooking than is practiced 
in the woods, to bring out its qualities in perfection. 
It is easily tamed, as are also the qiicdin and cha- 
ckalaca. The latter, when old, is tough, but when 
young, its flesh cannot be surpassed for delicacy 
and flavor. 

The animal called the Indian rabbit is very 
numerous, and is a variety of what, in South Amer- 



ica, is called the agouti. It is atout the size of a 
rabbit : body plump ; snout long, and rather sharp ; 
nose divided at the tip, and upper jaw longer than 
the lower ; hind legs longer than the anterior ones, 
and furnished with but three toes ; tail short, and 
scarcely visible, while its body is covered with a 
hard, shining, reddish-brown hair, freckled with 
dark spots. It lives upon vegetables, holds its food 
in eating, Hko a sq^uirrel, and has a vicious propen- 
sity for biting and gnawing whatever it comes near. 
5'or this reason it is a nuisance in the neighborhood 
of plantations, and, as it multiplies rapidly, it is 
about the only animal which is hunted systemati- 
cally by the Indians. Its flesh is only passable. 

The gibeonite (cavia-paca), sometimes called 
pig-rabbit, closely resembles the guinea-pig, biit is 
something larger. The head is round ; the muzzle 
short and black ; the upper jaw longer than the 
lower ; the lip divided^ like that of a hare ; the 
nostrils large, and the whiskers long ; eyes brown, 
large, and prominent ; ears short and naked ; neck 
thick ; body very plump, larger behind than be- 
fore, and covered with coarse, short hair, of a 
dusky brown color, deepest on the back ; the 
throat, breast, inside of the limbs, and beUy dingy 
white ; and on each side of the body are live rows 
of dark spots, placed close to each other. The legs 
are short, the feet have five toes, with strong nails, 
and the tail is a simple conic projection. Its flesh 
is pecuHarly juicy and rich, and, baked in the 
ground, the animal makes a dish for an epicure. I 



"believe I did not let a day pass without having a 
hated gibeontte. 

Among the Indians of the village, the eggs and 
flesh of the river turtle were favorite articles of 
food ; and in constantly using them, I thought they 
eviueed a proper appreciation of what is good. 
There are two varieties of these turtles, one called 
hocatoro (Mo8C[mto chouswat), and the other heca- 
iee. The latter is seldom more than eighteen inches 
long, hut its shell is very deep. We cooked them 
by simply separating the lower shell, taking out the 
entrails, and stuffing the cavity with cassava, 
pieces of plantain, manitee fat, and various condi- 
ments, then wrapping it in plantain leaves, as I 
have described, and turning it back down, baking 
it in the ground. It always required a good bed of 
coals to cook it properly, but when rightly done, the 
result was a meal preeminently savory and palata- 
ble. The Indian boys brought, hteraUy, bushels of 
the eggs of these, turtles from the bars and sand- 
spits of the river and lagoon. These are very deli- 
cate when entirely fresh. 


3 were not many days m exhausting 
j tlie resources of the Towkas village, 
in the way of adventures ; and, one 
%$ '('',//! Bunny afternoon, packed our little 
"boat, and, bidding our entertainers good-hy, pad- 
dled down the river, on our voyage to Sandy Bay- 
next to Elueiields, the principal Sambo establish- 
ment on the coast. Our course lay, a second time, 
through Wava Lagoon, which connects, by a nar- 
row and intricate channel or creek, with a larger 
lagoon to the northward, called Duckwarra. The 
night was quiet and beautiful — the crescent moon 
fining the air with a subdued and dreamy light, 
soothing and slumbrous, and so blending the real 
with the ideal that I sometimes imagine it might 
all have been a dream t My companions, if they 
did not share the influences of the night, at least 
respected my silence, and we glided on and on, 



without a sound save the steady dip of the paddles, 
and the gentlo ripple of the water, which closed in 
mimic whirlpools on our track. 

"When morning broke, we had already entered 
Duckwarra Lagoon, the largest we had encountered 
since leaving Pearl-Cay. It had the same appear- 
ance with all the others, and, having nothing to de- 
tain us, we steered directly across, only stoppii^ 
near noon on one of the numerous islets, to cook 
our breakfast, and escape the midday heats. This 
islet was, perhaps, two hundred yards across, and 
elevated in the centre some fifteen or twenty feet 
above the water. Near the apex were growing a 
number of ancient palms, and, strolling up to them, 
I found at their roots a small elevation, or tumu- 
lus, perhaps fifteen feet in diameter at the base, 
and five or six feet high. Its regularity arrested 
jny attention, and led me to heheve that it was ar- 
tiiicial. I called to Antonio, who at once pro- 
nounced it a burying-place of the " Antiguos." I 
proposed opening it, but my companions seemed 
loth to disturb the resting-place of the dead. How- 
ever, finding that I had commenced the work with- 
out them, they joined me, and with our machetes 
and paddles, we rapidly removed the earth. Near 
the original surface of the ground, wc came to some 
bones, but they were so much decayed that they 
crumbled beneath the fingers. Uncovering them 
further, we found at the head of the skeleton a 
rude vase, which was got out without much dam- 
age. Carefully removing the earth from the interior 




I found that it contained a ntmiber of chalcedonic 
pebbles, pierced as if for beads, a couple of arrow- 
heads of similar material, and a small ornament of 
thin, plate gold, rudely representing a human fig- 
ure, as shown in the accompanying engraving, which 
is of the size of the original At the feet of the 
skeleton we also discovered another small 
vaee of coarse pottery, which, however, con- 
tained no relics, Antonio seemed much ( 
interested in the little golden image, but 
finally, after minute examination, returned 
it to me, saying, that although his O' 
people in Yucatan often buried beneath 
tumuli, and had golden idols which they 
placed with the dead, yet, in workmanship, 
they were unhte the one we had discovered, 

" Ah I" he continued, his eyes lighting 
with nuusual fire, " you should see the works of our 
ancestors ! They were gods, those ancient, holy 
men ! Their temples were huilt for them hj Kabul, 
the Lord of the Powerful Hand, who set the seal of 
his bloody palm upon them aU ! You shall go with 
me to the sacred lake of the Itzaes, where our 
people are gathered to receive the directions of the 
Lord of Teaching, whose name is Votan Balam, who 
led our fathers thither, and who has promised to 
rescue them from their afflictions !" 

He stopped suddenly, as if alarmed at what he 
had said, kissed his talisman, and relapsed again 
into the quiet, mild-eyed Indian hoy, eubmiBsively 
awaiting my orders. 



We left Duetworra Lagoon by a creek connecting 
it with Sandy Bay Lagoon, and on the second after- 
noon from Wava Eiver, amved at the Samho settle- 
ment, which is on its southern shore, about eight 
miles from the sea. It stands upon the edge of a 
savannah, that rises to the southward and east- 
ward, forming, toward the sea, a series of bluffs, 
the principal of which is called Bragman's Bluff, 
and is the most considerable land-mark on the 

The town has something the appearance of Blue- 
iields, and contains perhaps five hundred inhabit- 
ants, who affect " English fashion" in dress and 
modes of living. That is to say, many of them 
wear Engfish hats, even when destitute of every 
other article of clothing, except the toumou, or 
breech-cloth. These hats are of styles running 
back for thirty years, and, moreover, crushed into a 
variety of shapes which are infinitely ludicrous, 
especially when the wearers affect gravity or d^- 
nity. A naked man cannot make himself abso- 
lutely ridiculous, for nature never exposes her crea- 
tions to humihation ; bnt the attempts at art, in 
f up the man on the Mosquito Shore, I must 
, were melancholy failures. 

Before we got to the village, the beating of drums, 
and the occasional firing off of muskets, announced 
that some kind of a feast or celebration was going 
on. As we approached nearer I saw the English 
flag displayed upon a tall bamboo, planted in the 
centre of a group of huts. I saw also a couple of 



boats, of European construction, drawn up on the 
beach, frum which I inferred that thero must he a 
trading vessel on the coast, and that I was just in 
time to -witness cue of the orgies which always fol- 
low upon such an event, I had had some misgiv- 
ings as to the probable reception we fihould meet, in 
case the news of our affair with the Quamwatlaa 
had reached here, and felt not a httle reassured 
when I saw indications of the presence of foreigners. 

The people were all so absorbed with their fes- 
tivities that our approach was not noticed ; hut 
when we got close to the shore, I fired off hoth bar- 
rels of my gun by way of salute. An instant after, 
a number of men came out from among the huts, 
and hurried down to the beach. Meantime I had 
got out my " King-paper," and leaped ashore. 

The crowd that huddled around me would have 
put Falstaffs tattecdem^on army to shame. The 
most conspicuous character among them wore a 
red check shirt, none of the cleanest, and a thread- 
bare undress coat of a British general, but had 
neither shoes nor breeches. Nor was he ecLually 
favored with Captain Drummer in respect of a hat. 
Instead of a venerable ehapeau, like that worn by 
the captain with so much dignity, he had an 
ancient bell-crowned " tUe," which had once been 
white, but was now of ecLuivocal color, and which, 
apparently from having been repeatedly used as a 
seat, was crushed up bellows' fashion, and cocked 
forward in a most absurd manner. 

The wearer of this Imposing garb had already 



reached "the stage of ""big drunk," and hia Englisli, 
none of the best at any time, was now of a very un- 
certain character. He staggered up, as if to em- 
brace me, slapping his breast with one hand, and 
druling out " I General Slam — General Peter 
Slam 1" I avoided the intended honor by stepping 
on one side, the coneeijuence of which was, that if the 
General had not been caught hj Antonio, he cer- 
tainly would have plunged into the lagoon. 

I made a marked display of my " King-paper," 
and commenced to read it to the General, but he 
motioned me to put it up, saying, " AU good ! very 
great good ! I Peter Slam, General 1" Meantime 
the spectators were reinforced from the village, and 
drums were sent for. They were of English make, 
and of the biggest. General Slam then insisted on 
escorting me up from the beach, "English gentle- 
man fashion \" and taking my arm in his unsteady 
grasp, he headed the procession, with a desperate 
attempt at steadiness, hut nevertheless swaying 
from side to side, after the immemorial practice of 
drunken men. 

Tbe General was clearly the magnate of Sandy 
Bay, (called by the Sambos Sanahy^ and when we 
reached the centre of the village, where the feast 
was going on, we were saluted hy a" hurrah 1" 
given " English fashion." Here I noticed a big ca- 
noe full of mishla, around which the drinking and 
dancing was uninterrupted. General Slam took me 
at once to his own house or hnt, where the traders 
in whose honor the feast was got up, were quar- 





tered. I found there the captain and clerk, and 
two of the crew of the "London Belle," a trading 
vessel which had recently arrived at Cape Gracias, 
from Jamaica. There was also an Englishman, 

named H- , who lived at the Cape, and who 

seemed to hold here a corresponding position with 
Mr. Bell in Bluefields. They were aU reclining on 
cricheries, or in hammocks, and appeared to be on 
terms of easyfamiliaiity with a number of very sleek 
young girls, in whose laps they were resting their 
heads, and whose principal occupation, in the inter- 
vals of not over deHcate dalliance, was that of pass- 
ing round glasses of a kind of punch, compounded of 
Jamaica rum, the juice of the sugar-cane, and a va- 
riety of crashed fruits. 

The whole party was what is technically called 
" half-seas-over," and welcomed me with that large 
Kberality which is inseparable from that condition. 
The general was slapped on the back, and told to 
" bring in more girls, you bloody rascal, no skuUdng 
now I" Whereupon his hat was facetiously crushed 
down over his eyes by each one of his guests in 
succession, and he was kicked out of the door by 
the English captain, a rough brute of a man, who 
only meant to be playful. 

I had barely time to observe that G-eneral Slam's 
house was not entirely without evidences of civiliza- 
tion. Upon one side was a folding table, and ship's 
sideboard, or locker, both probably from some 
wreck. In the latter were a quantity of tumblers, 
decanters, plates, and other articles of Christian 



use ; and on the walls hung a few mde lithographs, 
gaudily colored. Among them — strange juxtaposi- 
tion ! — ^waa a picture of Wasliington, 

My survey was interrupted by a great tumult 
near the hut, and a moment after, half a dozen 
Sambos, reeking with their filthy miahla, staggered 
in at the door, dragging after them a full-blooded 
Indian, cLuite naked, and his body bleeding in sev- 
eral places, from blows and scratches received at 
the hands of his savage assailants. The Sambos 
pushed him toward the English captain, ejaculating, 
" Him 1 him !" while the Indian himself stood in 
perfect silence, his thin lips compressed, and his 
eyes fixed on the captain. The conduct of the 
latter was in keeping with that of the drunken 
wretches who had dragged the Indian to the hut, 
and who, vociferating some unintelligible jargon, 
were brandishing their clubs over his head, and 
occasionally hitting viciously with them at his feet. 

" That 's the bloody villain, is it !" said the 
captain, leaping from his crickery, and striking the 
Indian a terrible blow in the face, which felled him 
to the ground. " I '11 team him proper respect for 
the King !" This act was followed by stamping 
his foot heavily on the fallen and apparently insen- 
sible Indian. 

The entire proceeding was to me inexpHcable ; 
but this last brutality roused my indignation. I 
grasped the captain by the collar of his coat, and 
hurled him across the hut. " Do you pretend to be 
an Englishman," I said, " and yet set such an 



example to these savages ? What has this Indian 
done ?" " I '11 let you know what he has done," 
he shrieked, rather than spoke, in a wild paroxysm 
of rage ; and, grasping a knife from the table, ho 
drove at me, with all his force. Maddened and 
drunk as he was, I had only to step aside to avoid 
the blow. Missing his mark, he stumbled over the 
fallen Indian, and fell upon the knife, which pierced 
through and through his left arm, just helow the 
shoulder. Quick as lightning the Indian leaped 
forward, tore the knife from the wound, and in 
another instant would have driven it to the cap- 
tain's heart, had I not aiTested his arm. He 
glanced up in my face, dropped the knife, and 
folding his arms, stood erect and silent. 

The captain's companions, with the exception of 
Mr, H,, were much inclined to be belligerent, but 
the revolver in my belt inspired them with a whole- 
some discretion. 

Meantime, the captain's wound had been bound 
up, and the Indian had withdrawn. The Sambos 
had retreated the instant I had interposed against 
the violence of the trader. 

The occasion of this brutal assault was simply 
this. The Sambos, living on the coast, effectually 
cut off the Indians from the sea, and, availing them- 
selves of their position, and the advantage of lire- 
arms, make exactions of varioiw kinds from them. 
Thus, if the Indians go off to the cays for turtles, 
they require from them a certain proportion of the 
shells, which is called the " king's portion." But as 



the Jamaica ti-aders always keep the king and 
chiefs in deht to them, the shells thus collected go 
directly into their" hands. In fact, it is only 
through the means which they afford, and often by 
their direct interference, that the nominal authority 
of the so-called king is kept up. It was alleged 
that the Indian whom the captain had abused, and 
who was a very expert fisherman, had not made 
a fair return ; and his want of " proper respect for 
the king," it turned out, consisted in not having a 
BufScient c[uantity of shells to satisfy the cupidity 
of the trader I 

After this occurrence at General Slam's house, I 
did not find it agreeable to stay there longer, and, 
accordingly, strolled off in the village. The festival 
had now become uproarious. Around the mishla 
canoe was a motley assemblage of men, women, and 
children ; some with red caps and frocks, others 
strutting about with half a shirt, and others entirely 
naked. A number of men with pipes and drums 
kept up an incessant noise, while others, with mus- 
kets, which they filled with powder almost to the 
muzzle, fired occasional volleys, when all joined in a 
general hurrah, "English fashion." 

At a little distance was bmlt up a rude fence of 
palm-branches and pine-boughs, behind which there 
was a crowd of men laughing arid shouting in a 
most convulsive manner. I walked forward, and 
saw that only males were admitted behind the 
screen of boughs. Here,, in the midst of a large 
circle of spectators, were two men, dressed in an ex- 



traordinary manner, and performing the most absurd 
antics. Around their necks each had a sort of 
wooden collar, whence depended a, fringe of palm- 
leaves, hanging nearly to their feet. Their head- 
dresses terminated in a tall, thin strip of wood, 
painted in imitation of the beak of a saw-fish, wbile 
their faces were daubed with various colors, so as 
completely to change the expression of the features. 
In each hand they had a gourd containing pebbles, 
with which they marked time in their dances. 
These were entirely peculiar, and certainly very 
comical. First they approached each other, and 
bent down their tall head-pieces with the utmost 
gravity, by way of salute ; then sidled off like crabs, 
singing a couplet which had both rhythm and 
rhyme, but, so far as I could discover, no sense. As 

interpreted to me, afterward, by Mr. H , it 

ran thus ; — 

"Shovel-nosed sliark, 

Grandmother, grandmotlier I 
Shovel-nosed shark, 
Grandmother I" 

When the performers got tired, their places were 
taken by others, who exhausted their ingenuity in 
devising grotescLue and ludicrous variations. 

When evening came, fires of pine wood were 
lighted in all directions, and the drinking and 
dancing went on, growing noisier and more outrage- 
ous as the night advanced. Many got dead drunk, 
and were carried off by the women. Others quar- 
reled, but the women, with wise foresight, had ear- 



ried off and hidden all their weapons, and thus obl^ed 
them to settle their disputes with their fiste, "En- 
glish fashion," To me, these boxing bouts were 
exceedingly amusing. Instead of parrying each 
others' strokes, they literally exchanged them. First 
one would deliver his blow, and then stand stiU and 
take that of Lis opponent, blow for blow, until both 
became satisfied. Then they would take a drink of 
mishla together, "English fashion," and become 
friends again. 

During the whole of the evening I found myself 
closely watched by 
a hideous old wo- 
man, who moved 
around among the 
revelers like a 

like that of a mummy to her 
emaciated to the last degree. 

made way for her 
when she approach- 
ed, and none ven- 
tured to speak with 
her. There was 
something almost 
fascinating in her 
repulsiveness. Her 
hair was long and 
matted, and her 
shriveled skin ap- 
peared to adhere 
hones ; for she was 
The nails of her 



fingers were long and black, and caused her hands 
to look like the claws of some unclean bird. Her 
eyee were bloodshot, but bright and intense, and 
were constantly fixed upon me, like those of some 
wild beast on its prey. Wherever I moved she fol- 
lowed, even behind the screen concealing the 
masked dancers, where no other woman was ad- 

I Hngered among the revelere until their antics 
ceased to be amusing, and became simply brutal. 
Both sexes finally gave themselyes up to the gross- 
est and most shameless debauchery, such as I have 
never heard ascribed to the most bestial of savages. 

Disgusted and sickened, I turned away, and went 
down to the shore, preferring, after what had oc- 
curred at Slam's house, to sleep in my boat, to 
trusting myself in the power of the wounded trader. 
So we pushed off a few hundred feet from the shore, 
and anchored for the night. I wrapped myself in 
my blanket, and, notwithstanding the noisy revels 
in the village, savage laughter and angry shouts, 
the beating of drums and firing of guns, I was soon 

It was past midnight ; the moon had gone down, 
the fires of the village were burning low, and the 
dancers, stupified and exhausted, only broke out in 
occasional spasmodic shrieks, when I was awakened 
by Antonio, who placed his finger on my lips in 
token of silence. I nevertheless started up in some- 
thing of alarm, for the image of the skinny old hag, 
who had tracked me with her snaky eyes all the 



evening, liad disturlDcd my dreams. To my surprise 
I found the Indian, whom I had rescued from the 
drunken violence of the trader, crouching in the 
hottom of the hoat. He had akeady explained to 
Antonio, through the Poyer, that we were in great 
danger ; that the old woman who had haunted me 
was a powerful Svkia, whose commands were always 
implicitly oheyed by the superstitious Samhos. In- 
stigated by the discomfited trader, she had de- 
manded our death, and even now her followers were 
planning the means to accomplish it. Our safety, 
he ui^d, depended upon our immediate departure, 
and then, as if relieved of a burden, he slipped 
quietly overboard, and ewam toward the shore, 

I was nothing loth to leave Sandy Bay, and we 
lost no time in getting up the large stone which 
served us for an anchor, and taking our departure. 
By morning we were clear of the lagoon, and in the 
channel leading from it to Wano Sound, lying 
about fifteen miles to the nortward of Sandy Bay, 
and half that distance from Cape G-racias. We 
reached the sound about ten o'clock in the morning, 
and stopped for breakfast on a narrow sand-spit, 
where a few trees on the ^shore gave shade and fuel. 
The day was excessively hot, and we waited for the 
evening before pursuing our voyage. During the 
afternoon, however, we were joined by Mr. H., who 
had got wind of the designs of the trader, and at- 
tempted to warn us, but found that we had gone. 
Indignant at his treachery, he had abandoned the 
brutal captain, and determined to return to the Cape. 



He explained to me that our danger had been 
greater than we had supposed. The old Sulcia wo- 
man possessed more power over the Sambos than 
king or chief, and her commands were never disput- 
ed or neglected. The gi-andfather of the present 
king, he said, had been killed hy her order, as had 
also his great aunt ; and although the immediate 
perpetrators of the deed had been executed, yet the 
king had not dared to bring the dreaded Sukia to 
jxistice. She had, however, been obliged to leave 
Cape Gracias, lest, during the visit of some English 
vessel of wai', she should be punished for complicity 
in the murder of a couple of Englishmen, named 
Collins and Pollard, who had been slaughtered 
some years before, while turtling on the cays off the 
coast. Another reason for her departure had been 
the advent of a more powerful and leas malignant 
Suhia woman, who, he assured me, was gifted with 
prophecy, and a knowledge of things past and to 
come. He represented her as young, living in a 
very mysterious manner, far up the Cape Eiver, 
among the mountains. None knew who she was, 
nor whence she came, nor had he seen her more 
than once, although he had consulted her by proxy 
on several occasions. I was amused at the gravity 
with which he recounted instances of her power 
over disease and her knowledge of events, and 
could not help thinking, that he had resided so 
long on the coast as to get infected with the super- 
stitions of the people, There was, however, no 
mistaking his earnestness, and I consequently ab- 



stained from ridiculing his stories, "You shall see 
and hear for yourself," he added, "and then you 
will he better able to judge if I am a child to he 
deceived by the silly juggles of an Indian woman. 
These people have inherited from their ancestors 
many mysterious and wondeiful powers ; and even 
the inferior order of Sukias ean defy the poison of 
snakes, and the effects of fire. Flames and the 
bullets of guns are impotent against them." 

I -found H. a man of no inconsiderable intelli- 
gence, and ho gave me much information about the 
coast and its inhabitants, and, altogether, before 
embarking we had become fast friends, and I had 
accepted an invitation to make his house my home 
during my stay at the Cape. 

I have several times alluded to the filthy mishla 
drink, which is the universal appliance of the Sam- 
bos for getting up the " big drunk." I never 
witnessed the disgusting process of its preparation, 
but it has been graphically described by Roberts, 
who was a trader on the coast, and who, twenty 
years before, had been a witness of the "rise and 
progress" of a grand debauch at Sandy Bay. 

" Preparations were going on for a grand feast 
and mishla drink. For this purpose the whole 
population was employed- — most of them being en- 
gaged in collecting pine-apples, plantains, and cas- 
sava for their favorite liquor. The expressed juice 
of the pine-apple alone is a pleasant and agreeable 
beverage. The misMa from the plantain and ba^ 
nana is also both pleasant and nutritive ; that 



from the cassava and maize is more intoxicating, 
but its preparation is a process exceedingly disgust- 
ing. The root of the cassava, after heing peeled 
and mashed, is boiled to the same consistence as 
when it is used for food. It is then taken from the 
flre, and allowed to coo!. The pota are now sur- 
rounded by all the women, old and young, who, 
heing provided with large calabashes, commence an 
attack upon the cassava, which they chew to the 
consistence of a thick paste, and then put their 
mouthsful into the bowls, until the latter are 
filled. These are then emptied into a canoe which 
is drawn up for the purpose, until it is about one 
third filled. Other cassava is then taken, bruised 
in a land of wooden mortar, until it is reduced to 
the consistence of dough, when it ie diluted with 
cold water, to which is added a CLuantity of Indian 
corn, partly boiled and masticated, and then all ia 
poured into the canoe, which is filled with water, 
and the mixture aftei-ward frecLuently stirred with 
a paddlo. In the course of a few hours it reaches a 
h^h and abominable state of fermentation. The 
liquor, it may be observed, ia more or lesa esteemed, 
according to the health, age, and constitution of 
the masticators. And when the chiefs give a pri- 
vate misMa drink, they confine the mastication to 
their own wives and young girls." 

After fermentation, the miskla has a cream-like 
appearance, and is to the highest degree intoxicat- 
ing. The drinking never ceases, so long as a drop 
can be squeezed from the festering dregs that re- 
main, after the liquid is exhausted. 


.'APE ORAL IAS A DIO-^ was so 
called lay Columbus, when, after a 
Y voyage, he gave " Thanks to 
God" for the happy discovery of 
this, the extreme north-eastern angle of Central 
America, Here the great Cape, or Wants Eiver, 
fiads its way into the sea, forming a large, but 
shallow harbor. It was a favorite resort of the buc- 
caneers, in the olden time, when the Spanish Main 
was associated with vague notions of exhaustle^ 
wealth, tales of heavy galloons, laden with gold, 
and the wild adventures of Drake, and Morgan, and 
Llonois. Here, too, long ago, was wrecked a large 
slaver, destined for Cuba, and crowded with ne- 
groes. They escaped to the shore, mixed with the 
natives, and, with subsequent additions to their 
numbers from Jamaica, and from the interior, orig- 
inated the people known as the "Mosquito In- 
dians." Supported by the pirates, and by the 
governors of Jamaica, as a means of annoyance to 



the Spaniards, they gradually extended southward 
as far ae Bluefields, and at one time carried on a 
war against the Jndians, whom they had displaced, 
for the purpose of obtaining prisoners, to he sold in 
the islands ae slaves. 

But with the suppression of this traffic, and in 
consequence of the encroachments of the semi- 
ciyilized Carihs on the north, their settlement at 
the Cape has gradually declined, until now it does 
not contain more than two hundred inhahitants. 
The village is situated on the south-western side of 
the bay or harbor, not far from its entrance, on the 
edge of an extensive, sandy savannah. 

Between the shore and the village is a belt of 
thick bush, three or four hundred yards broad, 
through which are numerous narrow paths, difficult 
to pass, since the natives are too lazy to cut away 
the undergrowth and branches which obetruct them. 
The village itself is mean, dirty, and infested with 
hungry pigs, and snarling, m.angy dogs. The huts 
are of the rudest description, and most of them un- 
fitted for shelter against the rain. The only houses 
which had any pretensions to comfort, at the time of 
my visit, were the " King's house," another belonging 
to a German named Boucher, and that of my new 
friend H. The latter was boarded and sbingled, and 
looked c^uite a palace after my experience of the pre- 
ceding-two months, in MoscLuito architecture. Mr. 
H. made us very comfortable indeed. In addition 
to the numerous native products of tbe country, he 
had a liberal supply of foreign luxuries. As a 


236 THE. MOSQUITO 9H0Rlil. 

trader he had, for many years, carried on quite a 
traffic with the Wanka Eiver Indians, in deer sMns, 
sarsaparilla, and mahogany, and viith the Sambos 
themselves in turtle-she lis. And whatever nominal 
authority may have existed previously at the Cape, 
it was obvious enough that he was now the de facto 

Thoroughly domesticated in the country, he had 
no ambitions beyond it, and had made several, 
although not very successfni, attempts to introduce 
industry, and improve the condition of the natives. 
At one time he had had a number of cattle on the 
savannah— ■which, although its soil is too poor for 
cultivation, nevertheless affords abundance of good 
grass — hut the Sambos tilled so many for their 
own use, that he sold the remainder to the trading 
vessels. He had now undertaken their introduction 
again, with better success, and had, moreover, some 
mules and horses. The latter were sorry-looMng 
beasts ; since, for want of proper care, the wood- 
ticks had got in their ears, and caused them not 
only to lop down, but also, in some instances, en- 
tirely to drop off. 

The Sambos have a singular custom, unfavorable, 
certainly, to the raising of cattle, which Mr. H. had 
not yet entirely succeeded in suppressing. When- 
ever a native is proved guilty of adultery, the in- 
jured party immediately goes out in the savannah 
and shoots a beeve, without regard to its ownership. 
The duty of paying for it then devolves upon the 
adulterer, and constitutes the penalty for his offence 1 



Nearly all the Sambos at the Cape speak a little 
English, and I never passed their huts without 
feeing saluted " Mornin', sir ; give me grog !" In 
fact their devotion to grog, and general improvi- 
dent habits, are fast thinning their numbers, and 
will soon wort their utter extermination. Although 
there ire stieiil pliceb neai the settlement where 
ail needful suppbts might be raised ■yet they are 
chiefly dependent on the Indi mi jt the liver for 
their vegetables 

Theie is httlc gimc on the avannah but on the 
strip ot land which separates the harbtr trom the 
sei and which is called the I'sland ut San Pio, deer 
are found m abundance This i&land is curiously 


diversified with alternate patches of savannah, bush, 
and marsh, and offers numerous coverts for wild 
animals. The deer, however, are only hunted by 
the few whites who live at the Cape, and they have 
hit upon an easy and novel mode of procuring 
their supply. The deer are not shy of cattle, and 
wUl feed side by side with them in the savannahs. 
So Mr. H. had trained a favorite cow to obey reins 



of cord attached to her horns, as a horse does his 
hit. Starting out, and keeping the cow constantly 
between himself and the deer, he never has 
the slightest difBculty in approaching so close 
to them as to shoot them with a pistol. If there 
are more than one, the rest do not start off at the 
discharge, but only prick up their ears in amaze- 
ment, and thus afford an opportunity for another 
shot, if desired. I witnessed this labor-saving mode 
of hunting several times, and found that H. and his 
cow never failed of their object, 

While upon the subject of game, I may mention 
that San Pio abounds with birds and water-fowl. 
Among them are two varieties of snipe, beside 
innumerable curlews, ducks, and teal. The blue 
and green-winged teal were great favorites of mine, 
being always in good condition. They were not 
obtained, however, without the drawback of expo- 
sure to the sandflies, which infest the island in 
uncountable millions. The European residents 
always have a supply of turtles, which are pur- 
chased at prices of from four to eight yards of 
Osnaberg, equal to from one to two dollars, accord- 
ing to their size. Two kinds of oysters are also 
obtained here, one called the " bank oyster," corres- 
ponding with those which I obtained in Pearl Oay 
Lagoon, and the little mangrove oysters. The 
latter are about the size of half a dollar, and attach 
themselves to the roots of the mangrove-trees. It 
is a question whether a hungry man, having to 
open them for iiimself, might not starve before 


getting satisfied. A few hundreds, with a couple 
of Indians to open them, make a good, but mode- 
rate, lunch ! 

The bay and river swarm with fish, of the varie- 
ties which I have enumerated as common on the 
coast. During still weather they are caught with 
seines, in large quantities. These seines helong to 
the foreigners, but are drawn by the natives (when 
they happen to be hungry !), who receive half of 
the spoil. 

Mr. H. was not a little piqued at my incredulity 
in the Suhias, and, faithful to liis promise, per- 
suaded one of them to give us an example of her 
powers. The place was the enclosure in the rear 
of his own house, and the time evening. The 
Sukia made her appearance alone, carrying a long 
thick wand of bamboo, and with no dress except 
the ule tournou. She was only inferior to her sister 
at Sandy Bay, in ugliness, and stalked into the 
house like a spectre, without uttering a word. H, 
cut off a piece of calico, and handed it to her as her 
recompense. She received it in perfect silence, 
walked into the yard, and folded it carefully on tho 
ground. Meanwhile a iire Had been kindled of pine 
splints and branches, which was now blazing high. 
"Without any hesitation the Sukia walked up to It, 
and stepped in its very centre. The flames darted 
their forked tongues as high as her waist ; the coals 
beneath and around her naked feet blackened, and 
to expire ; while the tournou which she 
t about her loins, cracked and shriveled with 



the heat. There she stood, immovable, and appa- 
reutly as insensible as a statue of iron, until the 
blaze subsided, when she commenced to walk 
around the smouldering embers, muttering rapidly 
to herself, in an unintelligible manner. Suddenly 
she stopped, and placing her foot on the bamboo 
staff, broke it in the middle, shaking out, from the 
section in her hand, a full-grown tamagasa snake, 
which, on the instant coiled itself up, flattened its 
head, and darted out its tongue, in an attitude of 
defiance and attack. The Suhia extended her 
hand, and it fastened on her wrist with the quick- 
ness of Hght, where it hung, dangling and writhing its 
body in knots and coils, while she resumed her mum- 
bling march around the embers. After awhile, and 
with the same abruptness which had marked all of 
her previous movements, she shook off the serpent, 
crushed its head in the ground with her heel, and 
taking up the cloth which had been given to her, 
stalked away, without having exchanged a word 
with any one present. 

Mr. H. gave me a triumphant look, and asked 
what now I had to say. " Was there any deception 
in what I had seen ?" I only succeeded in con- 
vincing him that I was a perversely obstinate man, 
by suggesting that the SuMa was probably ac- 
quainted with some antidote for the venom of the 
serpent, and that her endurance of the fire was 
nothing more remarkable than that of the jugglers, 
"fire kings," and other vagrants at home, who 
make no pretence of supernatural powers. 



" Well," he continued, in a tone of irritated dis- 
appointment, " can your jugglers and ' fire kings' 
tell the past, and predict the future ? When you 
have your inmost thoughts revealed to you, and 
when the spirits of your dead friends recall to your 
memory scenea and incidents known only to them, 
yourself, and God — tell me," and his voice grew 
deep and earnest, " on what hypothesis do you ac- 
count for things like these ? Yet I can testify to 
their truth. You may laugh at what you call the 
vulgar trickery of the old hag who has just left ua, 
but I can take you where even your scoffing tongue 
will cleave to its roof with awe ; where the irunost 
secrets of your heart shall he unvailed, and where 
you shall feel that you stand face to face with the 
invisible dead I" 

I have never felt it in my heart to ridicule opin- 
ions, however absurd, if sincerely entertained ; and 
there was that in the awed manner of my host 
which convinced mc that he was in earnest in what 
he said So I dropped the conversation, on his as- 
suianco that he wiuld accompany me to visit the 
strange womin to whom he assigned such mysteri- 
ous powei 

Antonij had httn an attentive witness of the 
tricks Lt the Sulta, and expressed to me the great- 
est contempt fji hei pretensions. Such exhibitions, 
he said, were only ht for idle children, and were not 
to be confounded with the awful powers of the 
oiacles through whom the " Lord of Teaching and 
the spirit's of the Holy Men" held communion 



with mortals. I spoke to him of the mysterioua 
woman, who was greater than all the Snkias, and 
Uved among the mountains. " She is of our peo- 
ple," he exclaimed, warmly, " and her name is 
Hoxom-Bal, which means the Mother of the Tigers, 
It was to seek her that I left the Holy City of the 
Itzaes, with no guide but my Lord who never lies. 
And now her soul shall enter into our brothers of 
the mountains, and they ahall he tigers on the 
tracks of our oppressors !" 

The form of the Indian boy had dilated as he 
spoke ; his smooth limbs were knotted by the swell- 
ing muscles ; his eyes burned, and hie low voice be- 
came firm, distinct, and ominous. But it was only 
for an instant ; and while I listened to hear the 
great secret which swelled in his bosom, he stopped 
short, and, turning suddenly, walked away. But I 
could see that he pressed hie tahsman closer to his 

The Sukias of the coast are usually women, al- 
though their powers and authority are sometimes 
assumed by men. Their preparation for the office 
involves mortifications as rigorous as the Church 
ever required of her most abject devotees. For 
months do the candidates seclude themselves in the 
forests, avoiding the face of their fellows, and there, 
without arms or means of defense, contend with 
hunger, the elements, and wild beasts. It is thus 
that they seal their compact with the mysterious 
powers which rule over earth and water, air and 
fire ; and they return to the villages of their peo- 


pie, invested with all the terrora wMch superstition 
has ever attached to those who seem to be exempt 
from the operations of natural laws. 

These Sukias are the " medicine-mpn of the 
coast, and affect to cure disease , hut then direc- 
tions are usually more extravagant than heneficial. 
They sometimes order the victim of lever to go to 
an open sand-beach by the sea, and there, exposed 
to the burning heat of the vertical sun, await his 
cure. They have also a savage taste for blood, and 
the cutting and scarification of the body are 
among their favorite remedies. 

The Mosquitos, I may observe here, have no idea 
of a supreme beneficent Being ; but stand in great 
awe of an evil spirit which they call Wulasha, and 
of a water-ghost, called Lewire. Wulasha is sup- 
posed to share in all the rewards which the Sukias 
obtain for their services. His half of the stipulated 
price, however, ia shrewdly exacted beforehand, 
while the payment of the remainder depends very 
much upon the Sukia's euccess. 

Among the customs universal on the coast, is in- 
fanticide, in all cases where the child is bom with 
any physical defect. As a consequence, natural de- 
formity of person is unknown. Chastity, as I have 
several times had occasion to intimate, is not con- 
sidered a virtue ; and the number of a man's wives is 
only determined by circumstances, polygamy being 
universal. Physically, the Mosquitos have a large 
predominance of negro blood ; and their habits and 
superstitions are African rather than American. 



They are largely affected with syphilitic affections, 
resulting frora their uni'estrained licentious inter- 
course with the pirates in remote, and with tradei^ 
(in character but one degree removed from the pi- 
rates) in later times. These affectionSj under the 
form of the hulpis, red, white, and scabbed, have 
come to be a radical taint, running through the 
entire population, and so impairing the general 
constitution as to render it fatally susceptible to all 
epidemic diseases. This is one of the powerful 
causes which is contributing to the rapid decrease, 
and which will soon result in the total extinction of 
the Sambos. 

Their arts are limited to the very narrow range 
of their wants, and are exceedingly rude. The 
greatest sHU is displayed in their dories, canoes, 
and pitpans, which are brought down by the In- 
dians of the interior,- rudely blocked out, so as to 
give the purchaser an opportunity of exercising his 
taste in the finish. ' Essentially fishers, they are at 
home in the water, and manage their boats with 
great dexterity. Their language has some slight 
afSnity with the Carib, but has degenerated into a 
sort of jargon, in which Indian, English, Spanish, 
and Jamaica-African are strangely jumbled. They 
count by twenties, i. e., collective fingers and toes, 
and make fearful work of it when they " get up in 
the figures." Thus, to express thirty-seven, they say, 
" Iwanaiska - kumi-pura - matawalsip -jpura-matlal- 
hahe-pwa-hwmi" which literally means, one-twenty- 
and-ten-and-eix-and-one, i. e., 20+1-1-10+6-1-1. 



They reckon their days by sleeps, their months by 
moons, and their years by the complement of thir- 
teen moons. 

Altogether, the Mosciuitos have little in their 
character to commend. Their besetting vice is 
drunkenness, which has obUterated all of their bet- 
ter traits. "Without rehgion, with no idea of gov- 
ernment, they are capricious, indolent, improvident, 
treacherous, and given to thieving. All attempts 
to advance their condition have been melancholy 
failures, and it is probable they would have disap- 
peared from the earth without remark, had it not 
suited the purposes of the English government to 
put them forward as a mask to that encroaching 
policy which is its always disclaimed, but insepar- 
able and notorious characteristic. 

There is a suburb of the village at the Cape, 
near the river, which is called Pidlen-town. Here 
I was witness of a curious ceremony, a Seekroe or 
Festival of the Dead. This festival occurs on the 
0rat anniveraary of the death of any important 
member of a family, and is only participated in by 
the relatives and friends of the deceased. The 
prime element, as in every feast, is the cliicha, of 
which all hands drink profusely. Both males and 
females were dressed in a species of cloak, of ule 
bark, fantastically painted, with hlack and white, 
Tvhile their faces were"" correspondingly streaked 
with red and yellow {anotto). The music was made 
by two big droning pipes, played to a low, monoton- 
ous vocal accompaniment. The dance consisted in 



slowly stalking in a circle, for a certain length of 
time, -when the immediate relatives of the dead 
threw themselves flat on their faces on the ground, 
calling londly on the departed, and tearing up the 
earth with their hands. ,' Then, rising, they re- 
sumed their march, only to, repeat their prostrations 
and cries. I could obtain no eatiefactory explana- 
tion of the practice. " So did our ancestors," was 
the only reason assigned for its continuance. 

We had been at the Capo about a week, when 
Mr. H. received information that the news of our 
affair at Quamwatla had reached Sandy Bay, and 
that the vindictive trader had dispatched a fast- 
sailing dory by sea to Bluefields, to obtain orders 
for our " arrest and punishment." This news was 
brought in tho night, by the same Indian whom I 
had protected from the trader's brutality, and who 
took this means of evincing his gratitude. I had 
'already frankly explained to Mr. H. the circum- 
stances of our fight, which, he conceded, fully justi- 
fied all we had done. StiU, as the trader might 
make it a pretext for much annoyance, he approved 
the plan which I had already formed, for other rea- 
sons, to explore the Wanks Eiver, and accompany 
my Poyer boy to the fastnesses of his tribe, in the 
untracked wilderness lying between that river and 
the Bay of Honduras. By taking this course, I 
would be able again to reach the sea beyond the 
Sambo jurisdiction, in the district occupied by the 
Caribs, not far from the old Spanish port of Trux- 
illo. Furthermore, the tame scenery of the lagoons 



J unattractivCj and I longed for moun- 
tains and the noise of rushing waters. The famous 
Sukia woman also lived on one of the lower 
branches of the river, and in accordance with this 
plan we could visit her without going greatly out 
of our wa;'. 

In fulfillment of hia promise, Mr. H. prepared to 
accompany ue as far as the retreat of the mysterious 
seereas, and two days afterward, following the lead 
of his pitpan, we embarked. The harbor connects 
with the river by a creek at its northern extremity, 
which, is deep enough to admit the passage of 
canoes. Emerging from this, we came into the 
great Wanks River, a broad and noble stream, with 
a very slight current at its low stages, hut pouring 
forth a heavy flood of waters during the rainy sea- 
son. It has ample capacity for navigation for 
nearly a hundred miles of its length, but a bad aud 
variable bar at its mouth presents an insurmount- 
ablo barrier to the entrance of vessels. Yerj little 
is known of this river, except that it rises within 
thirty or forty miles of the Pacific, and that, for 
the upper half of its course, it flows among high 
mountains, and is obstructed by falls and shallows. 

We made rapid progress during the day, the 
river more resembling an estuary than a running 
stream. The banks, for a hundred yards or more 
back from the water, were thickly lined with bush ; 
but beyond this belt of jungle there was an unm- 
terrupted succession of sandy savannahs. There 
were no signs of inhabitants, except a few huts, at 



long intervalSj at places where the soil happened to 
he rich enough to admit of cultivation. We never- 
theless met a few Indians coming down with canoes, 
to be sold at the Cape, who regarded us curiously, 
and in silence. 

Near evening, we encamped at a point where a 
ridge of the savannah, penetrating the bush, came 
down boldly to the river, foiming an eddy, or cove, 
which seemed specially intended for a halting-place^ 
Mr. H. had named the bluff " Iguana Point," from 
the great number of iguanas found there. They 
abound on the higher parts of the entire coast, but 
I had seen none so large as those found at this 
place. It is difficult to imagine ugHer reptiles — 
great, overgtown, corrugated lizards as they are, 
■with their bloated throats, and snaky eyes ! They 
seemed to think us insolent intruders, and waddled 
off with apparent sullen reluctance, when we 
approached. But the law of compensations holds 
good in respect to the iguanas, as in regard to 
every thing else. If they are the ugliest reptiles in 
the world, they are, at the same time, among the 
best to eat. So our men slaughtered three or four 
of the largest, selecting those which appeared to be 
fullest of eggs. Up to this time I had not been 
able to overcome my repugnance sufficiently to 
taste them ; but now, encouraged by H,, I made 
the attempt. The first few mouthfuls went much 
against the grain ; but I found the flesh really so 
delicate, that before the meal was finished, I suc- 
ceeded in forgetting ray prejudices. The eggs are 


especially delicious, eurpaBaing even those of tlie 
turtle. It may be said, to tlie credit of the ugly" 
iguana, that in respect of his own food, he is aa 
delicate as the hnmming-hird, or the sq^nirrel, living 
chiefly npon flowers and hlossoms of trees. He is 
frequently to he seen on the branches of large 
trees, overhanging tho water, whence he loots down 
with curiouB gravity upon the passing voyager. 
His principal enemies are serpents, who, however, 
frequently get worsted in their attacks, for the 
iguana has sharp teeth, and powerful jaws. Of the 
smaller varieties, there are some of the liveUest 
green. Hundreds of these may be seen on the 
snags and fallen trunks that line the shores of the 
rivers. They will watch the canoe as it approaches, 
then suddenly dart off to the shore, literally walking 
the water, so rapidly that they almost appear like a 
green arrow skipping past. They are called, in the 
language of the natives, by the generic name, kaka- 

In strolling a little distance from our camp, 
before supper, I saw a waddling animal,- -which I 
at first took for an iguana. A moment after, I per- 
ceived my mistake. It appeared to be doing ita 
best to run away, but so clumsily that, instead of 
shooting it, I hurried forward, and headed off its 
course. In attempting to pass me, it came so near 
that I stopped it with my foot. In an instant it 
hterally rolled itself up in a ball, looking for all the 
world like a large sea-shell, or rather like one of 
those curious, cheese-like, coralHue productions, 



known among sailors as sea-eggs. I then saw it 
was an armadillo, that little mailed adventurer of 
the forest, who, like the opossum, shams death 
when " cornered," or driven in " a tight place." I 
rolled him over, and grasping him hy his stumpy 
tail, carried him into camp. He proved to be of 
the variety known as the " three-banded aimadiUo," 
cream-colored, and covered with hexagonal scales. 
I afterward saw several other larger varieties, with 
eight and nine hands. The flesh of the armadillo 
is white, juicy, and tender, and is esteemed one of 
the greatest of luxfxies. 



'"It nooHj on the second day of our de- 
I parture from Cape G-racias, we came 
; to a considerable 
I Bocay, which enters the river "Wanks 
from the south-west. It was on the banks of this 
river, some ten or fifteen miles above its mouth, 
that the famed Sukia woman resided. We direct- 
ed our boats up the stream, the water of which was 
clear, and flowed with a rapid current. We were 
not long in passing through the belt of savannah 
which flanks the Cape River, on both sides, for fifty 
miles above its mouth. Beyond this came dense 
primitive forests of gigantic trees, among which the 
mahogany was conspicuous. The banks, too, bo- 
came high and firm, occasionally presenting rocky 
promontories, around which the water swept in dark 
eddies. Altogether, it was evident that we had en- 
tered the mountain region of the continent, and 



were at the foot of one of the great 
ranges of the prunitive chain of the Cordilleras. 

In places, the river was compressed among 
high hillSj with scarped, rocky faces, where the 
current was rapid and powerful, and only over- 
come hy vigorous efforts at the paddles. These 
were succeeded by heautiful intervals of level 
ground, inviting localities for the establishments of 
man. We passed two or three sweet and sheltered 
nooks, in which were small clearings, and the pic- 
turescLue huts of the Indians. Excepting an occa- 
sional palm-tree, or isolated cluster of plantains, 
clinging to the shore where their germs had been 
lodged by the water, there was nothing tropical 
in the aspect of nature, unless, perhaps, the great- 
er size of the forest-trees, and the variety of para^ 
sitic plants which they supported. 

Our progress against the current was compara- 
tively slow and laborious, and it was late in the 
evening when the gUttering of fires on the bank, 
and the harMng of dogs, announced to ns the prox- 
imity of the Indian village of Bocay, to which we 
were bound. We reached it in due time, and were 
received quite ceremoniously by the old men of the 
place, who seemed to be perfectly aware of our com- 
ing. This struck me at the time as due to the fore- 
sight of Mr, H,, but I afterward learned that he 
had given the Indians no intimation of our pro- 
posed visit. 

A vacant hut was assigned to us, and we com- 
menced to arrange our hammocks and prepare our 



supper. Our meal was scarcely finished, when there 
was a sudden movement among the Indiana, who 
clustered like bees around our door, and a passage 
for some one approaching was rapidly opened. A 
moment afterward, an old woman came forward, 
and, stopping in the low doorway, regarded us in 
silence. In hearing and dress she differed much 
from the rest of the people. Around her forehead 
she wore a hroad band of cotton, in which were 
braided the most brilhant feathers of birds. This 
band confined her hair, which hung down her back, 
like a vail, nearly to the ground. From her waist 
depended a kilt of tiger-skins, and she wore sandals 
of the same on her feet. Around each wrist and 
ankle she had hroad feather bands, like that which 
encircled her forehead. 

Her eyes soon rested upon Antonio, who, on the 
ir^tant of her approach, had discontinued his work, 
and advanced to the door. They exchanged a 
glance as if of recognition, and spoko a few hurried 
and, to us, unintelligible words, when the old wo- 
man turned suddenly, and walked away. I looked 
inquiringly at the youthful Indian, whose eyes 
glowed again with that mysterious intelligence 
which I had so often remarked. 

He came hastily to my side, and whispered in 
Spanish, " The Mother of the Tigers is waiting I" 
Then, with nervous steps, he moved toward the 
door, I beckoned to H,, and followed. The In- 
dians opened to the right and left, and we passed 
out, scarcely able to keep pace with the rapid 



steps of the Indian boy. On he went, as if familiar 
with the place, past the open huts, and into the 
dart forest. I now saw that he followed a light, 
not like that of a flame, but of a burning coal, 
which looked close at one moment, and distant 
the next. The path, though narrow, was smooth, 
and ascended rapidly. For half an hour we kept 
on at the same quick pace, when the trees began to 
separate, and I could see that we were emerging 
from the dark forest into a comparatively open 
space, in which the graceful plumes of the palm- 
trees appeared, traced lightly against the starry sky. 
Here the guiding fire seemed to halt, and, coming 
up, we found the same old woman who had visited 
us in the village, and who now carried a burning 
brand as a direction to our steps. She made a sign 
of silence, and moved on slowly, and with apparent 
caution. A few minutes' walk brought us to what, 
in the dim light, appeared to be a building of stone, 
and soon after to another and larger one. I saw 
that they wero partly ruined, for the stars in the hori- 
zon were visible through the open doorways. Our 
guide passed these without stopping, and led us to 
the threshold of a small cane-huUt hut, which stood 
beyond the ruin. The door was open, and the Hght 
from within shone out on the smoothly beaten 
ground in front, in a broad unwavering column. 
We entered ; hut for the moment I was almost 
hhnded by a blaze of hght proceeding from torches 
of pine- wood, planted in each corner. I was 
startled also by an angry growl, and the sudden 



apparition of some wild animal at our feet, I 
shrank back witli a feeling of alarm, which was not 
diminished when, upon recovering my powers of 
vision, I saw directly in front of us, aa if guardian 
of the dwelling, a large tiger, its fierce eyes fixed 
upon us, and slowly sweeping the ground with its 
long tail, as if preparing to spring at our throats. 

It, however, stopped the way only for a moment, 
A single word and gesture from the old woman 
drove it into a corner of the hut, where it crouched 
down in quiet. I glanced around, but excepting a 
single rude Indian drum, placed in the centre of 
the smooth, earthen floor, and a few blocks of stone 
planted along the walls for seats, there were no 
other articles, either of use or ornament, in the hut. 
But at one extremity of the low apartment, seated 
upon an outspread tiger-skin, was a woman, whose 
figure and manner at once marked her out as the 
extraordinary Svkia whom we had come so far to 
visit. She was young, certainly not ever twenty, 
tall, and perfectly formed, and wore a tiger-sldn in 
the same manner as the old woman who had acted 
as her messenger, but the band around her fore- 
head, and her armlets and auklets, were of gold. 

She rose when we entered, and, with a faint smile 
of recognition to H., spoke a few words of welcome, 
I had expected to see a bold pretender to supemat- 
ura,l powers, whose first efforts would be directed to 
work upon the imaginations of her visitors, and was 
surprised to find that the "Mother of the Tigers" 
was after all only a shy and timid Indian girl Her 




looks, at first, were troulaledj and she glanced into 
our eyes inquiringly ; tut suddenly turning lier gaze 
toward the open door, 
slio uttered an excla- 
mation of mingled 
surprise and joy, and 
in an instant after 
she stood by the aide 
of Antonio. They 
gazed at each other 
in silence, then ex- 
changed a rapid sig- 
nal, and a single 
word, when she turn- 
ed away, and Anto- 
nio retired into a 
corner, where he re- 
mained fixed as a 
statue, regarding ev- 
"THE MOTHKa OP THE Ti&ERs." ^^J Hiovement with 
the closest attention. 
No sooner had the SuTcta resumed her seat, than 
she clasped her forehead in her open palms, and 
gazed intently upon the ground before her. Never 
have I seen the face of a human being which wore a 
more earnest expression. For five minutes, per- 
haps, the silence was mibroken, when a sudden 
sound, as of the snapping of the string of a violin, 
directed our attention to the rude drum that stood 
in the centre of the hut. This sound was followed 
by a series of craelding noises, like the discharges of 



electric sparka. They seemed to occur irregularly 
at first, but aa I listened, I discovered that they 
had a harmonious relationship, aa if in accompani- 
ment to some simple melody. The vibrations of the 
drum were distinctly visible, and they seemed to 
give it a circular motion over the ground, from left 
to right. The sounds stopped as suddenly as they 
had commenced, and the Sukia, lifting her head, 
said solemnly, " The spirits of your fathers liave 
come to the mountain ! I Icnow them not ; you 
must speat to them." 

I hesitate to recount what I that night witnessed 
in the rude hut of the Sukia, lest my testimony 
should expose both my narrative and myself to ridi- 
cule, and unjust imputations. Were it my purpose 
to elaborate an impressive story, it would be easy 
to call in the aid of an imposing machinery, and 
invest the communications which were that night 
made to us with a portentous significance. But 
this wouM be as foreign to truth as repugnant to 
my own feelings ; for whatever tone of lightness 
may run through this account of my adventures in 
the wilderness, those who know me will bear witness 
to my respect for those things which are in their 
nature sacred, or connected with the more mysteri- 
ous elements of our existence, I can only say, that 
except the somewhat melo-dramatic manner in 
which we had been conducted up the mountain by 
the messenger of the Sukia, and the incident of the 
tamed tiger, nothing occurred during our visit 



which appeared to have been designed for effect, or 
which was vieibly out of the ordinary course of 
things. It is true, I was somewhat puzzled, I will 
not say impressed, with the perfect understanding, 
or relationship, which seemed to exist between the 
Sukia and Antonio. This relationship, however, 
was fully explained in the secLuel. Among the 
ruling and the priestly classes of the semi-civilized 
nations of America, there has always existed a mys- 
terious foond, or secret organization, which all the 
disasters to which they have been subjected, have 
not destroyed. It is to its present existence that 
we may attribute those simultaneous movements of 
the aborigines of Mexico, Central America, and 
Peru, which havo, more than once, threatened the 
complete subversion of the Spanish power. 

It was past midnight when, with a new and 
deeper insight into the mysteries of our present and 
future existence, and a fuller and loftier apprecia- 
tion of the great realities which are to follow upon 
the advent of every soul into the universe, and of 
which earth is scarcely the initiation, that H, and 
myself left the sanctuary of the Sukia. The moon 
had risen, and now silvered eveiy object with its 
steady light, reveahng to us that we stood upon a 
narrow terrace of the mountain, facing the east, and 
commanding a vast panorama of forest and savan- 
nah, bounded only by the distant sea. Immediately 
in front of the hut from which we had emerged, 
stood one of the ruined strueturea to which I have 



already alluded By the clear light of the moon I 
cuuld jeiceive that it wig bmlt of laige stones laid 
with the gieitest legulanty and sculptured all over 
with Btian^e figures, having a close resemblance if 
not an ilsoluii. identity, with those which hive be- 
come fimdiinzed to us by the pencil of (. atl eiwcA 1. 

It appeared originally to have been of two stories, 
but the upper walls had fallen, and the ground was 
encumbered with the rubbish, over which vines were 
trailing, as if to vail the crumbling ruins from the 
gaze of men. As we moved away, and at a con- 
siderable distance from the ruins, we observed a 
large erect stone, rudely sculptured in the outline 



of a human %uie. Its face was turned to the 
East, Eis if to catch the first raya of the morning, 
and the Bght of the moon fell full upon it. To my 
surprise, its features were the exact counterparts of 
those which appeared on Antonio's tahsman. There 
was no mistaking the rigid yet not ungentle ex- 
pression of the " Lord who never lies." 

Silently we followed the guide, who had con- 
ducted us up the mountain, into the narrow path 
which led to the village. She indicated to us the 
direction we wore to pursue with her hand, and left 
us without a word. I was so ahaorhed in my own 
reflections that it was not until we had reached our 
temporary c[U3rters that I missed Antonio, He had 
remained behind. But when I awoke next morn- 
ing he had returned, and was busily preparing for 
our departure. " It is well with our brothers of the 
mountains !" was his prompt response to my look 
of inquiry. I'rom that day forward his absorbing 
idea seemed to he to return as speedily as posible to 
his people. It was long afterward that I discovered 
the deep significance of the visit of the youthful 
chieftain of tho Itzaes to the Indian seeress of the 
Biver Bocay. Since then the Spaniard, though 
fenced round with bayonets, has often shuddered 
when he has heard the cry of the tiger in the still- 
ness of the night, betraying the approach of those 
injured men, whose relentless arms, nerved by the 
recollections of three centuries of oppression, now 
threaten the utter extermination of the race of the 
conquerors I 



Our passage down the Bocay was rapid compared 
with the ascent, and at noon we had reached the 
great river. My course now lay in one direction, 
and that of Mr. H. in another, hut we were loth to 
separate, and he finally agi'eed to accompany us to 
our first stopping-place, and, passing the night with 
us there, return next day to the Cape. It was 
scarcely four o'clock when "we reached the desig- 
nated point, chiefly remarkable as marldng the 
termination of the savannahs. Beyond here the 
banks of the river became elevated, rising in hilla 
and high mountains, denaely covered with a gigan- 
tic primeval forest. Our Indian companions speed- 
ily supplied ua with an abundance of fish, with 
which the river seemed to swarm. And as for vege- 
tables — wherever the banks of the river are low there 
is a profusion of bananas and plantains, growing 
from bulbs, which have been brought down from the 
interior, and deposited by the river in its overflows. 

Mr. H, had once ascended the river to its source, 
in the elevated mining district of New Segovia, the 
extreme north-western department of Nicaragua. 
The ascent had occupied him twenty days. In 
many places, he said, the channel is completely in- 
terrupted by falls and impassable rapids, around 
which it was necessary to drag the canoes. In 
other places the river is compressed between verti- 
cal walls of rock, and the water runs with such 
force that it required many attempts and the most 
vigorous exertions to get the boats through. 

He represented that New Segovia has a consider- 



atle population of civilized Indians, whose princi- 
pal occupation is the washing of gold, which is 
found in all of the upper waters. Their mode of 
life he descrihed ae affording a curious illustration of 
the influence of the Cathohc priests, who are scat- 
tered here and there, and who exercise almost un- 
bounded influence over the simple natives. The 
natiu:e of their relationship, as well as their own 
manners, were so well illustrated by an incident 
which befell him during his visit there, that I shall 
attempt to relate it, as nearly as possible in his own 
words. The reader must bear in mind that the re- 
cital was made in a fragmentary manner, in the in- 
tervals of vigorous pufBng at a huge cigar, and that 
I have taken the liberty of commencing at the be- 
ginning of the story, and not at the end. 

S. iait of aniij Site. 

" On our nineteenth evening from the Cape," 
said H,, "after a fatiguing day of alternate poling 
and paddling, we reached Pantasma, the extreme 
frontier Segovian settlement on the river. As we 
drew up to the bank, thankful for the prospect of 
shelter and rest which the village held out, we were 
surprised to hear the music of drums and pipes, 
and, for a moment, were under the pleasing im- 
pression that the people had, in some way, got in- 
formation of our approach, and had taken this 
mode of giving ua a welcome. However, we soon 
saw -that the musicians were in attendance on a 



white man, whose garb had a strange mixture of 
civilized and eavage fashions. He regarded us curi- 
onsiy for a few moments, and then, giving the near- 
est musicians each a vigorous tick, he ran down to 
the water, and bestowed upon all of us an equally 
hearty emhrace ! Propounding a dozen inquiries 
in a treath, he announced himself an Englishman 
' in a d — ^1 of a fix,' whose immediate and over- 
shadowiug ambition was, that all hands should go 
straight to his hut and have something to drink 1 
Our first impression was decidedly that the man 
was -mad ; but we were undeceived when we got to 
his house, which we found profusely supplied with 
food, and where we were not long in making our- 
selves thoraughly at home. Perhaps what we drank 
had something to do with it, but certainly we near- 
ly died with laughter in listening to our host's re- 
cital of his adventures in Central America, and 
especially of the way in whieli lie had got to Pan- 
tasma, and came to have an escort of musicians. 

" His name, he said, was Harry F — ■ . He 
was the son of a London merchant, who was well 
to do in the world. As usual with sons of such 
papas, he had gone to school when younger, and 
entered his father's establishment when old enough, 
where, as the probable successor of the principal, 
he was, in his own estimation at least, an important 
personage, and, altogether, above work. He never- 
theless affected a great liking for the packing de- 
partment, for the reason that it connected with a 
vault, in wliich he had established a amoking-room, 



where he spent the day in devising plans of amuae- 
ment for the night, in company with chosen spirits 
and choice Havanas. 

" "When he had reached his majorityj his father 
thought it prudent to detach him from his asaocia- 
tion8, hy giving him a little experience in the sever- 
ities of the world. Having several friends in Belize, 
he fitted him out with an adventure, costing some 
twenty-five hundred dollars, and consisting of 
nearly every useless article that could be found, 
which, by its glitter and gaud, it was supposed, 
would attract the easily- dazzled eyes of the people 
of the tropics. He duly arrived at Belize, full of 
bright anticipations. One of his cherished schemes 
was to sell his jewelry in the towns of the interior, 
at four hundred per cent, profit, and after paying 
expenses and losses, to return at once to London, 
with five thousand dollars clear profit ! So he went 
to Guatemala, and spread out his tempting wares. 
But he met with poor success, and at the end of 
two years, having gone on from bad to worse, he at 
last found himself in the Indian town where we 
discovered him— a Catholic Mission, under a Rev- 
erend Padre, who had been educated at Leon, and 
had passed most of his simple hfe, being now over 
threescore and ten, among the simple Indians, 
whom he governed. When Harry first an-ived, he 
proceeded to the nearest hut, where the usual hospi- 
tality of room to hang his hammock was accorded 
him, while his valise was installed in a corner — said 
valise containing the remnants of the venture from 



London, now "dwindled down to a very small 
compass indeed. Of liis success in trading, Harry 
spoke very frankly : ' The hardest lot of worthless 
articlee I ever saw ; some that I could not even 
give away ; and those which I sold, I had to trust to 
people so poor that they never paid me ! So I let 
one man pick out all he had a mind to, for one 
thousand dollars in cash ; and that paid my expen- 
ses in Guatemala, until I got tired of the place, and 
started off down here,' 

" After swinging his hammock in his new quar- 
ters, Harry made the tour^of the village, and called 
on the padre, who was delighted to see Kim, as 
padres always are, took him to his church, which 
was as large as a city parlor, and then gave him a 
good dinner of fish and turtle. Harry had not had 
so sumptuous a meal for many a day ; and when 
the good father hrought forth a joint of hamhoo, 
which held nearly a gallon, and drew from it a 
supply of tolerable rum, he felt that he had fallen 
into the hands of a good Samaritan. So long as 
this hospitality lasted, he sought no change. In 
the fuUness of his gratitude, he made visits to all 
the huts in the village, and overwhelmed the 
inmates with presents of articles which he had not 
been able to give away in other places. In return, 
they gave him part of a morning's fishing, or part 
of a turtle, and thus kept him in provisions. But 
times changed after a few days ; his friend the 
padre ceased to bring forth the hamhoo joint, and 
at the same time commenced, to exhort him to 



repentancej and to the acceptance of the true 
church. His host, too, declined to catch any more 
fish than were consumed by hie interesting wife and 
three naked children. 

" Harry smoked long and intensely over the euh- 
jeet. He might make a ' raise ' on a pair of panta- 
loons, but then, ' when that was gone ?' It was 
the fii«t time in his life that he had been obliged 
seriously to reflect how he should be able to get his 
next meal. He tried oranges, bananas, and pine- 
apples, but still he was hungry. As to fishing, he 
had never caught a fish in his life, and a turtle 
would be perfectly safe under his feet. His case 
became desperate. Such cases require desperate 
remedies, and Harry went to the padre, to consult 
with him as to the best mode of reaching Leon, dis- 
tant some two hundred miles, beyond the mountains. 

" It was a lucky moment for a visit to the reverend 
father, since, in return for some hides, eareaparilla, 
and balsam, sent by him to his correspondent, the 
padre at Choluteca, a large town on the Pacific, he 
had received, among other luxuries, a reenforcement 
of bamboo joints. These had already added to his 
good humor, and given to his fat corporation and 
ruddy face an unusual glow, He gave Harry a 
warm greeting, and pointing to the broached joint, 
told him to help himself, which he did without re- 
serve, Harry, in his best, though very bad Span- 
ish, stated his case, and the holy father listened 
and replied. The next morning our hero awoke, 
and was rather surprised to find himself yet at the 



padre's house, where he had slept in a hammock. 
An empty bamboo joint was beside him, and he 
had a ghmmering idea of a compact with the 
padre, through which he was to he extricated from 
his present uncomfortable position, and reach Leon 
in a most acceptable manner. Eat how this was to 
be done had escaped him ; he had only a faint rec- 
ollection that the padre had insisted upon initiating 
him into some mystery or other, and that in the 
fullness of heart he had assented, to the great joy of 
the priest, who, on the spot had given him a hearty 
embrace, and commenced learning him how to 
make the sign of the cross. The worthy padre 
awoke with rather different sensations, for he felt 
exalted with the thought that he, a poor priest over 
a miserable Indian community for forty years, 
should finally be able to rescue the soul of a heretic 
from the arch enemy. He was thankful that his 
eloquence had enabled him to attach an immortal 
being to the true church — a white one at that, who 
was of more value than a whole community of sav- 
ages. It was a miracle, ho was satisfied, of his 
patron saint, Leocadia ! So without loss of time 
he proceeded with the work of redemption. Harry 
proved an apt disciple ; and after mating up a lot 
of cigars from the tobacco-pouch of the padre, the 
latter proceeded to explain to him what he required 
in the premises. Harry's mouth opened, and his 
cigar fell unheeded to the ground, when the padre 
announced his intention to administer to him th<i 
rite of baptism without delay, 



" By the time lie had finished his explanation, 
Harry's mind was made up ; as there wore no look- 
ers on whom he cared for, he would let the padre 
have his way, or, as he afterward expressed it, 
' put him through,' 

" For several days the padre and himself worked 
hard. He went carefully over the various responses 
and prayers, as they wero dictated to him, made 
the sign of the cross in due form and proper place, 
and, by the assistance of the bamboo joint, was, on 
the second day pronounced in a hopeful state, and 
told that the afternoon following should witness the 
final act of his salvation. The sun was declining, 
when Harry, habited in his best, proceeded to the 
padre's house. He was rather surprised at meeting 
so many people, for he had not been consulted in 
any of the arrangements, and was not aware that 
every native in the vicinity had been notified of the 
ceremony in which he was to take so important a 
part. All had come, men, women, and children, 
dressed in very scanty, but very clean white cotton 
garments. They opened a passage for him to enter 
the padre's house, whom he found arrayed in his 
priestly vestments. He was informed that all were 
about proceeding to his house to escort him to the 
church, but that, being on the spot, the procession 
would form at once. Harry submitted without 
question to the padre's directions, had a quiet in- 
terview with the bamboo joint, and was ready. 
The procession was headed by four alcaldes, of dif- 
ferent villages, each with his official baton, a tall, 



gold-headed staff. Next came the music, consisting 
of three performers on rude clarionets, made of long 
joints of cane, and three performers on drums, each 
made of a lai^e calabash -with a monkey-skin drawn 
over it. Next came Harry and the worthy padre, 
and then the people of the village, and the ' invited 
guests,' six deep, and a hundred all told. When 
our hero took his place in the procession, the padre 
threw over his shoulders a poncho, six feet long, 
gaudily decorated with the taUs of macaws, bright 
feathers from strange birds, and strings of small 
river-shells, which rattled at every step ; and thus 
they started, First they went to Harry's own hut, 
and, a^ they doubled that, and took their route 
toward the church, he could see the last of the pro- 
cession leaving the vicinity of the padre's house. 
After the manner of their processions on high relig- 
ious festivals, they came singing and dancing, and 
altogether appearing very happy, Harry was glad 
in his heart that no white man was looking on, and 
had to laugh inwardly at the fuss that was made 
over him. In due time they arrived at the church, 
and the usual ceremonies of baptism were gone 
through with, succeeded by a dance, on the grass, 
to say nothing of a liberal dispensation from the 
padre's bamboo joints. The padre dismissed the 
assembly very early, and retired, never having had 
so glorious or so fatiguing a day within his memory, 
and he was the oldest inhabitant ! 

" Harry wended his way to his hammock, made 
a cig-ar, thought over the events of the day, and 



wondered whether the church was now bound to 
find him fish and the et ceteras ; hut, before any 
conclusion could be come at in his mind, he fell 
asleep. Awaking in the morning, he was accosted 
at his door by several neighbors, who asked him to 
accept the -presents they had brought, which he did 
of course, without knowing that it is always the 
custom to send something to every villager when- 
ever he happens to have a christening, a marriage, 
or a death in his family. This being a very great 
occasion, every body had been hberal and generous 
withal, and in a short space he found himself sup- 
phed with provisions for a long time, more feh than 
he could eat in months, turtles, chickens, pigs, 
eggs, piles of fruit of all kinds, yams, wild animals, 
in fact every thing that was edible. Sending a 
large part of his presents as an offering to the 
church, Harry returned to his hammock and cigar, 
while his hostess commenced cooking with an agree- 
able alacrity. 

" Late in the afternoon he started for the padre's 
house, but had hardly emerged from his hut when 
he was somewhat surprised to find himself joined 
by the musicians of the village, the clarionet taking 
precedence, and the drum iiling in, both playing 
the usual no-tune to the best of their ability. And 
thus it happened for weeks afterward, for thus did 
the padre seek to do honor to the new disciple of 
the faith, 

" It was on one of these formal promenades," 
continued H,, "that we made our appearance at 



Pantasma, to Harry's exceeding astonishment, and 
great joy. "We ridiculed him for liis emphatic dia- 
missal of his musical friends, hut lie was too much 
delighted to be captious, and sent straightway for 
the padre, who brought with him a hamboo-joint, 
wherewith we made merry, even to the going down 
of the sun. "We all went to sleep while the worthy 
priest was reading to us the certificate of Harry's 
baptism, which he had carefully engrossed on five 
closely-written pages." 

And what, I imjuired, became of the convert ? 

" Oh ! he returned with us ; and that old Port 
which you tasted at the Cape is one of the many 
evidences wkich I have received of his grateful 
recollection, since he has returned to London to 
the inheritance of his fathers." 


till ( lU\ itter om parting 
' \Mtli H, we kept on om course tip 
^ tlie Grcit Cipc rivei The cui- 
lent mpieised as we advanced, and 
latge rockt rt quait/ and grinite began to apptar 
in the channel The -valley of the mer also con- 
tracted to &uch a degiee as to de'-ei\e no hetter 
name than that of a goige Sometimes we found 
our&ehes, tur miles togethei shut in between high 
mountamfc, whose rugged ind verduieles'' tops lose 
to mid-heaven, interposing impa'isable baniers to 
the \apoi chaiged clouds winch the north eist trade- 
winds pde up igainst then eistrm declivities, wheie 



they are precipitated in almost unceasing rains. 
Night and storm overtook us in one of these gigan- 
tic mountain clefts. The thunder rolled along the 
granite peaks, and the lightning burned adowu 
their riven sides, and were flashed ha«k by the 
dark waters of the angry river. The dweller in 
northern latitudes can poorly comprehend any de- 
scription which may he given of a tropical storm. 
To say that the thunder is incessant, does not ade- 
quately convey to the mind the terror of these pro- 
longed peals which seem to originate in the horizon, 
roll upward to the zenith, louder and louder, until, 
silent for a moment, they burst upon the earth in 
hlinding flame, and a concentrated crash, which 
makes the very mountains reel to their foundations. 
Not from one direction alone, hut from every quar- 
ter of the compass, the elements seem to gather to 
the fierce encounter, and the thunder booms, and 
the lightning hlazea from a hundred rifts in the 
inky sky. So intense and searing is the electric 
flame, that for hours after heavy storms I have had 
spasmodic attacks of blindness, accompanied with 
intense pain of the eyeballs. I found that my In- 
dian companions were equally affected, and that to 
avoid evil consequences they always bound their 
handkerchiefs, dipped in water, over their eyes, 
while the storm continued. The Indians, I may 
here mention, have many prejudices on the subject 
of electricity, as well as in regard to the effect of the 
rays of the moon. They will not sleep with their faces 
exposed to its light, nor catch fish on the nights when 



it is above the horizon. My companions, at such 
times, always selected the densest shade for our en- 
eampment. They affirmed that the effect of expos- 
ure would he the distortion of the features, and the 
immediate mortification of such wounds and bruises 
as might be reached by the moonlight. I after- 
ward found that the mahogany-cutters on the 
north coast never feUed their trees at certain periods 
of the moon, for the reason, as they asserted, that 
the timber was then not only more hable to check 
or split, but also more exposed to rot. They have 
the same notion with the Indians as to the effect of 
the moonlight on men and animals, and support it 
by the fact that animals, left to themselves, al- 
ways seek shelter from the moon, when selecting 
their nightly resting-places. 

We had now ascended the river, five full days 
from the Cape, having, according to my computa- 
tion, advanced one hundred and twenty miles. The 
Poyer was perfectly acquainted with the stream, 
which he had several times descended with the peo- 
ple of his village, in their semi-annual visits to the 
coast. In these visits, he told me, they took down 
licLuid amber, a few deer-skins, a little anotto, and 
sarsaparilla, bringing back iron, barbs for theiT ar- 
rows, knives, machetes, and a few articles of orna- 

On the night of the fifth day, we encamped at 
the mouth of the Tirolas, a considerable stream, 
which enters the Wanks from the north, and up 
which we, next morning, took our course. Out ad- 


RIVER TiltOLAS. 275 

vance was now slow and laborious, owing to the 
rapidity of the current, and the numerous rocks 
and fallen trees which obstructed the channel. 
The river wound among hills, which increased in 
altitude as we penetrated farther inland, until I 
discovered that we were approaching the great 
mountain range, which traverses the country from 
south-west to north-east, constituting the " divide," 
or water-shed, as I afterward found, between the 
valley of the Cape Eiver and the streams which 
flow northward into the Bay of Honduras. Hour 
by hour we came nearer to this great harrier, which 
presented to us a steep and apparently inaccessible 
front. I was rather appalled when my Poyer told 
me that the village of his people lay beyond this 
range, over which we would be obhged to chmb in 
order to reach it. However, there was now no al- 
ternative left hut to go ahead, so I gave myself no 
further concern, although I could not help wonder- 
ing how wo were to clamber up the dizzy steeps 
which appeared more and more abrupt as we ap- 
proached them. 

It was on the second evening after leaving the 
great river, that we reached the head of canoe navi- 
gation on the Tirolas, at a point where two bright 
streams, tumbling over their rocky beds, united in 
a placid pool of clear water, at the very feet of the 
mountains. It was a spot of surpassing beauty. 
The pool was, perhaps, a hundred yards broad, and, 
in places, twenty or thirty feet deep, yet so clear 
that every pebble at the bottom, and every fish 



which sported m it? crystj.! depths mcil distmctlT 
visible to the eje Upjn one eide r -^.e hu^o h^^J 
rocks of granite, driped ovei with vines ind shad 
owed hy large and wide sprt idmg tiees whose 
, crowded nith the wax hke leaves and 

flowers of innumerable air-plants, east dart, broad 
shadows on the water. Upon the other side was a 
smooth, sandy beach, completely sheltered from the 
sun by large trees, beneath which were drai,vn up a 
number of canoes, carefully protected from the 
weather by rude sheds of cahoon leaves. These 



canoea belonged to the Poyer Indians, and are 
need by them in their voyages to the Cape. A 
little lower down the stream were clusters of palm- 
trees, and large patches of bananas and plantains, 
which seemed to have been carefully nurtnred by 
the Indians in their visits to this pictnresquo " em- 

The slant rays of the evening sun fell upon one 
half of the pool, where the httle ripples chased 
each other sparkling to the shore, while upon the 
other part, the rocks and forest east their cool, dark 
shadows. And as our canoe shot in upon its trans- 
parent bosom, I could not help joining in my 
Poyer boy's shout of joy. Even "El Moro" flut- 
tered his bright wings, and screamed in sympathetic 
glee. A few vigorous strokes of the paddles, and 
our eanoe drove up half its length on the sandy 
shore, the sharp pebbles grating pleasantly beneath 
its keel. For the present, at least, I had done with 
lagoons and rivers, and a new excitement awaited 
me among the giddy steeps and untracked solitudes 
of the mountains. Earewell now to the cramped 
canoe, and the eternal succession of low and tan- 
gled banks ; and ho, for the free limb and the ex- 
panding chest of the son of the forest ! 

With glad alacrity, my companions and myself 
set to work to form our encampment, on the clean 
dry sand. Then came Antonio, laden with the 
golden clusters of the plantain, while the spear of 
the Poyer darted down in the clear waters of the 
pool with unfailing skill. The rousing fire, the 



mtirimir of the mountain-torrents, and the distant 
cry of the fierce black tiger, the satisfied sense of 
having safely accomplished an arduous undertaking, 
high anticipations of new adventures, and the con- 
sciousness of heing the first white man who had 
ever trusted himself in these unknown fastnesses — 
all these, joined to the contagious joy of my faith- 
ful companions, combined to give the keenest edge 
and zeat to that night's enjoyment. In my darkest 
hours, its recollection comes over my soul like a 
beam of sunlight through the rifts of a clouded 
sky—-" a joy forever." Blessed memory, which en- 
ables us to live over again the delights of the past, 
and gives an eternal solace to the cheerful mind ! 

That night I made a fonnal present of the canoe 
and its appurtenances to my Poyer hoy, and we se- 
lected such articles as were indispensable to us, 
leaving the rest to be sent for by the Indians when 
we should reach the village. My purpose was to 
commence our march at dawn on the following day. 
But in the morning I arose with one of my feet bo 
swollen and painful that I could neither put on my 
boot nor walk, except with great dif&cidty. The 
cause was, outwardly, very trifling. During the 
previous day the water in the Tirolas had been so 
shallow that it frequently became necessary to get 
out of the canoe and lighten it, in order to pass the 
various rapids, I had therefore taken off my boots, 
and gone into the water with my naked feet. I re- 
member stepping on a rolling stone, slipping off, 
and bruising my ankle. The hurt was, however, so 



Blight, that 1 did not give it a second thought. 
But, from this trifling cause, my foot and ankle 
were now swollen to nearly double their natural 
size, and the proaecution of my journey, for the time 
being, was rendered impossible. Under the tropics, 
serious coneequencGH often follow from these slight 
causes. I have known tetanus to result from a lit- 
tle wound, of the size of a pea, made by extracting 
the bag of a nigua or chigoe, which had burrowed 
in the foot ! 

The sldll- of my companions was at once put in 
requisition. They made a poultice of ripe plan- 
tains baked in the ashes, and mixed with cocoa-nut 
oil, which was apphed hot to the affected parts. This 
done, our canoe was hauled up, and an extempore 
roof built over it, to protect me from the weather, 
in case it should happen to change for the worse. 
I passed a fretful night, the pain being very great, 
and the swelling extending higher and higher, until 
it had reached the knee. The applications had no 
perceptible effect. Under these circumstances, I 
determined to send my Poyer to his village for as- 
sistance. He represented it as distant five days, 
but that it could be reached, by forced marches, in 
four. He objected to leave me, but on the second 
day, my foot being no better, he obeyed my positive 
orders, and started, taking with him only a little 
dried meat, his spear, and his bow. 

Antonio now redoubled his attentions, and I cer- 
tainly stood in need of them. The pain kept me 
from slumber, and I became irritable and feverish. 


But no mother could have been more constant, 
more patient, or more wakeful to every want than 
that faithful Indian boy. He exhausted his simple 
remedies, and still the limb becanie worse, and the 
unwilling conviction seemed to be forced on his 
mind, that the case waa beyond his reach. When, 
in the intervals of the pain, he thought me slumber- 
ing, I often saw him consult his talisman with un- 
disguised anxiety. He however, always seemed to 
feel reassured by it, and to become more cheerful. 

On the third day a suppuration appeared at 
the ankle, and the pain and swelling diminished ; 
and on the succeeding morning I probed the wound, 
and, to my surprise, removed a amaU splinter of 
stone, which had been the cause of all my affliction. 
From that moment my improvement was rapid, and 
I was soon able to move about without difficulty. 

I amused myself much with fiahing in the pool, 
in which there were large numbers of an active kind 
of fish, varying from ten to sixteen inches in length, 
of reddish color, and voracious appetites. Toward 
evening, when the flies settled down near the sur- 
face, they rose like the trout, and kept the pool 
boiling with their swift leaping after their prey. I 
improved my hmited experience in ily-iishing at 
home, to devise impromptu insects, and astonished 
Antonio with that, to him, novel device in the pis- 
catory art. These fish, with an occasional wild tur- 
key, the latter generally tough and insipid, consti- 
tuted about our only food. Ducks, curlews, and 
snipe, so common in the vicinity of the 



were here unknown, and we Kstened in vain for the 
cry of the ckachalaca. There were, however, numer- 
ous birds of song, aud of bright plumage, but not 
fit for food. I saw some owls ; and now and then 
a lai^e hawk would settle down sullenly on the trees 
which overhung the pool, Q-ray-squirrels also occa- 
sionally rustled the branches above our heads, but 
the foliage was so dense that I was only successful 
in obtaining a single specimen. Once a squadron 
of monkeys came trooping through the tree-tops to 
rob the plantain-grove, but a charge of buckshot, 
which brought two of tbem to the ground, was ef- 
fectual in deterring them from a second visit. They 
were of a small variety, body black, face white, and 
"whiskered like a pard." Antonio cooked one of 
them in the sand, but he looked so much like a 
singed baby which I once saw taken out of the rains 
of a fire in Ann-street, that I could not bring my- 
self to taste him. So my Indian had an undisputed 
monopoly of the monkey. 

But the most exciting incident, connected with 
our stay on the banks of the Tirolas, was one which 
I can never recall without going into a fit of laugh- 
ter — although, at the time, I did not regard it as re- 
markably amusing. Among the wild animals most 
common in Central America, is the peccary, some- 
times called " Mexican hog," but best known by 
the Spanish name of Savalino. There is another 
animal, something similar to the peccary, supposed 
to be the common hog run wild, called Javalino by 
the Spaniards, and Waree by the Mosquitos. If not 



18, the latter certainly have multiphed to 
an enormous extent, since they swarm all over the 
more thickly- wooded portions of the country. They 
closely resemble the wild-boar of Europe, and, al- 
though less in size, seem to be equally ferocious. 
They go in droves, and are not at all particular as 
to their food, eating ravenously snakes and reptiles 
of all kinds. They have also a rational relish for 
fruits, and especially for plantains and bananas, 
and would prove a real scourge to the plantations, 
were they always able to break down the staJks sup- 
porting the fruit. Unable to do this, they never- 
theless pay regular visits to the plantations, in the 
hope of finding a tree blown down, and of feasting 
on the fallen clusters, 

"With these intimations as to their character and 
habits, the reader will be better qualified to appre- 
ciate the incident alluded to. It was a pleasant 
afternoon, and I had strolled off with my gun, in 
the direction of the plantain-patch, stopping occasion- 
ally to listen to the clear, ilute-like notes of some 
unseen bird, or to watch a brilhant lizard, as it flashed 
across the gray stones. Thus sauntering carelessly 
along, my attention was suddenly arrested by a pe- 
cuhar noise, as if of some animal, or rather of many 
animals engaged in eating. I stopped, and peered 
in every direction to discover the cause, when finally 
my eyes rested upon what I at once took to be a 
pig of most tempting proportions. He was moving 
slowly, with his nose to the ground, as if in search 
of food. Without withdrawing my gaze, I carefully 



raised my gun, and flred. It was loaded with buck- 
shot, and although the animal fell, he rose again 
immediately, and began to make off. Of course I 
hurried after hira, with the view of finishing my 
work with my knife — but I had not taken ten steps, 
when it appeared to me as if every stick, stone, and 
buah had been converted into a pig ! Hogs rose on 
all sides, with bristling backs, and tusks of appall- 
ing length. I comprehended my danger in an 
instant, and had barely time to leap into the forks 
of a Jow, scraggy tree, before they were at its foot. 
I shall never forget the malicious look of their little 
bead-like eyes, as they raved around my roosting- 
place, and snapped ineffectually at my heels. Al- 
though I felt pretty se- 
cure, I discreetly clam- 
bered higher, and, fixing 
myself firmly in my seat, 
revenged myself by firing 
a charge of bird-shot in 
the face of the savagest of TaawiREB 

my assailants. This insult 

only excited the brutes the more, and they ground 
their teeth, and frothed around the tree in a perfect 
paroxysm of porcine rage. 

I next loaded both barrels of my gun with bail, 
and dehberately shot two others through their 
heads, killing them on the spot, vainly imagining 
that thereby I should disperse the herd. But never 
was man more mistaken. The survivors nosed 
around their dead companions for a moment, and 



then renewed their vicious contemplations of my 
position. Some BC[uatted themselves upon their 
hams, as much as to say that they intended to for me, and were nowise in a huny ! So I 
loaded up again, and slaughtered two more of- the 
largest and most spitefu]. But, even then, there 
were no signs of retreat ; on the contrary, it seemed 
to me as if reenforcements sprang out of the ground, 
and that my hesiegers grew every moment more nu- 
merous ! 

How long this might have lasted, I am unpre- 
pared to say, had not Antonio, alarmed at my 
rapid firing, hastened to my rescne. No sooner did 
my assailants catch sight of his swarthy figure than 
they made after him with a vehement rush. He 
avoided them by leaping upon a roclc, and then com- 
menced a most extiaordinary and murderous contest, 
Nevei did a battalion of veteran soldiers charge 
upon an enerav. with more steadiness than those 
wild pigs upon the Indian, He was armed with 
only a lance, but every blow brought down a porker. 
Half alarmed lest they should finally overmatch 
him, I cheered his exploits, and kept up a brisk 
fire by way of a diversion in his favor, I am 
ashamed to say how many of those pigs we killed ; 
it is, perhaps, enough to add, that it was long after 
dark before the beasts made up their minds to leave 
ns uneaten. And it was with a decided sensation 
of relief that we heard them moving off, until their 
low grunt was lost in the distance. 

At one time, the odds were certainly against us, 



and it seemed not improbable tliat the artist and 
his adventures might both come to a pitiful and far 
from a poetical end. But fortune favored, and my 
faithful gun now han^ over my table in boar-tusk 
brackets, triumphal trophies from that bloody 
field ! Instead of being eaten, we ate, wherein 
consists a difference ; hut I was ever after wary of 
the waree ! 

True to his promise, on the evening of the tenth 
day, my Poyer boy bounded into our encampment, 
with a loud shout of joy. His friends were behind, 
and he said would reach us in the following after- 
noon. There were five of them, sober, silent men, 
who made their encampment apart from us, and 
whom I vainly endeavored to engage m conversa- 
tion. They displayed great aptness m packing our 
various articles in net-work sacks, which they car- 
ried on their backs, supported by bands passing 
around their foreheads. They woie no clothes ex- 
cept the tournou, unless sandak of tapir-hide, and 
a narrow-brimmed hat, braided of palm-bark, fall 
within that denomination. Besides his sack, each 
man carried a pecuhar kind of machete, short and 
curved like a pruning-hook ; only one or two had 

It was with real regret that I left our encamp- 
ment beside the bright pool, and abandoned my old 
and now familiar canoe, in the sides of which, like 
a true Yankee, I had carved my name, and the 
dates of my adventures. I turned to look hack 
more than once, as we filed away, beneath the 



trees, in the trail leading to tlie mountaiiiB. The 
Indians led the way, while Antonio and myself 
hrought up the rear. " El Moro," perched upon the 
tallest pack, shrieked and fluttered his -wings, occa- 
sionally scrambUng down to take a mischievous hite 
at the ear of his Indian carrier. Whenever he was 
successful in accomplishing this feat, he became 
superlatively happy and gleeful In default of 
other amusement, he sometimes suspended himself 
from the netting by a single claw, like a dead bird, 
with drooping wings and danghng head, and then 
suddenly scrambled hack again to his perch, with 
triumphant screams. He was a rare rollicking bird, 
that same Moro J 

!For the first day our course followed a line nearly 
parallel with the base of the mountains, through a 
thick and tangled forest. We crossed innumerable 
small and rapid streams of the clearest water, spark- 
ling over beds of variously-colored quartz pebbles — 
for we were now skirting one of the great ranges of 
primitive rocks, which form the nucleus of the con- 
tinent. My long confinement in the canoe had con- 
tributed to discLuahfy me for active exertions, and 
long before night I became much fagged, and would 
fain have gone into camp. But the Indians trav- 
eled so tranquilly under their loads, that I was loth 
to discover to them my lack of endurance, and so 
kept on without complaint. In the afternoon our 
path began to ascend, and we gradually emerged 
irom the thick and tangled woods into a compara- 
tively open forest, which, in turn, gave place to 



groves of scattered pines and oaks, among ■which we 
encamped for the night. 

From OUT elevated position I could overlook the 
wilderness which we had traversed during the d?iy. 
It was at that season of the year when the erythrina 
puts on its scarlet robe of blossoms, and the ceiba 
clothes itself in flames, in splendid relief to the pre- 
vailing green. It seemed as if Nature held high 
holiday among these primeval solitudes, and arrayed 
herself only to wanton in the sense of her own 
beauty. But while vegetation was thus lavishly 
luxuriant in the valley, behind us the mountains 
rose, stem, steep, and bare. Vainly the dark pines, 
clinging to their sides, sought to vail their flinty 
frown. Wherever a little shelf of the rocks sup- 
ported a scanty bed of soil, there the mountain 
grasses, and the eensitive-plant with its amaranth- 
ine flower, took root, like kindly thoughts in the 
heart of the hard and worldly man. From the 
gnarled oaks, and even from the unfading pines, 
hung long festoons of gray moss, which swayed 
sadly in the wind. And when the night came on, 
and I lay down beside the fire, beneath their shade, 
they seemed to murmur in a low and mournful 
voice to the passing breeze, which, laden with the 
perfume of the valley, rose with downy wings to 
bear its tributary incense to the skies. 

Morning broke, but dark and gloomily, and al- 
though WG resumed our march, directing our course 
diagonally up the face of the mountain, we were 
obliged to stop before noon, and seek shelter under 



a mass of projecting rocks, from a cold, drizzly rain, 
■which now began to fall steadily, with every prom- 
ise of merging in a protracted temporal. The 
cloude ran low, and drifted around and below us, in 
heavy, cheerless volumes, shutting from view every 
object except the pines and stunted oaks, in their 
gray, monastic robes, now saturated and heavy from 
the damp. Stowing our few valuables securely un- 
der the rocks, we lighted a fire, now acceptable not 
less for its heat than its companionship. Its cheer- 
ful flame, and the sparkle of its embers, revived 
my drooping spirits, and helped to reconcile me to 
the imprisonment which the temporal would be 
sure to entail. I can readily understand how fire 
commended itself to the primitive man as an em- 
blem of purity and power, and became the symbol 
of spirit and those invisible essences which pervade 
the universe, G-od robed himself in flame on Si- 
nai ; in tongues of flame the Spirit descended upon 
the disciples at Jerusalem ; an eternal fire burned 
upon the altars of the virginal Vesta, and in the 
Persian Pyi-othea ; to fire was committed the sacri- 
fice of propitiation, and by its ordeal was innocence 
and purity made manifest. Among the American 
Indians it was held in especial reverence. The 
Delawares and the Iroquois had festivals in its 
honor, and regarded it as the first parent of the In- 
dian nations. The Cherokees paid their devotions 
to the " great, beneficent, supreme, holy Spirit of 
Fire," whose home was in the heavens, but who 
dwelt also on earth, in the hearts of " the unpol- 



luted people." And even the rude Indians who 
huddled with me beneath the protecting rocks in 
the heart of the -wilderness, never commenced their 
simple meals without iirst throwing a small portion 
of their food in the iire, as an offering to the pro- 
tecting Spirit of Life, of which it is the genial 

The temporal lasted for three days, during which 
time it rained almost incessantly, and it was withal 
so cold, that a lai^e and constant fire was necessary 
to our comfort. At the end of that time the clouds 
hegan to lift, and the sun hrobe through the rifts, 
and speedily dispersed the watery legions. But the 
locks were slippery with the wet, and the earth, 
wherever it was found among the rocks, was sodden 
and unstable, rendering our advance alike disagree- 
ahle and dangerous. We remained, therefore, until 
the morning of the fourth day, when we resumed 
our march. 



OR a day and a half wo continued 
i to ascend, now skirting dizzy pre- 
^,^^:rT' ■ I cipiees, and next stealing along 
I cautiously beneath beetling rocks, 
which hung heavily on the brow of the mountain. 
The features of the great valley which we had left 
were no longer distinguishable. What we had re- 
garded as mountains there, now shrunk into simple 
undulations, hke folds in some silken robe, tlirown 
loosely on the ground. There was no longer a foot- 
hold for the pines, and their places were suppKed 
by low hushes, thrusting their roots deep in the 
clefts, and clinging like vines to the faces of the 

Finally, to my great joy, we reached the crest of 
the mountain. Upon the north, however, it fell 



away in a series of broad steps or terraces, lower 
and lower, until, in the dim distance, it subsided in 
the vast alluvial plains bordering on the Bay of 
Honduras, the waters of which could be distin- 
guished, like a silver rim, on the edge of the hori- 

The air, on these high plateaus, was chill, and 
only the hardy mountain-grasses and the various 
forms of cactus found root in their thin and sterile 
soil. The latter were numerous and singular. 
Some appeared above the earth, simple, fluted 
globes, radiating with, spines, and having in their 
centre a little tuft of crimson flowers. Others were 
mere articulated prisms, tangled in clumps, and 
also bristling with pricHes, But the variety, known 
in Mexico as the nopal, was most abundant, and 
grew of tree-like proportions. 

Few as were these forms of vegetable life, ani- 
mals and birds wcTe fewer still. An occasional deer 
contemplated us at a distance, and a httio animal, 
similar to the prairie-dog of the "West, tumbled 
hurriedly into his hole aa we approached his soli- 
tary covert. In places, the disintegrated quartz 
rock appeared above the surface for wide distances, 
reflecting back the rays of the sun, which seemed 
to pour down with unwonted and bhnding bril- 
liancy, from a cloudless sky. I could scarcely com- 
prehend the sudden change from the region of the 
lagoons, where the overladen earth sweltered be- 
neath forests teeming with life, and the air was op- 
i with the cloying odors of myriads of flowers. 



and tills stem region, ribted with focl;, where Na- 
ture herself seemed paralyzed, and silence held an 
eternal reign. 

It was a singular spectacle, that little troop of 
ours, as it hurried ' rapidly across these mountain 
wastes, or huddled closely together, when night 
came on, around a scanty fire, made of wood which 
the Poyer hoy, with wise prevision, had deposited 
there, on his return to the Tirolas. As we descended 
from terrace to terrace, we came again into the region 
of pines and oaks, which, in their turn, gave place 
to forests of other varieties of trees, interrupted by 
stripe of open or savannah lands. We early struck 
a little stream, which, I observed, we followed con- 
stantly. It proved to be the branch of the great 
river Patuca, upon which the Poyer village is sit- 
uated, and bore the musical name of Guallambre. 
At night, when wc encamped, the Poyer boy took a 
calabash, and, motioning to mo to follow, led the 
way down the stream to a little sand-bar. Scoop- 
ing up some of the sand in his bowl, and then fill- 
ing it with water, he whirled it rapidly, so that a 
feathery stream of mingled sand and water flew 
constantly over its edge. He continued this opera- 
tion until the sand was nearly exhausted, and then 
flUed the bowl again. After repeating this process 
several times, he grew more careful, balancing the 
bowl skillfully, and stopping occasionally to pick 
out the pebbles, which, owing to their weight, had 
not been carried over by the water. 

I understood at once that this was the primitive 



mode of washing gold, and was, therefore, not 
greatly surprised when, after the process was com- 
plete, the Poyer showed me a little deposit of gold, 
in grains, at the bottom of the calabash, ecLual to 
about a fourth of an ounce in- weight. He then 
told me that all the streams, flowing down the 
mountains toward the north, carried gold in their 
sands, and that the latter were frec[uently washed 
by his people, to obtain the means of purchasing 
such articles of civilized manufacture as they might 
need from the Spaniards of Olancho, and the trad- 
era who visited the coast.* 

On the eighth day from our encampment on the 
Tirolas, after a laborious march among heavily- 
wooded hills, following, for most of the distance, 
the bed of the Guallamhre, now Swollen to a con- 
siderable stream, we reached the Poyer village. I 
say village, for such it was, in fact, although com- 
posed of but a single house ! This was a substan- 
tial structure, forty paces in length, and tten broad, 
supported on stout posts, and heavily thatched with 
palm-leaves. The front and ends were open, but 

* The whole district of country lying on the north flank of the 
moantaiiis which bound the valley of the Rio Wanks, in the aamo 
direction, enjoys a wide celebrity for its rich deposits of gold. There 
ia harcUy a Btream of which the aaads do not yield a liberal propor- 
tion of that precious metal Yet, strange to say, the washing ia 
confined almost exclusively to the Indians, who seek to obtain no 
more than ia jnst mfficient to supply theh limited wants. Among 
the redaced, or, as they are c^ed, christianized Indians, m the 
vtjley of Olancho, the women only wash the gold for a few hours on 
Sunday mommg. With the supply Uius ob^ned, they proceed to 
the towns, attend msaa, and make their petty purchases, devotii^ 
the rest of the weak Xo the fiillest enjoyment of the dolmfiir nienle. 


Si94 T H !■; M S y IJ I T U B H K E , 

along the back extended a series of little apart- 
ments, separated from each other by partitions of 
the outer shells of the cahbage-palm, which, when 
split and pressed flat, make good snbetitutes for 
boards. These were the dormitories, or private 
apartments of the mated or married occupants, and 
of the girls. The places for the hoys were on ele- 
vated platforms, beneath the roof. A row of stones, 
set firmly in the ground, defined the outline of the 
building. Within them the earth was elevated a 
foot or more, to preserve it dry and unaffected by 
the rains. The position was admirably chosen, on 
a kind of step or shelf of a considerable hill, which 
rose behind, clothed with dense verdure, while in 
front it subsided rapidly to the stream, here tum- 
bling noisily among the rocks, and yonder circling, 
bubble-sprinkled, in dark pools, beneath the trees. 
The ground around was beaten smooth and hard, 
and numbers of tamed curassows stalked to and fro, 
gravely elevating and depressing their crests ; while 
within the building, and on its roof, numerous 
parrots and macaws waddled after each other, or 
exercised their voices in loud and discordant cries. 
There were also a few pigs and ducks, all appearing 
to be as much at home beneath the roof, as were 
the naked Indian babies, with whom they mingled 
on terms of perfect ecLuality, 

My boy had gone ahead, and had returned to 
meet us in company with two old men, who were 
the lawgivers of the establishment, and who rever- 
entially touched my knee with their foreheads, by 





way of salutation. They said but a single word, 
which I suppose was one of welcome, and then led 
the way silently to the house. At one end a space 
had been recently fenced off, containing two new 
crickeries, within which my various articles were 
deposited, and which were at once indicated to me 
as my special apartment. 

All the proceedings had heen conducted so rapid- 
ly, that I was fairly installed in my novel quarters 
before I was aware of it. Our arrival had evidently 
been anticipated, for almost immediately the women 
brought us hot rolls of a species of bread made of 
ground cassava, baked in the ashes, with the addi- 
tion of some stewed flesh of the tvaree, so tender 
and savory that it would have commended itself to 
a far more fastidious appetite than mine. I made 
a prodigious meal, to the palpable satisfaction of 
my faithful Poyer, who kept every calabash heaped 
up with food. 

As I have said, the Indians of Central America 
differ widely from their fiercer brethren of our coun- 
try, not less in their modes of life than in all their 
social and civil relations. This Foyer community 
afforded an example of a purely patriarchal oigani^ 
zation, in which the authority of paternity and of 
age was recognized in the fullest degi'ee. Every 
evening the old men, each taking a lighted brand, 
gathered within a small circle of stones, at one 
corner of the house, and there deliberated upon the 
affeira of the community, and settled its proceedings 
for the following day. In these conferences neithei 



the women nor young men were permitted to take 
part. All the lahor of the community was per- 
formed in common, and all shared ec[ually in the 
results. In one or two of the recesses which I have 
described, were some ancient and helpless crones, 
who were treated with all the care and tenderness 
of children. The whole estahhshment, according to 
the best of my count, consisted of about one hun- 
dred and forty persons, young and old, of whom 
thirty-five were fiiU-grown men. 

In figure the Foyers or Payaa are identical 
with the Towkas and Woolwas, except more mus- 
cular — the consequence, probably, of their cooler 
climate and severer labor. The women were less 
shy, perhaps from their more social mode of living. 
In common with those of the coast, they go naked 
to the waist, whence depends a sMrt of striped 
cotton cloth, reaching to the knees. Their hair is 
invariably parted in front, and held in place by a 
cotton band, hound tightly around the forehead. 
They were always occupied. Some, squatting on 
the ground, spun the native cotton, of which all 
the Indians raise small quantities, while others 
wove it into cloth. Both processes were rude but 
ingenious. The spindle consists of a small ball of 
heavy wood, through which passes a thin shaft, the 
whole resembling an overgrown top, the lower end 
resting in a calabash, to prevent it from toppling 
over. Some of the cotton is attached to this spin- 
dle, which is twirled between the thumb and fore- 
finger. "While it is in motion the thread is care- 



fiilly drawn out from a pile of cotton in tho lap of 
the spinner. When it stopB tho thread ia wound on 
the spindle, and the same process repeated. The 
process of weaving was certainly a simple one, hut 
after several unsatisfactory attempts to describe it, 
I am ohliged to confess my inability to do so, in an 
intelligible manner. 

But a principal occupation of the women was the 
grinding of maize for tortillas, and of preparing the 
cassava. For these purposes there were a number 
of flat stones elevated on blocks, which were called 
by the Mexican name of metlatl. These were some- 
what concave on the upper surface, in which fitted 
a stone roller, worked by hand. With this the 
maize was speedily ground to a fine consistence ; 
tho paste was then made into small cakes, which 
were baked rapidly on broad earthen platters, sup- 
ported over brisk iires. The cakes require to he 
eaten when crisp and hot, in order to be relished ; 
for when cold they become heavy and tasteless. 
Upon these stones they also crushed the stalks of 
the indigenous sugar-cane to extract the juice, 
which, mixed with powdered wild-cacao, is allowed 
to ferment, constituting an agreeable and exhili- 
rating beverage, called idv/ng. 

Every morning aU the girls went down to the 
stream to bathe, which they did without any over- 
strained afiectation of modesty ; but the mothers 
and old women always sought a spot secluded from 
the general gaze. Ifc was only when thus engaged 
that the girls were at all playful. They dashed the 



water in each others' faces, and sought to drag each 
other under the surface, in the deep pools, ■where 
they swam about as mermaids are supposed to do, 
and aB if the water wa« their native element. At 
all other times they were as distant and demure as 
the daintiest damsels in all New England. 

The Foyers are certainly a provident people. 
Although there were no signs of plantations in the 
vicinity of their establishments, yet, at various 
points in the neighborhood, where there occurred 
patches of rich interval land, were small fields of 
Bugar-cane, plantains, scLuashes, maize, yucas, and 
cEiasava, all protected by fences, and attended with 
the utmost care. From every beam of the house 
depended bunches of plantains and bananas, huge 
yams, and dried flesh of various kinds, but chiefly 
that of the waree, while closely packed, on plat- 
forms under the roof, were a few bales of aarsapa- 
rilla, which I found they were accustomed to carry 
down to the coast for purposes of barter. 

The Foyers or Payas, as I have intimated, are 
eminently agriculturists, and although they some- 
times follow the chase, it is not as a principal 
means of support. Nor is it followed from any fan- 
tastic notion of excitement or adventure, but in a 
direct and downright manner, which is the very 
reverse of what is called " sport." I had an exam- 
ple of this in their mode of iishing, which CLuite 
astonished all my previous notions on that subject, 
and which evinced to me furthermore, that fishes, 
although cold-blooded, are not exempt from having 



their heads turned, provided they are approached in 
a proper maimer. 

My Poyer boy, who was unwearying in his devices 
to entertain and interest me, one day conceived a 
brilliant idea, which he hastened to communicate to 
the old men, who held a sober monexioo; or council 
upon it, and resolved that there ehould be made a 
grand demonstration upon the fish, for the double 
purpose of amusing the stranger, and of replenish- 
ing the supplies. The resolution, taken at night, 
was carried into execution in the morning. While 
a portion of the men proceeded down the stream to 
construct a temporary wier of boughs, others col- 
lected a large quantity of a species of vine called 
ieqvdpe, which is common in the woods, has a ranli 
growth, is full of juiee, and emits a pungent odor. 
These vines were cut in sections, crushed between 
stones, and placed in large earthen pots, left to 
steep, over a slow fire. 

I watched all the operations with curious interest. 
About the middle of the afternoon they were com- 
pleted ; the pots containing the decoctions were 
duly shouldered, and we all started up the stream. 
At the distance of perhaps a quarter of a mile, we 
met a number of men wading down the channel, 
and beating the water with long poles, by way of 
concentrating the fish in the direction of the wiera. 
Here the pots were simultaneously emptied in the 
stream, which the contents tinged of a brownish 
hue. Up to this moment, the various preparations 
had greatly puzzled me, but now I discovered that 



the purpose of the decoction was to poieon, or rather 
to intoxicate the fish, which it did effectively ; for, 
as we proceeded down the stream, numbers rose 
strugghng to the surface, vainly endeavoring to stem 
the current, which swept them toward the wiers. 

At every step they hecame more numerous, until 
the whole stream was thronged with them. Some 
were CLuite stupefied, and drifted aJong helplessly, 
while others made spasmodic efforts to resist the 
potent influence of the beguipe. But, sooner or 
later, they too drifted down, with a faint wagging 
of their taila, which seemed to express that they 
fairly "gave it up." 

The wier had been built at the foot of a consid- 
erable pool, which was Htorally covered with the 
stupefied iishes. There were many varieties of 
them, and the Indians stationed at that point were 
already engaged in picking out the largest and 
host, tossing the others over the wier, to recover 
their senses at their leisure, in the clear water be- 
low. As soon as the fish were thrown ashore, they 
were taken charge of by the women, who cleaned 
them on the spot, and with wonderful dexterity. 
They were afterward taken to the house, rubbed 
with salt, and smoke-dried over fires, after the man- 
ner which I have already described, as practiced by 
the Sambos at Pearl Cay Lagoon. 

It would naturally he supposed that a decoction 
so powerful aa to affect the water of a large stream, 
would also damage the fish, and unfit them for 
food. But such is not the case. The effect seems 



to he precisely that of temporary intoxication, and 
the fleh, if left in the water, would soon recover 
from its influence. 

Time passed pleasantly among the hospitahle 
Foyers, and I was treated with such ceremonious 
deference and respect, that I began to thinli that a 
far worse fortune might befall me, than that of be- 
coming a member of this peaceful and prosperous 
community, on the banks of the G-uallambre, In 
fact, I finally detected myself speculating upon the 
possibility of promoting one of the dark Naiads, 
whom I every morning watched sporting in the 
river, to the occupancy of the vacant crickery in 
my apartment. And then the fact that there were 
two crickeries — was not that intended as a delicate 
suggestion on the part of the Poyers, whose ideas 
of hospitahty might be less circumscribed than my 
own ? The thought that they might imagine me 
dull of apprehension, and slow to improve upon a 
hint, grew upon me with every new and nearer con- 
templation of the Naiads, and I began seriously to 
think of submitting a formal proposition on the 
subject, to the monemco. But men's fates often 
hinge upon trifling circumstances, and had I not 
detected a deepening shadow of anxiety on the face 
of Antonio, I might have become a patriarch in 
Poyeidom 1 Who knows ? 

Early after our arrival at the Poyer viltage, I was 
surprised to observe Antonio in close consultation 
with the old men, in the nightly monexico. They 
seemed to be deeply interested in his communica- 



tions, and I imagined that they became daily more 
thoughtful. But now, whatever purpose Antonio 
might have had in view, it appeared to have heen 

So, one evening, I called him aside, and an- 
nounced that I was ready to depart. Ho grasped 
ray hand, pressed it to his heart, and eaid, in a tone 
of emotion^" The voice of the tiger is loud in the 
mountain, and the sons of the Holy Men are wait- 
ing by the lake of the Itaaes 1" 

I comprehended the latent meaning of these 
poetical words, for I had already seen enough of 
Antonio to discover that his absence from Yucatan 
was in some way connected with a concerted move- 
ment of the aborigines, and that now some crisis 
was approaching which drew him irresistibly to- 
ward his native land. Resolved not to be instru- 
mental in delaying him for an hour unnecessarily, 
and half repenting that I had detained him bo 
long— for his attachment and gratitude were too 
real to permit him to abandon me in the wilder- 
ness — I at once communicated my intention of 
leaving to the old men. They took it under serious 
dehberation, which resulted in their dispatching 
some men before daybreak, on the following morn- 
ing, to prepare a canoe for our descent of the 
Patuca. The canoes, I found, were not kept on the 
Guallambre, for two reasons : first, that its course is 
circuitous, and second, and principally, because it 
runs through the settlements of the Spaniards of 
Olancho, with whom the Indians avoid all relations 



■which are not absolutely necessary. Their boats 
were therefore kept half a day's journey distant, be- 
yond a chain of high hUls, on a large tributary of 
the Patuca, called Amacwaes. 

I verily believe I would have been a welcome 
guest among my Poyer friends, so long as I might 
have chosen to remain ; yet they did not luge me to 
stay, but hastened to help me off, as if my intima- 
tions were to be regarded aa commands. 

During the day a large quantity of provisions 
were dispatched to the boat, and at night the 
monexico selected two men, and my old companion 
the Poyer boy, to accompany us to the coast. We 
took our departure early in the momii^, while it was 
yet dark, without creating the slightest disturbance 
in the establishment. Only the old men, who had 
come out to meet us two weeks before, now went 
ahead with large brands of fire, to light the way ; 
but, when the day broke, they again touched their 
foreheads to my knee, and returned, leaving us to 
prosecute our journey alone. 

We reached ths Amacwass in the afternoon, and 
found a boat, twice as large as the canoe in which 
we had navigated the lagoons, all prepared for in- 
stant departure. A space near the middle was cov- 
ered with a thatch of palm branches, to protect me 
from the sun, and altogether it promised a degree 
of comfort and convenience to which I had been a 
stranger, in my previous voyagings. 

We embarked at once, and dropped rapidly down 
with the current, the Indians only using their pad- 



dies to direct the boat, and keep it clear of the 
rocks which obstructed the channel. The water 
was wonderfully clear, every where revealing the 
bottom with the greatest distinctness. The banks 
were covered with a heavy forest, in which the eye 
was often arrested by the stately forms of the ma- 
hogany-tree, with its massive foKage, rising high 
above the general level ; or hy the still taUer and 
more graceful plumes of the pahnetto-royal. Vege- 
tation seemed to have a more vigorous, but less re- 
dundant life, than on the Mosquito Shore ; that is 
to say, it assumed more compact and more decided 
forms, occasioned, probably, by the comparative ab- 
sence of jungle, not less than by peculiarities of soil. 

There was something exhilarating in our rapid 
course ; and the voice of the waters, here murmur- 
ing over a pebbly bottom, and yonder breaking 
hoarsely over the obstructing rocks, reminded me of 
my distant New England home, and recalled the 
happy hom-s which I had spent in the sole compan- 
ionship of its merry mountain streams. It was, 
after all, by the standard of my youthful experi- 
ences, that I measured my present enjoyments ; 
and it was rare indeed, even in my most cheerful 
moods, that the comparison was favorable to the 
latter. The senses blunted by years, and the mem- 
ory crowded with events, fails to appreciate so keenly 
or record so deeply, the experiences of middle life, 
and pure happiness, after all, dwells chiefly in the 
remembrance of the distant past. 

As soon as the shadows of evening began to settle 


"the gateway of hell." B07 

over the narrow valley of the Amacwaes, we halted, 
and made our camp, maintaining throughout the 
night a great fire, not less for its cheerful influences 
than for protection against the fierce blaclt tigers, or 
pumas, which abound on this flank of the moun- 
tains. We heard their screams, now near, now 
distant, to which the monkeys responded with 
alarmed and anxious cries, eo like those of human 
beings in distress, as more than once to startle me 
from my slumbers. These caricatures on humanity 
seemed to be more numerous here than further 
down the coast, and we often saw large troops of 
them in the overhanging trees, where they gravely 
contemplated us as we drifted by. Occasionally 
one, more adventurous than the rest, would slide 
down a dependent limb or vine, scold at us vehe- 
mently for a moment, and then scramble back again 
hurriedly, as if alarmed at his own audacity. 

On the second day the current of the Amacwaes 
became more gentle, and just before night we shot 
out of its waters into the large and comparatively 
majestic Patuca. Our course down this stream was 
not so rapid. In places the current was so slight 
that it became necessary to use our paddles ; while 
elsewhere the greatest caution was requisite to guide 
our boat safely over the numerous cliiflones or rapids 
by which it was interrupted. But these, though 
difficult, and in some instances dangerous, sunk into 
insignificance 'when compared with what is called 
JEJl Portal del Infiemo, or the " Gateway of Hell." 
My Poyer boy had several times alluded to it, as 



infinitely more to be dreaded than any of the passes 
which we had yet encountered, and as one which 
would he likely to excite my alarm. 

We reached it on the day after we had entered 
the Patuca, As we advanced, the hills began to 
approach each other, and high rocks shut in the 
river upon both sides. Huge detached masses also 
rose in the middle of the stream, around which the 
water whirled and eddied in deep, dark gulfs, suck- 
ing down the frayed and shattered trunks of trees, 
from which the branches had long before been torn 
by rude contact with the rocks, only to reject them 
again from their depths, far below. The velocity 
of our boat increased, and I became apprehensive in 
view of the rushing current and rocky shores ; nor 
was the feeling diminished, when the men com- 
menced to lash the various articles contained in the 
boat by thongs to its sides, since that precaution 
implied a possibility of our being overset. Antonio 
urged me to strip, which I did, in preparation for the 
worst contingency. Meanwhile the stream narrowed 
more and more, and the rocks towered higher and 
higher above our heads. The water no longer dashed 
and chafed against the shores, but, dark and glassy, 
shot through the narrow gorge with a low hissing 
sound, more fearful than its previous turbulence, I 
involuntarily held my breath, grasping firmly the 
sides of the boat, and watching anxiously the dark 
forms of the Indians, as, silently, and with impas- 
sible features, they guided the frail slab upon which 
om- lives depended. On, on we swept, between 



cliffs 80 lofty and beetling ai to shut out the sun, 

and involve us in twilight obscunty I looked up, 

and, at a dizzy height, 

could only trace a nai 

row strip of sky, like the 

cleft in the roof of some 

deep cavern. A shuddei 

ran through ever^ hmb 

and I could well undei 

stand why this terrible 

paBs had been namel 

the Mouth cf Hell i 

He mu&t have been a 

bold min who ventured 

first withm its homd 

]1W8 1 

I diew 1 long breath | 
oi lehef when the chabm I 
began to widen and the 
cunent to diminish in 
violence But it w as 
probibly then thit 
weie m the greitest 1 
ger for the bed of t! 
stream was full of angu- 
lar rocks which had been 

swept out from the canon, to be heaped up here in 
wild disorder, A misdirected stroke of a single 
paddle would have thrown our frail boat upon 
them, and dashed it into a thousand pieces. 

Before night, however, wo Lad entirely passed 



the rapids, and were drifting quietly over the 
smooth, deep reaches of the river — the bubbles on 
its surface, and the flecks of white foam clinging to 
its banlis, alone indicating the commotion which 
raged above. 

There are many legends connected with the 
" Portal del Infiemo." Within it the Indians im- 
agine there dwells a powerful spirit, who is some- 
times seen darting through its gloomiest recess, in 
the form of a large bird. That night, each of the 
Poyera poured a portion of his allowance of chicha 
in the stream, as a thank-offering to the spirit of 
the river. This, and the offerings made to lire, 
were the only religious rites which I witnessed 
while in their country ; but it is not thence to bo 
inferred that they are without religious forms, for 
it is precisely these that they are most careful to 
conceal from the observation of the stranger. 

As we proceeded down the river, and entered the 
alluvions of the coast, both the stream and its 
banks- underwent an entire change. The latter be- 
came comparatively low, and frequently, for long 
distances, were wholly covered with feathery palms, 
unrelieved by any other varieties of trees. Snags 
a,nd stranded logs obstructed the channel, and sand- 
bars appeared here and there, upon which the hid- 
eous alligators stretched themselves in the sun, in 
conscious security. Occasionally, we observed 
swells or ridges of savannah land, like those on the 
Mosquito Shore, supporting pines and acacias. 
But the general character of the country was that 



of a broad alluvion, in places so low aa to he over- 
flowed during floods— ricJi in soil, and adapted to 
the cnltivation of all the tropical staples: 

On the seventh day from the Poyer village, we 
reached a point where the river divides, forming a 
delta, the principal channel leading off to the sea 
direct, and the other conducting to a large lagoon, 
called Brus by the Spaniards, where the Caribs of 
the coast have thoir establishments. "We took the 
latter, and the Indiana plied their paddles with in- 
creased energy, as if ansioue to bring our tedious 
voyage to a close. 


LTHOUGH we had previously 
! moored our boat with the ap- 
!' proach of darkness, yet this night 
the Indians kept on their course. 
The river was now wide and still, and the banks 
low and tropical. With the fading light of day, 
the sea-breeze set in, fresh and pungent, from the 
ocean. Fire-flies sparkled like stars along the 
shore, and only the night-hawk, swooping down 
after its prey, startled the ear of night with its 
mailing pinions. 

The night adranced, and the steady dip of the 
paddles soothed me into a slumber, from which I 
was only roused by the noise of drums and the 
sound of revelry. I leaped up suddenly, with some 
vague recollections of the orgies at Sandy Bay, 



which, however, were soon dispelled, and I found 
that we had already passed Brus Lagoon, and were 
now close to ita northern shore, where the Carib 
town is situated. There were many lights and 
fires, and shouts and laughter rang out from the 
various groups which were gathered around them, 
I perceived at once that some kind of a festival 
was going on, and had some hesitation in ventur- 
ing on shore. But I was reassured by the conduct 
of the Indians, who paddled the boat up to the 
beach, with the utmost confidence. Before it 
touched the sand, however, we were hailed by some 
one on the shore, in a language which I did not un- 
derstand. A moment after, the hail was repeated 
in another dialect, to which my Poyer boy re- 
plied, with some Idnd of explanation. " Advance, 
friend t" was the prompt response of the chal- 
lenger, who stepped into the water, and lent a 
hand to drag up the canoe. 

I scrambled forwaixl, and leaped ashore, when I 
was immediately addressed by the same voice which 
had hailed us, with, " Very welcome to Brus !" 
My first impression was, that I had fallen in with 
Europeans, but I soon saw that my new friend was 
a pure Indian. He was dressed in white panta- 
loons and jacket, and wore a sash around his waist, 
and, altogether, looked like a good fellow. He at 
once invited me to his house, explaining, ae we 
went along, that the village was in the midst of a 
festival, held annually, on the occasion of the re- 
turn of the mahogany-cuttere from the various 



works, both on this coaet and in the vicinity of Be- 
lize. The next day, he said, they expected a large 
re enforcement of their numbers, and that then the 
festivities would be at their height. 

Meantime, we had reached the house of our new 
friendj whose impromptu hospitality I made no 
hesitation in accepting. It was empty ; for all 
hands were occupied with the festival. Our host 
stirred up the embers of a fire, which were smoul- 
dering beneath a little roof in front of the hut, 
and hastened away to call his family. 

While I awaited his return, I smiled to think 
what a free and easy way I had contracted since 
leaving Jamaica, of making myself at home under 
all circumstances, and with all sorts of people. No 
letters of introduction, given with hesitation, and 
received with doubt. And then, the happy excite- 
ment of an oven chance whether one's welcome may 
come in the form of a buUet or a breatfast ! These 
things will do to tell my friend Sly, I soliloquized, 
and fell into a revery, which was only broken by the 
return of my host, accompanied by one of his wives 
— a very pretty and weil-dressed Carib woman, her 
hair neatly braided on the top of her head, and stuck 
fuU of flowers. Although it was now past mid- 
night, she insisted on preparing something for us to 
eat, and then returned to participate in the dances 
and rejoicings which were going on in the centre of 
the village. 

I would have accompanied my host there also, 
had it not been for an incident which, for that night 



at least, banished my idle curiosity. While occu- 
pied in arranging my personal baggage in our new 
quarters, I had observed my Poyer companion 
standing apart, and regarding me with an earnest 
and thoughtful expression. I was several times on 
the point of speaking to him, and as often bad my 
attention diverted by other circumstances. Finally, 
however, I turned to seek him, but he was gone, I 
inquii'ed of Antonio what had become of Mm, but 
he could give me no information ; and, a little con- 
cerned himself, he started for the scene of the rev- 
elry, under the impression that he might have been 
attracted thither. He returned with a hasty step, 
and reported that neither the Poyer or his compan- 
ions were to be found. We hurried to the shore, 
where we had left the boat, but that also was gone. 
The reader may, perhaps, smile when I say that I 
strained my eyes to penetrate the darkness, if only 
to catch one glimpse of my Poyer boy ; and that I 
wept when I turned back to the village. And 
when, on the following day, as I unrolled my scanty 
wardrobe, a section of bamboo-cane, heavy with 
gold-dust, rolled upon the floor, I felt not only 
that I had lost a friend, but that beneath the 
swarthy breast of that untutored Indian boy there 
beat a heart capable of the most delicate generos- 
ity. Be sure, my faithful friend, far away in your 
mountain home, that your present shall never be 
dishonored I Washed from the virginal sands, and 
vfiought into the symbol of our holy faith, it rests 
above a heart as constant as thine own ; and, in- 



scribed witli the single word " Fidelity," it sliall 
descend to my children, as an evidence that Faith 
and Eriendship are hoavenly flowers, perennial in 
every clime ! 

The O^ribs (who pronounce their own name Ca- 
ribees), those Dyaeks of the Antilles, had always 
been associated in my mind with every thing that 
was savage in character and habits, and I was as- 
tonished to find that they had really considerable 
pretensions to civilization. It should be observed, 
however, that they are here an intruded people, and 
that, iirst and last, they have had a large associa- 
tion with the ■whites. They now occupy the coast 
from the neighborhood of the port of Truxillo to 
Carataska Lagoon, whence they have gradually ex- 
pelled the Sambos or Mosquitos. Their original 
seat was San Vincent, one of what are caDed the 
Leeward Islands, whence they were deported in a 
body, by the English, in 1798, and landed upon the 
then unoccupied island of Eoatan, in the Bay of 
Honduras. Their position there was an unaatisfac- 
tory one, and they eagerly accepted the invitation 
of the Spanish authorities to remove to the main- 

Positions were assigned them in the vicinity of 
Truxillo, whence they have spread rapidly to the 
eastward. All along the coast, generally near the 
mouths of the various rivers with which it is 
fringed, they have their establishments or towns. 
These are never large, but always neat, and well 
supplied with provisions, especially vegetables, 



which are cultivated with great care, and of the 
highest perfection. They grow rice, cassava, sugar- 
cane, a little cotton, plantains, squashes, oranges, 
mangoes, and every yariety of indigenous fruits, 
hesides an abundance of hogs, ducks, turkeys, and 
fowls, of all of which they export considerable 
quantities to Trusillo, and even to Belize, a dis- 
tance of several hundred miles. 

The physical differences which existed among 
them at San Vincent are stiU marked. Most are 
pure Indians, not large, but muscular, with a mddy 
skin, and long, straight hair. These were called 
the Eed or Yellow Caribs. Another portion are 
very dark, with curly hair, and betraying unmistak- 
ably a large infusion of negro blood, and are called 
the Black Caribs. They are taller than the Eed 
Caribs, and well-proportioned. They contrast with 
the latter, also, in respect of character, being more 
vehement and mercurial. The pure Caribs are con- 
stant, industrious, quiet, and orderly, Tliey all 
profess the Catholic rehgion, although observing 
very few of its rites, except during their visits to 
the Spanish towns, where all their children are scru- 
pulously taken to be baptized. 

I was agreeably astonished when I awoke on the 
morning after our arrival at Brus, to find a cup of 
coffee, well served in a china cup, awaiting my at- 
tentions. And when I got up, I was stUl further 
surprised to observe a table spread with a snow- 
white cloth, in the principal apartment of the 
house, where my host welcomed me, with a genuine 



"good morning." I expressed my surprise at his 
accLuaintance with the English, which seemed to 
flatter him, and he ran through the same salutation 
in Spanish, Creole-French, Carib, and MoscLuito. 
Whereupon I told him he was a " perambidating 
polyglot," which he did n't understand, although 
he affected to laugh at the remark. 

I had now an opportunity to mate my observa- 
tions on the village of Bras and its people. The 
town is situated on a narrow, sandy tongue of land, 
lying between the sea and the lagoon. This etrip 
of land supports a magnificent forest of cocoa-pahnB, 
relieved only by a few trees of gigantic size and 
dense foliage, which, I suppose, must be akin to 
the banyan-tree of India, inasmuch as they send 
down numerous stems or trunks, which take root 
in the ground, and support the widely-spreading 
branches. The establishment of my host, includ- 
ing his house and the huts of his various wives, 
were all built beneath a single tree, which had 
thirty-five distinct trunks, besides the central or pa- 
rent stem, A belt of miscellaneous trees is also 
left seaward, to break the force of the north wind, 
which would otherwise be sure to destroy the palms. 
But the underbrush had all been carefully removed, 
so that both the sea and the lagoon were visible 
from all parts of the village. The design of their 
removal was the excellent one of affording a free 
circulation of air ; a piece of sanitary wisdom 
which was supported by the additional precaution 
of building the huts open only to the sea-breeze. 


and closed against the miasmatic winds wliicli blow 
occaeionaliy from the land side, 

Nothing could be more beautiful than the palm- 
grove, with its graceful natural columns and ever- 
green arches, beneath which rose the picturesque 
huts of the vilJage. These were all well-built, 
walled, floored, and partitioned, with cabbage-palm 
boards, and roofed with the branches of the same 
tree. Episodically, I may repeat what has probably 
often been observed before, that the palm, in its 
varieties, ia a marvel of economic usefulness to 
dwellers under the tropics. Not only does it present 
him with forms of enchanting beauty, but it affords 
him food, drink, and shelter. One variety yields 
him excellent substitutes for bread and yeast ; an- 
other sugar and wine ; a third oil and vinegar ; a 
fourth milk and wax ; a fifth resin and fruit ; a 
sixth medicines and utensils ; a seventh weapons, 
cordage, hats, and clothing ; and an eighth habita- 
tions and furniture 1 

The plantations of the village, except a few clus- 
ters of banana-trees and sugar-canes, on the edge 
of the lagoon, were situated on the islands of the 
latter, or on its southern shore. Those on the 
islands were most luxuriant, for the principal reason 
that they are fully protected from the wild beasts, 
which occasionally commit extensive depredations 
on the maize, rice, and cassava fields. One of the 
islands nearest the village, on which my hostesses 
had then' plantations, I visited frequently during my 
stay. It was a delicious spot, covered with Ji most 



luxuriant growth of ftuits and vegetatlee. I could 
well understand why it had been selected by the 
English for their settlement, when they sought to 
estahhsh themselves on the coast, during the great 
war with Spain. A par tially-ohht crated trench and 
breast-work, a few iron guns half-buried in the soil, 
at the most elevated portion of the island, and one 
or two large iron cauldrons, probably designed to be 
used in sugar-works, were now the only traces of 
their ancient establishments. 

The lagoon abounds in fish and water-fow], and 
there are some savannahs, at a considerable distance 
up the Patuca, and on other streams flowing into 
the lagoon, which are thronged with deer. But it 
would seem that these are only occasionally hunted 
by the Caribe, and then chiefly for their skins, of 
which large numbers are exported. 

As I have said, we arrived in Brus during the 
annual carnival, which follows on the return of 
those members of the community who have been 
absent in the mahogany-works. It is in these 
works that the able-bodied Caribs find their princi- 
pal employment. They hire for from ten to twelve 
dollars per month, and rations, receiving one half of 
their pay in goods, and the other half in money. 
As a consequence, they have among them a great 
variety of articles of European manufacture, selected 
with a most fantastic taste. A Carib dandy de- 
lights in a closely-fitting pantaloons, supported 
by a scarlet sash, a jaunty hat, encircled by a broad 
band of gold lace, a ]}rofuse neck-cloth, and a sword. 


or purple umbrella. It is in some such garb that 
he returns from the mahogany-works, to dehght the 
eyes and affect the sensibiiities of the Carib girls ; 
nor does he fail to stuff his pockets with gay heads, 
and ear-rings and bracelets of hoop-like dimensions, 
richly gilt and glowing with colored glass, where- 
with to follow up any favorable impression which 
may he produced by his own resplendent person. 
He then affects to have forgotten his Carib tongue, 
and finds himself constantly running into more fa- 
miliar English, after the immemorial practice of 
great and finished travelers. He scorns the native 
chicha for the first day, but overcomes his prejudice, 
and gets glorious upon it the next. In fact, lie 
enacts an unconscious satire upon the follies of a 
class, whose vanity would never enable them to dis- 
cover the remotest possible parallelism between 
themselves and the Caribs of Honduras ! 

During the day several lai^e boats arrived at 
Brus from Limas and Homan, both of which are 
mahogany stations. They aU carried the Honduras 
flag at the topmast, and bore down on the shore 
with their utmost speed, only striking their sails 
when on the edge of the breakers, when the occupants 
■would all leap overboard, and thus float their boats 
to the shore. Here, under the shade of the trees, 
all the inhabitants of the village were gathered. 
They shouted and beat drums, and fired muskets, 
by way of welcome to their friends, who responded 
with the whole power of their' lungs. Here, too, 
expectant wives, affectionate sisters, and anxious 



mothere, spread out tables, loaded with food, fruits, 
bottles of rum, and jars of cMcha, wherewith to re- 
gale husband, brother, or son, on the instant of his 
arrival. It was amusing to witness the rivalry of 
the various wives of the same anxiously-expected 
husband, in their efforts to outvie each other in the 
arrangement of their respective tables, and the vari- 
ety of eatables and drinkables which they supported. 
They were all particularly ambitious in their display 
of glass-ware, and some of them had a profusion of 
gay, and, in some instances, costly decanters and 
tumblers. One yellow dame, with her shoulders 
loaded with heads and but half-concealed by a 
silken scarf of brightest crimson, was complacent 
and happy in the exclusive possession of a plated 
wine-servor, which supported three dehcately-cut 
bottles of as many different colors, and filled with 
an equal variety of hquors. 

Every body drank with eveiy body on the occasion 
of every body's arrival, a process which, it may be 
suspected, might, by frequent repetition, come to 
develop a lai^o liberaHty of feeling. At noon, it 
exhibited itself in a profuse and energetic shaking 
of hands, and toward night in embraces more pro- 
longed and unctious than pleasant or endurable to 
one receiving his initiation in the practice. 80 I 
was fain to retire early from the shore, although 
enjoying highly the excitement, in which I could not 
fail to have that kind of sympathy which every 
manifestation of genuine feeling is sure to inspire. 
Even Antonio, whose impassible brow had latterly 



become aimouB and thoughtful, partook of tho gen- 
eral exhilaration, and wore a amiling face. 

I was treated with great consideration by the 
entire population, who all seemed alike coneequeii- 
tial and happy, when an opportunity was afforded 
to them of shaking me hy the hand, and incLuiring, 
" How do you do ?" 

As I have intimated, the Caribs, like the Mos- 
c[Tiitos, practice polygamy ; but the wives have each 
a distinct establishment, and recLuire a fair and 
equal participation in all of the favors of their hus- 
band. If he make one a present, he is obliged to 
honor aU the others in hko manner ; and they are 
aU ec[ually ready to make common cause against 
him, in case of infidelity, or too wide an exhibition 
of gallantry. The division of duties and responsi- 
bilities 18 rather extraordinary. When a Carib 
takes a wife, he is obliged to build her a house and 
clear her a plantation. But, this done, she must 
thenceforth take care of herself and her offspring ; 
and if she desire the assistance of her husband in 
planting, she is obliged to pay him, at' the rate of 
two dollars per week, for his services. And al- 
though the husband generally accompanies his 
wives in their trading excursions to Truxillo and 
elsewhere, he carries no loads, and takes no part in 
the barter. As a consecLuence, nearly all the labor 
of the villages is performed by the women ; the 
men thinking it rather beneath them, and far from 
manly, to engage in other occupation than mahog- 
any-cutting and the Wilding of boats, in which art 



they are very expert, using the axe, saw, and adue 
with great skill. Altogether, the Cariba are kind, 
industrious, provident, honest, and faithful, and 
muet ultimately constitute one of the most import- 
ant aids to the development of the country. They 
are brave, and some companies, which have heen in 
the service of the government, have distinguished 
themselves in the field, not less for their subordina- 
tion than for their valor and powers of endurance. 
They are usually temperate, and it is rare to see 
one of them drunk, except during the continuance 
of some festival, of which they have several in the 
course of the year. 

I remained hut a few days at Erus, and availed 
myself of the departure of a large cresr, or Oarib 
boat, bound for Eoatan, to take passage for that 
island. I could not prevail upon my host to accept 
any thing in return for his hospitaHty, except " El 
Moro," for whom one of his children had conceived 
a strong liking, which the bird was far from recip- 
rocating. Mischievous Moro ! The last I saw of 
him was while waddling stealthily across the floor, 
to get a bite at the toes of his admirer ! 

Our course from Brus lay, first, to the island of 
Gunaja, distinguished historically as the one whence 
Columbus first descried the mainland of America. 
Our sole purpose there was to carry a demijohn of 
brandy to a solitary Scotchman, living upon one 
of the cays which surround it, to whom it had 
heen sent by some friend in Belize. It had been 
intrusted to the Carib owner of the boat, who went 



thus out of his way to fuIfiU his commiasion, with- 
out recompense or the hope of reward. One would, 
suppose that a demijohu of brandy was a danger- 
ous article to iutrust to the exclusive custody of 
Indians ; but those who know the Garibs best have 
most faith in their integrity. 

The Bay of Honduras is remarkable for its gen- 
eral placidity, and the extreme purity of its waters. 
It h^B a laige numbei of coral ciys and leefs on its 
western border, which almost encux,le the penin- 
•^ula of Yucatan, as with a belt The line ishnds 
of Boat in and Gfuana]a are belted m hke manner, 
but theie are several openings in the locky bariitia 
which smTound them, through which ^t'lsela miy 
enter the piotected waters withm 

The wind was hesh ind f\n, the sly sciene, and 
the hea was biigkt and spaikhng m the sunlight 
Wo swept on swiftly and gayly, the pme-clad 
mountains of Gruanaia nsmg slowlj ind smilmgly 
above the horizon By-and-by the palm-tices on 
the Burroundms; cays became visible, then plumes 
appealing to spring trum the cleir waters, and to 
rise and fill with the motion of oui boat As wc 


approached nearer to them, we could make out the 
cays themeelvea, supporting masses of emerald ver- 
dure, within a silvery ring of sand. Between them 
and the island, with its wealth of forest, the sea 
was of the loveUest blue, and placid as a " painted 
ocean." But, before we reached their tairy-like 
shores, the wind died away, and our sail drooped 
from the mast. We were partly under the lee of 
the land, and the surface of the sea soon became 

And as we drifted on, our boat yielding to the gen- 
tle swells, I amused myself in looking over the 
side, and contemplating the forms of marine life 
which the transparent water revealed to our gaze. 
The bottom was distinctly visible, studded with 
the wonderful products of the coral polypus, here 
spreading out like fans, there taking the forma of 
flattened globes radiating with spines, and yonder 
shooting up in branching, antler-liko stems. Dark 
patches of jelly-Hke sponge, the white shells of 
myriads of conchs, and occasionally a large flsh, 
whose pulsating gills alone gave sign of life — all 
these contributed to lend variety and interest to 
those glimpses of the bottom of the sea. It was to 
me a new revelation of Nature, and as I gazed, and 
gazed, the musical song of the " dainty Ariel " 
rang its bell-like cadences in my ears ; 



Those are pearls tfiat were hia eyes : 

Nothing of Mm that doth fade, 
But doth suffer a sea^ange 

Inl^ something lich and strange I" 

Our men stretched themselves in the hottom of 
the boat, waiting, as they said, for the evening 
breeze. But the evening breeze came not, and they 
were finally obliged to paddle the boat to the near- 
est cay— a coral gem indeed, with its clustering 
palms, drooping gracefully over the sea, as if, Nar- 
cissus-like, contemplating their own beauty in its 
mirror-liie surface. 

The moon was in her first ijuarter, and as she 
rose above the placid sea, revealing the island in its 
isolation and beauty, jeweled round with cays, I 
seated myself apart, on the sand of the shore, and 
drank in the beauty of the scene. Gradually my 
thoughts recurred to the past, and I could hardly 
realize that but little more than five months had 
elapsed since I had held an unwitting conference 
with the demon, in my little studio in White-street. 
And yet what an age of excitement and adventure 
had been crowded in that brief space ! I felt that 
I had entered upon a new world of ideas and im- 
pressions, and wondered to think that I had Kved 
so long immured in the dull, unsympathizing heart 
of the crowded city. It was with a pang of regret 
that I now found myself drifting upon civihzation 
again. A few days would bring me to Behze, 
where I knew Antonio would leave me, to return to 
the fastnesses of his people. Where then should I go ? 

Hosted byGoOgle 


These reflections saddened me, and tlie unwilling 
conviction was forced upon my mind that I must 
soon he roused from my long, delicious dream, per- 
haps never again to court its enchantments with 
success. I gazed upon the moonht waters, and lis- 
tened to the gentle chime of the waves upon the 
sand, and almost regretted that 1 had been admit- 
ted within the grand arcanum of Nature, to adore 
her unvailcd beauties, since they wore now to be 
shut out from me forever, hy the restraints, the un- 
meaning forms, the follies and vices of artificial 
life ! A heavy weight of melancholy settled on my 
heart, and I bowed my head on my knees, and^ 
shall I own it ?- — wept '. 

It was then that Antonio approached me, silent- 
ly as when he stole to my side on the fearful night 
of our shipwreck, and quietly laid his hand on my 
shoulder, I knew who it was, but I said nothing, 
for I hesitated to betray my emotion. 

He respected my silence, and waited untU my 
momentary weakness had passed away, when I 
raised my head, and met his fuU and earnest gaze. 
His face again glowed with that mysterious intelli- 
gence which I had remarked on several previous oc- 
s ; but now his lips wore unsealed, and he 

" This is a good place, my brother, to tell you 
the secret of my heart ; for on that dark island 
slumber the bones of our fathers. It was there 
that my powerful ancestor, Baalam Votan, led the 
white-robed holy men, when they fled from the rc- 



gions of the rising sim. It was there that our peo- 
ple raised a temple to the Imperial Tiger, whose 
descendant I am — for am I not Baalam,* and is not 
this the Heart of the People ?" — 

This exclamation was made with energy, and, for 
a moment, he was silent, and gazed earnestly upon 
his cherished talisman. 

When he resumed, it was in a lesa exalted strain. 
He told me of the ancient greatness of his people, 
when the race of Baalam Votan reigned over the 
Peninsula of Yucatan, and sent the missionaries of 
their religion to redeem the savage nations which 
surrounded them, even to the country of the Huas- 
tecas, on the river of Panuco. It was then, he 
said, that the Lord of Life smiled on the earth ; 
then the eai^ of maize were many times larger than 
now, the trees were loaded with unfailing supplies 
of fruit, and hloomed with perennial flowers ; the 
cotton grew of many colors ; and, although men 
died, their spirits walked the earth, and held famil- 
iar converse with the children of the Itzacs. 

Never have I heard a voice more intense and fer- 
vid than that of the Indian boy, as he described the 
traditionary golden age of his people. I listened 
with hreathless interest, and thought it was thus 
that the prophets of old must have spoken, when 

* Scudam, in tbe langu^e of Tuoaton, aigiiifiea T^er, and Valan 
is understood to denote ffeari. The Maja tradition is, that Baakm 
Votan, the Tiger-Heart, led the lathers of the Mayas to Tuoatan, 
from a distant oountry. He ia conspieuously figiireft In the mined 
temples around the Lake of Itza^ as well as at Chichen and Pa- 



the people deemed them inspireil of heiven But 
■when he came to recount the wrongs of hi'^ nation, 
and the destruction cf the kingdom ot hifl fathers, 
I could scarcely helieve that the hearse von,e and 
words but half-articulited fiom excess tt passion 
proceeded from the same lips It was a tearful 
sight to witness the convulsive energy of that In 
dian boy, whose knotted musclLs ind the veins 
swelling almost to bursting on his forehead, half-in- 
duced me to fear that he had been stricken with 

But soon he became calm again, and told me 
how the slumbering spirit of his people had become 
roused, and how wide-spread and terrible was the 
revenge which they were meditating upon their op- 
pressors. A few years before, his father had gath- 
ered the descendants of the ancient Caziques amid 
the ruins at Ohichen-Itza, and there they had 
sworn, by the Heart of Baalam Votan, to restore the 
rule of the Holy Men, and expel the Spaniards from 
the Peninsula, It was then, that the sacred relic 
which he wore on his breast had been dug up from 
the hiding-place where it had lain for centuries, to 
lend the sanctity and power of the traditionary 
Votan to his chosen successor. But the movement 
had been premature ; and although, the excited, but 
poorly-armed Indians performed prodigies of valor, 
and carried their victories to the very walls of Me- 
lida, yet there they received a sudden, and, as it 
seemed, a iinal check, in the death of Chichen-Pat, 
their cherished leader. He fell at the head nf his 



followere, who rescued only the talisman of Votan, 
called the " Heart of the People," and then fled in 
dismay to their fastnesses in the wilderness. But 
the spirit which had heen evoked was not subdued. 
Another convocation was held, and the only son of 
thoir late leader was invested with the symbol of 
authority. A scheme of insurrection was devised," 
which was intended to include, not only the Indians 
of Yucatan and of Central America, but even those 
of Mexico and Peru, in one grand and terrible up- 
rising against the Spanish dominion. 

To this end messengers were sent in every direc-, 
tion ; and the proud cavalier at Bogota or Mexico, 
spurring his horse, with arrogant mien, past the 
strange Indian, who shrank aside at his approach, or 
stood with head uncovered in his presence, little 
thought what torrents of hate were dammed up in 
that swarthy breast, or what wide-laid schemes of 
vengeance were revolving beneath that impassi- 
ble brow 1 The emissaries toiled through wUder- 
nesses and deep marshes, over high mountains and 
dangerous rivers, enduring hunger and fatigue, and 
the extremes ot heat and cold, to fuMU their re- 
spective missions Even the daughters of the Holy 
Men like the seeress of the river Boeay, ventured 
afar from the homes of their people, and among dis- 
tant and alien tribes, became the propagandists of 
the meditated Revenge ! 

The night had worn on, and the crescent moon 
rested on the ver^^e of the horizon. I had heard the 



gixjat secret of tho Indian boy ; his bitter recital of 
past wrongs and faiiuiog, and Ins hopes of futdra 
triumph. I now knew that tho angel of hlood was 
indeed abroad, and that, m hia own figurative lan- 
guage, "Tho voice of tho 'I'lj-ci wm loud in the 
mouiiljiin !" 

I WHS silent and thoiighil'ul whpii ho had fin- 
ished ; hilt when, after a long pause, he asked, 
" Will my brother go with mo to the lyke of the 
Tfzaes ?" r gnispcd life hand and swore, by a name 
holier tiian that of A'otan, to justify a friendship so 
nnwavering by a faith as boujidlcss as hia own. 
And when I left tlio outj-mts of civilization, and 
plunged into the untracked wilderness, with no 
other friend or guide, never did a suRpicion or a 
doubt darken for an instant my confidence, or im- 
pair my faith "' the loyal heart of Aktosio Ohui, — 
once the mikl-eyed Indian boy, but now the dreaded 
cliioftain and victorious leader of tho unrelenting 
Itzaes of Yucatan ! 



Time only can determine what will be the final re- 
sult of the contest which is now waging upon the soil 
of that heautiful, but already half-desolated penin- 
sula. Almost every arrival hringa us the news of in- 
creased holdness, and new successes on the part of 
the Indians ; and, it now seems, as if the great 
drama of the concLueat were to be closed by the de- 
struction of the race of the conquerors ! Terribly 
the frown darkens on the front of Nemesis ! 

" The voice of the Tiger is loud in the moun- 
tain !" 





The general physical cliaracteristios, and the climate and 
productions of the Mosquito Shore, tave probably been suffi- 
ciently indicated in tbe foregoing rapid narrative. Never- 
iheless, to supply any deficiencies which may exist in these 
respects, as well as to illustrate the history of this coast, to 
which recent political events have given some degree of in- 
terest, I have here brought together a variety df facts derived 
from ori^nal sources, or such as are not easily accessible to 
the general reader. 

The designation " Mosquito Shore" can only properly be 
undeistood in a geographical sense, as applying to that por- 
tion of the eastern coast of Central America lying between 
Cape Gracias i Dios and Bluefields Lagoon, or between the 
twelfth and fifteenth degrees of north latitude, a distance oi 
about two hundred miles. The attempts which have been 
made to apply this name to a greater extent of shore, have 
had their origin in strictly political considerations. 

This coast was discovered by Columbus, in his fourth voy- 
age, in 1602. He sailed along its entire length, stopping at 



various points, to investigate the country, and ascertain the 
character of its iniiabitajita. Ho gave it the name Ca/eiay, 
and it was accurately characterized by one of his compan- 
ions, Porras, as "««« tj^ra muy baja^ a very low land. 
Columbus himself, in his letter to the Spanish sovereigns, 
describes the inhabitants as fehers, and " as great sorcerers, 
very terrible." His son, Fernando Columbus, is more expli- 
cit. He says, they were " almost negroes in color, beataal, 
going naked ; in all respects very rude, eating human flesh, 
and devouring their fish raw, as they happened to catch 
them." The language of the chroniclers warrant us in be- 
heving that these descriptions applied only to the Indians of 
the sea-coast, and that those of the interior, whose language 
then was different, were a distinct people. 

The great incentive to Spanish enterprise in America, and 
which led to the rapid conquest and settlement of the conti- 
nent, was the acquisition of the precious metals. But httie 
of these was to be found on the Mosquito Shore, and, as a 
consequence, the tide of Spanish adventure swept by, heed- 
less of the miserable savages who sought a precarious sub- 
dstence among its lagoons and forests. It is true, a grant of 
the entire coast, from Cape Graciaa to the Gulf of Darien, 
was made to Diego de Nicuessa, for purposes of colonization, 
within ten years after its discovery, but the expedition which 
he fitted out to carry it into effect, was wrecked at the mouth 
of the Cape, or Wanks river, which, in consequence hore, for 
many years, the name of Mio de loa Perdidos. 

From that time forward, the attinfion of Spain was too 
much absorbed with the other parts of her immense empire 
in America, to enable her to devote much care to this com- 
paratively unattractive shore. Her missionaries, inspired 
with religious zeal, nevertiieless penetrat^'d among its people. 


and feeble attempts were made to found establialimciits at 
Cape Gracias, and probably at other points on the coast. 
But the resources of the country were too few to sustain the 
latter, and the Indians themselves too debased and savage to 
comprehend the instructions of the former. 

The coast, therefore, remained in its prinutive condition, 
until tte advent of the buccaneers in the sea of the Antilles, 
whieh was about the middle of the seventeenth century. Its 
intricate bays and unknown rivers, furnished admirable 
places of refuge and concealment^ for the small and swift ves- 
sels in which they roved the seas. They made permanent 
staliona at Cape Gracias and Elnefields, from which they 
darted out like hawks on the galleons that sailed from Nom- 
bre de Dies and Carthagena, laden with the riches of Peru. 
Indeed Bluefields, the present seat of Mosquito royally, de- 
rives its name from Bleevelt, a noted Dutch pirate, who had 
his rendezvous in the bay of the same name. 

The establishment at Cape Gracias, however, seems to 
have been not only the principal one on this coast, but In 
the whole Oinblean ''ei It is mentioned m nearly every 
chapter of the na Tatives wh h the j irates have left us, of 
their wild and bl ody ad entu es Here they met to divide 
their spoil and to de de upon ne v expeLti ns. The relar 
tions which they ma nta ne 1 w fh the nat ves are Tvell de- 
scribed by oil Jo Es^emel n^ i D tch j ^te who wrote 
about 1670 — 

"Te directed on oour o wa 1 Tr^cis i I ra for tliitlier 
reaort many pirates who have friendly correspondence witii tlio lu- 
diana there. Tlie ouatom is, that when any pirates arrive, every onu 
has the Uberty to buy himself an Indian woman, at the price of it 
Jtnife, an old ase, wood-bill or hatchet. By this contract the woman 
is obliged to stay with lie pirate all the time he remans there. She 
serves him, meanwliile, with victuals of all sovls that the toiintn- iil- 



fords. The pirate haa also literty to go and hunt and fish where he 
pleases. Through this frequent conyerse with the piratea, the In- 
dianB aometiines go to aea with them for whole yeara, eo that many 
of them can apesk English." (Buccaneers of America, Lrmdon, VlOi, 
p. 165.) 

He also adds that they were extremely indolenit, " wander- 
ing up and down, without knowing or caring so much as to 
keep their bodies from the rain, except by a fow pahn- 
leaves," with " no other clothes than, an apron tied around 
their middle," and armed with spears "pointed with the 
teetli of crocodiles," and living chiefly on bananas, wild fruits 
and fish. 

We have a later account of thena by De Lusaan, another 
member of the fraternity of freebooters : 

"The Cape has long been inhabited by muiiisfera [mnlattoB] and 
negroes, both men and women, who have greatly multiplied Bines a 
Spanish ship, bound from Guinea, freighted with their fathers, was 
lost hero. Those who escaped from tiie wreck were conrteously re- 
ceived by the Miyasiidcs [Spanish Mascos, English Mosqmlos] who Jive 
hereabout. These Indians assigned their gueate a place to grub ap, 
and intermixed witii them. 

" The ancient Mausikks live ten or a dozen leagues to the wind- 
ward, at a place called Savibey [Sandy Bay]. They are very sloth- 
ful, and neither plant or sow but very little ; their wives performing 
aU the labor. As for their clotijiog, it is neither larger or more 
Bumptuotts than that of the mjilaskra of the Cape. There are but few 
among them who have a fixed abode, most of them being vagabonds, 
and wandering along the river side, with no other shelter than the 
la/arien-Uaf [palm-leaf], which they manage so that when the wind 
drives the rain on one side, they turn their leaf against it, behind 
which they lie. When they are inchned to sleep, they dig a bole in 
the sand, in which they put themsalvea," (De laissan's NuTraiive, 
London, 1704, p. 111.) 

The negroes wrecked from the Spanish 

Hosted byGoOgle 


L number \>y the cimanmes, or runaway slaves 
of the Spaoish settiementa ia tte interior ; and, intermingling 
with the IndiaJia, originated the mongrel race which now 
predominates on the Mosquito Shore. Still later, when 
the English planters from Jamaica attempted to establish 
themselves on the coast, they brought their slaves with 
tliem, who also eoHfiibuted to increase the negro element. 
What are called Mosquito IndiMis, therefore, are a mixed 
race, combining the blood of negroes, Indians, pirates, and 
JamMca traders.. 

Many of the pirates were Englishmen, and all Lad rela- 
tions more or less intimate with the early governors of 
Jamaica, who often shared their profits, in return for such 
indulgences as they were able to aiford. Indeed, it is al- 
leged that they were often partners in the enterprises of the 
buccaneers. But when the protracted wars with Spain, 
which lavored this state of things, were brought to a close, it 
became no longer prudent to connive at fi'eebootmg ; and, as 
a kind of intelligence had sprung up with the Mosquito 
Shore, they conceived the idea of obtaining possession of it^ 
on behalf of the British crown. Various plans to this end, 
drawn up by various individuals, were at this period pre- 
sented to the royal government, and by them, it would seem, 
referred to the governors of Jamaica, 

But the governors of that island had already taken the in- 
itiative. As early as 1687 one of the Mosquito chiefs bad 
been taken to Jamaica, for the purpose of having him place 
biscountryunderthe protection of England. Sir Hans Sloans 
has left an account of how, having escaped irom his keepers, 
"he pulled oft' the European clothes his friends had put on, 
and climbed to the top of a tree !" 

It seems, nevertheless, tiiat he received " a cocked hat, and 



a ridiculous piece of writing," which, according to i 

was a commi^on as king, " given hy his Graca, the Duke of 

Alhemarie, under the seal of the island 1" 

It was not, however, until l'?40, that an attempt was 
made to obtain a cession of the co^t, from the extraordinary 
monarcli thus created by the Duke of Alfaoinarlo. In that 
year Governor Trelawney wrot« to the Duke of Kewoastle, 
suggesting the expediency of rousing the Mosquito Indiana 
against the Spaniards, with whom the English were at war, 
and purposing an absolute occupation of their country. lie 
represented that there were about one hundred Englishmen 
there, " mostly such as eould live nowhere else" who might 
be brought t(^ther, reCnforced, and, by the help of the 
Mosquitos, finally induce the other Indiana to revolt, " and 
thus spread the insurrection from one part to another, till it 
should become general over the Lidiea, and drive the Span- 
iards entirely out" 

In pursuance of this scheme, Governor Trelawney commis- 
sioned one Robert Hodgson, to proceed to the Mosquito 
Shore, fully provided with every thing necessary to enable 
him to tamper with the Indians. The manaer in which he 
executed his instructions is naively told by Hodgson himself, 
in a letter addressed to the Governor. The following ei- 
tracts are fix>m the ori^nal letter, now in the possession oi 
Colonel Peter Force, of Washington. 

Sahdt Bat, April 8th, 1140. 
"Map it please Tour Bxcellenoy, — 

"I arrived at St. Andrews on the 4th of March, and sailed for 
Sandy Bay on the 8th, where I arrived on the 11th, but was pre- 
vented ^}J a Norther from going aahore till the 13th. 

" King Edward being informed of my arrival, sent me word that 
lie would see me next day, which he did, attentlGd by several of his 
captains. I read to him Tour Excellency's letter, and my own com- 



miasioa, and whan. I had esiplaiiiGd them hy an inteirrQlOT, I told 
them my eirand, and recommended to them to seek ail opportimitJes 
of cultiyating triendship and union with the neighboring Indian na- 
tions, and oBpecially sach as were under anbjeotdon to tile Spaniards, 
and of helping them to roeover their freedom. They approyed every 
thing I said, and appointed the leth to meet tho Governor, John Brit- 
on, and his eaptama at the same place, to licar what I had flirthor 

" On the 16th they all eame, except Admiral Dilly and Colonel 
Moi^sc, who were, like General Hobby and bia captains, at loo great 
a distance to be sent for, but their presence not being material, I pro- 
ceeded to explain to them iliat, as they had long acknowledged 
themselves subjects of Great Britain, the .Governor of JamMca bad 
Bent me to take possession of Iheir eountiy in His Majesty's name — 
liton aeked if they had any thing to object. Tbey answered, they had 
nothing to Say against il, but were very glad I had come ibc that pur- 
pose; EO I immediately set up the standard, and reducmg what I had 
said into articles, I asked them both jointly and separately, if they 
approved, and would abide by them. They unanimously declared 
they would. I had them tlien read over again, in aolcmn manner, 
under the colors, and, at the end of every article fired a gun, and 
concluded by cutting up a turl] and promiamg to defend their country, 
and procure for them eh asaistanoo from England in my power. 

" The formahty with which all this was done seems to have had a 
good effect upon them, 

"The articles I encloBe, and hope Tour Escelleocy wiE excuse so 
much ceremony ; fiir, as I had no certain information whether the 
country was ever taken possession of before, or ever daimed other- 
wise than by sending them down commissions, I thought tie more 
voluntary and dear tho cession was the better. * * « The king 
is very young, I believe not twenty, and is not much observed | but 
were be to be in Bngland or Jamaica a while, 'tis thought he VHJvid 
make a liopefal monanh enough, 

" On the 18ih tbe king, witii his captains, came of their own ac 
cord to consult about a proper plan to attack [the Spaniai'da], bnC 
hearing that Captain Jumper was expected from the other aide of the 
Cape, and neither the Governor, Admiral Dilly, nor Colonel Morgan 



tteiiig present, I Oiought it brat to defer it till they were summoneij. 
Tlie king bronght his motlier, and the captains their wives. I enter- 
tained them aa uaasl, but tiiere always comes suob a Ijain thai I 
sho'uid Tuwe hwl Siree m- Jtmr, instead of one pwicheon of rmit." « « « 

Hodgson then goes on to describe the appearance of one 
Andrew Stewart, a pirate, to whom the Indians had made a 
promise of assistance, from which he endeavored to dissuade 
them, in order to accompany him ; but tbe Indians finally 
agreed to attack tlie river Cocelijo to oblige Stewart, and 
San Juaa de Veragua to oblige Hodgson. He continues : — 

* * * "They intosicate themselves with a liquor made of 
honey, phie-apple, and cassava, and, if they avoid quarrels, which 
often happen, they are sure to have fine promiscuous doings among 
the ^rls. The old womea, I am told, have the liberty of chewing the 
cassava, before it is put iu, that they may have a chance in the gen- 
eral rape as vreR as the young ones. 

"I fell into one of their drunten-bouts by accident yesterday, 
when I found Admiral Dilly and Colonel Moi^an retailing my advice 
to them io little efffect, for most of them were too drunk to mind it, 
and so hideooely painted that I quickly left them to avoid being 
daubed all over, which is the compliment tiiey usually pay visitoia 

* * * "Theu- resentment of adultery has lost ila edge too much 
among them, which I have no doubt they are oblio^d to us ibr, aa 
also for the breach fp m m tl irbargai Thywll 
loll in their hammo k til th y )m t tar 1 th t rt p 
and go a turtUng in p t and if th y h t immedi in 93, 
and their happens tlmybttogththyfm dgn 
upon some Spanish Id t vra 

"The country is flu d j d good tto I tt th J" 

maica. ***Th Idis, thsidd tpparso 

averse to govemm t I "flipj d, d th th th ar 

tractable enough. Ilttkth btb 

many aa the author f th p j t m k th m t 

(Sib d) EH 



111 a subsequent letter, from Chiriqtii Lagoon, dated June 
21, 1740, nodgeon givos a fiirther account of his expedi- 
tion, and asks for some blank commi^iona for Mosquito 
admirals and generals, and also implores ihs Governor to 
send him out some men as a guard ; for, he saj^ " my life 
is in more danger from these Indians than from the Span- 
Previously to this mission of Hodgson, viz., on the 28th of 
Ocfoher, the Spanish Embassador in London had made com- 
plmnts that the incursions of the Zamhos and Indians of the 
Mosquito Shore, on fie adjacent Spanish settlements, were 
" at the instigation and under the protection of the English 
of Jamaica, who have a commerce with them, and give them 
in exchange for the captive Indiana whom they purchase for 
slaves, firearms, powder, shot, and other goods, contrary to 
the natural rights of those people." 

The " cesaon" of the Mosqmto Shore, thus procured by 
Hodgson, was followed up by occupation. Several Jamaica 
planters establiahed themselves there, and Hodgson shortiy 
afterward received the appointment of " Superintendent of 
the Mosquito Shore." 

In 1744 an order was issued in Council, dispatching a cer- 
tain number of troops from Jamaica to the Mosquito Shore, 
and in 1748 another order for sending a supply of ordnance 
to the " new settiements" established there. In fact, every- 
thing indicated the purpose of a permanent occupation of 
the countiy. The Spaniards remonstrated, and in 17SO-51 
threatened a forcible espiUsion of the EnglLsh, whereupon 
Trelawney instructed Hodgson to represent to them, that 
"the object of keeping a superintendent among ike Indians 
was lo restrain them in their hostilities against the Span- 
iards !" For a time the Spaniards were deceived, and even 



went so far as to confer on Hodgson the title of Colonel, for 
the services which he professed to render to them. They, 
however, finally discovered his daphcity, and made arrange- 
mente to carry out their threat 

This not only alarmed the settlers, but also Governor 
Knowles, who had succeeded Trdawnoy in Jamaica. Ho 
opened a correspondence with the Captain-General of Guate- 
mala for the cessation of hostilities, till he could hear ii'om 
England, whither he wrote that the whole Mosquito affair was 
" a Job," and that if Hodgson were not checked or recalled, "he 
would involve the nation in difficulties," and that the " In- 
dians were so perplexed that tiiey did not know what part to 
take." A little later the Indians themselves took up arms 
against the English, heing discontented with the treatment 
which they had received. 

These things did not escape the notice of Spain, and had 
their influence ia hringing about the troubles which were 
ended by thetreaty of Paris, in 1763, by which Great Britain 
agreed to demolish all the fortifications which she had erects 
ed, not only oa the Mosquito Shore, but in all " other places 
in the territory of Spain, in that part of the world." This 
treaty, nevertheless, did not have the effect of entirely term- 
inating English intrigue and aggression on the Mosquito 
Shore and elsewhere, and its provisions were consequently 
revived, and made more explicit and stringent by the subse- 
quent treaty of 1783, This treaty provided that all the 
" EngUsh settJements on the Spanish continent" should be 
abandoned ; but, on the pretext that " tho Mosquito Shore 
was not part of the Spanlsk continent, but of the American, 
continent," the English managed to evade its provisions, and 
to keep up their connection with that coast, as before. This 
piece of duplicity led to severe reclamations on the part oi 


Spain, which were only settled ty the supplementary treaty 
of 1^86, which stipulated that 

"HisEritacnicM^esty's subjectSiand other colonists who bavB en- 
joyed the protection of England, shall eyacuate tlie coontry of the 
Mosquitos, aa well aa the cootinent in general, and the idands adja- 
cent wittmit excepliOD," etc. And that " If there should still remain 
any parsons so daiii^ as to preaame, by entering into the interior 
country, to obstruct the evacuaHou agreed upon, His Britannic Majes- 
ty, so far from affording thenj any succor or protection, will disavow 
them in the most solemn manner," etc, etc 

The Eaglisli, nevertheless, under authority of another arti- 
rle of this treaty, were allowed to cut logwood, within a 
certain accurately-defined territory on. the coast of Yucatan, 
now toowH as " Belize," or " British Honduras." But they 
were strictly forhidden to make permanent establishments, 
erect fortiflcataons, or organize any fonu of government ; nor 
was the permission thus accorded to be construed as in any 
way derogating from the "sovereign territorial rights of the 
King of Spain." Yet ftoiu thia simple permission to cut 
wood, thus hedged round with solemn treaty stipulations. 
Great Britain, by a series of encroachments and aggressions 
has come to airogatc absolute sovereignty, not only over Be- 
lize and a wide expanse of adjacent territory, but also over 
the large islands of Roatan, Guanaja, etc., in tlie Bay of Hon- 
duras, which have been organized as colonies of the British 
crown I 

From 1786 forward. Great Britain ceased to hoW any 
open relations with the Mosquito Indiaais, until the decline 
of the power of Spain, and the loss of her American posses- 
sions. In tte interval, the governors of the provinces of Cen- 
tral America had made various estabhshmenis on the Mos- 



quito Shore, at Cape Graciaa, and at Blueflelds, aad had 
erected a fort for the protection of the harbor of San Juan, 
at the mouth of the river of the eaine name. 

But when the country passed into the hands of the com- 
paratively feeble states of Central America, whom it was sup- 
posed could offer no effectual reastance to aggre^ion, the 
English revived their schemes of aggrandisement on the Mos- 
quito Shore. And while these stat^ were occupied with the 
questions incident to their new political organization, agents 
were dispatched to the coast, from Jamaica and Belize, to 
tamper again with the Indians, and to induce them to reject 
the authority of the republics which had succeeded to the 
rights of Sp^n, In. this they seem to have been, to a certain 
degree, successful. Neither rum, nor commi^ons as kings, 
admirals, generals, and governors, were wanting, to operate 
upon tbe weakness of the savagea. " A regalia," says Mac- 
gregor, " consisting of a silver-gilt crown, a sword, and scep- 
tre ot moientev^lu were sent out to lend dignity and 
j^i'ml II to the restored dynisty of Mosquito' A lavage 

hint ur head n an who suited the purp ses of the Jamaicw 
W^iwicLa wat j. tch'-l ufon, taken to Behze and formdly 

c wned Put 1 e turned out 1 idly In the Imiguage of 
Macgregor in hih Report to the Bntish Parliament, " he 
combine 1 the bad qualifies of the European and Creole with 
the VICIOUS pro|ensttie3 of the Sambo ani the ^jn lou^nes's 
ofthelndiin He was k Up 1 in a Irunken Iriwl n 18 i 
in 1 was lucc^edMl lyh halfbrotltr Pol ert But it va'i 
soon foun I t] at Rolert was in the Spam h interest, and L 
was auiorlingly set aaide bj the Bnti'ih agent^ who toik 
into fa* or a Sambo named (jeorge Freden t. But he 
t f r ved to b an mdiflerent tool and either d ed, oi was 
li ppel t r 1 otler Simb wlo ww allei X} the 1 igh 



Bounding name of " Sohert Charles Frederick^'' and wto 
promised (« answer every purpose. 

Hia " coronation" wM effected at Belize, on tte 2Sd of 
April, 1825, upon which solemn occasion a number of so- 
called chiefe were got together, under the seductive promise 
of a " big dimik." The ceremonies ■which look place have 
heen described by a British subjeet, who wm an. eye-witness 
of the proceedings. His picture needs no heightening to 
make it irresistibly ludicrous ! 

" On the previous evening cards of invitation were seat to the dif- 
ferent raerchants, requesting their attendance at the courthouse 
early in the morning. At this place the king, dn^sed in a British 
major's naiform, made his appearance; and his chiefe similarly 
clothed, but with sailors' trowaers, were ranged around the room. A 
more motley group can hardly be imagined. Here an epanlett* 
decorated a herculeim shoulder, tempting \\& dignified owner to view 
his loss fcored neighbor wiHi triumphant glanoas. There a want- 
ing button displayed a gre^y olive skia under the uniform of a cap- 
tain of infantry. At one aide a cautious noble might be Boen, carefully 
braced up to the chin, like a modem dandy, defying the moat pene- 
iratir^ eyo to jwoue him shirtless ; while the mathematJcaJ movements 
of a fourth, panting under such light habiliments, espressed tlie fear 
and trembling witli which he awaited some awful accident. 

" The order of proceaaion being arranged, the cavalcade moved to- 
ward the dmreh ; hia Mosquito Majesty on horseback, supported on 
ike light and left by the two senior British officers of the setUemenl, 
and hia chieiS following on foot two by two. On its arrival bis 
Majesty was placed in a diair, near the altar, and the Bnghsh coro- 
nation service was read by the chaplain to the colony, who, on ttiis 
occasion, performed tlie part of the Archbiahop of Canterbury. 
Vben he arrived at this part, ' And all the people said, let the King 
live forever, long live the King, God save 
the port, aceording to a previous signal, flr 
rising, cried out, ' Long live King Bobert I' 

"Hia Majesty seemed ehieay occupied in admiring his finery, £ 



etlar hia anointing, expressed his gratifleation by repeatedly thtuBt- 
ii^ hia hands through iiia thick, bushy hair, and applyii^ Ma finger, 
to his nose — in this expressive manner indicating hia de%ht at this 
part of the servica 

" Before, however, hia obieia could aweai aJlepanoe to their mon- 
arch, it was neoessary that tiey sliould pro&as Cliristianity ; and, ac- 
cordingly, with slianie be it recorded, they were baptized ' in the 
name of the Father, Son, and Holy GhostI' They displayed total ig- 
noranoe of the meaning of this ceremony ; and when asked to giyo 
their names, took the titles of Lord Rodney, Lord Nelson, or aome 
other celebrated officer, and aeemed grievously disappomted when 
told Uaat they could only he baptized by ample Ohristiaa names. 

"After Has solemn mockery was conoluiicd, the whole assembly 
adjourned to a laj^ school-room to eat Uie coronation dinner, when 
these poor creaturea all got intoxicated witli rum I A suitable con- 
clusion to a farce, as blasphemous and wicked as ever di^racad a 
Chiistdan country." (Zhimi's Cental AmetiM, pp. 26, 37. — 1828.) 

After having been thus invested with Iho MOTquito purple, 
" King Kobert Charles Frederick" waa conducted bact to the 
Mosquito Shore, and turned loose to await the further devel- 
opmeat of Brilish designs. After the unctious ceremonies at 
Belize, he seems to have taken the proceeding in earnest, 
and to have deluded himself with tie belief that he was really 
a king ! In this character, and moved ttereto by the sug- 
gestions of divers scheming traders, and the powerful incen- 
tives of gay cottons and rum, ho proceeded, of his sovereign 
will and pleasure, to make grants to the aforesaid traders, of 
large portions of Ma alleged dominions. These grants were 
not only so extensive as to cover the entire shore, but con- 
veyed the absolute sovereignty over them to the various 
grantees — Rennick, Shepherd, Haly, and others. 

When these proceedings came to the ears of the Governor 
of Jamaica, and the Superintendent of Beliae, who had cre- 
ated " His Mosquito Majesty" for tlieir own use and purposes, 


ttcy created great alarm. Says Macgregor, " it appears that 
tliese grants were made without the knowledge of the British 
agent, who tad usually been residing on the coast, to keep 
up ike connection, with Midland." He adds that " upon their 
coming to the knowledge of the British government, they 
were very properiy disallowed," 

Not only were they disallowed, but a vessel of war was 
sent to the coast to cateli " Robert Chariea Frederick," and 
take him to Belize, where he would be unable to do more 
miscLief. This was done, but "His Majesty" could not 
endure t!ie restrajuts of civilization — he pined away, and 
died. But before this lamentable catastrophe took place, he 
was induced to affix " Ms mark" to a document styled " a 
Will," in which it was provided that the affairs of his king- 
dom should be administered by Colonel McDonald, the Su- 
perintendent of Belize, as Eegent, during the minority of Ms 
heir ; that McDonald should be guardian of his children ; 
and, with reference t« the spiritual wants of Ms beloved sub- 
jects, " the United Church of England and Ireland should be 
the established religion of the Mosquito .nation forever '." 
Sainted Kobert I 

Upon the death of '' Eobort Charles Frpd^rii-k," hia urn, 
" G«orge WHliam Clarence," ihe present incumbent of the 
Mosquito throne, was duly proclaimed " Kmg" by the Re- 
gent McDonald, and his colleagues. His first act, under their 
direction, was the relocation of all the grants which his Ei- 
ther had made to the traders, on the groimd that the royal 
Eobert Charles was dnmk when he made them, and that 
they had been given without a consideration. An agent was 
then appointed to take charge of this tender scion of royal- 
ty, at Bluefields, whore the latter still remains, in complete 
subjection to his maatijrs, who direct all his acts, or rather 



compel his endorsement of their own. From 1841 up to 1848 
the proceedings of tJie Englisli agents, in developing their 
policy in respect to the Mosquito Shore, and in preparing the 
way for its final a^regafciott to the British crown, rise be- 
yond the scope of sober history or serious recital, and could 
only be properly illustrated by the appropriate pens of Chari- 
vari, or of Punch. 

All these proceedings were firmly and earnestly protested 
against by the Central American States, who, however, re- 
ceived no satisfactory repUes to their remonatrances. They 
were, furthermore, too much occupied with their own interior 
dissenaons to undertake any effectual r^istance to the aggres- 
sions of the English agents. In tkis emergency they addressed 
an appeal to tie civilized nations of Europe, and a particular 
and fervent one to the United States, for its interference 
in behalf of their clear territorial rights and sovereignty. 

Before time was afforded for action on these appeals, the 
termination of the war with Mexico, and the purchsee of 
California by the United States, precipitated the course of 
EngUsh intrigue and encroachment on the Mosquito Shore. 
The British government was not slow to perceive that the 
acquisition of California would give to the long-cherished 
project of establishing a ship-canal between the Atlantic and 
Pacific Oceans, a new, practical, and immediate importance, 
and rightly foresaw that it would soon come to attract a 
large share of public attention in the United States. Orders 
were at once issued for the seiKure of the Port of San Juan 
de Nicaragua, the only possible eastern terminns for a canal 
by way of the river San Juan, and the Nicaragaan lakes. 
This port had always been in the undisputed occupation both 
of Spain and Nicaragua ; not a single Mosquito Indian had 
ever dwelt there, or within fifty miles of it, in any direction. 



yet, under pretext that it constituted " part of the proper do- 
mmions of Ws Mosquito Majesty, of wliom Great Britain was 
the lawful protector," two British vessels-of-war entered the 
harbor in the month of January, 1848, tore down tlie Nicara- 
guan flag, raised that of " Mosquito," turned out the Nieai'ar 
guan officers, and filled their places with Englishmen. This 
done, they sailed away ; but no sooner did the intelligence 
of the event reach the interior, ttan the Nicaraguan govern- 
ment sent down a small force, expelled iho intruders, and 
resumed possession. The British forces, considerably aug- 
mented, thereupon returned. Tfie Nicarj^ans, unable to 
oppose them, retired up the river, and erected some rude 
fortifications on its banis. They were followed by an Eng- 
lish detachment, and finally routed, with great loss. Hostil- 
ities were further prosecuted, until fie !Nicaraguans, power- 
less gainst the forces of Great Britain, consented fo an ar- 
mistice, which provided tkat they skould not disturb San 
Juan, or attempt to reoccupy the port, ponding the negotia- 
tions which, it was foreseen, would follow upon the seizure. 
All attempts to induce them to relinquish their claims of 
sovereignty over the port, were, however, unsuccessful. 

By this high-handed act, committed in time of profound 
peace. Lord Palmerston, who had directed it, fondly hoped 
to secure for Great Britain the control of the then-supposed 
only feasible means of communication between the seas. He 
had grasped, as he thought, the tey of the Central American 
Isthmus. English officers were at once installed in San 
Juan, and a " Consul General" appointed to reside there, 
with the most absolute dictatorial powers, supported by what 
was called a " police force," irom Jamaica, and the almost 
constant presence of a British vessel of war in the harbor. 

This act was sbortiy followed by the attempted seizure of 



the Island of Tigre, and the Gulf of Fonseca, the e 
■western terminus of the proposed canal, on the Pacific. This 
attempt waa thwarted by Ameiican diplomacy in that quarter. 
The results of American interference are too recent and 
weU-known to need recapitulation. An American company 
obtmned the privileges of a transit through Nicaragua, and 
it was not long before American steamers began to run to 
San Juan. A large number of American citizens established 
themselves at the port, where they soon succeeded in suffo- 
cating British influence. They took the direction of affairs 
in tieir own hands, adopted a constitution, and organized a 
regular and stable government, pending the final settlement 
of tlie various questions concerning Central America, then in 
course of negotiation between the United States and Great 
Britain. In this condition the place remained, well-ordered, 
and affording the fullest protection to person and property, 
until the month of June of last year, when, under a misrepre- 
sentation of facts, and the gi'oasest perversions of truth, in- 
spired by unscrupulous personal hoatihty, the United States 
government was induced to issue such orders in respect to it, 
to a naval officer of more zeal and ambition of notoriety 
than either wisdom or discretion, aa resulted in its bombard- 
ment and total destruction. Since this act, which has met 
the unanimous reprehension of the country, the town h^ 
been partly rebuilt Mid re-occupied, and now maintwns mi 
extraordinary and most anomalous condition, which can not 
long endure vrithout resulting in serious compMcations, The 
United States insists, and justly, that it pertains to Nicara- 
gua, and that all authority which may be exercised there, 
not derived from that State, is an usurpation ; while, on the 
other hand, without insisting on the sovereignty of Mosquito, 
Great Britain denies it to Nicaragua, ^d prohibits her from 



attemptiBg to exercise jurisdiction over it. Meantime San 
Juan and its people are left helplessly in a political Limbo, 
suffering witncsaes of their inability to servo two masters. 
The obvious, and probably the only peaceable solution of this 
complication, is the voluntary establishment of San Jiiau as 
a. free port by Nicaragua, imder the joint protection of Eng- 
land and the United States. 

Since 1849, nearly the whole interest of the "Mosquito 
question" has been centered in San Juan. It is true, Messrs. 
Webster and Crampton agreed upon a privet, defining the 
limits of Mosquito jurisdiction, and establishing a de facto 
Sambo monarchy on the coast, recognized, if not guaranteed, 
both by the United States and Great Britain. But the pr<yet 
found no fevor in this country, and was, moreover, indig- 
nantly rejected by Nicaragua. How far subsequent nego- 
ti^ons have tended to bring affairs to a settlement, remains 
to be disclosed. 

It is nevertheless certain that, while Nicaragua has fretted, 
the United States blustered, and Great Britain silently and 
sullenly relaxed her gripe, aa cbcumstances have rendered it 
necessary, the "Kingdom of Mosquito" has imdergone no 
change, but has kept on the even tenor of its way — a happy 
ihustration of the conservative and peaceful tendencies of 
well-established monarchical institutions I Under all the 
complications of the modem time, the royal Clarence, the 
hospitable Drummer, and the bibulous Slam, ignorant of the 
exalted place which they occupy in the instructions, and dis- 
patches, and notes of conference, wherewith the Slama and 
Drummers of other lands, do gravely amuse themselves, still 
cherish the well-being of their beloved and fellow-subjects, 
who, in turn, hunt, and fish, and cultivate the " big drunk" 
as of yore ! E. 



The subjoined extracts, from various publislied worka and 
memoirs of acknowledged authenticity, and from ori^nal 
documents, exhibit tbe condition of the people of the Mos- 
quito Shore, their habits and modes of life, from tbe year 
1700 up to the present time. It will be seen that few if 
any changes have taken place for tlie better, in this iong 
period of a hundred and fifty years. 

Fmm, Dampi^'s "Voyage aroimdSie Worl^" London, Itll, p. 7-11. 
" The Mosquito Indians are but a email nation or femily, 
and not a hundred men of them in number, inhabiting on 
the main, on the north side, near Cape Gracias k Dios, * * 
They are coveted by the privateers as hunters, * * They 
have no form of government simong them, but take the Gov- 
ernor of Jamaica to be one of tiie greatest princes in tbe 

Extrada from "Some acconnt of the Mosquito Tiirilory, witteit m 
I'IST, white that country was in Ute 2>ossemon of the British, by Col, 
Robert Hodgson, formsriy Mis Modesty's Cmmaander-in- Chief Sapsr- 
intoidenl, and Agent on (he Mosquito Shore, 
This Colonel Hodgson- was son of the Captain Ilodg- 
BOn who was sent to tlie Mosquito Coast, in 1740, by 



Governor Trelawney. He states that the popiilatioa of tte 
shore, at the time of his writing (1757), exclusive of abor- 
igines was : " Whites 154, Mestizoes and Mulattoes 170, In- 
dian and Negro slaves 800 — total 1124," He observes that 
ihe " whites are without laws," but, nevertheless, living with 
great regularity ; and thai, if tbe number of white children 
is small, " it may be imputed to most of the women having 
lived with so much freedom formerly," He then proceeds to 
give a very clear and accurate account of the country, its 
products, and people, ss follows ; — 

" The fe,ee of the country is various. The sea-coast^ from 
Cape Cameron to Blueflelds, is low and level, but the land 
rises gradually up any of the large, feir rivers with wbioh it 
abounds, and whose regular flowery banks form beautifiil 
avenues, and about twenty miles up is high enough for aay 
purpose. But the lowland is full of swamps. B'ear the 
coast are several largo lagoons, whose length, for tbe most 
pait, is parallel thereto, and are so joined to each other by 
narrow neeks of water, that half this distance may be gone 
inland, upon smootb water ; in the flood times this may be 
called a range of islands, lying close in with the m^n, but 
the land is not much overflowed. To the westward Mid 
soufliward of the above capes, the land is high, almost to the 
sea-side, (h,e hills rising gently like the swell of the sea. The 
greater part of the higher land is covered with large woods ; 
but the lowland consists chiefly of large, level lawns, or savan- 
nahs, as they are called, with scarce a tree, and some of them 
very extensive. The whole country is remarkably well watered 
by many fine rivers, which have a long couree ; by innumer- 
able smaller ones, and by creeks Mid lagoons ; but all the 
rivers have the inconvenience of shoal bars at their mouths. 
The soil of the high woody lajid is the best, and is every 



where oxcelloat ; being either a deep black mould, or ricli 
brick clay, "What low woody ground is mfersperwecL amoBg 
the lawns is not so good , but the inhabitanfa who titherfo 
Lave chosaa it for their plantations, have found that it will 
produce what they want very well The savannah lands are 
the worst; the soil is hght sand mixed with some nch mould, 
but might be greatly improved and made veiy useM. At 
present they are used for pasturage. The swamps or 
marshes are very rich soil ; and if the wood which grows on 
them were cut down, they would either dry up, or, with a 
little more pains, might he drained." — P. 21. 

"Indigo grows all about the country, of the same kind 
with that of the province of Guatemala, which is esteemed 
the best in the world. 

" Cotton grows every where, in the worst land ; the staple 
ia remarkably good. There are three species of that kind 
which is manufactured, one of which ia a light reddish 
brown, and looks like silk," — P. 23. 

" Sugar, of which the little that ia planted grows remarkar 
bly well in this country, which is much better adapted for it 
than any of the islands, on account of the great convenience 
of streams of water for such works and for carriage ; the 
country not being subject to severe droughts, and free fiom 
hurricanes." — P. 29. 

"The climate ia very eenaibiy cooler than that of Jammca, 
and very healthy, on which account people from that island 
sometimes come hither. Indeed, the disorders in both aro 
of the same nature ; but here they are not near so frequent 
or BO violent as in that island. During the north winds the 
se^on may, with propriety, be called winter. 

" The wind most common is the sea-breeze, or trade-wind. 
It blows fi'esh in June and July, but very moderate in April, 



May, August, and September, particularly in April, and from 
fie middle of August to the latter part of September. But 
from, that time to the end of October, a westerly wind pre- 
vails along the coast to the westward of Cape Graoias, and a 
southerly one along the coast to the south of it ; after which, 
to the end of February, at the full and change of the moon, 
strong north winds may be expected, veering roimd from east 
to west, and continuing about a week, yet is scarce ever so 
strong as to prevent vessels from beating to windward, and, 
if thoy choose it, getting in to Bonacca. * * * The land 
wind blows seven leagues off to sea, although sometimes 
very weak. * * * The month of March is very uncer- 
tain. The seasons are much the same as in other parls of 
tie continent. In tie rainy se^on, scarce a day passes 
without a heavy shower ; the first commonly begins in June, 
and lasts about six weeks, in which tdme the rivers rise con- 
siderably, and are very rapid. The second begins ahout the 
middle of October, and lasts about two months. When they 
are over, the vegetation is surprisingly quick, and there is 
the further advantage of frequent, intermediato, gentle 
The harbors on this coast do not an- 
lere would be for them. On the bar of 
Brewer's Lagoon there is seven feet water; often more on 
that of Black River. On those of Carataska and Warina 
Sound, nine feet; Great River and Pearl Cay, eight 
feet. * * * 

"The natives or Mosquito people are of two breeds, one 
the original Indians, and the other a mixture of those and 
negroes, caUed Sambos. The latter originated from the 
cargoes of two Dutch ships filled with negroes, which were 
cast away on the coaat^ where, after several battles, the ne- 
groes had wives and ground given to them ; since which they 



tavo greatly multiplied, and there is now no distinction be- 
tween them in their rights and customs." — P. 40. 

" Ttough they are fo all intents and purposes one people, 
yet they are not so properly a single state as three united, 
each ofwhich is independent of the others. 

"I. Those who inhabit the southern extremity lii] Erag- 
man's, and are mostly the original Indians ; their head-man 
is called Governor. 

" n. Those who extend to about Little Blaot Elver, and 
are mostly Sambos ; their chief is called King. 

" HL ThMe westward, who are Indians and Sambos 
mixed ; their head man is called Genei al 

"The power of thew three headmpn is neirly equal, with 
a small difference m tavor ot the king, who is a little sup- 
ported by the ■whites for the sake of hit n\me But none 
of these chiefs have much more than i np^itive yoice, and 
never do any thing witJiout consulting a Louncil of old men 

"* * * The Img has hti eommtsston or patent for 
being called soft o>a the Gove) nor of Jamaica And all the 
other chief people have commissions (adnurals and captains) 
from His Majesty's Supeimtendent , and, upon the strength 
of these, always asiume much more authority than thty could 
witb.out. However, it is at best such that it may be more 
properly said, that their directions are followed, than their 
orders obeyed ; for even the young men are above seiring 
the ting, and will toll him that they axe as free as he is, so 
that if he had not a few slaves of other Indians, he would be 
obliged to do all his own work." — P. 49. 

Hodgson next speais of tie ravages of small-pox and 
drunkenness among them, and concludes : 

" * * * Hence, the number of Mosqiiito people, in their 
present way of life, probably never exceeded tm or eleven 



thousand. * * * From fiie best computation, they a 
atove seven tkowsand souk." 

George Gbulmer^ &t.sietary vj B)itid of Dnde From MSS. Mies 
jfiw lisii ijf Boaid 
"The present niiinl>pr of tJie Mosquito Indians is nn- 
knowE, It happened among them, piobiUy, as among the 
North Amencan Indians, that tiiey dechned in numl>ers and 
degenerated in spirit in proportrion nearly as the white peo- 
ple settled among them. The Mosijuitos, Uke the Caribs 
of San Domingo, consist of three distJnct races : the aho- 
ri^nes, the descendants of certain African negroes who were 
formerly wrecked on the coast, and a geaeration containing 
the blood of both. If the Spaniards earnestly desired to 
destroy them, they could not, I think, make a very vigor- 
ous resistance. They are chiefly defended by the rivers, 
morasses, and woods of the country, and, perhaps, st^Il more 
by the diseases incident to the climate." 


From Roberts^ Narrative of Voyages and Bkoarsions on ihe East 
Coast of Gentiral America. 

" la the Mosquito Shore, a plurality of mistresses is con- 
sidered no disgrace. It is no uncommon circumatance for a 
British subject to have one or more of these native women 
at different parts of the coast. They have acquired great 
influence through them. 

" I have never known a marriage celebrated among them ; 
these engagements are mere tacit agreements, sometimes 
broken by mutual consent. The children here and at Bliie- 
flelda are in general baptized by the captains of trading ves- 



sels from Jammca, wb.o, on their annual visit to tiie coast, 
perform this coiomony, with any thing. but reverence, on all 
who have been bom during their absence ; aud many of 
tliem are indebted to these men for more than baptism. In 
proof of this, I could enumerate m.or6 than a dozen ac- 
knowledged children of two of these captains, who seem to 
have adopted, without scruple, the Indian idea of polygamy 
to its fullest extent By this hcenfjous and immoral con- 
duct, they have, Eowovor, so identified themselves with the 
natives, as to obtain a sort of monopoly of the sale of goods. 
They have also insinuated themselves into the good graces 
of some of the leading men, so that their arrival is hailed 
with joy by all dames, aa the season of festivity, revelry, 
christening, and hcentionsnesa '." 

Mwn " Jfepori of the Com/mUsioTiers of Legal Inquiry m iJie case of 

the Indians of Himduras," ordered by the Souse of Goimiums "to be 

priated," July 10, 1828. 

" The Mosquito Indiana are a barbarous and cruel people, 
in the lowest state of civilization, and under the most abject 
subjection to their kings or chie&. They are hostile to all the 
other Indian nations, who are a mild, timid, and peaceful 
race, and who appear to live under patriarchal governments. 
* * * Differences so striking between nations of the same 
continent, and divided by no inaccessible barriers, have 
given rise to a conjecture, confirmed by concurrent tradition, 
that the Mosquitos had a distinct origin. This tradition 
states, that a ship loaded with negro men from Africa was, 
at a very remote period, wrecked on the Mosquito shore ; 
that these negroes seiaed upon the male inhabitants of the 
sea-coasts, massacred them, and then, by intermixture with 



tte Indian women, altered the race and liabits of £he nation. 
This tradition is confirmed hj the physical appearance of the 
Mosqnitoa, who indicate this mixture between the Indian 
and negro," 

JajlKS Woods, for sirms time a residmt on Sie MosquUo Shore. 

la the year 1836, one James Woods, a native of Ipswich, 
England, went out to Central America, under the auspices of 
a " Colonization Company." On his return, he pubhshed an 
account of his adventures, to serve as a warning against 
other companies. He resided awhile at Cape Gracias, in 
charge of a store of provisions, rum, etc. He says : 

" The rum was a dangerous thing in the store, for the In- 
dians will Hll a man for a glass of rum ; and there were 
only five Europeans at the Cape, I had a demijohn of 
brandy for the Indian ting, but he was gone up the river. 
He and his brother wore taken from the Mosquito shore 
when young, and carried to the island of Jamaica, where 
they were taught to read and writfl the English language. 
After staying there a number of years, they were brought 
bact to the shore. One was made ting, the other a gen- 
era], and although brought up in a civilized state, yet they 
returned to the wild and savage condition in which their 
people live, getting drunk, and giving themselves up to the 
most disgusting habits. No sooner had the king heard that 
I had a demijohn of brandy for him, than he set out to re- 
turn home. He went to the house of a Frenchman, named 
Bouchet, who came down to the beach and told me his 
majesty wanted to see me. I went to the house, where the 
ting was lying on a bed, rather unwell. I made my com- 
pliments to him, and (isted him how he did. He told me 



1, kumi. 

2, ■«il 

3, niupa 
4(2+2,) nalwa! 
5_ matisip 

g matlilkabe 

7 (6 + 1), matlalLabe pun kumi. 

8 (6+2), matlalkabe pun wal 

9 (6 + 3), maflalkabe pun niupi. 

10 (5X2), matawalsip 

11 (5X2 + 1), ^lafwil'app«r^kunli. 

20 (20xl)r iwaniibka tumi 

21 (20X1+1). iwanai^la tuimpurakumi. 

( iwanajika kumi pura mata- 
so (20X1 + 10), J ,,,^j, 

(■ m 'luii'ia kumi pura matawal- 
37(20x1+10+6 + 1) ] =ip I'lr' mitl'^lkabe pura 

' kumi 
40 (20X2), inanai-ki nal 

100 (20x5), iwaTiaiiki mitsij.