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Badajoz, and were returning to Truxillo, where their mother resided, while their father and elder brothers were away with the army. They had numerous little presents to bestow on reaching home, and looked forward to the time of their arrival there with feelings of perfect ecstasy. The chief man in the party was a commissary of the army. He was plainly dressed, had large coarse features and a Roman nose, a voice of great compass and power, both in singing and talking, and uniting with a good share of intelligence and sound common @sense, a talent for fun, and a vein of dry native humor, that was wholly irresistible. Indeed, one had need but to look upon his face, and see the curious working of the muscles there, and hear the comical tones of his voice when a humorous mood was on him, though not a word which he said were understood, and not to laugh heartily was entirely out of the question. He was a deadly enemy to any thing like spleen. He told stories, made ludicrous confessions to a priest who was with us, imitated to the life the preaching of the various classes of friars, acted the part of an opera singer, giving his voice a thousand varied modulations, and ogling and sighing, poured forth his plaintive and amorous strains to the priest, as his Prima Donna and the object of his dearest affection. The priest himself, who was a young man, had the pale sickly air of a student, and at times complained of a violent headache, which gave me occasion to read him a lecture on his free use of aqua-ardente, as the probable cause of his sufferings. He admitted the truth of what was said, but, with thousands of other deluded men, preferred to bear the evil rather than forego the short-lived pleasure caused by ardent spirits. He had studied at Toledo, and, like the mass of the Catholic clergy whom I have met with abroad, knew something of Latin, but was entirely ignorant of both Hebrew and Greek.
The Mayoral or Conductor, who went with us the whole journey, was named Francisco. He said that he was not yet sixty years old, but hard labor and exposure to the weather had given him the care-worn face and stooping form of a man of seventy. Still he was hardy and active, and would climb the long hills, or move along the level road beside his mules, with a kind of automaton trot, for miles together, and scarce seem conscious of fatigue. Like his father before him, he had followed the road in the grades of postilion and mayoral from his early boyhood, and was familiar with every part VOL. I.
of Spain. His face and general demeanor would have done credit to the most devout of the Puritans; but, when excited by mirth or passion, his eye had the genuine Spanish glow and fire about it. His voice, too, when he was enraged, had a deep and powerful guttural sound, which it made one tremble to hear. He wore velvet small clothes, and one of those jackets common to postilions and mayorals all over Spain, with transverse stripes of blue, white, yellow, and scarlet cloth, from the elbow down, and a large bouquet, or flower-pot, or tree, of the same colors and materials on the back. He was the Nestor of the road, knew every man, woman, and child, and ordered the servants at the posadas to do what he wished, as if he was their lord and master. He also acted as our purser and caterer, and forming ourselves into a family, we left our meals and the settlement of our bills entirely to his direction. During each day he purchased rabbits, and other articles of food, of the peasants whom we met, and thus secured for us much better fare than the wretched posadas would have furnished.
Our Galera, or carriage, was truly a strange article. It had four wheels, but there was not a board about it save those used for seats. The body resembled a cage for wild animals, the sides being made of perpendicular rounds of wood, about a foot from each other, and confined at each end by a strong horizontal bar. It was lined with strong grass, matting, or sackcloth, extending down to within a foot of the ground, thus forming under the whole carriage a huge bag or basket for carrying baggage. The covering was made of long canepoles, fastened side by side, and reaching “ fore and aft," beyond the length of the carriage, so as to give the two extremities a resemblance to the bonnets worn by Quaker and Methodist women. Within the carriage two seats extended along each side, about half its length, while beyond these was the bed of the old lady. There, she and her maid, and the two young ladies, by dint of close stowing, managed to sleep during our night travels, while the rest of us stretched ourselves upon the benches, or between them, as best we could. By day we discussed a thousand subjects, and numberless questions were put to me respecting our country, and especially our religious belief and usages. The old lady, who was quite bigoted, and the priest, thought me somewhat tainted with heresy, — but the fact that I had seen the Pope, and some other circumstances, gave me more favor in their eyes than I deserved.
Our carriage was drawn by eight or nine mules, these animals being almost universally used for labor in Spain, in preference to horses, as being more hardy, while, at the same time, their keeping is less expensive. The mayoral was assisted by postilions, who went each but a single stage of ten or twelve miles. They were jovial fellows, and sang and cracked their whips in high glee, as they ran along beside the mules ; or, with chiding tone, calling the different animals by their names, and at the same time giving them a 'blow, or casting stones at them, they kept them all lively and brisk. Most of them had been robbed, and I often amused myself by climbing a hill beside them, and listening to the tale of their adventures. Thus, altogether, we formed a truly singular caravan; and the strange variety of original and strongly marked characters and incidents which one meets with in Spain, while they throw much light on the peculiar traits and customs of the people, at the same time make it one of the most interesting countries in the world to the observing and intelligent traveller.
The first night of our journey we spent at Merida, a place noted in ancient history, and in the annals of the Peninsular war. The bridge there across the Guadiana, was blown up by the British, in order to prevent the advance of the French. Merida, to which the title of Emerita Augusta was given, was the most flourishing of the Roman colonies in Spain. The Emperor Augustus gave it to his soldiers as a reward for their valor. The city was nearly six Jeagues in circumference. The old bridge, said to have been built by the Emperor Trajan, is a truly noble structure. It has sixty arches, and is 2,800 feet long by 23 broad. Another Roman bridge in an entire state, is called Puente L'Albaregas. Beyond the walls are a theatre, a naumachia, or place where mock naval engagements were exhibited, a circus, the remains of three aqueducts, and four Roman ways, or roads. The town itself is little inferior to any in Italy, in the number of its monuments. Within the wall may be seen a fine triumphal arch, the ruins of several temples, columns, chapters, Roman inscriptions, and other remains. The siege and capture of Merida, by the Saracens, forms the subject of one of the most exciting and beautiful of Irving's “ Legends of the Conquest of Spain." Truxillo, where we spent another night, occupies the summit of a hill, and is famed as the birth-place of Pizarro, the conqueror and scourge of Peru. As we were groping our way along towards it in the dark, we saw a light approach us. The friends of the young ladies, who were here to leave us, in accordance with the common custom in Spain, had come forth to meet them, on their return; and when the two parties recognised each other, their joy was excessive. The moment we alighted at the posada, all were in each others' arms, where, for several minutes, they wept and sobbed aloud for joy. Full a quarter of an hour elapsed before they were able freely to converse ; and when the daughters told their mother of the kindness with which they had been treated during the journey, they all fell to weeping again, and the good woman could scarce command her feelings long enough to urge us all to repair forthwith to her house, that there she might give us some solid proof of her heartfelt gratitude. Thus strong and impetuous are the social feelings of the Spaniards; and both their love and their hatred have an ardor and intensity scarce equalled by the highest conceptions of romance, and in the energy with which they are expressed, far surpassing any exhibitions of them to be met with in more northern climes.
The third day of our journey we passed through a wild mountainous region, with lofty crags and deep ravines along the road, and a thousand things to excite the imagination, and fill it with bold and daring reveries. It was just the place for deeds of violence and blood; and the Gondala, or coach, which goes once a week from Badajoz to Madrid, had, a few days before, been robbed there. While climbing one of the hills, on foot, in order to enjoy to the full the wildness of the scenery around, a boy, on horseback, overtook us, and began conversing with the mayoral and postilion. I gave no heed to what he was saying, until, pointing to a spot by the roadside, “ There is the blood," said he. « What blood?" I asked. “Of a man that was murdered," replied the mayoral, scarce turning his head to look at the place. “Who murdered him?" "Quien sabe?” (who knows?) said the old man, shrugging up his shoulders with an air of indifference, as if accustomed to such scenes, and wondering that I should feel any curiosity about the matter. The murder had been committed at the end of a wall, where the man may have been driven in defending himself; and for ten or twelve feet along the roadside, the blood had given the earth a crimson dye, and in spots was clotted on the surface. It was just at the entrance of a village called Zaraycejo, and not more than twenty rods from the church. While waiting at the posada for our dinner, we saw the Alcalde, or Justice of the Peace, carrying before him a lovg, slender rattan, as a badge of office, and attended by the village doctor, and the Escribano, a kind of Notary or Town Clerk, on their way to examine the body of the murdered man. The act had been committed the day before ; still, they now seemed in no haste to investigate the matter, and though a company of soldiers was stationed there, they did not, apparently, dream of taking any measures to discover or apprehend the Inurderer. The only reply to my inquiries was, that, “be he who he might, he was safe enough now ;' and hence no one was disposed to trouble himself about the matter. My friend the Commissary, and myself, joined the few villagers who took any interest in the case, and went to see the examination of the corpse. It was lying on a handbarrow, and beside it were an old gun, a pair of striped woollen saddle-bags, containing a loaf of bread, a powder-horn, and pouch for balls, and other articles which belonged to the deceased ; and near him was a tray of earth saturated with his blood. The clerk took an inventory of these articles, and noted down the size and appearance of the death-wound, as dictated to him by the doctor. The deceased wore an old hat, sheepskin breeches, a jacket and vest, which had seen their best days, and was apparently forty years old or more. As he was armed, and had no passport about him, all took it for granted that he was a robber, and perhaps an associate in villany had murdered him in a quarrel respecting the division of their spoil ; for surely had he been an honest traveller, there was nothing in his appearance that could lead one to attack him with the hope of thus obtaining money or other property. He was shot through the head; the fatal charge entered just below his left ear, and came out between the right ear and temple, making a hole of the size of a man's finger. One eye was open with a ghastly glare, and the whole face had the impress of an agonizing death. As I turned away in sadness from this scene of violence and blood, I could not but reflect how different were the feelings of those around me, from what a similar occurrence would excite in one of the quiet mountain villages of New England. How deep the excitement, and how lively the horror it would there create, and how vigilant and unceasing the efforts that would be made to detect and punish the murderer. Such are the legitimate ef