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It would seem that men could never improve under a system of such absolute slavery as this; yet to give them liberty, is to abandon them and return them to a state of barbarity, shutting out all prospect of improvement; and the only hope seems to be in the justice and moderation of the rulers—a slim hope here.
We got off at noon; stopped at the “chacra” of Gen. Otero, and received a letter of introduction to the commandant of the fort. When the old gentleman saw our new servant “Mariano," he crossed himself most devoutly and ejaculated “ Satanas !!” He then told us that this was a notoriously bad boy, whom nobody had been able to manage, but that we, being strangers and military men, might get along with him by strictness and severity; and he gave the boy a lecture upon his duties and the faithful performance of them.
A mile and a half beyond Gen. Otero's is the town of Acobamba. I judge that it contains twelve or fifteen hundred inhabitants; but it is situated in a thickly-settled district, and the “Doctrina" is said to be more populous than that of Tarma. Six more miles brought us to Palca, a straggling town of about one thousand inhabitants. We merely passed through, and a mile further on "brought up” at the chacra of Don Justo Rojas, to whom I had a letter from Lizarralde, the administrator at Morococha. Don Justo was engaged in extracting, by boiling, the juice of the rhatany root for an apothecary of Lima. He supplied us with a capital supper of chicken soup and boiled eggs, with alfalfa for the beasts. He also sold us, from his establishment in town, sugar and bread. We pitched the tent in an old corn-field, and slept delightfully. Tent-pegs for this country should be of iron. Although those we used were made of the hardest wood that could be found in Lima, we had used them all up by this time, beating off their heads by driving them with a hatchet into the hard and stony ground.
Don Justo's is the last chacra in the valley, which now narrows, and allows no room for cultivation. Though going down hill by the barometer, we were evidently crossing a chain of mountains, which the stream at the bottom of the valley has saved us the trouble of ascending and descending, by cleaving a way through for itself, and leaving the mountains on either hand towering thousands of feet above our heads.
The ride was the wildest we have yet had; the road sometimes finding room along the borders of the river, and then ascending nearly to the top of the hills, and diminishing the foaming and thundering stream to a noiseless, silver thread. The ascents and descents were nearly precipitous; and the scene was rugged, wild, and grand beyond description.