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the place, and peering in amongst the bushes as if in search of something. I asked him what he was looking for.
“ The calesero," replied he.
“ The calesero !" I repeated. “ He has doubtless galloped home on his mule, too glad to be allowed to do so.”
Pepito shook his head.
“Not probable, señor,” said he. “If he is gone off at all, it is with the men who did this. Caleseros know every body, and it is not likely that the robbers would run the risk of his informing against them. There he is !” exclaimed Pepe, as he pushed through some bushes a short distance from the road. “He has tried to get away, and they have caught him, and stopped his mouth."
I stepped forward, and, true enough, there lay the unfortunate calesero, his skull beaten in by blows of a heavy stick or musket-butt. He had, apparently, as Pepe said, been caught and knocked down while trying to escape
The three men being quite dead, there was nothing to be done but to ride on and give information of this triple murder at the first town we came to. The latter, however, Pepe tried hard to persuade me not to do, representing that it might cause us several hours' delay, and, at any rate, would break into our morning's journey. It was nada de nuevo, nothing very new or particular, he said, two sharpers and a calesero getting knocked on the head by the road-side, and he would strongly advise my worship to leave the circumstance to be reported by somebody else.
This I did not think it advisable to do, but on arriving at Miranda, informed the alcalde of what we had seen. That functionary, a dull, heavy-looking personage, treated the matter nearly as coolly as my servant had done, and seemed, on the whole, rather annoyed at having the trouble of hearing my deposition, which was written down in due form by his secretary. It was not till three or four hours afterwards that I saw a dozen half-fed, lazy-looking soldiers march out of the town, going, as I was told, to catch the robbers, an undertaking which, to judge from the apathetic indolence with which they set about it, they were any thing but likely to accomplish.
I remained the greater part of that day at Miranda, and before setting out again, farther reports of the affair were brought in. It appeared, that after I had quitted the romeria on the preceding evening, the Andalusians had again held the monté bank with great success, and after winning nearly all the money that the other guests would risk, had left Santa Maria at about ten o'clock, to return to Miranda, leaving the greater part of their winnings in custody of the landlord of the posada. This latter circumstance, however, was not known at the time, and it was doubtless the bait of the large bag of ounces with which they had been seen to quit the table, that had tempted some of the loose characters always to be found at such places, and which, at that time (shortly after the conclusion of the war) were particularly abundant, to waylay and murder them. Considering the wild and mountainous nature of the surrounding country, its still disorganised state, and the laxity of the authorities and police, it is highly probable that the perpetrators of the deed remain to this day undiscovered and unpunished.
AN EXCURSION UP THE ORONOOKA, AND RAMBLE
Pastoral wealth— A Passage of Arms—Orthis-Confessing and preparing to
die-St. Juan de los Moros-Villa de Cura- Hacienda of a GeneralSlave Laws—Hacienda of an ex-Secretary-Cultivation of Cocoa and Coffee.
Of the wealth of the cattle owners of the llanos, some idea may be formed by the following extract from a table constructed in 1839.
Production per annum of 1000 head of cattle, one birth per annum.
Born each Die each Kept each For milk Breeding Breeding To sell.
year. year. year. for cheese and milk. only.
Yearly produce in pesos of 38. 4d.
Many proprietors hold 10,000 or 11,000. On one farm in Cumana, there are 60,000; and the herds when undisturbed by war, plague, or weather, double in four years. The number of cattle in the above year, in Venezuela, was estimated at 2,086,720, having again reached the amount to which they had attained before the War of Independence. The cattle sold were estimated at eleven pesos sold in the country, and eighteen exported; each cow gives seventy-five pounds of cheese per annum, which is transported to Caraccas on mules, each carrying eight arobas, about two cwt. One peon, with his assistant, takes charge of twenty or thirty mules to Caraccas and back for twenty pesos; the mules being at Caraccas, where the demand is sometimes immense, for transport, far dearer than in the interior. Of the produce of horses, mules, and asses, in consequence of the plague of late years, it is difficult to form a calculation. Humboldt mentions that in the commencement of 1800, there were exported annually 30,000 mules, at twenty-five pesos; in 1840, there were only exported 1795, at ninety-six three-quarters pesos; the transport destroys an immense number yearly throughout the country. The proprietor in the llanos requiring but few hands to look after his herds, and little outlay, has it in his power to accumulate a certain wealth, and live in considerable comfort in his hut; but while residing there his mode of living seldom differs from that of the rough peons in his employment-his moments of luxury are reserved for Calabozo, in whose gambling circles the profits of a year are not unfrequently dissipated in a few evenings. The country which we traversed was still the llanos ; groves of palms, whose fanleaves rustled in the breeze, among which were colonies of screaming paroquets of brilliant colours, alternating with tracts of aromatic bush and open savannah; we had the good fortune to fall in with a wild cottage, where we found shelter from the sun, while our breakfast of chocolate, plantains, and gallina, or fowl, was cooked. Our new companion or squire had commenced his task of entertaining us with the daylight; his anecdotes, generally introduced to illustrate certain philosophic views and opinions of his own, were inexhaustible, and delivered with a volubility and happy choice of phrase, highly entertaining. Upon resuming our route after breakfast, and seeing a long stretch of straight road before us, he said that with our permission he would beguile the way by recounting a feat of arms in which he had been engaged under the late president, and of which he was then reminded by a cross path, which had on that occasion been the course pursued by General Paez towards Calabozo.
In 1837, a Colonel Forfan having, after the custom of South American republics, raised a revolt against the state, under pretence of redressing grievances, was besieging St. Fernando d'Apure with 1000 horse and foot, and had gained several successes. Paez, who had been sent down to Calabozo to take command of the army, found no army assembled ; the moments were precious, Forfan hearing of his mission had raised the siege, and passed into the llanos to the neighbourhood of St. Juan de Payara, intending to prolong the war till the inundations commenced, when he could maintain his ground and increase his partisans.-An effort was to be made. Paez hurried on from Calabozo with what troops he could collect, but his foot soldiers and others badly mounted, not being able to keep up, he selected from his force 100 well-mounted men and pressed on; of these, so rapid was his march, that one-third had disappeared before he had passed through St. Juan de Payara, here he suddenly found himself in front of For. fan's forces, not dispersed and in retreat as he had expected, but coming down upon him in three bodies of horse and one of foot. The bravest of Paez's followers looked blue, and all, according to our worthy squire's admission, were on the point of breaking and taking to their heels, when Paez's well known voice was heard ordering them to prepare to charge; the enemy had made so sure of riding down the little handful of horse, that their columns came up loosely, and at long intervals. It chanced that Forfan, while leading on the first column, had his reins shot in two, and his horse becoming unnianageable, he was seen for some seconds endeavouring to guide him with his lance, when a slave of Paez started out of the ranks, and ran bim through with his spear, for which he received his liberty from his master after the engagement. The reformists seeing their leader fall, and already in confusion, broke and fled, so hotly pursued by Paez that more than 150 were killed, and the rest were so routed, thaí not ten men pursued the same path in their flight. Two only fell on the side of the victors.
The only point in which this narrative of our squire's differed from the actual fact, was as to the death of Forfan. Forfan was not killed; his horse running furiously away, plunged into a swamp with his rider, who,disengaging himself, remained concealed among the rank herbage of its margin, and afterwards succeeded in effecting his escape to Casanare, in New Grenada. The insurrection was, however, thus terminated by Paez, more by the good fortune and quickness of eye of that chief at the decisive moment, than by his prudent management of the expedition. Our squire, Figaro, had but one fault, according to his own account he was, if any thing, a little too honest, to which fatal error he attributed his want of success in a wicked world; numerous were the instances which he recounted of persons of his acquaintance who had enriched themselves, and were now respectable, through practices from which his foolish prejudices recoiled. He, however, admitted that robbery upon so large a scale as would furnish him with ample means for purchasing able advocates and lenient judges, would not be so repugnant to his feelings; he had never, however, had the golden opportunity. The rascal had already made up his mind to realise about 100 dollars by our mules upon their arrival at Caraccas, and had been craftily bringing to our notice their defects, and exclaiming against the extortion of ihose from whom we had procured them, with the view of reconciling us to the smallness of the sum for which he would sell them for us when our journey should terminate.
“Seventy-five dollars for such little unbroke mules! we should not get fifty for them in Caraccas; but some people had no consciences, he would never have been able to restrain his feelings if he had been by when the bargain was made. He assured us upon his honour, that when he reflected upon the villany of the world he sometimes shuddered."
About mid-day we overtook our baggage, and took advantage of a lagoon, surrounded by a grove of trees, of thickly-spreading foliage, to rest our beasts. The lagoon was covered with herons, bitterns, and little brilliantly-plumaged divers, which gave some occupation to our guns; we were at length driven off by the attack of a swarm of bees, whose stings though not very painful were tiresome, and which got into our hair and among our clothes in numbers. Our halting-place for the night, was supposed by our squire to be about three leagues off, it turned out to be at least double that distance. We travelled till long after dark, suffering much from thirst, and at length reached a hato, where we with difficulty procured a water-melon, and tidings of our baggage-mules. These we reached after a further short ride, and were soon hung up in a shed to sleep. We found our mules in the morning were by no means improved by their long journey of the previous day. While preparing w start we were overtaken by a mounted peon in charge of oxen: our squire recognised him as a man who had committed an atrocious murder some time previously, but had got off by means of a long purse judiciously applied. His features and countenance spoke villanously against him, while he gave us the gratifying information that we should meet in the evening, as he purposed stopping at the same posada with ourselves. We were now on the confines of the llanos, the ground rose rapidly, and the scene was entirely changed: the hill sides were covered with a varied forest of bush in full blossom, brilliant cardinal birds, with their crimson crests, flashed across our road, and mingled their brightness with the varied blossoms of the flowering shrubs. This bird is said to be so passionate that if caught and confined he will dash himself to pieces against the bars of his cage.
The mountain ridge up which we were winding our way became steeper; at length, surmounting the weary summit, we looked down upon the white walls and red tiled-roofs of Orthis, romantically situated in an amphiTheatre of hills; descending into the valley, we, after some difficulty, succeeded in finding a posada, where no breakfast was to be had ; bowever, a storekeeper with a pretty wife having consented to prepare something for us, we gladly rested ourselves.
The place where we were to pass the night not being far distant, we resolved to put off the remainder of the journey till the cool of the evening. We here learned that our little friend, Julius Cæsar, had been taken ill in passing through the previous day, and was lying sick in the town. We lost no time in seeking him; he was at the house of a padre, a worthy ecclesiastic, who having just arrived from old Spain, few Venezuelans adopt the profession of the church-had commenced his labours in Orthis, and received the sick traveller like a good Sa
We found the poor little man reclining upon a bed, looking the incarnation of Cruikshank's “ worserer.” He seemed highly gratified at our seeking him out, and told us that having believed himself to be on the point of death the evening before, he had confessed himself, made his will, and prepared to face the enemy; however, he was now better. The kind padre, before we could interpose, had produced bottled beer and cigars upon hearing that we were English, and we stopped some time to raise the spirits of our little friend. Returning to the posada, we found our Figaro in an agony of excitement; the hostess had a roguish eye, and the squire flattered himself he was in for a bonne fortune, to which the husband's jealousy was the only impediment; the husband and his spouse were plainly agreed upon the subject, and the smiles were finally put down in the bill. This result to his hopes we did not fail to point out to him; it served for some time to subdue the Gascon spirit within him, but the elasticity of his spirits being recovered by the discharge of a series of invectives against the coquetry of the sex, the cosmopolite was again on as good terms with himself as ever.
We put up that evening at a cottage, which being newly finished, was neater and more comfortable than those to which we had hitherto been accustomed : our mules were also well furnished with malojo, or Indian corn-grass. Our road onwards lay up the bed of the Parapara stream, which we crossed and recrossed repeatedly. The country was mountainous and covered with grass, interspersed with bush, but both very inuch burnt up by the sun: we overtook large droves of oxen, and of mules and asses laden with cheese, on their road to Caraccas; these we found it sometimes difficult to pass where the roads were narrow, some of the oxen too when heated and overdriven are extremely vicious.
In a fine mountain pass we found Floris, our breakfasting-place, a wild-looking cattle posada, or place of refreshment, with extensive sheds. Numerous troops of mules were here assembled under the trees with their burdens on, waiting to start, while their drivers were refreshing themselves within. In front of the posada the ground sloped upwards into a maguificent range of mountain, and the road onward descended into a dense forest. The walls of the apartment into which we were conducted were hung round with the adventures of Napoleon in this world, and his apotheosis beyond it; the same series adorns the walls of almost all the posadas in Venezuela. Resuming our route, we approached St. Juan de los Moros; the moros is a curious range of rocky conical pinnaeles, and shooting up abruptly like a dyke from the undulating plains around, gives a singular character to the pretty village of St. Juan; our resting-place for the night, was a neat posada in the Passo del Cabecera del Guarico. A large party of travellers were already assembled, some of them were engaged in a barbarous dance, to the sound of most barbarous music, extracted from the rudest guitars. Our Figaro, qualified, as he asserted, to give an opinion, by having been in Syria when an English sailor, pronounced the ballet to be Arabic,