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THE PASEO-THE PLAZA-DINING OUT.
at the feet of the Madonna di San Sisto.
There were crowds of promenaders too, “As this Sunday is Carnival, you can- everywhere, interspersed with parties of not do better than drive about the city, maskers, who went about screaming at and then go to the Plaza to see the the public with high, shrill voices. Leavmasks. My partner's wife, with whom ing the volante, we descend to the Plaza, you have now so comfortably breakfasted, where is now the height and centre of will call for you in her volante, between movement. We find it flanked on all five and six o'clock. She will show you sides with little movable kitchens, where the Paseo, and we will go and see the good things are cooked, and with tables, masks afterwards."
where they are sold and eaten. Fried So spoke a banker, who, though not cakes, fish, and meats seem the predomour banker, is our friend, and whose kind inant bill of fare, with wine, coffee, attentions we shall ever recall, when we and fruits. The masks are circulating remember Cuba. So he spoke, and so with great animation ; men in women's it befell. The pretty American lady, clothes, white people disguised as neCubanized into paleness, but not into sal- groes, and negroes disguised as whites, lowness, called at the appointed hour, prodigious noses, impossible chins and and, in her company, we visited the prin- foreheads; the stream of popular fancy cipal streets, and the favorite drive of the ran chiefly in these channels. We met Matanzasts. The Paseo is shorter than processions consisting of a man carrying that of Havana, but much prettier. We a rat in a cage, and shouting out, “ Catch found it
gay with volantes, whose fair oc- this rat!” followed by a perfect stampede cupants kept up an incessant bowing and of wild creatures, all yelling, “ Catch that smiling to their friends in carriages and rat!” at the top of their voices. The on horseback. The Cubans are gener- twanging of the guitar is heard everyally good riders, and their saddle-horses where, accompanied by the high nasal have the easiest and pleasantest gait iin- voices of the natives, in various strains aginable. The heat of the climate does of monotony. In some spots the music not allow the severe exercise of trot and is more lively, accompanied by the shakgallop, and so these creatures go along ing of a gourd filled with dry seeds, as smoothly and easily as the waves of which is called ghirra, and whose "chickthe sea, and are much better broken to a-chick, chick-chick” takes the place of obedience. The ladies of Matanzas seem the more poetical castanets ;- here you to possess a great deal of beauty, but find one or more couples exhibiting their they abuse the privilege of powder, and skill in Cuban dances, with a great deal whiten themselves with cascarilla to a of applause and chattering from the degree that is positively ghastly. This crowd around. Beside those of the popcascarilla is formed by the trituration of ulace, many aristocratic groups parade eggshells ; and the oval faces whitened the Plaza, in full dress, crowned with with it resemble a larger egg, with fea- flowers and jewels;-a more motley scene tures drawn on it in black and red. In can hardly be imagined. Looking up, spite of this, they are handsome; but one one sees in curious contrast the tall palms feels a natural desire to rush in amongst with which the Plaza is planted, and the them with a feather duster, and lay about quiet, wondering stars set in the deep one a little, before giving an available tropical heavens. opinion of their good looks.
But in our evening's programme, tea If the Paseo was gay, the streets of the has been omitted; now, what availeth a city were gay also; the windows filled with Bostonian without his tea? By eight faces and figures in full dress, with little o'clock, we are pensive, “ most like a tirgroups of children at the feet of the grown ed child at a show,"— by half-past eight, people, like the two world-famous cherubs stupid,— by nine, furious. Two hours of
folly, taken on an empty stomach, alarm appreciation of the American nation and us for our constitution. A visit to the café their country, which he himself has visitis suggested and adopted. It proves to
ed. After a short interview we leave be crowded with people in fancy attire, him, but not until he has placed his house who have laid aside their masks to in- and all it contains “á la disposicion de dulge in beer, orgeat, and sherbet. While Usted.” We are then shown the pretty our Cuban friends regale themselves with bedroom of the young ladies, whose toisoursop and zapote ice sweetened with lettes are furnished in silver, the bath brown sugar, we call for a cup of deli- lined with tiling, the study, and the dincious Spanish chocolate, which is served ing-room, where luncheon awaits us. We with a buttered toasted roll, worthy of take leave, with a kind invitation to reall imitation. Oh, how much comfort turn and dine the next day, which, upon is in a little cup of chocolate ! what an mature deliberation, we accept. underpinning does it afford our spiritual The volante comes for us next day, house, a material basis for our mental with Roque, brightest of all living caleoperations! In its support, we go it a seros, fixed in his boots and saddle. Aflittle longer on the Plaza, see ter a pleasant drive we attain the house, masks, hear more guitars and “catch- and are received by its hospitable inthis-rat!” and finally return, in a hired mates as before. The interval before volante, to the Ensor House, where rest dinner, a tolerably long one, is filled up and the bedless cots await us.
by pleasant chitchat, chiefly in English. But we have friends in Matanzas, real The lady of the house does not, however, born Cubans, who will not suffer us to profess our vernacular, and to her underremain forever in the Ensor House. standing we lay siege in French, Italian, They send their volante for us, one day, and laughter-provoking Spanish. Before and we visit them. Their house, of the dining we pay a second visit to the host, inevitable Cuban pattern, is richly fur- who is still busy digesting the President's nished; the marbles of the floor are pure Message. Obviously, the longer he has and smooth, the rug ample and velvety; it under consideration, the worse he finds the wainscoting of the walls, so to speak, it. He has nausea from its bragging, his is in handsome tiling, — not in mean, head aches with its loudness, and its washy painting; the cane chairs and so- emptiness fills him with wind. We are fas are fresh and elegant, and there is a at our wits’ end to prescribe for hiin, and fine Erard piano. The master of the take our leave with grave commiseration, house is confined to his room by illness, telling him that we, too, have had it, but but will be happy to see us.
that the symptoms it produces in the and daughters speak English with flu- North are a reddening in the cheek and ency. They inform us, that the epidem- a spasmodic contraction of the right arm. ic colds which prevail in Cuban win- Now comes great dinner on. A slave ters are always called by the name of announces it, and with as little ceremony some recent untoward occurrence, and as may be we take our places. And that their father, who suffers from severe here we must confess that our friend the influenza, has got the President's Mes- banker had rendered us an important sage. We find Don José in a bedroom service. For he had said,-“ Look not darkened by the necessary closing of the upon the soup when it is hot, neither let shutters, there being no other way of ex- any victuals entice thee to more than a cluding the air. The bedsteads are of slight and temporary participation; for gilded iron, with luxurious bedding and the dishes at a Cuban dinner be many, spotless mosquito-nettings. His head is and the guest must taste of all that is tied up with a silk handkerchief. He presented; wherefore, if he indulge in rises from his rocking-chair, receives us one dish to his special delectation, he with great urbanity, and expresses his shall surely die before the end.” And it
came to pass that we remembered this, the East Indies, and intensely tropical and walked through the dinner as on egg- in its taste,-- then a splendid roast turshells, gratifying curiosity, on the one key, and ham strewed with small colored hand, and avoiding satiety, on the other, sugar-plums, - then — well, is not that with the fear of fulness, as it were, be- enough for one person to have eaten at fore our eyes.
For, oh, my friends! a stretch, and that person accustomed to what pang is comparable to too much a Boston diet? Then came such a disdinner, save the distress of being refused play of sweetmeats as would exercise the by a young woman, or the comfortless mind of a New England housekeeper be
' sensation, in times of economy, of having yond all power of repose,-a pudding paid away a five-dollar gold piece in a huge tart with very thick crust, - cakes place of a silver quarter of a dollar ? of yuca,-a dish of cocoanut, made into
But you, Reader, would like more cir- a sort of impalpable preserve, with eggs cumstantiality in the account of this din- and sugar,—then a course of fruits, ner, which united many perfections. It then coffee, of the finest quality, from was handsome, but not splendid, -order- the host's own plantation,—and then we ly, but not stately,– succulent, but not arose and went into the drawing-room, unctuous. It kept the word of promise with a thankful recollection of what we to the smell and did not break it to the had had, and also a thankful assurance taste. It was a dinner such as we shall that we should have no more. wish only to our best friends, not to those A drive by moonlight was now proacquaintances who ask how we do when posed, to see the streets and the masks, they meet us, and wish we were dead be- it being still Carnival. So the volante was fore we part.
As for particulars, we summoned, with its smiling, silent Roque, should be glad to impart much useful and the pretty daughter of the house took information and many choice receipts; seat beside us. The streets around the but the transitory nature of such an en- Plaza proved quite impassable from the tertainment does not allow one to im- crowd, whose wild movements and wilder prove it as one could wish. One feature voices went nigh to scaring the well-trainwe remember, which is that the whole ed horses. The little lady was accustomdinner was placed on the table at once, ed, apparently, to direct every movement and so you had the advantage of seeing of her charioteer, and her orders were your work cut out before you. None uttered in a voice high and sweet as a of that hope deferred, when, after being bird-call. “ Dobla al derecho, Roque! worried through a dozen stews and en- Roque, dobla al derecho!” Why did not trées, you are rewarded at last with an Roque go mad, and exclaim,
Yes, infinitesimal fragment of the rôti. Nor, Señorita, and to heaven itself, if you on the other hand, the unwelcome sur- bid me so prettily!" But Roque only prise of three supplementary courses and doubled as he was bid, and took us hitha dessert, when you have already dined er and thither, and back to the nest of to repletion, and feel yourself at peace his lady-bird, where we left her and the with all the world. Here, all was fair others with grateful regrets, and finally play; you knew what to expect and what back to the Ensor House, which on this was expected of you. Soup, of course, occasion seemed to us the end of all
me first, then fish,—then meat stew- things. ed with potatoes and onions, - then other meat with ochra and tomatoes,—then boiled chicken, which is eaten with a
PLANTATION pilaff of rice colored with saffron,- then delicious sweet potatoes, yams, plantains, and vegetables of every sort, — then a As there are prejudices in Cuba, kind of pepper, brought, we think, from and elsewhere, touching the appropriate
GAME-CHICKENS- - DON RODRIGUEZ
sphere of woman, Hulia was not taken negro assistant, up to the ears in busito the cockpit, as she had demanded and Don Manuel is young, handsome, expected, - not to see the chickens fight, and vivacious, and with an air of good but to see the Spaniards see it. family that astonishes us. He receives
Forgive her, ye Woman's Righters, if us with courtesy, finds nothing unusual on this occasion she was weak and obe- in the visit of a lady, but is too much endient! You would have gone, no doubt, grossed with his occupation to accord us — those of you who have not husbands ; more than a passing notice. This is exbut such as bave must know how much actly as we could wish,-it allows us to easier it is to deal with the article man in study the Don, so to speak, au naturel. his theoretical than in his real presence. He is engaged at first in weighing two You may succeed in showing by every cocks, with a view to their subsequent convincement, that you are his natural fighting. Having ascertained their premaster and superior, and that there is ev- cise weight, which he registers in his ery reason on earth why you should com- pocket-memorandum, he proceeds to bind mand and direct him. “No! -" says strips of linen around their forinidable the wretch, shaking his fist, or shrugging spurs, that in their training they may his shoulders; and whatever your inti- not injure each other with them. This mate convictions may be, the end is, that being accomplished,—he all the while deyou do not.
livering himself with great volubility to Propitiated by that ready obedience his black second,- the two cocks are takwhich is safest, dear sisters, in these con- en into the arena; one is let loose there; tingencies, the proprietor of Hulia takes the negro holds the other, and knocks her, one morning, to see the establish- the free fowl about the head with it. ment of a man of fortune in the neigh- Sufficient provocation having been given, borhood, where one hundred and forty they are allowed to go at each other in game-chickens are kept for training and their own fashion, and their attacks and fighting These chickens occupy two breathing-spells are not very unlike a good-sized rooms, whose walls are en- bout of fencing. They flap, fly at each tirely covered with compartınents, some other, fly over, peck, seize by the neck, two feet square, in each of which resides let go, rest a moment, and begin again, a cock, with his little perch and drinking- getting more and more excited with each vessel. They are kept on allowance of round. The negro separates them, when water and of food, lest they should get about to draw blood. And as for Don beyond fighting-weight. Their voices Manuel, he goes mad over them, like an are uplifted all day long, and on all Italian maestro over his favorite pupil. moonlight nights. An old woman re- “ Hombre, hombre !” he cries to the neceives us, and conducts us to the train- gro,
“ what a cock! By Heaven, what a ing-pit, pointing out on the way the he- couple! Ave María santísima! did one roes of various battles, and telling us that ever see such spirit ? Santísima Trinidad! this cock and the other have won mucho is there such fighting in all Matanzas?” dinero, “ much money.” Each bas also its Having got pretty well through with the appointed value ;-- this cock is worth for- calendar of the saints, he takes out his ty dollars, this four ounces, this one six watch ;- the fight has lasted long enough. ounces, - oh, he is a splendid fellow! One of the champions retires to take a No periodal and sporadic hen-fever pre- little repose ; another is brought in his vails here, but the gallo-mania is the place; the negro takes him, and boxes chronic madness of the tropics.
him about the ears of the remaining fowl, The training-pit is a circular space - brushing him above his head, and uninclosed with boards, perhaps some twelve derneath, and on his back, to accustom feet in diameter. Here we find the pro- him to every method of attack. Don prietor, Don Manuel Rodriguez, with a Manuel informs us that the cock made use of in this way is the father of the other, rough and slippery rocks, dragging the and exclaims, with an air of mock com- strong volante after them. The calesero passion, Pobre padre! “ Poor father!" picks his way carefully; the carriage tips, The exercise being concluded, he takes jolts, and tumbles; the centre of gravity a small feather, and cleans out there with appears to be nowhere. The breeze dies the throat of either chicken, which proves away; the vertical sun seems to pin us to be full of the sand of the arena, and through the head; we get drowsy, and which he calls porquería, “ dirt.”
dream of an uneasy sea of stones, whose We leave Don Manuel about to em- harsh waves induce headache, if not seaploy himself with other cocks, and, as be- sickness. We wish for a photograph of fore, too much absorbed to give our de- the road ; - first, to illustrate the incluparture much notice. Strange to say, sive meaning of the word ; second, to Hulia is so well satisfied with this rehear- serve as a remembrance, to reconcile us sal, that she expresses no further desire to all future highways. to witness the performance itself. We Why these people are content to work learn subsequently that Don Manuel is out their road-tax by such sore travail of a man of excellent family and great mind and body appeareth to us mystewealth, who has lavished several fortunes rious. The breaking of stone in stateon his favorite pursuit, and is hurrying prison is not harder work than riding along on the road to ruin as fast as chick- over a Cuban road; yet this extreme of ens' wings can carry him.
industry is endured by the Cubans from very sorry, but couldn't possibly interfere. year to year, and from one human life Meantime, he appeared excessively jolly. to another, without complaint or effort.
Our kind friends of the dinner were An hour or more of these and similar determined to pay us, in their persons, reflections brings us to a bit of smooth all the debts of hospitality the island road, and then to the gate of the planta might be supposed to contract towards tion, where a fine avenue of palms con strangers and Americans. Arrangements ducts us to the house. Here resides tt . were accordingly made for us to pass our relative and partner of our Matanza last day in Matanzas at a coffee-planta- friends, a man of intelligent and humanie tion of theirs, some four miles distant from aspect, who comes to greet us, with his town. They would send their travelling pleasant wife, and a pretty niece, their volante for us, they said, which was not constant guest. This lady has made use so handsome as the city volante, but of her retirement for the accomplishment stronger, as it had need to be, for the of her mind. She has some knowledge roads. At eleven o'clock, on a very warm
of French and Italian, and, though unmorning, this vehicle made its appear willing to speak English, is able to transance at the door of the Ensor House, with late from that language with entire fluRoque in the saddle,— Roque with that oncy. The plantation-house is very pretmysterious calesero face of his, knowing ty, situated just at the end of the palmeverything, but volunteering nothing un- avenue, with all the flowers in sight,- for til the word of command. Don Antoñito, these are planted between the palms ;-it he tells us, has gone before us on horse- has a deep piazza in front, and the first
-- we mount the volante, and fol- door opens into one large room, with low. Roque drives briskly at first, a sleeping-apartments on either side. Opslight breeze refreshes us, and we think posite this door is another, opening upon the road better than is usual. But wait the court behind the house, and between a bit, and we come to what seems an the two our chairs are placed, courting unworked quarry of coral rock, with no the draught. — N. B. In Cuba, no one perceptible way over it, and Roque still shuns a draught; you ride, drive, sit, and goes on, slowly indeed, but without stop sleep in one, and, unless you are a Cuor remark. The strong horses climb the ban, never take cold. The floor of this