Imatges de pàgina

principal room is merely of clay, rubbed for a chimney, where there is one, but they with a red powder, which, mixed with as often have the fire just before their water, hardens into a firm, polished sur- door. The slaves on this plantation lookface. The house has but one story; the ed in excellent condition, and had, on timbers of the roof, un whitened, forming the whole, cheerful countenances. The the only ceiling. The furniture consists good proportion of their increase showed of cane easy-chairs, a dining-table, and a that they were well treated, as on estates pretty hammock, swung across one end of where they are overworked they increase the room. Here we sit and talk long. scarcely or not at all. We found some Our host has many good books in French of the men enjoying a nap between a and Spanish, - and in English, Walter board and a blanket. Most of the women Scott's Novels, which his wife fully ap- seemed busy about their household operpreciates.

ations. The time from twelve to two is A walk is proposed, and we go first to given to the negroes, besides an hour or visit los negros chiquitos, - Anglicè, "the two after work in the evening, before small niggers,” in their nursery. We they are locked up for the night. This find their cage.airy enough; it is a house time they improve mostly in planting with a large piazza completely inclosed and watering their little gardens, which in coarse lattice-work, so that the pe- are their only source of revenue. The queñuelos cannot tumble out, nor the negroes on this estate had formed a sonurses desert their charge. Our lady ciety amongst themselves for the accufriend produces a key, unlocking a small mulation of money; and our friend, the gate which admits us. We found, as usu- manager of the plantation, told us that al, the girls of eight and upwards tend- they had on his books two thousand doling the babies, and one elderly woman lars to their credit. One man alone had superintending them. On our arrival, amassed six hundred dollars, a very conAfrican drums, formed of logs hollowed siderable sum, under the circumstances. out, and covered with skin at the end, We visited also the house of the mayoral, were produced. Two little girls proceed- or overseer, whose good face seemed in ed to belabor these primitive instruments, keeping with the general humane arand made a sort of rhythmic strumming, rangements of the place, -as humane, at which kept time to a monotonous chant. least, as the system permits. The negroes Two other girls executed a dance to this, all over the island have Sunday for themwhich, for its slowness, might be consid- selves; and on Sunday afternoons they ered an African minuet. The dancing hold their famous balls, which sometimes children were bright-looking, and not un- last until four o'clock on Monday morngraceful. Work stops at noon for a re- ing. Much of the illness among the necess; and the mothers run from the field

groes is owing to their imprudence on to visit the imprisoned babies, whom they these and like occasions. Pneumonia is carry to their own homes and keep till the prevalent disease with them, as with the afternoon-hour for work comes round, the slaves in our own South; it is often which it does at two, P. M. We went next acute and fatal. Everything in Cuba to the negro-houses, which are built, as has such a tendency to go on horseback, we have described others, contiguous, in that we could not forbear asking if dead one hollow square. On this plantation men did, and were told that it was so, the food of the negroes is cooked for - the dead negroes being temporarily them, and in the middle of the inclosed inclosed in a box, and conveyed to the square stood the cooking-apparatus, with cemetery on the back of a horse. Our several large caldrons. Still, we found friend, seeing our astonishment, laughed, little fires in most of the houses, and the and told us that the poor whites were inmates employed in concocting some very glad to borrow the burial-horse and tidbit or other. A hole in the roof serves box, to furnish their own funerals.


Dinner was served at four o'clock, dered through the long avenues of palm quite informally, in the one sitting-room and fruit trees with which the estate was of the house. A black girl brushed off planted, and saw the stout black wenchthe flies with a paper fly-brush, and an- es at their out-door occupations, which at other waited on table. The dinner was this time consisted chiefly in raking and excellent; but I have already given so cleansing the ground about the roots of many bills of fare in these letters, that I the trees and flowers. Their faces brightwill content myself with mentioning the ened as their employers passed, and the novelty of a Cuban country-dish, a sort smaller children kissed hands. Returned of stew, composed of ham, beef, mutton, to the house, we paused awhile to enjoy potatoes, sweet potatoes, yuca, and yams. the evening red, for the sun was already This is called Ayacco, and is a character- below the horizon. Then came the voistic dish, like eel-soup in Hamburg, or lante, and with heartfelt thanks and resalt codfish in Boston ;-as is usual in grets we suffered it to take us away. such cases, it is more relished by the in- And who had been the real hero of habitants than by their visitors. On the this day? Who but Roque, fresh from present occasion, however, it was only town, with his experience of Carnival, one among many good things, which were and his own accounts of the masked ball, made better by pleasant talk, and were the Paseo, and the Señorita's beaux ? succeeded by delicious fruits and coffee. All that durst followed him to the gate, After dinner we visited the vegetable and kissed hands after him. “Adios, garden, and the well, where we found Roque! Roque, adios !” resounded on all Candido, the rich negro who had saved sides; and Roque, the mysterious one, six hundred dollars, drawing water with actually smiled in conscious superiority, the help of a blind mule. Now the phil- as he nodded farewell, and galloped off, anthrope of our party was also a phre- dragging us after him. nologist, and bad conceived a curiosity As we drove back to Matanzas in the to inspect the head of the very superior moonlight, a sound of horses' feet made negro who had made all this money ; so, us aware that Don Antoñito, the young at his request, Candido was suinmoned friend who had planned and accompanifrom the well, and ordered to take off ed our day's excursion, was to be our his hat. This being removed disclosed guard of honor on the lonely road. A the covering of a cotton handkerchief, of body-servant accompanied him, likewise which he was also obliged to divest him. mounted. Don Antoñito rode a milk-white self. Candido was much too well bred Cuban pony, whose gait was soft, swift, to show any signs of contumacy; but the and stealthy as that of a phantom horse. expression of his countenance varied, His master might have carried a brimunder the observation of the phrenolo- ming glass in either hand, without spillgist, from wonder to annoyance, and from ing a drop, or might have played chess, that to the extreme of sullen, silent wrath. or written love-letters on his back, so The reason was obvious,— he supposed smoothly did he tread the rough, stony himself brought up with a view to bar- road. All its pits and crags and jags, gain and sale; and when informed that the pony made them all a straight line he had a good head, he looked much in- for his rider, whose unstirred figure and clined to give somebody else a bad one. even speech made this quite discerniHe was presently allowed to go back to ble. For when a friend talks to you on his work; and our sympathies went with the trot, much gulping doth impede his him, as it would probably take some conversation,- and there is even a good days to efface from his mind the painful deal of wallop in a young lady's gallop. impression that he was to be sold, the But our friend's musical Spanish ran on last calamity that can happen to a negro like a brook with no stones in it, that who is in kind hands. We now wan- merely talks to the moonlight for com

pany. And such moonlight as it was deck was occupied by the gentlemen's that rained down upon us, except where cabin, which was large and luxurious. the palm-trees spread their inverted par- A tiny after-cabin was fitted up for the asols, and wouldn't let it! And such a ladies. In the region of the machinery glorification of all trees and shrubs, in- were six horrible staterooms, bare and cluding the palm, which we are almost dirty, the berths being furnished simply afraid to call again by name, lest it should with cane-bottoms, a pillow, and one ungrow“ stuck up,” and imagine there were clean sheet. Those who were decoyed no other trees but itself! And such a into these staterooms endured them with combination of tropical silence, warmth, disgust while the boat was at anchor; and odor! Even in the night, we did not but when the paddle-wheels began to reforget that the aloe-hedges had red in volve, and dismal din of clang and bang them, which made all the ways beautiful and whirr came down about their ears, by day. Oh! it was what good Bosto- and threatened to unroof the fortress of nians call “ a lovely time"; and it was the brain, why, then they fled madly, with a sigh of fulness that we set down precipitately, leaving their clothes mostly the goblet of enjoyment, drained to the behind them. But I am anticipating. last drop, and getting, somehow, always The passengers arrived and kept arrivsweeter towards the bottom.

ing; and we watched, leaning over the For it was set down at the Ensor House, side, for Don Antoñito, who was to acwhich we are to leave to-night, half-re- company our voyage.

Each boat had gretful at not having seen the scorpion its little light; and to see them dancing by which we always expected to be bit- and toppling on the water was like a ten; for we had heard such accounts of fairy scene. At last came our friend; it, patrolling the galleries with its ven- and after a little talk and watching of omous tail above its head, that we had the stars, we betook ourselves to rest. thought a sight might be worth a bite. It Many of the Dons were by this time was not to be, however. The luggage is undressed, and smoking in their berths. brought; John is gratified with a peso ; As there was no access to the ladies' and we take leave with entire good- cabin, save through the larger one, she will.

who went thither awaited a favorable I mention our departure, only because moment and ran, looking neither to the it was Cuban and characteristic. Return right hand nor the left. The small space ing by boat to Havana, we were obliged was tolerably filled by Cuban ladies in to be on board by ten o'clock that even- full dress. Mem. They always travel in ing, the boat starting at eleven. Of their best clothes.— The first navigation course, the steamer was nowhere but a among them was a real balloon-voyage, mile out in the stream; and a little cockle- with collisions; but they soon collapsed shell of a row-boat was our only means and went to bed. All is quiet now; and of attaining her. How different, ye good she of whom we write has thrown herNew Yorkers and Bostonians, from your self upon the first vacant bed, spreading afternoon walk on board the “Bay State,” first a clean napkin on the extremely with valise and umbrella in hand, and all serviceable pillow. Sleep comes; but the flesh-pots of Egypt in

-, well, in

what is this that murders sleep? A diremembrance ! After that degree of minutive male official going to each berth, squabbling among the boatmen which and arousing its fair occupant with “ Doserves to relieve the feelings of that ha- ña Teresita," or whatever the name may bitually disappointed class of men, we be, “ favor me with the amount of your chose our craft, and were rowed to the passage-money." No comment is necessteamer, whose sides were steep and high sary; here, no tickets,— here, no stewout of water. The arrangements on board ardess to mediate between the unseen were peculiar. The body of the main captain and the unprotected female! The



sanctuary of the sex in vaded at mid- And here ends our account of Matannight, without apology and without re- zas, our journey thither, stay, and return. buke! Think of that, those passengers Peace rest upon the fair city! May the who have not paid their fare, and, when earthquake and hurricane spare it! May invited to call at the captain's office and the hateful Spanish government sit lightsettle, do so, and be thankful! The male ly on its strong shoulders! May the filipassengers underwent a similar visita- busters attack it with kisses, and conquer tion. It is the Cuban idea of a compen- it with loving-kindness ! So might it be dious and economic arrangement.

with the whole island-vale!



It was the last December of the eigh- was evidently the emulous desire of each. teenth century. All night a fierce north- As they approached near and nearer, east snow-storm had been hissing and the snow flew from their shovels with a drifting through the frozen air, pelting force and velocity which would certainly angrily at the shuttered and curtained have reminded Mr. Coffin of a steam windows of the rich, and shrieking with snow-plough, had he ever seen or heard

scornful laughter as it forced its way of such a thing, which he most assuredly · through the ill-fitting casements and loose never had.

doors of the poor, clutching at them with Each boy performed prodigies of skill icy fingers as they cowered over their and valor. The “poor-'us” lad evidently poor fires, and spreading over the gar- gained, and his patron did not conceal a ret-beds in which they sought to hide wide smile of satisfaction; the rival lookfrom him a premature shroud of cold ed up, saw it, was stung with generous white snow.

rage, threw himself with fury upon his But with morning the storm ceased, shovel, and in three enormous plunges and a little before noon the sun, peering laid bare his own side of the post, before from behind his clouds, seemed to wink “poor-'us” had come within a foot of with astonishment at seeing how much it. had been done in his absence.

Then, clapping his numb fingers upon Not only the sun, but Mr. Phineas his thighs, the successful champion utterCoffin, guardian of the “ town's poor," in ed a melodious crow, which so disgusted the town of Newport, was astir, and, the spectator that he was about to retire standing at the door of the “poor-'us,” within doors, when his eyes fell upon a bent a contemplative eye upon the prog- thinly clad, timid-looking woman who ress made by two stout youths who were was advancing along the newly opened clearing the snow froin the sidewalks and path, casting deprecating glances at the paths upon his premises.

two boys, who froin peaceful rivalry were Mr. Coffin perceived that a trial of now proceeding to open warfare, carried skill and speed was going on between on with the ammunition so plentifully one of his own pioneers and a lad simi- spread before them. larly engaged on behalf of the next es- Nor was the alarm of the poor woman tate. About half-way between the rapid- groundless; for, as she advanced into the ly approaching competitors stood a rough- battle-field, she found herself saluted uphewn block of stone, marking the boun- on the breast with an immense snow-ball, daries of the two estates.

which, being of loose construction, adhered To first reach this, the winning-post, to the red broadcloth cloak of the pedes


ye ?"



trian, forming a conspicuous and remark- “Why, it's Widder Janes, — a’n't it? able ornament to that garment.

Declare to goodness I didn't know ye, “ Come, stop that, you young limbs, or with yer hood over yer face. Walk in, I'll shouted the chivalric Phineas, Miss Janes, and see my woman, — won't hastily gathering, as he spoke, material for a formidable missile, which, being “ Waal, I dunno as I can stop,” replied completed before the sentence, was used the widow, beginning, nevertheless, to by him as a ready means of rounding shake the snow from her scanty skirts, his period, being at once more forcible and to stamp her numb feet, which were and easier to come at than the words protected from the biting cold by a pair which most men would have used. of old yarn socks, drawn over the shoes.

Besides, Nathaniel, the poorhouse lad, "I was wantin' to see ye, a minit,” turning round at sound of his master's continued she; “ but Miss Coffin allers voice, presented so fair a mark, with his keeps cleaned up so slick, I don't hardly gaping mouth, that, half involuntarily, the darst to come in.” snow-ball left Mr. Coffin's hand, and the " Oh, waal,” replied Phineas, with a next instant formed the contents of Na- chuckle of satisfaction at the compliment thaniel's open mouth, leaving, however, to his wife. “ Ye look nice enough for a liberal surplusage to ornament his anybody's folks. Come right in, this cheeks, chin, and nose. The recipient way.” of this bulletin choked, spluttered, and “I dunno how 'tis," continued the pawed at his face after the manner of a visitor, as she followed her bost through cat who has tried to eat a wasp.

the long entry, “ that Miss Coffin can alHis rival did not seek to conceal the lers be so forehanded with her work, an' expression of his triumph and derision, do sich a master sight on't, too. She the consequence of which was, that, as don't never seem to be in the suds, soon as “ poor-'us” could see, he fell up- Monday nor no time.” on his antagonist, and both immediately Mr. Coflin had reached the door of the disappeared from view in the bosom of “keeping-room” as the widow concluded an enormous drift.

her last remark; but pausing, with his * Come right along, Mum,” called Mr. thumb upon the latch, he turned, and, Coffin to the horror-stricken woman, who looking over his shoulder, whispered, with stood contemplating the spot where a an emphatic nou, convulsive floundering and heaving be- “ Fact is, Miss Janes, there a'n't sich a neath the snow showed that the frozen

great many women jest like Miss Cotlin." element had not yet extinguished the fire " There a'n't no two ways about that,” of passion in the breasts of the buried murmured Miss Janes, assentingly, as the heroes, —" come right along, and don't door was thrown open. be scaart of them young uns. They're Walk right in. Here, Marthy, the drefful rude, I know; but then boys will widder Janes has called to see you this be boys."

morning." The woman returned no answer to this A quiet, middle-aged woman turned time-honored defence of youthful enormi- round from the table, where she was fitties, but, hurrying on, reached the door, ting patches to a pair of pauper trousaying,

Her face was sweet, her voice • How's your health this morning, Mr. low, and, though she was of middle age, Coffin?"

every one agreed that “ Miss Coffin was “Waal, Ma'am, I'm pooty middlin' well, a real pooty woman, an'a harnsome womthank ye,” replied Phineas, slowly, and with an evident effort at recollection ; " How does thee do, Keziah Janes ? I then suddenly added, with more vivaci- am glad to see thee. Take a seat by the

fire, and warm thee after thy cold walk.”

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