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advantage. I fear there is a more ignoble reason that has as much to do with this as their love of home, their confirmed and innate laziness. They shrink from any labour that they are not forced to undertake. As an instance, no one during at least two generations that the house had been occupied had brought in even a log of wood for a seat, and a table would, I fancy, be beyond their wildest dreams of comfort. An Avocado tree grew before their door, the only fruit tree to be seen, and it was nearly destroyed by being deeply cut into. I asked why they had injured it, and they said they fired at it as a target, and, lead being scarce, they dug out the bullets with their knives; yet within thirty paces of their hut there were plenty of pine trees that would have done equally well as a target, but then they would have had to walk a few yards from their door.
How was such a spot first chosen for settlement ? All the names of the places around are Indian, and probably in the old times when there was continual warfare amongst the tribes, the remnants of one, conquered and nearly extirpated, fled to the mountains, and occupied a locality from necessity and for safety that they would not otherwise have chosen. Afterwards when a new generation arose they looked on the pineclad hills as their home and birthright.
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Great range composed of boulder clay-Daraily-Lost on the savannahs
-Jamailý-A deer-hunter's family—Totagalpa— Walls covered with cement, and whitewashed—Ocotal—The valley of DepiltoHawks and small birds-Depilto-Silver mine-Geology of the valley-Glacial drift-The glacial period in central AmericaEvidence that the ice extended to the tropics-Scarcity of gold in the valley gravels--Difference of the mollusca on the east and west coast of the Isthmus of Darien--The refuge of the tropical American animals and plants during the glacial period—The lowering of the sea-level—The land-shells of the West Indian islandsThe Malay archipelago-Easter islands-Atlantis–Traditions of the deluge.
BIDDING adieu to our hosts, we mounted our mules and descended the ridge on which their hut is built. The range was very steep, and fully 1200 feet high, composed entirely of boulder clay. This clay was of a brown colour, and full of angular and subangular blocks of stone of all sizes up to nine feet in diameter. The hill on the slope that we descended was covered with a forest resembling that around Santo Domingo, though the trees were not so large ; but tree-ferns, palms, lianas, and broad - leaved Heliconiæ and Melastoma were again abundant. In these forests, I was told, the " Quesal,” the royal bird of the Aztecs (Trogon resplendens), is sometimes found.
After descending about 1000 feet, we issued from the forest and passed over well - grassed savannahs
surrounded by high ranges, on the eastern slopes of which were forests of pine-trees. The ground was entirely composed of boulder clay, and not until we had travelled about five miles did we see any rock in situ. This boulder clay had extended all the way from San Rafael, and ranges of hills appeared to be composed entirely of it. The angular and subangular stones that it contained were an irregular mixture of different varieties of trap, conglomerate, and schistose rocks. In the northern states of America such appearances would be unhesitatingly ascribed to the action of ice, but I was at the time unprepared to believe that the glacial period could have left such a memorial of its existence within the tropics, at no greater elevation above the sea than 3000 feet.
Riding on without stopping, we passed through Yales, a small village of scattered huts, and reached a river flowing north through a fine alluvial plain almost uninhabited. After crossing the river three times, we turned off to the north-west, and passed over low grassy ranges with scattered pine-trees, and in the hollows a few clearings for growing maize, wheat, and beans. At noon we halted for an hour to let our mules feed on a small alluvial flat, for they had had nothing to eat the night before on the bleak mountain summit.
Continuing our journey, we arrived at Daraily, where was a fine large clearing, with stone walls and a sugarmill. The house was about half a mile from the road, at the foot of a hill covered with scattered pine-trees, forming a fine background to the scene. The farm was well cultivated, and kept clean from weeds. Altogether the scene was a most unusual one for the central pro
vinces of Nicaragua, and reflected great credit on the proprietor, Don Estevan Espinosa. Had Nicaragua many such sons they would soon change the face of the country, and turn many a wilderness into a fruitful garden.
Passing over a stony range, we descended by a steep pass into the valley of the Estely, and followed it down to the westward across low dry hills with prickly bushes and scrub. About five o'clock we reached an extensive plain, covered with prickly trees and shrubs, and pressed on to get to the village of Palacaguina, where we proposed to pass the night. There were many paths leading across the plain, and there was no person to be seen to direct us which to take; whilst the scrubby trees interrupted our view in every direction. Rito had once before been in the neighbourhood, and thought he knew the way, so we submitted ourselves to his guidance; but, as it proved, he took a path which led us past, instead of to, the town. Night set in as we were pushing across dry weed-covered hills, destitute of grass or water, every minute expecting to meet some one who could tell us about the road. Rito was still confident that he was right, although both Velasquez and myself had concluded we must have got on the wrong road. The only animal we met with was a black and white skunk, with a young one following it. The mother ran too fast up a rocky slope for the young one, which was left behind, and came towards us. It was very pretty, with its snowwhite bushy tail laid over its black back. We were, however, afraid to touch it, fearing that, young as it was, it might have a supply of that fætid fluid that its kind discharge with too sure an aim at any assailant. The skunks move slowly about, and their large white tails render them very conspicuous. Their formidable means of defence makes for them the obscure colouration of other dusk-roaming mammals unnecessary, as they do not need concealment.
Hour after hour passed, and we reached no house, nor met any one on the road; and at last, about nine o'clock, we determined to stop at a spot where there was a little grass, but no water, as the poor jaded mules had been ridden since daylight, excepting for an hour at midday. We spread our waterproof sheet from the branch of a tree, and lay down dinnerless and supperless, having had nothing but a little sweet bread and native cheese all day; we were now too thirsty to eat even that. Hearing some frogs croaking in the distance, Velasquez went away in the direction from whence the sound came, hoping to find some water: but there was none, the frogs being in damp cracks in the ground. About eleven we heard the noise of men talking; and holloaing to them, our shouts were returned. We ran across the plain, through the bushes, and found two Indians, who were returning from some plantations of maize to their home, several miles distant. Both were nearly naked, the youngest having only a loin-cloth on. When talking to us, they shouted as if we were many yards distant; and as soon as one began to answer a question, the other went on repeating, in a higher key, what the first said.
They told us that we had come two leagues past Palacaguina, and were on the road to a small town called Pueblo Nuevo, and directed us how we should find the right track in the morning for continuing our journey to Ocotal. They were highly amused at our