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when it roams about, so that it is not likely to be pounced upon by any of the carnivora mistaking it for other night-roaming animals. In reptiles, the beautifully banded coral snake (Elaps), whose bite is deadly, is marked as conspicuously as any noxious caterpillar with bright bands of black, yellow, and red. I only met with one other example amongst the vertebrata, and it was also a reptile. In the woods around Santo Domingo there are many frogs. Some are green or brown, and imitate green or dead leaves, and live amongst foliage. Others are dull earth-coloured, and hide in holes and under logs. All these come out only at night to feed, and they are all preyed upon by snakes and birds. In contrast with these obscurely coloured species, another little frog hops about in the daytime dressed in a bright livery of red and blue. He cannot be mistaken for any other, and his flaming vest and blue stockings show that he does not court concealment. He is very abundant in the damp woods, and I was convinced he was uneatable so soon as I made his acquaintance and saw the happy sense of security with which he hopped about. I took a few specimens home with me, and tried my fowls and ducks with them, but none would touch them. At last, by throwing down pieces of meat, for which there was a great competition amongst them, I managed to entice a young duck into snatching up one of the little frogs. Instead of swallowing it, however, it instantly threw it out of its mouth, and went about jerking its head as if trying to throw off some unpleasant taste.*
* Probably the strongly contrasted colours of the spotted salamander of Southern Europe and the warning noise made by the rattlesnake inay be useful in a 'similar manner, as has been suggested by Darwin.
After travelling three leagues beyond Teustepe, we reached, near dusk, a small house by the roadside, at which had put up for the night a party of muleteers, with their mules and cargoes. Our beasts were too tired to go further, so we determined to take our chance of finding room for our hammocks. Soon after we alighted, as I sat on a stone near the door of the house, a gun went off close to us, and my horse sprang forward, nearly upon me. We soon found it was our own gun, which had been given to Rito to carry. He had strapped it behind his saddle, and one of the other mules had come up, rubbed against it, and let it off. The poor horse was only four feet from the muzzle, and the contents were lodged in its loin. A large wound was made from which the blood flowed in a great stream, until Velasquez got some burnt cloth and stanched it. Fortunately the charge in the gun was a very light one, and no vital part was touched. We arranged with the muleteers to take our cargo to Juigalpa for us, and determined to leave Rito behind to lead the horse gently to Pital. The horse, which was a very good one, ultimately recovered.
At this house the woman had eight children, the eldest, I think, not more than twelve years of age. The man who passed as her husband was the father of the youngest only. Amongst the lower classes of Nicaragua men and women often change their mates. In such cases the children remain with the mother, and take their surname from her. Baptism is considered an indispensable rite, but the marriage ceremony is often dispensed with ; and I did not notice that those who lived together without it suffered in the estimation of
their neighbours. The European ladies at Santo Domingo were sometimes visited by the unmarried matrons of the village, who were very indignant when they found that there were scruples about receiving them. They were so used to their own social observances, that they thought those of the Europeans unwarrantable prudery.
Before turning out the mules, Rito got some limes and squeezed the juice out upon their feet, just above the hoof. He did this to prevent them from being bitten by the tarantula spider, a species of Mygale that makes its nest in the ground, and is said to abound in this locality. Many of the mules are bitten in the feet on the savannahs by some venomous animal. The animal bitten immediately goes lame, and cannot be cured in less than six months, as the hoof comes off, and has to be renewed. The natives say that the Mygale is the aggressor; that it gets on the mule's foot to bite off the hairs to line its nest with, and that if not disturbed it does not injure the mule, but that if the latter tries to dislodge it, it bites immediately. I do not know whether this story be true or not, and I had no opportunity of examining a Mygale's nest to see if it was lined with hairs, but Professor Westwood informs me that all that he knows are lined with fine silk. Possibly the mules, when rambling about, step on the spider, and are then bitten by it. Velasquez told me that when he was a boy he and other children used to amuse themselves by pulling the Mygale out of its hole, which is about a foot deep in the ground. To get it out they fastened a small ball of soft wax to a piece of string, and lowered it down the hole, jerking it up and down until the spider got
exasperated so far as to bury its formidable jaws in the wax, when it could be drawn to the surface.
We had part of the kitchen to sleep in, and were so tired, and getting so accustomed to sleep anywhere, that we had a good night's rest, rose early next morning, and were soon on the road again, leaving Rito to bring on the lamed horse. We had a good view of the rock of San Lorenzo, a high cliff capping a hill, and resembling the rocks of Cuapo and Peña Blanca, but with less perpendicular sides. About this part, which lay high, as well as where we stayed the night before, there had been rains; but on the lowlands lying between the two places there had been none. Our road again lay over grassy plains and low, lightly-timbered hills, with very few houses-probably not more than one in a league. The country was now greener; they had had showers of rain, and fine grass had sprung up. Passing as we did from a dried-up district into one covered with verdure, feelings were awakened akin to those with which in the temperate zone we welcome the spring after a long winter.
As we rode on, the grass increased; there were swampy places in the hollows, and now and then very muddy spots on the road. On every side the prospect was bounded by long ranges of hills—some of them precipitous, others covered to the summits with dark foliaged trees, looking nearly black in the distance. About noon we came in sight of the Amerrique range, which I recognised at once, and knew that we had reached the Juigalpa district, though still several leagues distant from the town. Travelling on without halting we arrived at the hacienda of San Diego at four o'clock.
Velasquez expected to find in the owner an old acquaintance of his, and we had intended staying with him for the night, as our mules were tired out; but on riding up to the house we found it untenanted, the doors thrown down, and cattle stabling in it. We pushed on again. I thought I could make La Puerta, a hacienda three leagues nearer Libertad than Juigalpa, and as the road to it branched off from that to Juigalpa soon after passing San Diego, and Velasquez had to go to the latter place to make arrangements for getting our luggage sent on, I parted with him, and pushed on alone. Soon after, I crossed rather a deep river, and in a short time my mule, which had shown symptoms of distress, became almost unable to proceed, so that it was only with the greatest difficulty I could get along at all. After leading—almost dragging—it slowly for about a mile I reached a small hut, where they told me that it was three leagues to La Puerta, and only one to Juigalpa. The road to Puerta was all up hill, and it was clearly impossible for me to reach it that night, so I turned off across the savannahs, in the direction of Juigalpa, wishing that I had not separated from Velasquez. My poor beast was dragged along with much labour, and I was getting thoroughly knocked up myself. Several small temporary huts were passed, in which lived families that had come down from the mountains, bringing with them their cows to feed on the plains during the wet season. I was tempted to put up at one of these, but all were full of people, and I persevered on until it got quite dark. Just then I arrived at a hacienda near the river, and engaged a young fellow to get his horse and ride with me to the town. When my mule had a companion it