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their intermittent lights as they pass amongst the low bushes or herbage, making another twinkling firmament on earth. On other evenings, sitting inside with lighted candles and wide-opened doors, great bats flap inside, make a round of the apartment, and pass out again, or iris-winged moths, attracted by the light, flit about the ceiling, or long-horned beetles flop down on the table; and in this way I made my first acquaintance with many entomological rarities.* The heaviest rains fall in July and August, and at these times the brooks are greatly swollen; the one in front of my house sometimes carried away the little wooden bridge that crossed it, and for an hour or two became impassable, but subsided again almost as soon as the heavy rain ceased falling, for the watershed above does not extend far. Every year our operations were impeded by runs in the mines, or by small landslips stopping up our tramways and levels, or floods carrying away our dam or breaking our watercourses; but after August we considered our troubles on this score at an end for the season. Occasionally the rains lasted three or four days without intermission, but generally they would come on in the afternoon, and there would be a downpour, such as is only seen in the tropics, for an hour or two, then some clear weather, until another great bank of clouds rolled up from the north-east and sent down another deluge. In September, October, and November there are breaks of fine weather, sometimes lasting for a fortnight; but De

* In moths, numerous fine Sphingidae and Bombycidae; and in beetles, amongst many others, the rare Xestia mitida (Bates) and Hea.oplon albipenne (Bates) were first described from these evening captures. *

Ch. VII.] EXCURSIONS. 105

cember is generally a very wet month, the rains extending far into January, so that it is not until February that the roads begin to dry up.

I had much riding about. The mines worked by us, when I first went out, extended from Consuelo, a mile higher up the valley, to Pavon, a mile below Santo Domingo; and even after I had concentrated our operations to those nearer to our reduction works, there were many occasions for me to ride into the woods. I had to look after our woodcutters and charcoal-burners, to see that they did not encroach upon the lands of our neighbours, as they were inclined to do, and involve us in squabbles and lawsuits; paths were to be opened out, to bring in nispra and cedar timber; our property had to be surveyed, and new mines, found in the woods, visited and explored. Besides this, I spent most of my spare time in the forest, which surrounded us on every side, so that we could not go a mile in any direction without getting into it: longer excursions were frequent. The Nicaraguans, like all Spanish Americans, are very litigious, and every now then I would be summoned, as the representative of the company, to appear at Libertad, Juigalpa, or Acoyapo, to answer some frivolous complaint, generally made with the expectation of extorting money, but entertained and probably remanded from time to time by the often unscrupulous judges, who are so badly paid by the government that they have to depend upon the fees of suitors for their support, and are often open to corruption. These rides and strolls into the woods were very fruitful in natural-history acquisitions and observation. I shall give an account of some of those made in the immediate vicinity of Santo Domingo, and I wish I could transfer to my readers some of the pleasure that they afforded me. They gave the relief that enabled me to carry on for years an incessant struggle, under great difficulties, to bring the mines into a paying state, continually hampered for want of sufficient capital, with most inadequate machinery, and all the annoyances, delays, and disappointments inevitable in carrying on such a precarious enterprise as goldmining far in the interior of a half-civilised country. The brook that ran at the foot of the bank below my house, and there called the “Quebrada de Santo Domingo,” is dignified half a mile lower down, after pass

ing the mines of the Javali Company and receiving the

waters of another brook coming down from the westward, by the name of the Javali river. The Indians, however, both at the Indian village of Carca, seven miles back in the mountains, and those even lower down the river itself, call it “Artigua.” The preservation of these old Indian namesis important, as they might sometime or other throw considerable light on the early inhabitants of the country. In all parts of the world the names of mountains, valleys, lakes, and rivers are among the most certain memorials

of the ancient inhabitants. The reason the names of the

natural features of a country remain unchanged under the sway of successive nations, speaking totally different languages, appears to be this. The successful invaders of a country, even in the most cruel times, never exterminated the people they conquered; at the least, the young women were spared. The conquerors established their own language, and to everything they had known in their ownland they gave their own names; but for those quite

new to them, which nearly always included the moun

tains, valleys, lakes, and rivers, and often the towns and Ch. VII.] THE RIVULET ARTIGUA. 107

many of the natural productions, they accepted the names from the survivors of the conquered people, instead of inventing new ones. Often the names were corrupted, the new inhabitants altering them just a little, to render their pronunciation easier, or to make them significant in their own language. Thus the fruit of the Persea gratissima was called “ahuacatl’ by the ancient Mexicans; the Spaniards corrupted it to “avocado,” which means an advocate; and our sailors still further, to “alligator pears.” The town of Comelapa, in Chontales, the name of which means, in Spanish, “Eat a macaw,” is undoubtedly a corruption of some old Indian name of similar form to that of the not distant village of Comoapa, although the Spaniards give an absurd explanation of it, evidently invented, according to which it was so called because a sick man was cured of a deadly disease by eating the bird indicated. - of The Artigua–I shall call it so, to do what I can to save the name from oblivion—is wofully polluted by the gold-mining on its banks, and flows, a dark muddy stream, through the village of Santo Domingo, and just below it precipitates itself one hundred and twenty feet over a rocky fall. One of the forest roads leads down its banks for several miles to some small clearings, where a few scattered, Spanish-speaking Indians and halfbreeds cultivate maize and plantains. After leaving Santo Domingo, it at first follows the left bank of the stream, through low bushes and small trees of second growth, then crosses a beautiful clear brook coming down from the east, then, winding round a slope covered with great trees and dense undergrowth, reaches the site chosen for the machinery at Pavon, where a large space had been cleared, much of which was covered with grass. After descending a steep hill, the Artigua, with its muddy water, was crossed. Here, in the dry season, in the hot afternoons, the wet sandy banks were the favourite resorts of multitudes of butterflies, that gathered in great masses on particular moist spots in such numbers that with one swoop of my met I have enclosed more than thirty in its gauzy folds. These butterflies were principally different species of Callidryas, yellow and white, mixed with brown and red species of Timetes, which, when disturbed, rose in a body and circled about; on the ground, looking like a bouquet; when rising, like a fountain of flowers. In groups, by themselves, would be five or six specimens of yellow and black Papilios, greedily sucking up the moisture, and vibrating their wings, now and then taking short flights and settling again to drink. Hesperidae, too, abounded; and in a favourable afternoon more than twenty different species of butterflies might be taken at these spots, the finest being a lovely white, green, and black swallow-tailed Papilio, the first capture of which filled me with delight. Near the river were some fallen-down wooden sheds, partly overgrown with a red-flowered vine. Here a large spider (Nephila) built strong yellow silken webs, joined one on to the other, so as to make a complete curtain of web, in which were entangled many large butterflies, generally forest species, caught when flying across the clearing. I was at first surprised to find that the kinds that frequent open places were not caught, although they abounded on low white-flowered shrubs close to the webs; but, on getting behind them, and trying to frighten them within the silken curtain,

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