• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Frontispiece
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Chapter I
 Chapter II
 Chapter III
 Chapter IV
 Chapter V
 Chapter VI
 Chapter VII
 Chapter VIII
 Chapter IX
 Chapter X
 Chapter XI
 Chapter XII
 Chapter XIII
 Chapter XIV
 Chapter XV
 Chapter XVI
 Index






Mystery cities
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095451/00001
 Material Information
Title: Mystery cities Exploration and adventure in Lubaantun
Added title page title: Exploration and adventure in Lubaantun
Physical Description: 3 p. l., 3-10, 13-252 p. : front., plates, ports., plans. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Gann, Thomas William Francis, 1867-1938
Publisher: Duckworth
Place of Publication: London
London
Publication Date: 1925
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Mayas -- Antiquities   ( lcsh )
Indians of Central America -- Belize   ( lcsh )
Lubaantun Site (Belize)   ( lcsh )
Antiquities -- Belize   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Belize   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Belize
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Thomas Gann ...
 Record Information
Source Institution: Belize National Library Service and Information System
Holding Location: Belize National Library Service and Information System
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 04480730
lccn - 26008294
Classification:
System ID: UF00095451:00001

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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Frontispiece
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    List of Illustrations
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Chapter I
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 18a
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 20a
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 24a
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 26a
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
    Chapter II
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
    Chapter III
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 52a
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 54a
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 56a
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 60a
    Chapter IV
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 62a
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 64a
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 66a
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 70a
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 72a
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
    Chapter V
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 88a
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 92a
        Page 93
    Chapter VI
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
    Chapter VII
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
    Chapter VIII
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 128a
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 132a
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
    Chapter IX
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 142a
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
    Chapter X
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 162a
    Chapter XI
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 168a
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
    Chapter XII
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 180a
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
    Chapter XIII
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 200a
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 202a
    Chapter XIV
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 204a
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 206a
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 208a
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
    Chapter XV
        Page 216
        Page 216a
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 218a
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 220a
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 222a
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 224a
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
    Chapter XVI
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
    Index
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
Full Text


MYSTERY CITIES

By

THOMAS GANN







MYSTERY CITIES
Exploration and Adventure in Lubaantun



BY
THOMAS GANN
F.R.G.S ., F.R.A., MJR.L .,
Member of the Mya Society
Author of In An Unknown Land "


DUCKWORTH
3 HENRIETTA STREET, LONDON. W.Cd











































































INCRNSE-PURN-ER, RELONGtNG TO NO KNOW'. CIVILISATION

b'ycmf ipiere e- P 9"




























FdR. PNWu 1983
dA rinbs rewso

























sr*Te ir Gnta riad by
The Caus FRar Limul.
Ladon a -cd sn .au











CONTENTS

Caum I.-Belize-Piracy in Caribbean-Trip to Mojo Cay in
the Boosi-A persistent tiger shark-Prolific waters-
An ancient fishing-station-A manatee hunt-Disposal of
the carcase of a dead mermaid-Black vutnree-Harpooning
sting ray-Trip up the Belize River-Negro landed pro-
prietors in the swamps-Negro dogs-An ideal life-A sprat
to catch a mackerel-Set out for the interior-Travel py
pitpan-" Sicky "-Doctor-flies-The Boom-Endurance of
paddlers-Their chants-An Indian's house-Sleep in a
washbowl-Paddlers' rations and their methods of cooking-
Shooting iguana-Primitive cookery-Beaver Dam-Flood in
the river-Curious articles brought down by the flood-
Secured by mahogany cutters at risk of their lives-Cost of
beer in Flores-Flooded out of hut-Amusements at Beaver
Dam-Fishing and shooting-Encounter with a tapir swim-
ming the river-We laso him, but he escapes-Arrival at
Banana Bank. 13

Czarma II.-Park-like scenery-A narrow escape-Miserable
Indians-Disgusting hammocks-A village of criminals-
Earth-eating children-Prevaleuce of hookworm-A dan-
gerous night-ride-Lost in the bush-A miserable plight-
Protection against mosquitoes-Adventure with a snake-
Horses' instinct superior to human intelligence-Arival at
Cayo-Doctor's visit welcome-Native fees-A curious
superstition-A oure for immortality-A post-mortem feast-
Cowardliness of Central American tiger and ooa-Story of
Marcelino Velasquez-His battle with a jaguar 3

Curam II-Visit to Beaque Vilo-Mesisa dance-Etiquette
of dance-Men's and women's dress-Effective ornaments of
ie beetles-Description of the dance-Mysterious ginger
wiae-The Kubipol procession-Its antiquity-" Muddy "
Esquivel-Diffaculty in getting transport to rains of Xunaa-
tunich-A heterogeneous camp outfit-Making camp-
Narrow escape from coral-snake-Chicle is the cum of the
Indians of British Honduras-Former luxuries now neca-
aeies--" I am a chiclero; I don't work "--Lack of per-
manent benefit to country of chicle-Excavation in Mound B
3







4 CONTENTS

-Coatebts of Mound B-An aboril mal Ameian jeweer of
.30 year ago-lndias believe th ocp the oc ties to
revena himself an me-Mays baued with each individual
their p rsnal pouesin 11-Ea cafvan of mound anlnihned-
Mona A-d watw-Poblem of where ancient inhabitants
of city got their watrupply-Tole, red ba&g, mopitoes
bolta-elss. and other inset putS . 46
Cumn IV.-Ecavtior n Mound E-A nbuial mound ad ito
oateate-Probable a of occunpat-Ecavatioa postponed
-Mo- d C and atl--Sculpt of wsrlor-The only date
rceeded in the reIs. JalnMy 3st. 90o--Oteal le Ro-
bbly eovend with pointed taceo-Dee4rtlor by the Mays
of a tUeir magnif t dcles for sone aknoawn eason-
Difficlty of taking paper cast of aulptae-Ecoetric
iat foand beneath sal-Watr ttii-H-a asaed many
Uve-Food osily pocrableby by nae lest in tha bush. but
not wat-Water ects provide led water ior da ueg-
A celebrated bask-dotoer-The legend of the raua, which
gave t he their eam of Stone Maide "-BDagla with
the bed ctdr to how Bme the bherab ed s samdie by
him-Us of fia-drill-Doctor'* bnrmadon ot eatbly
Merble- Coron d Jesus Isaws d thder mediOlal
as-Mound D-Altr erected by modern Indians on o of
the fragment of the ancient stelbefore which thir ancet
woshipped-Blttae by Taojore aent curbios smdy
Stange incident of stray dog-An ladian war or stari-
Our Eiba woman cook. Chaps Cht-Swr leai a and
cooking tecladqe-Cious teabtentof a adis baby-
Carib achoolbmpter in Maya vlage-Rie of the Cail a*d
ate of the Iya-Btack hosesta and aorpo . 61
CnarrA V.-WVbt to newly-dicoveret nrin-A curious metod of
eotin a through the bua b-A posisdng dug-out
owner-EH dowofaB-The Noith Plm -SeuBa moud of the
lat occupants of tewaen -The vehicle ledet'irrsponsible,
cae-ee fts -Cab ho Ube 6 to th blshi-Toasp e at
sew reI-Blel-t sin by ldiadoetor-A forttfed paik.
and ob probable se-" oa l t o to asttck tewagod-
Umbneab ants' arsosm t flsteious behawies of
sn.ah-The man's t IIaIt- M r a the ra A oetma
-DsMription of slas talpte-Bavatlon in aorads tmad
the tepbe-Wao at Xeratauch ands-Tawnfads tg the
doath pd-Clhiaps CibrA sMa-'he Akhde at Sucoti-
Raceptia of te gad of dea in the d lievr-A aam y
ighta-leAst T nt my ahe of dtLs of asesb-Vaibs







CONTENTS 5

RAM
hbanhes of Maya and other aborigines who have occupied
Xarsitunich over period of 4,ooo years 7

C sm--Sa-Secrecy of Indians over location of their villages in
dne bush-An unreliable interpreter-A bad mad-Gold I
-Arrival in Cherro-Child arrived off by jaguar-We sft up
Lr1 the jaguar, and get him with a lure-Dangerous steeping
quartbc -Chrious Indian superstitios-Personal appear-
mnce of the devil-An immoral suggestion-Leave Chorro
fir Yalbac-A sinister piece of bush-Disappearance of
Bernardino Coh, an Indian-Vanished without signs of a
truggles in little forest glade-Disappearance of Sergeant
Baucombe, also vanished in a forest glade, leaving mule
and accoutrements behind, and is never again seen-Attack
by the Cichenha Indians-Disappearance of -Mr. Rhys 94

CarT VII.-Arrival in Yalbac-A ten-year-old hunter-Indian
arrives with tale of a oave in the bush containing antiquities-
We visit-the cave-Exquisite scenery-Discovery of centuries-
o torches-Exploring the cave-Lost in the cave, without
ight-An image and altar in the cave-Discovery of great
cache of pottery vessels-Indians' instinct for finding their
way in the bush-A terrible accident-Surgery under dimf-
culties-Hunting for mahogany-trees in the bush-Prepara-
tions for -mahogany-cutting-Felling the trees, and getting
the logs out of the bh-A first log party-A primitive
least-Relations become strained between the guests-
Trouble arives-A fight to the death with machetes between
negro and Indian-A terrible wound-Convenient after-
efects of head injury o8

Caui VIII.-Fishing along the coast-Trip to Punta Gorda-
Garibs-Their wonderful seamanship-Start for the ruins of
Labaantun-Dangerous dug-out-Limited intelligence ef
Kekchi Indians-Game very plentiful-A bad run-Tigers-
Carious names given to, falls by the Indians-Pleasant
tsavelling-Yellow tails-The Indian woman's hard lot-Join
Lady Brown and Mitchell Hedges in little bush hut-Putting
up bush houses at ruins-Carried by Indians to ruins in a
hammock-Pig.kiUng-Profiteering in corn cakes-Com-
manistic systemzamongst-Kekchi Indians-Wonderful instinct
of blind boy, working in forest-Indian lost in the bush-
Village turns -out to look for him-Kekchi loafer; his idea
of becoming- a landowner without capital-The lost man
iound-An Indian miser-Making corn plantation: a sacred
ite amongst the Maya-Degeneracy of modem Maya rl







PAG
CaEla IR-DIovery of ubterlmram t--reMt hops as to
Sin contum-UHtr dhippotam, b-Aother mystery-
4adisam turn up or edial treatent-Their ailments-
Woodem performed by amateur armed with a medicine
chat usually ureliabe-Back t their ancient emedia-
Eacavation of two burial moundw-Contents of fint burial
mound-Food orieda with the dead-Age of mound--
Plque with possible data in Maysa heroglyphiec-Wonderful
beed-drees and costumes of ancient Inhabitants, as shown
in Afguines-Female fguere-Pind skeleton, apparently
emaler Z37
CAumrm X.-EZpeditioa i search of came-Meet. with disaster-
Aoldentau () shooting of a friend-A chronic lomr-An
ingetonu dream-Meets with no eward-F nding figuriaes
bowing Eropean latfence-Mysterlom mwai heard in the
bush-Its probable origin-Indians ae ghost-haunted,
spirit-obse ed people-Ideal location of camp-Game-
Ealy pocured supper-Indim' weil howl of triumph-
Difculty i getting men-Muddy bean of a cave-Finding
an Icenm -buer-Dodging a tiger-Explorig a cave-
Wasted trip-A mountain cow-Man will not admitwhy they
object to work in the ruin-May unused to hard work-
Communal labour-An open-air picic 5s
CiasTm XL-Two Maya dialects spoke around Lubaaatun-
Indisan' mode of e little altered in last thee conturies-
Old village sites frequently found In the bash-Diffculty in
joking great trees, too large to burn-The local AJbld's
court-Comm s ms tribunal-Two case involving the
etmeal triangle-Indians' idea of Holy Week-Cortem'
route from Mexico to Omoa pase near Labsantun-Joe
Toh. my Kekchl boy-A wake. or uIo ri-Cur ou funeral
custo-n-Incense-.brmr -Object buried with the dead.
and their function-Objects buried with women now and in
former timm--C*ar names of Indians and their meainag
-Ttaces of totemism srtll urviving-Stung by scorpions-
Hedge*s' scorpion stimg-VWit of the Marching Army--The
.mf.e of the a wrdd 1s.
Csum Xn I .-Men work ast tas days in slemsr Snta-
**Pa getting wmiad-Tmne4me ai.p -DiWSesu.e bh.mi
northern Maya and Xdhl-Thriftleaeass of Sekohi-A
ekold o-ehbstra-iiHt the AlcdP-Medical treatment
of labouwe fii onl pou s P ny valmasm "-
A pathetic cas-The T moaunta ud th m ouIse-Ftality
WAich banm or those who emanata anmcet rave*-We






CONTENTS 7
PAGE
s three suffer-The open. salubrious country of ancient
times, now bush-covered and unhealthy-The Cortez'dance at
Agulrcate-Ontgin of the dance-Dramatis personz--Thed
Plot-Not suitable for-a London theatre as the play lasts
ir asx bours-Weird and grotesque music-Light refresh-
weats provided during the performance-A second funeral,
with curious ceremonies-Death regarded without fear or
repugnance by the, Kekchi-Happy release from an unat-
tractive life-The ceremony at the cemetery--Asence of
old people amongst the Indians 76
CArtM XIII.-Hiring under the Labour Law of British Hon-
duras-Ruins on the western side of the citadel-My cook
not recovered from Semana Santa-Lady marooned on the
rocks-Indian women's face-powder-Women's toilet acces-
sories amongst the ancient Maya-Why modern Maya women
gave up their old face-powder-Tosh's snake-A new use
for painted stucco-Slender resources of Maya-An unen-
thausastic bridegroom-Flora's milpa-Contents of late
burial mound-Ancient pottery fragment in modern grav-
Burial mounds of the last period-Opening a stone-faced
pyramid-Cutos-Paralle, between Lubaantun pyramid and
St. Paul's Cathedral-Scamped work of the ancient builders
-Problem presented by cuts and skull-Ceremonial
eannibalism-Large snake's eggs-Terrific heat at the ruins-
A too medicinal, drinking water go
CaUrTa XIV.-Purchase of "i Devil Dance masks and costumes
-Believed to be haunted-Origin of Devil Dance "-The
performers, and dress-Mother's petition to join her dead
son SOon granted-Amateur curio-hunters-Excavations
touad in the ruins are of considerable age-Bywhom made,
and for what purpose-" Killing" objects buried with the
dead very annoying to modern archieologists-Pickets
placed by men to give warning of visits to detect loafing-
A weird pool-Curious pebbles-Petrifaction while alive-
lady Brown 6res the bush-A terrific conflagration, covering
so acres-Indians impervious to heat and smoke, which
neaty choke ns-A wonderful pyrotechnic display-Des-
t ction of insects and small animals in the fire-The former
bak ua thick as ever in a couple of days-Remarkable echoes
at the ruia--Objects found in clearing the amphitheatre 203

BlP a* XV.-The Amphitheatre-Ingenious seating accom-
`mdation--Seats correspond to those of a modern theatre-
Applches to the amphitheatre-Acconmodates an audience
of ,000 to o1,ooo people-Unique amongst Maya ruins-







p crren ts

Ih t of t01 1 pIo N.O nh Ias s ams in anj nt
4syr-Cadel l t abodsigl building on the American
ontmt-Premssed an Amposrm g spectacl whh occupied-
Wasteful methods of arcultur-An imprenable fortesw-
tbh fgwrines-A oametry belo tngi o t he las occtpateB-
Ramlls in the dtadel by people of the latest oeopaoido. and
their eoatentm-The rnrte of as older ity He bleat the
pwat Stadel-4tructuso comprised in the etadel-
aSoosive pedob at ootpatona of the Labastan stte tar

Cuan XVI,-MiA m iAnbhed, but epidemic of 'flp eoummaau -
Epldemi Masribedo to devil liberated by the neawation of
bia mounds-Cume for he death compleu-Mydger from
the -pu Saoa-Puimitive furniture and the simple ife-
AUnised wardrobe-Alohol the css~ of the Maya-The
entire buman t less esistent to alcohol than formery-
The ladisa will give anything to get Lam-A bold hawk-
A curious use for bowdsl-Civiliing ibaeoas of a wooden
coSa-An opportunist-Ourabosmes qitwork-tmpoislble
to ot Indian labour newt year-Kehu poor labou rew-
Neat year we shall ue nepones-Tame liasa-Hedges and
my cook bth stricken with f e epidemic-A jaguar and cub
arod the hut at ught-Att-ated to village by pis-
edge has temperature of ar degrees-We leave Labeanton
-Regret-Christening of streams bounding the ruin-
Gallep and bhi speculation in pork-Arrival in Puata Goerd,
sad trip to Water Cay-Tewfic thanderstom-The Cra
itrhck by EIghtnein Narrow pcape from falnl mast-
U11itche H6edg paes an anxious night alhpse . *35


.. S4


I*D= .










LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


mcmpLSZ-BURNBR, BELONGING TO NO KNOWN CIVILISATION (p.93)Frontispiece
Facing Page
aW ; :A CANAL 18
Lx E: BURIAL VAULT, NO LONGER USED 18
" MRMAID ABOUT TO BE SKINNED, MOJO CAY 20
SAWAThE MEAT HUNG OUT TO DRY, MOJO CAY 20
MlPAN, OR DUO-OUT. 24
0IQTIAITIr O FALLS ON RIO GRANDE 24
WARING BOWL, 51T. BY 3FT., AS BED 26
1H3 AUTHOR, SITTING BETWEEN INNER PYRAMID AND OUTER SKIN
OF LATER STRUCTURE, AT LUBAANTUN .20
IPRPARING CHICLE, OR CHEWING-GUM 52
OUNDIAN OBJECTS FROM LAPIDARIES' MOUND 52
SCCOOTIC SHAPED FLINTS, BENQUE VIEJO 54
PAINTED VASE FROM NEIGHBOURHOOD OF BENQUE VIJO 54
UMMI or THEM BURIAL MOUND 56
BlNQUE VIIo : PLA 6 .
PAINTED VASE SHOWING LONG-NOSED GOD 60
SOQFE VIIBO: GREAT MOUND 62
G or LABOURERS 62
-*LA INSCRtIBBD WITH DATE CORRESPONDING TO JANUARY 31ST,
A.D. 590 64
ALTAR WITH FIGURE OP THE DEATH GOD 64
nAVANJO STELA, COUNTERPART OF THAT AT BENQUE VIJO 66
2VfRSR OF STELA, DATE A.D. 540 66
aW=LEN MONOLITH AND CROSS 70
wn COO 70
4* PAINTErD RED, YELLOW, AND BLACK, BRNQUE VIEJO 72
BLAM AND FIGURINES FROM THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF BENQUt
J o 88
'SRwBS-BURNERt OR THE LATE MAYA PERIOD 92








:o LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

LAT C10tem3 lMbWW, MR. atWUnt.L UnDOe, AmD OD. aMW,
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MYSTERY CITIES


CHAPTER I

Bense--Piracy in Caribbean-Trip to Mojo Cay in the Booksis-A per-
sistent tiger shark-Prolific waters-An ancient fishing-station-A
manatee hunt-Disposal of the carcase of a dead mermaid-Black
vultures-Harpooning sting ray-Trip up the Belize River-Negro
landed proprietors in the swamps-Negro dogs-An ideal life-A
sprat to catch a mackerel-Set out for the interior-Travel by pitpan
-" Sicky "-Doctor-flies-The Boom-Endurance of paddlers-
Their chants-An Indian's house-Sleep in a washbowl-Paddlers'
rations and their methods of cooking-Shooting iguana-Primitive
cookery-Beaver Dam-Flood in the river-Curious articles brought
down by the flood-Secured by m;lhogany cutters at risk of their
ives-Cost of beer in Flores-Flooded out of hut-Amusements at
Beaver Dam-Fishing and shooting-Encounter with a tapir swim-
ming the river-We lasso him, but he escapes-Arrival at Banana
Bank.

BELIZE, the capital of British Honduras, is a favourite
jumping-off place for expeditions into the unknown and
unexplored hinterland of Central America, whether their
object be archaeological, scientific, or commercial. The
Interior abounds in ruined cities, temples, and palaces of
the ancient inhabitants; unknown species of birds, beasts,
and insects; orchids, and other plants; valuable woods,
such as sapodillo, mahogany, logwood, and rosewood;
gold, silver, opal, and other minerals, sufficient to satisfy
the desires of all comers, whether they seek adventure,
Gain, or merely, like the Athenians, "some new thing."
- Owing to its geographical situation in the centre of the five
little republics of Central America, compared to which the
Balkan States are as a flock of turtle-doves, it affords a
etategic position to political refugees from Mexico,
Be 16






MYSTERY CITIES


Guatemala, Honduras, and Salvador, as here in the shadow of
the Great Empire they are safe from reprisals, and can
with impunity plot the overthrow of the party in power,
and their own return to La Patria and the grafts of office.
One can always foretell a revolution by the state of the
Belize hotels, for when they are unduly crowded it means
that the wise ones have got out of the storm-centre while
the going was good, and taken refuge in Belize.
The town derives its name from Wallace (pronounced
in Spanish Valis," or Balis), a famous Scottish buccaneer
of the seventeenth century, who, with his band, is said to
have been the first settler. They built rude bush houses
over the mangrove swamp, as the shallow water, with its
innumerable cays, bays, and inlets, afforded them protection
when pursued by ships of war. it is reputed to be built
upon its chief imports and exports, i.e. gin bottles and
mahogany logs, an assertion not without foundation in fact,
for wherever excavations are made in the town, gin bottles
and mahogany logs and chips, used for filling the original
swamp, are unearthed in vast quantities, some of them
probably dating back to the days of the earliest settlers.
That piracy still survives in the Caribbean the following
extraordinary occurrence will show. On the night of
June 3oth, the schooner Olimpia, one of the numerous
small sailing-vessels trading between Belize, the Bay Islands,
and points along the Central American coast, sailed from
Eastern Harbour, Utilla, for Coxen Hole, carrying, amongst
other freight, z,ooo silver dollars. She had twelve souls on
board, including passengers and crew. In the early hours
of the morning of July Ist the crew were asleep in the hold,
and the passengers in the cabin, the only persons awake
being the captain and the sailor keeping the deck watch,
both of whom were on deck. They were suddenly startled





MYSTERY CITIES


by 6 terrific disturbance which broke out in the hold and
cabin--shouts and groans of men, terrified screaming of
women, accompanied by a fusillade of revolver shots.
~ey, both rushed for the cabin door, but were shot dead
in their tracks while descending the stairway. What had
happened was this. Before leaving Utilla a gigantic negro,
named Robert MacField, a resident of the place, had got
wind bf the presence on board the schooner of the 2,000
silver dollars, and, arming himself with a couple of revolvers
and a supply of cartridges, had stowed away when no one
was about, during the dusk of the evening, in the forward
part of the hold. About two o'clock the next morning he
emerged quietly from his hiding-place, and first deliberately
shot to death the two sailors sleeping in the hold, then,
passing into the cabin through a sliding door which com-
municated with the hold, he shot three male passengers,
none'of whom was armed, suddenly awakened from sleep,
tbefre they could realise what had occurred. The captain
of the vessel, White Buck by name, who had been on deck,
was by this time hurrying down the cabin steps, followed by
'the deck watch, a man named Van Wyck Hyde. Without
amnioment's hesitation MacField shot the captain in the
heads his 'corpse tumbling down on to the cabin floor, and
Before the unfortunate Hyde could make his escape back
-to the deck again, as he endeavoured to do on seeing the
captain fall, MacField shot him also in the head, killing him
Immediately. There now only remained in the cabin with
MacField a passenger, Walter Ross (the owner of the money),
his wife and baby, his sister, and his sister-in-law, Elsie
'Morgan (the only ultimate survivor, as will be seen, of the
.luckless twelve). MacField had spared Ross, as he was
XeB only one who knew where the money was secreted;
be'and is family were evidently paralysed with fear, and






MYSTERY' CITES


nt no condition to put up any sort of fight for their lives
against the murderer. Ross, at MacField's orders, first
produced the bags of silver, then scuttled the boat by
boring auger holes in her bottom, and finally, assisted by
the women, launched the little dug-out which was carried on
the deck of the schooner. Into this frail craft descended
MacField carrying the coin, Ross, the three women, and the
baby. Hardly had they shoved off from the sinking
schooner than MacField drew his revolver and deliberately
shot Ross, his wife, and sister, shooting repeatedly till all
were dead, notwithstanding their heart-rending pleas and
prayers for mercy, the women weeping bitterly and grovelling
on their knees on the floor of the little dug-out. He next
threw the corpses overboard, followed by the baby, whom
he did not even take the trouble to kill. On seeing this
holocaust, Elsie Morgan jumped overboard, but as she
rose to the surface MacField shot at her, wounding her
in the arm. (This was evidently his last cartridge.) Realis-
ing that she had no chance of making the land by swimming
with one arm out of action, she endeavoured to grasp the
side of the dug-out, but was savagely battered over the
head and shoulders by MacField with the revolver, till she
was half-unconscious, and had to let go, upon which MacField,
evidently believing that she was dead, paddled off towards
the shore. Elsie Morgan was by no means dead, however,
and possibly, suffering as she was from slight concussion,
was less in danger of drowning than she would normally
have been ; she was at any rate brought to full consciousness
by feeling herself bumping up against a hatch which had
located off as the schooner sank, and, clinging desperately
to this frail support, she was borne in on the current to the
coast of the island of Ruatan. MacField in the meantime
had made his way to Utilla in the dug-out.






MYSTERY CITIES


Next morning a fisherman going to attend his net found
the dead body of the baby, and the empty dorey stranded
on the shore; he reported the matter, when a search, in
which MacField took a prominent part, was at once instituted
for the schooner and other members of the crew. Elsie
Morgan, on reaching the shore, was so terrified at the idea
of encountering MacField that she hid herself in the jungle,
where for five days she managed to subsist on such fruit
as she could find, till she was discovered by her uncle, while
searching near where the dead child and the dorey had been
found, in a state of complete exhaustion, and was persuaded
to give a detailed account of the whole ghastly occurrence.
MacField in the meantime had sold his house in Utilla and
sailed away to El Porvenir, a village on the mainland.
Elsie Morgan's uncle, on hearing her tale, set out with his
Winchester rifle for La Ceiba, which seemed his most likely
destination, with the object of killing MacField. Not finding
him there, he reported the matter to the authorities, who
telegraphed along the coast to have him arrested wherever
found. The President of Honduras, making a tour of the
Republic, was at that time in El Porvenir, and MacField was
promptly arrested by the Presidential Guard, and sent back
to Ruatan. There was, unfortunately, a flaw in the evidence
as, according to Honduranean law, two witnesses are
necessary in order to obtain a conviction. The citizens
of Ruatan were, however, greatly incensed at this dastardly
crime, and themselves executed justice on the criminal by
taking him from gaol and promptly hanging him. It may
,be said that he died an abject coward, begging mercy from
his executioners on his knees, wt, ping, screaming, grovelling,
and asserting that he was unfit to die. Nor is this the only
crime of the kind which has been committed during recent
-years, and, curiously enough, in the second case the pirates,






MYSTERY CITIES


who had robbed a trading schooner and murdered the
crew under very similar circumstances, were also brought
to justice by the intervention of a woman passenger, meeting
the just reward of their deeds upon the gallows in Belize
gaol
Belize itself is a picturesque little place; its white-walled,
red-roofed, broad-verandahed houses, standing in spacious
grounds filled with palms, fruit-trees, and flowering shrubs,
bathed in perpetual sunshine, and cooled by almost constant
sea-breezes, render it one of the most delightful spots in
Central America. Wide canals, spanned by picturesque
bridges and traversed by dug-outs and other small craft,
which run the whole length of the town, have given it the
title of the Venice of the Caribbean," by which it is some-
times known.
While in Belize I took my little boat, the Booksi, to
Mojo Cay, near the mouth of Belize River, a small, flat
island consisting chiefly of mangrove swamp, but with a
little solid sandy patch towards the north-east end. It was
at one time used as a Government quarantine station, but
had to be given up, as, owing to the sand-flies and mosquitoes,
it is in calm weather an extremely unpleasant place to
live in. The sea around it is shallow, and the banks of the
mainland all round are flat and covered with dense man-
grove swamp; in fact, a more desolate and inhospitable
prospect it would be impossible to imagine; but these warm,
shallow waters are literally swarming with marine life.
One morning I set out from the cay in a small dug-out
about 5 a.m., to avoid the swarm of sand-lies which had
made their way through the meshes of my mosquito net,
and ade life a misery with their needle-like stings. I
paddled out into the glassy waters of the cay-enclosed bay,
which in the dead calm were without a ripple, when suddenly










































BELIZE : A CANAL


DtLIZE: BURIAL VAULT NO LONGER USED


[p. IS





MYSTERY CITIES


there appeared, not ten yards from the dug-out, the ominous
triangular fin of a great tiger shark, making dead for me.
I turned the dorey just in time to escape a head-on collision,
and I could feel his great body actually slide along the side
of the little craft, rocking her dangerously. Turning, I
made for the shore, paddling as I never paddled before or
since, dreading every moment that the cranky little craft
would capsize from a collision with the great fish, which
evidently realized that she contained a potential breakfast,
but fortunately had not got sufficient brain-power to work
out the problem of getting at it, for he followed, within a
few yards, right up to the wharf, and only turned out to
sea again when I had landed. This stretch of water is a
regular hunting-ground for sharks of all sizes, attracted, no
doubt, by the shoals of mullet and other small fish with
which it swarms. Mojo Cay itself was evidently used by the
ancient Maya as a fishing-station, to which they resorted
in order to capture manatee, or sea cows (the mermaid of
the ancient mariners), and to fish, as innumerable flint
spear-heads have been found here, with thousands of
circular pottery rings, probably used as net sinkers. Many
tons-of manatee bones have been washed out from the
northern end of the cay, where they had been dumped by
the ancient inhabitants, who doubtless struck these great,
unwieldy mammals with flint-headed lances. I witnessed
thekdeath of one of them, nine feet long, and weighing
maay "hundred pounds, which was harpooned from a small
dorey by a couple of San Pedro fishermen. He looked very
h6e an immense seal, with a great, flat tail, tiny eyes so
l0* inf flesh as to be almost invisible, a tremendously tough,
tic skin, fully one inch thick, and a head very like a
4S*a, with stiff bristles all round the mouth. These
tflsare usually very shy, and will not allow a dug-out,





o MYSTERY CITIES
no matter how silently paddled, to approach within harpoon-
ing distance, but this one appeared to be asleep on the
surface of the water, as he allowed the two paddlers to
sneak up within striking distance, when the man standing
in the bow launched his harpoon, and rudely awoke the
sleeping monster with three inches of barbed steel in the
back of his neck He made off at a tremendous pace at
first, towing the dorey behind him like a cork, but very
rapidly tired, and soon could not even make way against
the two paddlers, who towed him in to the cay shore, where
they drove a large wooden peg into each of his nostrils, and
he rapidly died of suffocation. It seemed a cruel procedure,
but they told me that this was really the most merciful
method of slaughtering these great animals, whose hide is
so thick and bones so large and solid that it would take much
longer to reach a vital organ with cold steel. The unfortu-
nate animal offered no resistance whatever on being speared,
or afterwards when towed ashore, though had he used his
immense bulk effectively he could easily have upset the
little dug-out and her occupants into the water, when the
sharks would soon have accomplished the rest. Manatee
feed on the long green grass on the shallow bottoms close
to the bars of rivers, and apparently have no effective
weapons whatever beyond their extreme shyness, which
protects them from their human enemies, and their immense
bulk and armour-like skin as a protection against the very
few fish which might consider the possibility of attacking
them.
Skinning the carcase was a tremendous labour, and took
three men more than a couple of hours, the perspiration
pouring off their bodies under the broiling sun, in a tempera-
ture well over zoo degrees, but the hide is very valuable,
as it furnishes leather unsurpassed for boot-soles, upon



















" MBRMAID ABOUT TO BE SKINNED


l i11i ,i


IMftAnt MuAT HUNG OUT TO DRY


[,. 20


l,- -






MYSTERY CITIES


which time and use seem to have no effect. The next
procedure was to cut the meat off in great chunks from
the bones, and finally to divide these into strips, which are
erimped and salted, and find a ready sale amongst the cay
fishermen along the coast. The meat looks beautiful, being
-very fine-grained and pale pink in colour, but it is deceptive,
as it tastes like exceptionally tough horse-meat. The liver
is about the same size as a cow's, and is considered a great
delicacy. I tried a piece, fried fresh on board the fisher-
men's little sloop, but I cannot say that it appealed to me.
It took nearly seven hours to deal with the carcase, and it
was not till three in the afternoon that the fishermen
abandoned it on the shore.
All this time countless John Crows, the horrible black
vulture of Central America, had been collecting. The
earlier arrivals perched on the surrounding mangrove and
cocoanut-trees, till not even standing-room was left, and
they overflowed on to the beach, getting ever bolder and
bolder, till they ventured at last within a few yards of the
fishermen. As soon as the carcase and head had been
abandoned they swooped down on both, tearing and rend-
inA'the flesh, and fighting each other fiercely with wings
and beaks for each scrap of meat, till both head and body
wer ,quite invisible beneath a great mass of flapping black
wings, snapping beaks, and ugly, bald, snake-like necks. I
triedito get the launch up close enough for a good photo-
graph, but most of them made off, though some of the boldest
actually let me get within six feet before taking wing. They
dld not go far, however, and hardly had the launch turned
than they were back again at the feast.
he sea around the cay swarms with sting ray, though
_thy do not attain a very large size. We struck several
S4 these, which afford an easy mark for the amateur





YSTSERY CITrESi


harpooner, as they keep quiet on the bottom, where they are
easily visible, and present such an immense breadth of
body that it is easy to strike them, and does not require
the lightning quickness and judgment necessary to hit a
large fish of the usual torpedo shape, which usually has to
be struck after it has taken fright, and is moving off like
a streak of lightning.. These large fish are, however, merely
side-lines in the fisherman's everyday business of seining
mullet, which they split open, dry in the sun, and sell for
4o c. per dozen, the sun-dried roes fetching the same price.
In one cast they got xno dozen, and in a second 85 dozen
mullet, which will give some indication of the enormous
number of fish in these waters during the season, and account
for the presence of the hosts of sharks and other large fish
which prey upon them.
On leaving Mojo Cay I took the Booksie for a'short trip
up the Belize River, where a few clearings have been made
by small negro proprietors in the mangrove swamp, in
which they have established little settlements, put up tiny
shacks made of all sorts of curious material-pieces of
packing-cases, straightened-out kerosene tins, reeds, sticks,
etc. These quarter-acre settlements, hardly won from
the surrounding swamp, usually have imposing names, as
"Montgomeryville," "Detroit Farm," etc. They raise
maize, okra, a few plantains, egg plant, and sweet potatoes,
while nearly all of them have gay little flower gardens,
gorgeous with bougainvillea, flor de mat~ frangipanni, and
croutons. Hardly one of them but has a pack of mangy,
half-starved, savage dogs, and woe betide the stranger who
attempts to approach the home in the owner's absence.
Why the negro keeps such an enormous number of dogs is
always a puzzle to me. As a rule they are no good for
hunting purposes; they must, even with the most meagre





MYSTERY CITIES


ratio, cost something to keep; they are useless as
watch g because the shack contains nothing worth
steaitg; and between dog and owner no affection or regard
gems to be wasted on either side. Some of these riparian land-
late do a considerable amount of fishing, and Aunt Chloe,
wio gold us a dozen eggs, was a famous fisherwoman. She
was fshing for poopsies," a small river fish, with a tiny
piee of pork as a bait. The poopsies, when captured, are
used as bait, and she told us she caught tarpon, black
snapper, and cobarli, and showed us a nice little tarpon
two feet long, the result of her morning's work. With fish,
chickens, eggs, and vegetables all produced on the farm,"
the old lady had few needs beyond a few yards of cotton
for clothes, and some black strap for the clay pipe
which was -her constant companion.
Farther up the river we passed a rotten old dug-out with
about half an inch of freeboard, paddled by a very ancient
tgro lady seated in the stern, most of whose time was
occupied in the thankless job of trying to bale her out with
a 6 d milk-tin. In the bow stood a half-grown negro boy,
graceful as a deer, with a long, thin cane harpoon poised
inh. is'hand. Every now and then they paused beside the
mangrove roots, and when his quick eye had detected one
of the little mud-coloured fish he was after, the harpoon
shot downwards, the wriggling victim, impaled on the fine,
steel-barbed point, was hauled in, and deposited in the
water at the bottom of the dug-out.
Fishing is the principal occupation and amusement of
the coastal people of the colony, and Caribs, Mayas, negroes,
and half-castes are equally proficient at the sport with
mine,, cast net, line, or harpoon.
From IBelize we set out on June 28th for Cayo, the
frontier, station between the colony and the Republic of





24 MYSTERY CITIES
Guatemala, this being my first trip into the interior. The
first part of our journey, up the Mopan River to Banana
Bank, had to be done by pitpan, and from thence on horse-
back to Cayo. These pitpans are curious craft, in which
a great deal of the river-travel throughout Central and
South America is done. Ours was dug out from a single
immense cedar-tree, measuring 35ft. in length and 5ft.
6in. beam. Bow and stern were square, and clear of the
water for the last two or three feet of their length. In the
centre a small tarpaulin-covered space gave very scant
accommodation for the passengers; the bow was occupied
by the four paddlers, and the stern by the steersman, armed
with a paddle six feet long, which served both as propeller
and rudder. Shortly after 6 a.m. all the crew had turned
up al the wharf, with the exception of an old negro known
as Sicky," a notorious character in Belize, who had
unfortunately been run in the previous night for being
drunk and disorderly, and it was not till he had been brought
before the magistrate, and I had paid his fine, that we could
make a start. On leaving the court-house, he formed the
centre of a triumphal procession down to the wharf, clad
in a lady's pink silk blouse, holding two green parasols over
his head, loudly chanting his opinion of the law in general
and its representative with whom he had recently had an
interview in particular, and accompanied by half the little
nigger-boys in the town, yelling and shouting for all they
were worth.
Passing through the lower reaches of the river, the banks
were covered with dense mangrove swamp, whose branches
and aerial roots arched above us, forming a stifling, airless
tunnel which hemmed us in on every side, and shut out
the sun and breeze, while the combined smell of mud,
decaying vegetation, and alligators filled our nostrils. I








































PITPAN, OR DUO-OUT


NEGOTIATING FALLS


[- 24





MYSTERY CITIES


was bitten on the hands and face by the doctor-flies which
swarm here. These miserable insects, about the size of an
ordinary house-fly, are of a vivid green and yellow colour.
The bite is not particularly painful at first, but in ten or
fifteen minutes swells rapidly, and for hours afterwards
itches intolerably. By the time we had passed through
the mangrove belt my fingers were so swollen I could hardly
bend them, my eyes were almost closed, and my nose a
shapeless, itching lump twice its natural size. That evening
we put in at The Boom, a small settlement on the bank, so
called because it is said that in the old days a great chain
stretched across the river at this point to intercept the
mahogany logs coated down the river from camps in the
interior. The place was literally swarming with mosquitoes,
which after sundown attacked us in battalions. I could
not sleep, and from the sounds of subdued swearing, punc-
tuated by vigorous slaps on bare hide, it was obvious that
no one else could either. I therefore determined to make an
early start, so, after a cup of coffee and a biscuit, we pushed
off about 2 am., into a raw, damp fog, which hung like apall
over the river. The way the men paddled throughout the
whole day was simply amazing-hour after hour under the
blaming sun without halt or rest, every now and then dipping
their heads, hands, or paddle-handles into the stream, and
goeog o without the least sign of fatigue. During most
d the day they kept up a sort of low, droning, improvised
aiW W caart, describing incidents of their work, their
aunemeints t Belize, very highly-seasoned amorous
da tmues, and-most popular of all-graphic accounts of
the pecularities and peccadilloes of the principal white
iSt ea, of the colny. When one performer had finished,
mother would take up the song, till each had had his turn,
lhiningin a sort of chorus at frequent intervals. Whenever





MYSTERY CITIES


we came to. a stretch of river where the current was
particularly swift the chorus increased in volume, and
quickened in time to keep pace with the more rapid strokes
et the paddles. About 5 p;m. we reached a little clearing
called Indian Camp, and, as it was raining heavily, deter-
mined to stop for the night. The, only house in the place
was a small one-roomed affair built of bamboo, with consider-
able intervals between the sticks for ventilation, which also
freely admitted the rain. The owner, an old Indian of
seventy-five, with his six children, the youngest only five, all
lived in this single room. Each in turn before tumbling
into their hammocks (three children to one hammock), came
and knelt at their father's knees, and said their Aves or
" Paters." The old man was not averse to a little whisky,
after two or three glasses of which he became quite lively,
sang us several Indian songs, and showed us how they
danced the mesisada when he was young. There was
no room to swing my hammock, but my host provided me
with a huge mahogany washing-bowl 5ft. long by 3ft.
across, which at least had the merit of being clean, and,
curling myself up in this, with my sheet wrapped round
me from head to foot to keep off mosquitoes, and my
hammock as a mattress, I soon fell asleep.
Next morning we made another early start, bidding adieu
to our host, who was not in the best of tempers, and evidently
rather upset by his dissipation of the previous night. About
eight o'clock we pulled in to the bank to allow the men to
cook their food. Each man is allowed four pounds of salt
pork and seven quarts of flour weekly as a ration. The
cooking is simple in the extreme. A large fire of dry sticks
is made, over which is hung the common cooking-pot, and
into this is dropped each man's piece of pork (with a string
attached, hanging over the side, by which it may be identified,




































AVVMOR, AT LBoAANTUN, tETW[.EN PYRAMID
AND OUTER STRUCTURE fsee j. 10X)


WASHING BOWL AS BED


[(. 26





MYSTERY CITIES


and pulled out when done), and his flour made into a
round ball of dough. In about ten minutes the half-raw
hunks of pork and sodden dough-balls are pulled out, and
each man swallows his portion as rapidly as possible. The
broth, being common property, is lapped up in calabashes
by each in turn. Some of the men carry a private supply
of plantains, which are cooked in the common pot, and, as
all carry guns, a little game is sometimes procured to help
out this meagre ration. Early in the afternoon I shot an
ignana, a species of lizard, nearly four feet long. The men
had spotted the reptile stretched out asleep in the shade
along a bamboo branch projecting over the river. I shot
hin in the head, and he promptly dropped into the water
and sank like a stone, but Marcelino, the Carib bowman,
dived over the side like a flash, clothes and all, and soon
shed the carcase up from the bottom. This was a very
welcome occurrence, and the men insisted on stopping at
oce to cook and eat the prize, so at the next landing-place
thy halted, in a twinkling had a fire lighted, and without
it any way preparing the reptile-skinning, cleaning, or
ean decapitating-they hung the hideous carcase on a
tripod of sticks over the fire, and, allowing it to cook half
through, tore it limb from limb and ate it, the blood still
streaming from the flesh. They wanted me to try some,
but though the flesh, which is not unlike chicken, looked
4qpte good, the method of cooking had been too revolting,
s I declined.
That night we arrived at Beaver Dam, a large mahogany
0amp an the river bank, to which logs cut in the interior
ar hauled down on great, solid sleds by teams of oxen, along
Pm s, tut through the bush, and dumped in the river to
mA their own way to Belize and the sea. This, however,
. sot frequently fafl to do, as the river in a heavy flood





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will sometimes rise eight or ten feet in twenty-four
hours, and it is no uncommon thing to see a giant log of
mahogany perched snugly on the bank, or in the branches
of some great tree ten feet above one's head. Next
morning we found the river had risen fully eight feet during
the night, and was roaring down like a mill race, rendering
it quite impossible for us to make a start. During the day
it continued to rise, and brought down great tree-trunks,
dead animals, roofs of thatched houses, and one dead Indian.
Later, bales of goods, barrels of port and flour, rolls of cotton,
and innumerable other goods, came hurtling down-sure
signs that one or more pitpans had been upset higher up the
river. Some of this -treasure-trove was secured by the
mahogany-cutters on the bank, who put out for the purpose
in small cedar dug-outs into the raging flood, at serious risk
to their lives, for, had any of them been upset, if they escaped
drowning, they stood an excellent chance of being picked up
by one of the alligators which swarm here and are always
more on the alert and more voracious during a flood. These
constant upsets of pitpans make goods of all kinds extremely
expensive in +he interior. At the little town of Flores, in
Guatemala, which is three days on mule-back from Cayo, a
bottle of lager beer costs twelve to fifteen shillings. The
natives have christened it vino A mericano-American wine
-and drink it out of wine-glasses on state occasions much as
we take champagne.
Next morning I woke at 5 a.m. to find the rain falling in
torrents, and the floor of my hut covered with over a foot of
muddy water, in which most of the baggage, saturated and
filthy, was floating about, while heavier objects, such as
guns, machetes, toilet utensils, cartridges, canned food, etc.,
had to be fished up by groping for them over the muddy floor.
I moved, with all the baggage, to one of the labourers' huts





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Higher up the bank, and beyond the reach of even a top-
gallant flood, but the change to this poky little place, with
mud floor, leaky palm-leaf roof, and bed made of round
sticks arranged in rows on a wooden framework, was
decidedly one for the worse. We were kept in all five days
at Beaver Dam, and amused ourselves by fishing and shoot-
Jtg. The only fish we caught were vaca, a species of cat-fish,
which were quite plentiful and not bad eating, though the
lesh of some of them was full of small white worms. We
shot two deer, two peccari, or wild hog, and four gibnut,
a large rodent closely resembling a guinea-pig, but rather
larger than an English hare. We also brought down a
dozen parrots and quite a few pigeons as they flew over,
but a good many of these fell in the high bush and in the
tiver, whence it was impossible to retrieve them. The deer
and peccari were driven across the bush track by a pack of
balf-starved mongrel curs, which had been trained to range
ahead, accompanied by their owners, and drive the game
across the track as near to the sportsmen as possible. The
barrows of the gibnut were discovered by these same curs,
tad the animals smoked out with a smudge of damp leaves
mad some pepper-bushes, and shot as tlly bolted from their
oles, very much as one shoots rabbits when ferreting.
With the exception of the parrots and pigeons, both fishing
ad shooting provided but poor sport. Fresh fi:,h and meat,
however, were a welcome change from a straight diet of salt
ihme, from which we had been suffering for over a week,
though the old parrots proved so tough that even the
Ihhurers could make nothing of them.
0, the fifth morning, the river having gone down con-
~icnrbly, we made a fresh start at 7 a.m. ; the current,
hwfler, was still running very strong, and the men fre-
tMSy took to the poles, as they could make no headway
C6




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against the stream over shallow runs, but, even with poles,
one watching the bank would wonder for seconds at a time
whether the old dug-out was making any way against the
current, or only just holding her own. Once, going over a
specially swift run, the water caught her bow, switched it
round, and turned her, completely out of control, broadside
on to the current She canted sideways, shipping enough
water to fill her nearly to the thwarts; then, just as I was
preparing for a swim to the bank, the men succeeded in
grounding their poles and got control of her again, with no
worse misfortune than the saturation of everything on
board. Going round a bend in the river where the water
was comparatively smooth, we almost ran into a tapir
swimming the river, and about one-third of the way over.
He was a young animal not much bigger than a large mastiff,
and evidently very much furried by our sudden arrival on
the scene, as he first tried to turn back, but the pitpan
headed him off from the near bank, the men making an
awful din by beating the water with their paddles and
shouting at the top of their voices. He then started for the
far bank, followed closely by the pitpan, which soon over-
took him. I was very anxious to get a live tapir for the
Zoo, so shouted to the bow paddleman to try and lasso him
instead of killing him with a machete, as he was about to do.
With some considerable difficulty he succeeded in slipping
a loop of rope over the animal's head, and, paddling up-
stream, we began to tow him astern; but the poor little
beggar was making very heavy weather of it, for, as he could
not swim as quickly as we paddled, he was being towed under
and half-strangled, half-drowned. On approaching the
bank I stopped the boat, slacking the tow-rope with a view
to getting him on board and caying him there trussed up.
Finding himself in shallow water, he soon found his feet,





MYSTERY CITIES 31

stood up, and, giving his head a sideways\ twist, slipped out
of the noose in the most marvellous manner, and, before I
could even put a cartridge in my gun, was up the steep clay
bank and off into the bush. I rather sympathised with him,
as, though a mere baby, he had put up such a gallant fight,
but the men were very sore that so much good tapir meat
on the hoof should thus easily have escaped them.
That evening we arrived at Banana Bank, where I spent
a couple of pleasant days, and on the third morning set out
on,horseback with a guide-a taciturn Spanish Indian-for
Cayo.










CHAPTER H


Park-4H e scenery-A narow esape-ierable Indian-Disgusting
haummock-A village of cotnitals-Earth-eating children-Preva-
lence of hookworm-A dangerous night-ride-Let in the bush-A
sadmble pight-Prota on against Pasquite-AdMentuw with a
uake-HotsA' instinct superior to human intelligenc-Arrival at
Cayo-Doctor' visit welcom-Native fees-A curious supertition
-A are for immortality-A post-mortem east-Cowardliness of
Central Amedcan tiger and Mto-Story of Marceino Velasquea-HIs
battle with a jaguar.

Ox fording the river, we crossed a stretch of beautiful open
grass country with magnificent wild cotton asid Santa
Maria trees dotted everywhere, which might wellhave passed
for an English park had it not been for the tal, stately
cuhoon and royal palms which were plentifully scattered
ever it. Crossing this, we entered an old mahogany truck
pass, where, owing to the sticks, which had been laid down
transesey to form a corduroy road for the heavy trucks
o pass over, having rotted from years of exposure, the going
was very bad and full of holes; bush also had grown from
the sides and filled the pass, so that in places it was very
difficult to find the way. Coming to a place where a great
frond from a cuhoon palm had fallen across the track, just
too low to ride under, I stretched out my arm to lift it up,
when, with a sharp "Cuidado, :swir," the guide brushed
alongside me, and slced the frond in two with one blow of
hil machete, severing at the same time a small, ydelw-
jawed tamagass-one of the most poisonous snakes in the
colony-which had been lyng sdttched out along the leaf,
to





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ihe two wriggling halves falling on each side of the trail.
'fte had seen some movement on top of the frond, and
knowing the danger of handling such things, which are
favourite places for snakes to take a siesta upon, had
intervened just in time.
About 4 p.m. we arrived at the good-sized, but forlorn
and' dismal Indian village of San Francisco. The huts
were wretched, tumble-down affairs, consisting of a few
upright sticks roofed over with rotting palm-leaf, wind and
rain finding their way freely through both walls and roofs.
Even the women were dirty and bedraggled, a most un-
usual thing with Maya women, who are generally spotless.
The wretched, pot-bellied children were making languid
efforts to play in the dust, but scuttled off like rabbits into
the bush at our approach. The few men who were lounging
about did the same, and the women made a bee-line for
their huts. We rode up to the largest and least miserable-
looking hut, and there found the Alcalde, or chief man of
'the village, suffering from a severe attack of malarial fever.
[He told us there was no food of any .ed to be had in the
?lace, and the utmost he could -offer us in the way of.
hospitality was a hammock eaTh for the night. I saw the
,guide examining the hammocks carefully.
What are you looking for, hombre ? I said.
"'Come over and look for yourself, senior," he answered.
I'did so, and found that the loops, to which the suspend-
ing ropes were attached on both hammocks, were literally
seething, crawling masses of brown bugs and their ova.
These'loathsome insects retire to this part of the hammock
during the day, but at night come down in battalions to
attack the luckless would-be sleeper. The sky was over-
cast, and we were evidently going to have rain, but I deter-
mined to push on, as even a night in the bush would be





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preferable to one at San Francisco.' The guide told me
that this was the worst village in the district ; half theme
were wanted by the police of the colony and the neighbour-
ing republics; not one of the couples living together in it was
married, and whenever the people could club together
sufficient money, it was expended in purchasing demijohns
of native rum for a debauch in which both sexes joined,
and which usually ended in a free fight. Several murders
had been committed there, but the perpetrators had never
been brought to justice. From their pot bellies, earthy
colour, and lack of energy, I could tell that most of the
children were earth-eaters. I caught one wretched little
naked girl of about eight in the act of scraping up some
reddish earth from the side of the house, where the parasite-
infested pigs wallowed during the night. She was either
too weak or too indifferent to all mundane affairs to run
away. I asked her how much she ate in a day, and she
answered, with a ghost of a grin, by putting her two dirty
little claw-like hands together and scooping up a small
double fistful, to show me that that was about her daily
allowance. I tried a fragment of this earth myself, and
found it of a sweetish and not unpleasant taste; the danger
to the children, however, lies in the fact that it is full of
the ova of numerous parasites, from the pigs' and other
animals' droppings, including hookworm, from which fully
eighty per cent. of the Indians suffer.
Shortly after leaving San Francisco we passed a cluster
of mahogany-cutter' huts known as Mount Hope, which
we knew to be just twenty miles from Cayo. A couple, of
mlea beyond this, the ain, which had been long threaten-
ing, came down in torrents, and the night rapidly closed in.
So duk did it soon become that I unloosed miy picket-rope,
a4aldhe.guide and I each took hold of it so that we should





MYSTERY CITIES


lose each other, which, in the pitch-dark bush, with
6e pouring rain, it would have been quite easy to do.
gjding was most uncomfortable, not to say dangerous,
g the overhanging branches, which are difficult to avoid
bf the daytime, kept scratching our faces, and a wait a
*H" thorn caught me just over the eyelid, tearing a gash
la my forehead from which I could feel the blood trickling
,4wn into my eye. Fortunately it was not half an inch
tower, as in that case I should probably have lost the eye.
Mterwhat seemed hours of riding, we came to the conclusion
that we must have lost our way, as we had encountered
nothing like the creek at which we knew we should
tave arrived about two hours after leaving Mount Hope.
t determined to call a halt till dawn, for we stood a good
abance of either losing our way entirely in the bush, falling
over the steep bank into the creek, or getting blinded or
staned by some overhanging branch. As a last forlorn
hope we gave the horses their heads to see if they would
inake for home, but, instead of doing so, they turned right
round in their tracks and headed in the opposite direction.
,We dismounted-as miserable a couple as it would be
possible to find, for we had no grub, and had had nothing
1t eat since breakfast-tethered the horses, off-saddled,
and; wrapping ourselves up in the blankets which are always
sed as numnahs, with our saddles as pillows, lay down in
the pouring rain to try and get a little sleep before dawn.
One would have thought that the downpour of rain would
have kept off the mosquitoes, but, far from doing so, it
*Ay appeared to make them more bloodthirsty. At last
hey became unbearable, so, pulling my saddlebags to me,
I managed, after a lot of fumbling in the dark, to unearth
three dirty handkerchiefs, one of which I tied round each
la N diad one round my face, and, lying down again, having




MYSTERY CTUES


beaten the mosquitoes, I went off into an uneasy doze.
I seemed to have been asleep only a few minutes when I
was suddenly awakened by something coming down flop "
into my lap from the tree above; partly freeing my right
hand from its handkerchief, I stretched it out to discover
what had disturbed me, when to my horror I encountered
the clammy coils of a small snake. Fully awake in an
instant, I jumped up and ran till I was brought up by the
bush; no doubt it was only a harmless tree-snake, which,
having, if a snake can be said to do so, missed his footing
up aloft, and been half-stunned by the fall, was probably
more scared than I; I have, however, always had a particular
loathing for snakes of all sorts and sizes; and this one, fall-
ing as it were from the heavens, I must admit, scared me
considerably. I did not lie down again, but, fagged as I
was, paced up and down the track till the first faint streaks
of dawn began to make their appearance through the bush.
As soon as it was light we discovered that we were on the
trail from Mount Hope to Cayo, but had turned around
(no doubt at one of the so-called cut offs," which Indians
make round large trees fallen across the track, sooner than
take the trouble to cut through the tree-trunk) and were
actually retracing our steps towards Mount Hope. The
horses had been right after all in wanting to turn when
given their heads, and their instinct had been more reliable
than our reason.
Soon after dawn the rain held up, and, the sun warming
our miserable chilled bodies, we set out in better spirits and
reached Cayo shortly after noon. On each side of the
river a smooth, park-like savanna, dotted over with giant
shade trees, sloped up from the banks to a height of from
50 to zoo feet. The houses, forming a belt, surrounded this
park-like amphitheatre, through the centre of which wound





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th river, clear and limpid, with clean, shingly bottom.
Women, naked to the waist, clad in gaily coloured print
petticoats, were washing clothes, or rather pounding them
with wooden clubs on the rocks by the side of the river,
chattering and laughing amongst themselves like a flock of
parrots. On seeing two caballeros at the ford, those whose
garments were deficient below as well as above the waist
hastened to hide their nakedness under water, with an
assumption of modesty to which their impudent, laughing
glances gave the lie.
Though we had had no food since the previous morning,
and our clothes were torn to ribbons, our faces and legs
covered with scratches and wounds, we neither of us were
really any the worse for the experience, which, when it
was over, I was glad to have gone through, as it gave me
some faint idea of what the life of a mahogany-cutter living
in the bush is like.
Cayo is a good-sized village, with an extraordinarily
mixed population, consisting of Guatemalans, Mexicans,
Honduraneans, negroes, and Maya Indians, with a few
French, Americans, and English. It is the last outpost
of civilisation, and portal to the impenetrable and unexplored
jungle beyond, which stretches north to Mexico, south to
Guatemala, and east and west from the Atlantic to the
'Pacific. All the way up the river I had found patients
'awaiting the coming of an English medico; though
bush-doctors, snake-doctors, obeah-men, shamans, and all
kinds of quacks are plentiful as blackberries in autumn,
.the arrival of a genuine doctor is a rare occurrence. Fees
varied a good deal with the commercial rating of the patient,
ranging from a few sweet potatoes or corn cakes (the East-
End surgery fee), through a dozen eggs or a brace of parrots
or pigeons (perhaps about the average general practitioner's





MYSTERY CITIES


remuneration), up to a sucking pig, a gibnut, or a couple of
hens (the Harley Street consultant's fee). One of the first
patients I was asked to see in Cayo was a well-known
character, old David Arland, an ancient African, who as a
child had been captured with his parents by slavers on the
West African coast, and liberated by a British ship of war.
He had come to British Honduras as a plantation hand, and
drifted to Cayo, where, in the combined professions of pit-
pan steersman, cattle doctor, and obeah-man he had acquired
a good bush house, and a considerable amount of money
and live stock. For a long time he had been suffering
agonies from an internal tumour which had got quite beyond
the possibility of operation, and, though he could eat no-
thing, still clung on to life. When I got to the house he
called me into the bedroom, and, having first turned his
family out, showed me his left hand, between the middle
and ring fingers of which a small, hard lump was to be felt.
This, he explained, was a piece of charmed metal, which
when he was a boy in Africa, had been grafted into the
flesh by a celebrated obeah-man. It was guaranteed to
bring constant good luck and prolong life indefinitely. The
good luck he admitted had been his, but now, affected as
he was by a painful and incurable disease, he was (much as
he wished it) unable to die and end his sufferings, owing to
the presence of the charm. Would I remove it, and so let
him pass in peace? This I accordingly did, and found it
to consist of an oblong piece of some rather soft metal,
greyish outside, silvery within, 4-inch long, 1-inch broad, and
f-inch thick. He seemed greatly relieved after the little
operation, and, curiously enough, that same evening passed
peacefully away. On visiting the house next day, I found
his bed neatly made, and, laid out on a small table by the
side of it, a substantial meal of pork, plantains, beans, sweet





MYSTERY CITIES


ptato, and corn cake, all smoking hot. On seeking an
maonltion, his wife told me he had left all his property
eller, on the sole condition that for one month after his
pph she should twice a day prepare a good hot meal, and
J#rit beside his bed, as he meant to return in the spirit and
U i himself on the smell of the food; which condition
faithfully carried out, and his spirit must have enjoyed
calories of repasts far superior to anything he had ever
ilioyed in the flesh for such a long period.
It is a generally accepted tradition throughout Central
America that neither the puma (or American lion) nor the
jpwuar(or American tiger) will attack a grown man, unless
cornered and forced to fight for their lives. Either of these
animals will go off with an Indian baby wandering on the
outskirts of the village, just as they will steal an occasional
pig which ventures into the bush beyond the safety zone;
aad, as every traveller in the Central American bush has
experienced for himself, they will stealthily follow the
lonely wayfarer on foot or horseback for mile after mile
and hour after hour, paralleling his track in the bush, rarely
heard, and hardly ever seen, till he comes to some village
or settlement, when they abandon the chase. This patient,
persistent dogging of his footsteps by an animal, which is
apparently trying to screw up courage for an attack, is to
the new-comer an extremely eerie and nerve-racking sensa-
tion. especially if he is unarmed, and his horse or mule shows
the usual signs of terror exhibited by these animals on the
near approach of any of the great cats. The old-timer,
however, jogs serenely on his way in the sure conviction
that his trailer will never get up sufficient courage to come
tit- into the open. That this conviction is not always
Stified, however, the following tale will show. After
4paading a few days recuperating in Cayo, hearing that




MYSTERY CITJE


there were a number of burial mounds of the ancient Maya
there, I rode down to the little sugar plantation of Platon,
on the Mopan River close to the Guatemala frontier. The
" patron," Marcelino Velasquez, was a large, powerful
Sureflo, or cross between a negro and a Spaniard, from one
of the southern republics. He was a pleasant companion
and hospitable host, but his appearance was sinister, not
to say terrifying, as the left side of his swarthy face was
traversed by four terrible purple scars, extending from the
temple to the back of the neck, which dragged the left
corner of his mouth up into a perpetual sardonic grin, while
his left eye was represented by an ugly red hole. As we
lay in our hammocks, talking and smoking corn-husk
cigarettes after supper, I could contain my curiosity no
longer and suddenly remarked:
Marcelino, I have heard that you have been inixed up
with every revolution in the five republics during the last
twenty years, but I never saw the weapon, even in Latin
America, that could tear the side of a man's face out as
yours has been torn."
Seflor," he replied, I have fought many times, always
on the side of Liberty, which these Cabrones do not value;
wherefore I am now a poor man, but the scars you see I
got in an encounter with no human enemy."
Amigo," I said, "there still remain several drinks in
my flask, cigarettes require only to be rolled; the hour is
early, and I am not sleepy; tell me, I beg you, how it
happened."
Whereupon he told me the following story, which I give,
translated from Spanish, as nearly as possible in his own
words.
When I first went to Spanish Honduras I was a refugee




MYSTERY CITIES


&jw Guatemala, where I had been implicated in the last
evolution, unfortunately oh the losing side. Finding the
entry too hot for me, I was glad to escape as a sailor before
the mast in a little coasting fruit schooner, first to the Island
do Ruatan and finally to the mainland. I was fortunate
enough to obtain the managership of a small sugar estate
,n the south of the republic, and, as I was drawing a pretty
air salary, I sent for my wife and children, who were at
San Pedro, to come and join me. The quarters at the
Ifncho were quite unlit for a lady, so I hired a house for
my family at the nearest settlement, about ten miles distant,
riding over to see them every Saturday after work was over,
and returning early on Monday morning. One Saturday
evening, after paying the hands as usual, I went to the stable
to saddle up my old pony Muchacho, when what was my
disgust to find him as lame as a duck, his off forefoot big
as a bladder, and so painful he could hardly put it to the
ground. Calling Miguel, the old cattle and horse doctor,
and general handy man about the estate, I told him to
poultice the foot, and find out in the morning whether the
swelling were due to a thorn or the bite of a tarantula, and
in the latter case to shoot the old pony, as the hoof was bound
to come off, though I should be sorry to lose him. Not
another animal was available, unless I rode one of the steers,
but as I knew that if I did not turn up that evening my
wife would be in a terrible state, imagining that all sorts of
,things had happened to me in this unsettled little republic,
I decided, as the road was good, being the height of the dry
season, and the moon rose earlv, to walk over, and trust in
luck to be able to hire a horse in the village for my return
journey on Monday. To carry my heavy saddlebags all
that long hot tramp through the bush was out of the
question, so, shoving a change of clothes and a suit of





MYSTERY CITIES


pyjamas in a shot-bag slung over my shoulders, and buckling
on my machete, or cutlass, without which no bushman
travels in Central America, I set out about 8 p.m. It was
a glorious moonlight night and, except in the high bush,
almost as light as day. All went well till I got tothe botan
bridge over a small creek, which was reckoned to be half
way between the ranch and the village; here, being thirsty,
for the night was close and hot for walking, I lay on my
stomach and, reaching over the high bank of the stream,
filled the top of my flask with water, added a little rum,
drank it, and repeated the operation. As I was scrambling
to my feet again I thought I heard a slight rustling in the
bush just in front of me, but took no particular notice of
it, as some animal is always prowling around the drinking
place, night or day. I noticed, however, on starting again,
that the rustling kept pace with me and never stopped. It
was on the left hand, not very loud, and sounded only just
inside the bush. Whenever I stopped for a minute to listen,
the rustling stopped too, so that at last it began to get on
my nerves, and, seizing an occasion when it seemed to be
particularly near the road, I made a sudden dash at the
point from which it appeared to come and peered into the
bush as far as I could see in the bright moonlight, but nothing
was visible, the bush was silent and still as the grave, and
the only sound I could hear was the beating of my own
heart. At last I arrived at a piece of cuhoon ridge about
a mile and a half from the village, which only a few weeks
before had been burnt down; this extended for a couple
of hundred yards on each side of the road, and, except for
the gaunt dead stems of the palms, was as open as savanna,
so I thought that whatever was tracking me would be bound
to come out in the open her No sooner had I entered the
cleared space left by the fre than the rustling ceased entie,





MYSTERY CITIES


d, reaching the centre of the patch, I took a good look
al round, but could see nothing, and, considerably reassured,
I tma ped on. I don't suppose I had gone a hundred yards
into the bush on the opposite side of the clearing when the
Meaning started again, apparently quite close up to me in
the bush, whereupon, getting a bit rattled, I made a bolt of
it, and ran as fast as I could go for perhaps a quarter of a
mile, till I was quite pumped out. I stopped for a minute
* recover my wind; the noise had stopped too; but as
soon as I started walking, there it was again I I made up
my mind to think no more of it, and pegged doggedly on,
whistling to keep my spirits up, though I must admit it
was not a very successful effort, as my mouth was dry as a
lime-kiln. Soon I knew by the appearance of the bush that
'i was approaching the turn to the village, a narrow bridle-
path, which, branching sharply off the main track at right
angles for half a mile, led to the first few scattered huts on
its outskirts. Within about 300 yards of the turn the
rustling suddenly became much louder, sounding like some
large animal forcing its way through the bush, rushing
%way ahead of me, growing gradually fainter in the distance,
and then ceasing entirely. I congratulated myself on the
riddance, laughed at my foolish fears, and, stepping out
briskly, soon reached the trail to the village, down which I
turned. I had not got more than fifty paces from the turn
when suddenly, without the slightest warning, some heavy
body landed on my shoulders pulling me forcibly backwards,
but fortunately not quite upsetting me. Instinctively I
drew the machete with my right hand, and endeavoured to
'trn on my assailant, whom I felt to be slipping from my
shoulders, when suddenly I expert enced an awful burning,
tearing sensation all down the side of my face and neck.
Maddened with pain and nearly blinded with blood, I turned




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bt-round, and with all my force dealt my amailnt a fwri
thrust, straight from the point of the machete. It released
its grip at one and, with a curious srt of gurgling gron,
fell away from me. I felt my head going round and tried
to steady myself, but it was no use, my les gave way under
me and I fainted. I don't know how long lay, but, judging
by the time I arrived home, it must have been fully an
hour. Anyway, when I came round, I found myself lying
across the track, cheek by jowl with a dead, half-grown
jaguar, with my machete sticking out of his chest. The
left side of my face was horribly stiff and painful; I could
not see out of my left eye; and my coat, torn to ribbons
at the back, was saturated with blood, a pool of which lay
beside me. At first when I tried to get up I felt like fainting
again, but a good shot of neat rmn soon pulled me round,
and, tying a handkerchief round my wounded face, I
staggered on to the village. Fearing that if I went to my
wife n such a plight she would have a fit, I called at the
house of the American doctor, who patched me up, advising
me to get off to the hospital as soon as possible, then helped
me home. I need not describe my wife's scare, or my trip
next day to the capital, where it took eight weeks in hospital
before I was fit for work again, and then minus one eye.
The points which have always puzled me are: why that
accursed jaguar stalked me so long; why he chose the
turning to attack, going ahead and waiting as if he knew
I had to go down there, for it is inconceivable that the same
animal can have trailed me on former occasions and rerem-
bered the route I took: and, lastly, how a half-grown
jaguar managed tq screw up susficiet courage to attack a
Adlgrown man, for they are cowardly beats, and will a a
trfa only go for unprotected children. When he Airt
ailmg on my back he must have fied his claws is my toat




MYSTERY CITIES 45

id shot-b'a'g(made of stiff, untanned hide), as the coat
wai torn'to ribbons, and the shot-bag scored from top to
*bottom; whereupon, finding himself slipping down and
unable to clamp his jaws in the back of my neck, which
sno -doubt his main object, he must have grabbed at
,my head fb get a better hold, and so scored my face
with bis claws. If I had not, by a wonderful piece of
luck, happened to find a vital spot with the very first
nacatete thrust. I.should probably not be here to tel the
V&l#*"












CHAPTER III


Visit to Benque Viejo-Me*sisada dance-Etiquette of dance-Men and
women's dress-Effective ornaments of fire beetles-Description of
the dance-Mysterious ginger wine-The Kubipol procession-Its
antiquity-" Muddy" Esquivel-Difficulty in getting transport to
ruins of Xunantunich-A heterogeneous camp outfit-Making camp
-Narrow escape from coral-snake-Chicle is the curse of the Indians
of British Honduras-Former luxuries now necessaries-" I am a
chiclero; I don't work "-Lack of permanent benefit to country of
chicle-Excavation in Mound B-Contents of Mound B-An abori-
ginal American jeweller of z,3oo years ago-Indians believe the
occupant tries to revenge himself on me-Maya buried with each
individual their personal possessions-Excavation of mound unfinished
-Mound A-Bad water-Problem of where ancient inhabitants of
city got their water-supply-Ticks, redbug, mosquitoes, boltasflies,
and other insect pests.

I RODE over to the large Indian village of Benque Viejo,
situated about nine miles from Cayo, and was invited to
a mestisa dance, to be given the same evening, an invitation
which I gladly accepted. The dance took place in the house
of the second Alcalde, from which all the cotton partitions,
dividing it into three or four rooms, had been removed
for the occasion, leaving a single large room with a hard
lime floor. Benches were placed around this, and I was
accorded the seat of honour-a rickety American rocker.
Ladies occupied one side of the room, men the other, with
dogs and half-naked children scattered indiscriminately
about everywhere. One corer was occupied by the band,
consisting of two marimbas, or native xylophones, and an
accordion; the other by a table covered with bottles of
native rum and ginger wine, corn husk cigarettes, sweet





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coln cakes, and other refreshment. The band struck up a
lively mestisada, and several of the men arose, carrying
damp-looking handkerchiefs, crossed over to the ladies'
ide, and each flipped the lady of his choice gently in the
fce. If she wished to dance, and approved the partner,
she got up and took his arm ; if not, she continued talking
to her neighbour as if nothing had occurred. The men were
dressed in moccasins, cotton trousers, and limp white shirts,
the tails of which hung down almost to their knees. The
ladies wore a cotton petticoat, or pik, and a loose, sleeveless
garment cut so low in the neck and back as to conform very
closely with modern evening dress. In their luxuriant
black hair they wore ornaments made by tying numbers
of little phosphorescent beetles around a circle of liana, the
effect of which was really charming, as it presented the
appearance of a small crown of glowing, greenish, fiery points.
The mestisada, the only dance on the programme, is mono-
tonous and uninteresting. The man and his partner stand
opposite to each other and perform a sort of shuffle; the
man holds his right arm stiffly out like a semaphore, his
left hand on his waist, the lady keeping both arms stiffly
pointed downwards in the attitude of a tin soldier at atten-
.ion, while both keep their eyes glued to their feet. The
shuffle is kept up, without either touching the other, till
they are exhausted and give place to another pair. The
dust caused by the shuffling on the limestone floor was
appalling, and soon, between tobacco smoke and dust, it
was almost impossible to see what was going on. At
wry interval refreshments were handed round-usually
a glass of fiery, neat rum for the men, and a glass of ginger
'wine for the ladies. There were, I noticed at the beginning
Of the evening, only three bottles of ginger wine, but it
mloold to keep on going merrily round without much




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diminution, and, on visiting the refreshment table to try
and solve the mystery, I found that the ladies' tipple con-
sisted of a glass three parts full of rum, with just enough
ginger wine added to give it a kick. About midnight the
proceedings were getting so hilarious that I thought it best
to retire.
Next morning about ten the whole population of the
village turned out in gala attire for a grand procession,
led by the band, in the middle of which, resting on the
wooden platform supported on the shoulders of four men,
was carried an immense boar's head decorated with ribbons,
flags, coloured beads, rosettes, and gold and silver coins.
A man walked backwards just in front of the head, which
was borne twice round the village in procession, carrying a
small calabash of corn, which from time to time he shook
in front of the snout, crying in a wheedling tone, Cote
boos "-" Come along, little brunette "-apparently in
derision of the poor pig's head, which was of a sikly white
colour. After this, in accordance with the ancient ritual,
the head was cut up, and everyone ate a tiny piece. This
feast is given annually by one of the principal men of the
village, whom, unless he is very wealthy, it leaves financially
crippled for years, if it does not ruin him outright. The
individual who gives the feast has the privilege of appointing
his successor, which he does by presenting him with a
particular piece of the head-hen'ce the Maya name Kubipol,
or delivery of the head." The same feast, with the same
method of passing it on from year to year, is described by
Landa as practised by the Maya of Yucatan long before the
arrival of Europeans in the New World.
On my x9a4 visit, I had made up my mind to leave Benque
Viejo for the ruins of Xunantunich on Sunday, November
3oth, accompanied by my black boy, Jim, and Amado




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qi* ve1l-usually known as Muddy "-general utility man,
m.-Irish, quarter-Spanish, and quarter-M.iva, combining all
gt eood qualities of the three races in his own person, and
hlbe to do almost anything, from making a moccasin or
nisMng a motor, to cooking a dinner or building a dug-out.
W had tried very hard to get mules and multeer s amongst
the natives at Benque Viejo to carry our luggage to the ruiins,
but they all with one consent began to make excuse ; either
they were sick, or the mules were lame, or they were tired,
or they didn't want to work on Sunday. The best offer we
could get was five dollars per mule per trip, at which rate
it would have required at least six trips and cost thirty
dollars to transport our outfit for two miles. This was
nothing but a hold-up, and I could see the grins on the faces
of the crowd who stood around watching the bargaining
when they thought the gringo was in a tight place, but, just
at the moment of compulsory surrender, Muddy luckily ran
into a Guatematecan arriero, or mulete.'r, who had arrived
with his mule train from Peten the previous evening. He
was a short, stocky individual named Zacarias Sanches,
strong as a bull, evidently full of energy and pep, and a very
different proposition to the miserable, yellow-skinned,
bleary-eyed, rum-soaked local grafters. He strode down to
the Cabildo, threw his experienced eye over our immense
heap of impedimenta, and in two minutes had made his
offer to convey it all to the ruins early on the Sunday morn-
ing for a total payment of six dollars. lHe was as good as
his word, for next morning before daybreak he had swum
three mules over the river, and was awaiting our baggage,
which we soon ferried over in a large dug-out. It made very
awkward cargo to load on mules, c,'.n-itint. as it did, of
Wooden boxes of grub, a pail of lard, picks, shovels, guns,
tripods, stone saws, surveying instruments, pots, pans,





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buckets, a tent, photographic outfit, hurricane lamps, etc.
In a quarter of an hour, however, half of it was loaded, as
if by magic, on the backs of the three mules, though they
had to be blindfolded to keep them quiet while this strange
and novel cargo was being made fast.
The road, after leaving the river bank, was extremely
bad, being merely a narrow pass cut through the high bush,
covered with mud, in places half-way up to our knees, full
of holes, and criss-crossed by tree-roots in all directions;
moreover, it was up-hill most of the way, and though only
two miles in length, it took us well over an hour to negotiate.
Arrived at the ruins, we found the whole area covered with
dense forest, which, owing to the fact that for a couple of
weeks there had been incessant rain, was simply saturated
with moisture. My own three men-Muddy, Jim, and a
nondescript mongrel youth who had helped us with the
loading, and expressed a wish to join the outfit-aided by
two Indians from Succots (an Indian village a couple of
miles from the ruins), soon had a space cleared for the tent,
into which Zacarias dumped the first three mule-loads, and
departed for the rest of the cargo left at the waterside. He
returned in about a couple of hours with all the mixed load
in order and unbroken, and we took a reluctant farewell of
him, realising that probably we ne'er should meet his like
again." Before dusk the men had cleared a space of over a
maca" (25 yards square), erected the tent, and built a lean-
to shelter of cuhoon leaves for themselves. During the
clearing one of them had rather a narrow escape, as he
stepped on the tail of a small coral-snake hiding in the leaves,
which at once turned and struck at him, but fortunately
missed, getting only the ragged edge of his pants; before it
had time to 'strike again the machete descended and
severed it in two.





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We spent a peaceful night in the bush, free from the in-
cem nt barking of dogs, which is the curse of all settlements,
large and small, throughout British Honduras. Soon after
midnight it commenced to rain very heavily, and we dis-
covered that neither the tent nor the lean-to were entirely
water-tight. Next morning early, four Indians from Succots
(out of ten whom we had engaged to work as we came
through the village) turned up with their machetes. Two of
them had just come out of gaol for taking advances from
different contractors to go into the Guatemala bush and
bleed sapodilla-trees for their gum, known as chicle, which
enters largely into the composition of chewing-gum. The
chicle business, which has only developed extensively during
recent years, has been the curse of the western district of
British Honduras. Formerly the Indians made their
milas, or corn plantations, in which they grew maize, yams,
sweet potato, ochra, pumpkins, beans, cacao, tobacco-in
fact, pretty well everything they required in the vegetable
line, including coffee, rice, and cotton, which the women
spun and wove themselves. They also raised large numbers
of pigs and poultry, the surplus of which prIovided for them
any little extra luxuries of civilisation they might desire,
such as rum, powder and shot, iron cooking-pots. etc. They
were, in fact, as were their forefathers for 2,000 years before
the coming of the first European, entirely self-supporting
and independent, mixing not at all with the white, the coolie,
or the negro of the colunv. Came the American contractor
for the large chewing-gum companies, offering big prices for
chicle, and hitherto unheard-of advances in cash to the
chicle-breeder, or chiclero, tempting the Indians to give up
their old mode of life in pursuit of the will-o'-the-wisp of
easy money. The Indians, and, in fact, labourers of all
nationalities who became chicleros, could earn more in





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four months in the bush during the chicle season than in a
year at any other work, leaving them with at least half their
time available for loafig in the small towns, drinking.
love-making, gambling, and fighting. The inevitable result
was that plantations and stock were neglected, and the price
of food soared as if the country were engaged in a war. In
former days maize was $S to $z.5o per cargo; now it is $2
to $4; a chicken could be purchased for 25 c. which now
costs 75 c.; eggs went from o2 c. to 6o c. per dozen, and other
things in proportion. Moreover, the Indian women who
formerly were content with the hIiil, or cotton jacket, and
pik, or short skirt worn by their ancestors from time im-
memorial, now demand imported shoes and stockings, silk
shawls, and the year before last London fashions--and get
them. Dishonesty seems to be inherent in the chicle business;
one contractor will steal another's chicle, or buy it from his
labourers, while the labourer, not to be outdone, will
fraudulently take advances from two or three contractors,
not intending to work for any of them. He will even embed
pieces of bark, wood, dirt, or even rocks in the blocks of
cooked chicle, till "Caveat emptor" had became the motto
of the whole industry. The price of labour has doubled.
Formerly the Indian was glad to work for o5 c. per day;
now, as a chiclero, if he will condescend to do any work
outside the chicle season, he demands at least $1.25. But
he glories in his degradation; when half-drunk you will see
him clapping himself on the chest and shouting, Yo soy
hombre; yo soy cicdero (" I am a man, I am a chiclero "),
as who should say, "Civis Romanu sum"; and if you
want to hire him you are apt to hear, Seor, yo soy
chclro; y so orabsjo" (" Sir, I am a chiclero; I don't
work ").
The curious thing is that, notwithstanding the increased














































PREPARING CHICLE, CIIRWING*GUM


OISIDDIAN OBJECTS FROM MOUND




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wages and luxury in living, no one seems to have really
benefited by the coming of chicle. The labourer and his
family have acquired extravagant tastes, and lost the habit
VJ the old, simple life, so that their increased revenue is by
so means commensurate with their increased demand for
luxuries, unknown, and consequently undesired, in the old
days. The contractor rarely seems to have any cash, and,
when he has, it is soon gambled or dissipated away; in fact,
the only beneficiaries under the system are a few large
mecessionnaires, and the great companies to whom the
*oclde is consigned in the far-off U.S.A.
The seven men available, including Jim, were put on
,to cut a passage through the bush up the side of Mound B,
and to clear its flat top. It is pyramidal in shape, 35ft.
ligh and 3ooft. in circumference. At its base, directly
facing the great temple, is a small stela, or monolith, of
bard limestone, 12ft. long, 4ft. 2in. broad, and Ift. 3in.
thick. Its summit is oval and quite flat, measuring 45ft.
by 3oft. It was obvious that no building had ever stood on
this space, for no trace remained of squared stones; the
inference is, therefore, that it had been a burial mound.
The clearing having been accomplished, the seven men
tarted excavating a pit I2ft. by i2ft. in the centre of the
flat, table-like top. Forming a layer about 6in. deep on
the surface, was the accumulated vegetal humus of thirteen
Centuries, directly beneath which appeared the top stratum
of the original mound. This averaged ift. in thickness,
and consisted of fragments of limestone, amongst which were
i3ond the following objects :
I. Over zoo cores of flint, varying in weight from three
to thirty pounds, all roughly trimmed, as if for facility in
bmnsport.
S. Thirty-five beautifully chipped flints, with five





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obhddians, all o eceatric ae as c nts, cross, rings,
tars, etc. *
3. Two small polished blocks of jade, not perforated
for suspension.
4. Two large Area Grandis shells, the valves still hinged
together, from which the ancient Maya obtained the material
to make their red beads and other ornaments.
5. A white stone bead whose flattened sides were marked
by dots in this way, I : : ; i : I | suggesting that
it had been used either in some game, or for a tally.
6. Two large cockle-shells.
7. A group of five univalvular shells, adherent to each
other, from which the Maya obtained mother-of-pearl for
earrings, inlays, etc.
8 A rough block of obsidian.
9. Hammer-stones of lint of various sizes.
zo. Two small stone chisels.
About the centre of this cache, and six inches beneath
the original surface of the mound, were found portions of
a human femur, or thigh-bone, and fibula, or small leg-bone,
both in a very advanced state of disintegration. The
men continued excavation in this mound to a depth of
aaft., the original hole contracting, and becoming funnel-
shaped as they descended. It was solidly built of layers
of large blocks of limestone alternating with layers of rbble,
both held together by a somewhat friable mortar, but
forming an extremely refractory material to dig in, almost
like solid masonry. At a depth of iaft. a wellbuilt wall
of squared stones held together by tough mortar, was
ecountwred, and this wa foamed 4dwn for stt. or to










































ECC-FNTRIC SHAPED FLINTS PAINTED VASE SHOWING HIEROGLYPHICS,
SACRIFICE, AND OFFERING,

LP. 54





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within 8ft. of the base of the mound. Progress had been
extremely slow during the last part of the work, and un-
fortunately the time at my disposal was exhausted, so I
bad to leave the mound unfinished till a future occasion.
Almost in the centre of the mound, about I5ft. from the
surface, was brought to light a flat piece of very fine-grained,
tough limestone, measuring I2in. by 6in., one surface of
which had been polished all over and scored by innumerable
grooves, probably made in the process of sharpening needles,
awls, and other sharp-pointed implements, while the smooth
surface had been used for polishing. With this was a bone
needle in an excellent state of preservation. A large gum-
balimbo tree grew almost over the skeletal remains, and
as the men dug around it they chopped through the roots,
till, with a crash, it fell within a foot of my shoulder, as
absorbed in the discovery of some of the flints I sat on the
edge of the excavation, quite oblivious to what was going
on behind me. The Indians firmly believed that the
occupant of the mound was making one last effort to still
the hands which were robbing his possessions, disturbing
his bones, and waking him from his thirteen-centuries-long
sleep. Moreover, I think they left the fates to decide the
issue between their remote ancestor and myself, for they
never gave me the least warning that the tree was about to
fall, though they were probably rather relieved that victory
rested with me, for did I not represent the pay roll? I
had hoped to find within this mound a stone-lined burial
chamber, as a similar mound opened on the Rio Nuevo
some years ago, on whose summit a number of eccentrically
shaped flints and human bones were found, contained within
its structure a very fine stone-lined sepulchral cyst, filled
with sand, and divided about its centre into an upper and
lower chamber by a layer of human skulls filling the entire




MYSTERY CITIES


hunmn of the chamber. The bones and eccentric flints
were here on the summit, but the burial chamber was absent,
unless it is right at the bottom of the mound, and not in its
exact centre, in which case the wall last discovered probably
forms one of its boundaries-points which will be made
clear at the resumption of excavation during the next
dry season.
The objects found on the summit of this mound are
singularly suggestive; nodules of flint of various colours,
nodules of jade, cores of obsidian, and the shells from which
were derived material for making beads, earrings, gorgets,
and other ornaments, together with hammer stones, chisels,
and a grinding stone for working these materials; in fact,
what amounts to the entire outfit of an Old Empire Maya
jeweller and lapidary, together with a number of his finished
products in flint, obsidian, and ivory. We learn from
Landa, a bishop of Yucatan who wrote about the middle of
the sixteenth century on the religious beliefs of the Maya,
whose language he had learnt, and with whose manners and
customs he was probably better acquainted than any other
contemporary writer, that they were accustomed to bury
with their dead objects associated with them in life-with
the priest his manuscripts on divination, astrology, and
medicine; with the lady her rouge, powder, mirror, depila-
tory, etc.; with the housewife her pots, loom, and spindle-
whorls; with the warrior his spear and shield; with the child
its toys ; and so on. Now here we have what can be nothing
else than the stock-in-trade of an ancient jeweller, and I
think the inference is fairly obvious that the individual
buried beneath, whether on the summit, or, as we shall
ascertain later on, in a chamber at the base, was a jeweller
and worker in flints, ivory, and precious stones. That he
was a person of the first importance is indicated by the size
































































SUMMIT OF BURIAL MOUND
[P. 56





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of the monument erected over him, and by its nearness to
the main temple, on the terraces of which it is probable
that the rulers and higher priests were interred. As will
be related farther on, there were found beneath the main
stela four eccentric flints of precisely the same technique
in manufacture as those found in Mound B, and it is not
improbable that the occupant of Mound B was their maker.
Beneath the stela of Mound D twelve eccentric flints were
discovered, of similar shape but of a much cruder technique,
for which he was not responsible, as Mound D probably was
not erected till some time after he had already become an
occupant of mound B.
Four extra Indian labourers who turned up were sent
to cut a picado through the bush to the summit of Mound A,
upon which stood the principal temple, and to clear the
ruins for photographic purposes.
This mound is 315ft. long and 8ift. high to the base of
the main temple (V in the plan), which occupies the western
half of its flat top. The eastern half is covered by a
smaller group of stone buildings, now almost completely
in ruins. The centre of its western side is occupied by the
ruins of a great stone stairway by which the terrace at the
summit of the mound is approached (M in the plan). The main
temple is in a very ruinous condition, and the exact plan
of its structure is not easily to be made out. It appears to
have consisted originally of three storeys surmounted by
a broad roof comb, and was evidently constructed at two
different periods, as the rooms in the lowest storey had been
filled in with great blocks of limestone and mortar to form
a solid foundation for the two upper storeys and the roof
comb, which were added at a later date, a device frequently
adopted by Maya architects to render their temples more
imposing. Each storey contained nine rooms, the central




MYSTERY CITIES


ones measuring yft. 6in. in length, the side ones z7ft. gin.
The rooms were all roofed by the usual triangular truncated
Maya ceilings, constructed by allowing each course of stones
to overlap slightly the one immediately beneath, and filling
in the gap at the top with a row of flat cap-stones. All
were covered with plaster, upon which traces of graffiti,
scratched probably by descendants of the original builders,
were still discernible. The height of the temple, including
the roof comb, had originally been about 5oft., which, added
to the Soft. of the substructure, would give a total height
of the top of the roof comb above the ground of approxi-
mately z3oft. From this lofty elevation a magnificent
view must have been obtained of all the surrounding country,
for the substructure itself is built on the summit of a con-
siderable natural elevation. The eastern side of the lowest
storey has been elaborately carved, but great masses of
stone, mortar, and earth have fallen from above, almost
completely burying the sculpture, and it will require a
considerable amount of time and labour to remove this
material.
We suffered a good deal from the scarcity of water, as
the nearest creek is a mile away in the bush, over a very
hilly path ankle-deep in mud, and it had to be fetched by
two Indian boys carrying large hour-glass-shaped calabashes
on a long pole. The water was none too good when one
got it, as it formed a milky mixture with tea, and had to
be drunk in strict moderation by me, as it acted like a mild
dose of Epsom salts. We were a good deal puzzled as to
where the ancient dwellers in this city obtained their water
supply, as it is hardly conceivable that they should have
sent so far for it as the creek; on the other hand, we found
no trace of those great underground tanks or cisterns known
as chltuna, hollowed out in the imestone, in which the





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Bident Maya at many of their cities stored water; yet
*is quite possible that these may exist, and that the narrow
dctular openings have in the course of the centuries become
Joked up by fallen tree-trunks, limbs, and other vegetal
abris.
One never realises what a boon a bath is till one has
goae without it for a week or two in a tropical climate,
and the warm sponge-over taken from a small tin dish-
pan containing about two quarts of this rock-hard water
was one of the greatest luxuries I ever enjoyed. It was
preceded by a good rub-over with a mixture of kerosene
oil and tobacco-juice to loosen the ticks and red bug accumu-
hted during the last few days. Insects are undoubtedly
the main curse of the bush. Ticks of all sorts abounded
here (though it was the rainy season), varying in size from
a large split pea to microscopic little chaps into whose nests
along the bush trails one is constantly brushing, when a
veritable shower of these bloodthirsty little beasts is
scattered over one's trousers or coat, spreading rapidly in
all directions, and digging n on the inner side of the
thighs, all round the waist, and in other spots where the
skin is thin, and incidentally tender, and the anchorage
is good. Unless removed with kerosene or tobacco-juice,
they hang on like grim death, and suck blood till they turn
into tiny distended bladders. Red bug, called by the
Spaniards coloradillo (minute scarlet insects which can only
be seen by the aid of a small magnifying glass), are even
worse than ticks, as they burrow deeper into the skin,
causing intolerable itching, and are much more difficult to
get rid of. Mosquitoes of all sorts and sizes abounded,
but one gets used to them; and here, buried in the depths
O the bush, there is no micro-organism of malaria, yellow
ever, or filariasis for them to carry, so their attacks can be





60 MYSTERY CITIES
borne philosophically. Worse than the mosquito, how-
ever, is the boltas-fly, a minute peripatetic suction pump
whose bite itches intolerably, and leaves a little red circle
of blood, about the size of a small pin's head, extravasated
beneath the skin, which in a day or two turns black, and
does not wear off for weeks. I have seen a white man's
hands turn almost black on the backs after a few weeks'
residence in the bush where these flies abound.



























iED)










A








BeNQLE VIEJO: PLAN


PAINTED VASE SHOWING THE TAPIR
OR LONG-NOSED GOD

[p. 60


----d --- ---~e~pZar~l~IB









CHAPTER IV


Ezavation in Mound E-A burial mound and its contents-Probable sex
of occupant-Excavation postponed-Mound C and stela-Sculpture
of warrior-The only date recorded in the ruins, January 31st, 59o-
Other stelm probably covered with painted stucco-Desertion by the
Maya of all their magnificent cities, for some unknown reason-
Difficulty of taking paper casts of sculptures-Eccentric flints found
beneath stela-Water ti-ti-Has saved many lives-Food easily
procurable by those lost in the bush, but not water-Water cactus
provides foul water for drinking-A celebrated bush-doctor-The
legend of the ruins, which gave them their name of Stone Maiden "
-Bargain with the bush-doctor to show me the herbs used as remedies
by him-Use of fire-drill-Doctor's information not entirely reliable
-" Corazon de Jesus leaves and their medicinal use-Mound D-
Altar erected by modern Indians on one of the fragments of the
ancient stela before which their ancestors worshipped-Bitten by
Tzojorin ant, curious remedy-Strange incident of stray dog-An
Indian wake, or velorio-Our Indian woman cook, Chiapa Chi-Her
language and cooking technique-Curious treatment of an Indian
baby-Carib schoolmaster in Maya village-Rise of the Carib, and
fall of the Maya-Black hornets and scorpions.

OUR labourers having increased to fifteen, we put on four,
first to clear the bush from, and then excavate, the
summit of Mound E. This mound, as will be seen by the
plan, is situated to the north of Mound B. It is pyramidal
in shape, 3oft. high, Soft. long, and 8oft. wide at the base.
Like Mound B, it had not served as a substructure for the
support of a temple or other building, and was consequently
probably a sepulchral mound, but, unlike B, its apex, instead
of being flat, was crowned by a sharp ridge of limestone
blocks 6ft. long. Excavation was started from the summit,
and the mound was found to be built of large boulders of
limestone and a good deal of rubble, held together by a
e a-




MYSTERY CITIES


friable mortar. Two feet beneath the surface, and not
contained within any chamber, were found portions of a
human skeleton, consisting of fragments of the leg and arm
bone, vertebra, and part of the skull, which had probably
belonged to a young adult. The corpse had been fully
extended, with the head pointing towards the north. At
the feet were found half a broken flint spear-head, covered
with a white patina, and a broken obsidian knife. The
face had been covered by a shallow, circular, saucer-shaped
vessel of yellow pottery, upon which were outlined geomet-
rical devices in red; this was broken into small fragments
by the large blocks of limestone which had been piled upon
it. On each side of this pot were found two very beautiful
little orejeras, or earrings, of translucent light green jade,
evidently just as they had fallen from the ears when dis-
integration set in. It was impossible to tell the sex of
the skeleton from the bones found, but these tiny ear
ornaments would indicate that it was that of a female, as
the ear plugs worn by the men were very much larger and
heavier, though the spear-head would point to its being a
male. The excavation was continued to a depth of six
feet through the structure of the mound, but, as nothing
further was discovered, it was discontinued till something
definite had been ascertained as to the contents of Mound
B, which it resembled closely in structure. As already
mentioned, we never finished excavating Mound B, so
this mound also stands over till the next dry season.
Two more Indians arrived for work, and were put on to
clean the main stela in front of Mound C. This mound is
l33ft. long, 95ft. broad, and 3oft. high. The stela, which is
placed at the centre of its west side, faces the front of the
main temple on Mound A. This monolith was originally
7ft. 8in. high, 3ft. 4in. broad, and ift. 6in. thick. Upon





































BENQU VI1JO : GREAT MOUND


GANG OF LABOURERS


rp. 62





MYSTERY CITIES


relief the figure of a warrior, with elaborate feather head-
dress, holding in his outstretched right hand a ceremonial
"br. He is standing upon the back of a captive or slave,
who is depicted crouching on hands and knees. On either
side of the warrior's legs are sculptured two rows of hiero-
glyphics. The stela has been broken off about three feet
from its base, and both figure and glyphs are very much
defaced. This was probably caused by the fall of a gigantic
tree across the top of the monolith, an accident which may
have occurred a thousand years ago. Unfortunately, when
it was broken, the sculptured surface fell uppermost, and
the rain and weather of thirteen centuries have further
defaced the carving. The face of the stela was covered with
.a tough, adherent, green moss, and it took two men a
couple of days, scrubbing with hard brushes and palm
leaves, to clear this off sufficiently to make it possible for
me to get a photograph and cast of the design. The column
of hieroglyphics on the left side shows two which, though
,considerably defaced owing to the fracture in the stone
'having passed through the lower one, may probably be
read as 5 .Ahau 3 Kayab. Now this date is the calendar
oimnd position of the end of Katun I of Cycle 0o; the
whole date should therefore be read 10.1.0.0o..5 Ahau 3
Kayab, or. the completion of Katun I (20-year period) of
Cycle 1o (40o-year period) from the commencement of
'Maya chronology (a certain date 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu), which
fell on a calendar round date 5 Ahau 3 Kayab. This,
according to Spinden's astronomical correlation between
the Maya and Christian calendars, which agrees with
Morley's correlation based on documentary evidence from
the time of the Conquest, falls on the date January 3Ist,
A.. 50o, and this, we may take it, was the date upon which





MYSTERY CITIES


this stone was erected to commemorate the end ot Katun
I of Cycle ro.
The flat summit of Mound C, in front of which this stela
stands, was occupied by a long, narrow, stone building,
now completely in ruins. Five stele in all were found at
these ruins, but this was the only one recording a date-
indeed the only one sculptured at alL The probability is
that the other plain stela had been covered with stucco,
upon which were painted the dates of their erection, with
the figure of a god or ruler, such as were commonly depicted
upon Maya stehl. A stela was erected in all Maya cities
at the end of every Katun, or ao-year period, and as there
are five stela at this site, it is probable that it was occupied
for a period of from zoo to z4o years. It was originally,
no doubt, a colony from the great city of Naranjo, situated
only a few miles to the north-west, and was founded probably
about the end of Cycle 9. In common with all the other
Maya cities of Guatemala and Honduras, it was doubtless
deserted by its inhabitants somewhere in the third Katun
of Cycle zo, or between A.D. 60o and 6ao.
At Naranjo, the nearest city to Xunantunich, there
exists a stela which is almost the exact counterpart of
the one described. A warrior, with lofty and elaborate
feather head-dress, stands upon the back of a captive or
slave who is crouching upon his arms and knees. The
warrior holds in his extended right hand a staff or sceptre
representing a highly conventionalised serpent. Upon the
back of this stela is very clearly depicted the Initial Series
98.xo.o.o.zo Ahau 8 Yax, corresponding to a date in
the year A.D. 540, which i jst fifty years earlier than the
Xunmntuich inscripti, At Seibal the emt nearest city
to Xunantunich, several Initial Serie dates are found
roeded; the latest of these is ojo.o...5 Ahau 3 Kayab,



































STELA INSCRIBED 5 AHAU 3 KAYAB
31 JAN. A.D. 590

Phooglvafpk by Peabmdyv Museum. Harvard, U.S-A.


ALTAR WITH FIGURE
OF DEATH GOD

[P. 64





MYSTERY CITIES


or precisely the same date as that found recorded at Xunan-
tunich, which would indicate that these two cities were
deserted at about the same time, and that the sculptured
stela was probably the last erected, and represents the
highest achievement of the inhabitants before they joined
the great Maya migration from the cities of the south into
the barren, waterless wastes of Yucatan, an explanation
for the cause of which has probably given rise to more
controversy amongst American archeologists than any other
subject.
In taking a cast of the glyph I encountered a considerable
amount of difficulty; in the first place, I had neglected to
bring with me a supply of the material generally used for
this purpose-a soft, brown, porous paper, used for wrapping
Spanish oranges-so had to use an inferior grade of ordinary
brown paper, which was too tough, and did not fit well the
contours of the sculpture. I chose a fine morning, but
hardly had I got the moulding finished than the sky darkened
and it came on to pour. I made the best protection I could
with my mackintosh and a tarpaulin, but knew the cast
would never dry in such weather; indeed it was not till
three days later that, by exposing it to every passing gleam
of sunshine, and finally lighting a fire all round it, I was
enabled to get the cast sufficiently dry to remove. The
technique in making paper casts is simple, though a large
surface requires endless patience in carrying it out. Layers
of wet paper-the softer the better-are first placed over
the sculpture, and well beaten in with a hard-bristled brush
till they take the shape of the design, fitting in snugly to
every crevice. Layer after layer is applied in this way,
the outer layers being covered with paste to stiffen them,
and all hollows and spaces filled in with plugs of wet paper
made to fit accurately into them; finally the whole is





MYSTERY CITIES


allowed to dry in the sun, when it will be found that the
resultant cast, though not quite so good as a plaster mould,
is infinitely lighter, and easier of transport on mule-back,
where every extra pound of equipment tells. On digging
beneath the base of the stela, which remained standing
upright, I found that it rested upon the limestone rock,
and that in front of it had been excavated in the bed-rock a
small pocket or recess, in which lay three eccentrically
shaped flints) These, as already remarked, so closely
resemble those found in Mound B, both in shape, size, and
chipping technique, that they are probably the work of the
same individual.
I was introduced that afternoon, while searching the
bush for burial mounds with one of my Indian boys, to
the water ti-ti, a dark-coloured, rough-barked liana, about
as thick round as my wrist. Though very thirsty, I did not
like to drink the creek water without boiling, and told
Pedro so, on which he went a few yards into the bush, and,
seizing a great rope of the liana hanging from a branch 5oft.
up, sliced off a section about 21ft. long with two blows of
his machete, and, holding it over his head, allowed the water
-of which it contained about an ounce, clear, pure, and
cool-to drip into his mouth. I proceeded to follow his
example, though it took a dozen sections to relieve my
thirst. Many an Indian has been saved from death by
thirst by this ti-ti, when lost in the Yucatan bush, where
streams are not, and water holes are few and far between.
Fruits, nuts, and edible roots abound, and game is incredibly
tame, so that food supply presents no difficulty, but, with
the exception of this liana and a large, broad-leaved cactus
which holds water in the spaces between its rows of leaves,
practically no water supply exists. The water in the cactus,
being open to the air, affords a combined drinking-trough



























































REVERSE.
DATED A.D. 540

Lp. 66




MYSTERY CITIES


and bathroom to myriads of insects, who not infrequently
ee it also as a convenient place in which to commit suicide,
so that it usually smells aloud, is of a soup-like consistency,
and is not to be compared for a moment with that supplied
by the liana.
This particular morning there turned up at the ruins a
celebrated local character amongst the Indians, Urbano
Patt, the most renowned shaman, bush-medico, and snake-
doctor in all the district. He was a curiously thin, wizened,
dried-up, little Indian of indeterminate age, but possessing
a look of far greater intelligence than the majority of the
Maya, who, notwithstanding their ancient and lofty lineage,
are, it must be admitted, somewhat bovine in aspect and
Intellect. His appearance was not impressive, dressed as he
was in cotton shirt and pants-none too clean-an old pair
of moccasins, a dreadful old straw hat, a tiger-skin bag hang-
ing over one shoulder-the one modest badge of his office
visible-and a great machete strapped to his side. Yet
there was not lacking a certain dignity and assurance in his
manner, which was courteous and urbane, as one celebrated
physician meeting another of a different school, a smile on
his,face, hat raised, and hand outstretched in greeting. He
bade me welcome to Xunantunich, which I learnt for the
Afst time was the Indian name for the ruins. The word
means in Maya, literally, stone maiden," and its origin,
as told by Urbano, is somewhat peculiar. Some years ago,
when the Maya first settled in Benque Viejo and discovered
the ruins, one of their number started out hunting one
morning with his three dogs, and climbed the temple mound
n search of the freshly made hole of a g bnut, as it was a
favourite place for this animal to burrow. Crossing the
mound just below the base of the temple, he was suddenly
brought up "all standing" by the sight of a beautiful




MYSTERY CITIES


statuesque Maya maiden, of heroic se, clad in hAift and
pih, standing motionless by the side of the mouth of the
passage which runs beneath the temple. She appeared of
a dazzling and supernatural whiteness, as she stood full in
the rays of the rising sun, and looked with fixed and stony
stare, as it appeared to him, across the intervening bush to
the valley, where later the Indians built the village of
Succots. On recovering a little from his first shock, he
promptly turned tail, and, throwing aside his gun, bolted
incontinently down the hillside and made for the river. He
reported the matter at once to the Chaac, or native priest,
and both of them started back for the ruins. Arriving at
the mound, the Chaac took the lead, and soon came to the
mouth of the tunnel, only to find that the stone maiden had
disappeared. They found the gun thrown aside in the
bush, but of the three dogs and of the Xunantunich nothing
was ever seen again. It is probable that the dogs, entering
one of the limestone caves of the neighbourhood, encountered
a jaguar instead of a gibnut, while the lady can only be
regarded as the creation of a singularly lively and vivid
imagination, though the tale is firmly believed by the
Indians to this day.
I came to an arrangement with the old man whereby,
for the sum of three dollars daily, food, and a reasonable
supply of rum, he would go out into the bush, collect Maya
remedies, and give me their native names and supposed
medicinal qualities. He first, however, showed me how to
make fire by the Indian method. Producing a small slab
of a very light wood known as chaca, he squatted down on
the ground, and scraped up some shavings with a piece of
sharp flint round the edges of a little funnel-shaped de-
pression in the wood. Into this depression he then inserted
the pointed end of a round stick of an extremely hard,





MYSTERY CITIES


OVywood known as Cuktzuk. then rapidly rotated the one
within the other. In a very ftw minutes th e shvine nhi gs
shouldered, and then caught light, and he had his fire.
This method (or a spark from flint caught on tinder) was at
oe time the only means of obtaining fire understood by the
JIdians, but now, except in quite remote villages, or for
ceremonial purposes, it has been almost superseded by the
match. After lunch Urbano started off into the bush, and
returned about dark with more than twenty samples of bark,
leaves, fruit, nuts, roots, and latex, all of which he assured
me had most valuable medicinal qualities. I wrote down
their native names and uses in a note-book, though I
accepted the information with reserve, fir during his abnllce
I had made a haphazard collection of v.irii Ibotanical
specimens from the imniediate neighbourhood of the ruins,
which I showed him, and to each he had no hesitation in
fitting an unpronounceable Maya ; name and a trying of
useful medicinal qualities. Some of the bush remedies are
really useful, as fever grass, which is a powerful diaphoretic
and'diuretic, and is given in malaria with good effect, also
the milky juice of the chichein, or poison-w,,od tree, which
blisters whenever it touches the skin, and is sprayed as a
local application over enlarged spleens ; but many are uscd
quite empirically, or because of a fancied resemblance to the
diseased organ, or to the cause of the disease. A surface
root which grows on the mounds, and so closely resembles
a centipede that in climbing I have often started back under
the impression that I was about to put my hand on one of
these insects, when, as a matter of fact, it was one of the
roots, is regarded as a sovereign remedy for o.ntipede stings.
A thin root with bulbous swellings, res-mbling a chain of
Swollen lymphatic glands, is ground up and applied to
enlarged glands in any part of the body The leaf of a plant





MYSTERY CITIES


known as the "Corazon de Jesus" or "Heart of Jesus,"
partly on account of its shape, and partly on account of the
curious natural perforations which give it a certain resem-
blance to conventional representations to the Sacred
Heart of Jesus seen in Roman Catholic churches through-
out Latin America, is highly prized as a medicine. To it
was ascribed the power of alleviating all those psychic ills
usually referred to the region of the heart, such as jealousy,
unrequited love, illicit passion, etc., but, curiously enough,
the leaf has acquired a secondary use, for the relief of
physical ills of the generative organs, for which it is now
almost exclusively employed.
Six men were put on to dig on the summit of Mound D.
The mound is 317ft. long, by 6oft. broad. It is divided
into three flat-topped peaks, as seen in the plan, separated
by two depressions, the peaks being raised z4ft. above
the general level of the mound. On its west side is an almost
square projection 6ft. high, probably the site of the original
stairway leading to the top of the mound. Crowning the
summit of each of these three secondary mounds, or peaks,
is the ruin of a small oblong building, containing a single
chamber built of flat, roughly squared stones, held together
by friable mortar. These buildings are now completely
broken down, only a few feet of the base of the walls of
each still remaining in situ. At the base of the central
mound stands a plain limestone monolith, 7ft. loin. high,
aft. Ioin. broad, and ift. 4in. thick, facing west. On dig-
ging beneath it, within a small pocket hollowed out of the
rock upon which it rests were found a number of small
flints of eccentric shapes. These are much more crudely-
fashioned, smaller, and of poorer workmanship than those
found either beneath the sculptured stela or on the summit
of Mound B. At the bas of the eastern extrmity of the






































FALLEN MONOLITH AND CROSS


OUR COOK


[ 70





MYSTERY CITIES


nound stood a plain stela, now fallen and broken into a
number of fragments. Upon the largest of these, as shown
in the photograph, the Indians had erected a small altar
consisting of a cedar-wood cross with a small heap of stones
around it. This little altar stands by the side of the track,
and each wayfarer who passes places upon it either a stone
or a few flowers, saying an Ave or Pater as he does
so. I could not help reflecting that very similar petitions
were made and prayers offered to the gods before this very
stone thirteen centuries ago, while the offerings of fruit
and flowers accompanying them were practically identical
in both cases.
Next morning old Urbano appeared soon after coffee,
and started off into the bush, returning in the afternoon
with thirty more botanical specimens used by the Indians
for medicinal purposes. Some of these are applied ex-
ternally in the form of fomentations or poultices, others
are taken internally as powders, boluses, or infusions. Every
conceivable disease has its own remedy, and many of them
two or three, while for such prevalent diseases as fever,
granos, or boils, ulcers, headache, constipation, and diarrhea,
there are at least a dozen remedies, which may be given
together or one after the other, till a cure is effected-or
the patient dies. One most excellent, and, as I can per-
iamlly vouch, efficacious remedy was tried out on myself.
hile sitting on a log, talking to the old man, I was bitten
OB the arm by a Tzojorin, an enormous ant, fin. long, the
poison of which is fully as painful as that of a bee. I was
always under the impression that this was injected by the
htiet's formidable mandibles, but Urbano pointed out that
the beast is armed both fore and aft, for its tail possesses
a long, hollow, retractile needle, through which its poison
i injected beneath the skin. The remedy, however, lies





uXnSMY Carm


in the ant itself, for If it is eviscerated and the innards "
applied at once to the sting the pain disappears as if by
magic, nor does the place swell and inflame afterwards as
it otherwise would. From the ant's point of view nature
seems to have provided it with but a poor protective
mechanism, as the first sting is apt to be its last, if the
stingee is acquainted with its secret.
A curious incident occurred the previous night. On
the Tuesday a small white cur dog, very miserable and
dejected, with every rib showing clearly through his skin,
suddenly turned up at camp from the bush. He may have
been a stray from some chicle camp, or possibly his master
may have met with an accident while hunting in the bush.
We fed him and treated him well, and he settled down com-
fortably as a member of the expedition. He was a curious
little animal, walking stiff-legged and deliberately, lifting
first the right fore, then the left hind, left fore, and right
hind foot high in the air, and never altering this curious
stilted gait. He made constant trips to the top of the
almost perpendicular mounds, though for what purpose
he himself alone knew. He never barked or made the
noises usual to dogs, and even a chicken-bone produced
the merest flicker of his taiL About a p.m. I was awakened
by a series of short, staccato barks just outside the tent,
followed by the sound of hastily retreating footsteps crash-
ing through the bush on the opposite side. Switching on
the electric torch, I seized my gun, and pushing through
the tent-flaps, found Pek, as we had christened him (ie.
Maya "pup"), standing stiff-legged, the hairs on his
back bristling, barking away at footsteps growing gradually
fainter in the distance. Now the previous day I had sent
to Cayo for money to pay the men's wages, and I am con-
vinced that some Mecan, or Petenero chice-bleeder,















v~a




8
bor
a-
Mo~


[P. 72





MYSTERY CITIES


oI4 of whom would cheerfully commit murder for ten
*iatsa got wind of this cash in camp, and came prowling
asrnd to see if there was anything doing in the way of a
j4et. unobtrusive murder and robbery, followed by a skip
*vW the Guatemala border, only a mile away, to safety
gSa4 ffuence. In this, however, he was foiled by the
fiatl Pek, who had nobly rewarded the kindness shown
bim.
On the following night a velorio, or wake, was held at
Janque Viejo, the subject being the son of one, and brother
gi e nther, of my labourers, who were naturally suffering
horn fhe effects next morning. This was the third man
wOv -had been "waked in the Indian villages since my
Pttral a week before, each of whom had several relatives
amongst my labourers, who consider it obligatory upon
them to sit up drinking all night as a mark of respect to
te memory of the departed. Three deaths per week
appears to indicate a somewhat abnormal death-rate amongst
Community of 500 or so, and if it lasted, the entire popula-
tion would soon disappear. Between the enlarged spleens
and malaria, from which nearly all the men suffer, and the
'1sorios, one can never expect the entire gang to turn up .to
wor4 on any particular day, so that afternoon, accompanied
. Muddy, I visited the village of Succots with a view to
hiftg more Indians and, if possible, an Indian woman as
a' eook, for I found that between gathering fuel, lighting
the fire, watching the pots boil, and clearing up, the labour
of at least three men was more or less interfered with, while
so one was satisfied with the cooking. We had no difficulty
engaging extra labour, hbt the lady cook was much harder
te obtain, and it was only after many unsuccessful inter-
views that at last, by the offer of five dollars per week, I
WBieded in engaging one who agreed to turn up on Monday.




MYSTERY CIIES


I never aseertained her nae, but christened her Chiapa Ci,
after John L Steven's celebrated Maya cook in Yucatan,
whom she closely resembled. She was dried up, wrinkled,
and silent, never speaking, and answering only in mono-
syllables, while she worked for me. Indeed, I thought
that, being the only woman amongst such a crowd of men,
she was afraid of being compromised, though nature had
supplied her with an almost perfect natural mask against the
most poisonous gas of passion. She was the first to turn
up each morning, and the last to leave at night, arriving
with a great macapeal, or net, slung by a strap over her
forehead and supported on her back, containing cooking
utensils and other paraphernalia. The only occasion upon
which I ever saw her show any human emotion was when
one of the laborers borrowed-without asking permission-
her macapal to carry a heavy rubbing-stone for me to the
river bank. Then, without raising her voice, and without
the least sign of emotion upon her wooden face, she launched
into such a stream of Maya invective as I have never heard
equalled. The men listened in awed silence, and the
delinquent simply returned the macapaal and slunk off
,4wthout a word. She brought the corn-cakes with her
ready-made, and so had only the beans to cook, with some
sweet potato and pumpkins-the last, I fear, borrowed from
a neighboring mila without the owner's cognisance,
though I did not make too close enquiries into the matter.
Her stove, a simple affair, consisted of three stones placed
at the angles of a triangle, while she had only to reach
behind her amongst the bush recently felled in clearing the
camp to get as much firewood as she wanted. She was,
however, a marked secess. The chicken, which under
Muddy's regime had been like a leather property fowl, was
quitb decent; the rie, instead of a soggy, dripping mass like





MYSTERY CITIES


pWt mortar, came up dry, soft, and with the grains separate.
The men too, I noticed, ate all their rations, and came back
or' more, instead of, as previously, surreptitiously handing
over half of them to Pek.
Before leaving the village I had a curious experience
while visiting the house of one of my Succots labourers.
His wife was lying in the hammock, nursing an extremely
dirty and unattractive infant, its face covered with molasses,
over which it had smeared dirt from the mud floor. This
child stared, wide-eyed and fascinated, at me for a couple
of minutes, and its mother observing this, remarked:
Oh, sefor, she has taken a fancy to you; you must kiss
her."
But," said I, I don't want to kiss her, her face is all
smeared with sticky dirt."
But, senior, you must kiss her now, for if you don't she
will suffer from the evil eye and perhaps die."
Suppose," I answered, she was fourteen or fifteen
years older, would you still want me to kiss her ? "
Oh, no, Sefior Doctor, in that case I should expect you
to marry her."
I saw a much younger baby with an enormous corn-meal
poultice plastered over its front fontanelle, because, as the
mother explained, the membrane covering the opening in
the skull had sunk in, so the midwife had to come every day
and prise it up, from the roof of the child's mouth, and apply
a fresh poultice frequently, to suck it up from the top, thus
applying both vis a tergo and vis a front, as otherwise the
child would suffer severely from-diarrhoea! The wonder
is, not that the Maya are a rapidly disappearing race, owing
to the heavy infantile mortality amongst them, but that
any of the wretched infants survive at all. I took a photo-
graph of five of the school-children, all of pronounced Maya




MYSTERY CITIES


type. They were very good, and stood without a move or
a murmur in the sun for ten or twelve minutes while I was
taking them, but the way their faces lit up at sight of the
toffee which came afterwards as a reward, showed that these
poor pathetic little atoms of a vanishing race still retained
a few of the attributes of the human kid. The schoolmaster
of the village, a very intelligent man, was a black Carib from
the sea coast-a strange coincidence that children whose
ancestors must have looked upon his as the veriest barbarians,
while they themselves represented the highest aboriginal
culture ever reached in the New World, should now be taught
English by him in a British colony. One could not but
ponder the slow rise and fall of nations and civilisations,
and incidentally the boundlessness of the British Empire,
under whose beneficent sway the lowest and most degraded
of the aboriginal American tribes, whose name was associated
amongst the conquistadors with cannibalism and other
degrading practices, has been turned into a nation of pro-
ductive workers and good citizens, while the Maya, who
enjoyed the highest civilisation in America before the
Conquest, have, under the Spanish yoke, dwindled to a
poor degenerate remnant of a once great nation, their
traditions lost, their civilisation forgotten, their numbers
decreasing year by year, till, in another century, it is prob-
able that no single individual of pure Maya descent will be
left upon the American continent.
On returning from Succots that evening I found a great
black hornet busily engaged in prospecting the earth floor
of the tent for a location to build his nest. I beat a hasty
retreat till he had finished his survey, for they are probably
the most dangerous insects in Central America to tackle, as,
if one swats them and misses-a very easy thing to do, for
they are quick as a striking mnake-they do not retreat,





MYSTERY CITIES 77

at promptly go for one. and their sting is as severe as that
of a small snake. Later in the evening I killed the largest
scorpion I have ever seen, nearly six inches long, crawling
around the edge of the tent, and hoped that none of his
relatives were secreted amongst the innumerable boxes,
saddlebags, boots, and clothes cluttering the tent, and
especially under my mosquito net.








CHAPTER V


Visit to newly-discovered ruins-A curious method of cutting a track
through the bush-A profiteering dug-out owner-His downfall-
The North Plaza-Small mound of the last occupants of the ruins-
The chicle-bleeders' irresponsible, care-free life-Girls who elope to
the bush-Tomagoff at new ruins-Bleeding by Indian doctor-A
fortified position, and its probable age-Men afraid to attack tomagofi
-Umbrella ants enormous nest-Mysterious behaviour of snake-
The men's superstition-Naming the ruins Actuncan-Description
of main temple-Excavation in mounds round the temple-Work at
Xunantunich ends-Transferring the death god-Chiapa Chi's fare-
well-The Alcaik at Succots-Reception of the god of death in the
village-An uneasy night-Interest in my habits of natives of Succots
-Various branches of Maya and other aborigines who have occupied
Xunantunich over period of 4,000 years.

As none of the men would dig because it was Sunday, I
determined to cut a path from Xunantunich to some
entirely new ruins which had been recently found by the
Indians, distant about two miles to the north. Though they
strongly objected to digging, they had no objection whatever
to cutting passes through the bush, and the only explanation
I could get of this apparent inconsistency was that digging
was considered work, and a breach of the fourth command-
ment, whereas felling bush was not. There was a track
leading to them from Succots, but as this was a long way
round and full of red bug, I decided to cut a trail of my own
through the forest. Muddy, with two men, started early
for the new ruins, while two were left with me. Muddy and
his men, on arriving at their destination, started cutting a
picado, or trail, through the bush in a general southerly
direction, while my men, having given the others time to
reach the ruins, cut in a general northerly direction towards
78





MYSTERY CITIES


-m. Both parties blew at frequent intervals on curious
e0nical horns, made by twisting thick tough palm leaves into
Scone, and blowing through the smaller end. The note may
be varied by altering the diameter of the cone, and the
extraordinary bleating noise which the horns make can be
heard for miles through the bush on a calm day. They take
the place, in fact, of the conch shell trumpets used by the
Coast Indians and Caribs. In less than two hours both
parties met, almost in the middle, having cut a nearly
straight pass through two miles of bush, no mean feat when
one considers the density of the undergrowth.
We had now twenty men reporting for work every day,
and with them that morning came the Succots Indian who
had hired me, for twenty-five cents daily, the dug-out in
which the men crossed the river every morning. He now
demanded one dollar per day, grounding his claim on the
fact that whereas at first only a few men crossed, now twenty
crossed daily, and it was useless to explain that the twenty-
five cents was a flat rate for the use of the boat for about
ten minutes every day, so it made no difference to him if
a hundred men crossed in her. She was a crazy old craft,
dug out of a wild cotton trunk, the softest and cheapest
wood used for the purpose. When new she had been worth
perhaps ten dollars, but now when one crossed the river in
her she leaked through a dozen cracks, imperfectly caulked
with pieces of tough bark, reinforced by fragments of old
garments, and it was only by constant baling that the
opposite side, perhaps fifty yards away, was reached. Five
dollars would have been an extravagant price for her, and
yet her owner demanded I one dollar per day hire Even a war
profiteering shipowner would have nothing to learn from these
poor primitive Indians, who have bought their experience
dearly from chicle contractors and Armenian store-keepers.





MYSTERY CITIES


Fortunately for me another dug-out owner offered to lend me
his boat for nothing, on which the profiteer volunteered, as
a great concession, to keep to the original 25 cents, which
offer I was delighted to be able to turn down. When we
passed by a week later the old tub was sunk at her moorings,
where she will probably remain till she rots.
Five men were sent to clear the new ruins of bush, and
four to clear the North Plaza, and to open a small mound
at its north-west corner. The North Plaza (S on the plan)
on being cleared, proved to be a quadrangle iooft. square,
almost exactly orientated, and bounded on the north,
south, east and west sides by long narrow mounds, between
the ends of which openings existed giving access to the
central square. The mound on the south side (N on the
plan) was i2ft. high and 27ft. wide. The mound on the
west (O on the plan) was 22ft. high and 25ft. wide. Neither
of these mounds had stone buildings on their summits,
though it is probable that wooden temples or priests'
dwellings existed there originally, as they are not of the
usual type of burial mounds. The mound on the east side
(P on the plan) was 2oft. high and 3oft. wide. The mound
on the north side (R on the plan) was 33ft. high and 4oft.
wide. This latter was very steep, and was constructed
throughout of large blocks of limestone. Upon both P
and R were the ruins of long narrow stone buildings, that
upon R being much the larger of the two. At the north-
west and south-east corners of the plaza respectively,
were two small conical mounds (T and T, on the plan),
one of which, T, was opened. This mound was circular,
pyramidal in shape, 4ft. high at the centre, and z8ft. in
diameter. An excavation 6ft. across was made through
its centre to the ground level. It was composed of earth
and blocks of limestone, and contained nothing beyond a




MYSTERY CITIES


W rude,-poorly fashioned rubbing stone for grinding
. atndB numerous fragments of coarse red pottery. The
iUeovery, of so crude a little mound in such an important
spot as tWp Faza must have been was very interesting,
for there can, I think, be no doubt that it dated from a
period long after the abandonment of the ruins by their
einal builders. The former floor of the plaza was i2ft.
above thedevel of the ground outside, and was covered with
a layer of cement made from small blocks of limestone
aibedded-in mortar; on top of this cement layer a covering
*I vegetal humus several inches thick had accumulated,
and it was on this layer of undisturbed humus that the
mall mound had been constructed, a sure indication that
many centuries must have elapsed between the desertion
of the plasa and the erection of the small mound. Com-
paring the thickness of the humus layer beneath the mound
with that on the main plaza, one would be led to believe
that not over two centuries had elapsed since the mound
was constructed.
One of the men who had worked with me for a few days
when I first arrived passed through camp that morning on
his way to the chicle bush. He had four or five months'
killing labour to look forward to, sleeping under a palm-
leaf shelter, hardly ever dry, with nothing but corn cake
and beans to eat, yet he was as cheerful as a lark, and full
of chaff for my other men who had not the enterprise to
leave home, brave the hardships of the bush, and take the
chance of making big money or nothing at all. The mulada,
or mule train, to which lie belonged, had left three days
previously on its eight days 'journey into the heart of the
Central American bush, but lie had been unable to tear
himself away from the sefioritas, the vino del pais-wine of
the country, or white rum--and the fascinating games of





MYSTERY CITIES


chingaligo and parapiJ o provided in the village of Benque
Viejo. He had started three times to follow the mule train,
but the attractions of Benque had each time drawn him
back at night; now, however, if he were to catch the mulada
at all, he was really obliged to go, as he would have to cover
in five days the distance they had travelled in eight. His
luggage consisted of a small shot bag, slung over his shoulder,
and a guitar in a waterproof cover, carried in his arms with
more care and solicitude than if it had been a baby. But
this guitar was to him what his harp was to the wandering
minstrel-the price of many a meal, many a cigarette, and
many a drink of rum round the chicle camp fire, under the
flimsy pahn-leaf shelter, with the ping of the mosquito,
the quack of the tree frog, and the howl of the jaguar,
the only other sounds to break the silence of the bush by
night.
Chicleros are extraordinarily improvident, and swayed
solely by the whim of the moment. One frequently passes
chicle camps, in which their owners, after the season is over
had left behind such articles as guitars, pots and pans,
crockery, spurs, lamps, food, and even blankets and ham-
mocks, not wishing to be encumbered with these in their
mad rush back to the dissipations of semi-civilisation,
perhaps four or five long days' tramp through the bush.
They are great gamblers, and having no other stakes avail-
able in the bush, play for blocks of chicle, using the frag-
ments left over in trimming each block as small change.
Recently Indian and Mestiso girls have taken to accom-
panying the men into camp, and it is no uncommon thing
to find a mother bemoaning the loss of her daughter who
has eloped with some gallant chiclero to the bush. Once
the girls have got into the habit of this free untrammelled
life, they find it almost impossible to break, getting ready





MYSTERY CITIES


:L eh sea ,comes.round to accompany their chiclero-
laough rarely the same one for two consecutive seasons-
back to the wild.
The me clearing .the new ruins returned that evening,
and reported that on the summit of the main temple they
had found a small fallen-in chamber from which they had
disturbed a-large ypUlow-jawed tomagoff, one of the most
poisonous.snakes in the busli, and that on seeing them he
had made of 'and.taken refuge in a hole in the wall of the
temple about hialf-way up. I told theml to be sure and kill
him next dayii ie returned.
Later in the: day I witnessed the method of bleeding
employed by the Indians, a favourite remedy amongst
them for headachi~s and fevers. The patient sits down, and
the doctor standing by his side, with a little obsidian knife
(if this is not obtainable a splinter of glass or a snake's
tooth will dd) opens the temporal vein, holding the head
steady with his left hand, while an assistant catches the
blood in a small calabash. When the doctor thinks sufficient
blood has flowed, he binds on tightly a pad of raw cotton,
to stop the hemorrhage.
When Visiting Succots I had noticed, close to the river
margin, one of those combined forts and look-out mounds
so common throughout this section of the Maya area. It
consisted Io a:steep conical mound, 25ft. high, filling one
side of a square, .or plaza, 40 yds. in diameter, which was
bounded in the remaining three sides by ramparts 8ft.
high, between which-were left four entrances to the square.
The wholestood on a high bluff 40 yds. from the river bank,
and must have formed an exceedingly .triing position to
hold against people armed only with spears and bows and
rows. We know from'writers at the time of the Conquest
that the lofty .mounds always found in these forts were





MYSTERY CITIES


ued as look-out mounds, frm which the approach of an
enemy could be observed for many miles, and due warning
of it given to the people living around the fort, who herded
the women, children, old people, and animals into the
fortified pasa, where they could be more readily defended
by the warriors. I took five men from Xunantunch to
dig in the highest mound of the fort On making an excava-
tion through its centre, it was found to be composed entirely
of large blocks of limestone, the interstices between which
were filled in with limestone dust and earth. Nothing was
found in it, except a number of fragments of crude red and
grey pottery. The ramparts were composed of exactly the
same material. Occasionally these look-out mounds were
used secondarily as burial places, but this was evidently
not so in the present case. The exact date of these forts
in this part of the Maya are is difficult to fix, but they
probably belong to a period intermediate between the Old
Empire occupation, as represented by the temple and large
mounds at Xunantunich, and the degenerate population
who occupied the country a century or two before the
Spanish Conquest, who constructed such crude mounds as
that excavated in the small #p a at the ruins, of which
great numbers are to be found scattered throughout the
surrounding country.
The weather continued extraordinarily damp, and though
I kept the tent well opened up every day when it was not
actually raining, yet valises, shoes, and other leather articles
grew whiskers of green mildew in a night, while guns, razor
blades, and scissors rusted over in no time. Everything felt
damp and soggy, and the heavy drip drip of water, night
and day upon the tent, ff not from mist or rain, then from
heavy dew upon the trees, grew very monotonous. Nearly
every morning a dense mist aenrouded the whole hil-top





MYSTERY CITIES


which the ruins stand, often lasting till midday, and
has given fie to a tradition amongst the moden- Indians
jW the ancient people are oni i'ig the incense of burning
.pal to their old gods, the smoke of which can be seen from
scots hanging around the ruins. The men on the new
rains returned in the evening, and reported that they had
encountered the same snake coiled up in exactly the same
room, and that he had again escaped them by seeking refuge
li the hole in the temple wall. I asked why they had not
macheted him, and they said he was tou qurck, but I could
se that they had been afraid to attack a tinridglIt of this
size with a machete, for he was said to be over hft. long,
nor could I blame them for not doing what I should certainly
have hesitated to do myself.
I started the next day with three extra men for the new
ruins, carrying a gun, in hopes of getting a shot at the
snake. Along the road cut by' the men were numbers
of small elevations, probably Maya sepulnchral mounds
belonging to their degenerate latest period. About midway
we crossed a little stream which had cut itself a deep bed
in the clay soil; aluon the steep banks of this we picked
up numerous pieces of pottery, some of painted ware
belonging to the best period, others of co.irs- dfime'tic: ware,
flint and obsidian chips, pieces of shell, and otherr indestruc-
tible rubbish left by the former inhabitants. Near the
stream we found the ruin of a. small Ihouse built of squared
stones, but so little of the walls wa"s left that it wasimpousibhle
to tell whether it was pre-Columbian or date from after the
Spanish Conquest. Close to this ruin we passed the lirTE st
umbrella ants' nest I had ever sen ; it was 25tt. long by
ajft. high. From it sunk highways 8in. wide branched
out in various directions; these split up into smaller and
smaller arteries. spreading out into the surrounding bush




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