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swarm of swarthy, noisy, lying, shoulder-shrugging, gesticulating, Portuguese boatmen, with brass rings in their ears, and fraud in their hearts, climbed the ship's sides, and various parties of us contracted with them to take us on shore at so much a head, silver, coin of any country. We landed under the walls of a little fort, armed with batteries of twelve and thirty-two pounders, which Horta considered a most formidable institution, but if we were ever to get after it with one of our turreted monitors, they would have to move it out in the country if they wanted it where they could go and find it again when they needed it. The group on the pier was a rusty one-men and women and boys and girls, all ragged, and barefoot, uncombed and unclean, and by instinct, education, and profession, beggars. They trooped after us and never more while we tarried in Fayal did we get rid of them. We walked up the middle of the principal street, and these vermin surrounded us on all sides, and glared upon us; and every moment excited couples shot abead of the procession to get a good look back, just as village boys do when they accompany the elephant on his advertising trip from street to street. It was very flattering to me to be part of the material for such a sensation. Here and there in the doorways we saw women, with fashionable Portuguese hoods on. This hood is of thick blue cloth, attached to a cloak of the same stuff, and is a marvel of ugliness. It stands up high, and spreads far abroad, and is unfathomably deep. It fits like a circus tent, and a woman's head is hidden away in it like the man's who prompts the singers from his tin shed in the stage of an opera. There is no particle of trimming about this monstrous capote, as they call it-it is just a plain, ugly dead-blue mass of sail and a woman can't go within eight points of the wind with one of them on; she has to before the wind or not at all. The general style of the capote is the same in all the islands, and will remain so for the next ten thousand years, but each island shapes its capotes just enough differently from the others to enable an observer to tell at a glance what particular island a lady hails from.
The Portuguese pennies or reis (pronounced rays) are prodigious. It takes one thousand reis to made a dollar, and all financial estimates are made in reis. We did not know this until after we had found it out through Blucher. Blucher said he was so happy and so grateful to be on solid
land once more, that he wanted to give a feast-said he had heard it was a cheap land, and he was bound to have a grand banquet. He invited nine of us, and we ate an excellent dinner at the principal hotel. In the midst of the jollity produced by good cigars, good wine and passable anecdotes, the landlord presented his bill. Blucher glanced at it and his countenance fell. He took another look to assure himself that his senses had not deceived him, and then read the items aloud in a faltering voice, while the roses in his cheeks turned to ashes :
"Ten dinners, at 600 reis, 6,000 reis l' Ruin and desolation !"
A DISASTROUS BANQUET,
“Twenty-five cigars, at 100 reis, 2,500 reis !' Oh, my sainted mother!”
6 Eleven bottles of wine, at 1,200 reis, 13,200 reis !' Be with us all !"
4 TOTAL, TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED REIS I' The suffering Moses !—there ain't money enough in the ship to pay that bill! Go-leave me to my misery, boys, I am a ruined community.'
I think it was the blankest looking party I ever saw. Nobody could say a word. It was as if every soul had been stricken dumb. Wine-glasses descended slowly to the table, their contents antasted. Cigars dropped unnoticed from nerveless fingers. Each man sought his neighbour's eye, but found in it no ray of hope, no encouragement. At last the fearful silence was broken. The shadow of a desperate resolve settled upon Blucher's countenance like a cloud, and he rose up and said :
"Landlord, this is a low mean swindle, and I'll never, never stand it. Here's a hundred and fifty dollars, Sir, and it's all you'll get-I'll swim in blood, before I'll pay a cent more.”
Our spirits rose and the landlord's fell—at least we thought so ; he was confused at any rate, notwithstanding he had not understood a word that had been said. He glanced from the little pile of gold pieces to Blucher several times, and then went out. He must have visited an American, for, when he returned, he brought back his bill translated into a language that a Christian could understand-thus : 10 dinners, 6,000 reis, or..........
$6.00 25 cigars, 2,500 reis, or
2.50 11 bottles wine, 13,200 reis, or
Total 21,700 reis, or
..$21.70 Happiness reigned once more in Blucher's dinner party. More refreshments were ordered.
I THINK the Azores must be very little known in America. Out of our whole ship's company there was not a solitary individual who knew any thing whatever about them. Some of the party, well read concerning most other lands, had no other information about the Azores than that they were a group of pine or ten small islands far out in the Atlantic, something more than half way between New York and Gibraltar. That was all. These considerations move me to put in a paragraph of dry facts just here.
The community is eminently Portuguese-that is to say, it is
A CURIOUS PEOPLE,
slow, poor, shiftless, sleepy, and lazy. There is a civil governor, appointed by the King of Portugal; and also a military governor, who can assume supreme control and suspend the civil government at his pleasure. The islands contain a population of about 200,000, almost entirely Portuguese. Every thing is stayed and settled, for the country was one hundred years old when Columbus discovered America. The principal crop is corn, and they raise it and grind it just as their great-great-great-grandfathers did. They plough with a board slightly shod with iron; their trifling little harrows are drawn by men and women ; small windmills grind the corn, ten bushels a day, and there is one assistant superintendent to feed the mill and a general superintendent to stand by and keep him from going to sleep. When the wind changes they hitch on some donkeys, and actually turn the whole upper half of the mill around until the sails are in proper position, instead of fixing the concern so that the sails could be moved instead of the mill. Oxen tread the wheat from the ear, after the fashion prevalent in the time of Methuselah. There is not a wheelbarrow in the land—they carry every thing on their heads, or on donkeys, or in a wicker-bodied cart, whose wheels are solid blocks of wood and whose axles turn with the wheel. There is not a modern plough in the islands, or a threshing machine. All attempts to introduce them have failed. The good Catholic Portuguese crossed himself and prayed God to shield him from all blasphemous desire to know more than his father did before him. The climate is mild ; they never have snow or ice, and I saw no chimneys in the town. The donkeys and the men, women, and children of a family, all eat and sleep in the same room, and are unclean, are ravaged by vermin, and are truly happy. The people lie, and cheat the stranger, and are desperately ignorant, and have hardly any reverence for their dead. The latter trait shows how little better they are than the donkeys they eat and sleep with. The only well-dressed Portuguese in the camp are the half-a-dozen well-to-do families, the Jesuit priests, and the soldiers of the little garrison. The wages of a labourer are twenty to twenty-four cents a day, and those of a good mechanic about twice as much. They count it in reis at a thousand to the dollar, and this makes them rich and contented. Fine grapes used to grow in the islands, and an excellent wine was made and exported. But a disease killed all the vines fifteen years ago, and since that time no wine has been made. The islands being wholly of volcanic origin the soil is necessarily very rich. Nearly every foot of ground is under cultivation, and two or three crops a year of each article are produced, but nothing is exported save a few oranges-chiefly to England. Nobody comes here, and nobody goes away. News is a thing unknown in Fayal. A thirst for it is a passion equally unknown. A Portuguese of average intelligence inquired if our civil war was over? because he said, somebody had told him it was—or at least it ran in his mind
that somebody had told him something like that! And when a passenger, gave an officer of the garrison copies of the Tribune, the Herald, and Times, he was surprised to find later news in them from Lisbon than he had just received by the little monthly steamer. He was told that it came by cable. He said he knew they had tried to lay a cable ten years ago, but it had been in his mind, somehow, that they hadn't succeeded.
It is in communities like this that Jesuit humbuggery flour. ishes. We visited a Jesuit cathedral nearly two hundred years old, and found in it a piece of the veritable cross upon which our Saviour was crucified. It was polished and hard, and in as excellent a state of preservation as if the dread tragedy on Calvary had occurred yesterday instead of eighteen centuries ago. But these confiding people believe in that piece of wood unhesitatingly.
In a chapel of the cathedral is an altar with facings of solid silver—at least they call it so, and I think myself it would go a couple of hundred to the ton (to speak after the fashion of the silver miners,) and before it is kept for ever burning a small lamp. A devout lady who died, left money and contracted for unlimited masses for the repose of her soul, and also stipulated that this lamp should be kept lighted always, day and night. She did all this before she died, you understand. It is a very small lamp and a very dim one and it could not work her much damage, I think, if it went out altogether.
The great altar of the cathedral, and also three or four minor ones, are a perfect mass of gilt gimcracks and gingerbread. And they have a swarm of rusty, dusty, battered apostles standing around the filagree work, some on one leg and some with one eye out but a gamey look in the other, and some with two or three fingers gone, and some with not enough nose left to blow—all of them crippled and discouraged, and fitter subjects for the hospital than the cathedral.
The walls of the chancel are of porcelain, all pictured over with figures of almost life size, very elegantly wrought, and dressed in the fanciful costumes of two centuries ago. The design was a history of something or somebody, but none of us were learned enough to read the story. The old father reposing under a stone close by, dated 1686, might have told us if he could have risen. But he didn't
As we came down through the town, we encountered a squad of little donkeys ready saddled for use. The saddles were peculiar, to say the least. They consisted of a sort of saw-buck, with a small mattress on it, and this furniture covered about half the donkey. There were no stirrups, but really such supports were not needed to use such a saddle was the next thing to riding a dinner table—there was ample support clear out to one's knee joints. A pack of ragged Portuguese muleteers crowded around us, offer. ing their beasts at half a dollar an hour-more rascality to the
stranger, for the market price is sixteen cents. Half a dozen of us mounted the ungainly affairs, and submitted to the indignity of making a ridiculous spectacle of ourselves through the principal streets of a town of 10,000 inhabitants.
We started. It was not a trot, a gallop or a canter, but a stampede, and made up of all possible or conceivable gaits. No spurs were necessary. There was a muleteer to every donkey and a dozen volunteers beside, and they banged the donkeys with their goad-sticks, and pricked them with their spikes and shouted something that sounded like “Sekki-yah" and kept up a din and a racket that was worse than Bedlam itself. These rascals were all on foot, but no matter, they were always up to timethey can outrun and outlast a donkey. Altogether ours was a lively and a picturesque procession and drew crowded audiences to the balconies wherever we went.
Blucher could do nothing at all with his donkey. The beast scampered zigzag across the road and the others ran into him ; he scraped Blucher against carts and the corners of houses ; the road was fenced in with high stone walls, and the donkey gave him a polishing first on one side and then on the other, but never once took the middle; he finally came to the house he was born in and darted into the parlour, scraping Blucher off at the doorway. After remounting, Blucher said to the muleteer, “Now that's enough, you know : you go slow hereafter." But the fellow knew no English and did not understand, so he simply said “ Sekki-yah !" and the donkey was off again like a shot. He turned a corner suddenly, and Blucher went over his head. And, to speak truly every mule stumbled, over the two, and the whole cavalcade was piled up in a heap. No harm done. A fall from one of those donkeys is of little more consequence than rolling off a sofa. The donkeys all stood still after the catastrophe, and waited for their dismembered saddles to be patched up and put on by the noisy muleteers. Blucher was pretty angry, and wanted to swear, but every time he opened his mouth his animal did so also, and let off a series of brays that drowned all other sounds.
It was fun scurrying around the breezy hills and through the beautiful canons. There was that rare thing, novelty about it ; it was a fresh, new, exhilarating sensation, this donkey riding, and worth a hundred worn and threadbare home pleasures.
The roads were a wonder, and well they might be. Here was an island with only a handful of people in it—25,000—and yet such fine roads do not exist in the United States outside of Central Park. Everywhere you go in any direction, you find either a hard, smooth, level thoroughfare just sprinkled with black lava sand, and bordered with little gutters neatly paved with small smooth pebbles, or compactly paved ones like Broadway. They talk much of the Russ pavement in New York, and call it a new invention-yet here they have been using it in this remote little isle of the sea for two hundred years ! Every street in Horta is handsomely paved with