The Illustrated London Reading Book eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

The road from Jalapa to the city of Mexico constantly ascends, and the scenery is mountainous and grand; the villages are but few, and fifteen or twenty miles apart, with a very scanty population.  No signs of cultivation are to be seen, except little patches of maize and chile, in the midst of which is sometimes to be seen an Indian hut formed of reeds and flags.  The mode of travelling in this country is by diligences, but these are continually attacked and robbed; and so much is this a matter of course, that the Mexicans invariably calculate a certain sum for the expenses of the road, including the usual fee for the banditti.  Baggage is sent by the muleteers, by which means it is ensured from all danger, although a long time on the road.  The Mexicans never think of resisting these robbers, and a coach-load of eight or nine is often stopped and plundered by one man.  The foreigners do not take matters so quietly, and there is scarcely an English or American traveller in the country who has not come to blows in a personal encounter with the banditti at some period or other of his adventures.

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CONDORS.

[Illustration:  Letter C.]

Condors are found throughout the whole range of the Cordilleras, along the south-west coast of South America, from the Straits of Magellan to the Rio Negro.  Their habitations are almost invariably on overhanging ledges of high and perpendicular cliffs, where they both sleep and breed, sometimes in pairs, but frequently in colonies of twenty or thirty together.  They make no nest, but lay two large white eggs on the bare rock.  The young ones cannot use their wings for flight until many months after they are hatched, being covered, during that time, with only a blackish down, like that of a gosling.  They remain on the cliff where they were hatched long after having acquired the full power of flight, roosting and hunting in company with the parent birds.  Their food consists of the carcases of guanacoes, deer, cattle, and other animals.

The condors may oftentimes be seen at a great height, soaring over a certain spot in the most graceful spires and circles.  Besides feeding on carrion, the condors will frequently attack young goats and lambs.  Hence, the shepherd dogs are trained, the moment the enemy passes over, to run out, and, looking upwards, to bark violently.  The people of Chili destroy and catch great numbers.  Two methods are used:  one is to place a carcase within an inclosure of sticks on a level piece of ground; and when the condors are gorged, to gallop up on horseback to the entrance, and thus inclose them; for when this bird has not space to run, it cannot give its body sufficient momentum to rise from the ground.  The second method is to mark the trees in which, frequently to the number of five or six together, they roost, and then at night to climb up and noose them.  They are such heavy sleepers that this is by no means a difficult task.

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The Illustrated London Reading Book from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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