It was now time for the family to dispose of itself for the night. I was already in the hammock and Ernst had one of the pole-beds; the man, his wife, and little Federico occupied the other bed; the little girl and the three older boys climbed, by a notched log, up to a loft constructed of poles or canes on which they laid themselves down. After all were located, the woman barred the door and we were soon asleep.
All rose early. Not only did we wish to make an early start, but the boys, too, were to make a journey. Our friends had agreed to make us some coffee and tortillas. We had made our preparations for starting and were waiting for our breakfast, when a shriveled and wrinkled old woman tottered up to beg the strangers to visit her sick son and prescribe some remedio. On our consenting to go with her, she caught up a stick of fat pine, lighted it in the fire, and with this blazing torch to light the way, preceded us to her house. Her son had been a strong and robust young man, but four months of lying upon his pole-bed had sadly reduced him. He was thin and pale, coughed sadly, and suffered with fever, chills, and dreadful headaches. He was taking medicines brought from Tehuantepec, but these seemed to have no effect and we were begged to suggest treatment. We advised continuance of the remedy she had been using, but also prescribed hot water taken in the morning and at night, hot water applications for the headaches, quinine for the chills and fever, and a digestive for the stomach trouble, and furnished these remedies from our own supplies. Having lighted us back to our lodging-place the old lady asked our charge. When we refused to receive payment from the poor creature, we noted an increased activity on the part of our host and hostess; a bit of cheese was promptly found and added to the waiting coffee and tortillas, and when we called for our own reckoning, we received the hearty response—“Nada, senor, nada;” (nothing, sir, nothing) “and when you come this way again, come straight to us, our door is always open to you.”
[Illustration: SANTIAGO GUEVEA]