Weeks later, we learned the probable reason of the governor’s gruffness, which was in such marked contrast to his previous treatment, that it puzzled us considerably. At about the time of our visit, a number of wealthy hacienderos, of the State of Tlaxcala, had been arrested for counterfeiting silver money. They were men whose maguey fields brought them enormous incomes; one would suppose their legitimate sources of wealth would have contented them! But such was not the case, and they had gone into wholesale counterfeiting. The fraudulent coin had long been known and diligent efforts were made to find the criminals, efforts at last crowned with success. The guilt was fixed without a doubt, the parties were arrested, tried, and sentenced. Every attempt was made to secure their pardon, in vain. Governor Cahuantzi is an old friend of President Diaz, believed to have great influence with him. Men of wealth, interested in the release and pardon of the criminals, promised Cahuantzi ten thousand dollars in case of his successful intercession with the President in the matter. These details, not generally known, we received from a source respectable and trustworthy, and we believe them true. Anxious to gain the reward, and probably feeling certain of his influence with Diaz, the old man made the journey to Mexico. It was the very time when we called upon him. When we had our interview, he had just seen the President, and it is hinted that, not only did Don Porfirio refuse to pardon the counterfeiters, but showed a dangerous inclination to investigate the reason of the indian governor’s intervention. No wonder that the old man was gruff and surly to his visitors, after the loss of ten thousand dollars which he had looked upon as certain, and with uncertainty as to the final outcome of his unlucky business.
[Illustration: TLAXCALAN SCHOOLBOYS; SAN NICOLAS PANOTLA]
ZAMORA AND THE ONCE PUEBLOS
The morning train from Guadalajara brought us to Negrete at about two in the afternoon, and we had soon mounted to the top of the clumsy old coach, which was dragged by six horses. The road to Zamora runs through a rich farming district. For the greater part of the distance the road is level and passes amidst great haciendas. The corn crop had been abundant and carts were constantly coming and going from and to the fields. These carts were rectangular, with side walls some four or five feet in height, made of corn-stalks set close together and upright. All were drawn by oxen. Most of the carts had a light cross, made of corn-stalks, set at the front end, to protect the load from adverse influences. Great numbers of men, dressed in leather trousers drawn over their cotton drawers, in single file lined past us, with great baskets full of corn strapped on their backs. Here and there, in the corn-fields, groups of such men were cutting the ripened ears from the plants.