When at last my messengers returned, after an absence of twelve days, I was surprised to note that they were accompanied by two gendarmes. The Commandant-General of the Territory of Tepic had not only been kind enough to cash my check for about $200, but had deemed it wise to send me the money under the protection of an escort, a precaution which I duly appreciated. As the return of the men was the only thing I had been waiting for, I now prepared to move up the river to the near-by pueblo of San Francisco, where the population is freer from Mexican influence.
When my hut was broken up, I found among my effects ten scorpions. The canon is noted for its multitude of scorpions, and I was told that a piece of land above San Juan Peyotan had to be abandoned on account of these creatures. The scorpion’s sting is the most common complaint hereabout, and children frequently die from it, though not all kinds of scorpions are dangerous. The consensus of opinion is that the small whitish-yellow variety is the one most to be dreaded. The Cura of Santa Magdalena, State of Jalisco, assured me that he had known the sting of such scorpions to cause the death of full-grown people within two hours.
The scorpions of Mexico seem to have an unaccountable preference for certain localities, where they may be found in great numbers. In the city of Durango the hotels advertise, as an attraction, that there are no scorpions ill them. For a number of years, according to the municipal records, something like 60,000 scorpions have been annually killed, the city paying one centavo for each. Some persons earn a dollar a night by this means. Yet some forty victims, mostly children, die every year there from scorpion-stings.
The cura quoted above thinks that there is a zone of scorpions extending from the mining-place of Bramador, near Talpa, Territory of Tepic, as far north as the city of Durango, though he could not outline its lateral extent. At Santa Magdalena the scorpions are not very dangerous.
A Cordial Reception at San Francisco—Mexicans in the Employ of Indians —The Morning Star, the Great God of the Coras—The Beginning of the World—How the Rain-clouds were First Secured—The Rabbit and the Deer—Aphorisms of a Cora Shaman—An Eventful Night—Hunting for Skulls—My Progress Impeded by Padre’s Ban—Final Start for the Huichol Country—A Threatened Desertion.
At the pueblo of San Francisco, prettily situated at the bend of a river, I was made very welcome. The Casa Real, another name for the building generally designated as La Comunidad, had been swept and looked clean and cool, and I accepted the invitation to lodge there. It was furnished with the unheard-of luxury of a bedstead, or rather the framework of one, made of a network of strong strips of hide. As the room was dark, I moved this contrivance out on the