The Citadel

The Citadel.

"That reminds me," he cried, "we must now ascend the hill to the cemetery."

"Climb to a graveyard?" exclaimed one member of our party scornfully, "not I, it is too hard work."

"My friend," replied the guide, "fear nothing. You shall be wafted there, as if upon a cloud. We are to ride on burros."

He vanished, and a few minutes later the promised donkeys came in sight. They had a melancholy look, as if repeated visits to the graveyard depressed their spirits. All of them had rough, unkempt hair, and on their backs had been placed bags of corn-husks, as substitutes for saddles. One donkey was distinguished from the rest by having a piece of rope for a bridle, but the others were supposed to be guided merely by the rider's kicks. So huge, however, were the corn-husk saddles that when we mounted them our limbs looked like the blades of a tailor's shears stretched to their full extent, and not a heel could possibly approach the body of the beast below. Thus seated, like distended jumping-jacks, we rode with shouts of laughter up the hill, and reached at last a hollow square entirely open to the sky. The walls surrounding it, which have a thickness of eight feet, were honeycombed with pigeonholes like letter-boxes in a post-office. In these receptacles the dead of Guanajuato are left, as books are placed on shelves, one tier above another, and when a space is filled with a coffin, the opening is closed with a marble slab that serves not only for a door, but also for a tombstone.

The Coffin Peddler

The Coffin-Peddler.

Donkey Riding

Donkey Riding.

Some of these pigeonholes are bought outright for a hundred dollars, but the greater number are merely rented for five years.

When the time expires, the bones are taken out, and the space is swept and garnished for the next comer, like a berth in a sleeping-car.

The Cemeteky

The Cemeteky.

An Old Grave Digger

An Old Grave-Digger.

"What becomes of the evicted tenants? "I inquired.

" Look there and see," was the reply.

I turned, and saw two well-nigh naked grave-diggers tossing up skulls and bones from a trench in the enclosure.

"At first," explained the guide, "the bodies taken from the walls are buried here; but even this is only for a little time. Five acres do not constitute a cemetery large enough for Guanajuato; hence, the first occupants must soon resign their places to others."

"What is then their des tination?" I asked.

"They go down to the catacombs," he answered; "would you like to see them?"

Waiting For An Engagement

Waiting For An Engagement.

I hesitated. "I will go down," exclaimed the photographer, "I wish to see if there is light enough there for making illustrations."

Accordingly he disappeared. A moment later, we heard a cry of horror, and soon beheld his face emerge from the ground, white as a sheet, and with distended eyes.

"Look here," he said, "I don't want to stay down there alone. You must all keep me company."

"What is it?" we demanded.

"It is indescribable," murmured the artist, "go down and see."

Thus urged, we made our way down twenty steps and entered a long corridor. There was a general exclamation of astonishment. Before us was a crypt about twenty feet in height and one thousand feet in length. For centuries it has served as the receptacle of bones discarded from the court above, till almost the entire space is now filled to the roof with skulls, legs, arms, ribs, hip-joints, and shoulder-blades heaped up from floor to ceiling, like corn-cobs in a granary. Moreover, in the immediate foreground, thirty or forty mummies have been placed upright against the wall, and look like ghastly sentinels guarding the chaotic mass of their companions.

The Crypt

The Crypt.

The most useful plant in Mexico is the Maguey. "It is a cactus," I exclaimed, when I first beheld it.

"It does belong to the cactus family," was the reply, "and closely resembles what you call the Century Plant. In Mexico, however, it is not allowed to bloom; but, on the contrary, at flowering time the Mexicans cut into its nucleus or heart. The cavity thus formed is filled at once with a rich, liquid sap, which is a source of enormous profit to the owner.