صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

for clothing, food, or civil and military ornaments is sold, are most convenient; sixty thousand buyers and sellers may be counted daily at this fair or market. By means of barques they bring the products of their countries to Temistitan, and return with what they do not have at home; just as our peasants come, mounted on little donkeys or other beasts of burden, or perhaps in carts, from their hamk'ts and farms into the neighbouring towns, bringing the products of their labour such as straw, wood, wine, grain, barley, chickens and, when evening falls, take back home what they need or desire.

There is another very convenient custom for the traders or strangers at Temistitan. There is not a square, nor a cross-roads, nor a junction of two or three streets, where a lodging house is not found, where boiled or roasted meats, birds or quadrupeds are ready at any hour of the day. They eat neither beeves nor goats nor sheep; the meats in general demand are little dogs, which they castrate and raise for food, deer, and wild boars. The people are skilful hunters, and the country produces hares, rabbits, pigeons, quails, partridges, and pheasants.

Their domestic animals are geese and ducks, and they also keep a number of peacocks, which we call hens, and which they rear as our housekeepers do their chickens. I have already somewhere said that these animals resemble our pea-hens in size and the colour of their plumage, but I have not described their habits. The females lay twenty or sometimes thirty eggs, so the number of the flock is always increasing. The cocks are constantly in rut, and consequently their flesh is always mediocre. They constantly preen themselves before their females, just as our peacocks do, and pass their days in spreading their tail in the shape of a wheel before the object of their affection. They prance before them just as do our peacocks, and from time to time at regular intervals, after taking four or more steps, they shiver like the victims of a strong fever, when their teeth chatter from cold. They display the different coloured feathers about their necks, sometimes blue, sometimes green or purplish, according to the movements of their body; they remind one of a lover seeking to captivate his beloved.

I will cite a fact, observed by a certain priest, Benito Martin, who has travelled a great deal of that country and who reported it to me. In my opinion it is hardly credible. This priest tells me that he had reared large flocks of these peacocks, giving special attention to breeding them. The cock has certain obstacles on his feet which makes it difficult for him to approach the hen; so much so that some one whom he knows, must hold the hen in his hands. It is said that the hen is not afraid to be thus held, and that the cock has likewise no fear. As soon as he sees the hen he prefers is caught, he runs to her while she is being held.1 Such is his tale; his companions say that this only happens rarely.

These peacocks lay a considerable quantity of eggs, as do likewise the geese and ducks. They are eaten either boiled or cooked in different fashions, or made into pies. Fish abound both in the lakes and streams; there is no sea-fish to be had, because the ocean is too far distant. The tradesmen buy fish raw, boiled, or baked as they choose.

Their fruits are cherries, plums, and apples of different kinds, just as with us; but in addition there are many unknown to us. To satisfy exacting appetites, all kinds of birds of prey are sold, either living or so cleverly stuffed with cotton, that whoever sees them might think them alive. Each trade has its special streets. The herbalists and those who deal in medicines for the body are highly considered. I omit mention of the numerous kinds of vegetables, radishes, cresses, onions, and other things. They collect honey from the wax in certain trees, the bees furnishing them as they do with us. We have said enough concerning the poultry, quadrupeds, fish, and other foodstuffs. It is still more interesting to learn with what money these articles are bought. Your Beatitude already knows, because I have elsewhere written about it.

1 Marcm, ail, impedimentis quibusdam cruraribus esse implicilum adeo ut capture foemina ad coitum vix queat nisi notus aliquis feminam manu captam teneat, neque feminam, inquit, a captu abhorrere, neque marem accessu deterreri. Vbi primum teneri amatam cernit adit illicu, remque suam in detenentis manibus peragit.


AS I have already said, it is the fruit of certain trees resembling almonds, that is used by the natives as currency. These fruits are doubly useful, as they serve as money, and from the beans a beverage is made. This bean is not really good to eat; it is rather bitter, although soft, something like a skinned almond. To make the beverage the beans are crushed, and a handful of the powder thus obtained is thrown into water and stirred for some time until it produces a truly royal drink.

O blessed money, which not only gives to the human race a useful and delightful drink, but also prevents its possessors from yielding to infernal avarice, for it cannot be piled up, or hoarded for a long time. There are several other beverages in this country; just as in the country of Your Beatitude the people drink both beer and cider, so are maize, fruits, and certain herbs mixed and cooked in large wooden vessels or jugs. The taverns where these drinks are sold stand near to restaurants.

Before leaving Spain, Your Beatitude was already acquainted with these hitherto unknown particulars concerning the money, but we did not yet know how the tree producing it was planted and cultivated. Now we have exact information. These trees are planted in but few situations, for they require a climate both warm and damp, and a relatively fertile soil. There are caciques who pay their taxes with nothing but the fruit of these trees. By their sale they acquire what they want,—animals, slaves, clothing, and whatever they use for ornament or other purposes.

The traders visit them and provide them with the different articles, taking away a quantity of those fruits, which they afterwards disperse throughout the other provinces, and thus the beans circulate so easily that all the neighbouring people profit by the advantages they offer. After all, precisely the same thing happens every* where else in the world; spices, gold, silver, steel, iron, lead, and other metals, and the natural products of the earth enable us to buy foreign merchandise. The merchants who visit countries which do not produce these things, or which, because of human laziness, are reputed not to produce them, bring back what they suppose will be acceptable to the neighbouring peoples. In this wise various natural products are everywhere disseminated. Such is human life, and thus must we speak. But let us now explain the method employed in the culture of those trees. They are planted under the shade of a tree which protects them from the sun's rays or against the dangers of fog, just as a child is sheltered in the bosom of its nurse. As soon as the tree begins to grow expanding its roots and gaining strength from the good air and sunshine, the protecting tree is cut down and removed. We have said enough about the currency. If vulgar or limited minds refuse to believe these particulars, I would not have them forced to do so.

In the market-places of Temistitan, everything necessary, for the construction and decoration of houses is sold: beams, timbers, combustible woods, lime, plaster, bricks, and dressed stone. They likewise sell different kinds of earthenware vases; jugs, cups with handles, bowls, plates, platters, kettles, cooking-stoves, basins, cups, and all hand-made utensils. In this country there is neither steel nor iron, but there is plenty of gold, silver, tin, lead,

« السابقةمتابعة »