Some thirty miles south of Guadalajara, we stopped by the roadside at dusk and left the bus for some refreshments laid out for us inside a patio, and on coming out again found a mildly operatic outfit fumbling with the luggage ropes: three or four men in fine hats and bandanas tied over their faces on mule-back, and a pack-mule.

The driver and conductor shooed us back into the patio. "Gentlemen, we must wait a little moment," they addressed us with the disciplined calm of sea captains, "the bandits have come."

"What bandits? Nonsense," said E.

"It is their hour," said one of the passengers.

"Why doesn't anyone do something about them?"

"Gentlemen: they are armed. Armed with firearms."

"They do not take much," said another passenger.

"What is all this?" said E.

"They come down from the mountains at dusk," was kindly explained to her. "Bandits do not like to show themselves in broad daylight there are certain prejudices and they don't like to come out all that way at night, in the dark, when who knows what criminals and malefactors may be about."

There was a clatter of hooves, the conductor said briskly, Vámanos. We went outside and saw the train of mules cantering off. The luggage ropes had been retied; rather sloppily. Off we went. "Not in the least Defoe," said E. "Trollope."

At Guadalajara it turned out that a thing or two were missing. From our lot, a large bag and a small box, both brand new, one containing all E.'s clothes, the other some note-books of mine, some old photographs and a manuscript without a copy.

"Damn Mark Cross," said E. "Never liked new luggage; didn't want to get it in the first place."

--- From The Sudden View
A Mexican Journey

Sybille Bedford
©1953 Harper & Brothers
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