Part 3 out of 4
"I think things look well to-night," remarked Martin as he threw down a
bundle of sticks which he had gathered for the fire; "we shall have a
comfortable snooze for certain, if the mosquitoes don't wake up."
"I'm not so sure of that," replied Barney, striking a light with flint
and steel and stooping to puff the smouldering spark into a flame. "I've
larned by exparience that ye niver can be--puff--sure o' nothin' in
this--puff--remarkable country. Jist look at Darkey now," continued the
Irishman, sitting down on a stone before the fire, which now began to
kindle up, and stuffing the tobacco into his pipe with his little finger.
"There he is, a livin' Naygur, aliftin' of the provision-bag out o' the
canoe. Well, if he was all of a suddent to turn into Marmoset an' swaller
himself, an' then jump down the throat of Grampus, and the whole consarn,
canoe and all, to disappear, I don't think that I would be much
"Would you not, Barney? I suspect that I should be, a little, under the
circumstances; perhaps the old Nigger would be more so."
"Niver a taste," continued Barney. "Ye see, if that was to happen, I
would then know that it was all a drame. I've more than wance expected to
wake up since I comed into furrin parts; the only thing that kapes me in
doubt about it is the baccy."
"How so, Barney?"
"Why, bekase it tastes so rael, good luck to it! that I can't git myself
to think it's only a drame. Jist look, now," he continued, in the same
tone of voice; "if it wasn't a drame, how could I see sich a thing as
that standin' on the rock over there?"
Martin glanced towards the spot pointed out by his friend, and
immediately started up with surprise.
"Hallo! Barney, that's no dream, I'll vouch for it. He's an Indian, and a
very ugly one too, I declare. I say, old fellow, do you know what sort of
savage that is?"
"Not know," answered the trader, glancing uneasily at the stranger.
"He might have the dacency to put on more close, anyhow," muttered
Barney, as he gazed inquiringly at the savage.
The being who had thus appeared so suddenly before the travellers
belonged to one of the numerous tribes of Indians inhabiting the country
near the head-waters of some of the chief tributaries of the Amazon. He
was almost entirely naked, having merely a scanty covering on his loins;
and carried a small quiver full of arrows at his back, and what appeared
to be a long spear in his hand. His figure was strongly but not well
formed; and his face, which was of a dark copper hue, was disfigured in a
most remarkable manner. A mass of coarse black hair formed the only
covering to his head. His cheeks were painted with curious marks of jet
black. But the most remarkable points about him were the huge pieces of
wood which formed ornaments in his ears and under lip. They were round
and flat like the wooden wheel of a toy-cart, about half an inch thick,
and larger than an old-fashioned watch. These were fitted into enormous
slits made in the ears and under lip, and the latter projected more than
two inches from his mouth! Indeed, the cut that had been made to receive
this ornament was so large that the lip had been almost cut off
altogether, and merely hung by each corner of his mouth! The aspect of
the man was very hideous, and it was by no means improved when, having
recovered from his surprise at unexpectedly encountering strangers, he
opened his mouth to the full extent and uttered a savage yell.
The cry was answered immediately. In a few minutes a troop of upwards of
thirty savages sprang from the woods, and, ascending the rock on which
their comrade stood, gazed down on the travellers in surprise, and, by
their movements, seemed to be making hasty preparations for an attack.
By this time Barney had recovered his self-possession, and became
thoroughly convinced of the reality of the apparition before him. Drawing
his pistol hastily from his belt, he caught up a handful of gravel,
wherewith he loaded it to the muzzle, ramming down the charge with a bit
of mandioca-cake in lieu of a wad; then drawing his cutlass he handed it
to Martin, exclaiming, "Come, lad, we're in for it now. Take you the
cutlass and Til try their skulls with the butt o' my pistol: it has done
good work before now in that way. If there's no more o' the blackguards
in the background we'll bate them aisy."
Martin instinctively grasped the cutlass, and there is no doubt that,
under the impulse of that remarkable quality, British valour, which
utterly despises odds, they would have hurled themselves recklessly upon
the savages, when the horrified old trader threw himself on Barney's neck
and implored him not to fight; for if he did they would all be killed,
and if he only kept quiet the savages would perhaps do them no harm. At
the same moment about fifty additional Indians arrived upon the scene of
action. This, and the old man's earnest entreaties, induced them to
hesitate for an instant, and, before they could determine what to do,
they were surprised by some of the savages, who rushed upon them from
behind and took them prisoners. Barney struggled long and fiercely, but
he was at length overpowered by numbers. The pistol, which missed fire,
was wrenched from his grasp, and his hands were speedily bound behind his
back. Martin was likewise disarmed and secured; not, however, before he
made a desperate slash at one of the savages, which narrowly missed his
skull, and cut away his lip ornament.
As for the old trader, he made no resistance at all, but submitted
quietly to his fate. The savages did not seem to think it worth their
while to bind him. Grampus bounced and barked round the party savagely,
but did not attack; and Marmoset slept in the canoe in blissful ignorance
of the whole transaction.
The hands of the two prisoners being firmly bound, they were allowed to
do as they pleased; so they sat down on a rock in gloomy silence, and
watched the naked savages as they rifled the canoe and danced joyfully
round the treasures which their active knives and fingers soon exposed to
view. The old trader took things philosophically. Knowing that it was
absolutely impossible to escape, he sat quietly down on a stone, rested
his chin on his hands, heaved one or two deep sighs, and thereafter
seemed to be nothing more than an ebony statue.
The ransacking of the canoe and appropriating of its contents occupied
the savages but a short time, after which they packed everything up in
small bundles, which they strapped upon their backs. Then, making signs
to their prisoners to rise, they all marched away into the forest. Just
as they were departing, Marmoset, observing that she was about to be left
behind, uttered a frantic cry, which brought Grampus gambolling to her
side. With an active bound the monkey mounted its charger, and away they
went into the forest in the track of the band of savages.
During the first part of their march Martin and Barney were permitted to
walk beside each other, and they conversed in low, anxious tones.
"Surely," said Barney, as they marched along surrounded by Indians,
"thim long poles the savages have got are not spears; I don't see no
point to them."
"And what's more remarkable," added Martin, "is that they all carry
quivers full of arrows, but none of them have bows."
"There's a raison for iverything," said Barney, pointing to one of the
Indians in advance; "that fellow explains the mystery."
As he spoke, the savage referred to lowered the pole, which seemed to be
about thirteen feet long, and pushing an arrow into a hole in the end of
it, applied it to his mouth. In another moment the arrow flew through the
air and grazed a bird that was sitting on a branch hard by.
"Tis a blow-pipe, and no mistake!" cried Barney.
"And a poisoned arrow, I'm quite sure," added Martin; "for it only
ruffled the bird's feathers, and see, it has fallen to the ground."
"Och, then, but we'd have stood a bad chance in a fight, if thim's the
wipons they use. Och, the dirty spalpeens! Martin, dear, we're done for.
There's no chance for us at all."
This impression seemed to take such deep hold of Barney's mind, that his
usually reckless and half jesting disposition was completely subdued, and
he walked along in gloomy silence, while a feeling of deep dejection
filled the heart of his young companion.
The blow-pipe which these Indians use is an ingeniously contrived weapon.
It is made from a species of palm-tree. When an Indian wants one, he goes
into the woods and selects a tree with a long slender stem of less than
an inch in diameter; he extracts the pith out of this, and then cuts
another stem, so much larger than the first that he can push the small
tube into the bore of the large one,--thus the slight bend in one is
counteracted by the other, and a perfectly straight pipe is formed. The
mouthpiece is afterwards neatly finished off. The arrows used are very
short, having a little ball of cotton at the end to fill the tube of the
blow-pipe. The points are dipped in a peculiar poison, which has the
effect of producing death when introduced into the blood by a mere
scratch of the skin. The Indians can send these arrows an immense
distance, and with unerring aim, as Martin and Barney had many an
opportunity of witnessing during their long and weary journey on foot to
the forest-home of the savages.
WORSE AND WORSE--EVERYTHING SEEMS TO GO WRONG TOGETHER
Although the Indians did not maltreat the unfortunate strangers who had
thus fallen into their hands, they made them proceed by forced marches
through the wilderness; and as neither Barney nor Martin had been of late
much used to long walks, they felt the journey very severely. The old
trader had been accustomed to everything wretched and unfortunate and
uncomfortable from his childhood, so he plodded onward in silent
The country through which they passed became every day more and more
rugged, until at length it assumed the character of a wild mountainous
district. Sometimes they wound their way in a zigzag manner up the
mountain sides, by paths so narrow that they could scarcely find a
foot-hold. At other times they descended into narrow valleys where they
saw great numbers of wild animals of various kinds, some of which the
Indians killed for food. After they reached the mountain district they
loosed the hands of their prisoners, in order to enable them to climb
more easily. Indeed in many places they had to scramble so carefully that
it would have been impossible for any one to climb with his hands tied
behind his back. But the Indians knew full well that they ran no risk of
losing their prisoners; for if they had attempted to escape, dozens of
their number were on the watch, before, behind, and on either side, ready
to dart away in pursuit. Moreover, Barney had a feeling of horror at the
bare idea of the poisoned arrows, that effectually prevented him from
making the smallest attempt at escape. With a cutlass or a heavy stick he
would have attacked the whole tribe single-handed, and have fought till
his brains were knocked out; but when he thought of the small arrows that
would pour upon him in hundreds if he made a dash for the woods, and the
certain death that would follow the slightest scratch, he discarded all
idea of rebellion.
One of the animals killed by the Indians at this time was a black
jaguar,--a magnificent animal, and very fierce. He was discovered
crouching in a thicket backed by a precipice, from which he could only
escape by charging through the ranks of his enemies. He did it nobly.
With a roar that rebounded from the face of the high cliff and echoed
through the valley like a peal of thunder, he sprang out and rushed at
the savages in front, who scattered like chaff right and left. But at the
same instant fifty blow-pipes sent their poisoned shafts into his body,
and, after a few convulsive bounds, the splendid monarch of the American
forests fell dead on the ground. The black jaguar is a somewhat rare
animal, and is very seldom seen. This one was therefore hailed as a great
prize, and the skin and claws were carefully preserved.
On the afternoon of the same day the party came to a broad stream, over
which they, or some other of the numerous tribes in the country, had
constructed a very simple and curious bridge. It was a single rope
attached to an immense mass of rock on one side and to the stem of a
large tree on the other. On this tight-rope was fastened a simple loop of
cord, so constructed that it could encircle the waist of a man and at the
same time traverse from one end of the tight-rope to the other. Barney
put on a comical frown when he came to this and saw the leader of the
party rest his weight in the loop, and, in clinging with hands and legs
to the long rope, work himself slowly across.
"Arrah! it's well for us, Martin, that we're used to goin' aloft," said
he, "or that same bridge would try our narves a little."
"So it would, Barney. I've seldom seen a more uncomfortable-looking
contrivance. If we lost our hold we should first be dashed to pieces on
the rocks, and then be drowned in the river."
Difficult though the passage seemed, however? it was soon accomplished by
the active savages in safety. The only one of the party likely to be left
behind was Grampus; whom his master, after much entreaty in dumb-show,
was permitted to carry over by tying him firmly to his shoulders.
Marmoset crossed over walking, like a tight-rope dancer, being quite _au
fait_ at such work. Soon after they came to another curious bridge over a
ravine. It had been constructed by simply felling two tall trees on the
edge of it in such a manner that they fell across. They were bound
together with the supple vines that grew there in profusion. Nature had
soon covered the whole over with climbing plants and luxuriant verdure;
and the bridge had become a broad and solid structure over which the
whole party marched with perfect ease. Several such bridges were crossed,
and also a few of the rope kind, during the journey.
After many weeks' constant travelling, the Indians came to a beautiful
valley one evening just about sunset, and began to make the usual
preparations for encamping. The spot they selected was a singular one. It
was at the foot of a rocky gorge, up which might be seen trees and bushes
mingled with jagged rocks and dark caverns, with a lofty sierra or
mountain range in the background. In front was the beautiful valley which
they had just crossed. On a huge rock there grew a tree of considerable
size, the roots of which projected beyond the rock several yards, and
then, bending downwards, struck into the ground. Creeping plants had
twined thickly among the roots, and thus formed a sort of lattice-work
which enclosed a large space of ground. In this natural arbour the chiefs
of the Indians took up their quarters and kindled their fire in the
centre of it, while the main body of the party pitched their camp
outside. The three prisoners were allotted a corner in the arbour; and,
after having supped, they spread their ponchos on a pile of ferns, and
found themselves very snug indeed.
"Martin," said Barney, gravely, as he smoked his pipe and patted the head
of his dog, "d'ye know I'm beginning to feel tired o' the company o' thim
naked rascals, and I've been revolvin' in my mind what we should do to
escape. Moreover, I've corned to a conclusion."
"And what's that?" inquired Martin.
"That it's unposs'ble to escape at all, and I don't know what to do."
"That's not a satisfactory conclusion, Barney. I, too, have been
cogitating a good deal about these Indians, and it is my opinion that
they have been on a war expedition, for I've noticed that several of
them have been wounded; and, besides, I cannot fancy what else could
take them so far from home."
"True, Martin, true. I wonder what they intind to do with us. They don't
mean to kill us, anyhow; for if they did they would niver take the
trouble to bring us here. Ochone! me heart's beginnin' to go down
altogether; for we are miles and miles away from anywrhere now, and I
don't know the direction o' no place whatsumdiver."
"Never mind, Barney, cheer up," said Martin with a smile; "if they don't
kill us that's all we need care about. I'm sure we shall manage to escape
somehow or other in the long-run."
While they thus conversed the old trader spread his poncho over himself
and was soon sound asleep; while the Indians, after finishing supper,
held an animated conversation. At times they seemed to be disputing, and
spoke angrily and with violent gesticulations, glancing now and then at
the corner where their prisoners lay.
"It's my belafe," whispered Barney, "that they're spakin' about us. I'm
afeard they don't mean us any good. Och, but if I wance had my pistol and
the ould cutlass. Well, well, it's of no manner o' use frettin'.
Good-night, Martin, good-night!"
The Irishman knocked the ashes out of his pipe, turned his face to the
wall, and, heaving a deep sigh, speedily forgot his cares in sleep. The
Indians also lay down, the camp-fires died slowly out; and the deep
breathing of the savages alone betokened the presence of man in that lone
Barney's forebodings proved to be only too well founded; for next
morning, instead of pursuing their way together, as usual, the savages
divided their forces into two separate bands, placing the Irishman and
the old trader in the midst of one, and Martin Rattler with the other.
"Surely they're niver goin' to part us, Martin," said Barney with a
care-worn expression on his honest countenance that indicated the anxious
suspicions in his heart.
"I fear it much," replied Martin with a startled look, as he watched the
proceedings of the Indians. "We must fight now, Barney, if we should die
for it. We _must_ not be separated."
Martin spoke with intense fervour and gazed anxiously in the face of his
friend. A dark frown had gathered there. The sudden prospect of being
forcibly torn from his young companion, whom he regarded with almost a
mother's tenderness, stirred his enthusiastic and fiery temperament to
its centre, and he gazed wildly about, as if for some weapon. But the
savages anticipated his intention; ere he could grasp any offensive
weapon two of their number leaped upon him, and at the same moment
Martin's arms were pinioned in a powerful grasp.
"Och, ye murderin' blackguards!" cried Barney, hitting out right and left
and knocking down a savage at each blow. "Now or niver! come on, ye
A general rush was made upon the Irishman, who was fairly overturned by
the mass of men. Martin struggled fiercely to free himself, and would
have succeeded had not two powerful Indians hastened to the help of the
one who had first seized him. Despite his frantic efforts, he was dragged
forcibly up the mountain gorge, the echoes of which rang with his cries
as he shouted despairingly the name of his friend. Barney fought like a
tiger; but he could make no impression on such numbers. Although at least
a dozen Indians lay around him bleeding and stunned by the savage blows
of his fists,--a species of warfare which was entirely new to
them,--fresh savages crowded round. But they did not wish to kill him,
and numerous though they were, they found it no easy matter to secure so
powerful a man; and when Martin turned a last despairing glance towards
the camp, ere a turn in the path shut it out from view, the hammer-like
fists of his comrade were still smashing down the naked creatures who
danced like monkeys round him, and the war-like shouts of his stentorian
voice reverberated among the cliffs and caverns of the mountain pass long
after he was hid from view.
Thus Martin and Barney were separated in the wild regions near the Sierra
dos Parecis of Brazil.
MARTIN REFLECTS MUCH, AND FORMS A FIRM RESOLVE--THE INDIAN VILLAGE
When the mind has been overwhelmed by some sudden and terrible calamity,
it is long ere it again recovers its wonted elasticity. An aching void
seems to exist in the heart, and a dead weight appears to press upon the
brain, so that ordinary objects make but little impression, and the soul
seems to turn inwards and brood drearily upon itself. The spirit of fun
arid frolick, that had filled Martin Rattler's heart ever since he landed
in Brazil, was now so thoroughly and rudely crushed, that he felt as if
it were utterly impossible that he should ever smile again.
He had no conception of the strength of his affection for the rough,
hearty sailor, who had until now been the faithful and good-humoured
companion of his wanderings. As Barney had himself said on a former
occasion, his life up till this period had been a pleasant and exciting
dream. But he was now awakened rudely to the terrible reality of his
forlorn position; and the more he thought of it the more hopeless and
terrible it appeared to be.
He knew not in what part of Brazil he was; he was being hurried
apparently deeper into these vast solitudes by savages who were certainly
not friendly, and of whose language he knew not a word; and worst of all,
he was separated perhaps for ever from the friend on whom, all
unconsciously to himself, he had so long leaned for support in all their
difficulties and dangers. Even though he and Barney should succeed in
escaping from the Indians, he felt--and his heart was overwhelmed at the
thought--that in such a vast country there was not the shadow of a chance
that they should find each other. Under the deep depression produced by
these thoughts Martin wandered on wearily, as if in a dream--taking no
interest in anything that occurred by the way. At length, after several
days fatiguing journey over mountains and plains, they arrived at the
Here the warriors were received with the utmost joy by the wives and
children whom they had left behind, and for a long time Martin was left
almost entirely to do as he pleased. A few days before, his bonds had
been removed, and once or twice he thought of attempting to escape; but
whenever he wandered a little further than usual into the woods, he found
that he was watched and followed by a tall and powerful savage, whose
duty it evidently was to see that the prisoner did not escape. The
fearful idea now entered Martin's mind that he was reserved for torture,
and perhaps a lingering death; for he had read that many savage nations
treated their prisoners in this cruel manner, for the gratification of
the women who had lost relations in the war. But as no violence was
offered to him in the meantime, and he had as much farina and fruit to
eat as he could use, his mind gradually became relieved, and he
endeavoured as much as possible to dismiss the terrible thought
The Indian village occupied a lovely situation at the base of a gentle
hill or rising ground, the summit of which was clothed with luxuriant
trees and shrubs. The huts were of various shapes and sizes, and very
simple in construction. They were built upon the bare ground; some were
supported by four corner posts, twelve or fifteen feet high, and from
thirty to forty feet long, the walls being made of thin laths connected
with wicker-work and plastered with clay. The doors were made of
palm-leaves, and the roofs were covered with the same material, or with
maize straw. Other huts were made almost entirely of palm-leaves and
tent-shaped in form; and, while a few were enclosed by walls, the most of
the square ones had one or more sides entirely open. In the large huts
several families dwelt together, and each family had a hearth and a
portion of the floor allotted to it. The smoke from their fires was
allowed to find its way out by the doors and chinks in the roofs, as no
chimneys were constructed for its egress.
The furniture of each hut was very simple. It consisted of a few earthen
pots; baskets made of palm-leaves, which were filled with Spanish
potatoes, maize, mandioca roots, and various kinds of wild fruits; one or
two drinking vessels; the hollow trunk of a tree, used for pounding maize
in; and several dishes which contained the colours used by the Indians in
painting their naked bodies,--a custom which was very prevalent amongst
them. Besides these things, there were bows, arrows, spears, and
blow-pipes in abundance; and hammocks hung from various posts, elevated
about a foot from the ground. These hammocks were made of cotton cords,
and served the purpose of tables, chairs, and beds.
The ground in the immediate neighbourhood of the village was laid out in
patches, in which were cultivated mandioca roots, maize, and other plants
useful for domestic purposes. In front of the village there was an
extensive valley, through which a small river gurgled with a pleasant
sound. It was hemmed in on all sides by wooded mountains, and was so
beautifully diversified by scattered clusters of palms, and irregular
patches of undulating grassy plains all covered with a rich profusion of
tropical flowers and climbing plants, that it seemed to Martin more like
a magnificent garden than the uncultivated forest,--only far more rich
and lovely and picturesque than any artificial garden could possibly be.
When the sun shone in full splendour on this valley--as it almost always
did--it seemed as if the whole landscape were on the point of bursting
into flames of red and blue, and green and gold; and when Martin sat
under the shade of a tamarind-tree and gazed long upon the enchanting
scene, his memory often reverted to the Eden of which he used to read in
the Bible at home, and he used to wonder if it were possible that the sun
and flowers and trees _could_ be more lovely in the time when Adam walked
with God in Paradise.
Martin was young then, and he did not consider, although he afterwards
came to know, that it was not the beauty of natural objects, but the
presence and favour of God and the absence of sin, that rendered the
Garden of Eden a paradise. But these thoughts always carried him back to
dear old Aunt Dorothy and the sweet village of Ashford; and the Brazilian
paradise was not unfrequently obliterated in tears while he gazed, and
turned into a vale of weeping. Ay, he would have given that magnificent
valley,--had it been his own,--ten times over, in exchange for one more
glance at the loved faces and the green fields of home.
Soon after his arrival at the Indian village Martin was given to
understand, by signs, that he was to reside with a particular family, and
work every day in the maize and mandioca fields, besides doing a great
deal of the drudgery of the hut; so that he now knew he was regarded as a
slave by the tribe into whose hands he had fallen. It is impossible to
express the bitterness of his feelings at this discovery, and for many
weeks he went about his work scarcely knowing what he did, and caring
little, when the hot sun beat on him so fiercely that he could hardly
stand, whether he lived or died. At length, however, he made up his mind
firmly to attempt his escape. He was sitting beneath the shade of his
favourite resort, the tamarind-tree, when he made this resolve. Longing
thoughts of home had been strong upon him all that day, and desire for
the companionship of Barney had filled his heart to bursting; so that the
sweet evening sunshine and the beautiful vale over which his eyes
wandered, instead of affording him pleasure, seemed but to mock his
misery. It was a lesson that all must learn sooner or later, and one we
would do well to think upon before we learn it, that sunshine in the soul
is not dependent on the sunshine of this world, and when once the clouds
descend, the brightest beams of all that earth contains cannot pierce
them,--God alone can touch these dark clouds with the finger of love and
mercy, and say again, as He said of old, "Let there be light." A firm
purpose, formed with heart and will, is cheering and invigorating to a
depressed mind. No sooner did the firm determination to escape or die
enter into Martin's heart, than he sprang from his seat, and, falling on
his knees, prayed to God, in the name of our Redeemer, for help and
guidance. He had not the least idea of how he was to effect his escape,
or of what he intended to do. All he knew was that he had _made up his
mind_ to do so, _if God would help him_. And under the strength of that
resolve he soon recovered much of his former cheerfulness of disposition,
and did his work among the savages with a degree of energy that filled
them with surprise and respect. From that day forth he never ceased to
revolve in his mind every imaginable and unimaginable plan of escape, and
to watch every event or circumstance, no matter how trifling, that seemed
likely to aid him in his purpose.
Seeing that he was a very strong and active fellow, and that he had
become remarkably expert in the use of the bow and the blow-pipe, the
Indians now permitted Martin to accompany them frequently on their
short hunting expeditions, so that he had many opportunities of seeing
more of the wonderful animals and plants of the Brazilian forests, in
the studying of which he experienced great delight. Moreover, in the
course of a few months he began to acquire a smattering of the Indian
language, and was not compelled to live in constant silence, as had
been the case at first. But he carefully avoided the formation of any
friendships with the youths of the tribe, although many of them seemed
to desire it, considering that his doing so might in some way or other
interfere with the execution of his great purpose. He was civil and
kind to them all, however, though reserved; and, as time wore away, he
enjoyed much more liberty than was the case at first. Still, however,
he was watched by the tall savage, who was a surly, silent fellow, and
would not be drawn into conversation. Indeed he did not walk with
Martin, but followed him wherever he went, during his hours of leisure,
at a distance of a few hundred yards, moving when his prisoner moved,
and stopping when he halted, so that Martin at last began to regard him
more as a shadow than a man.
SAVAGE FEASTS AND ORNAMENTS--MARTIN GROWS DESPERATE, AND MAKES A BOLD
ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE
Hunting and feasting were the chief occupations of the men of the tribe
with whom Martin sojourned. One day Martin was told that a great feast
was to take place, and he was permitted to attend. Accordingly, a little
before the appointed time he hastened to the large hut in and around
which the festivities were to take place, in order to witness the
The first thing that struck him was that there seemed to be no
preparations making for eating; and on inquiry he was told that they did
not meet to eat, they met to drink and dance,--those who were hungry
might eat at home.
The preparations for drinking were made on an extensive scale by the
women, a number of whom stood round a large caldron, preparing its
contents for use. These women wore very little clothing, and their
bodies, besides being painted in a fantastic style, were also decorated
with flowers and feathers. Martin could not help feeling that, however
absurd the idea of painting the body was, it had at least the good effect
of doing away to some extent with the idea of nakedness; for the curious
patterns and devices gave to the Indians the appearance of being clothed
in tights,--and, at any rate, he argued mentally, paint was better than
nothing. Some of the flowers were artificially constructed out of
beetles' wings, shells, fish-scales, and feathers, and were exquisitely
beautiful as well as gorgeous.
One of the younger women struck Martin as being ultra-fashionable in her
paint. Her black shining hair hung like a cloak over her reddish-brown
shoulders, and various strange drawings and figures ornamented her face
and breast. On each cheek she had a circle, and over that two strokes;
under the nose were four red spots; from the corners of her mouth to the
middle of each cheek were two parallel lines, and below these several
upright stripes; on various parts of her back and shoulders were
curiously entwined circles, and the form of a snake was depicted in
vermilion down each arm. Unlike the others, she wore no ornament except a
simple necklace of monkeys' teeth. This beauty was particularly active in
manufacturing the intoxicating drink, which is prepared thus:--A quantity
of maize was pounded in the hollow trunk of a tree and put into an
earthen pot, where it was boiled in a large quantity of water. Then the
woman took the coarsely ground and boiled flour out of the water, chewed
it in their mouths for a little, and put it into the pot again! By this
means the decoction began to ferment and became intoxicating. It was a
very disgusting method, yet it is practised by many Indian tribes in
America; and, strange to say, also by some of the South Sea islanders,
who, of course, could not have learned it from these Indians.
When this beverage was ready, the chief, a tall, broad-shouldered man,
whose painted costume and ornaments were most elaborate, stepped up to
the pot and began a strange series of incantations, which he accompanied
by rattling a small wooden instrument in his hand; staring all the time
at the earthen pot, as if he half expected it to run away; and dancing
slowly round it, as if to prevent such a catastrophe from taking place.
The oftener the song was repeated the more solemn and earnest became the
expression of his face and the tones of his voice. The rest of the
Indians, who were assembled to the number of several hundreds, stood
motionless round the pot, staring at him intently without speaking, and
only now and then, when the voice and actions of the chief became much
excited, they gave vent to a sympathetic howl.
After this had gone on for some time, the chief seized a drinking-cup,
or cuja, which he gravely dipped into the pot and took a sip. Then the
shaking of the rattle and the monotonous song began again. The chief
next took a good pull at the cup and emptied it; after which he
presented it to his companions, who helped themselves at pleasure; and
the dance and monotonous music became more furious and noisy the longer
the cup went round.
When the cup had circulated pretty freely among them, their dances and
music became more lively; but they were by no means attractive. After he
had watched them a short time, Martin left the festive scene with a
feeling of pity for the poor savages; and as he thought upon their low
and debased condition he recalled to mind the remark of his old friend
the hermit,--"They want the Bible in Brazil."
During his frequent rambles in the neighbourhood of the Indian village,
Martin discovered many beautiful and retired spots, to which he was in
the habit of going in the evenings after his daily labours were
accomplished, accompanied, as usual, at a respectful distance, by his
vigilant friend the tall savage. One of his favourite resting-places was
at the foot of a banana-tree which grew on the brow of a stupendous cliff
about a mile distant from the hut in which he dwelt. From this spot he
had a commanding view of the noble valley and the distant mountains.
These mountains now seemed to the poor boy to be the ponderous gates of
his beautiful prison; for he had been told by one of his Indian friends
that on the other side of them were great campos and forests, beyond
which dwelt many Portuguese, while still further on was a great lake
without shores, which was the end of the world. This, Martin was
convinced, must be the Atlantic Ocean; for, upon inquiry, he found that
many months of travel must be undergone ere it could be reached.
Moreover, he knew that it could not be the Pacific, because the sun rose
in that direction.
Sauntering away to his favourite cliff, one fine evening towards sunset,
he seated himself beneath the banana-tree and gazed longingly at the
distant mountains, whose sharp summits glittered in the ruddy glow. He
had long racked his brain in order to devise some method of escape, but
hitherto without success. Wherever he went the "shadow" followed him,
armed with the deadly blow-pipe; and he knew that even if he did succeed
in eluding his vigilance and escaping into the woods, hundreds of
savages would turn out and track him, with unerring certainty, to any
hiding-place. Still the strength of his stern determination sustained
him; and, at each failure in his efforts to devise some means of
effecting his purpose, he threw off regret with a deep sigh, and
returned to his labour with a firmer step, assured that he should
As he sat there on the edge of the precipice, he said, half aloud, "What
prevents me from darting suddenly on that fellow and knocking him down?"
This was a question that might have been easily answered. No doubt he was
physically capable of coping with the man, for he had now been upwards of
a year in the wilderness, and was in his sixteenth year, besides being
unusually tall and robust for his age. Indeed he looked more like a
full-grown man than a stripling; for hard, incessant toil had developed
his muscles and enlarged his frame, and his stirring life, combined
latterly with anxiety, had stamped a few of the lines of manhood on his
sunburnt countenance. But, although he could have easily overcome the
Indian, he knew that he would be instantly missed; and, from what he had
seen of the powers of the savages in tracking wild animals to their dens
in the mountains, he felt that he could not possibly elude them except by
Perplexed and wearied with unavailing thought and anxiety, Martin pressed
his hands to his forehead and gazed down the perpendicular cliff, which
was elevated fully a hundred feet above the plain below. Suddenly he
started and clasped his hands upon his eyes, as if to shut out some
terrible object from his sight. Then, creeping cautiously towards the
edge of the cliff, he gazed down, while an expression of stern resolution
settled upon his pale face.
And well might Martin's cheek blanch, for he had hit upon a plan of
escape which, to be successful, required that he should twice turn a
bold, unflinching face on death. The precipice, as before mentioned, was
fully a hundred feet high, and quite perpendicular. At the foot of it
there flowed a deep and pretty wide stream, which, just under the spot
where Martin stood, collected in a deep black pool, where it rested for a
moment ere it rushed on its rapid course down the valley. Over the cliff
and into that pool Martin made up his mind to plunge, and so give the
impression that he had fallen over and been drowned. The risk he ran in
taking such a tremendous leap was very great indeed, but that was only
half the danger he must encounter.
The river was one of a remarkable kind, of which there are one or two
instances in South America. It flowed down the valley between high
rocks, and, a few hundred yards below the pool, it ran straight against
the face of a precipice and there terminated to all appearance; but a
gurgling vortex in the deep water at the base of the cliff, and the
disappearance of everything that entered it, showed that the stream
found a subterranean passage. There was no sign of its reappearance,
however, in all the country round. In short, the river was lost in the
bowels of the earth.
From the pool to the cliff where the river was engulfed the water ran
like a mill-race, and there was no spot on either bank where any one
could land, or even grasp with his hand, except one. It was a narrow,
sharp rock, that jutted out about two feet from the bank, quite close to
the vortex of the whirlpool. This rock was Martin's only hope. To miss it
would be certain destruction. But if he should gain a footing on it he
knew that he could climb by a narrow fissure into a wild, cavernous spot,
which it was exceedingly difficult to reach from any other point. A bend
in the river concealed this rock and the vortex from the place whereon he
stood, so that he hoped to be able to reach the point of escape before
the savage could descend the slope and gain the summit of the cliff from
whence it could be seen.
Of all this Martin was well aware, for he had been often at the place
before, and knew every inch of the ground. His chief difficulty would be
to leap over the precipice in such a manner as to cause the Indian to
believe he had fallen over accidentally. If he could accomplish this,
then he felt assured the savages would suppose he had been drowned, and
so make no search for him at all. Fortunately the ground favoured this.
About five feet below the edge of the precipice there was a projecting
ledge of rock nearly four feet broad and covered with shrubs. Upon this
it was necessary to allow himself to fall. The expedient was a desperate
one, and he grew sick at heart as he glanced down the awful cliff, which
seemed to him three times higher than it really was, as all heights do
when seen from above.
Glancing round, he observed his savage guardian gazing contemplatively at
the distant prospect. Martin's heart beat audibly as he rose and walked
with an affectation of carelessness to the edge of the cliff. As he gazed
down, a feeling of horror seized him; he gasped for breath, and almost
fainted. Then the idea of perpetual slavery flashed across his mind, and
the thought of freedom and home nerved him: He clenched his hands,
staggered convulsively forward and fell, with a loud and genuine shriek
of terror, upon the shrubs that covered the rocky ledge. Instantly he
arose, ground his teeth together, raised his eyes for one moment to
heaven, and sprang into the air. For one instant he swept through empty
space; the next he was deep down in the waters of the dark pool, and when
the horrified Indian reached the edge of the precipice, he beheld his
prisoner struggling on the surface for a moment, ere he was swept by the
rapid stream round the point and out of view.
Bounding down the slope, the savage sped like a hunted antelope across
the intervening space between the two cliffs, and quickly gained the brow
of the lower precipice, which he reached just in time to see Martin
Rattler's straw hat dance for a moment on the troubled waters of the
vortex and disappear in the awful abyss. But Martin saw it, too, from the
cleft in the frowning rock.
On reaching the surface after his leap he dashed the water from his eyes
and looked with intense earnestness in the direction of the projecting
rock towards which he was hurried. Down he came upon it with such speed
that he felt no power of man could resist. But there was a small eddy
just below it, into which he was whirled as he stretched forth his hands
and clutched the rock with the energy of despair. He was instantly torn
away. But another small point projected two feet below it. This he
seized. The water swung his feet to and fro as it gushed into the vortex,
but the eddy saved him. In a moment his breast was on the rock, then his
foot, and he sprang into the sheltering cleft just a moment before the
Indian came in view of the scene of his supposed death.
Martin flung himself with his face to the ground, and thought rather than
uttered a heartfelt thanksgiving for his deliverance. The savage carried
the news of his death to his friends in the Indian village, and recounted
with deep solemnity the particulars of his awful fate to crowds of
wondering,--in many cases sorrowing,--listeners; and for many a day after
that, the poor savages were wont to visit the terrible cliff and gaze
with awe on the mysterious vortex that had swallowed up, as they
believed, the fair-haired boy.
THE ESCAPE--ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS--FIGHT BETWEEN A JAGUAR AND AN
ALLIGATOR--MARTIN ENCOUNTERS STRANGE AND TERRIBLE CREATURES
Freedom can be fully appreciated only by those who have been for a long
period deprived of liberty. It is impossible to comprehend the feelings
of joy that welled up in Martin's bosom as he clambered up the rugged
cliffs among which he had found shelter, and looked round upon the
beautiful valley, now lying in the shadow of the mountain range behind
which the sun had just set. He sat down on a rock, regardless of the wet
condition of his clothes, and pondered long and earnestly over his
position, which was still one of some danger; but a sensation of
light-hearted recklessness made the prospect before him seem very bright.
He soon made up his mind what to do. The weather was extremely warm, so
that after wringing the water out of his linen clothes he experienced
little discomfort; but he felt that there would not only be discomfort
but no little danger in travelling in such a country without arms,
covering, or provisions. He therefore determined on the bold expedient of
revisiting the Indian village during the darkness of the night in order
to procure what he required. He ran great risk of being retaken, but his
necessity was urgent, and he was aware that several families were absent
on a hunting expedition at that time whose huts were pretty certain to be
Accordingly, when two or three hours of the night had passed, he
clambered with much difficulty down the precipitous rock and reached the
level plain, over which he quickly ran, and soon reached the outskirts of
the village. The Indians were all asleep, and no sound disturbed the
solemn stillness of the night. Going stealthily towards a hut he peeped
in at the open window, but could see and hear nothing. Just as he was
about to enter, however, a long-drawn breath proved that it was occupied.
He shrank hastily back into the deep shade of the bushes. In a few
minutes he recovered from the agitation into which he had been thrown and
advanced cautiously towards another hut. This one seemed to be
untenanted, so he opened the palm-leaf door gently and entered. No time
was to be lost now. He found an empty sack or bag, into which he hastily
threw as much farina as he could carry without inconvenience. Besides
this, he appropriated a long knife; a small hatchet; a flint and steel,
to enable him to make a fire; and a stout bow with a quiver full of
arrows. It was so dark that it was with difficulty he found these things.
But as he was on the point of leaving he observed a white object in a
corner. This turned out to be a light hammock, which he seized eagerly,
and, rolling it up into a small bundle, placed it in the sack. He also
sought for, and fortunately found, an old straw-hat, which he put on.
Martin had now obtained all that he required, and was about to quit the
hut when he became suddenly rooted to the spot with horror on observing
the dark countenance of an Indian gazing at him with distended eyeballs
over the edge of a hammock. His eyes, unaccustomed to the darkness of the
room, had not at first observed that an Indian was sleeping there. He now
felt that he was lost. The savage evidently knew him. Dreadful thoughts
flashed through his brain. He thought of the knife in his belt, and how
easily he could despatch the Indian in a moment as he lay; but then the
idea of imbruing his hands in human blood seemed so awful that he could
not bring himself to do it.
As he looked steadily at the savage he observed that his gaze was one of
intense horror, and it suddenly occurred to him that the Indian supposed
he was a ghost! Acting upon this supposition, Martin advanced his face
slowly towards that of the Indian, put on a dark frown, and stood for a
few seconds without uttering a word. The savage shrank back and shuddered
from head to foot. Then, with a noiseless step, Martin retreated slowly
backward towards the door and passed out like a spectre--never for a
moment taking his eyes off those of the savage until he was lost in
darkness. On gaining the forest he fled with a beating heart to his
former retreat; but his fears were groundless, for the Indian firmly
believed that Martin's spirit had visited his hut and carried away
provisions for his journey to the land of spirits.
Without waiting to rest, Martin no sooner reached the scene of his
adventurous leap than he fastened his bag firmly on his shoulders and
struck across the valley in the direction of the blue mountains that
hemmed it in. Four or five hours' hard walking brought him to their base,
and long before the rising sun shone down upon his recent home he was
over the hills and far away, trudging onward with a weary foot, but with
a light heart, in what he believed to be the direction of the east coast
of Brazil. He did not dare to rest until the rugged peaks of the mountain
range were between him and the savages; but, when he had left these far
behind him, he halted about mid-day to breakfast and repose by the margin
of a delightfully cool mountain stream.
"I'm safe now!" said Martin aloud, as he threw down his bundle beneath a
spreading tree and commenced to prepare breakfast. "O! my friend Barney,
I wish that you were here to keep me company." The solitary youth looked
round as if he half expected to see the rough visage and hear the
gladsome voice of his friend; but no voice replied to his, and the only
living creature he saw was a large monkey, which peered inquisitively
clown at him from among the branches of a neighbouring bush. This
reminded him that he had left his pet Marmoset in the Indian village, and
a feeling of deep self-reproach filled his heart In the haste and anxiety
of his flight he had totally forgotten his little friend. But regret was
now unavailing. Marmoset was lost to him for ever.
Having kindled a small fire, Martin kneaded a large quantity of farina in
the hollow of a smooth stone, and baked a number of flat cakes, which
were soon fired and spread out upon the ground. While thus engaged, a
snake of about six feet long and as thick as a man's arm glided past him.
Martin started convulsively, for he had never seen one of the kind
before, and he knew that the bite of some of the snakes is deadly.
Fortunately his axe was at hand. Grasping it quickly, he killed the
reptile with a single blow. Two or three mandioca cakes, a few wild
fruits, and a draught of water from the stream, formed the wanderer's
simple breakfast. After it was finished, he slung his hammock between two
trees, and jumping in, fell into a deep, untroubled slumber, in which he
continued all that day and until daybreak the following morning.
After partaking of a hearty breakfast, Martin took up his bundle and
resumed his travels. That day he descended into the level and wooded
country that succeeded the mountain range; and that night he was obliged
to encamp in a swampy place near a stagnant lake in which several
alligators were swimming, and where the mosquitoes were so numerous that
he found it absolutely impossible to sleep. At last, in despair, he
sprang into the branches of the tree to which his hammock was slung and
ascended to the top. Here, to his satisfaction, he found that there were
scarcely any mosquitoes, while a cool breeze fanned his fevered brow; so
he determined to spend the night in the tree.
By binding several branches together he formed a rude sort of couch, on
which he lay down comfortably, placing his knife and bow beside him, and
using the hammock rolled up as a pillow. As the sun was setting, and
while he leaned on his elbow looking down through the leaves with much
interest at the alligators that gambolled in the reedy lake, his
attention was attracted to a slight rustling in the bushes near the foot
of the tree. Looking down, he perceived a large jaguar gliding through
the underwood with cat-like stealth. Martin now observed that a huge
alligator had crawled out of the lake, and was lying on the bank asleep a
few yards from the margin. When the jaguar reached the edge of the bushes
it paused, and then, with one tremendous spring, seized the alligator by
the soft part beneath its tail. The huge monster struggled for a few
seconds, endeavouring to reach the water, and then lay still, while the
jaguar worried and tore at its tough hide with savage fury. Martin was
much surprised at the passive conduct of the alligator. That it could not
turn its stiff body, so as to catch the jaguar in its jaws, did not,
indeed, surprise him; but he wondered very much to see the great reptile
suffer pain so quietly. It seemed to be quite paralyzed. In a few minutes
the jaguar retired a short distance. Then the alligator made a rush for
the water; but the jaguar darted back and caught it again; and Martin now
saw that the jaguar was actually playing with the alligator as a cat
plays with a mouse before she kills it! During one of the cessations of
the combat, if we may call it by that name, the alligator almost gained
the water, and in the short struggle that ensued both animals rolled down
the bank and fell into the lake. The tables were now turned. The jaguar
made for the shore; but before it could reach it the alligator wheeled
round, opened its tremendous jaws and caught its enemy by the middle.
There was one loud splash in the water, as the alligator's powerful tail
dashed it into foam; and one awful roar of agony, which was cut suddenly
short and stifled as the monster dived to the bottom with its prey; then
all was silent as the grave, and a few ripples on the surface were all
that remained to tell of the battle that had been fought there.
Martin remained motionless on the tree top, brooding over the fight which
he had just witnessed, until the deepening shadows warned him that it was
time to seek repose. Turning on his side he laid his head on his pillow,
while a soft breeze swayed the tree gently to and fro and rocked him
Thus, day after day, and week after week, did Martin Rattler wander alone
through the great forests, sometimes pleasantly, and at other times with
more or less discomfort; subsisting on game which he shot with his
arrows, and on wild fruits. He met with many strange adventures by the
way, which would fill numerous volumes were they to be written every one;
but we must pass over many of these in silence that we may recount those
that were most interesting.
One evening as he was walking through a very beautiful country, in which
were numerous small lakes and streams, he was suddenly arrested by a
crashing sound in the underwood, as if some large animal were coming
towards him; and he had barely time to fit an arrow to his bow when the
bushes in front of him were thrust aside, and the most hideous monster
that he had ever seen appeared before his eyes. It was a tapir; but
Martin had never heard of or seen such creatures before, although there
are a good many in some parts of Brazil.
The tapir is a very large animal,--about five or six feet long and three
or four feet high. It is in appearance something between an elephant and
a hog. Its nose is very long, and extends into a short proboscis; but
there is no finger at the end of it like that of the elephant. Its
colour is a deep brownish black, its tough hide is covered with a thin
sprinkling of strong hairs, and its mane is thick and bristly. So thick
is its hide that a bullet can scarcely penetrate it; and it can crush
its way through thickets and bushes, however dense, without receiving a
scratch. Although a very terrific animal to look at, it is fortunately
of a very peaceable and timid disposition, so that it flees from danger
and is very quick in discovering the presence of an enemy. Sometimes it
is attacked by the jaguar, which springs suddenly upon it and fastens
its claws in its back; but the tapir's tough hide is not easily torn,
and he gets rid of his enemy by bouncing into the tangled bushes and
bursting through them, so that the jaguar is very soon _scraped_ off his
back! The tapir lives as much in the water as on the land, and delights
to wallow like a pig in muddy pools. It is, in fact, very similar in
many of its habits to the great hippopotamus of Africa, but is not quite
so large. It feeds entirely on vegetables, buds, fruits, and the tender
shoots of trees, and always at night. During the day time it sleeps. The
Indians of Brazil are fond of its flesh, and they hunt it with spears
and poisoned arrows.
But Martin knew nothing of all this, and fully expected that the dreadful
creature before him would attack and kill him; for, when he observed its
coarse, tough-looking hide, and thought of the slender arrows with which
he was armed, he felt that he had no chance, and there did not happen to
be a tree near him at the time up which he could climb.
With the energy of despair he let fly an arrow with all his force; but
the weak shaft glanced from the tapir's side without doing it the
slightest damage. Then Martin turned to fly, but at the same moment the
tapir did the same, to his great delight and surprise. It wheeled round
with a snort, and went off crashing through the stout underwood as if it
had been grass, leaving a broad track behind it.
On another occasion he met with a formidable-looking but comparatively
harmless animal, called the great ant-eater. This remarkable creature is
about six feet in length, with very short legs and very long strong
claws; a short curly tail, and a sharp snout, out of which it thrusts a
long narrow tongue. It can roll itself up like a hedgehog, and when in
this position might be easily mistaken for a bundle of coarse hay. It
lives chiefly if not entirely upon ants.
When Martin discovered the great ant-eater, it was about to begin its
supper; so he watched it. The plain was covered with ant-hills, somewhat
pillar-like in shape. At the foot of one of these the animal made an
attack, tearing up earth and sticks with its enormously strong claws,
until it made a large hole in the hard materials of which the hill was
composed. Into this hole it thrust its long tongue, and immediately the
ants swarmed upon it. The creature let its tongue rest till it was
completely covered over with thousands of ants, then it drew it into its
mouth and engulfed them all!
As Martin had no reason in the world for attempting to shoot the great
ant-eater, and as he was, moreover, by no means sure that he could kill
it if he were to try, he passed on quietly and left this curious animal
to finish its supper in peace.
MARTIN MEETS WITH FRIENDS AND VISITS THE DIAMOND MINES
One day, after Martin had spent many weeks in wandering alone through the
forest, during the course of which he was sometimes tempted to despair of
seeing the face of man again, he discovered a beaten track; at the sight
of which his heart bounded with delight. It was a Saturday afternoon when
he made this discovery, and he spent the Sabbath-day in rest beside it.
For Martin had more than once called to remembrance the words which good
Aunt Dorothy used to hear him repeat out of the Bible "Remember the
Sabbath-day, to keep it holy." He had many long, earnest, and serious
meditations in that silent forest, such as a youth would be very unlikely
to have in almost any other circumstances, except, perhaps, on a
sick-bed; and among other things he had been led to consider that if he
made no difference between Saturday and Sunday, he must certainly be
breaking that commandment; so he resolved thenceforth to rest on the
Sabbath-day; and he found much benefit, both to mind and body, from this
arrangement. During this particular Sabbath he rested beside the beaten
track, and often did he walk up and down it a short way, wondering where
it would lead him to; and several times he prayed that he might be led by
it to the habitations of civilized men.
Next day after breakfast he prepared to set out; but now he was much
perplexed as to which way he ought to go, for the track did not run in
the direction in which he had been travelling, but at right angles to
that way. While he still hesitated the sound of voices struck on his ear,
and he almost fainted with excitement; for, besides the hope that he
might now meet with friends, there was also the fear that those
approaching might be enemies; and the sudden sound of the human voice,
which he had not heard for so long, tended to create conflicting and
almost overwhelming feelings in his breast. Hiding quickly behind a tree,
he awaited the passing of the cavalcade; for the sounds of horses' hoofs
were now audible.
In a few minutes a string of laden mules approached, and then six
horsemen appeared, whose bronzed olive complexions, straw-hats and
ponchos, betokened them Brazilians. As they passed, Martin hailed them in
an unsteady voice. They pulled up suddenly and drew pistols from their
holsters; but on seeing only a fair youth armed with a bow, they replaced
their weapons, and with a look of surprise rode up and assailed him with
a volley of unintelligible Portuguese.
"Do any of you speak English?" inquired Martin, advancing.
One of the horsemen replied, "Yees, I spok one leet. Ver' smoll. Where
you be com?"
"I have escaped from the Indians who live in the mountains far away over
yonder. I have been wandering now for many weeks in the forest, and I
wish to get to the sea-coast or to some town where I may get something to
do, that I may be enabled to return home."
"Ho!" said the horseman, gravely. "You com vid us. Ve go vid goods to de
Diamond Mines. Git vork dere, yees. Put you body on dat hoss."
As the Brazilian spoke he pointed to a spare horse, which was led, along
with several others, by a Negro. Thanking him for his politeness Martin
seized the horse by the mane and vaulted into the saddle, if the rude
contrivance on its back might be so designated. The string of mules then
moved on, and Martin rode with a light heart beside this obliging
stranger, conversing with much animation.
In a very short time he learned, through the medium of his own bad
Portuguese and the Brazilian's worse English, that he was not more than a
day's ride from one of the diamond mines of that province of Brazil which
is named Minas Geraes; that he was still many leagues distant from the
sea; and that he would be sure to get work at the mines if he wished it,
for the chief overseer, the Baron Fagoni, was an amiable man and very
fond of the English,--but he could not speak their language at all, and
required an interpreter. "And," said the Brazilian, with a look of great
dignity, "I hab de honour for be de 'terpreter."
"Ah!" exclaimed Martin, "then I am in good fortune, for I shall have a
friend at court."
The interpreter smiled slightly and bowed, after which they proceeded for
some time in silence.
Next evening they arrived at the mines; and, after seeing to the comfort
of his horse, and inquiring rather hastily as to the welfare of his
family, the interpreter conducted Martin to the overseer's house in order
to introduce him.
The Baron Fagoni stood smoking in the doorway of his dwelling as they
approached; and the first impression that Martin received of him was
anything but agreeable.
He was a large, powerful man, with an enormous red beard and moustache,
and a sombrero-like hat that concealed nearly the whole of his face. He
seemed an irritable man, too; for he jerked his arms about and stamped in
a violent manner as they drew near, and instead of waiting to receive
them, he entered the house hastily and shut the door in their faces!
"The Baron would do well to take lessons in civility," said Martin,
colouring, as he turned to the interpreter.
"Ah, he be a leet pecoolair, sometime! Nev'r mind. Ve vill go to him,"
So saying, the interpreter opened the door and entered the hall where
the overseer was seated at a desk writing as if in violent haste. Seeing
that he did not mean to take notice of them, the interpreter spoke to
him in Portuguese; but he was soon interrupted by a sharp reply, uttered
in a harsh, grating voice, by the overseer, who did not look up or cease
from his work.
Again the interpreter spoke as if in some surprise; but he was cut short
by the overseer uttering, in a deep, stern voice, the single word "Obey."
With a low bow the interpreter turned away, and taking Martin by the arm
led him into an inner apartment, where, having securely fastened the
window, he said to him, "De Baron say you be von blackguard tief; go bout
contrie for steal diamonds. He make prisoner ov you. Adios."
So saying, the interpreter made his bow and retired, locking the door
behind him and leaving Martin standing in the middle of the room staring
before him in speechless amazement.
THE DIAMOND MINES--MORE AND MORE ASTONISHING!
If Martin Rattler was amazed at the treatment he experienced at the hands
of his new acquaintances on arriving, he had occasion to be very much
more surprised at what occurred three hours after his incarceration.
It was getting dark when he was locked up, and for upwards of two hours
he was left in total darkness. Moreover, he began to feel very hungry,
having eaten nothing since mid-day. He was deeply engaged in devising
plans for his escape when he was interrupted by the door being unlocked
and a Negro slave entering with four magnificent candles, made of
beeswax, which he placed upon the table. Then he returned to the door,
where another slave handed him a tray containing dishes, knives and
forks, and, in short, all the requisites for laying out a supper-table.
Having spread a clean linen cloth on the board, he arranged covers for
two, and going to the door placed his head to one side and regarded his
arrangements with much complacency and without paying the slightest
attention to Martin, who pinched himself in order to make sure he was
In a few minutes the second Negro returned with an enormous tray, on
which were dishes of all sizes, from under whose covers came the most
savoury odours imaginable. Having placed these symmetrically on the
board, both slaves retired and relocked the door without saying a word.
At last it began to dawn on Martin's Imagination that the overseer must
be an eccentric individual, who found pleasure in taking his visitors by
surprise. But although this seemed a possible solution of the difficulty,
he did not feel satisfied with it. He could with difficulty resist the
temptation to attack the viands, however, and was beginning to think of
doing this, regardless of all consequences, when the door again opened
and the Baron Fagoni entered, relocked the door, put the key in his
pocket, and, standing before his prisoner with folded arms, gazed at him
intently from beneath his sombrero.
Martin could not stand this. "Sir," said he, starting up, "if this is a
joke you have carried it far enough; and if you really detain me here a
prisoner, every feeling of honour ought to deter you from adding insult
To this sternly delivered speech the Baron made no reply, but, springing
suddenly upon Martin, he grasped him in his powerful arms and crushed him
to his broad breast till he almost broke every bone in his body.
"Och! cushla, bliss yer young face! sure it's yersilf, an' no mistake!
Kape still, Martin dear. Let me look at ye, darlint! Ah! then, isn't it
my heart that's been broken for months an' months past about ye?"
Reader, it would be utterly in vain for me to attempt to describe either
the words that flowed from the lips of Martin Rattler and Barney
O'Flannagan on this happy occasion, or the feelings that filled their
swelling hearts. The speechless amazement of Martin, the ejaculatory
exclamations of the Baron Fagoni, the rapid questions and brief replies,
are all totally indescribable. Suffice it to say that for full quarter of
an hour they exclaimed, shouted, and danced round each other, without
coming to any satisfactory knowledge of how each had got to the same
place, except that Barney at last discovered that Martin had travelled
there by chance, and he had reached the mines by "intuition." Having
settled this point, they sobered down a little.
"Now, Martin darlint," cried the Irishman, throwing aside his hat for the
first time, and displaying his well-known jolly visage, of which the
forehead, eyes, and nose alone survived the general inundation of red
hair, "ye'll be hungry, I've small doubt, so sit ye down, lad, to supper,
and you'll tell me yer story as ye go along, and afther that I'll tell ye
mine, while I smoke my pipe,--the ould cutty, boy, that has corned
through fire and wather, sound as a bell and blacker than iver!"
The Baron held up the well-known instrument of fumigation, as he spoke,
Supper was superb. There were venison steaks, armadillo cutlets, tapir
hash, iguana pie, and an immense variety of fruits and vegetables, that
would have served a dozen men, besides cakes and splendid coffee.
"You live well here, Barney--I beg pardon--Baron Fagoni," said
Martin, during a pause in their meal; "how in the world did you come
by that name?"
Barney winked expressively. "Ah, boy, I wish I may niver have a worse. Ye
see, when I first corned here, about four months ago, I found that the
mine was owned by an Irish gintleman; an', like all the race, he's a
trump. He took to me at wance when he hear'd my voice, and then he took
more to me when he corned to know me character; and says he to me wan
day, 'Barney,' says he, 'I'm gittin' tired o' this kind o' life now, and
if ye'll agree to stop here as overseer, and sind me the proceeds o' the
mine to Rio Janeiro, a great city on the sea-coast, an' the capital o'
Brazil, I'll give ye a good share o' the profits. But,' says he, 'ye'll
need to pretind ye're a Roosian, or a Pole, or somethin' o' that kind;
for the fellows in thim parts are great rascals, and there's a few
Englishmen among them who would soon find out that ye're only a jack-tar
before the mast, and would chate ye at no allowance; but if ye could
spake no language under the sun but the gibberish pecooliar to the
unbeknown provinces o' Siberia, ye could escape detection as far as yer
voice is consarned; and by lettin' yer beard grow as long as possible,
and dressin' yersilf properly, ye might pass, and be as dignified as the
"'Musha!' said I, 'but if I don't spake me own tongue I'll have to be
"'No fear,' says he; 'I'll tache ye enough Portuguese in a month or two
to begin with, an' ye'll pick it up aisy after that.' And sure enough I
began, tooth and nail, and, by hard workin', got on faster than I
expected; for I can spake as much o' the lingo now as tides me over
needcessities, and I understand most o' what's said to me. Anyhow, I
ginerally see what they're drivin' at."
"So, then, you're actually in charge of the mine?" said Martin, in
"Jist so, boy; but I'm tired of it already; it's by no means so pleasant
as I expected it would be; so I'm thinkin' o' lavin' it, and takin' to
the say again. I'm longin' dreadful to see the salt wather wance more."
"But what will the owner say, Barney: won't he have cause to complain of
your breaking your engagement?"
"Niver a bit, boy. He tould me, before we parted, that if I wanted to
quit I was to hand over the consarn to the interpreter, who is an
honest fellow, I belave; so I'm jist goin' to pocket a di'mond or two,
and ask lave to take them home wid me. I'll be off in a week, if all
goes well. An' now, Martin, fill yer glass; ye'll find the wine is not
bad, after wan or two glasses; an' I'll tell ye about my adventures
since I saw ye last."
"But you have not explained about your name," said Martin.
"Och! the fact is, that when I corned here I fortunately fell in with the
owner first, and we spoke almost intirely in Irish, so nobody understood
where I corned from; and the interpreter hear'd the master call me by my
name; so he wint off and said to the people that a great Barono Flanagoni
had come, and was up at the house wid the master. But we corrected him
afterward, and gave him to understand that I was the Baron Fagoni. I had
some trouble with the people at first, after the owner left; but I
pounded wan or two o' the biggest o' them, to such a extint that their
own friends hardly knew them; an' iver since they've been mighty civil."
Having carefully filled the black pipe, and involved himself in his own
favourite atmosphere, the Baron Fagoni then proceeded to relate his
adventures, and dilated upon them to such an extent that five or six
pipes were filled and finished ere the story came to a close. Martin also
related his adventures; to which his companion listened with such
breathless attention and earnestness that his pipe was constantly
going-out; and the two friends did not retire to rest till near daybreak.
The substance of the Baron's narrative was as follows:--
At the time that he had been so suddenly separated from his friend,
Barney had overcome many of his opponents, but at length he was
overpowered by numbers, and his arms were firmly bound; after which he
was roughly driven before them through the woods for several days, and
was at length taken to their village among the mountains. Here he
remained a close prisoner for three weeks, shut up in a small hut and
bound by a strong rope to a post. Food was taken to him by an old Indian
woman, who paid no attention at first to what he said to her, for the
good reason that she did not understand a word of English. The persuasive
eloquence of her prisoner's tones, however, or perhaps his brogue, seemed
in the course of a few days to have made an impression on her; for she
condescended to smile at the unintelligible compliments which Barney
lavished upon her in the hope of securing her good-will.
During all this time the Irishman's heart was torn with conflicting
feelings, and although, from the mere force of habit, he could jest with
the old woman when she paid her daily visits, there was no feeling of fun
in his bosom, but, on the contrary, a deep and overwhelming sorrow, which
showed itself very evidently on his expressive face. He groaned aloud
when he thought of Martin, whom he never expected again to see; and he
dreaded every hour the approach of his savage captors, who, he fully
expected, retained him in order to put him to death.
One day, while he was sitting in a very disconsolate mood, the Indian
woman entered with his usual dinner--a plate of thick soup and a coarse
cake. Barney smiled upon her as usual, and then letting his eyes fall on
the ground, sighed deeply,--for his heart was heavier than usual that
day. As the woman was about to go, he looked earnestly and gravely in her
face, and putting his large hand gently on her head, patted her grey
hairs. This tender action seemed to affect the old woman more than usual.
She laid her hand on Barney's arm, and looked as if she wished to speak.
Then turning suddenly from him, she drew a small knife from her girdle
and dropped it on the ground, as if accidentally, while she left the hut
and re-fastened the door. Barney's heart leaped. He seized the knife and
concealed it hastily in his bosom, and then ate his dinner with more than
ordinary zest; for now he possessed the means of cutting the strong rope
that bound him.
He waited with much impatience until night closed over the Indian
village, and then cutting his bonds, he tore down the rude and rather
feeble fastenings of the door. In another instant he was dashing along at
full speed through the forest, without hat or coat, and with the knife
clutched in his right hand! Presently he heard cries behind him, and
redoubled his speed; for now he knew that the savages had discovered his
escape and were in pursuit. But, although a good runner, Barney was no
match for the lithe and naked Indians. They rapidly gained on him, and he
was about to turn at bay and fight for his life, when he observed water
gleaming through the foliage on his left. Dashing down a glade he came to
the edge of a broad river with a rapid current. Into this he sprang
recklessly, intending to swim with the stream; but ere he lost his
footing he heard the low deep thunder of a cataract a short distance
below! Drawing back in terror, he regained the bank, and waded up a
considerable distance in the shallow water, so as to leave no trace of
his footsteps. Then he leaped upon a rock, and, catching hold of the
lower branches of a large tree, drew himself up among the dense foliage,
just as the yelling savages rushed with wild tumult to the water's edge.
Here they paused, as if baffled. They spoke in rapid, vehement tones for
a few seconds, and then one party hastened down the banks of the stream
towards the fall, while another band searched the banks above.
Barney's heart fell as he sat panting in the tree, for he knew that they
would soon discover him. But he soon resolved on a bold expedient.
Slipping down from the tree, he ran deliberately back towards the
village; and, as he drew near, he followed the regular beaten track that
led towards it. On the way he encountered one or two savages hastening
after the pursuing party; but he leaped lightly into the bushes, and lay
still till they were past. Then he ran on, skirted round the village, and
pushed into the woods in an entirely opposite direction from the one in
which he had first set out. Keeping by one of the numerous tracks that
radiated from the village into the forest, he held on at top speed, until
his progress was suddenly arrested by a stream about twenty yards broad.
It was very deep, and he was about to plunge in, in order to swim across,
when he observed a small montaria, or canoe, lying on the bank. This he
launched quickly, and observing that the river took a bend a little
further down, and appeared to proceed in the direction he wished to
pursue,--namely, away from the Indian village,--he paddled down the rapid
stream as fast as he could. The current was very strong, so that his
little bark flew down it like an arrow, and on more than one occasion
narrowly missed being dashed to pieces on the rocks which here and there
rose above the stream.
In about two hours Barney came to a place where the stream took another
bend to the left, and soon after the canoe swept out upon the broad river
into which he had at first so nearly plunged. He was a long way below the
fall now, for its sound was inaudible; but it was no time to abate his
exertions. The Indians might be still in pursuit; so he continued to
paddle all that night, and did not take rest until daybreak. Then he
slept for two hours, ate a few wild fruits, and continued his journey.
In the course of the next day, to his great joy, he overtook a trading
canoe, which had been up another tributary of this river, and was
descending with part of a cargo of India-rubber shoes. None of the men,
of whom there were four, could speak English; but they easily saw from
the Irishman's condition that he had escaped from enemies and was in
distress; so they took him on board, and were glad to avail themselves of
his services: for, as we have before mentioned, men are not easily
procured for voyaging in those parts of Brazil. Three weeks after this
they arrived at a small town, where the natives were busily engaged in
the manufacture of shoes, bottles, and other articles of India-rubber;
and here Barney found employment for a short time.
The seringa, or India-rubber-tree, grows plentifully in some parts of
Brazil, and many hundreds of the inhabitants are employed in the
manufacture of shoes. The India-rubber is the juice of the tree, and
flows from it when an incision is made. This juice is poured into moulds
and left to harden. It is of a yellowish colour naturally, and is
blackened in the course of preparation. Barney did not stay long here.
Shoe-making, he declared, was not his calling by any means; so he seized
the first opportunity he had of joining a party of traders going into the
interior, in the direction of the diamond districts. The journey was long
and varied. Sometimes by canoe and sometimes on the backs of mules and
horses, and many extraordinary adventures did he go through ere he
reached the diamond mines. And when at length he did so, great was his
disappointment. Instead of the glittering caves which his vivid
imagination had pictured, he found that there were no caves at all; that
the diamonds were found by washing in the muddy soil; and worst of all,
that when found they were dim and unpolished, so that they seemed no
better than any other stone. However, he resolved to continue there for a
short time, in order to make a little money; but now that Martin had
arrived he thought that they could not do better than make their way to
the coast as fast as possible, and go to sea.
"The only thing I have to regret," he said, at the conclusion of his
narrative, "is that I left Grampus behind me. But arrah! I came off
from the savages in such a hurry that I had no time at all to tell him
I was goin'!"
Having sat till daybreak, the two friends went to bed to dream of each
other and of home.
Next morning Barney took Martin to visit the diamond mines. On the way
they passed a band of Negro slaves who encircled a large fire, the
weather being very cold. It was at that time about the end of July, which
is one of the coldest months in the year. In this part of Brazil summer
and winter are reversed,--the coldest months being May, June, and July;
the hottest, November, December, January, and February.
Minas Geraes, the diamond district, is one of the richest provinces of
Brazil. The inhabitants are almost entirely occupied in mining or in
supplying the miners with the necessaries of life. Diggers and
shopkeepers are the two principal classes, and of these the latter are
best off; for their trade is steady and lucrative, while the success of
the miners is very uncertain. Frequently a large sum of money and much
time are expended in mining without any adequate result; but the
merchants always find a ready sale for their merchandise, and, as they
take diamonds and gold-dust in exchange, they generally realize large
profits and soon become rich. The poor miner is like the gambler. He
digs on in hope; sometimes finding barely enough to supply his
wants,--at other times making a fortune suddenly; but never giving up
in despair, because he knows that at every handful of earth he turns up
he may perhaps find a diamond worth hundreds, or, it may be, thousands
Cidade Diamantina,--the City of Diamonds,--is the capital of the
province. It is a large city, with many fine churches and buildings; and
the whole population, consisting of more than 6000 souls, are engaged,
directly or indirectly, in mining. Every one who owns a few slaves
employs them in washing the earth for gold and diamonds.
The mine of which Barney had so unexpectedly become overseer, was a small
one, in a remote part of the district, situated among the mountains, and
far distant from the City of Diamonds. There were only a few huts, rudely
built and roofed with palm leaves, besides a larger building, or cottage,
in which the Baron Fagoni resided.
"Tis a strange life they lead here," said Barney, as he led Martin down a
gorge of the mountains towards a small spot of level ground on which the
slaves were at work; "a strange life, and by no means a pleasant wan; for
the feedin' is none o' the best and the work very sevare."
"Why, Barney, if I may judge from last night's supper, the feeding seems
to be excellent."
"Thrue, boy, the Baron Fagoni feeds well, bekase he's the cock o' the
roost; but the poor Naygurs are not overly well fed, and the critters are
up to their knees in wather all day, washing di'monds; so they suffer
much from rheumatiz and colds. Och, but it's murther entirely; an' I've
more than wance felt inclined to fill their pockets with di'monds and set
them all free! Jist look, now, there they are, hard at it."
As he spoke they arrived at the mine. The ground in the vicinity was all
cut up and dug out to a considerable depth, and a dozen Negroes were
standing under a shed washing the earth, while others were engaged in the
holes excavating the material. While Martin watched them his friend
explained the process.
The different kinds of soil through which it is necessary to cut before
reaching the diamond deposit are, first, about twenty feet of reddish
sandy soil; then about eight feet of a tough yellowish clay; beneath this
lies a layer of coarse reddish sand, below which is the peculiar soil in
which diamonds are found. It is called by the miners the _cascalho_, and
consists of loose gravel, the pebbles of which are rounded and polished,
having at some previous era been subject to the action of running water.
The bed varies in thickness from one to four feet, and the pebbles are of
various kinds; but when there are many of a species called
_Esmerilopreto_, the cascalho is considered to be rich in diamonds.
Taking Martin round to the back of the shed, Barney showed him a row of
troughs, about three feet square, close to the edge of a pond of water.
These troughs are called _bacos_. In front of each stood a Negro slave up
to his knees in water. Each had a wooden plate, with which he dashed
water upon the rough cascalho as it was thrown into the trough by another
slave. By this means, and by stirring it with a small hoe, the earth and
sand are washed away. Two overseers were closely watching the process;
for it is during this part of the operation that the largest diamonds are
found. These overseers were seated on elevated seats, each being armed
with a long leathern whip, to keep a sharp look out, for the slaves are
After the cascalho had been thus purified it was carefully removed to the
shed to be finally washed.
Here seven slaves were seated on the side of a small canal, about four
feet broad, with their legs in the water nearly up to their knees. The
canal is called the _lavadeira_. Each man had a small wooden platter,
into which another slave, who stood behind him, put a shovelful of
purified cascalho. The _bateia_, or platter, was then filled with water
and washed with the utmost care several times, being closely examined
after each washing, and the diamonds picked out. Sometimes many platefuls
were examined but nothing found; at other times several diamonds were
found in one plate. While Martin was looking on with much curiosity and
interest, one of the slaves uttered an exclamation and held up a minute
stone between his finger and thumb.
"Ah! good luck to ye, lad!" said Barney, advancing and taking the diamond
which had been discovered. "See here, Martin; there's the thing, lad,
that sparkles on the brow o' beauty, and gives the Naygurs rheumatiz--"
"Not to mention their usefulness in providing the great Baron Fagoni with
a livelihood," added Martin, with a smile.
Barney laughed, and going up to the place where the two overseers were
seated, dropped the precious gem into a plate of water placed between
them for the purpose of receiving the diamonds as they were found.
"They git fifteen or twinty a day sometimes," said Barney, as they
retraced their steps to the cottage; "and I've hear'd o' them getting
stones worth many thousands o' pounds; but the biggest they iver found
since I corned here was not worth more than four hundred."
"And what do you do with them, Barney, when they are found?"
"Sind them to Rio Janeiro, lad, where my employer sells them. I don't
know how much he makes a year by it; but the thing must pay, for he's
very liberal with his cash, and niver forgits to pay wages. There's
always a lot o' gould-dust found in the bottom o' the bateia after each
washing, and that is carefully collected and sold. But, arrah! I wouldn't
give wan snifter o' the say-breezes for all the di'monds in Brazil!"
As Barney said this he entered his cottage and flung down his hat with
the air of a man who was resolved to stand it no longer.
"But why don't you wash on your own account?" cried Martin. "What
say you; shall we begin together? We may make our fortune the first
Barney shook his head. "No, no, boy; I've no faith in my luck with the
di'monds or gould. Nevertheless I have hear'd o' men makin' an awful
heap o' money that way; partiklarly wan man that made his fortin with
"Who was that lucky dog?" asked Martin.
"Well, ye see, it happened this way: There's a custom hereaway that
slaves are allowed to work on Sundays and holidays on their own account;
but when the mines was a government consarn this was not allowed, and the
slaves were the most awful thieves livin', and often made off with some
o' the largest diamonds. Well, there was a man named Juiz de Paz, who
owned a small shop, and used to go down now and then to Rio de Janeiro to
buy goods. Wan evenin' he returned from wan o' his long journeys, and,
being rather tired, wint to bed. He was jist goin' off into a comfortable
doze when there came a terrible bumpin' at the door.
"'Hallo!' cried Juiz, growlin' angrily in the Portugee tongue; 'what
"There was no answer but another bumpin' at the door. So up he jumps,
and, takin' down a big blunderbuss that hung over his bed, opened the
door, an' seized a Naygur be the hair o' the head!
"'Oh, massa! oh, massa! let him go! Got di'mond for to sell!'
"On hearin' this, Juiz let go, and found that the slave had come to
offer for sale a large di'mond, which weighed about two penny-weights
and a third.
"'What d'ye ask for it?' said Juiz, with sparklin' eyes.
"'Six hundred mil-reis,' answered the Naygur.
"This was about equal to £180 Stirling. Without more words about it, he
paid down the money; and the slave went away. Juiz lost his sleep that
night. He went and tould the neighbours he had forgot a piece of
important business in Rio and must go back at wance. So back he went, and
stayed some time in the city, tryin' to git his di'mond safely sold; for
it was such a big wan that he feared the government fellows might hear
o't; in which case he would have got tin years transportation to Angola
on the coast of Africa. At last, however, he got rid of it for 20,000
mil-reis, which is about £6000. It was all paid to him in hard dollars;
and he nearly went out o' his wits for joy. But he was brought down a peg
nixt day, when he found that the same di'mond was sold for nearly twice
as much as he had got for it. Howiver, he had made a pretty considerable
fortin; an' he's now the richest di'mond and gould merchant in the
"A lucky fellow certainly," said Martin. "But I must say I have no taste
for such chance work; so I'm quite ready to start for the sea-coast
whenever it suits the Baron Fagoni's convenience."
While they were speaking they were attracted by voices outside the
cottage, which sounded as if in altercation. In another minute the door
burst open, and a man entered hurriedly, followed by the interpreter.
"Your overseer is impertinent!" exclaimed the man, who was a tall swarthy
Brazilian. "I wish to buy a horse or a good mule, and he won't let me
have one. I am not a beggar; I offer to pay."
The man spoke in Portuguese, and Barney replied in the same language.
"You can have a horse _if you pay for it_."
The Brazilian replied by throwing a heavy bag of dollars on the table.
"All right," said Barney, turning to his interpreter and conversing with
him in an under-tone. "Give him what he requires." So saying he bowed the
Brazilian out of the room, and returned to the enjoyment of his black
pipe, which had been interrupted by the incident.
"That man seems in a hurry," said Martin.
"So he is. My interpreter tells me that he is quite like one o' the
blackguards that sometimes go about the mines doin' mischief, and he's in
hot haste to be away. I should not wonder if the spalpeen has been
stealin' gould or di'monds and wants to escape. But of course I've
nothin' to do with that, unless I was sure of it; and I've a horse or two
to sell, and he has money to pay for it; so he's welcome. He says he is
makin' straight for the say-coast; and with your lave, Martin, my boy,
you and I will be doin' that same in a week after this, and say good-bye
to the di'mond mines."
NEW SCENES AND PLEASANT TRAVELLING
A new and agreeable sensation is a pleasant thing. It was on as bright an
evening as ever shone upon Brazil, and in as fair a scene as one could
wish to behold, that Martin Rattler and his friend Barney experienced a
new sensation. On the wide campos, on the flower-bedecked and grassy
plains, they each bestrode a fiery charger; and, in the exultation of
health, and strength, and liberty, they swept over the green sward of the
undulating campos, as light as the soft wind that fanned their bronzed
cheeks, as gay in heart as the buzzing insects that hovered above the
"Oh, this is best of all!" shouted Martin, turning his sparkling eyes to
Barney, as he reined up his steed after a gallop that caused its nostril
to expand and its eye to dilate. "There's nothing like it! A fiery
charger that can't and _won't_ tire, and a glorious sweep of plain like
that! Huzza! whoop!" And loosening the rein of his willing horse, away he
went again in a wild headlong career.
"Och, boy, pull up, or ye'll kill the baste!" cried Barney, who thundered
along at Martin's side enjoying to the full the spring of his powerful
horse; for Barney had spent the last farthing of his salary on the two
best steeds the country could produce, being determined, as he said, to
make the last overland voyage on clipper-built animals, which, he wisely
concluded, would fetch a good price at the end of the journey. "Pull up!
d'ye hear? They can't stand goin' at that pace. Back yer topsails, ye
young rascal, or I'll board ye in a jiffy."
"How can I pull up with _that_ before me?" cried Martin, pointing to
a wide ditch or gully that lay in front of them. "I must go over
"Go over that!" cried Barney, endeavouring to rein in his horse, and
looking with an anxious expression at the chasm. "It's all very well for
you to talk o' goin' over, ye feather; but fifteen stun--Ah, then,
_won't_ ye stop? Bad luck to him, he's got the bit in his teeth! Oh then,
ye ugly baste, go, and my blissin' go with ye!"
The leap was inevitable. Martin went over like a deer. Barney shut his
eyes, seized the pommel of the saddle, and went at it like a
thunder-bolt In the excitement of the moment he shouted, in a stentorian
voice, "Clap on all sail! d'ye hear? Stu'n-sails and sky-scrapers! Kape
her steady! Hooray!"
It was well for Barney that he had seized the saddle. Even as it was he
received a tremendous blow from the horse's head as it took the leap,
and was thrown back on its haunches when it cleared the ditch, which it
"Hallo! old boy, not hurt, I hope," said Martin, suppressing his laughter
as his comrade scrambled on to the saddle. "You travel about on the back
of your horse at full gallop like a circus rider."
"Whist, darlint, I do belave he has damaged my faygurhead. What a nose
I've got! Sure I can see it mesilf without squintin'."
"So you have, Barney. It's a little swelled, but never mind. We must all
learn by experience, you know. So come along."
"Hould on, ye spalpeen, till I git my wind!"
But Martin was off again at full speed; and Barney's horse, scorning to
be left behind, took the bit again in its teeth and went--as he himself
expressed it,--"screamin' before the wind."
A new sensation is not always and necessarily an agreeable thing. Martin
and Barney found it so on the evening of that same day, as they reclined
(they could not sit) by the side of their fire on the campo under the
shelter of one of the small trees which grew here and there at wide
intervals on the plain. They had left the diamond mine early that
morning, and their first day on horseback proved to them that there are
shadows as well as lights in equestrian life. Their only baggage was a
single change of apparel and a small bag of diamonds,--the latter being
the product of the mine during the Baron Fagoni's reign, and which that
worthy was conveying faithfully to his employer. During the first part of
the day they had ridden through a hilly and woody country, and towards
evening they emerged upon one of the smaller campos, which occur here and
there in the district.
"Martin," said Barney, as he lay smoking his pipe, "'tis a pity that
there's no pleasure in this world without _something_ cross-grained
into it. My own feelin's is as if I had been lately passed through a
"Wrong, Barney, as usual," said Martin, who was busily engaged concluding
supper with an orange. "If we had pleasures without discomforts we
wouldn't half enjoy them. We need lights and shadows in life--what are
you grinning at, Barney?"
"Oh! nothin', only ye're a remarkable philosopher, when ye're in
"Tis always in vain to talk philosophy to you, Barney, so good-night t'
ye. Oh, dear me, I wish I could sit down! but there's no
alternative,--either bolt upright or quite flat."
In a quarter of an hour they both forgot pleasures and sorrows alike in
sleep. Next day the sun rose on the edge of the campo as it does out of
the ocean, streaming across its grassy billows, and tipping the ridges as
with ruddy gold. At first Martin and Barney did not enjoy the lovely
scene, for they felt stiff and sore; but after half an hour's ride they
began to recover; and when the sun rose in all its glory on the wide
plain, the feelings of joyous bounding freedom that such scenes always
engender obtained the mastery, and they coursed along in silent delight.
The campo was hard, composed chiefly of a stiff red clay soil and covered
with short grass in most places; but here and there were rank bushes of
long hairy grasses, around and amongst which grew a multitude of the most
exquisitely beautiful flowerets and plants of elegant forms. Wherever
these flowers flourished very luxuriantly there were single trees of
stunted growth and thick bark, which seldom rose above fifteen or twenty
feet. Besides these there were rich flowering myrtles, and here and there
a grotesque cactus or two.
Under one of these trees they reined up after a ride of two hours, and
piqueting their horses, prepared breakfast. It was soon despatched, and
then remounting, away they went once more over the beautiful plains.
About mid-day, as they were hasting towards the shelter of a grove which
appeared opportunely on the horizon, Barney said suddenly,--
"Martin, lad, we're lost! We're out of our course, for sartin."
"I've been thinking that for some time, Barney," replied Martin; "but you
have your compass, and we can surely make the coast by dead
"True, lad, we can; but it'll cost us a dale o' tackin' to make up for
lee-way. Ah, good luck to ye! here's a friend 'll help us."
As he spoke a herd of wild cattle dashed out of the grove and scampered
over the plain, followed by a herdsman on horseback. Seeing that he was
in eager pursuit of an animal which he wished to lasso, they followed him
quietly and watched his movements. Whirling the noose round his head, he
threw it adroitly in such a manner that the bull put one of its legs
within the coil. Then he reined up suddenly, and the animal was thrown on
its back. At the same moment the lasso broke, and the bull recovered its
feet and continued its wild flight.
"Good-day, friend," said Barney, galloping towards the disappointed
herdsman and addressing him in Portuguese, "could you show us the road to
Rio? We've lost it intirely."
The man pointed sulkily in the direction in which they were going, and,
having mended his lasso, he wheeled about and galloped after the herd
"Bad luck to yer manners!" said Barney, as he gazed after him. "But what
can ye expect from the poor critter? He niver larned better Come along,
Martin, we'll rest here a while."
They were soon under the shelter of the trees, and having fastened their
horses to one of them, they proceeded to search for water. While thus
employed, Barney shouted to his companion, "Come here, lad; look here."
There was something in the tone of the Irishman's voice that startled
Martin, and he sprang hastily towards him. Barney was standing with his
arms crossed upon his chest and his head bowed forward, as he gazed with
a solemn expression on the figure of a man at his feet.
"Is he ill?" inquired Martin, stooping and lifting his hand. Starting
back as he dropped it, he exclaimed, "Dead!"
"Ah, boy, he has gone to his last account. Look at him again, Martin. It
was he who came to the mine a week ago to buy a horse, and now--" Barney
sighed as he stooped and turned the body over in order to ascertain
whether he had been murdered; but there were no marks of violence to be
seen. There was bread too in his wallet; so they could come to no other
conclusion than that the unhappy man had been seized with fatal illness
in the lonesome wood and died there.
As they searched his clothes they found a small leathern bag, which, to
their amazement, was filled with gold-dust; and in the midst of the gold
was another smaller bag containing several small diamonds.
"Ha!" exclaimed Martin, "that explains his hurry. No doubt he had made
off with these, and was anxious to avoid pursuit."
"No doubt of it," said Barney. "Well, thief or no thief, we must give the
poor cratur' dacent burial. There's not a scrap o' paper to tell who he
is or where he came from,--a sure sign that he wasn't what he should ha'
been. Ah! Martin, what will we not do for the sake o' money! and, after
all, we can't keep it long. May the Almighty niver let you or me set our
hearts on it."
They dug a shallow grave with their hands in a sandy spot where the soil
was loose, in which they deposited the body of the unfortunate man; and
then remounting their horses, rode away and left him in his lonely
For many days did Martin and Barney travel through the land on horseback,
now galloping over open campos, anon threading their way through the
forest, and sometimes toiling slowly up the mountain sides. The aspect of
the country varied continually as they advanced, and the feelings of
excessive hilarity with which they commenced the journey began to subside
as they became accustomed to it.
One evening they were toiling slowly up a steep range of hills which had
been the prospect in front of them the whole of that day. As they neared
the summit of the range Martin halted at a stream to drink, and Barney
advanced alone. Suddenly Martin was startled by a loud cry, and looking
up he saw Barney on his knees with his hands clasped before him! Rushing
up the hill, Martin found his comrade with his face flushed and the tears
coursing down his cheeks as he stared before him!
"Look at it, Martin, dear!" he cried, starting up and flinging his cap in
the air, and shouting like a madman. "The say! my own native illiment!
the beautiful ocean! Och, darlint, my blessing on ye! Little did I think
to see you more,--hooray!"
Barney sang and danced till he sank down on the grass exhausted; and, to
say truth, Martin felt much difficulty in restraining himself from doing
likewise, for before him was spread out the bright ocean, gleaming in the
light of the sinking sun, and calm and placid as a mirror. It was indeed
a glorious sight to these two sailors, who had not seen the sea for
nearly two years. It was like coming suddenly face to face--after a long
absence--with an old and much loved friend.
Although visible, the sea, however, was still a long way off from the
Serra dos Orgos on which they stood. But their steeds were good, and it
was not long ere they were both rolling like dolphins in the beautiful
bay of Rio de Janeiro.
Here Barney delivered up the gold and diamonds to his employer, who paid
him liberally for his services and entertained them both hospitably while
they remained in the city. The bag of gold and diamonds which had been
found on the body of the dead man they appropriated, as it was absolutely
impossible to discover the rightful owner. Barney's friend bought it of
them at full price; and when they embarked, soon after, on board a
homeward bound ship, each had four hundred pounds in his pocket!
As they sailed out of the noble harbour Martin sat on the poop gazing at
the receding shore while thick-coming memories crowded on his brain.
His imagination flew back to the day when he first landed on the coast
and escaped with his friend Barney from the pirates,--to the hermit's
cottage in the lonely valley, where he first made acquaintance with
monkeys, iguanas, jaguars, armadillos, and all the wonderful, beautiful,
and curious birds, beasts, and reptiles, plants, trees, and flowers, that
live and flourish in that romantic country. Once more, in fancy, he was
sailing up the mighty Amazon, shooting alligators on its banks, spearing
fish in its waters, paddling through its curious gapo, and swinging in
his hammock under its luxuriant forests. Once again he was a prisoner
among the wild Indians, and he started convulsively as he thought of the
terrible leap over the precipice into the stream that flowed into the
heart of the earth. Then he wandered in the lonely forest. Suddenly the
diamond mines were before him, and Barney's jovial voice rang in his
ears; and he replied to it with energy, for now he was bounding on a
fiery steed over the grassy campos. With a deep sigh he awoke from his
reverie to find himself surrounded by the great wide sea.
Arthur Jollyboy, Esquire, of the Old Hulk, sat on the top of a tall
three-legged stool in his own snug little office in the sea-port town of
Bilton, with his legs swinging to and fro; his socks displayed a
considerable way above the tops of his gaiters; his hands thrust deep
into his breeches pockets; his spectacles high on his bald forehead, and
his eyes looking through the open letter that lay before him; through the
desk underneath it; through the plank floor, cellars and foundations of
the edifice; and through the entire world into the distant future beyond.
"Four thousand pair of socks," he murmured, pulling down his spectacles
and consulting the open letter for the tenth time; "four thousand pair of
socks, with the hitch, same as last bale, but a very little coarser in
"Four thousand pair! and who's to make them, I wonder. If poor Mrs.
Dorothy Grumbit were here--ah! well, she's gone, so it can't be helped.
Four thousand!--dear me who _will_ make them. Do _you_ know?"
This question was addressed to his youngest clerk, who sat on the
opposite side of the desk staring at Mr. Jollyboy with that open
impudence of expression peculiar to young puppy-dogs whose masters are
"No, sir, I don't," said the clerk with a broad grin.
Before the perplexed merchant could come at any conclusion on this knotty
subject the door opened and Martin Rattler entered the room, followed by
his friend Barney O'Flannagan.
"You've come to the wrong room, friends," said Mr. Jollyboy with a
benignant smile. "My principal clerk engages men and pays wages. His
office is just opposite; first door in the passage."
"We don't want to engage," said Martin; "we wish to speak with you, sir."
"Oh, beg pardon!" cried Mr. Jollyboy, leaping off the stool with
surprising agility for a man of his years. "Come in this way. Pray be
seated--Eh! ah, surely I've seen you before, my good fellow?"
"Yis, sir, that ye have. I've sailed aboard your ships many a time. My
name's Barney O'Flannagan, at yer sarvice."
"Ah! I recollect; and a good man you are, I've been told, Barney; but I
have lost sight of you for some years. Been on a long voyage, I suppose?"
"Well, not 'xactly; but I've been on a long cruise, an' no mistake, in
the woods o' Brazil. I wos wrecked on the coast there, in the _Firefly_."
"Ah! to be sure. I remember. And your young messmate here, was he
"Yes, sir, I was," said Martin, answering for himself; "and I had once
the pleasure of your acquaintance. Perhaps if you look steadily in my
face you may--"
"Ah, then! don't try to bamboozle him. He might as well look at a bit o'
mahogany as at your faygurhead. Tell him at wance, Martin dear."
"Martin?" exclaimed the puzzled old gentleman, seizing the young sailor
by the shoulders and gazing intently into his face. "Martin! Martin!
Surely not--yes! eh? Martin Rattler?"
"Ay that am I, dear Mr. Jollyboy, safe and sound, and--"
Martin's speech was cut short in consequence of his being violently
throttled by Mr. Jollyboy, who flung his arms round his neck and
staggered recklessly about the office with him! This was the great point
which Barney had expected; it was the climax to which he had been looking
forward all the morning: and it did not come short of his anticipations;
for Mr. Jollyboy danced round Martin and embraced him for at least ten
minutes, asking him at the same time a shower of questions which he gave
him no time to answer. In the excess of his delight Barney smote his
thigh with his broad hand so forcibly that it burst upon the startled
clerk like a pistol-shot, and caused him to spring off his stool!
"Don't be afeared, young un," said Barney, winking and poking the small
clerk jocosely in the ribs with his thumb. "Isn't it beautiful to see
them. Arrah, now! isn't it purty?"
"Keep your thumbs to yourself, you sea monster," said the small clerk,
angrily, and laying his hand on the ruler. But Barney minded him not, and
continued to smite his thigh and rub his hands, while he performed a sort
of gigantic war-dance round Mr. Jollyboy and Martin.
In a few minutes the old gentleman subsided sufficiently to understand
"But, my aunt," said Martin, anxiously; "you have said nothing about Aunt
Dorothy. How is she? where is she? is she well?"
To these questions Mr. Jollyboy returned no answer, but sitting suddenly
down on a chair, he covered his face with his hands.
"She is not ill?" inquired Martin in a husky voice, while his heart beat
violently. "Speak, Mr. Jollyboy, is she--is she--"
"No, she's not ill," returned the old gentleman; "but she's--"
"She is dead!" said Martin, in a tone so deep and sorrowful that the old
gentleman started up.
"No, no, not dead, my dear boy; I did not mean that. Forgive my
stupidity, Martin. Aunt Dorothy is gone,--left the village a year ago;
and I have never seen or heard of her since."
Terrible though this news was, Martin felt a slight degree of relief to
know that she was not dead;--at least there was reason to hope that she
might be still alive.
"But when did she go? and why? and where?"
"She went about twelve months ago," replied Mr. Jollyboy. "You see,
Martin, after she lost you she seemed to lose all hope and all spirit;
and at last she gave up making socks for me, and did little but moan in
her seat in the window and look out towards the sea. So I got a pleasant
young girl to take care of her; and she did not want for any of the
comforts of life. One day the little girl came to me here, having run all
the way from the village, to say that Mrs. Grumbit had packed up a bundle
of clothes and gone off to Liverpool by the coach. She took the
opportunity of the girl's absence on some errand to escape; and we should
never have known it, had not some boys of the village seen her get into
the coach and tell the guard that she was going to make inquiries after
Martin. I instantly set out for Liverpool; but long before I arrived the
coach had discharged its passengers, and the coachman, not suspecting
that anything was wrong, had taken no notice of her after arriving. From
that day to this I have not ceased to advertise and make all possible
inquiries, but without success."