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Through the Brazilian Wilderness by Theodore Roosevelt

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we were assured, were descended in part from the big red wolf of the
neighborhood, a tall, lank animal, with much smaller teeth than a big
northern wolf. The domestic dog is undoubtedly descended from at least
a dozen different species of wild dogs, wolves, and jackals, some of
them probably belonging to what we style different genera. The degree
of fecundity or lack of fecundity between different species varies in
extraordinary and inexplicable fashion in different families of
mammals. In the horse family, for instance, the species are not
fertile inter se; whereas among the oxen, species seemingly at least
as widely separated as the horse, ass, and zebra species such as the
domestic ox, bison, yak, and gaur breed freely together and their
offspring are fertile; the lion and tiger also breed together, and
produce offspring which will breed with either parent stock; and tame
dogs in different quarters of the world, although all of them fertile
inter se, are in many cases obviously blood kin to the neighboring
wild, wolf-like or jackal-like creatures which are specifically, and
possibly even generically, distinct from one another. The big red wolf
of the South American plains is not closely related to the northern
wolves; and it was to me unexpected to find it interbreeding with
ordinary domestic dogs.

In the evenings after dinner we sat in the bare ranch dining-room, or
out under the trees in the hot darkness, and talked of many things:
natural history with the naturalists, and all kinds of other subjects
both with them and with our Brazilian friends. Colonel Rondon is not
simply "an officer and a gentleman" in the sense that is honorably
true of the best army officers in every good military service. He is
also a peculiarly hardy and competent explorer, a good field
naturalist and scientific man, a student and a philosopher. With him
the conversation ranged from jaguar-hunting and the perils of
exploration in the "Matto Grosso," the great wilderness, to Indian
anthropology, to the dangers of a purely materialistic industrial
civilization, and to Positivist morality. The colonel's Positivism was
in very fact to him a religion of humanity, a creed which bade him be
just and kindly and useful to his fellow men, to live his life
bravely, and no less bravely to face death, without reference to what
he believed, or did not believe, or to what the unknown hereafter
might hold for him.

The native hunters who accompanied us were swarthy men of mixed blood.
They were barefooted and scantily clad, and each carried a long,
clumsy spear and a keen machete, in the use of which he was an expert.
Now and then, in thick jungle, we had to cut out a path, and it was
interesting to see one of them, although cumbered by his unwieldy
spear, handling his half-broken little horse with complete ease while
he hacked at limbs and branches. Of the two ordinarily with us one was
much the younger; and whenever we came to an unusually doubtful-
looking ford or piece of boggy ground the elder man always sent the
younger one on and sat on the bank until he saw what befell the
experimenter. In that rather preposterous book of our youth, the
"Swiss Family Robinson," mention is made of a tame monkey called Nips,
which was used to test all edible-looking things as to the
healthfulness of which the adventurers felt doubtful; and because of
the obvious resemblance of function we christened this younger hunter
Nips. Our guides were not only hunters but cattle-herders. The coarse
dead grass is burned to make room for the green young grass on which
the cattle thrive. Every now and then one of the men, as he rode ahead
of us, without leaving the saddle, would drop a lighted match into a
tussock of tall dead blades; and even as we who were behind rode by
tongues of hot flame would be shooting up and a local prairie fire
would have started.

Kermit took Nips off with him for a solitary hunt one day. He shot two
of the big marsh-deer, a buck and a doe, and preserved them as museum
specimens. They were in the papyrus growth, but their stomachs
contained only the fine marsh-grass which grows in the water and on
the land along the edges of the swamps; the papyrus was used only for
cover, not for food. The buck had two big scent-glands beside the
nostrils; in the doe these were rudimentary. On this day Kermit also
came across a herd of the big, fierce white-lipped peccary; at the
sound of their grunting Nips promptly spurred his horse and took to
his heels, explaining that the peccaries would charge them, hamstring
the horses, and kill the riders. Kermit went into the jungle after the
truculent little wild hogs on foot and followed them for an hour, but
never was able to catch sight of them.

In the afternoon of this same day one of the jaguar-hunters--merely
ranch hands, who knew something of the chase of the jaguar--who had
been searching for tracks, rode in with the information that he had
found fresh sign at a spot in the swamp about nine miles distant. Next
morning we rose at two, and had started on our jaguar-hunt at three.
Colonel Rondon, Kermit, and I, with the two trailers or jaguar-
hunters, made up the party, each on a weedy, undersized marsh pony,
accustomed to traversing the vast stretches of morass; and we were
accompanied by a brown boy, with saddle-bags holding our lunch, who
rode a long-horned trotting steer which he managed by a string through
its nostril and lip. The two trailers carried each a long, clumsy
spear. We had a rather poor pack. Besides our own two dogs, neither of
which was used to jaguar-hunting, there were the ranch dogs, which
were well-nigh worthless, and then two jaguar hounds borrowed for the
occasion from a ranch six or eight leagues distant. These were the
only hounds on which we could place any trust, and they were led in
leashes by the two trailers. One was a white bitch, the other, the
best one we had, was a gelded black dog. They were lean, half-starved
creatures with prick ears and a look of furtive wildness.

As our shabby little horses shuffled away from the ranch-house the
stars were brilliant and the Southern Cross hung well up in the
heavens, tilted to the right. The landscape was spectral in the light
of the waning moon. At the first shallow ford, as horses and dogs
splashed across, an alligator, the jacare-tinga, some five feet long,
floated unconcernedly among the splashing hoofs and paws; evidently at
night it did not fear us. Hour after hour we slogged along. Then the
night grew ghostly with the first dim gray of the dawn. The sky had
become overcast. The sun rose red and angry through broken clouds; his
disk flamed behind the tall, slender columns of the palms, and lit the
waste fields of papyrus. The black monkeys howled mournfully. The
birds awoke. Macaws, parrots, parakeets screamed at us and chattered
at us as we rode by. Ibis called with wailing voices, and the plovers
shrieked as they wheeled in the air. We waded across bayous and ponds,
where white lilies floated on the water and thronging lilac-flowers
splashed the green marsh with color.

At last, on the edge of a patch of jungle, in wet ground, we came on
fresh jaguar tracks. Both the jaguar hounds challenged the sign. They
were unleashed and galloped along the trail, while the other dogs
noisily accompanied them. The hunt led right through the marsh.
Evidently the jaguar had not the least distaste for water. Probably it
had been hunting for capybaras or tapirs, and it had gone straight
through ponds and long, winding, narrow ditches or bayous, where it
must now and then have had to swim for a stroke or two. It had also
wandered through the island-like stretches of tree-covered land, the
trees at this point being mostly palms and tarumans; the taruman is
almost as big as a live-oak, with glossy foliage and a fruit like an
olive. The pace quickened, the motley pack burst into yelling and
howling; and then a sudden quickening of the note showed that the game
had either climbed a tree or turned to bay in a thicket. The former
proved to be the case. The dogs had entered a patch of tall tree
jungle, and as we cantered up through the marsh we saw the jaguar high
among the forked limbs of a taruman tree. It was a beautiful picture--
the spotted coat of the big, lithe, formidable cat fairly shone as it
snarled defiance at the pack below. I did not trust the pack; the dogs
were not stanch, and if the jaguar came down and started I feared we
might lose it. So I fired at once, from a distance of seventy yards. I
was using my favorite rifle, the little Springfield with which I have
killed most kinds of African game, from the lion and elephant down;
the bullets were the sharp, pointed kind, with the end of naked lead.
At the shot the jaguar fell like a sack of sand through the branches,
and although it staggered to its feet it went but a score of yards
before it sank down, and when I came up it was dead under the palms,
with three or four of the bolder dogs riving at it.

The jaguar is the king of South American game, ranking on an equality
with the noblest beasts of the chase of North America, and behind only
the huge and fierce creatures which stand at the head of the big game
of Africa and Asia. This one was an adult female. It was heavier and
more powerful than a full-grown male cougar, or African panther or
leopard. It was a big, powerfully built creature, giving the same
effect of strength that a tiger or lion does, and that the lithe
leopards and pumas do not. Its flesh, by the way, proved good eating,
when we had it for supper, although it was not cooked in the way it
ought to have been. I tried it because I had found cougars such good
eating; I have always regretted that in Africa I did not try lion's
flesh, which I am sure must be excellent.

Next day came Kermit's turn. We had the miscellaneous pack with us,
all much enjoying themselves; but, although they could help in a
jaguar-hunt to the extent of giving tongue and following the chase for
half a mile, cowing the quarry by their clamor, they were not
sufficiently stanch to be of use if there was any difficulty in the
hunt. The only two dogs we could trust were the two borrowed jaguar
hounds. This was the black dog's day. About ten in the morning we came
to a long, deep, winding bayou. On the opposite bank stood a capybara,
looking like a blunt-nosed pig, its wet hide shining black. I killed
it, and it slid into the water. Then I found that the bayou extended
for a mile or two in each direction, and the two hunter-guides said
they did not wish to swim across for fear of the piranhas. Just at
this moment we came across fresh jaguar tracks. It was hot, we had
been travelling for five hours, and the dogs were much exhausted. The
black hound in particular was nearly done up, for he had been led in a
leash by one of the horsemen. He lay flat on the ground, panting,
unable to catch the scent. Kermit threw water over him, and when he
was thoroughly drenched and freshened, thrust his nose into the
jaguar's footprints. The game old hound at once and eagerly responded.
As he snuffed the scent he challenged loudly, while still lying down.
Then he staggered to his feet and started on the trail, going stronger
with every leap. Evidently the big cat was not far distant. Soon we
found where it had swum across the bayou. Piranhas or no piranhas, we
now intended to get across; and we tried to force our horses in at
what seemed a likely spot. The matted growth of water-plants, with
their leathery, slippery stems, formed an unpleasant barrier, as the
water was swimming-deep for the horses. The latter were very unwilling
to attempt the passage. Kermit finally forced his horse through the
tangled mass, swimming, plunging, and struggling. He left a lane of
clear water, through which we swam after him. The dogs splashed and
swam behind us. On the other bank they struck the fresh trail and
followed it at a run. It led into a long belt of timber, chiefly
composed of low-growing nacury palms, with long, drooping, many-
fronded branches. In silhouette they suggest coarse bamboos; the nuts
hang in big clusters and look like bunches of small, unripe bananas.
Among the lower palms were scattered some big ordinary trees. We
cantered along outside the timber belt, listening to the dogs within;
and in a moment a burst of yelling clamor from the pack told that the
jaguar was afoot. These few minutes are the really exciting moments in
the chase, with hounds, of any big cat that will tree. The furious
baying of the pack, the shouts and cheers of encouragement from the
galloping horsemen, the wilderness surroundings, the knowledge of what
the quarry is--all combine to make the moment one of fierce and
thrilling excitement. Besides, in this case there was the possibility
the jaguar might come to bay on the ground, in which event there would
be a slight element of risk, as it might need straight shooting to
stop a charge. However, about as soon as the long-drawn howling and
eager yelping showed that the jaguar had been overtaken, we saw him, a
huge male, up in the branches of a great fig-tree. A bullet behind the
shoulder, from Kermit's 405 Winchester, brought him dead to the
ground. He was heavier than the very big male horse-killing cougar I
shot in Colorado, whose skull Hart Merriam reported as the biggest he
had ever seen; he was very nearly double the weight of any of the male
African leopards we shot; he was nearly or quite the weight of the
smallest of the adult African lionesses we shot while in Africa. He
had the big bones, the stout frame, and the heavy muscular build of a
small lion; he was not lithe and slender and long like a cougar or
leopard; the tail, as with all jaguars, was short, while the girth of
the body was great; his coat was beautiful, with a satiny gloss, and
the dark-brown spots on the gold of his back, head, and sides were
hardly as conspicuous as the black of the equally well-marked spots
against his white belly.

This was a well-known jaguar. He had occasionally indulged in cattle-
killing; on one occasion during the floods he had taken up his abode
near the ranch-house and had killed a couple of cows and a young
steer. The hunters had followed him, but he had made his escape, and
for the time being had abandoned the neighborhood. In these marshes
each jaguar had a wide irregular range and travelled a good deal,
perhaps only passing a day or two in a given locality, perhaps
spending a week where game was plentiful. Jaguars love the water. They
drink greedily and swim freely. In this country they rambled through
the night across the marshes and prowled along the edges of the ponds
and bayous, catching the capybaras and the caymans; for these small
pond caymans, the jacare-tinga, form part of their habitual food, and
a big jaguar when hungry will attack and kill large caymans and
crocodiles if he can get them a few yards from the water. On these
marshes the jaguars also followed the peccary herds; it is said that
they always strike the hindmost of a band of the fierce little wild
pigs. Elsewhere they often prey on the tapir. If in timber, however,
the jaguar must kill it at once, for the squat, thick-skinned, wedge-
shaped tapir has no respect for timber, as Colonel Rondon phrased it,
and rushes with such blind, headlong speed through and among branches
and trunks that if not immediately killed it brushes the jaguar off,
the claws leaving long raking scars in the tough hide. Cattle are
often killed. The jaguar will not meddle with a big bull; and is
cautious about attacking a herd accompanied by a bull; but it will at
times, where wild game is scarce, kill every other domestic animal. It
is a thirsty brute, and if it kills far from water will often drag its
victim a long distance toward a pond or stream; Colonel Rondon had
once come across a horse which a jaguar had thus killed and dragged
for over a mile. Jaguars also stalk and kill the deer; in this
neighborhood they seemed to be less habitual deer-hunters than the
cougars; whether this is generally the case I cannot say. They have
been known to pounce on and devour good-sized anacondas.

In this particular neighborhood the ordinary jaguars molested the
cattle and horses hardly at all except now and then to kill calves. It
was only occasionally that under special circumstances some old male
took to cattle-killing. There were plenty of capybaras and deer, and
evidently the big spotted cats preferred the easier prey when it was
available; exactly as in East Africa we found the lions living almost
exclusively on zebra and antelope, and not molesting the buffalo and
domestic cattle, which in other parts of Africa furnish their habitual
prey. In some other neighborhoods, not far distant, our hosts informed
us that the jaguars lived almost exclusively on horses and cattle.
They also told us that the cougars had the same habits as the jaguars
except that they did not prey on such big animals. The cougars on this
ranch never molested the foals, a fact which astonished me, as in the
Rockies they are the worst enemies of foals. It was interesting to
find that my hosts, and the mixed-blood hunters and ranch workers,
combined special knowledge of many of the habits of these big cats
with a curious ignorance of other matters concerning them and a
readiness to believe fables about them. This was precisely what I had
found to be the case with the old-time North American hunters in
discussing the puma, bear, and wolf, and with the English and Boer
hunters of Africa when they spoke of the lion and rhinoceros. Until
the habit of scientific accuracy in observation and record is achieved
and until specimens are preserved and carefully compared, entirely
truthful men, at home in the wilderness, will whole-heartedly accept,
and repeat as matters of gospel faith, theories which split the
grizzly and black bears of each locality in the United States, and the
lions and black rhinos of South Africa, or the jaguars and pumas of
any portion of South America, into several different species, all with
widely different habits. They will, moreover, describe these imaginary
habits with such sincerity and minuteness that they deceive most
listeners; and the result sometimes is that an otherwise good
naturalist will perpetuate these fables, as Hudson did when he wrote
of the puma. Hudson was a capital observer and writer when he dealt
with the ordinary birds and mammals of the well-settled districts near
Buenos Aires and at the mouth of the Rio Negro; but he knew nothing of
the wilderness. This is no reflection on him; his books are great
favorites of mine, and are to a large degree models of what such books
should be; I only wish that there were hundreds of such writers and
observers who would give us similar books for all parts of America.
But it is a mistake to accept him as an authority on that concerning
which he was ignorant.

An interesting incident occurred on the day we killed our first
jaguar. We took our lunch beside a small but deep and obviously
permanent pond. I went to the edge to dip up some water, and something
growled or bellowed at me only a few feet away. It was a jacare-tinga
or small cayman about five feet long. I paid no heed to it at the
moment. But shortly afterward when our horses went down to drink it
threatened them and frightened them; and then Colonel Rondon and
Kermit called me to watch it. It lay on the surface of the water only
a few feet distant from us and threatened us; we threw cakes of mud at
it, whereupon it clashed its jaws and made short rushes at us, and
when we threw sticks it seized them and crunched them. We could not
drive it away. Why it should have shown such truculence and
heedlessness I cannot imagine, unless perhaps it was a female, with
eggs near by. In another little pond a jacare-tinga showed no less
anger when another of my companions approached. It bellowed, opened
its jaws, and lashed its tail. Yet these pond jacares never actually
molested even our dogs in the ponds, far less us on our horses.

This same day others of our party had an interesting experience with
the creatures in another pond. One of them was Commander da Cunha (of
the Brazilian Navy), a capital sportsman and delightful companion.
They found a deepish pond a hundred yards or so long and thirty or
forty across. It was tenanted by the small caymans and by capybaras--
the largest known rodent, a huge aquatic guinea-pig, the size of a
small sheep. It also swarmed with piranhas, the ravenous fish of which
I have so often spoken. Undoubtedly the caymans were subsisting
largely on these piranhas. But the tables were readily turned if any
caymans were injured. When a capybara was shot and sank in the water,
the piranhas at once attacked it, and had eaten half the carcass ten
minutes later. But much more extraordinary was the fact that when a
cayman about five feet long was wounded the piranhas attacked and tore
it, and actually drove it out on the bank to face its human foes. The
fish first attacked the wound; then, as the blood maddened them, they
attacked all the soft parts, their terrible teeth cutting out chunks
of tough hide and flesh. Evidently they did not molest either cayman
or capybara while it was unwounded; but blood excited them to frenzy.
Their habits are in some ways inexplicable. We saw men frequently
bathing unmolested; but there are places where this is never safe, and
in any place if a school of the fish appear swimmers are in danger;
and a wounded man or beast is in deadly peril if piranhas are in the
neighborhood. Ordinarily it appears that an unwounded man is attacked
only by accident. Such accidents are rare; but they happen with
sufficient frequency to justify much caution in entering water where
piranhas abound.

We frequently came across ponds tenanted by numbers of capybaras. The
huge, pig-like rodents are said to be shy elsewhere. Here they were
tame. The water was their home and refuge. They usually went ashore to
feed on the grass, and made well-beaten trails in the marsh
immediately around the water; but they must have travelled these at
night, for we never saw them more than a few feet away from the water
in the daytime. Even at midday we often came on them standing beside a
bayou or pond. The dogs would rush wildly at such a standing beast,
which would wait until they were only a few yards off and then dash
into and under the water. The dogs would also run full tilt into the
water, and it was then really funny to see their surprise and
disappointment at the sudden and complete disappearance of their
quarry. Often a capybara would stand or sit on its haunches in the
water, with only its blunt, short-eared head above the surface, quite
heedless of our presence. But if alarmed it would dive, for capybaras
swim with equal facility on or below the surface; and if they wish to
hide they rise gently among the rushes or water-lily leaves with only
their nostrils exposed. In these waters the capybaras and small
caymans paid no attention to one another, swimming and resting in
close proximity. They both had the same enemy, the jaguar. The
capybara is a game animal only in the sense that a hare or rabbit is.
The flesh is good to eat, and its amphibious habits and queer nature
and surroundings make it interesting. In some of the ponds the water
had about gone, and the capybaras had become for the time being beasts
of the marsh and the mud; although they could always find little slimy
pools, under a mass of water-lilies, in which to lie and hide.

Our whole stay on this ranch was delightful. On the long rides we
always saw something of interest, and often it was something entirely
new to us. Early one morning we came across two armadillos--the big,
nine-banded armadillo. We were riding with the pack through a dry,
sandy pasture country, dotted with clumps of palms, round the trunks
of which grew a dense jungle of thorns and Spanish bayonets. The
armadillos were feeding in an open space between two of these jungle
clumps, which were about a hundred yards apart. One was on all fours;
the other was in a squatting position, with its fore legs off the
ground. Their long ears were very prominent. The dogs raced at them. I
had always supposed that armadillos merely shuffled along, and curled
up for protection when menaced; and I was almost as surprised as if I
had seen a turtle gallop when these two armadillos bounded off at a
run, going as fast as rabbits. One headed back for the nearest patch
of jungle, which it reached. The other ran at full speed--and ran
really fast, too--until it nearly reached the other patch, a hundred
yards distant, the dogs in full cry immediately behind it. Then it
suddenly changed its mind, wheeled in its tracks, and came back like a
bullet right through the pack. Dog after dog tried to seize it or stop
it and turned to pursue it; but its wedge-shaped snout and armored
body, joined to the speed at which it was galloping, enabled it to
drive straight ahead through its pursuers, not one of which could halt
it or grasp it, and it reached in safety its thorny haven of refuge.
It had run at speed about a hundred and fifty yards. I was much
impressed by this unexpected exhibition; evidently this species of
armadillo only curls up as a last resort, and ordinarily trusts to its
speed, and to the protection its build and its armor give it while
running, in order to reach its burrow or other place of safety. Twice,
while laying railway tracks near Sao Paulo, Kermit had accidentally
dug up armadillos with a steam-shovel.

There were big ant-hills, some of them of huge dimensions, scattered
through the country. Sometimes they were built against the stems of
trees. We did not here come across any of the poisonous or biting ants
which, when sufficiently numerous, render certain districts
uninhabitable. They are ordinarily not very numerous. Those of them
that march in large bodies kill nestling birds, and at once destroy
any big animal unable to get out of their way. It has been suggested
that nestlings in their nests are in some way immune from the attack
of these ants. The experiments of our naturalists tended to show that
this was not the case. They plundered any nest they came across and
could get at.

Once we saw a small herd of peccaries, one a sow followed by three
little pigs--they are said to have only two young, but we saw three,
although of course it is possible one belonged to another sow. The
herd galloped into a mass of thorny cover the hounds could not
penetrate; and when they were in safety we heard them utter, from the
depths of the jungle, a curious moaning sound.

On one ride we passed a clump of palms which were fairly ablaze with
bird color. There were magnificent hyacinth macaws; green parrots with
red splashes; toucans with varied plumage, black, white, red, yellow;
green jacmars; flaming orioles and both blue and dark-red tanagers. It
was an extraordinary collection. All were noisy. Perhaps there was a
snake that had drawn them by its presence; but we could find no snake.
The assembly dispersed as we rode up; the huge blue macaws departed in
pairs, uttering their hoarse "ar-rah-h, ar-rah-h." It has been said
that parrots in the wilderness are only noisy on the wing. They are
certainly noisy on the wing; and those that we saw were quiet while
they were feeding; but ordinarily when they were perched among the
branches, and especially when, as in the case of the little parakeets
near the house, they were gathering materials for nest-building, they
were just as noisy as while flying.

The water-birds were always a delight. We shot merely the two or three
specimens the naturalists needed for the museum. I killed a wood-ibis
on the wing with the handy little Springfield, and then lost all the
credit I had thus gained by a series of inexcusable misses, at long
range, before I finally killed a jabiru. Kermit shot a jabiru with the
Luger automatic. The great, splendid birds, standing about as tall as
a man, show fight when wounded, and advance against their assailants,
clattering their formidable bills. One day we found the nest of a
jabiru in a mighty fig-tree, on the edge of a patch of jungle. It was
a big platform of sticks, placed on a horizontal branch. There were
four half-grown young standing on it. We passed it in the morning,
when both parents were also perched alongside; the sky was then
overcast, and it was not possible to photograph it with the small
camera. In the early afternoon when we again passed it the sun was
out, and we tried to get photographs. Only one parent bird was present
at this time. It showed no fear. I noticed that, as it stood on a
branch near the nest, its bill was slightly open. It was very hot, and
I suppose it had opened its bill just as a hen opens her bill in hot
weather. As we rode away the old bird and the four young birds were
standing motionless, and with gliding flight the other old bird was
returning to the nest. It is hard to give an adequate idea of the
wealth of bird life in these marshes. A naturalist could with the
utmost advantage spend six months on such a branch as that we visited.
He would have to do some collecting, but only a little. Exhaustive
observation in the field is what is now most needed. Most of this
wonderful and harmless bird life should be protected by law; and the
mammals should receive reasonable protection. The books now most
needed are those dealing with the life-histories of wild creatures.

Near the ranch-house, walking familiarly among the cattle, we saw the
big, deep-billed Ani blackbirds. They feed on the insects disturbed by
the hoofs of the cattle, and often cling to them and pick off the
ticks. It was the end of the nesting season, and we did not find their
curious communal nests, in which half a dozen females lay their eggs
indiscriminately. The common ibises in the ponds near by--which
usually went in pairs, instead of in flocks like the wood ibis--were
very tame, and so were the night herons and all the small herons. In
flying, the ibises and storks stretch the neck straight in front of
them. The jabiru--a splendid bird on the wing--also stretches his neck
out in front, but there appears to be a slight downward curve at the
base of the neck, which may be due merely to the craw. The big slender
herons, on the contrary, bend the long neck back in a beautiful curve,
so that the head is nearly between the shoulders. One day I saw what I
at first thought was a small yellow-bellied kingfisher hovering over a
pond, and finally plunging down to the surface of the water after a
school of tiny young fish; but it proved to be a bien-te-vi king-bird.
Curved-bill wood-hewers, birds the size and somewhat the coloration of
veeries, but with long, slender sickle-bills, were common in the
little garden back of the house; their habits were those of creepers,
and they scrambled with agility up, along, and under the trunks and
branches, and along the posts and rails of the fence, thrusting the
bill into crevices for insects. The oven-birds, which had the carriage
and somewhat the look of wood-thrushes, I am sure would prove
delightful friends on a close acquaintance; they are very individual,
not only in the extraordinary domed mud nests they build, but in all
their ways, in their bright alertness; their interest in and curiosity
about whatever goes on, their rather jerky quickness of movement, and
their loud and varied calls. With a little encouragement they become
tame and familiar. The parakeets were too noisy, but otherwise were
most attractive little birds, as they flew to and fro and scrambled
about in the top of the palm behind the house. There was one showy
kind of king-bird or tyrant flycatcher, lustrous black with a white

One afternoon several score cattle were driven into a big square
corral near the house, in order to brand the calves and a number of
unbranded yearlings and two-year-olds. A special element of excitement
was added by the presence of a dozen big bulls which were to be turned
into draught-oxen. The agility, nerve, and prowess of the ranch
workmen, the herders or gauchos, were noteworthy. The dark-skinned men
were obviously mainly of Indian and negro descent, although some of
them also showed a strong strain of white blood. They wore the usual
shirt, trousers, and fringed leather apron, with jim-crow hats. Their
bare feet must have been literally as tough as horn; for when one of
them roped a big bull he would brace himself, bending back until he
was almost sitting down and digging his heels into the ground, and the
galloping beast would be stopped short and whirled completely round
when the rope tautened. The maddened bulls, and an occasional steer or
cow, charged again and again with furious wrath; but two or three
ropes would settle on the doomed beast, and down it would go; and when
it was released and rose and charged once more, with greater fury than
ever, the men, shouting with laughter, would leap up the sides of the
heavy stockade.

We stayed at the ranch until a couple of days before Christmas.
Hitherto the weather had been lovely. The night before we left there
was a torrential tropic downpour. It was not unexpected, for we had
been told that the rainy season was overdue. The following forenoon
the baggage started, in a couple of two-wheeled ox-carts, for the
landing where the steamboat awaited us. Each cart was drawn by eight
oxen. The huge wheels were over seven feet high. Early in the
afternoon we followed on horseback, and overtook the carts as darkness
fell, just before we reached the landing on the river's bank. The last
few miles, after the final reaches of higher, tree-clad ground had
been passed, were across a level plain of low ground on which the
water stood, sometimes only up to the ankles of a man on foot,
sometimes as high as his waist. Directly in front of us, many leagues
distant, rose the bold mountains that lie west of Corumba. Behind them
the sun was setting and kindled the overcast heavens with lurid
splendor. Then the last rose tints faded from the sky; the horses
plodded wearily through the water; on every side stretched the marsh,
vast, lonely, desolate in the gray of the half-light. We overtook the
ox-carts. The cattle strained in the yokes; the drivers wading
alongside cracked their whips and uttered strange cries; the carts
rocked and swayed as the huge wheels churned through the mud and
water. As the last light faded we reached the small patches of dry
land at the landing, where the flat-bottomed side-wheel steamboat was
moored to the bank. The tired horses and oxen were turned loose to
graze. Water stood in the corrals, but the open shed was on dry
ground. Under it the half-clad, wild-looking ox-drivers and horse-
herders slung their hammocks; and close by they lit a fire and
roasted, or scorched, slabs and legs of mutton, spitted on sticks and
propped above the smouldering flame.

Next morning, with real regret, we waved good-by to our dusky
attendants, as they stood on the bank, grouped around a little fire,
beside the big, empty ox-carts. A dozen miles down-stream a rowboat
fitted for a sprit-sail put off from the bank. The owner, a countryman
from a small ranch, asked for a tow to Corumba, which we gave. He had
with him in the boat his comely brown wife--who was smoking a very
large cigar--their two children, a young man, and a couple of trunks
and various other belongings. On Christmas eve we reached Corumba, and
rejoined the other members of the expedition.


At Corumba our entire party, and all their belongings, came aboard our
good little river boat, the Nyoac. Christmas Day saw us making our way
steadily up-stream against the strong current, and between the green
and beautiful banks of the upper Paraguay. The shallow little steamer
was jammed with men, dogs, rifles, partially cured skins, boxes of
provisions, ammunition, tools, and photographic supplies, bags
containing tents, cots, bedding, and clothes, saddles, hammocks, and
the other necessaries for a trip through the "great wilderness," the
"Matto Grosso" of western Brazil.

It was a brilliantly clear day, and, although of course in that
latitude and at that season the heat was intense later on, it was cool
and pleasant in the early morning. We sat on the forward deck,
admiring the trees on the brink of the sheer river banks, the lush,
rank grass of the marshes, and the many water-birds. The two pilots,
one black and one white, stood at the wheel. Colonel Rondon read
Thomas a Kempis. Kermit, Cherrie, and Miller squatted outside the
railing on the deck over one paddle-wheel and put the final touches on
the jaguar skins. Fiala satisfied himself that the boxes and bags were
in place. It was probable that hardship lay in the future; but the day
was our own, and the day was pleasant. In the evening the after-deck,
open all around, where we dined, was decorated with green boughs and
rushes, and we drank the health of the President of the United States
and of the President of Brazil.

Now and then we passed little ranches on the river's edge. This is a
fertile land, pleasant to live in, and any settler who is willing to
work can earn his living. There are mines; there is water-power; there
is abundance of rich soil. The country will soon be opened by rail. It
offers a fine field for immigration and for agricultural, mining, and
business development; and it has a great future.

Cherrie and Miller had secured a little owl a month before in the
Chaco, and it was travelling with them in a basket. It was a dear
little bird, very tame and affectionate. It liked to be handled and
petted; and when Miller, its especial protector, came into the cabin,
it would make queer little noises as a signal that it wished to be
taken up and perched on his hand. Cherrie and Miller had trapped many
mammals. Among them was a tayra weasel, whitish above and black below,
as big and blood-thirsty as a fisher-martin; and a tiny opossum no
bigger than a mouse. They had taken four species of opossum, but they
had not found the curious water-opossum which they had obtained on the
rivers flowing into the Caribbean Sea. This opossum, which is black
and white, swims in the streams like a muskrat or otter, catching fish
and living in burrows which open under water. Miller and Cherrie were
puzzled to know why the young throve, leading such an existence of
constant immersion; one of them once found a female swimming and
diving freely with four quite well-grown young in her pouch.

We saw on the banks screamers--big, crested waders of archaic type,
with spurred wings, rather short bills, and no especial affinities
with other modern birds. In one meadow by a pond we saw three marsh-
deer, a buck and two does. They stared at us, with their thickly
haired tails raised on end. These tails are black underneath, instead
of white as in our whitetail deer. One of the vagaries of the
ultraconcealing-colorationists has been to uphold the (incidentally
quite preposterous) theory that the tail of our deer is colored white
beneath so as to harmonize with the sky and thereby mislead the cougar
or wolf at the critical moment when it makes its spring; but this
marsh-deer shows a black instead of a white flag, and yet has just as
much need of protection from its enemies, the jaguar and the cougar.
In South America concealing coloration plays no more part in the lives
of the adult deer, the tamandua, the tapir, the peccary, the jaguar,
and the puma than it plays in Africa in the lives of such animals as
the zebra, the sable antelope, the wildebeeste, the lion, and the
hunting hyena.

Next day we spent ascending the Sao Lourenco. It was narrower than the
Paraguay, naturally, and the swirling brown current was, if anything,
more rapid. The strange tropical trees, standing densely on the banks,
were matted together by long bush ropes--lianas, or vines, some very
slender and very long. Sometimes we saw brilliant red or blue flowers,
or masses of scarlet berries on a queer palm-like tree, or an array of
great white blossoms on a much larger tree. In a lagoon bordered by
the taquara bamboo a school of big otters were playing; when they came
to the surface, they opened their mouths like seals, and made a loud
hissing noise. The crested screamers, dark gray and as large as
turkeys, perched on the very topmost branches of the tallest trees.
Hyacinth macaws screamed harshly as they flew across the river. Among
the trees was the guan, another peculiar bird as big as a big grouse,
and with certain habits of the wood-grouse, but not akin to any
northern game-bird. The windpipe of the male is very long, extending
down to the end of the breast-bone, and the bird utters queer guttural
screams. A dead cayman floated down-stream, with a black vulture
devouring it. Capybaras stood or squatted on the banks; sometimes they
stared stupidly at us; sometimes they plunged into the river at our
approach. At long intervals we passed little clearings. In each stood
a house of palm-logs, with a steeply pitched roof of palm thatch; and
near by were patches of corn and mandioc. The dusky owner, and perhaps
his family, came out on the bank to watch us as we passed. It was a
hot day--the thermometer on the deck in the shade stood at nearly 100
degrees Fahrenheit. Biting flies came aboard even when we were in

Next day we were ascending the Cuyaba River. It had begun raining in
the night, and the heavy downpour continued throughout the forenoon.
In the morning we halted at a big cattle-ranch to get fresh milk and
beef. There were various houses, sheds, and corrals near the river's
edge, and fifty or sixty milch cows were gathered in one corral.
Spurred plover, or lapwings, strolled familiarly among the hens.
Parakeets and red-headed tanagers lit in the trees over our heads. A
kind of primitive houseboat was moored at the bank. A woman was
cooking breakfast over a little stove at one end. The crew were
ashore. The boat was one of those which are really stores, and which
travel up and down these rivers, laden with what the natives most
need, and stopping wherever there is a ranch. They are the only stores
which many of the country-dwellers see from year's end to year's end.
They float down-stream, and up-stream are poled by their crew, or now
and then get a tow from a steamer. This one had a house with a tin
roof; others bear houses with thatched roofs, or with roofs made of
hides. The river wound through vast marshes broken by belts of

Always the two naturalists had something of interest to tell of their
past experience, suggested by some bird or beast we came across. Black
and golden orioles, slightly crested, of two different species were
found along the river; they nest in colonies, and often we passed such
colonies, the long pendulous nests hanging from the boughs of trees
directly over the water. Cherrie told us of finding such a colony
built round a big wasp-nest, several feet in diameter. These wasps are
venomous and irritable, and few foes would dare venture near bird's-
nests that were under such formidable shelter; but the birds
themselves were entirely unafraid, and obviously were not in any
danger of disagreement with their dangerous protectors. We saw a dark
ibis flying across the bow of the boat, uttering his deep, two-
syllabled note. Miller told how on the Orinoco these ibises plunder
the nests of the big river-turtles. They are very skilful in finding
where the female turtle has laid her eggs, scratch them out of the
sand, break the shells, and suck the contents.

It was astonishing to find so few mosquitoes on these marshes. They
did not in any way compare as pests with the mosquitoes on the lower
Mississippi, the New Jersey coast, the Red River of the North, or the
Kootenay. Back in the forest near Corumba the naturalists had found
them very bad indeed. Cherrie had spent two or three days on a
mountain-top which was bare of forest; he had thought there would be
few mosquitoes, but the long grass harbored them (they often swarm in
long grass and bush, even where there is no water), and at night they
were such a torment that as soon as the sun set he had to go to bed
under his mosquito-netting. Yet on the vast marshes they were not
seriously troublesome in most places. I was informed that they were
not in any way a bother on the grassy uplands, the high country north
of Cuyaba, which from thence stretches eastward to the coastal region.
It is at any rate certain that this inland region of Brazil, including
the state of Matto Grosso, which we were traversing, is a healthy
region, excellently adapted to settlement; railroads will speedily
penetrate it, and then it will witness an astonishing development.

On the morning of the 28th we reached the home buildings of the great
Sao Joao fazenda, the ranch of Senhor Joao da Costa Marques. Our host
himself, and his son, Dom Joao the younger, who was state secretary of
agriculture, and the latter's charming wife, and the president of
Matto Grosso, and several other ladies and gentlemen, had come down
the river to greet us, from the city of Cuyaba, several hundred miles
farther up-stream. As usual, we were treated with whole-hearted and
generous hospitality. Some miles below the ranch-house the party met
us, on a stern-wheel steamboat and a launch, both decked with many
flags. The handsome white ranch-house stood only a few rods back from
the river's brink, in a grassy opening dotted with those noble trees,
the royal palms. Other trees, buildings of all kinds, flower-gardens,
vegetable-gardens, fields, corrals, and enclosures with high white
walls stood near the house. A detachment of soldiers or state police,
with a band, were in front of the house, and two flagpoles, one with
the Brazilian flag already hoisted. The American flag was run up on
the other as I stepped ashore, while the band played the national
anthems of the two countries. The house held much comfort; and the
comfort was all the more appreciated because even indoors the
thermometer stood at 97 degrees F. In the late afternoon heavy rain
fell, and cooled the air. We were riding at the time. Around the house
the birds were tame: the parrots and parakeets crowded and chattered
in the tree tops; jacanas played in the wet ground just back of the
garden; ibises and screamers called loudly in the swamps a little
distance off.

Until we came actually in sight of this great ranch-house we had been
passing through a hot, fertile, pleasant wilderness, where the few
small palm-roofed houses, each in its little patch of sugar-cane,
corn, and mandioc, stood very many miles apart. One of these little
houses stood on an old Indian mound, exactly like the mounds which
form the only hillocks along the lower Mississippi, and which are also
of Indian origin. These occasional Indian mounds, made ages ago, are
the highest bits of ground in the immense swamps of the upper Paraguay
region. There are still Indian tribes in this neighborhood. We passed
an Indian fishing village on the edge of the river, with huts,
scaffoldings for drying the fish, hammocks, and rude tables. They
cultivated patches of bananas and sugar-cane. Out in a shallow place
in the river was a scaffolding on which the Indians stood to spear
fish. The Indians were friendly, peaceable souls, for the most part
dressed like the poorer classes among the Brazilians.

Next morning there was to have been a great rodeo or round-up, and we
determined to have a hunt first, as there were still several kinds of
beasts of the chase, notably tapirs and peccaries, of which the
naturalists desired specimens. Dom Joao, our host, and his son
accompanied us. Theirs is a noteworthy family. Born in Matto Grosso,
in the tropics, our host had the look of a northerner and, although a
grandfather, he possessed an abounding vigor and energy such as very
few men of any climate or surroundings do possess. All of his sons are
doing well. The son who was with us was a stalwart, powerful man, a
pleasant companion, an able public servant, a finished horseman, and a
skilled hunter. He carried a sharp spear, not a rifle, for in Matto
Grosso it is the custom in hunting the jaguar for riflemen and
spearmen to go in at him together when he turns at bay, the spearman
holding him off if the first shot fails to stop him, so that another
shot can be put in. Altogether, our host and his son reminded one of
the best type of American ranchmen and planters, of those planters and
ranchmen who are adepts in bold and manly field sports, who are
capital men of business, and who also often supply to the state
skilled and faithful public servants. The hospitality the father and
son extended to us was patriarchal: neither, for instance, would sit
at table with their guests at the beginning of the formal meals;
instead they exercised a close personal supervision over the feast.
Our charming hostess, however, sat at the head of the table.

At six in the morning we started, all of us on fine horses. The day
was lowering and overcast. A dozen dogs were with us, but only one or
two were worth anything. Three or four ordinary countrymen, the ranch
hands, or vaqueiros, accompanied us; they were mainly of Indian blood,
and would have been called peons, or caboclos, in other parts of
Brazil, but here were always spoken to and of as "camaradas." They
were, of course, chosen from among the men who were hunters, and each
carried his long, rather heavy and clumsy jaguar-spear. In front rode
our vigorous host and his strapping son, the latter also carrying a
jaguar-spear. The bridles and saddles of the big ranchmen and of the
gentlefolk generally were handsome and were elaborately ornamented
with silver. The stirrups, for instance, were not only of silver, but
contained so much extra metal in ornamented bars and rings that they
would have been awkward for less-practised riders. Indeed, as it was,
they were adapted only for the tips of boots with long, pointed toes,
and were impossible for our feet; our hosts' stirrups were long,
narrow silver slippers. The camaradas, on the other hand, had jim-crow
saddles and bridles, and rusty little iron stirrups into which they
thrust their naked toes. But all, gentry and commonalty alike, rode
equally well and with the same skill and fearlessness. To see our
hosts gallop at headlong speed over any kind of country toward the
sound of the dogs with their quarry at bay, or to see them handle
their horses in a morass, was a pleasure. It was equally a pleasure to
see a camarada carrying his heavy spear, leading a hound in a leash,
and using his machete to cut his way through the tangled vine-ropes of
a jungle, all at the same time and all without the slightest reference
to the plunges, and the odd and exceedingly jerky behavior, of his
wild, half-broken horse--for on such a ranch most of the horses are
apt to come in the categories of half-broken or else of broken-down.
One dusky tatterdemalion wore a pair of boots from which he had
removed the soles, his bare, spur-clad feet projecting from beneath
the uppers. He was on a little devil of a stallion, which he rode
blindfold for a couple of miles, and there was a regular circus when
he removed the bandage; but evidently it never occurred to him that
the animal was hardly a comfortable riding-horse for a man going out
hunting and encumbered with a spear, a machete, and other belongings.

The eight hours that we were out we spent chiefly in splashing across
the marshes, with excursions now and then into vine-tangled belts and
clumps of timber. Some of the bayous we had to cross were
uncomfortably boggy. We had to lead the horses through one, wading
ahead of them; and even so two of them mired down, and their saddles
had to be taken off before they could be gotten out. Among the marsh
plants were fields and strips of the great caete rush. These caete
flags towered above the other and lesser marsh plants. They were
higher than the heads of the horsemen. Their two or three huge banana-
like leaves stood straight up on end. The large brilliant flowers--
orange, red, and yellow--were joined into a singularly shaped and
solid string or cluster. Humming-birds buzzed round these flowers; one
species, the sickle-billed hummer, has its bill especially adapted for
use in these queerly shaped blossoms and gets its food only from them,
never appearing around any other plant.

The birds were tame, even those striking and beautiful birds which
under man's persecution are so apt to become scarce and shy. The huge
jabiru storks, stalking through the water with stately dignity,
sometimes refused to fly until we were only a hundred yards off; one
of them flew over our heads at a distance of thirty or forty yards.
The screamers, crying curu-curu, and the ibises, wailing dolefully,
came even closer. The wonderful hyacinth macaws, in twos and threes,
accompanied us at times for several hundred yards, hovering over our
heads and uttering their rasping screams. In one wood we came on the
black howler monkey. The place smelt almost like a menagerie. Not
watching with sufficient care I brushed against a sapling on which the
venomous fire-ants swarmed. They burnt the skin like red-hot cinders,
and left little sores. More than once in the drier parts of the marsh
we met small caymans making their way from one pool to another. My
horse stepped over one before I saw it. The dead carcasses of others
showed that on their wanderings they had encountered jaguars or human

We had been out about three hours when one of the dogs gave tongue in
a large belt of woodland and jungle to the left of our line of march
through the marsh. The other dogs ran to the sound, and after a while
the long barking told that the thing, whatever it was, was at bay or
else in some refuge. We made our way toward the place on foot. The
dogs were baying excitedly at the mouth of a huge hollow log, and very
short examination showed us that there were two peccaries within,
doubtless a boar and sow. However, just at this moment the peccaries
bolted from an unsuspected opening at the other end of the log, dove
into the tangle, and instantly disappeared with the hounds in full cry
after them. It was twenty minutes later before we again heard the pack
baying. With much difficulty, and by the incessant swinging of the
machetes, we opened a trail through the network of vines and branches.
This time there was only one peccary, the boar. He was at bay in a
half-hollow stump. The dogs were about his head, raving with
excitement, and it was not possible to use the rifle; so I borrowed
the spear of Dom Joao the younger, and killed the fierce little boar

This was an animal akin to our collared peccary, smaller and less
fierce than its white-jawed kinsfolk. It is a valiant and truculent
little beast, nevertheless, and if given the chance will bite a piece
the size of a teacup out of either man or dog. It is found singly or
in small parties, feeds on roots, fruits, grass, and delights to make
its home in hollow logs. If taken young it makes an affectionate and
entertaining pet. When the two were in the hollow log we heard them
utter a kind of moaning, or menacing, grunt, long drawn.

An hour or two afterward we unexpectedly struck the fresh tracks of
two jaguars and at once loosed the dogs, who tore off yelling, on the
line of the scent. Unfortunately, just at this moment the clouds burst
and a deluge of rain drove in our faces. So heavy was the downpour
that the dogs lost the trail and we lost the dogs. We found them again
only owing to one of our caboclos; an Indian with a queer Mongolian
face, and no brain at all that I could discover, apart from his
special dealings with wild creatures, cattle, and horses. He rode in a
huddle of rags; but nothing escaped his eyes, and he rode anything
anywhere. The downpour continued so heavily that we knew the rodeo had
been abandoned, and we turned our faces for the long, dripping,
splashing ride homeward. Through the gusts of driving rain we could
hardly see the way. Once the rain lightened, and half a mile away the
sunshine gleamed through a rift in the leaden cloud-mass. Suddenly in
this rift of shimmering brightness there appeared a flock of beautiful
white egrets. With strong, graceful wing-beats the birds urged their
flight, their plumage flashing in the sun. They then crossed the rift
and were swallowed in the gray gloom of the day.

On the marsh the dogs several times roused capybaras. Where there were
no ponds of sufficient size the capybaras sought refuge in flight
through the tangled marsh. They ran well. Kermit and Fiala went after
one on foot, full-speed, for a mile and a half, with two hounds which
then bayed it--literally bayed it, for the capybara fought with the
courage of a gigantic woodchuck. If the pack overtook a capybara, they
of course speedily finished it; but a single dog of our not very
valorous outfit was not able to overmatch its shrill-squeaking

Near the ranch-house, about forty feet up in a big tree, was a
jabiru's nest containing young jabirus. The young birds exercised
themselves by walking solemnly round the edge of the nest and opening
and shutting their wings. Their heads and necks were down-covered,
instead of being naked like those of their parents. Fiala wished to
take a moving-picture of them while thus engaged, and so, after
arranging his machine, he asked Harper to rouse the young birds by
throwing a stick up to the nest. He did so, whereupon one young jabiru
hastily opened its wings in the desired fashion, at the same time
seizing the stick in its bill! It dropped it at once, with an air of
comic disappointment, when it found that the stick was not edible.

There were many strange birds round about. Toucans were not uncommon.
I have never seen any other bird take such grotesque and comic
attitudes as the toucan. This day I saw one standing in the top of a
tree with the big bill pointing straight into the air and the tail
also cocked perpendicularly. The toucan is a born comedian. On the
river and in the ponds we saw the finfoot, a bird with feet like a
grebe and bill and tail like those of a darter, but, like so many
South American birds, with no close affiliations among other species.
The exceedingly rich bird fauna of South America contains many species
which seem to be survivals from a very remote geologic past, whose
kinsfolk have perished under the changed conditions of recent ages;
and in the case of many, like the hoatzin and screamer, their like is
not known elsewhere. Herons of many species swarmed in this
neighborhood. The handsomest was the richly colored tiger bittern. Two
other species were so unlike ordinary herons that I did not recognize
them as herons at all until Cherrie told me what they were. One had a
dark body, a white-speckled or ocellated neck, and a bill almost like
that of an ibis. The other looked white, but was really mauve-colored,
with black on the head. When perched on a tree it stood like an ibis;
and instead of the measured wing-beats characteristic of a heron's
flight, it flew with a quick, vigorous flapping of the wings. There
were queer mammals, too, as well as birds. In the fields Miller
trapped mice of a kind entirely new.

Next morning the sky was leaden, and a drenching rain fell as we began
our descent of the river. The rainy season had fairly begun. For our
good fortune we were still where we had the cabins aboard the boat,
and the ranch-house, in which to dry our clothes and soggy shoes; but
in the intensely humid atmosphere, hot and steaming, they stayed wet a
long time, and were still moist when we put them on again. Before we
left the house where we had been treated with such courteous
hospitality--the finest ranch-house in Matto Grosso, on a huge ranch
where there are some sixty thousand head of horned cattle--the son of
our host, Dom Joao the younger, the jaguar-hunter, presented me with
two magnificent volumes on the palms of Brazil, the work of Doctor
Barboso Rodriguez, one-time director of the Botanical Gardens at Rio
Janeiro. The two folios were in a box of native cedar. No gift more
appropriate, none that I would in the future value more as a reminder
of my stay in Matto Grosso, could have been given me.

All that afternoon the rain continued. It was still pouring in
torrents when we left the Cuyaba for the Sao Lourenco and steamed up
the latter a few miles before anchoring; Dom Joao the younger had
accompanied us in his launch. The little river steamer was of very
open build, as is necessary in such a hot climate; and to keep things
dry necessitated also keeping the atmosphere stifling. The German
taxidermist who was with Colonel Rondon's party, Reinisch, a very good
fellow from Vienna, sat on a stool, alternately drenched with rain and
sweltering with heat, and muttered to himself: "Ach, Schweinerei!"

Two small caymans, of the common species, with prominent eyes, were at
the bank where we moored, and betrayed an astonishing and stupid
tameness. Neither the size of the boat nor the commotion caused by the
paddles in any way affected them. They lay inshore, not twenty feet
from us, half out of water; they paid not the slightest heed to our
presence, and only reluctantly left when repeatedly poked at, and
after having been repeatedly hit with clods of mud and sticks; and
even then one first crawled up on shore, to find out if thereby he
could not rid himself of the annoyance we caused him.

Next morning it was still raining, but we set off on a hunt,
anyway, going afoot. A couple of brown camaradas led the way, and
Colonel Rondon, Dom Joao, Kermit, and I followed. The incessant
downpour speedily wet us to the skin. We made our way slowly through
the forest, the machetes playing right and left, up and down, at every
step, for the trees were tangled in a network of vines and creepers.
Some of the vines were as thick as a man's leg. Mosquitoes hummed
about us, the venomous fire-ants stung us, the sharp spines of a small
palm tore our hands--afterward some of the wounds festered. Hour after
hour we thus walked on through the Brazilian forest. We saw monkeys,
the common yellowish kind, a species of cebus; a couple were shot for
the museum and the others raced off among the upper branches of the
trees. Then we came on a party of coatis, which look like reddish,
long-snouted, long-tailed, lanky raccoons. They were in the top of a
big tree. One, when shot at and missed, bounced down to the ground,
and ran off through the bushes; Kermit ran after it and secured it. He
came back, to find us peering hopelessly up into the tree top, trying
to place where the other coatis were. Kermit solved the difficulty by
going up along some huge twisted lianas for forty or fifty feet and
exploring the upper branches; whereupon down came three other coatis
through the branches, one being caught by the dogs and the other two
escaping. Coatis fight savagely with both teeth and claws. Miller told
us that he once saw one of them kill a dog. They feed on all small
mammals, birds, and reptiles, and even on some large ones; they kill
iguanas; Cherrie saw a rattling chase through the trees, a coati
following an iguana at full speed. We heard the rush of a couple of
tapirs, as they broke away in the jungle in front of the dogs and
headed, according to their custom, for the river; but we never saw
them. One of the party shot a bush deer--a very pretty, graceful
creature, smaller than our whitetail deer, but kin to it and doubtless
the southernmost representative of the whitetail group.

The whitetail deer--using the word to designate a group of deer which
can neither be called a subgenus with many species, nor a widely
spread species diverging into many varieties--is the only North
American species which has spread down into and has outlying
representatives in South America. It has been contended that the
species has spread from South America northward. I do not think so;
and the specimen thus obtained furnished a probable refutation of the
theory. It was a buck, and had just shed its small antlers. The
antlers are, therefore, shed at the same time as in the north, and it
appears that they are grown at the same time as in the north. Yet this
variety now dwells in the tropics south of the equator, where the
spring, and the breeding season for most birds, comes at the time of
the northern fall in September, October, and November. That the deer
is an intrusive immigrant, and that it has not yet been in South
America long enough to change its mating season in accordance with the
climate, as the birds--geologically doubtless very old residents--have
changed their breeding season, is rendered probable by the fact that
it conforms so exactly in the time of its antler growth to the
universal rule which obtains in the great arctogeal realm, where deer
of many species abound and where the fossil forms show that they have
long existed. The marsh-deer, which has diverged much further from the
northern type than this bush deer (its horns show a likeness to those
of a blacktail), often keeps its antlers until June or July, although
it begins to grow them again in August; however, too much stress must
not be laid on this fact, inasmuch as the wapiti and the cow caribou
both keep their antlers until spring. The specialization of the marsh-
deer, by the way, is further shown in its hoofs, which, thanks to its
semi-aquatic mode of life, have grown long, like those of such African
swamp antelopes as the lechwe and situtunga.

Miller, when we presented the monkeys to him, told us that the females
both of these monkeys and of the howlers themselves took care of the
young, the males not assisting them, and moreover that when the young
one was a male he had always found the mother keeping by herself, away
from the old males. On the other hand, among the marmosets he found
the fathers taking as much care of the young as the mothers; if the
mother had twins, the father would usually carry one, and sometimes
both, around with him.

After we had been out four hours our camaradas got lost; three several
times they travelled round in a complete circle; and we had to set
them right with the compass. About noon the rain, which had been
falling almost without interruption for forty-eight hours, let up, and
in an hour or two the sun came out. We went back to the river, and
found our rowboat. In it the hounds--a motley and rather worthless
lot--and the rest of the party were ferried across to the opposite
bank, while Colonel Rondon and I stayed in the boat, on the chance
that a tapir might be roused and take to the river. However, no tapir
was found; Kermit killed a collared peccary, and I shot a capybara
representing a color-phase the naturalists wished.

Next morning, January 1, 1914, we were up at five and had a good New
Year's Day breakfast of hardtack, ham, sardines, and coffee before
setting out on an all day's hunt on foot. I much feared that the pack
was almost or quite worthless for jaguars, but there were two or three
of the great spotted cats in the neighborhood and it seemed worth
while to make a try for them anyhow. After an hour or two we found
the fresh tracks of two, and after them we went. Our party consisted
of Colonel Rondon, Lieutenant Rogaciano--an excellent man, himself a
native of Matto Grosso, of old Matto Grosso stock--two others of the
party from the Sao Joao ranch, Kermit, and myself, together with four
dark-skinned camaradas, cowhands from the same ranch. We soon found
that the dogs would not by themselves follow the jaguar trail; nor
would the camaradas, although they carried spears. Kermit was the one
of our party who possessed the requisite speed, endurance, and
eyesight, and accordingly he led. Two of the dogs would follow the
track half a dozen yards ahead of him, but no farther; and two of the
camaradas could just about keep up with him. For an hour we went
through thick jungle, where the machetes were constantly at work. Then
the trail struck off straight across the marshes, for jaguars swim and
wade as freely as marsh-deer. It was a hard walk. The sun was out. We
were drenched with sweat. We were torn by the spines of the
innumerable clusters of small palms with thorns like needles. We were
bitten by the hosts of fire-ants, and by the mosquitoes, which we
scarcely noticed where the fire-ants were found, exactly as all dread
of the latter vanished when we were menaced by the big red wasps, of
which a dozen stings will disable a man, and if he is weak or in bad
health will seriously menace his life. In the marsh we were
continually wading, now up to our knees, now up to our hips. Twice we
came to long bayous so deep that we had to swim them, holding our
rifles above water in our right hands. The floating masses of marsh
grass, and the slimy stems of the water-plants, doubled our work as we
swam, cumbered by our clothing and boots and holding our rifles aloft.
One result of the swim, by the way, was that my watch, a veteran of
Cuba and Africa, came to an indignant halt. Then on we went, hampered
by the weight of our drenched clothes while our soggy boots squelched
as we walked. There was no breeze. In the undimmed sky the sun stood
almost overhead. The heat beat on us in waves. By noon I could only go
forward at a slow walk, and two of the party were worse off than I
was. Kermit, with the dogs and two camaradas close behind him,
disappeared across the marshes at a trot. At last, when he was out of
sight, and it was obviously useless to follow him, the rest of us
turned back toward the boat. The two exhausted members of the party
gave out, and we left them under a tree. Colonel Rondon and Lieutenant
Rogaciano were not much tired; I was somewhat tired, but was perfectly
able to go for several hours more if I did not try to go too fast; and
we three walked on to the river, reaching it about half past four,
after eleven hours' stiff walking with nothing to eat. We were soon on
the boat. A relief party went back for the two men under the tree, and
soon after it reached them Kermit also turned up with his hounds and
his camaradas trailing wearily behind him. He had followed the jaguar
trail until the dogs were so tired that even after he had bathed them,
and then held their noses in the fresh footprints, they would pay no
heed to the scent. A hunter of scientific tastes, a hunter-naturalist,
or even an outdoors naturalist, or faunal naturalist interested in big
mammals, with a pack of hounds such as those with which Paul Rainey
hunted lion and leopard in Africa, or such a pack as the packs of
Johnny Goff and Jake Borah with which I hunted cougar, lynx, and bear
in the Rockies, or such packs as those of the Mississippi and
Louisiana planters with whom I have hunted bear, wild-cat, and deer in
the cane-brakes of the lower Mississippi, would not only enjoy fine
hunting in these vast marshes of the upper Paraguay, but would also do
work of real scientific value as regards all the big cats.

Only a limited number of the naturalists who have worked in the
tropics have had any experience with the big beasts whose life-
histories possess such peculiar interest. Of all the biologists who
have seriously studied the South American fauna on the ground, Bates
probably rendered most service; but he hardly seems even to have seen
the animals with which the hunter is fairly familiar. His interests,
and those of the other biologists of his kind, lay in other
directions. In consequence, in treating of the life-histories of the
very interesting big game, we have been largely forced to rely either
on native report, in which acutely accurate observation is invariably
mixed with wild fable, or else on the chance remarks of travellers or
mere sportsmen, who had not the training to make them understand even
what it was desirable to observe. Nowadays there is a growing
proportion of big-game hunters, of sportsmen, who are of the
Schilling, Selous, and Shiras type. These men do work of capital value
for science. The mere big-game butcher is tending to disappear as a
type. On the other hand, the big-game hunter who is a good observer, a
good field naturalist, occupies at present a more important position
than ever before, and it is now recognized that he can do work which
the closest naturalist cannot do. The big-game hunter of this type and
the outdoors, faunal naturalist, the student of the life-histories of
big mammals, have open to them in South America a wonderful field in
which to work.

The fire-ants, of which I have above spoken, are generally found on a
species of small tree or sapling, with a greenish trunk. They bend the
whole body as they bite, the tail and head being thrust downward. A
few seconds after the bite the poison causes considerable pain; later
it may make a tiny festering sore. There is certainly the most
extraordinary diversity in the traits by which nature achieves the
perpetuation of species. Among the warrior and predaceous insects the
prowess is in some cases of such type as to render the possessor
practically immune from danger. In other cases the condition of its
exercise may normally be the sacrifice of the life of the possessor.
There are wasps that prey on formidable fighting spiders, which yet
instinctively so handle themselves that the prey practically never
succeeds in either defending itself or retaliating, being captured and
paralyzed with unerring efficiency and with entire security to the
wasp. The wasp's safety is absolute. On the other hand, these fighting
ants, including the soldiers even among the termites, are frantically
eager for a success which generally means their annihilation; the
condition of their efficiency is absolute indifference to their own
security. Probably the majority of the ants that actually lay hold on
a foe suffer death in consequence; certainly they not merely run the
risk of but eagerly invite death.

The following day we descended the Sao Lourenco to its junction with
the Paraguay, and once more began the ascent of the latter. At one
cattle-ranch where we stopped, the troupials, or big black and yellow
orioles, had built a large colony of their nests on a dead tree near
the primitive little ranch-house. The birds were breeding; the old
ones were feeding the young. In this neighborhood the naturalists
found many birds that were new to them, including a tiny woodpecker no
bigger than a ruby-crowned kinglet. They had collected two night
monkeys--nocturnal monkeys, not as agile as the ordinary monkey; these
two were found at dawn, having stayed out too late.

The early morning was always lovely on these rivers, and at that hour
many birds and beasts were to be seen. One morning we saw a fine marsh
buck, holding his head aloft as he stared at us, his red coat vivid
against the green marsh. Another of these marsh-deer swam the river
ahead of us; I shot at it as it landed, and ought to have got it, but
did not. As always with these marsh-deer--and as with so many other
deer--I was struck by the revealing or advertising quality of its red
coloration; there was nothing in its normal surroundings with which
this coloration harmonized; so far as it had any effect whatever it
was always a revealing and not a concealing effect. When the animal
fled the black of the erect tail was an additional revealing mark,
although not of such startlingly advertising quality as the flag of
the whitetail. The whitetail, in one of its forms, and with the
ordinary whitetail custom of displaying the white flag as it runs, is
found in the immediate neighborhood of the swamp-deer. It has the same
foes. Evidently it is of no survival consequence whether the running
deer displays a white or a black flag. Any competent observer of big
game must be struck by the fact that in the great majority of the
species the coloration is not concealing, and that in many it has a
highly revealing quality. Moreover, if the spotted or striped young
represent the ancestral coloration, and if, as seems probable, the
spots and stripes have, on the whole, some slight concealing value, it
is evident that in the life history of most of these large mammals,
both among those that prey and those that are preyed on, concealing
coloration has not been a survival factor; throughout the ages during
which they have survived they have gradually lost whatever of
concealing coloration they may once have had--if any--and have
developed a coloration which under present conditions has no
concealing and perhaps even has a revealing quality, and which in all
probability never would have had a concealing value in any
"environmental complex" in which the species as a whole lived during
its ancestral development. Indeed, it seems astonishing, when one
observes these big beasts--and big waders and other water-birds--in
their native surroundings, to find how utterly non-harmful their often
strikingly revealing coloration is. Evidently the various other
survival factors, such as habit, and in many cases cover, etc., are of
such overmastering importance that the coloration is generally of no
consequence whatever, one way or the other, and is only very rarely a
factor of any serious weight.

The junction of the Sao Lourenco and the Paraguay is a day's journey
above Corumba. From Corumba there is a regular service by shallow
steamers to Cuyaba, at the head of one fork, and to Sao Luis de
Caceres, at the head of the other. The steamers are not powerful and
the voyage to each little city takes a week. There are other forks
that are navigable. Above Cuyaba and Caceres launches go up-stream for
several days' journey, except during the dryest parts of the season.
North of this marshy plain lies the highland, the Plan Alto, where the
nights are cool and the climate healthy. But I wish emphatically to
record my view that these marshy plains, although hot, are also
healthy; and, moreover, the mosquitoes, in most places, are not in
sufficient numbers to be a serious pest, although of course there must
be nets for protection against them at night. The country is
excellently suited for settlement, and offers a remarkable field for
cattle-growing. Moreover, it is a paradise for water-birds and for
many other kinds of birds, and for many mammals. It is literally an
ideal place in which a field naturalist could spend six months or a
year. It is readily accessible, it offers an almost virgin field for
work, and the life would be healthy as well as delightfully
attractive. The man should have a steam-launch. In it he could with
comfort cover all parts of the country from south of Corumbra to north
of Cuyaba and Caceres. There would have to be a good deal of
collecting (although nothing in the nature of butchery should be
tolerated), for the region has only been superficially worked,
especially as regards mammals. But if the man were only a collector he
would leave undone the part of the work best worth doing. The region
offers extraordinary opportunities for the study of the life-histories
of birds which, because of their size, their beauty, or their habits,
are of exceptional interest. All kinds of problems would be worked
out. For example, on the morning of the 3rd, as we were ascending the
Paraguay, we again and again saw in the trees on the bank big nests of
sticks, into and out of which parakeets were flying by the dozen. Some
of them had straws or twigs in their bills. In some of the big
globular nests we could make out several holes of exit or entrance.
Apparently these parakeets were building or remodelling communal
nests; but whether they had themselves built these nests, or had taken
old nests and added to or modified them, we could not tell. There was
so much of interest all along the banks that we were continually
longing to stop and spend days where we were. Mixed flocks of scores
of cormorants and darters covered certain trees, both at sunset and
after sunrise. Although there was no deep forest, merely belts or
fringes of trees along the river, or in patches back of it, we
frequently saw monkeys in this riverine tree-fringe--active common
monkeys and black howlers of more leisurely gait. We saw caymans and
capybaras sitting socially near one another on the sandbanks. At night
we heard the calling of large flights of tree-ducks. These were now
the most common of all the ducks, although there were many muscovy
ducks also. The evenings were pleasant and not hot, as we sat on the
forward deck; there was a waxing moon. The screamers were among the
most noticeable birds. They were noisy; they perched on the very tops
of the trees, not down among the branches; and they were not shy. They
should be carefully protected by law, for they readily become tame,
and then come familiarly round the houses. From the steamer we now and
then saw beautiful orchids in the trees on the river bank.

One afternoon we stopped at the home buildings or headquarters of one
of the great outlying ranches of the Brazil Land and Cattle Company,
the Farquahar syndicate, under the management of Murdo Mackenzie--than
whom we have in the United States no better citizen or more competent
cattleman. On this ranch there are some seventy thousand head of
stock. We were warmly greeted by McLean, the head of the ranch, and
his assistant Ramsey, an old Texan friend. Among the other assistants,
all equally cordial, were several Belgians and Frenchmen. The hands
were Paraguayans and Brazilians, and a few Indians--a hard-bit set,
each of whom always goes armed and knows how to use his arms, for
there are constant collisions with cattle thieves from across the
Bolivian border, and the ranch has to protect itself. These cowhands,
vaqueiros, were of the type with which we were now familiar: dark-
skinned, lean, hard-faced men, in slouch-hats, worn shirts and
trousers, and fringed leather aprons, with heavy spurs on their bare
feet. They are wonderful riders and ropers, and fear neither man nor
beast. I noticed one Indian vaqueiro standing in exactly the attitude
of a Shilluk of the White Nile, with the sole of one foot against the
other leg, above the knee. This is a region with extraordinary
possibilities of cattle-raising.

At this ranch there was a tannery; a slaughter-house; a cannery; a
church; buildings of various kinds and all degrees of comfort for the
thirty or forty families who made the place their headquarters; and
the handsome, white, two-story big house, standing among lemon-trees
and flamboyants on the river-brink. There were all kinds of pets
around the house. The most fascinating was a wee, spotted fawn which
loved being petted. Half a dozen curassows of different species
strolled through the rooms; there were also parrots of several
different species, and immediately outside the house four or five
herons, with unclipped wings, which would let us come within a few
feet and then fly gracefully off, shortly afterward returning to the
same spot. They included big and little white egrets and also the
mauve and pearl-colored heron, with a partially black head and many-
colored bill, which flies with quick, repeated wing-flappings, instead
of the usual slow heron wing-beats.

In the warehouse were scores of skins of jaguar, puma, ocelot, and
jaguarundi, and one skin of the big, small-toothed red wolf. These
were all brought in by the cowhands and by friendly Indians, a price
being put on each, as they destroyed the stock. The jaguars
occasionally killed horses and full-grown cows, but not bulls. The
pumas killed the calves. The others killed an occasional very young
calf, but ordinarily only sheep, little pigs, and chickens. There was
one black jaguar-skin; melanism is much more common among jaguars than
pumas, although once Miller saw a black puma that had been killed by
Indians. The patterns of the jaguar-skins, and even more of the
ocelot-skins, showed wide variation, no two being alike. The pumas
were for the most part bright red, but some were reddish gray, there
being much the same dichromatism that I found among their Colorado
kinsfolk. The jaguarundis were dark brownish gray. All these animals,
the spotted jaguars and ocelots, the monochrome black jaguars, red
pumas, and dark-gray jaguarundis, were killed in the same locality,
with the same environment. A glance at the skins and a moment's
serious thought would have been enough to show any sincere thinker that
in these cats the coloration pattern, whether concealing or revealing,
is of no consequence one way or the other as a survival factor. The
spotted patterns conferred no benefit as compared with the nearly or
quite monochrome blacks, reds, and dark grays. The bodily condition of
the various beasts was equally good, showing that their success in
life, that is, their ability to catch their prey, was unaffected by
their several color schemes. Except white, there is no color so
conspicuously advertising as black; yet the black jaguar had been a
fine, well-fed, powerful beast. The spotted patterns in the forests,
and perhaps even in the marshes which the jaguars so frequently
traversed, are probably a shade less conspicuous than the monochrome
red and gray, but the puma and jaguarundi are just as hard to see, and
evidently find it just as easy to catch prey, as the jaguar and
ocelot. The little fawn which we saw was spotted; the grown deer had
lost the spots; if the spots do really help to conceal the wearer, it
is evident that the deer has found the original concealing coloration
of so little value that it has actually been lost in the course of the
development of the species. When these big cats and the deer are
considered, together with the dogs, tapirs, peccaries, capybaras, and
big ant-eaters which live in the same environment, and when we also
consider the difference between the young and the adult deer and
tapirs (both of which when adult have substituted a complete or
partial monochrome for the ancestral spots and streaks), it is evident
that in the present life and in the ancestral development of the big
mammals of South America coloration is not and has not been a survival
factor; any pattern and any color may accompany the persistence and
development of the qualities and attributes which are survival
factors. Indeed, it seems hard to believe that in their ordinary
environments such color schemes as the bright red of the marsh-deer,
the black of the black jaguar, and the black with white stripes of the
great tamandua, are not positive detriments to the wearers. Yet such
is evidently not the case. Evidently the other factors in species-
survival are of such overwhelming importance that the coloration
becomes negligible from this standpoint, whether it be concealing or
revealing. The cats mould themselves to the ground as they crouch or
crawl. They take advantage of the tiniest scrap of cover. They move
with extraordinary stealth and patience. The other animals which try
to sneak off in such manner as to escape observation approach more or
less closely to the ideal which the cats most nearly realize.
Wariness, sharp senses, the habit of being rigidly motionless when
there is the least suspicion of danger, and ability to take advantage
of cover, all count. On the bare, open, treeless plain, whether marsh,
meadow, or upland, anything above the level of the grass is seen at
once. A marsh-deer out in the open makes no effort to avoid
observation; its concern is purely to see its foes in time to leave a
dangerous neighborhood. The deer of the neighboring forest skulk and
hide and lie still in dense cover to avoid being seen. The white-
lipped peccaries make no effort to escape observation by being either
noiseless or motionless; they trust for defence to their
gregariousness and truculence. The collared peccary also trusts to its
truculence, but seeks refuge in a hole where it can face any opponent
with its formidable biting apparatus. As for the giant tamandua, in
spite of its fighting prowess I am wholly unable to understand how
such a slow and clumsy beast has been able through the ages to exist
and thrive surrounded by jaguars and pumas. Speaking generally, the
animals that seek to escape observation trust primarily to smell to
discover their foes or their prey, and see whatever moves and do not
see whatever is motionless.

By the morning of January 5 we had left the marsh region. There were
low hills here and there, and the land was covered with dense forest.
From time to time we passed little clearings with palm-thatched
houses. We were approaching Caceres, where the easiest part of our
trip would end. We had lived in much comfort on the little steamer.
The food was plentiful and the cooking good. At night we slept on deck
in cots or hammocks. The mosquitoes were rarely troublesome, although
in the daytime we were sometimes bothered by numbers of biting horse-
flies. The bird life was wonderful. One of the characteristic sights
we were always seeing was that of a number of heads and necks of
cormorants and snake-birds, without any bodies, projecting above
water, and disappearing as the steamer approached. Skimmers and thick-
billed tern were plentiful here right in the heart of the continent.
In addition to the spurred lapwing, characteristic and most
interesting resident of most of South America, we found tiny red-
legged plover which also breed and are at home in the tropics. The
contrasts in habits between closely allied species are wonderful.
Among the plovers and bay snipe there are species that live all the
year round in almost the same places, in tropical and subtropical
lands; and other related forms which wander over the whole earth, and
spend nearly all their time, now in the arctic and cold temperate
regions of the far north, now in the cold temperate regions of the
south. These latter wide-wandering birds of the seashore and the river
bank pass most of their lives in regions of almost perpetual sunlight.
They spend the breeding season, the northern summer, in the land of
the midnight sun, during the long arctic day. They then fly for
endless distances down across the north temperate zone, across the
equator, through the lands where the days and nights are always of
equal length, into another hemisphere, and spend another summer of
long days and long twilights in the far south, where the Antarctic
winds cool them, while their nesting home, at the other end of the
world, is shrouded beneath the iron desolation of the polar night.

In the late afternoon of the 5th we reached the quaint old-fashioned
little town of Sao Luis de Caceres, on the outermost fringe of the
settled region of the state of Matto Grosso, the last town we should
see before reaching the villages of the Amazon. As we approached we
passed half-clad black washerwomen on the river's edge. The men, with
the local band, were gathered at the steeply sloping foot of the main
street, where the steamer came to her moorings. Groups of women and
girls, white and brown, watched us from the low bluff; their skirts
and bodices were red, blue, green, of all colors. Sigg had gone ahead
with much of the baggage; he met us in an improvised motor-boat,
consisting of a dugout to the side of which he had clamped our
Evinrude motor; he was giving several of the local citizens of
prominence a ride, to their huge enjoyment. The streets of the little
town were unpaved, with narrow brick sidewalks. The one-story houses
were white or blue, with roofs of red tiles and window-shutters of
latticed woodwork, come down from colonial days and tracing back
through Christian and Moorish Portugal to a remote Arab ancestry.
Pretty faces, some dark, some light, looked out from these windows;
their mothers' mothers, for generations past, must thus have looked
out of similar windows in the vanished colonial days. But now even
here in Caceres the spirit of the new Brazil is moving; a fine new
government school has been started, and we met its principal, an
earnest man doing excellent work, one of the many teachers who, during
the last few years, have been brought to Matto Grosso from Sao Paulo,
a centre of the new educational movement which will do so much for

Father Zahm went to spend the night with some French Franciscan
friars, capital fellows. I spent the night at the comfortable house of
Lieutenant Lyra; a hot-weather house with thick walls, big doors, and
an open patio bordered by a gallery. Lieutenant Lyra was to accompany
us; he was an old companion of Colonel Rondon's explorations. We
visited one or two of the stores to make some final purchases, and in
the evening strolled through the dusky streets and under the trees of
the plaza; the women and girls sat in groups in the doorways or at the
windows, and here and there a stringed instrument tinkled in the

From Caceres onward we were entering the scene of Colonel Rondon's
explorations. For some eighteen years he was occupied in exploring and
in opening telegraph lines through the eastern or north middle part of
the great forest state, the wilderness state of the "Matto Grosso"--
the "great wilderness," or, as Australians would call it, "the bush."
Then, in 1907, he began to penetrate the unknown region lying to the
north and west. He was the head of the exploring expeditions sent out
by the Brazilian Government to traverse for the first time this
unknown land; to map for the first time the courses of the rivers
which from the same divide run into the upper portions of the Tapajos
and the Madeira, two of the mighty affluents of the Amazon, and to
build telegraph-lines across to the Madeira, where a line of Brazilian
settlements, connected by steamboat lines and a railroad, again
occurs. Three times he penetrated into this absolutely unknown,
Indian-haunted wilderness, being absent for a year or two at a time
and suffering every imaginable hardship, before he made his way
through to the Madeira and completed the telegraph-line across. The
officers and men of the Brazilian Army and the civilian scientists who
followed him shared the toil and the credit of the task. Some of his
men died of beriberi; some were killed or wounded by the Indians; he
himself almost died of fever; again and again his whole party was
reduced almost to the last extremity by starvation, disease, hardship,
and the over-exhaustion due to wearing fatigues. In dealing with the
wild, naked savages he showed a combination of fearlessness, wariness,
good judgment, and resolute patience and kindliness. The result was
that they ultimately became his firm friends, guarded the telegraph-
lines, and helped the few soldiers left at the isolated, widely
separated little posts. He and his assistants explored, and mapped for
the first time, the Juruena and the Gy-Parana, two important affluents
of the Tapajos and the Madeira respectively. The Tapajos and the
Madeira, like the Orinoco and Rio Negro, have been highways of travel
for a couple of centuries. The Madeira (as later the Tapajos) was the
chief means of ingress, a century and a half ago, to the little
Portuguese settlements of this far interior region of Brazil; one of
these little towns, named Matto Grosso, being the original capital of
the province. It has long been abandoned by the government, and
practically so by its inhabitants, the ruins of palace, fortress, and
church now rising amid the rank tropical luxuriance of the wild
forest. The mouths of the main affluents of these highway rivers were
as a rule well known. But in many cases nothing but the mouth was
known. The river itself was not known, and it was placed on the map by
guesswork. Colonel Rondon found, for example, that the course of the
Gy-Parana was put down on the map two degrees out of its proper place.
He, with his party, was the first to find out its sources, the first
to traverse its upper course, the first to map its length. He and his
assistants performed a similar service for the Juruena, discovering
the sources, discovering and descending some of the branches, and for
the first time making a trustworthy map of the main river itself,
until its junction with the Tapajos. Near the watershed between the
Juruena and the Gy-Parana he established his farthest station to the
westward, named Jose Bonofacio, after one of the chief republican
patriots of Brazil. A couple of days' march northwestward from this
station, he in 1909 came across a part of the stream of a river
running northward between the Gy-Parana and the Juruena; he could only
guess where it debouched, believing it to be into the Madeira,
although it was possible that it entered the Gy-Parana or Tapajos. The
region through which it flows was unknown, no civilized man having
ever penetrated it; and as all conjecture as to what the river was, as
to its length, and as to its place of entering into some highway
river, was mere guess-work, he had entered it on his sketch maps as
the Rio da Duvida, the River of Doubt. Among the officers of the
Brazilian Army and the scientific civilians who have accompanied him
there have been not only expert cartographers, photographers, and
telegraphists, but astronomers, geologists, botanists, and zoologists.
Their reports, published in excellent shape by the Brazilian
Government, make an invaluable series of volumes, reflecting the
highest credit on the explorers, and on the government itself. Colonel
Rondon's own accounts of his explorations, of the Indian tribes he has
visited, and of the beautiful and wonderful things he has seen,
possess a peculiar interest.


After leaving Caceres we went up the Sepotuba, which in the local
Indian dialect means River of Tapirs. This river is only navigable for
boats of size when the water is high. It is a swift, fairly clear
stream, rushing down from the Plan Alto, the high uplands, through the
tropical lowland forest. On the right hand, or western bank, and here
and there on the left bank, the forest is broken by natural pastures
and meadows, and at one of these places, known as Porto Campo, sixty
or seventy miles above the mouth, there is a good-sized cattle-ranch.
Here we halted, because the launch, and the two pranchas--native
trading-boats with houses on their decks--which it towed, could not
carry our entire party and outfit. Accordingly most of the baggage and
some of the party were sent ahead to where we were to meet our pack-
train, at Tapirapoan. Meanwhile the rest of us made our first camp
under tents at Porto Campo, to wait the return of the boats. The tents
were placed in a line, with the tent of Colonel Rondon and the tent in
which Kermit and I slept, in the middle, beside one another. In front
of these two, on tall poles, stood the Brazilian and American flags;
and at sunrise and sunset the flags were hoisted and hauled down while
the trumpet sounded and all of us stood at attention. Camp was pitched
beside the ranch buildings. In the trees near the tents grew wonderful
violet orchids.

Many birds were around us; I saw some of them, and Cherrie and Miller
many, many more. They ranged from party-colored macaws, green parrots,
and big gregarious cuckoos down to a brilliant green-and-chestnut
kingfisher, five and a quarter inches long, and a tiny orange-and-
green manakin, smaller than any bird I have ever seen except a hummer.
We also saw a bird that really was protectively colored; a kind of
whippoorwill which even the sharp-eyed naturalists could only make out
because it moved its head. We saw orange-bellied squirrels with showy
orange tails. Lizards were common. We killed our first poisonous snake
(the second we had seen), an evil lance-headed jararaca that was
swimming the river. We also saw a black-and-orange harmless snake,
nearly eight feet long, which we were told was akin to the mussurama;
and various other snakes. One day while paddling in a canoe on the
river, hoping that the dogs might drive a tapir to us, they drove into
the water a couple of small bush deer instead. There was no point in
shooting them; we caught them with ropes thrown over their heads; for
the naturalists needed them as specimens, and all of us needed the
meat. One of the men was stung by a single big red maribundi wasp. For
twenty-four hours he was in great pain and incapacitated for work. In
a lagoon two of the dogs had the tips of their tails bitten off by
piranhas as they swam, and the ranch hands told us that in this lagoon
one of their hounds had been torn to pieces and completely devoured by
the ravenous fish. It was a further illustration of the uncertainty of
temper and behavior of these ferocious little monsters. In other
lagoons they had again and again left us and our dogs unmolested. They
vary locally in aggressiveness just as sharks and crocodiles in
different seas and rivers vary.

On the morning of January 9th we started out for a tapir-hunt. Tapirs
are hunted with canoes, as they dwell in thick jungle and take to the
water when hounds follow them. In this region there were extensive
papyrus-swamps and big lagoons, back from the river, and often the
tapirs fled to these for refuge, throwing off the hounds. In these
places it was exceedingly difficult to get them; our best chance was
to keep to the river in canoes, and paddle toward the spot in the
direction of which the hounds, by the noise, seemed to be heading. We
started in four canoes. Three of them were Indian dugouts, very low in
the water. The fourth was our Canadian canoe, a beauty; light, safe,
roomy, made of thin slats of wood and cement-covered canvas. Colonel
Rondon, Fiala with his camera, and I went in this canoe, together with
two paddlers. The paddlers were natives of the poorer class. They were
good men. The bowsman was of nearly pure white blood; the steersman
was of nearly pure negro blood, and was evidently the stronger
character and better man of the two. The other canoes carried a couple
of fazendeiros, ranchmen, who had come up from Caceres with their
dogs. These dugouts were manned by Indian and half-caste paddlers, and
the fazendeiros, who were of nearly pure white blood, also at times
paddled vigorously. All were dressed in substantially similar clothes,
the difference being that those of the camaradas, the poorer men or
laborers, were in tatters. In the canoes no man wore anything save a
shirt, trousers, and hat, the feet being bare. On horseback they wore
long leather leggings which were really simply high, rather flexible
boots with the soles off; their spurs were on their tough bare feet.
There was every gradation between and among the nearly pure whites,
negroes, and Indians. On the whole, there was the most white blood in the
upper ranks, and most Indian and negro blood among the camaradas; but
there were exceptions in both classes, and there was no discrimination
on account of color. All alike were courteous and friendly.

The hounds were at first carried in two of the dugouts, and then let
loose on the banks. We went up-stream for a couple of hours against
the swift current, the paddlers making good headway with their pointed
paddles--the broad blade of each paddle was tipped with a long point,
so that it could be thrust into the mud to keep the low dugout against
the bank. The tropical forest came down almost like a wall, the tall
trees laced together with vines, and the spaces between their trunks
filled with a low, dense jungle. In most places it could only be
penetrated by a man with a machete. With few exceptions the trees were
unknown to me, and their native names told me nothing. On most of them
the foliage was thick; among the exceptions were the cecropias,
growing by preference on new-formed alluvial soil bare of other trees,
whose rather scanty leaf bunches were, as I was informed, the favorite
food of sloths. We saw one or two squirrels among the trees, and a
family of monkeys. There were few sand-banks in the river, and no
water-fowl save an occasional cormorant. But as we pushed along near
the shore, where the branches overhung and dipped in the swirling
water, we continually roused little flocks of bats. They were hanging
from the boughs right over the river, and when our approach roused
them they zigzagged rapidly in front of us for a few rods, and then
again dove in among the branches.

At last we landed at a point of ground where there was little jungle,
and where the forest was composed of palms and was fairly open. It was
a lovely bit of forest. The colonel strolled off in one direction,
returning an hour later with a squirrel for the naturalists. Meanwhile
Fiala and I went through the palm wood to a papyrus-swamp. Many trails
led through the woods, and especially along the borders of the swamp;
and, although their principal makers had evidently been cattle, yet
there were in them footprints of both tapir and deer. The tapir makes
a footprint much like that of a small rhinoceros, being one of the
odd-toed ungulates. We could hear the dogs now and then, evidently
scattered and running on various trails. They were a worthless lot of
cur-hounds. They would chase tapir or deer or anything else that ran
away from them as long as the trail was easy to follow; but they were
not stanch, even after animals that fled, and they would have nothing
whatever to do with animals that were formidable.

While standing by the marsh we heard something coming along one of the
game paths. In a moment a buck of the bigger species of bush deer
appeared, a very pretty and graceful creature. It stopped and darted
back as soon as it saw us, giving us no chance for a shot; but in
another moment we caught glimpses of it running by at full speed, back
among the palms. I covered an opening between two tree-trunks. By good
luck the buck appeared in the right place, giving me just time to hold
well ahead of him and fire. At the report he went down in a heap, the
"umbrella-pointed" bullet going in at one shoulder, and ranging
forward, breaking the neck. The leaden portion of the bullet, in the
proper mushroom or umbrella shape, stopped under the neck skin on the
farther side. It is a very effective bullet.

Miller particularly wished specimens of these various species of bush
deer, because their mutual relationships have not yet been
satisfactorily worked out. This was an old buck. The antlers were
single spikes, five or six inches long; they were old and white and
would soon have been shed. In the stomach were the remains of both
leaves and grasses, but especially the former; the buck was both a
browser and grazer. There were also seeds, but no berries or nuts such
as I have sometimes found in deer's stomachs. This species, which is
abundant in this neighborhood, is solitary in its habits, not going in
herds. At this time the rut was past, the bucks no longer sought the
does, the fawns had not been born, and the yearlings had left their
mothers; so that each animal usually went by itself. When chased they
were very apt to take to the water. This instinct of taking to the
water, by the way, is quite explicable as regards both deer and tapir,
for it affords them refuge against their present day natural foes, but
it is a little puzzling to see the jaguar readily climbing trees to
escape dogs; for ages have passed since there were in its habitat any
natural foes from which it needed to seek safety in trees. But it is
possible that the habit has been kept alive by its seeking refuge in
them on occasion from the big peccaries, which are among the beasts on
which it ordinarily preys.

We hung the buck in a tree. The colonel returned, and not long
afterward one of the paddlers who had been watching the river called
out to us that there was a tapir in the water, a good distance up-
stream, and that two of the other boats were after it. We jumped into
the canoe and the two paddlers dug their blades in the water as they
drove her against the strong current, edging over for the opposite
bank. The tapir was coming down-stream at a great rate, only its queer
head above water, while the dugouts were closing rapidly on it, the
paddlers uttering loud cries. As the tapir turned slightly to one side
or the other the long, slightly upturned snout and the strongly
pronounced arch of the crest along the head and upper neck gave it a
marked and unusual aspect. I could not shoot, for it was directly in
line with one of the pursuing dugouts. Suddenly it dived, the snout
being slightly curved downward as it did so. There was no trace of it;
we gazed eagerly in all directions; the dugout in front came alongside
our canoe and the paddlers rested, their paddles ready. Then we made
out the tapir clambering up the bank. It had dived at right angles to
the course it was following and swum under water to the very edge of
the shore, rising under the overhanging tree-branches at a point where
a drinking-trail for game led down a break in the bank. The branches
partially hid it, and it was in deep shadow, so that it did not offer
a very good shot. My bullet went into its body too far back, and the
tapir disappeared in the forest at a gallop as if unhurt, although the
bullet really secured it, by making it unwilling to trust to its speed
and leave the neighborhood of the water. Three or four of the hounds
were by this time swimming the river, leaving the others yelling on
the opposite side; and as soon as the swimmers reached the shore they
were put on the tapir's trail and galloped after it, giving tongue. In
a couple of minutes we saw the tapir take to the water far up-stream,
and after it we went as fast as the paddles could urge us through the
water. We were not in time to head it, but fortunately some of the
dogs had come down to the river's edge at the very point where the
tapir was about to land, and turned it back. Two or three of the dogs
were swimming. We were more than half the breadth of the river away
from the tapir, and somewhat down-stream, when it dived. It made an
astonishingly long swim beneath the water this time, almost as if it
had been a hippopotamus, for it passed completely under our canoe and
rose between us and the hither bank. I shot it, the bullet going into
its brain, while it was thirty or forty yards from shore. It sank at

There was now nothing to do but wait until the body floated. I feared
that the strong current would roll it down-stream over the river bed,
but my companions assured me that this was not so, and that the body
would remain where it was until it rose, which would be in an hour or
two. They were right, except as to the time. For over a couple of
hours we paddled, or anchored ourselves by clutching branches close to
the spot, or else drifted down a mile and paddled up again near the
shore, to see if the body had caught anywhere. Then we crossed the
river and had lunch at the lovely natural picnic-ground where the buck
was hung up. We had very nearly given up the tapir when it suddenly
floated only a few rods from where it had sunk. With no little
difficulty the big, round black body was hoisted into the canoe, and
we all turned our prows down-stream. The skies had been lowering for
some time, and now--too late to interfere with the hunt or cause us
any annoyance--a heavy downpour of rain came on and beat upon us.
Little we cared, as the canoe raced forward, with the tapir and the
buck lying in the bottom, and a dry, comfortable camp ahead of us.

When we reached camp, and Father Zahm saw the tapir, he reminded me of
something I had completely forgotten. When, some six years previously,
he had spoken to me in the White House about taking this South
American trip, I had answered that I could not, as I intended to go to
Africa, but added that I hoped some day to go to South America and
that if I did so I should try to shoot both a jaguar and a tapir, as
they were the characteristic big-game animals of the country. "Well,"
said Father Zahm, "now you've shot them both!" The storm continued
heavy until after sunset. Then the rain stopped and the full moon
broke through the cloud-rack. Father Zahm and I walked up and down in
the moonlight, talking of many things, from Dante, and our own plans
for the future, to the deeds and the wanderings of the old-time
Spanish conquistadores in their search for the Gilded King, and of the
Portuguese adventurers who then divided with them the mastery of the
oceans and of the unknown continents beyond.

This was an attractive and interesting camp in more ways than one. The
vaqueiros with their wives and families were housed on the two sides
of the field in which our tents were pitched. On one side was a big,
whitewashed, tile-roofed house in which the foreman dwelt--an olive-
skinned, slightly built, wiry man, with an olive-skinned wife and
eight as pretty, fair-haired children as one could wish to see. He
usually went barefoot, and his manners were not merely good but
distinguished. Corrals and outbuildings were near this big house. On
the opposite side of the field stood the row of steep-roofed, palm-
thatched huts in which the ordinary cowhands lived with their dusky
helpmeets and children. Each night from these palm-thatched quarters
we heard the faint sounds of a music that went far back of
civilization to a savage ancestry near by in point of time and
otherwise immeasurably remote; for through the still, hot air, under
the brilliant moonlight, we heard the monotonous throbbing of a tomtom
drum, and the twanging of some old stringed instrument. The small
black turkey-buzzards, here always called crows, were as tame as
chickens near the big house, walking on the ground or perched in the
trees beside the corral, waiting for the offal of the slaughtered
cattle. Two palm-trees near our tent were crowded with the long,
hanging nests of one of the cacique orioles. We lived well, with
plenty of tapir beef, which was good, and venison of the bush deer,
which was excellent; and as much ordinary beef as we wished, and fresh
milk, too--a rarity in this country. There were very few mosquitoes,
and everything was as comfortable as possible.

The tapir I killed was a big one. I did not wish to kill another,
unless, of course, it became advisable to do so for food; whereas I
did wish to get some specimens of the big, white-lipped peccary, the
"queixa" (pronounced "cashada") of the Brazilians, which would make
our collection of the big mammals of the Brazilian forests almost
complete. The remaining members of the party killed two or three more
tapirs. One was a bull, full grown but very much smaller than the
animal I had killed. The hunters said that this was a distinct kind.
The skull and skin were sent back with the other specimens to the
American Museum, where after due examination and comparison its
specific identify will be established. Tapirs are solitary beasts. Two
are rarely found together, except in the case of a cow and its spotted
and streaked calf. They live in dense cover, usually lying down in the
daytime and at night coming out to feed, and going to the river or to
some lagoon to bathe and swim. From this camp Sigg took Lieutenant
Lyra back to Caceres to get something that had been overlooked. They
went in a rowboat to which the motor had been attached, and at night
on the way back almost ran over a tapir that was swimming. But in
unfrequented places tapirs both feed and bathe during the day. The
stomach of the one I shot contained big palm-nuts; they had been
swallowed without enough mastication to break the kernel, the outer
pulp being what the tapir prized. Tapirs gallop well, and their tough
hide and wedge shape enable them to go at speed through very dense
cover. They try to stamp on, and even to bite, a foe, but are only
clumsy fighters.

The tapir is a very archaic type of ungulate, not unlike the non-
specialized beasts of the Oligocene. From some such ancestral type the
highly specialized one-toed modern horse has evolved, while during the
uncounted ages that saw the horse thus develop the tapir has continued
substantially unchanged. Originally the tapirs dwelt in the northern
hemisphere, but there they gradually died out, the more specialized
horse, and even for long ages the rhinoceros, persisting after they
had vanished; and nowadays the surviving tapirs are found in Malaysia
and South America, far from their original home. The relations of the
horse and tapir in the paleontological history of South America are
very curious. Both were, geologically speaking, comparatively recent
immigrants, and if they came at different dates it is almost certain
that the horse came later. The horse for an age or two, certainly for
many hundreds of thousands of years, throve greatly and developed not
only several different species but even different genera. It was much
the most highly specialized of the two, and in the other continental
regions where both were found the horse outlasted the tapir. But in
South America the tapir outlasted the horse. From unknown causes the
various genera and species of horses died out, while the tapir has
persisted. The highly specialized, highly developed beasts, which
represented such a full evolutionary development, died out, while
their less specialized remote kinsfolk, which had not developed, clung
to life and throve; and this although the direct reverse was occurring
in North America and in the Old World. It is one of the innumerable
and at present insoluble problems in the history of life on our

I spent a couple of days of hard work in getting the big white-lipped
peccaries--white-lipped being rather a misnomer, as the entire under
jaw and lower cheek are white. They were said to be found on the other
side of, and some distance back from, the river. Colonel Rondon had
sent out one of our attendants, an old follower of his, a full-blood
Parecis Indian, to look for tracks. This was an excellent man, who
dressed and behaved just like the other good men we had, and was
called Antonio Parecis. He found the tracks of a herd of thirty or
forty cashadas, and the following morning we started after them.

On the first day we killed nothing. We were rather too large a party,
for one or two of the visiting fazendeiros came along with their dogs.
I doubt whether these men very much wished to overtake our game, for
the big peccary is a murderous foe of dogs (and is sometimes dangerous
to men). One of their number frankly refused to come or to let his
dogs come, explaining that the fierce wild swine were "very badly
brought up" (a literal translation of his words) and that respectable
dogs and men ought not to go near them. The other fazendeiros merely
feared for their dogs; a groundless fear, I believe, as I do not think
that the dogs could by any exertion have been dragged into dangerous
proximity with such foes. The ranch foreman, Benedetto, came with us,
and two or three other camaradas, including Antonio, the Parecis
Indian. The horses were swum across the river, each being led beside a
dugout. Then we crossed with the dogs; our horses were saddled, and we

It was a picturesque cavalcade. The native hunters, of every shade
from white to dark copper, all wore leather leggings that left the
soles of their feet bare, and on their bare heels wore spurs with
wheels four inches across. They went in single file, for no other mode
of travel was possible; and the two or three leading men kept their
machetes out, and had to cut every yard of our way while we were in
the forest. The hunters rode little stallions, and their hounds were

Most of the time we were in forest or swampy jungle. Part of the time
we crossed or skirted marshy plains. In one of them a herd of half-
wild cattle was feeding. Herons, storks, ducks, and ibises were in
these marshes, and we saw one flock of lovely roseate spoonbills.

In one grove the fig-trees were killing the palms, just as in Africa
they kill the sandalwood-trees. In the gloom of this grove there were
no flowers, no bushes; the air was heavy; the ground was brown with
mouldering leaves. Almost every palm was serving as a prop for a fig-
tree. The fig-trees were in every stage of growth. The youngest ones
merely ran up the palms as vines. In the next stage the vine had
thickened and was sending out shoots, wrapping the palm stem in a
deadly hold. Some of the shoots were thrown round the stem like the
tentacles of an immense cuttlefish. Others looked like claws, that
were hooked into every crevice, and round every projection. In the
stage beyond this the palm had been killed, and its dead carcass
appeared between the big, winding vine-trunks; and later the palm had
disappeared and the vines had united into a great fig-tree. Water
stood in black pools at the foot of the murdered trees, and of the
trees that had murdered them. There was something sinister and evil in
the dark stillness of the grove; it seemed as if sentient beings had
writhed themselves round and were strangling other sentient beings.

We passed through wonderfully beautiful woods of tall palms, the
ouaouaca palm--wawasa palm, as it should be spelled in English. The
trunks rose tall and strong and slender, and the fronds were branches
twenty or thirty feet long, with the many long, narrow green blades
starting from the midrib at right angles in pairs. Round the ponds
stood stately burity palms, rising like huge columns, with great
branches that looked like fans, as the long, stiff blades radiated
from the end of the midrib. One tree was gorgeous with the brilliant
hues of a flock of party-colored macaws. Green parrots flew shrieking

Now and then we were bitten and stung by the venomous fire-ants, and
ticks crawled upon us. Once we were assailed by more serious foes, in
the shape of a nest of maribundi wasps, not the biggest kind, but
about the size of our hornets. We were at the time passing through
dense jungle, under tall trees, in a spot where the down timber,
holes, tangled creepers, and thorns made the going difficult. The
leading men were not assailed, although they were now and then cutting
the trail. Colonel Rondon and I were in the middle of the column, and
the swarm attacked us; both of us were badly stung on the face, neck,
and hands, the colonel even more severely than I was. He wheeled and
rode to the rear and I to the front; our horses were stung too; and we
went at a rate that a moment previously I would have deemed impossible
over such ground.

At the close of the day, when we were almost back at the river, the
dogs killed a jaguar kitten. There was no trace of the mother. Some
accident must have befallen her, and the kitten was trying to shift
for herself. She was very emaciated. In her stomach were the remains
of a pigeon and some tendons from the skeleton or dried carcass of
some big animal. The loathsome berni flies, which deposit eggs in
living beings--cattle, dogs, monkeys, rodents, men--had been at it.
There were seven huge, white grubs making big abscess-like swellings
over its eyes. These flies deposit their grubs in men. In 1909, on
Colonel Rondon's hardest trip, every man of the party had from one to
five grubs deposited in him, the fly acting with great speed, and
driving its ovipositor through clothing. The grubs cause torture; but
a couple of cross cuts with a lancet permit the loathsome creatures to
be squeezed out.

In these forests the multitude of insects that bite, sting, devour,
and prey upon other creatures, often with accompaniments of atrocious
suffering, passes belief. The very pathetic myth of "beneficent
nature" could not deceive even the least wise being if he once saw for
himself the iron cruelty of life in the tropics. Of course "nature"--
in common parlance a wholly inaccurate term, by the way, especially
when used as if to express a single entity--is entirely ruthless, no
less so as regards types than as regards individuals, and entirely
indifferent to good or evil, and works out her ends or no ends with
utter disregard of pain and woe.

The following morning at sunrise we started again. This time only
Colonel Rondon and I went with Benedetto and Antonio the Indian. We
brought along four dogs which it was fondly hoped might chase the
cashadas. Two of them disappeared on the track of a tapir and we saw
them no more; one of the others promptly fled when we came across the
tracks of our game, and would not even venture after them in our
company; the remaining one did not actually run away and occasionally
gave tongue, but could not be persuaded to advance unless there was a
man ahead of him. However, Colonel Rondon, Benedetto, and Antonio
formed a trio of hunters who could do fairly well without dogs.

After four hours of riding, Benedetto, who was in the lead, suddenly
stopped and pointed downward. We were riding along a grassy intervale
between masses of forest, and he had found the fresh track of a herd
of big peccaries crossing from left to right. There were apparently
thirty or forty in the herd. The small peccaries go singly or in small
parties, and when chased take refuge in holes or hollow logs, where
they show valiant fight; but the big peccaries go in herds of
considerable size, and are so truculent that they are reluctant to
run, and prefer either to move slowly off chattering their tusks and
grunting, or else actually to charge. Where much persecuted the
survivors gradually grow more willing to run, but their instinct is
not to run but to trust to their truculence and their mass-action for
safety. They inflict a fearful bite and frequently kill dogs. They
often charge the hunters and I have heard of men being badly wounded
by them, while almost every man who hunts them often is occasionally
forced to scramble up a tree to avoid a charge. But I have never heard
of a man being killed by them. They sometimes surround the tree in
which the man has taken refuge and keep him up it. Cherrie, on one
occasion in Costa Rica, was thus kept up a tree for several hours by a
great herd of three or four hundred of these peccaries; and this
although he killed several of them. Ordinarily, however, after making
their charge they do not turn, but pass on out of sight. Their great
foe is the jaguar, but unless he exercises much caution they will turn
the tables on him. Cherrie, also in Costa Rica, came on the body of a
jaguar which had evidently been killed by a herd of peccaries some
twenty-four hours previously. The ground was trampled up by their
hoofs, and the carcass was rent and slit into pieces.

Benedetto, as soon as we discovered the tracks, slipped off his horse,
changed his leggings for sandals, threw his rifle over his arm, and
took the trail of the herd, followed by the only dog which would
accompany him. The peccaries had gone into a broad belt of forest,
with a marsh on the farther side. At first Antonio led the colonel and
me, all of us on horseback, at a canter round this belt to the marsh
side, thinking the peccaries had gone almost through it. But we could
hear nothing. The dog only occasionally barked, and then not loudly.
Finally we heard a shot. Benedetto had found the herd, which showed no
fear of him; he had backed out and fired a signal shot. We all three
went into the forest on foot toward where the shot had been fired. It
was dense jungle and stiflingly hot. We could not see clearly for more
than a few feet, or move easily without free use of the machetes. Soon
we heard the ominous groaning of the herd, in front of us, and almost

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