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Through the Brazilian Wilderness by Theodore Roosevelt

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on each side. Then Benedetto joined us, and the dog appeared in the
rear. We moved slowly forward, toward the sound of the fierce moaning
grunts which were varied at times by a castanet chattering of the
tusks. Then we dimly made out the dark forms of the peccaries moving
very slowly to the left. My companions each chose a tree to climb at
need and pointed out one for me. I fired at the half-seen form of a
hog, through the vines, leaves, and branches; the colonel fired; I
fired three more shots at other hogs; and the Indian also fired. The
peccaries did not charge; walking and trotting, with bristles erect,
groaning and clacking their tusks, they disappeared into the jungle.
We could not see one of them clearly; and not one was left dead. But a
few paces on we came across one of my wounded ones, standing at bay by
a palm trunk; and I killed it forthwith. The dog would not even trail
the wounded ones; but here Antonio came to the front. With eyes almost
as quick and sure as those of a wild beast he had watched after every
shot, and was able to tell the results in each case. He said that in
addition to the one I had just killed I had wounded two others so
seriously that he did not think they would go far, and that Colonel
Rondon and he himself had each badly wounded one; and, moreover, he
showed the trails each wounded animal had taken. The event justified
him. In a few minutes we found my second one dead. Then we found
Antonio's. Then we found my third one alive and at bay, and I killed
it with another bullet. Finally we found the colonel's. I told him I
should ask the authorities of the American Museum to mount his and one
or two of mine in a group, to commemorate our hunting together.

If we had not used crippling rifles the peccaries might have gotten
away, for in the dark jungle, with the masses of intervening leaves
and branches, it was impossible to be sure of placing each bullet
properly in the half-seen moving beast. We found where the herd had
wallowed in the mud. The stomachs of the peccaries we killed contained
wild figs, palm nuts, and bundles of root fibres. The dead beasts were
covered with ticks. They were at least twice the weight of the smaller

On the ride home we saw a buck of the small species of bush deer, not
half the size of the kind I had already shot. It was only a patch of
red in the bush, a good distance off, but I was lucky enough to hit
it. In spite of its small size it was a full-grown male, of a species
we had not yet obtained. The antlers had recently been shed, and the
new antler growth had just begun. A great jabiru stork let us ride by
him a hundred and fifty yards off without thinking it worth while to
take flight. This day we saw many of the beautiful violet orchids; and
in the swamps were multitudes of flowers, red, yellow, lilac, of which
I did not know the names.

I alluded above to the queer custom these people in the interior of
Brazil have of gelding their hunting-dogs. This absurd habit is
doubtless the chief reason why there are so few hounds worth their
salt in the more serious kinds of hunting, where the quarry is the
jaguar or big peccary. Thus far we had seen but one dog as good as the
ordinary cougar hound or bear hound in such packs as those with which
I had hunted in the Rockies and in the cane-brakes of the lower
Mississippi. It can hardly be otherwise when every dog that shows
himself worth anything is promptly put out of the category of
breeders--the theory apparently being that the dog will then last
longer. All the breeding is from worthless dogs, and no dog of proved
worth leaves descendants.

The country along this river is a fine natural cattle country, and
some day it will surely see a great development. It was opened to
development by Colonel Rondon only five or six years ago. Already an
occasional cattle ranch is to be found along the banks. When railroads
are built into these interior portions of Matto Grosso the whole
region will grow and thrive amazingly--and so will the railroads. The
growth will not be merely material. An immense amount will be done in
education; using the word education in its broadest and most accurate
sense, as applying to both mind and spirit, to both the child and the
man. Colonel Rondon is not merely an explorer. He has been and is now
a leader in the movement for the vital betterment of his people, the
people of Matto Grosso. The poorer people of the back country
everywhere suffer because of the harsh and improper laws of debt. In
practice these laws have resulted in establishing a system of peonage,
such as has grown up here and there in our own nation. A radical
change is needed in this matter; and the colonel is fighting for the
change. In school matters the colonel has precisely the ideas of our
wisest and most advanced men and women in the United States. Cherrie--
who is not only an exceedingly efficient naturalist and explorer in
the tropics, but is also a thoroughly good citizen at home--is the
chairman of the school board of the town of Newfane, in Vermont. He
and the colonel, and Kermit and I, talked over school matters at
length, and were in hearty accord as to the vital educational needs of
both Brazil and the United States: the need of combining industrial
with purely mental training, and the need of having the wide-spread
popular education, which is and must be supported and paid for by the
government, made a purely governmental and absolutely nonsectarian
function, administered by the state alone, without interference with,
nor furtherance of, the beliefs of any reputable church. The colonel
is also head of the Indian service of Brazil, being what corresponds
roughly with our commissioner of Indian affairs. Here also he is
taking the exact view that is taken in the United States by the
staunchest and wisest friends of the Indians. The Indians must be
treated with intelligent and sympathetic understanding, no less than
with justice and firmness; and until they become citizens, absorbed
into the general body politic, they must be the wards of the nation,
and not of any private association, lay or clerical, no matter how

The Sepotuba River was scientifically explored and mapped for the
first time by Colonel Rondon in 1908, as head of the Brazilian
Telegraphic Commission. This was during the second year of his
exploration and opening of the unknown northwestern wilderness of
Matto Grosso. Most of this wilderness had never previously been
trodden by the foot of a civilized man. Not only were careful maps
made and much other scientific work accomplished, but posts were
established and telegraph-lines constructed. When Colonel Rondon began
the work he was a major. He was given two promotions, to lieutenant-
colonel and colonel, while absent in the wilderness. His longest and
most important exploring trip, and the one fraught with most danger
and hardship, was begun by him in 1909, on May 3rd, the anniversary of
the discovery of Brazil. He left Tapirapoan on that day, and he
reached the Madeira River on Christmas, December 25, of the same year,
having descended the Gy-Parana. The mouth of this river had long been
known, but its upper course for half its length was absolutely unknown
when Rondon descended it. Among those who took part under him in this
piece of exploration were the present Captain Amilcar and Lieutenant
Lyra; and two better or more efficient men for such wilderness work it
would be impossible to find. They acted as his two chief assistants on
our trip. In 1909 the party exhausted all their food, including even
the salt, by August. For the last four months they lived exclusively
on the game they killed, on fruits, and on wild honey. Their equipage
was what the men could carry on their backs. By the time the party
reached the Madeira they were worn out by fatigue, exposure, and semi-
starvation, and their enfeebled bodies were racked by fever.

The work of exploration accomplished by Colonel Rondon and his
associates during these years was as remarkable as, and in its results
even more important than, any similar work undertaken elsewhere on the
globe at or about the same time. Its value was recognized in Brazil.
It received no recognition by the geographical societies of Europe or
the United States.

The work done by the original explorers of such a wilderness
necessitates the undergoing of untold hardship and danger. Their
successors, even their immediate successors, have a relatively easy
time. Soon the road becomes so well beaten that it can be traversed
without hardship by any man who does not venture from it--although if
he goes off into the wilderness for even a day, hunting or collecting,
he will have a slight taste of what his predecessors endured. The
wilderness explored by Colonel Rondon is not yet wholly subdued, and
still holds menace to human life. At Caceres he received notice of the
death of one of his gallant subordinates, Captain Cardozo. He died
from beriberi, far out in the wilderness along our proposed line of
march. Colonel Rondon also received news that a boat ascending the Gy-
Parana, to carry provisions to meet those of our party who were to
descend that stream, had been upset, the provisions lost, and three
men drowned. The risk and hardship are such that the ordinary men, the
camaradas, do not like to go into the wilderness. The men who go with
the Telegraphic Commission on the rougher and wilder work are paid
seven times as much as they earn in civilization. On this trip of ours
Colonel Rondon met with much difficulty in securing some one who could
cook. He asked the cook on the little steamer Nyoac to go with us; but
the cook with unaffected horror responded: "Senhor, I have never done
anything to deserve punishment!"

Five days after leaving us, the launch, with one of the native
trading-boats lashed alongside, returned. On the 13th we broke camp,
loaded ourselves and all our belongings on the launch and the house-
boat, and started up-stream for Tapirapoan. All told there were about
thirty men, with five dogs and tents, bedding and provisions; fresh
beef, growing rapidly less fresh; skins--all and everything jammed

It rained most of the first day and part of the first night. After
that the weather was generally overcast and pleasant for travelling;
but sometimes rain and torrid sunshine alternated. The cooking--and it
was good cooking--was done at a funny little open-air fireplace, with
two or three cooking-pots placed at the stern of the house-boat.

The fireplace was a platform of earth, taken from anthills, and heaped
and spread on the boards of the boat. Around it the dusky cook worked
with philosophic solemnity in rain and shine. Our attendants, friendly
souls with skins of every shade and hue, slept most of the time,
curled up among boxes, bundles, and slabs of beef. An enormous land
turtle was tethered toward the bow of the house-boat. When the men
slept too near it, it made futile efforts to scramble over them; and
in return now and then one of them gravely used it for a seat.

Slowly the throbbing engine drove the launch and its unwieldy side-
partner against the swift current. The river had risen. We made about
a mile and a half an hour. Ahead of us the brown water street
stretched in curves between endless walls of dense tropical forest. It
was like passing through a gigantic greenhouse. Wawasa and burity
palms, cecropias, huge figs, feathery bamboos, strange yellow-stemmed
trees, low trees with enormous leaves, tall trees with foliage as
delicate as lace, trees with buttressed trunks, trees with boles
rising smooth and straight to lofty heights, all woven together by a
tangle of vines, crowded down to the edge of the river. Their drooping
branches hung down to the water, forming a screen through which it was
impossible to see the bank, and exceedingly difficult to penetrate to
the bank. Rarely one of them showed flowers--large white blossoms, or
small red or yellow blossoms. More often the lilac flowers of the
begonia-vine made large patches of color. Innumerable epiphytes
covered the limbs, and even grew on the roughened trunks. We saw
little bird life--a darter now and then, and kingfishers flitting from
perch to perch. At long intervals we passed a ranch. At one the large,
red-tiled, whitewashed house stood on a grassy slope behind mango-
trees. The wooden shutters were thrown back from the unglazed windows,
and the big rooms were utterly bare--not a book, not an ornament. A
palm, loaded with scores of the pendulous nests of the troupials,
stood near the door. Behind were orange-trees and coffee-plants, and
near by fields of bananas, rice, and tobacco. The sallow foreman was
courteous and hospitable. His dark-skinned women-folk kept in the
furtive background. Like most of the ranches, it was owned by a
company with headquarters at Caceres.

The trip was pleasant and interesting, although there was not much to
do on the boat. It was too crowded to move around save with a definite
purpose. We enjoyed the scenery; we talked--in English, Portuguese,
bad French, and broken German. Some of us wrote. Fiala made sketches
of improved tents, hammocks, and other field equipment, suggested by
what he had already seen. Some of us read books. Colonel Rondon, neat,
trim, alert, and soldierly, studied a standard work on applied
geographical astronomy. Father Zahm read a novel by Fogazzaro. Kermit
read Camoens and a couple of Brazilian novels, "O Guarani" and
"Innocencia." My own reading varied from "Quentin Durward" and Gibbon
to the "Chanson de Roland." Miller took out his little pet owl Moses,
from the basket in which Moses dwelt, and gave him food and water.
Moses crooned and chuckled gratefully when he was stroked and tickled.

Late the first evening we moored to the bank by a little fazenda of
the poorer type. The houses were of palm-leaves. Even the walls were
made of the huge fronds or leafy branches of the wawasa palm, stuck
upright in the ground and the blades plaited together. Some of us went
ashore. Some stayed on the boats. There were no mosquitoes, the
weather was not oppressively hot, and we slept well. By five o'clock
next morning we had each drunk a cup of delicious Brazilian coffee,
and the boats were under way.

All day we steamed slowly up-stream. We passed two or three fazendas.
At one, where we halted to get milk, the trees were overgrown with
pretty little yellow orchids. At dark we moored at a spot where there
were no branches to prevent our placing the boats directly alongside
the bank. There were hardly any mosquitoes. Most of the party took
their hammocks ashore, and the camp was pitched amid singularly
beautiful surroundings. The trees were wawasa palms, some with the
fronds cresting very tall trunks, some with the fronds--seemingly
longer--rising almost from the ground. The fronds were of great
length; some could not have been less than fifty feet long. Bushes and
tall grass, dew-drenched and glittering with the green of emeralds,
grew in the open spaces between. We left at sunrise the following
morning. One of the sailors had strayed inland. He got turned round
and could not find the river; and we started before discovering his
absence. We stopped at once, and with much difficulty he forced his
way through the vine-laced and thorn-guarded jungle toward the sound
of the launch's engines and of the bugle which was blown. In this
dense jungle, when the sun is behind clouds, a man without a compass
who strays a hundred yards from the river may readily become
hopelessly lost.

As we ascended the river the wawasa palms became constantly more
numerous. At this point, for many miles, they gave their own character
to the forest on the river banks. Everywhere their long, curving
fronds rose among the other trees, and in places their lofty trunks
made them hold their heads higher than the other trees. But they were
never as tall as the giants among the ordinary trees. On one towering
palm we noticed a mass of beautiful violet orchids growing from the
side of the trunk, half-way to the top. On another big tree, not a
palm, which stood in a little opening, there hung well over a hundred
troupials' nests. Besides two or three small ranches we this day
passed a large ranch. The various houses and sheds, all palm-thatched,
stood by the river in a big space of cleared ground, dotted with
wawasa palms. A native house-boat was moored by the bank. Women and
children looked from the unglazed windows of the houses; men stood in
front of them. The biggest house was enclosed by a stockade of palm-
logs, thrust end-on into the ground. Cows and oxen grazed round about;
and carts with solid wheels, each wheel made of a single disk of wood,
were tilted on their poles.

We made our noonday halt on an island where very tall trees grew,
bearing fruits that were pleasant to the taste. Other trees on the
island were covered with rich red and yellow blossoms; and masses of
delicate blue flowers and of star-shaped white flowers grew underfoot.
Hither and thither across the surface of the river flew swallows, with
so much white in their plumage that as they flashed in the sun they
seemed to have snow-white bodies, borne by dark wings. The current of
the river grew swifter; there were stretches of broken water that were
almost rapids; the laboring engine strained and sobbed as with
increasing difficulty it urged forward the launch and her clumsy
consort. At nightfall we moored beside the bank, where the forest was
open enough to permit a comfortable camp. That night the ants ate
large holes in Miller's mosquito-netting, and almost devoured his
socks and shoe-laces.

At sunrise we again started. There were occasional stretches of swift,
broken water, almost rapids, in the river; everywhere the current was
swift, and our progress was slow. The prancha was towed at the end of
a hawser, and her crew poled. Even thus we only just made the riffle
in more than one case. Two or three times cormorants and snake-birds,
perched on snags in the river or on trees alongside it, permitted the
boat to come within a few yards. In one piece of high forest we saw a
party of toucans, conspicuous even among the tree tops because of
their huge bills and the leisurely expertness with which they crawled,
climbed, and hopped among the branches. We went by several fazendas.

Shortly before noon--January 16--we reached Tapirapoan, the
headquarters of the Telegraphic Commission. It was an attractive
place, on the river-front, and it was gayly bedecked with flags, not
only those of Brazil and the United States, but of all the other
American republics, in our honor. There was a large, green square,
with trees standing in the middle of it. On one side of this square
were the buildings of the Telegraphic Commission, on the other those
of a big ranch, of which this is the headquarters. In addition, there
were stables, sheds, outhouses, and corrals; and there were cultivated
fields near by. Milch cows, beef-cattle, oxen, and mules wandered
almost at will. There were two or three wagons and carts, and a
traction automobile, used in the construction of the telegraph-line,
but not available in the rainy season, at the time of our trip.

Here we were to begin our trip overland, on pack-mules and pack-oxen,
scores of which had been gathered to meet us. Several days were needed
to apportion the loads and arrange for the several divisions in which
it was necessary that so large a party should attempt the long
wilderness march, through a country where there was not much food for
man or beast, and where it was always possible to run into a district
in which fatal cattle or horse diseases were prevalent. Fiala, with
his usual efficiency, took charge of handling the outfit of the
American portion of the expedition, with Sigg as an active and useful
assistant. Harper, who like the others worked with whole-hearted zeal
and cheerfulness, also helped him, except when he was engaged in
helping the naturalists. The two latter, Cherrie and Miller, had so
far done the hardest and the best work of the expedition. They had
collected about a thousand birds and two hundred and fifty mammals. It
was not probable that they would do as well during the remainder of
our trip, for we intended thenceforth to halt as little, and march as
steadily, as the country, the weather, and the condition of our means
of transportation permitted. I kept continually wishing that they had
more time in which to study the absorbingly interesting life-histories
of the beautiful and wonderful beasts and birds we were all the time
seeing. Every first-rate museum must still employ competent
collectors; but I think that a museum could now confer most lasting
benefit, and could do work of most permanent good, by sending out into
the immense wildernesses, where wild nature is at her best, trained
observers with the gift of recording what they have observed. Such men
should be collectors, for collecting is still necessary; but they
should also, and indeed primarily, be able themselves to see, and to
set vividly before the eyes of others, the full life-histories of the
creatures that dwell in the waste spaces of the world.

At this point both Cherrie and Miller collected a number of mammals
and birds which they had not previously obtained; whether any were new
to science could only be determined after the specimens reached the
American Museum. While making the round of his small mammal traps one
morning, Miller encountered an army of the formidable foraging ants.
The species was a large black one, moving with a well-extended front.
These ants, sometimes called army-ants, like the driver-ants of
Africa, move in big bodies and destroy or make prey of every living
thing that is unable or unwilling to get out of their path in time.
They run fast, and everything runs away from their advance. Insects
form their chief prey; and the most dangerous and aggressive lower-
life creatures make astonishingly little resistance to them. Miller's
attention was first attracted to this army of ants by noticing a big
centipede, nine or ten inches long, trying to flee before them. A
number of ants were biting it, and it writhed at each bite, but did
not try to use its long curved jaws against its assailants. On other
occasions he saw big scorpions and big hairy spiders trying to escape
in the same way, and showing the same helpless inability to injure
their ravenous foes, or to defend themselves. The ants climb trees to
a great height, much higher than most birds' nests, and at once kill
and tear to pieces any fledglings in the nests they reach. But they
are not as common as some writers seem to imagine; days may elapse
before their armies are encountered, and doubtless most nests are
never visited or threatened by them. In some instances it seems likely
that the birds save themselves and their young in other ways. Some
nests are inaccessible. From others it is probable that the parents
remove the young. Miller once, in Guiana, had been watching for some
days a nest of ant-wrens which contained young. Going thither one
morning, he found the tree, and the nest itself, swarming with
foraging ants. He at first thought that the fledglings had been
devoured, but he soon saw the parents, only about thirty yards off,
with food in their beaks. They were engaged in entering a dense part
of the jungle, coming out again without food in their beaks, and soon
reappearing once more with food. Miller never found their new nests,
but their actions left him certain that they were feeding their young,
which they must have themselves removed from the old nest. These ant-
wrens hover in front of and over the columns of foraging ants, feeding
not only on the other insects aroused by the ants, but on the ants
themselves. This fact has been doubted; but Miller has shot them with
the ants in their bills and in their stomachs. Dragon-flies, in
numbers, often hover over the columns, darting down at them; Miller
could not be certain he had seen them actually seizing the ants, but
this was his belief. I have myself seen these ants plunder a nest of
the dangerous and highly aggressive wasps, while the wasps buzzed
about in great excitement, but seemed unable effectively to retaliate.
I have also seen them clear a sapling tenanted by their kinsmen, the
poisonous red ants, or fire-ants; the fire-ants fought and I have no
doubt injured or killed some of their swarming and active black foes;
but the latter quickly did away with them. I have only come across
black foraging ants; but there are red species. They attack human
beings precisely as they attack all animals, and precipitate flight is
the only resort.

Around our camp here butterflies of gorgeous coloring swarmed, and
there were many fungi as delicately shaped and tinted as flowers. The
scents in the woods were wonderful. There were many whippoorwills, or
rather Brazilian birds related to them; they uttered at intervals
through the night a succession of notes suggesting both those of our
whippoorwill and those of our big chuck-will's-widow of the Gulf
States, but not identical with either. There were other birds which
were nearly akin to familiar birds of the United States: a dull-
colored catbird, a dull-colored robin, and a sparrow belonging to the
same genus as our common song-sparrow and sweetheart sparrow; Miller
had heard this sparrow singing by day and night, fourteen thousand
feet up on the Andes, and its song suggested the songs of both of our
sparrows. There were doves and woodpeckers of various species. Other
birds bore no resemblance to any of ours. One honey-creeper was a
perfect little gem, with plumage that was black, purple, and
turquoise, and brilliant scarlet feet. Two of the birds which Cherrie
and Miller procured were of extraordinary nesting habits. One, a
nunlet, in shape resembles a short-tailed bluebird. It is plumbeous,
with a fulvous belly and white tail coverts. It is a stupid little
bird, and does not like to fly away even when shot at. It catches its
prey and ordinarily acts like a rather dull flycatcher, perching on
some dead tree, swooping on insects and then returning to its perch,
and never going on the ground to feed or run about. But it nests in
burrows which it digs itself, one bird usually digging, while the
other bird perches in a bush near by. Sometimes these burrows are in
the side of a sand-bank, the sand being so loose that it is a marvel
that it does not cave in. Sometimes the burrows are in the level
plain, running down about three feet, and then rising at an angle. The
nest consists of a few leaves and grasses, and the eggs are white. The
other bird, called a nun or waxbill, is about the size of a thrush,
grayish in color, with a waxy red bill. It also burrows in the level
soil, the burrow being five feet long; and over the mouth of the
burrow it heaps a pile of sticks and leaves.

At this camp the heat was great--from 91 to 104 Fahrenheit--and the
air very heavy, being saturated with moisture; and there were many
rain-storms. But there were no mosquitoes, and we were very
comfortable. Thanks to the neighborhood of the ranch, we fared
sumptuously, with plenty of beef, chickens, and fresh milk. Two of the
Brazilian dishes were delicious: canja, a thick soup of chicken and
rice, the best soup a hungry man ever tasted; and beef chopped in
rather small pieces and served with a well-flavored but simple gravy.
The mule allotted me as a riding-beast was a powerful animal, with
easy gaits. The Brazilian Government had waiting for me a very
handsome silver-mounted saddle and bridle; I was much pleased with
both. However, my exceedingly rough and shabby clothing made an
incongruous contrast.

At Tapirapoan we broke up our baggage--as well as our party. We sent
forward the Canadian canoe--which, with the motor-engine and some
kerosene, went in a cart drawn by six oxen--and a hundred sealed tin
cases of provisions, each containing rations for a day for six men.
They had been put up in New York under the special direction of Fiala,
for use when we got where we wished to take good and varied food in
small compass. All the skins, skulls, and alcoholic specimens, and all
the baggage not absolutely necessary, were sent back down the Paraguay
and to New York, in charge of Harper. The separate baggage-trains,
under the charge of Captain Amilcar, were organized to go in one
detachment. The main body of the expedition, consisting of the
American members, and of Colonel Rondon, Lieutenant Lyra, and Doctor
Cajazeira, with their baggage and provisions, formed another


We were now in the land of the bloodsucking bats, the vampire bats
that suck the blood of living creatures, clinging to or hovering
against the shoulder of a horse or cow, or the hand or foot of a
sleeping man, and making a wound from which the blood continues to
flow long after the bat's thirst has been satiated. At Tapirapoan
there were milch cattle; and one of the calves turned up one morning
weak from loss of blood, which was still trickling from a wound,
forward of the shoulder, made by a bat. But the bats do little damage
in this neighborhood compared to what they do in some other places,
where not only the mules and cattle but the chickens have to be housed
behind bat-proof protection at night or their lives may pay the
penalty. The chief and habitual offenders are various species of
rather small bats; but it is said that other kinds of Brazilian bats
seem to have become, at least sporadically and locally, affected by
the evil example and occasionally vary their customary diet by
draughts of living blood. One of the Brazilian members of our party,
Hoehne, the botanist, was a zoologist also. He informed me that he had
known even the big fruit-eating bats to take to bloodsucking. They did
not, according to his observations, themselves make the original
wound; but after it had been made by one of the true vampires they
would lap the flowing blood and enlarge the wound. South America makes
up for its lack, relatively to Africa and India, of large man-eating
carnivores by the extraordinary ferocity or bloodthirstiness of
certain small creatures of which the kinsfolk elsewhere are harmless.
It is only here that fish no bigger than trout kill swimmers, and bats
the size of the ordinary "flittermice" of the northern hemisphere
drain the life-blood of big beasts and of man himself.

There was not much large mammalian life in the neighborhood. Kermit
hunted industriously and brought in an occasional armadillo, coati, or
agouti for the naturalists. Miller trapped rats and a queer opossum
new to the collection. Cherrie got many birds. Cherrie and Miller
skinned their specimens in a little open hut or shed. Moses, the small
pet owl, sat on a cross-bar overhead, an interested spectator, and
chuckled whenever he was petted. Two wrens, who bred just outside the
hut, were much excited by the presence of Moses, and paid him visits
of noisy unfriendliness. The little white-throated sparrows came
familiarly about the palm cabins and whitewashed houses and trilled on
the rooftrees. It was a simple song, with just a hint of our northern
white-throat's sweet and plaintive melody, and of the opening bars of
our song-sparrow's pleasant, homely lay. It brought back dear memories
of glorious April mornings on Long Island, when through the singing of
robin and song-sparrow comes the piercing cadence of the meadowlark;
and of the far northland woods in June, fragrant with the breath of
pine and balsam-fir, where sweetheart sparrows sing from wet spruce
thickets and rapid brooks rush under the drenched and swaying alder-

From Tapirapoan our course lay northward up to and across the Plan
Alto, the highland wilderness of Brazil. From the edges of this
highland country, which is geologically very ancient, the affluents of
the Amazon to the north, and of the Plate to the south, flow, with
immense and devious loops and windings.

Two days before we ourselves started with our mule-train, a train of
pack-oxen left, loaded with provisions, tools, and other things, which
we would not need until, after a month or six weeks, we began our
descent into the valley of the Amazon. There were about seventy oxen.
Most of them were well broken, but there were about a score which were
either not broken at all or else very badly broken. These were loaded
with much difficulty, and bucked like wild broncos. Again and again
they scattered their loads over the corral and over the first part of
the road. The pack-men, however--copper-colored, black, and dusky-
white--were not only masters of their art, but possessed tempers that
could not be ruffled; when they showed severity it was because
severity was needed, and not because they were angry. They finally got
all their longhorned beasts loaded and started on the trail with them.

On January 21 we ourselves started, with the mule-train. Of course, as
always in such a journey, there was some confusion before the men and
the animals of the train settled down to the routine performance of
duty. In addition to the pack-animals we all had riding-mules. The
first day we journeyed about twelve miles, then crossing the Sepotuba
and camping beside it, below a series of falls, or rather rapids. The
country was level. It was a great natural pasture, covered with a very
open forest of low, twisted trees, bearing a superficial likeness to
the cross-timbers of Texas and Oklahoma. It is as well fitted for
stock-raising as Oklahoma; and there is also much fine agricultural
land, while the river will ultimately yield electric power. It is a
fine country for settlement. The heat is great at noon; but the nights
are not uncomfortable. We were supposed to be in the middle of the
rainy season, but hitherto most of the days had been fine, varied with
showers. The astonishing thing was the absence of mosquitoes. Insect
pests that work by day can be stood, and especially by settlers,
because they are far less serious foes in the clearings than in the
woods. The mosquitoes and other night foes offer the really serious
and unpleasant problem, because they break one's rest. Hitherto,
during our travels up the Paraguay and its tributaries, in this level,
marshy tropical region of western Brazil, we had practically not been
bothered by mosquitoes at all, in our home camps. Out in the woods
they were at times a serious nuisance, and Cherrie and Miller had been
subjected to real torment by them during some of their special
expeditions; but there were practically none on the ranches and in our
camps in the open fields by the river, even when marshes were close
by. I was puzzled--and delighted--by their absence. Settlers need not
be deterred from coming to this region by the fear of insect foes.

This does not mean that there are not such foes. Outside of the
clearings, and of the beaten tracks of travel, they teem. There are
ticks, poisonous ants, wasps--of which some species are really serious
menaces--biting flies and gnats. I merely mean that, unlike so many
other tropical regions, this particular region is, from the standpoint
of the settler and the ordinary traveller, relatively free from insect
pests, and a pleasant place of residence. The original explorer, and
to an only less degree the hardworking field naturalist or big-game
hunter, have to face these pests, just as they have to face countless
risks, hardships, and difficulties. This is inherent in their several
professions or avocations. Many regions in the United States where
life is now absolutely comfortable and easygoing offered most
formidable problems to the first explorers a century or two ago. We
must not fall into the foolish error of thinking that the first
explorers need not suffer terrible hardships, merely because the
ordinary travellers, and even the settlers who come after them, do not
have to endure such danger, privation, and wearing fatigue--although
the first among the genuine settlers also have to undergo exceedingly
trying experiences. The early explorers and adventurers make fairly
well-beaten trails; but it is incumbent on them neither to boast of
their own experiences nor to misjudge the efforts of the pioneers
because, thanks to these very efforts, their own lines fall in
pleasant places. The ordinary traveller, who never goes off the beaten
route and who on this beaten route is carried by others, without
himself doing anything or risking anything, does not need to show much
more initiative and intelligence than an express package. He does
nothing; others do all the work, show all the forethought, take all
the risk--and are entitled to all the credit. He and his valise are
carried in practically the same fashion; and for each the achievement
stands about on the same plane. If this kind of traveller is a writer,
he can of course do admirable work, work of the highest value; but the
value comes because he is a writer and observer, not because of any
particular credit that attaches to him as a traveller. We all
recognize this truth as far as highly civilized regions are concerned:
when Bryce writes of the American commonwealth, or Lowell of European
legislative assemblies, our admiration is for the insight and thought
of the observer, and we are not concerned with his travels. When a man
travels across Arizona in a Pullman car, we do not think of him as
having performed a feat bearing even the most remote resemblance to
the feats of the first explorers of those waterless wastes; whatever
admiration we feel in connection with his trip is reserved for the
traffic-superintendent, engineer, fireman, and brakeman. But as
regards the less-known continents, such as South America, we sometimes
fail to remember these obvious truths. There yet remains plenty of
exploring work to be done in South America, as hard, as dangerous, and
almost as important as any that has already been done; work such as
has recently been done, or is now being done, by men and women such as
Haseman, Farrabee, and Miss Snethlage. The collecting naturalists who
go into the wilds and do first-class work encounter every kind of risk
and undergo every kind of hardship and exertion. Explorers and
naturalists of the right type have open to them in South America a
field of extraordinary attraction and difficulty. But to excavate
ruins that have already long been known, to visit out-of-the-way towns
that date from colonial days, to traverse old, even if uncomfortable,
routes of travel, or to ascend or descend highway rivers like the
Amazon, the Paraguay, and the lower Orinoco--all of these exploits are
well worth performing, but they in no sense represent exploration or
adventure, and they do not entitle the performer, no matter how well
he writes and no matter how much of real value he contributes to human
knowledge, to compare himself in anyway with the real wilderness
wanderer, or to criticise the latter. Such a performance entails no
hardship or difficulty worth heeding. Its value depends purely on
observation, not on action. The man does little; he merely records
what he sees. He is only the man of the beaten routes. The true
wilderness wanderer, on the contrary, must be a man of action as well
as of observation. He must have the heart and the body to do and to
endure, no less than the eye to see and the brain to note and record.

Let me make it clear that I am not depreciating the excellent work of
so many of the men who have not gone off the beaten trails. I merely
wish to make it plain that this excellent work must not be put in the
class with that of the wilderness explorer. It is excellent work,
nevertheless, and has its place, just as the work of the true explorer
has its place. Both stand in sharpest contrast with the actions of
those alleged explorers, among whom Mr. Savage Landor stands in
unpleasant prominence.

From the Sepotuba rapids our course at the outset lay westward. The
first day's march away from the river lay through dense tropical
forest. Away from the broad, beaten route every step of a man's
progress represented slashing a trail with the machete through the
tangle of bushes, low trees, thorny scrub, and interlaced creepers.
There were palms of new kinds, very tall, slender, straight, and
graceful, with rather short and few fronds. The wild plantains, or
pacovas, thronged the spaces among the trunks of the tall trees; their
boles were short, and their broad, erect leaves gigantic; they bore
brilliant red-and-orange flowers. There were trees whose trunks
bellied into huge swellings. There were towering trees with buttressed
trunks, whose leaves made a fretwork against the sky far overhead.
Gorgeous red-and-green trogons, with long tails, perched motionless on
the lower branches and uttered a loud, thrice-repeated whistle. We
heard the calling of the false bellbird, which is gray instead of
white like the true bellbirds; it keeps among the very topmost
branches. Heavy rain fell shortly after we reached our camping-place.

Next morning at sunrise we climbed a steep slope to the edge of the
Parecis plateau, at a level of about two thousand feet above the sea.
We were on the Plan Alto, the high central plain of Brazil, the
healthy land of dry air, of cool nights, of clear, running brooks. The
sun was directly behind us when we topped the rise. Reining in, we
looked back over the vast Paraguayan marshes, shimmering in the long
morning lights. Then, turning again, we rode forward, casting shadows
far before us. It was twenty miles to the next water, and in hot
weather the journey across this waterless, shadeless, sandy stretch of
country is hard on the mules and oxen. But on this day the sky
speedily grew overcast and a cool wind blew in our faces as we
travelled at a quick, running walk over the immense rolling plain. The
ground was sandy; it was covered with grass and with a sparse growth
of stunted, twisted trees, never more than a few feet high. There were
rheas--ostriches--and small pampas-deer on this plain; the coloration
of the rheas made it difficult to see them at a distance, whereas the
bright red coats of the little deer, and their uplifted flags as they
ran, advertised them afar off. We also saw the footprints of cougars
and of the small-toothed, big, red wolf. Cougars are the most
inveterate enemies of these small South American deer, both those of
the open grassy plain and those of the forest.

It is not nearly as easy to get lost on these open plains as in the
dense forest; and where there is a long, reasonably straight road or
river to come back to, a man even without a compass is safe. But in
these thick South American forests, especially on cloudy days, a
compass is an absolute necessity. We were struck by the fact that the
native hunters and ranchmen on such days continually lost themselves
and, if permitted, travelled for miles through the forest either in
circles or in exactly the wrong direction. They had no such sense of
direction as the forest-dwelling 'Ndorobo hunters in Africa had, or as
the true forest-dwelling Indians of South America are said to have. On
certainly half a dozen occasions our guides went completely astray,
and we had to take command, to disregard their assertions, and to lead
the way aright by sole reliance on our compasses.

On this cool day we travelled well. The air was wonderful; the vast
open spaces gave a sense of abounding vigor and freedom. Early in the
afternoon we reached a station made by Colonel Rondon in the course of
his first explorations. There were several houses with whitewashed
walls, stone floors, and tiled or thatched roofs. They stood in a
wide, gently sloping valley. Through it ran a rapid brook of cool
water, in which we enjoyed delightful baths. The heavy, intensely
humid atmosphere of the low, marshy plains had gone; the air was clear
and fresh; the sky was brilliant; far and wide we looked over a
landscape that seemed limitless; the breeze that blew in our faces
might have come from our own northern plains. The midday sun was very
hot; but it was hard to realize that we were in the torrid zone. There
were no mosquitoes, so that we never put up our nets when we went to
bed; but wrapped ourselves in our blankets and slept soundly through
the cool, pleasant nights. Surely in the future this region will be
the home of a healthy highly civilized population. It is good for
cattle-raising, and the valleys are fitted for agriculture. From June
to September the nights are often really cold. Any sound northern race
could live here; and in such a land, with such a climate, there would
be much joy of living.

On these plains the Telegraphic Commission uses motor-trucks; and
these now to relieve the mules and oxen; for some of them, especially
among the oxen, already showed the effects of the strain. Travelling
in a wild country with a pack-train is not easy on the pack-animals.
It was strange to see these big motor-vans out in the wilderness where
there was not a settler, not a civilized man except the employees of
the Telegraphic Commission. They were handled by Lieutenant Lauriado,
who, with Lieutenant Mello, had taken special charge of our transport
service; both were exceptionally good and competent men.

The following day we again rode on across the Plan Alto. In the early
afternoon, in the midst of a downpour of rain, we crossed the divide
between the basins of the Paraguay and the Amazon. That evening we
camped on a brook whose waters ultimately ran into the Tapajos. The
rain fell throughout the afternoon, now lightly, now heavily, and the
mule-train did not get up until dark. But enough tents and flies were
pitched to shelter all of us. Fires were lit, and--after a fourteen
hours' fast we feasted royally on beans and rice and pork and beef,
seated around ox-skins spread upon the ground. The sky cleared; the
stars blazed down through the cool night; and wrapped in our blankets
we slept soundly, warm and comfortable.

Next morning the trail had turned, and our course led northward and at
times east of north. We traversed the same high, rolling plains of
coarse grass and stunted trees. Kermit, riding a big, iron-mouthed,
bull-headed white mule, rode off to one side on a hunt, and rejoined
the line of march carrying two bucks of the little pampas-deer, or
field deer, behind his saddle. These deer are very pretty and
graceful, with a tail like that of the Colombian blacktail. Standing
motionless facing one, in the sparse scrub, they are hard to make out;
if seen sideways the reddish of their coats, contrasted with the
greens and grays of the landscape, betrays them; and when they bound
off the upraised white tail is very conspicuous. They carefully avoid
the woods in which their cousins the little bush deer are found, and
go singly or in couples. Their odor can be made out at quite a
distance, but it is not rank. They still carried their antlers. Their
venison was delicious.

We came across many queer insects. One red grasshopper when it flew
seemed as big as a small sparrow; and we passed in some places such
multitudes of active little green grasshoppers that they frightened
the mules. At our camping-place we saw an extraordinary colony of
spiders. It was among some dwarf trees, standing a few yards apart
from one another by the water. When we reached the camping-place,
early in the afternoon--the pack-train did not get in until nearly
sunset, just ahead of the rain--no spiders were out. They were under
the leaves of the trees. Their webs were tenantless, and indeed for
the most part were broken down. But at dusk they came out from their
hiding-places, two or three hundred of them in all, and at once began
to repair the old and spin new webs. Each spun its own circular web,
and sat in the middle; and each web was connected on several sides
with other webs, while those nearest the trees were hung to them by
spun ropes, so to speak. The result was a kind of sheet of web
consisting of scores of wheels, in each of which the owner and
proprietor sat; and there were half a dozen such sheets, each
extending between two trees. The webs could hardly be seen; and the
effect was of scores of big, formidable-looking spiders poised in
midair, equidistant from one another, between each pair of trees. When
darkness and rain fell they were still out, fixing their webs, and
pouncing on the occasional insects that blundered into the webs. I
have no question that they are nocturnal; they certainly hide in the
daytime, and it seems impossible that they can come out only for a few
minutes at dusk.

In the evenings, after supper or dinner--it is hard to tell by what
title the exceedingly movable evening meal should be called--the
members of the party sometimes told stories of incidents in their past
lives. Most of them were men of varied experiences. Rondon and Lyra
told of the hardship and suffering of the first trips through the
wilderness across which we were going with such comfort. On this very
plateau they had once lived for weeks on the fruits of the various
fruit-bearing trees. Naturally they became emaciated and feeble. In
the forests of the Amazonian basin they did better because they often
shot birds and plundered the hives of the wild honey-bees. In cutting
the trail for the telegraph-line through the Juruena basin they lost
every single one of the hundred and sixty mules with which they had
started. Those men pay dear who build the first foundations of empire!
Fiala told of the long polar nights and of white bears that came round
the snow huts of the explorers, greedy to eat them, and themselves
destined to be eaten by them. Of all the party Cherrie's experiences
had covered the widest range. This was partly owing to the fact that
the latter-day naturalist of the most vigorous type who goes into the
untrodden wastes of the world must see and do many strange things; and
still more owing to the character of the man himself. The things he
had seen and done and undergone often enabled him to cast the light of
his own past experience on unexpected subjects. Once we were talking
about the proper weapons for cavalry, and some one mentioned the
theory that the lance is especially formidable because of the moral
effect it produces on the enemy. Cherrie nodded emphatically; and a
little cross-examination elicited the fact that he was speaking from
lively personal recollection of his own feelings when charged by
lancers. It was while he was fighting with the Venezuelan insurgents
in an unsuccessful uprising against the tyranny of Castro. He was on
foot, with five Venezuelans, all cool men and good shots. In an open
plain they were charged by twenty of Castro's lancers, who galloped
out from behind cover two or three hundred yards off. It was a war in
which neither side gave quarter and in which the wounded and the
prisoners were butchered--just as President Madero was butchered in
Mexico. Cherrie knew that it meant death for him and his companions if
the charge came home; and the sight of the horsemen running in at full
speed, with their long lances in rest and the blades glittering, left
an indelible impression on his mind. But he and his companions shot
deliberately and accurately; ten of the lancers were killed, the
nearest falling within fifty yards; and the others rode off in
headlong haste. A cool man with a rifle, if he has mastered his
weapon, need fear no foe.

At this camp the auto-vans again joined us. They were to go direct to
the first telegraph station, at the great falls of the Utiarity, on
the Rio Papagaio. Of course they travelled faster than the mule-train.
Father Zahm, attended by Sigg, started for the falls in them. Cherrie
and Miller also went in them, because they had found that it was very
difficult to collect birds, and especially mammals, when we were
moving every day, packing up early each morning and the mule-train
arriving late in the afternoon or not until nightfall. Moreover, there
was much rain, which made it difficult to work except under the tents.
Accordingly, the two naturalists desired to get to a place where they
could spend several days and collect steadily, thereby doing more
effective work. The rest of us continued with the mule-train, as was

It was always a picturesque sight when camp was broken, and again at
nightfall when the laden mules came stringing in and their burdens
were thrown down, while the tents were pitched and the fires lit. We
breakfasted before leaving camp, the aluminum cups and plates being
placed on ox-hides, round which we sat, on the ground or on camp-
stools. We fared well, on rice, beans, and crackers, with canned
corned beef, and salmon or any game that had been shot, and coffee,
tea, and matte. I then usually sat down somewhere to write, and when
the mules were nearly ready I popped my writing-materials into my
duffel-bag/war-sack, as we would have called it in the old days on the
plains. I found that the mules usually arrived so late in the
afternoon or evening that I could not depend upon being able to write
at that time. Of course, if we made a very early start I could not
write at all. At night there were no mosquitoes. In the daytime gnats
and sand-flies and horse-flies sometimes bothered us a little, but not
much. Small stingless bees lit on us in numbers and crawled over the
skin, making a slight tickling; but we did not mind them until they
became very numerous. There was a good deal of rain, but not enough to
cause any serious annoyance.

Colonel Rondon and Lieutenant Lyra held many discussions as to whither
the Rio da Duvida flowed, and where its mouth might be. Its
provisional name--"River of Doubt"--was given it precisely because of
this ignorance concerning it; an ignorance which it was one of the
purposes of our trip to dispel. It might go into the Gy-Parana, in
which case its course must be very short; it might flow into the
Madeira low down, in which case its course would be very long; or,
which was unlikely, it might flow into the Tapajos. There was another
river, of which Colonel Rondon had come across the head-waters, whose
course was equally doubtful, although in its case there was rather
more probability of its flowing into the Juruena, by which name the
Tapajos is known for its upper half. To this unknown river Colonel
Rondon had given the name Ananas, because when he came across it he
found a deserted Indian field with pineapples, which the hungry
explorers ate greedily. Among the things the colonel and I hoped to
accomplish on the trip was to do a little work in clearing up one or
the other of these two doubtful geographical points, and thereby to
push a little forward the knowledge of this region. Originally, as
described in the first chapter, my trip was undertaken primarily in
the interest of the American Museum of Natural History of New York, to
add to our knowledge of the birds and mammals of the far interior of
the western Brazilian wilderness; and the labels of our baggage and
scientific equipment, printed by the museum, were entitled "Colonel
Roosevelt's South American Expedition for the American Museum of
Natural History." But, as I have already mentioned, at Rio the
Brazilian Government, through the secretary of foreign affairs, Doctor
Lauro Muller, suggested that I should combine the expedition with one
by Colonel Rondon, which they contemplated making, and thereby make
both expeditions of broader scientific interest. I accepted the
proposal with much pleasure; and we found, when we joined Colonel
Rondon and his associates, that their baggage and equipment had been
labelled by the Brazilian Government "Expedicao Scientifica Roosevelt-
Rondon." This thenceforth became the proper and official title of the
expedition. Cherrie and Miller did the chief zoological work. The
geological work was done by a Brazilian member of the expedition,
Euzebio Oliveira. The astronomical work necessary for obtaining the
exact geographical location of the rivers and points of note was to be
done by Lieutenant Lyra, under the supervision of Colonel Rondon; and
at the telegraph stations this astronomical work would be checked by
wire communications with one of Colonel Rondon's assistants at Cuyaba,
Lieutenant Caetano, thereby securing a minutely accurate comparison of
time. The sketch-maps and surveying and cartographical work generally
were to be made under the supervision of Colonel Rondon by Lyra, with
assistance from Fiala and Kermit. Captain Amilcar handled the worst
problem--transportation; the medical member was Doctor Cajazeira.

At night around the camp-fire my Brazilian companions often spoke of
the first explorers of this vast wilderness of western Brazil--men
whose very names are now hardly known, but who did each his part in
opening the country which will some day see such growth and
development. Among the most notable of them was a Portuguese, Ricardo
Franco, who spent forty years at the work, during the last quarter of
the eighteenth and the opening years of the nineteenth centuries. He
ascended for long distances the Xingu and the Tapajos, and went up the
Madeira and Guapore, crossing to the head-waters of the Paraguay and
partially exploring there also. He worked among and with the Indians,
much as Mungo Park worked with the natives of West Africa, having none
of the aids, instruments, and comforts with which even the hardiest of
modern explorers are provided. He was one of the men who established
the beginnings of the province of Matto Grosso. For many years the
sole method of communication between this remote interior province and
civilization was by the long, difficult, and perilous route which led
up the Amazon and Madeira; and its then capital, the town of Matto
Grosso, the seat of the captain-general, with its palace, cathedral,
and fortress, was accordingly placed far to the west, near the
Guapore. When less circuitous lines of communication were established
farther eastward the old capital was abandoned, and the tropic
wilderness surged over the lonely little town. The tomb of the old
colonial explorer still stands in the ruined cathedral, where the
forest has once more come to its own. But civilization is again
advancing to reclaim the lost town and to revive the memory of the
wilderness wanderer who helped to found it. Colonel Rondon has named a
river after Franco; a range of mountains has also been named after
him; and the colonel, acting for the Brazilian Government, has
established a telegraph station in what was once the palace of the

Our northward trail led along the high ground a league or two to the
east of the northward-flowing Rio Sacre. Each night we camped on one
of the small tributary brooks that fed it. Fiala, Kermit, and I
occupied one tent. In the daytime the "pium" flies, vicious little
sand-flies, became bad enough to make us finally use gloves and head-
nets. There were many heavy rains, which made the travelling hard for
the mules. The soil was more often clay than sand, and it was slippery
when wet. The weather was overcast, and there was usually no
oppressive heat even at noon. At intervals along the trail we came on
the staring skull and bleached skeleton of a mule or ox. Day after day
we rode forward across endless flats of grass and of low open scrubby
forest, the trees standing far apart and in most places being but
little higher than the head of a horseman. Some of them carried
blossoms, white, orange, yellow, pink; and there were many flowers,
the most beautiful being the morning-glories. Among the trees were
bastard rubber-trees, and dwarf palmetto; if the latter grew more than
a few feet high their tops were torn and dishevelled by the wind.
There was very little bird or mammal life; there were few long vistas,
for in most places it was not possible to see far among the gray,
gnarled trunks of the wind-beaten little trees. Yet the desolate
landscape had a certain charm of its own, although not a charm that
would be felt by any man who does not take pleasure in mere space, and
freedom and wildness, and in plains standing empty to the sun, the
wind, and the rain. The country bore some resemblance to the country
west of Redjaf on the White Nile, the home of the giant eland; only
here there was no big game, no chance of seeing the towering form of
the giraffe, the black bulk of elephant or buffalo, the herds of
straw-colored hartebeests, or the ghostly shimmer of the sun glinting
on the coats of roan and eland as they vanished silently in the gray
sea of withered scrub.

One feature in common with the African landscape was the abundance of
ant-hills, some as high as a man. They were red in the clay country,
gray where it was sandy; and the dirt houses were also in trees, while
their raised tunnels traversed trees and ground alike. At some of the
camping-places we had to be on our watch against the swarms of leaf-
carrying ants. These are so called in the books--the Brazilians call
them "carregadores," or porters--because they are always carrying bits
of leaves and blades of grass to their underground homes. They are
inveterate burden-bearers, and they industriously cut into pieces and
carry off any garment they can get at; and we had to guard our shoes
and clothes from them, just as we had often had to guard all our
belongings against the termites. These ants did not bite us; but we
encountered huge black ants, an inch and a quarter long, which were
very vicious, and their bite was not only painful but quite poisonous.
Praying-mantes were common, and one evening at supper one had a
comical encounter with a young dog, a jovial near-puppy, of Colonel
Rondon's, named Cartucho. He had been christened the jolly-cum-pup,
from a character in one of Frank Stockton's stories, which I suppose
are now remembered only by elderly people, and by them only if they
are natives of the United States. Cartucho was lying with his head on
the ox-hide that served as table, waiting with poorly dissembled
impatience for his share of the banquet. The mantis flew down on the
ox-hide and proceeded to crawl over it, taking little flights from one
corner to another; and whenever it thought itself menaced it assumed
an attitude of seeming devotion and real defiance. Soon it lit in
front of Cartucho's nose. Cartucho cocked his big ears forward,
stretched his neck, and cautiously sniffed at the new arrival, not
with any hostile design, but merely to find out whether it would prove
to be a playmate. The mantis promptly assumed an attitude of prayer.
This struck Cartucho as both novel and interesting, and he thrust his
sniffing black nose still nearer. The mantis dexterously thrust
forward first one and then the other armed fore leg, touching the
intrusive nose, which was instantly jerked back and again slowly and
inquiringly brought forward. Then the mantis suddenly flew in
Cartucho's face, whereupon Cartucho, with a smothered yelp of dismay,
almost turned a back somersault; and the triumphant mantis flew back
to the middle of the ox-hide, among the plates, where it reared erect
and defied the laughing and applauding company.

On the morning of the 29th we were rather late in starting, because
the rain had continued through the night into the morning, drenching
everything. After nightfall there had been some mosquitoes, and the
piums were a pest during daylight; where one bites it leaves a tiny
black spot on the skin which lasts for several weeks. In the slippery
mud one of the pack-mules fell and injured itself so that it had to be
abandoned. Soon after starting we came on the telegraph-line, which
runs from Cuyaba. This was the first time we had seen it. Two Parecis
Indians joined us, leading a pack-bullock. They were dressed in hat,
shirt, trousers, and sandals, precisely like the ordinary Brazilian
caboclos, as the poor backwoods peasants, usually with little white
blood in them, are colloquially and half-derisively styled--caboclo
being originally a Guarany word meaning "naked savage." These two
Indians were in the employ of the Telegraphic Commission, and had been
patrolling the telegraph-line. The bullock carried their personal
belongings and the tools with which they could repair a break. The
commission pays the ordinary Indian worker 66 cents a day; a very good
worker gets $1, and the chief $1.66. No man gets anything unless he
works. Colonel Rondon, by just, kindly, and understanding treatment of
these Indians, who previously had often been exploited and maltreated
by rubber-gatherers, has made them the loyal friends of the
government. He has gathered them at the telegraph stations, where they
cultivate fields of mandioc, beans, potatoes, maize, and other
vegetables, and where he is introducing them to stock-raising; and the
entire work of guarding and patrolling the line is theirs.

After six hours' march we came to the crossing of the Rio Sacre at the
beautiful waterfall appropriately called the Salto Bello. This is the
end of the automobile road. Here there is a small Parecis village. The
men of the village work the ferry by which everything is taken across
the deep and rapid river. The ferry-boat is made of planking placed on
three dugout canoes, and runs on a trolley. Before crossing we enjoyed
a good swim in the swift, clear, cool water. The Indian village, where
we camped, is placed on a jutting tongue of land round which the river
sweeps just before it leaps from the over-hanging precipice. The falls
themselves are very lovely. Just above them is a wooded island, but
the river joins again before it races forward for the final plunge.
There is a sheer drop of forty or fifty yards, with a breadth two or
three times as great; and the volume of water is large. On the left or
hither bank a cliff extends for several hundred yards below the falls.
Green vines have flung themselves down over its face, and they are met
by other vines thrusting upward from the mass of vegetation at its
foot, glistening in the perpetual mist from the cataract, and clothing
even the rock surfaces in vivid green. The river, after throwing
itself over the rock wall, rushes off in long curves at the bottom of
a thickly wooded ravine, the white water churning among the black
boulders. There is a perpetual rainbow at the foot of the falls. The
masses of green water that are hurling themselves over the brink
dissolve into shifting, foaming columns of snowy lace.

On the edge of the cliff below the falls Colonel Rondon had placed
benches, giving a curious touch of rather conventional tourist-
civilization to this cataract far out in the lonely wilderness. It is
well worth visiting for its beauty. It is also of extreme interest
because of the promise it holds for the future. Lieutenant Lyra
informed me that they had calculated that this fall would furnish
thirty-six thousand horse-power. Eight miles off we were to see
another fall of much greater height and power. There are many rivers
in this region which would furnish almost unlimited motive force to
populous manufacturing communities. The country round about is
healthy. It is an upland region of good climate; we were visiting it
in the rainy season, the season when the nights are far less cool than
in the dry season, and yet we found it delightful. There is much
fertile soil in the neighborhood of the streams, and the teeming
lowlands of the Amazon and the Paraguay could readily--and with
immense advantage to both sides--be made tributary to an industrial
civilization seated on these highlands. A telegraph-line has been
built to and across them. A rail-road should follow. Such a line could
be easily built, for there are no serious natural obstacles. In
advance of its construction a trolley-line could be run from Cuyaba to
the falls, using the power furnished by the latter. Once this is done
the land will offer extraordinary opportunities to settlers of the
right kind: to home-makers and to enterprising business men of
foresight, coolness, and sagacity who are willing to work with the
settlers, the immigrants, the home-makers, for an advantage which
shall be mutual.

The Parecis Indians, whom we met here, were exceedingly interesting.
They were to all appearance an unusually cheerful, good-humored,
pleasant-natured people. Their teeth were bad; otherwise they appeared
strong and vigorous, and there were plenty of children. The colonel
was received as a valued friend and as a leader who was to be followed
and obeyed. He is raising them by degrees--the only way by which to
make the rise permanent. In this village he has got them to substitute
for the flimsy Indian cabins houses of the type usual among the poorer
field laborers and back-country dwellers in Brazil. These houses have
roofs of palm thatch, steeply pitched. They are usually open at the
sides, consisting merely of a framework of timbers, with a wall at the
back; but some have the ordinary four walls, of erect palm-logs. The
hammocks are slung in the houses, and the cooking is also done in
them, with pots placed on small open fires, or occasionally in a kind
of clay oven. The big gourds for water, and the wicker baskets, are
placed on the ground, or hung on the poles.

The men had adopted, and were wearing, shirts and trousers, but the
women had made little change in their clothing. A few wore print
dresses, but obviously only for ornament. Most of them, especially the
girls and young married women, wore nothing but a loin-cloth in
addition to bead necklaces and bracelets. The nursing mothers--and
almost all the mothers were nursing--sometimes carried the child slung
against their side of hip, seated in a cloth belt, or sling, which
went over the opposite shoulder of the mother. The women seemed to be
well treated, although polygamy is practised. The children were loved
by every one; they were petted by both men and women, and they behaved
well to one another, the boys not seeming to bully the girls or the
smaller boys. Most of the children were naked, but the girls early
wore the loin-cloth; and some, both of the little boys and the little
girls, wore colored print garments, to the evident pride of themselves
and their parents. In each house there were several families, and life
went on with no privacy but with good humor, consideration, and
fundamentally good manners. The man or woman who had nothing to do lay
in a hammock or squatted on the ground leaning against a post or wall.
The children played together, or lay in little hammocks, or tagged
round after their mothers; and when called they came trustfully up to
us to be petted or given some small trinket; they were friendly little
souls, and accustomed to good treatment. One woman was weaving a
cloth, another was making a hammock; others made ready melons and
other vegetables and cooked them over tiny fires. The men, who had
come in from work at the ferry or along the telegraph-lines, did some
work themselves, or played with the children; one cut a small boy's
hair, and then had his own hair cut by a friend. But the absorbing
amusement of the men was an extraordinary game of ball.

In our family we have always relished Oliver Herford's nonsense
rhymes, including the account of Willie's displeasure with his goat:

"I do not like my billy goat,
I wish that he was dead;
Because he kicked me, so he did,
He kicked me with his head."

Well, these Parecis Indians enthusiastically play football with their
heads. The game is not only native to them, but I have never heard or
read of its being played by any other tribe or people. They use a
light hollow rubber ball, of their own manufacture. It is circular and
about eight inches in diameter. The players are divided into two
sides, and stationed much as in association football, and the ball is
placed on the ground to be put in play as in football. Then a player
runs forward, throws himself flat on the ground, and butts the ball
toward the opposite side. This first butt, when the ball is on the
ground, never lifts it much and it rolls and bounds toward the
opponents. One or two of the latter run toward it; one throws himself
flat on his face and butts the ball back. Usually this butt lifts it,
and it flies back in a curve well up in the air; and an opposite
player, rushing toward it, catches it on his head with such a swing of
his brawny neck, and such precision and address that the ball bounds
back through the air as a football soars after a drop-kick. If the
ball flies off to one side or the other it is brought back, and again
put in play. Often it will be sent to and fro a dozen times, from head
to head, until finally it rises with such a sweep that it passes far
over the heads of the opposite players and descends behind them. Then
shrill, rolling cries of good-humored triumph arise from the victors;
and the game instantly begins again with fresh zest. There are, of
course, no such rules as in a specialized ball-game of civilization;
and I saw no disputes. There may be eight or ten, or many more,
players on each side. The ball is never touched with the hands or
feet, or with anything except the top of the head. It is hard to decide
whether to wonder most at the dexterity and strength with which it is
hit or butted with the head, as it comes down through the air, or at
the reckless speed and skill with which the players throw themselves
headlong on the ground to return the ball if it comes low down. Why
they do not grind off their noses I cannot imagine. Some of the
players hardly ever failed to catch and return the ball if it came in
their neighborhood, and with such a vigorous toss of the head that it
often flew in a great curve for a really astonishing distance.

That night a pack-ox got into the tent in which Kermit and I were
sleeping, entering first at one end and then at the other. It is
extraordinary that he did not waken us; but we slept undisturbed while
the ox deliberately ate our shirts, socks, and underclothes! It chewed
them into rags. One of my socks escaped, and my undershirt, although
chewed full of holes, was still good for some weeks' wear; but the
other things were in fragments.

In the morning Colonel Rondon arranged for us to have breakfast over
on the benches under the trees by the waterfall, whose roar, lulled to
a thunderous murmur, had been in our ears before we slept and when we
waked. There could have been no more picturesque place for the
breakfast of such a party as ours. All travellers who really care to
see what is most beautiful and most characteristic of the far interior
of South America should in their journey visit this region, and see
the two great waterfalls. They are even now easy of access; and as
soon as the traffic warrants it they will be made still more so; then,
from Sao Luis Caceres, they will be speedily reached by light
steamboat up the Sepotuba and by a day or two's automobile ride, with
a couple of days on horse-back in between.

The colonel held a very serious council with the Parecis Indians over
an incident which caused him grave concern. One of the commission's
employees, a negro, had killed a wild Nhambiquara Indian; but it
appeared that he had really been urged on and aided by the Parecis, as
the members of the tribe to which the dead Indian belonged were much
given to carrying off the Parecis women and in other ways making
themselves bad neighbors. The colonel tried hard to get at the truth
of the matter; he went to the biggest Indian house, where he sat in a
hammock--an Indian child cuddling solemnly up to him, by the way--
while the Indians sat in other hammocks, and stood round about; but it
was impossible to get an absolutely frank statement.

It appeared, however, that the Nhambiquaras had made a descent on the
Parecis village in the momentary absence of the men of the village;
but the latter, notified by the screaming of the women, had returned
in time to rescue them. The negro was with them and, having a good
rifle, he killed one of the aggressors. The Parecis were, of course,
in the right, but the colonel could not afford to have his men take
sides in a tribal quarrel.

It was only a two hours' march across to the Papagaio at the Falls of
Utiarity, so named by their discoverer, Colonel Rondon, after the
sacred falcon of the Parecis. On the way we passed our Indian friends,
themselves bound thither; both the men and the women bore burdens--the
burdens of some of the women, poor things, were heavy--and even the
small naked children carried the live hens. At Utiarity there is a big
Parecis settlement and a telegraph station kept by one of the
employees of the commission. His pretty brown wife is acting as
schoolmistress to a group of little Parecis girls. The Parecis chief
has been made a major and wears a uniform accordingly. The commission
has erected good buildings for its own employees and has superintended
the erection of good houses for the Indians. Most of the latter still
prefer the simplicity of the loin-cloth, in their ordinary lives, but
they proudly wore their civilized clothes in our honor. When in the
late afternoon the men began to play a regular match game of head-
ball, with a scorer or umpire to keep count, they soon discarded most
of their clothes, coming down to nothing but trousers or a loin-cloth.
Two or three of them had their faces stained with red ochre. Among the
women and children looking on were a couple of little girls who
paraded about on stilts.

The great waterfall was half a mile below us. Lovely though we had
found Salto Bello, these falls were far superior in beauty and
majesty. They are twice as high and twice as broad; and the lay of the
land is such that the various landscapes in which the waterfall is a
feature are more striking. A few hundred yards above the falls the
river turns at an angle and widens. The broad, rapid shallows are
crested with whitecaps. Beyond this wide expanse of flecked and
hurrying water rise the mist columns of the cataract; and as these
columns are swayed and broken by the wind the forest appears through
and between them. From below the view is one of singular grandeur. The
fall is over a shelving ledge of rock which goes in a nearly straight
line across the river's course. But at the left there is a salient in
the cliff-line, and here accordingly a great cataract of foaming water
comes down almost as a separate body, in advance of the line of the
main fall. I doubt whether, excepting, of course, Niagara, there is a
waterfall in North America which outranks this if both volume and
beauty are considered. Above the fall the river flows through a wide
valley with gently sloping sides. Below, it slips along, a torrent of
white-green water, at the bottom of a deep gorge; and the sides of the
gorge are clothed with a towering growth of tropical forest.

Next morning the cacique of these Indians, in his major's uniform,
came to breakfast, and bore himself with entire propriety. It was
raining heavily--it rained most of the time--and a few minutes
previously I had noticed the cacique's two wives, with three or four
other young women, going out to the mandioc fields. It was a
picturesque group. The women were all mothers, and each carried a
nursing child. They wore loin-cloths or short skirts. Each carried on
her back a wickerwork basket supported by a head-strap which went
around her forehead. Each carried a belt slung diagonally across her
body, over her right shoulder; in this the child was carried, against
and perhaps astride of her left hip. They were comely women, who did
not look jaded or cowed; and they laughed cheerfully and nodded to us
as they passed through the rain, on their way to the fields. But the
contrast between them and the chief in his soldier's uniform seated at
breakfast was rather too striking; and incidentally it etched in bold
lines the folly of those who idealize the life of even exceptionally
good and pleasant-natured savages.

Although it was the rainy season, the trip up to this point had not
been difficult, and from May to October, when the climate is dry and
at its best, there would be practically no hardship at all for
travellers and visitors. This is a healthy plateau. But, of course,
the men who do the first pioneering, even in country like this,
encounter dangers and run risks; and they make payment with their
bodies. At more than one halting-place we had come across the forlorn
grave of some soldier or laborer of the commission. The grave-mound
lay within a rude stockade; and an uninscribed wooden cross, gray and
weather-beaten, marked the last resting-place of the unknown and
forgotten man beneath, the man who had paid with his humble life the
cost of pushing the frontier of civilization into the wild savagery of
the wilderness. Farther west the conditions become less healthy. At
this station Colonel Rondon received news of sickness and of some
deaths among the employees of the commission in the country to the
westward, which we were soon to enter. Beriberi and malignant malarial
fever were the diseases which claimed the major number of the victims.

Surely these are "the men who do the work for which they draw the
wage." Kermit had with him the same copy of Kipling's poems which he
had carried through Africa. At these falls there was one sunset of
angry splendor; and we contrasted this going down of the sun, through
broken rain-clouds and over leagues of wet tropical forest, with the
desert sunsets we had seen in Arizona and Sonora, and along the Guaso
Nyiro north and west of Mount Kenia, when the barren mountains were
changed into flaming "ramparts of slaughter and peril" standing above
"the wine-dark flats below."

It rained during most of the day after our arrival at Utiarity.
Whenever there was any let-up the men promptly came forth from their
houses and played head-ball with the utmost vigor; and we would listen
to their shrill undulating cries of applause and triumph until we also
grew interested and strolled over to look on. They are more infatuated
with the game than an American boy is with baseball or football. It is
an extraordinary thing that this strange and exciting game should be
played by, and only by, one little tribe of Indians in what is almost
the very centre of South America. If any traveller or ethnologist
knows of a tribe elsewhere that plays a similar game, I wish he would
let me know. To play it demands great activity, vigor, skill, and
endurance. Looking at the strong, supple bodies of the players, and at
the number of children roundabout, it seemed as if the tribe must be
in vigorous health; yet the Parecis have decreased in numbers, for
measles and smallpox have been fatal to them.

By the evening the rain was coming down more heavily than ever. It was
not possible to keep the moisture out of our belongings; everything
became mouldy except what became rusty. It rained all that night; and
day-light saw the downpour continuing with no prospect of cessation.
The pack-mules could not have gone on with the march; they were
already rather done up by their previous ten days' labor through rain
and mud, and it seemed advisable to wait until the weather became
better before attempting to go forward. Moreover, there had been no
chance to take the desired astronomical observations. There was very
little grass for the mules; but there was abundance of a small-leaved
plant eight or ten inches high--unfortunately, not very nourishing--on
which they fed greedily. In such weather and over such muddy trails
oxen travel better than mules.

In spite of the weather Cherrie and Miller, whom, together with Father
Zahm and Sigg, we had found awaiting us, made good collections of
birds and mammals. Among the latter were opossums and mice that were
new to them. The birds included various forms so unlike our home birds
that the enumeration of their names would mean nothing. One of the
most interesting was a large black-and-white woodpecker, the white
predominating in the plumage. Several of these woodpeckers were
usually found together. They were showy, noisy, and restless, and
perched on twigs, in ordinary bird fashion, at least as often as they
clung to the trunks in orthodox woodpecker style. The prettiest bird
was a tiny manakin, coal-black, with a red-and-orange head.

On February 2 the rain let up, although the sky remained overcast and
there were occasional showers. I walked off with my rifle for a couple
of leagues; at that distance, from a slight hillock, the mist columns
of the falls were conspicuous in the landscape. The only mammal I saw
on the walk was a rather hairy armadillo, with a flexible tail, which
I picked up and brought back to Miller--it showed none of the speed of
the nine-banded armadillos we met on our jaguar-hunt. Judging by its
actions, as it trotted about before it saw me, it must be diurnal in
habits. It was new to the collection.

I spent much of the afternoon by the waterfall. Under the overcast sky
the great cataract lost the deep green and fleecy-white of the sunlit
falling waters. Instead it showed opaline hues and tints of topaz and
amethyst. At all times, and under all lights, it was majestic and

Colonel Rondon had given the Indians various presents, those for the
women including calico prints, and, what they especially prized,
bottles of scented oil, from Paris, for their hair. The men held a
dance in the late afternoon. For this occasion most, but not all, of
them cast aside their civilized clothing, and appeared as doubtless
they would all have appeared had none but themselves been present.
They were absolutely naked except for a beaded string round the waist.
Most of them were spotted and dashed with red paint, and on one leg
wore anklets which rattled. A number carried pipes through which they
blew a kind of deep stifled whistle in time to the dancing. One of
them had his pipe leading into a huge gourd, which gave out a hollow,
moaning boom. Many wore two red or green or yellow macaw feathers in
their hair, and one had a macaw feather stuck transversely through the
septum of his nose. They circled slowly round and round, chanting and
stamping their feet, while the anklet rattles clattered and the pipes
droned. They advanced to the wall of one of the houses, again and
again chanting and bowing before it; I was told this was a demand for
drink. They entered one house and danced in a ring around the cooking-
fire in the middle of the earth floor; I was told that they were then
reciting the deeds of mighty hunters and describing how they brought
in the game. They drank freely from gourds and pannikins of a
fermented drink made from mandioc which were brought out to them.
During the first part of the dance the women remained in the houses,
and all the doors and windows were shut and blankets hung to prevent
the possibility of seeing out. But during the second part all the
women and girls came out and looked on. They were themselves to have
danced when the men had finished, but were overcome with shyness at
the thought of dancing with so many strangers looking on. The children
played about with unconcern throughout the ceremony, one of them
throwing high in the air, and again catching in his hands, a loaded
feather, a kind of shuttlecock.

In the evening the growing moon shone through the cloud-rack. Anything
approaching fair weather always put our men in good spirits; and the
muleteers squatted in a circle, by a fire near a pile of packs, and
listened to a long monotonously and rather mournfully chanted song
about a dance and a love-affair. We ourselves worked busily with our
photographs and our writing. There was so much humidity in the air
that everything grew damp and stayed damp, and mould gathered quickly.
At this season it is a country in which writing, taking photographs,
and preparing specimens are all works of difficulty, at least so far
as concerns preserving and sending home the results of the labor; and
a man's clothing is never really dry. From here Father Zahm returned
to Tapirapoan, accompanied by Sigg.


From this point we were to enter a still wilder region, the land of
the naked Nhambiquaras. On February 3 the weather cleared and we
started with the mule-train and two ox-carts. Fiala and Lieutenant
Lauriado stayed at Utiarity to take canoes and go down the Papagaio,
which had not been descended by any scientific party, and perhaps by
no one. They were then to descend the Juruena and Tapajos, thereby
performing a necessary part of the work of the expedition. Our
remaining party consisted of Colonel Rondon, Lieutenant Lyra, the
doctor, Oliveira, Cherrie, Miller, Kermit, and myself. On the Juruena
we expected to meet the pack ox-train with Captain Amilcar and
Lieutenant Mello; the other Brazilian members of the party had
returned. We had now begun the difficult part of the expedition. The
pium flies were becoming a pest. There was much fever and beriberi in
the country we were entering. The feed for the animals was poor; the
rains had made the trails slippery and difficult; and many, both of
the mules and the oxen, were already weak, and some had to be
abandoned. We left the canoe, the motor, and the gasolene; we had
hoped to try them on the Amazonian rivers, but we were obliged to cut
down everything that was not absolutely indispensable.

Before leaving we prepared for shipment back to the museum some of the
bigger skins, and also some of the weapons and utensils of the
Indians, which Kermit had collected. These included woven fillets, and
fillets made of macaw feathers, for use in the dances; woven belts; a
gourd in which the sacred drink is offered to the god Enoerey;
wickerwork baskets; flutes or pipes; anklet rattles; hammocks; a belt
of the kind used by the women in carrying the babies, with the
weaving-frame. All these were Parecis articles. He also secured from
the Nhambiquaras wickerwork baskets of a different type and bows and
arrows. The bows were seven feet long and the arrows five feet. There
were blunt-headed arrows for birds, arrows with long, sharp wooden
blades for tapir, deer, and other mammals; and the poisoned war-
arrows, with sharp barbs, poison-coated and bound on by fine thongs,
and with a long, hollow wooden guard to slip over the entire point and
protect it until the time came to use it. When people talk glibly of
"idle" savages they ignore the immense labor entailed by many of their
industries, and the really extraordinary amount of work they
accomplish by the skilful use of their primitive and ineffective

It was not until early in the afternoon that we started into the
"sertao,"[*] as Brazilians call the wilderness. We drove with us a
herd of oxen for food. After going about fifteen miles we camped
beside the swampy headwaters of a little brook. It was at the spot
where nearly seven years previously Rondon and Lyra had camped on the
trip when they discovered Utiarity Falls and penetrated to the
Juruena. When they reached this place they had been thirty-six hours
without food. They killed a bush deer--a small deer--and ate literally
every particle. The dogs devoured the entire skin. For much of the
time on this trip they lived on wild fruit, and the two dogs that
remained alive would wait eagerly under the trees and eat the fruit
that was shaken down.

[*] Pronounced "sairtown," as nearly as, with our preposterous methods
of spelling and pronunciation, I can render it.

In the late afternoon the piums were rather bad at this camp, but we
had gloves and head-nets, and were not bothered; and although there
were some mosquitoes we slept well under our mosquito-nets. The frogs
in the swamp uttered a peculiar, loud shout. Miller told of a little
tree-frog in Colombia which swelled itself out with air until it
looked like the frog in Aesop's fables, and then brayed like a mule;
and Cherrie told of a huge frog in Guiana that uttered a short, loud

Next day the weather was still fair. Our march lay through country
like that which we had been traversing for ten days. Skeletons of
mules and oxen were more frequent; and once or twice by the wayside we
passed the graves of officers or men who had died on the road. Barbed
wire encircled the desolate little mounds. We camped on the west bank
of the Burity River. Here there is a balsa, or ferry, run by two
Parecis Indians, as employees of the Telegraphic Commission, under the
colonel. Each had a thatched house, and each had two wives--all these
Indians are pagans. All were dressed much like the poorer peasants of
the Brazilian back country, and all were pleasant and well-behaved.
The women ran the ferry about as well as the men. They had no
cultivated fields, and for weeks they had been living only on game and
honey; and they hailed with joy our advent and the quantities of beans
and rice which, together with some beef, the colonel left with them.
They feasted most of the night. Their houses contained their hammocks,
baskets, and other belongings, and they owned some poultry. In one
house was a tiny parakeet, very much at home, and familiar, but by no
means friendly, with strangers. There are wild Nhambiquaras in the
neighborhood, and recently several of these had menaced the two
ferrymen with an attack, even shooting arrows at them. The ferrymen
had driven them off by firing their rifles in the air; and they
expected and received the colonel's praise for their self-restraint;
for the colonel is doing all he can to persuade the Indians to stop
their blood feuds. The rifles were short and light Winchester
carbines, of the kind so universally used by the rubber-gatherers and
other adventurous wanderers in the forest wilderness of Brazil. There
were a number of rubber-trees in the neighborhood, by the way.

We enjoyed a good bath in the Burity, although it was impossible to
make headway by swimming against the racing current. There were few
mosquitoes. On the other hand, various kinds of piums were a little
too abundant; they vary from things like small gnats to things like
black flies. The small stingless bees have no fear and can hardly be
frightened away when they light on the hands or face; but they never
bite, and merely cause a slight tickling as they crawl over the skin.
There were some big bees, however, which, although they crawled about
harmlessly after lighting if they were undisturbed, yet stung fiercely
if they were molested. The insects were not ordinarily a serious
bother, but there were occasional hours when they were too numerous
for comfort, and now and then I had to do my writing in a head-net and

The night we reached the Burity it rained heavily, and next day the
rain continued. In the morning the mules were ferried over, while the
oxen were swum across. Half a dozen of our men--whites, Indians, and
negroes, all stark naked and uttering wild cries, drove the oxen into
the river and then, with powerful overhand strokes, swam behind and
alongside them as they crossed, half breasting the swift current. It
was a fine sight to see the big, long-horned, staring beasts swimming
strongly, while the sinewy naked men urged them forward, utterly at
ease in the rushing water. We made only a short day's journey, for,
owing to the lack of grass, the mules had to be driven off nearly
three miles from our line of march, in order to get them feed. We
camped at the headwaters of a little brook called Huatsui, which is
Parecis for "monkey."

Accompanying us on this march was a soldier bound for one of the
remoter posts. With him trudged his wife. They made the whole journey
on foot. There were two children. One was so young that it had to be
carried alternately by the father and mother. The other, a small boy
of eight, and much the best of the party, was already a competent
wilderness worker. He bore his share of the belongings on the march,
and when camp was reached sometimes himself put up the family shelter.
They were mainly of negro blood. Struck by the woman's uncomplaining
endurance of fatigue, we offered to take her and the baby in the
automobile, while it accompanied us. But, alas! this proved to be one
of those melancholy cases where the effort to relieve hardship well
endured results only in showing that those who endure the adversity
cannot stand even a slight prosperity. The woman proved a querulous
traveller in the auto, complaining that she was not made as
comfortable as apparently she had expected; and after one day the
husband declared he was not willing to have her go unless he went too;
and the family resumed their walk.

In this neighborhood there were multitudes of the big, gregarious,
crepuscular or nocturnal spiders which I have before mentioned. On
arriving in camp, at about four in the afternoon, I ran into a number
of remains of their webs, and saw a very few of the spiders themselves
sitting in the webs midway between trees. I then strolled a couple of
miles up the road ahead of us under the line of telegraph-poles. It
was still bright sunlight and no spiders were out; in fact, I did not
suspect their presence along the line of telegraph-poles, although I
ought to have done so, for I continually ran into long strings of
tough fine web, which got across my face or hands or rifle barrel. I
returned just at sunset and the spiders were out in force. I saw
dozens of colonies, each of scores or hundreds of individuals. Many
were among the small trees alongside the broad, cleared trail. But
most were dependent from the wire itself. Their webs had all been made
or repaired since I had passed. Each was sitting in the middle of his
own wheel, and all the wheels were joined to one another; and the
whole pendent fabric hung by fine ropes from the wire above, and was
in some cases steadied by guy-ropes, thrown thirty feet off to little
trees alongside. I watched them until nightfall, and evidently, to
them, after their day's rest, their day's work had just begun. Next
morning--owing to a desire to find out what the facts were as regards
the ox-carts, which were in difficulties--Cherrie, Miller, Kermit, and
I walked back to the Burity River, where Colonel Rondon had spent the
night. It was a misty, overcast morning, and the spiders in the webs
that hung from the telegraph-wire were just going to their day homes.
These were in and under the big white china insulators on the
telegraph-poles. Hundreds of spiders were already climbing up into
these. When, two or three hours later, we returned, the sun was out,
and not a spider was to be seen.

Here we had to cut down our baggage and rearrange the loads for the
mule-train. Cherrie and Miller had a most workmanlike equipment,
including a very light tent and two light flies. One fly they gave for
the kitchen use, one fly was allotted to Kermit and me, and they kept
only the tent for themselves. Colonel Rondon and Lyra went in one
tent, the doctor and Oliveira in another. Each of us got rid of
everything above the sheer necessities. This was necessary because of
the condition of the baggage-animals. The oxen were so weak that the
effort to bring on the carts had to be abandoned. Nine of the pack-
mules had already been left on the road during the three days' march
from Utiarity. In the first expeditions into this country all the
baggage animals had died; and even in our case the loss was becoming
very heavy. This state of affairs is due to the scarcity of forage and
the type of country. Good grass is scanty, and the endless leagues of
sparse, scrubby forest render it exceedingly difficult to find the
animals when they wander. They must be turned absolutely loose to roam
about and pick up their scanty subsistence, and must be given as long
a time as possible to feed and rest; even under these conditions most
of them grow weak when, as in our case, it is impossible to carry
corn. They cannot be found again until after daylight, and then hours
must be spent in gathering them; and this means that the march must be
made chiefly during the heat of the day, the most trying time. Often
some of the animals would not be brought in until so late that it was
well on in the forenoon, perhaps midday, before the bulk of the pack-
train started; and they reached the camping-place as often after night
fall as before it. Under such conditions many of the mules and oxen
grew constantly weaker and ultimately gave out; and it was imperative
to load them as lightly as possible, and discard all luxuries,
especially heavy or bulky luxuries. Travelling through a wild country
where there is little food for man or beast is beset with difficulties
almost inconceivable to the man who does not himself know this kind of
wilderness, and especially to the man who only knows the ease of
civilization. A scientific party of some size, with the equipment
necessary in order to do scientific work, can only go at all if the
men who actually handle the problems of food and transportation do
their work thoroughly.

Our march continued through the same type of high, nearly level
upland, covered with scanty, scrubby forest. It is the kind of country
known to the Brazilians as chapadao--pronounced almost as if it were a
French word and spelled shapadon. Our camp on the fourth night was in
a beautiful spot, an open grassy space, beside a clear, cool, rushing
little river. We ourselves reached this, and waded our beasts across
the deep, narrow stream in the late afternoon; and we then enjoyed a
bath and swim. The loose bullocks arrived at sunset, and with shrill
cries the mounted herdsmen urged them into and across the swift water.
The mule-train arrived long after night fall, and it was not deemed
wise to try to cross the laden animals. Accordingly the loads were
taken off and brought over on the heads of the men; it was fine to see
the sinewy, naked figures bearing their burdens through the broken
moonlit water to the hither bank. The night was cool and pleasant. We
kindled a fire and sat beside the blaze. Then, healthily hungry, we
gathered around the ox-hides to a delicious dinner of soup, beef,
beans, rice, and coffee.

Next day we made a short march, crossed a brook, and camped by another
clear, deep, rapid little river, swollen by the rains. All these
rivers that we were crossing run actually into the Juruena, and
therefore form part of the headwaters of the Tapajos; for the Tapajos
is a mighty river, and the basin which holds its headwaters covers an
immense extent of country. This country and the adjacent regions,
forming the high interior of western Brazil, will surely some day
support a large industrial population; of which the advent would be
hastened, although not necessarily in permanently better fashion, if
Colonel Rondon's anticipations about the development of mining,
especially gold mining, are realized. In any event the region will be
a healthy home for a considerable agricultural and pastoral
population. Above all, the many swift streams with their numerous
waterfalls, some of great height and volume, offer the chance for the
upgrowth of a number of big manufacturing communities, knit by rail-
roads to one another and to the Atlantic coast and the valleys of the
Paraguay, Madeira, and Amazon, and feeding and being fed by the
dwellers in the rich, hot, alluvial lowlands that surround this
elevated territory. The work of Colonel Rondon and his associates of
the Telegraphic Commission has been to open this great and virgin land
to the knowledge of the world and to the service of their nation. In
doing so they have incidentally founded the Brazilian school of
exploration. Before their day almost all the scientific and regular
exploration of Brazil was done by foreigners. But, of course, there
was much exploration and settlement by nameless Brazilians, who were
merely endeavoring to make new homes or advance their private
fortunes: in recent years by rubber-gatherers, for instance, and a
century ago by those bold and restless adventurers, partly of
Portuguese and partly of Indian blood, the Paolistas, from one of whom
Colonel Rondon is himself descended on his father's side.

The camp by this river was in some old and grown-up fields, once the
seat of a rather extensive maize and mandioc cultivation by the
Nhambiquaras. On this day Cherrie got a number of birds new to the
collection, and two or three of them probably new to science. We had
found the birds for the most part in worn plumage, for the breeding
season, the southern spring and northern fall, was over. But some
birds were still breeding. In the tropics the breeding season is more
irregular than in the north. Some birds breed at very different times
from that chosen by the majority of their fellows; some can hardly be
said to have any regular season; Cherrie had found one species of
honey-creeper breeding in every month of the year. Just before sunset
and just after sunrise big, noisy, blue-and-yellow macaws flew over
this camp. They were plentiful enough to form a loose flock, but each
pair kept to itself, the two individuals always close together and
always separated from the rest. Although not an abundant, it was an
interesting, fauna which the two naturalists found in this upland
country, where hitherto no collections of birds and mammals had been
made. Miller trapped several species of opossums, mice and rats which
were new to him. Cherrie got many birds which he did not recognize. At
this camp, among totally strange forms, he found an old and familiar
acquaintance. Before breakfast he brought in several birds; a dark
colored flycatcher, with white forehead and rump and two very long
tail-feathers; a black and slate-blue tanager; a black ant-thrush with
a concealed white spot on its back, at the base of the neck, and its
dull-colored mate; and other birds which he believed to be new to
science, but whose relationships with any of our birds are so remote
that it is hard to describe them save in technical language. Finally,
among these unfamiliar forms was a veery, and the sight of the rufous-
olive back and faintly spotted throat of this singer of our northern
Junes made us almost homesick.

Next day was brilliantly clear. The mules could not be brought in
until quite late in the morning, and we had to march twenty miles
under the burning tropical sun, right in the hottest part of the day.
From a rise of ground we looked back over the vast, sunlit landscape,
the endless rolling stretches of low forest. Midway on our journey we
crossed a brook. The dogs minded the heat much. They continually ran
off to one side, lay down in a shady place, waited until we were
several hundred yards ahead, and then raced after us, overtook us, and
repeated the performance. The pack-train came in about sunset; but we
ourselves reached the Juruena in the middle of the afternoon.

The Juruena is the name by which the Tapajos goes along its upper
course. Where we crossed, it was a deep, rapid stream, flowing in a
heavily wooded valley with rather steep sides. We were ferried across
on the usual balsa, a platform on three dugouts, running by the force
of the current on a wire trolley. There was a clearing on each side
with a few palms, and on the farther bank were the buildings of the
telegraph station. This is a wild country, and the station was guarded
by a few soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Marino, a native of
Rio Grande do Sul, a blond man who looked like an Englishman--an
agreeable companion, and a good and resolute officer, as all must be
who do their work in this wilderness. The Juruena was first followed
at the end of the eighteenth century by the Portuguese explorer
Franco, and not again until over a hundred years had elapsed, when the
Telegraphic Commission not only descended, but for the first time
accurately placed and mapped its course.

There were several houses on the rise of the farther bank, all with
thatched roofs, some of them with walls of upright tree-trunks, some
of them daub and wattle. Into one of the latter, with two rooms, we
took our belongings. The sand-flies were bothersome at night, coming
through the interstices in the ordinary mosquito-nets. The first night
they did this I got no sleep until morning, when it was cool enough
for me to roll myself in my blanket and put on a head-net. Afterward
we used fine nets of a kind of cheese-cloth. They were hot, but they
kept out all, or almost all, of the sand-flies and other small

Here we overtook the rearmost division of Captain Amilcar's bullock-
train. Our own route had diverged, in order to pass the great falls.
Captain Amilcar had come direct, overtaking the pack-oxen, which had
left Tapirapoan before we did, laden with material for the Duvida
trip. He had brought the oxen through in fine shape, losing only three
beasts with their loads, and had himself left the Juruena the morning
of the day we reached there. His weakest animals left that evening, to
make the march by moonlight; and as it was desirable to give them
thirty-six hours' start, we halted for a day on the banks of the
river. It was not a wasted day. In addition to bathing and washing our
clothes, the naturalists made some valuable additions to the
collection--including a boldly marked black, blue, and white jay--and
our photographs were developed and our writing brought abreast of the
date. Travelling through a tropical wilderness in the rainy season,
when the amount of baggage that can be taken is strictly limited,
entails not only a good deal of work, but also the exercise of
considerable ingenuity if the writing and photographing, and
especially the preservation, of the specimens are to be done in
satisfactory shape.

At the telegraph office we received news that the voyage of Lauriado
and Fiala down the Papagaio had opened with a misadventure. In some
bad rapids, not many miles below the falls, two of the canoes had been
upset, half of their provisions and all of Fiala's baggage lost, and
Fiala himself nearly drowned. The Papagaio is known both at the source
and the mouth; to descend it did not represent a plunge into the
unknown, as in the case of the Duvida or the Ananas; but the actual
water work, over the part that was unexplored, offered the same
possibilities of mischance and disaster. It is a hazardous thing to
descend a swift, unknown river rushing through an uninhabited
wilderness. To descend or ascend the ordinary great highway rivers of
South America, such as the Amazon, Paraguay, Tapajos, and, in its
lower course, the Orinoco, is now so safe and easy, whether by steam-
boat or big, native cargo-boat, that people are apt to forget the very
serious difficulties offered by the streams, often themselves great
rivers, which run into or form the upper courses of these same water
highways. Few things are easier than the former feat, and few more
difficult than the latter; and experience in ordinary travelling on
the lower courses of the rivers is of no benefit whatever in enabling
a man to form a judgement as to what can be done, and how to do it, on
the upper courses. Failure to remember this fact is one of the
obstacles in the way of securing a proper appreciation of the needs
and the results, of South American exploration.

At the Juruena we met a party of Nhambiquaras, very friendly and
sociable, and very glad to see Colonel Rondon. They were originally
exceedingly hostile and suspicious, but the colonel's unwearied
thoughtfulness and good temper, joined with his indomitable
resolution, enabled him to avoid war and to secure their friendship
and even their aid. He never killed one. Many of them are known to him
personally. He is on remarkably good terms with them, and they are
very fond of him--although this does not prevent them from now and
then yielding to temptation, even at his expense, and stealing a dog
or something else which strikes them as offering an irresistible
attraction. They cannot be employed at steady work; but they do
occasional odd jobs, and are excellent at hunting up strayed mules or
oxen; and a few of the men have begun to wear clothes, purely for
ornament. Their confidence and bold friendliness showed how well they
had been treated. Probably half of our visitors were men; several were
small boys; one was a woman with a baby; the others were young married
women and girls.

Nowhere in Africa did we come across wilder or more absolutely
primitive savages, although these Indians were pleasanter and better-
featured than any of the African tribes at the same stage of culture.
Both sexes were well-made and rather good-looking, with fairly good
teeth, although some of them seemed to have skin diseases. They were a
laughing, easy-tempered crew, and the women were as well-fed as the
men, and were obviously well-treated, from the savage standpoint;
there was no male brutality like that which forms such a revolting
feature in the life of the Australian black fellows and, although to a
somewhat less degree, in the life of so many negro and Indian tribes.
They were practically absolutely naked. In many savage tribes the men
go absolutely naked, but the women wear a breech-clout or loincloth.
In certain tribes we saw near Lake Victoria Nyanza, and on the upper
White Nile, both men and women were practically naked. Among these
Nhambiquaras the women were more completely naked than the men,
although the difference was not essential. The men wore a string
around the waist. Most of them wore nothing else, but a few had
loosely hanging from this string in front a scanty tuft of dried
grass, or a small piece of cloth, which, however, was of purely
symbolic use so far as either protection or modesty was concerned. The
women did not wear a stitch of any kind anywhere on their bodies. They
did not have on so much as a string, or a bead, or even an ornament in
their hair. They were all, men and women, boys and well-grown young
girls, as entirely at ease and unconscious as so many friendly
animals. All of them--men, women, and children, laughing and talking--
crowded around us, whether we were on horseback or on foot. They
flocked into the house, and when I sat down to write surrounded me so
closely that I had to push them gently away. The women and girls often
stood holding one another's hands, or with their arms over one
another's shoulders or around one another's waists, offering an
attractive picture. The men had holes pierced through the septum of
the nose and through the upper lip, and wore a straw through each
hole. The women were not marked or mutilated. It seems like a
contradiction in terms, but it is nevertheless a fact that the
behavior of these completely naked women and men was entirely modest.
There was never an indecent look or a consciously indecent gesture.
They had no blankets or hammocks, and when night came simply lay down
in the sand. Colonel Rondon stated that they never wore a covering by
night or by day, and if it was cool slept one on each side of a small
fire. Their huts were merely slight shelters against the rain.

The moon was nearly full, and after nightfall a few of the Indians
suddenly held an improvised dance for us in front of our house. There
were four men, a small boy, and two young women or grown girls. Two of
the men had been doing some work for the commission, and were dressed,
one completely and one partially, in ordinary clothes. Two of the men
and the boy were practically naked, and the two young women were
absolutely so. All of them danced in a circle, without a touch of
embarrassment or impropriety. The two girls kept hold of each other's
hands throughout, dancing among the men as modestly as possible, and
with the occasional interchange of a laugh or jest, in as good taste
and temper as in any dance in civilization. The dance consisted in
slowly going round in a circle, first one way then the other,
rhythmically beating time with the feet to the music of the song they
were chanting. The chants--there were three of them, all told--were
measured and rather slowly uttered melodies, varied with an occasional
half-subdued shrill cry. The women continually uttered a kind of long-
drawn wailing or droning; I am not enough of a musician to say whether
it was an overtone or the sustaining of the burden of the ballad. The
young boy sang better than any of the others. It was a strange and
interesting sight to see these utterly wild, friendly savages circling
in their slow dance, and chanting their immemorial melodies, in the
brilliant tropical moonlight, with the river rushing by in the
background, through the lonely heart of the wilderness.

The Indians stayed with us, feasting, dancing, and singing until the
early hours of the morning. They then suddenly and silently
disappeared in the darkness, and did not return. In the morning we
discovered that they had gone off with one of Colonel Rondon's dogs.
Probably the temptation had proved irresistible to one of their
number, and the others had been afraid to interfere, and also afraid
to stay in or return to our neighborhood. We had not time to go after
them; but Rondon remarked that as soon as he again came to the
neighborhood he would take some soldiers, hunt up the Indians, and
reclaim the dog. It has been his mixture of firmness, good nature, and
good judgment that has enabled him to control these bold, warlike
savages, and even to reduce the warfare between them and the Parecis.
In spite of their good nature and laughter, their fearlessness and
familiarity showed how necessary it was not to let them get the upper
hand. They are always required to leave all their arms a mile or two
away before they come into the encampment. They are much wilder and
more savage, and at a much lower cultural level, than the Parecis.

In the afternoon of the day following our arrival there was a heavy
rain-storm which drove into the unglazed windows, and here and there
came through the roof and walls of our daub-and-wattle house. The heat
was intense and there was much moisture in this valley. During the
downpour I looked out at the dreary little houses, showing through the
driving rain, while the sheets of muddy water slid past their door-
sills; and I felt a sincere respect for the lieutenant and his
soldiers who were holding this desolate outpost of civilization. It is
an unhealthy spot; there has been much malarial fever and beriberi--an
obscure and deadly disease.

Next morning we resumed our march. It soon began to rain and we were
drenched when, some fifteen miles on, we reached the river where we
were to camp. After the great heat we felt quite cold in our wet
clothes, and gladly crowded round a fire which was kindled under a
thatched shed, beside the cabin of the ferryman. This ferry-boat was
so small that it could only take one mule, or at most two, at a time.
The mules and a span of six oxen dragging an ox-cart, which we had
overtaken, were ferried slowly to the farther side that afternoon, as
there was no feed on the hither bank, where we ourselves camped. The
ferryman was a soldier in the employ of the Telegraphic Commission.
His good-looking, pleasant-mannered wife, evidently of both Indian and
negro blood, was with him, and was doing all she could do as a
housekeeper, in the comfortless little cabin, with its primitive
bareness of furniture and fittings.

Here we saw Captain Amilcar, who had come back to hurry up his rear-
guard. We stood ankle-deep in mud and water, by the swollen river,
while the rain beat on us, and enjoyed a few minutes' talk with the
cool, competent officer who was doing a difficult job with such
workman-like efficiency. He had no poncho, and was wet through, but
was much too busy in getting his laden oxen forward to think of
personal discomfort. He had had a good deal of trouble with his mules,
but his oxen were still in fair shape.

After leaving the Juruena the ground became somewhat more hilly, and
the scrubby forest was less open, but otherwise there was no change in
the monotonous, and yet to me rather attractive, landscape. The ant-
hills, and the ant-houses in the trees--arboreal ant-hills, so to
speak were as conspicuous as ever. The architects of some were red
ants, of others black ants; and others, which were on the whole the
largest, had been built by the white ants, the termites. The latter
were not infrequently taller than a horseman's head.

That evening round the camp-fire Colonel Rondon happened to mention
how the brother of one of the soldiers with us--a Parecis Indian--had
been killed by a jararaca snake. Cherrie told of a narrow escape he
had from one while collecting in Guiana. At night he used to set traps
in camp for small mammals. One night he heard one of these traps go
off under his hammock. He reached down for it, and as he fumbled for
the chain he felt a snake strike at him, just missing him in the
darkness, but actually brushing his hand. He lit a light and saw that
a big jararaca had been caught in the trap; and he preserved it as a
specimen. Snakes frequently came into his camp after nightfall. He
killed one rattlesnake which had swallowed the skinned bodies of four
mice he had prepared as specimens; which shows that rattlesnakes do
not always feed only on living prey. Another rattlesnake which he
killed in Central America had just swallowed an opossum which proved
to be of a species new to science. Miller told how once on the Orinoco
he saw on the bank a small anaconda, some ten feet long, killing one
of the iguanas, big, active, truculent, carnivorous lizards, equally
at home on the land and in the water. Evidently the iguanas were
digging out holes in the bank in which to lay their eggs; for there
were several such holes, and iguanas working at them. The snake had
crushed its prey to a pulp; and not more than a couple of feet away
another iguana was still busily, and with entire unconcern, engaged in
making its burrow. At Miller's approach the anaconda left the dead
iguana and rushed into the water, and the live iguana promptly
followed it. Miller also told of the stone gods and altars and temples
he had seen in the great Colombian forests, monuments of strange
civilizations which flourished and died out ages ago, and of which all
memory has vanished. He and Cherrie told of giant rivers and
waterfalls, and of forests never penetrated, and mountains never
ascended by civilized man; and of bloody revolutions that devastated
the settled regions. Listening to them I felt that they could write
"Tales of Two Naturalists" that would be worth reading.

They were short of literature, by the way--a party such as ours always
needs books--and as Kermit's reading-matter consisted chiefly of
Camoens and other Portuguese, or else Brazilian, writers, I strove to
supply the deficiency with spare volumes of Gibbon. At the end of our
march we were usually far ahead of the mule-train, and the rain was
also usually falling. Accordingly we would sit about under trees, or
under a shed or lean-to, if there was one, each solemnly reading a
volume of Gibbon--and no better reading can be found. In my own case,
as I had been having rather a steady course of Gibbon, I varied him
now and then with a volume of Arsene Lupin lent me by Kermit.

There were many swollen rivers to cross at this point of our journey.
Some we waded at fords. Some we crossed by rude bridges. The larger
ones, such as the Juina, we crossed by ferry, and when the approaches
were swampy, and the river broad and swift, many hours might be
consumed in getting the mule-train, the loose bullocks, and the ox-
cart over. We had few accidents, although we once lost a ferry-load of
provisions, which was quite a misfortune in a country where they could
not be replaced. The pasturage was poor, and it was impossible to make
long marches with our weakened animals.

At one camp three Nhambiquaras paid us a visit at breakfast time. They
left their weapons behind them before they appeared, and shouted
loudly while they were still hid by the forest, and it was only after
repeated answering calls of welcome that they approached. Always in
the wilderness friends proclaim their presence; a silent advance marks
a foe. Our visitors were men, and stark naked, as usual. One seemed
sick; he was thin, and his back was scarred with marks of the grub of
the loathsome berni fly. Indeed, all of them showed scars, chiefly
from insect wounds. But the other two were in good condition, and,
although they ate greedily of the food offered them, they had with
them a big mandioc cake, some honey, and a little fish. One of them
wore a high helmet of puma-skin, with the tail hanging down his back--
handsome head-gear, which he gladly bartered for several strings of
bright coral-red beads. Around the upper arms of two of them were
bands bound so tightly as to cut into and deform the muscles--a
singular custom, seemingly not only purposeless but mischievous, which
is common among this tribe and many others.

The Nhambiquaras are a numerous tribe, covering a large region. But
they have no general organization. Each group of families acts for
itself. Half a dozen years previously they had been very hostile, and
Colonel Rondon had to guard his camp and exercise every precaution to
guarantee his safety, while at the same time successfully endeavoring
to avoid the necessity of himself shedding blood. Now they are, for
the most part, friendly. But there are groups or individuals that are
not. Several soldiers have been killed at these little lonely
stations; and while in some cases the attack may have been due to the
soldiers having meddled with Nhambiquara women, in other cases the
killing was entirely wanton and unprovoked. Sooner or later these
criminals or outlaws will have to be brought to justice; it will not
do to let their crimes go unpunished. Twice soldiers have deserted and
fled to the Nhambiquaras. The runaways were well received, were given
wives, and adopted into the tribe.

The country when opened will be a healthy abode for white settlers.

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