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Through Five Republics on Horseback by G. Whitfield Ray

Part 3 out of 5

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I have said the street lamps give little light. I must make exception
of one week of the year, when there is great improvement. That week
they are carefully cleaned and trimmed, for it is given up as a feast
to the Virgin, and the lights are to shed radiance on gaudy little
images of that august lady which are inside of each lamp. The Pal, or
father priest, sees that these images are properly honored by the
people. He is here as elsewhere, the moving spirit.

San Bias is the patron saint of the country, It is said he won for
the Paraguayans a great victory in an early war. St. Cristobel
receives much homage also because he helped the Virgin Mary to carry
the infant Jesus across a river on the way to Egypt.

Asuncion was for many years the recluse headquarters of the Jesuits,
so of all enslaved Spanish-Americans probably the Guaranis are the
worst. During Lent they will inflict stripes on their bodies, or
almost starve themselves to death; and their abject humility to the
Pai is sad to witness. On special church celebrations large
processions will walk the streets, headed by the priests, chanting in
Latin. The people sometimes fall over one another in their eager
endeavors to kiss the priest's garments, They prostrate themselves,
count their beads, confess their sins, and seek the coveted blessing
of this demi-god, "who shuts the kingdom of heaven, and keeps the key
in his own pocket."

A noticeable feature of the place is that all the inhabitants go
barefooted. Ladies (?) will pass you with their stiffly-starched
white dresses, and raven-black hair neatly done up with colored
ribbons, but with feet innocent of shoes. Soldiers and policemen
tramp the streets, but neither are provided with footwear, and their
clothes are often in tatters. The Jesuits taught the Indians to
_make_ shoes, but they alone _wore_ them, exporting the surplus.
Shoes are not for common people, and when one of them dares to cover
his feet he is considered presumptuous. Hats they never wear, but
they have the beautiful custom of weaving flowers in their hair. When
flowers are not worn the head is covered by a white sheet called the
_tupoi_, and in some cases this garment is richly embroidered. These
females are devoted Romanists, as will be seen from the following
description of a feast held to St. John:

"Dona Juana's first care was to decorate with uncommon splendor a
large image of St. John, which, in a costly crystal box, she
preserved as the chief ornament of her principal drawing-room. He was
painted anew and re-gilded. He had a black velvet robe purchased for
him, and trimmed with deep gold lace. Hovering over him was a cherub.
Every friend of Dona Juana had lent some part of her jewellery for
the decoration of the holy man. Rings sparkled on his fingers;
collars hung around his neck; a tiara graced his venerable brow. The
lacings of his sandals were studded with pearls; a precious girdle
bound his slender waist, and six large wax candles were lighted up at
the shrine. There, embosomed in fragrant evergreens--the orange, the
lime, the acacia--stood the favorite saint, destined to receive the
first homage of every guest that should arrive. These all solemnly
took off their hats to the image."

Such religious mummery as this is painful to witness, and to see the
saint borne round in procession, with men carrying candles, and
white-clad girls with large birds' wings fastened to their shoulders,
dispels the idea of its being Christianity at all.

The people are gentle and mild-spoken. White-robed women lead strings
of donkeys along the streets, bearing huge panniers full of
vegetables, among which frequently play the women's babies. The
panniers are about a yard deep, and may often be seen full to the
brim with live fowls pinioned by the legs. Other women go around with
large wicker trays on their heads, selling _chipa_, the native bread,
made from Indian corn, or _mandioca_ root, the staple food of the
country. Wheat is not grown in Paraguay, and any flour used is
imported. These daughters of Eve often wear nothing more than a robe-
de-chambre, and invariably smoke cigars six or eight inches long.
Their figure is erect and stately, and the laughing eyes full of
mischief and merriment; but they fade into old age at forty. Until
then they seem proud as children of their brass jewellery and red
coral beads. The Paraguayans are the happiest race of people I have
met; care seems undreamed of by them.

In the post-office of the capital I have sometimes been unable to
procure stamps, and "_Dypore_" (We have none) has been the civil
answer of the clerk. When they _had_ stamps they were not provided
with mucilage, but a brush and pot of paste were handed the buyer. If
you ask for a one cent stamp the clerk will cut a two cent stamp and
give you a half. They have, however, stamps the tenth part of a cent
in value, and a bank note in circulation whose face value is less
than a cent. There are only four numerals in the Guarani language: 1,
_petei_; 2,_moncoi_; 3,_bohapy_; 4,_irundu_. It is not possible to
express five or six. No wonder, therefore, that when I bought five
40-cent stamps, I found the clerk was unable to count the sum, and I
had to come to the rescue and tell him it was $2.00. At least eighty
per cent. of the people are unable to read. When they do, it is of
course in Spanish, A young man to whom I gave the Gospel of John
carefully looked at it, and then, turning to me, said: "Is this a
history of that wonderful lawyer we have been hearing about?" To
those interested in the dissemination of Scriptures, let me state
that no single Gospel has as yet been translated into Guarani.

A tentative edition of the "Sermon on the Mount" has recently been
issued by the British and Foreign Bible Society, a copy of which I
had the honor to be the first to present to the head executive.

Gentle simplicity is the chief characteristic of the people. If the
traveller relates the most ordinary events that pass in the outside
world, they will join in the exclamation of surprise-"_Ba-eh-pico!

Information that tends to their lowering is not always accepted thus,
however, for a colonel in the army, when told that Asuncion could be
put into a large city graveyard, hastily got up from the dinner table
and went away in wounded pride and incredulity. The one who is
supposed to "know a little" likes to keep his position, and the
Spanish proverb is exemplified: _"En tierra de los ciegos, el tuerto
es rey"_ (In the blind country the one-eyed are kings). The native is
most guileless and ignorant, as can well be understood when his
language is an unwritten one.

Paraguay is essentially a land of fruit, 200 oranges may be bought
for the equivalent of six cents. Small mountains of oranges may
always be seen piled up on the banks ready to be shipped down the
river. Women are employed to load the vessels with this fruit, which
they carry in baskets on their heads. Everything is carried on their
heads, even to a glass bottle. My laundress, Cunacarai [Footnote: The
Guarani idiom can boast of but few words, and Mr., Mrs. and Miss are
simply rendered "carai" (man), "cuna-carai" (woman) and "cunatai"
(young woman); "mita cuna" is girl, "mita cuimbai" is boy, and "mita
mishi"--baby.] Jesus, although an old woman, could bear almost
incredible weights on her hard skull.

As the climate is hot, a favorite occupation for men and women is to
sit half-submerged in the river, smoking vigorously "The Paraguayans
are an amphibious race, neither wholly seamen nor wholly landsmen,
but partaking of both." All sleep in cotton hammocks,--beds are
almost unknown. The hammocks are slung on the verandah of the house
in the hotter season and all sleep outside, taking off their garments
with real _sang froid_. In the cooler season the visitor is invited
to hang his hammock along with the rest inside the house, and in the
early morning naked little children bring mate to each one. If the
family is wealthy this will be served in a heavy silver cup and
_bombilla_, or sucking tube, of the same metal. After this drink and
a bite of _chipa_, a strangely shaped, thin-necked bottle, made of
sun-baked clay, is brought, and from it water is poured on the hands.
The towels are spotlessly white and of the finest texture. They are
hand-made, and are so delicately woven and embroidered that I found
it difficult to accustom myself to use them. The beautifully fine
lace called _nanduti_ (literally spider's web) is also here made by
the Indian women, who have long been civilized. Some of the
handkerchiefs they make are worth $50 each in the fashionable cities
of America and Europe. A month's work may easily be expended on such
a dainty fabric.

The women seem exceptionally fond of pets. Monkeys and birds are
common in a house, and the housewife will show you her parrot and
say, "In this bird dwells the spirit of my departed mother." An
enemy, somehow, has always turned into an alligator--a reptile much
loathed by them.

In even the poorest houses there is a shrine and a "Saint." These
deities can answer all prayers if they choose to. Sometimes, however,
they are not "in the humor," and at one house the saint had refused,
so he was laid flat on the floor, face downwards. The woman swore
that until he answered her petition she would not lift him up again.
He laid thus all night; whether longer or not I do not know.

Having heard much concerning the _moralite_ of the people, I asked
the maid at a respectable private house where I was staying: "Have
you a father?" "No, sir," she answered, "we Paraguayans are not
accustomed to have a father." Children of five or six, when asked
about that parent, will often answer, "Father died in the war." The
war ended thirty-nine years ago, but they have been taught to say
this by the mother.

As in Argentina the first word the stranger learns is _manana_ (to-
morrow), so here the first is _dy-qui_ (I don't know). Whatever
question you ask the Guarani, he will almost invariably answer, "_Dy-
qui_." Ask him his age, he answers "_Dy-qui_" To your question: "Are
you twenty or one hundred and twenty?" he will reply "_Dy-qui_."
Through the long rule of the Jesuits the natives stopped thinking;
they had it all done for them. "At the same time that they enslaved
them, they tortured them into the profession of the religion they had
imported; and as they had seen that in the old land the love of this
world and the deceitfulness of riches were ever in the way of
conversion to the true faith, they piously relieved the Indians of
these snares of the soul, even going so far in the discharge of this
painful duty as to relieve them of life at the same time, if
necessary to get their possessions into their own hands," [Footnote:
Robertson's "Letters on Paraguay."]

"The stories of their hardness, and perfidy, and immorality beggar
description. The children of the priests have become so numerous that
the shame is no longer considered." [Footnote: Service.]

As the Mahometans have their Mecca, so the Paraguayans have Caacupe;
and the image of the Virgin in that village is the great wonder-
worker. Prayers are directed to her that she will raise the sick,
etc., and promises are made her if she will do this. One morning I
had business with a storekeeper, and went to his office. "Is the
carai in?" I asked. "No," I was answered, "he has gone to Caacupe to
pay a promise." That promise was to burn so many candles before the
Virgin, and further adorn her bejewelled robes. She had, as he
believed, healed him of a sickness.

The village of Caacupe is about forty miles from Asuncion. "The
Bishop of Paraguay formally inaugurated the worship of the Virgin of
Caacupe, sending forth an episcopal letter accrediting the practice,
and promising indulgences to the pilgrims who should visit the
shrine. Thus the worship became legal and orthodox. Multitudes of
people visit her, carrying offerings of valuable jewels. There are
several _well-authenticated_ cases of persons, whose offerings were
of inferior quality, being overtaken with some terrible calamity."
[Footnote: Washburn's "History of Paraguay."]

Funds must be secured somehow, for the present Bishop's sons, to whom
I was introduced as among the aristocrats of the capital, certainly
need a large income from the lavish manner I noticed them "treat" all
and sundry in the hotel. "It is admitted by all, that in South
America the church is decadent and corrupt. The immorality of the
priests is taken for granted. Priests' sons and daughters, of course
not born in wedlock, abound everywhere, and no stigma attaches to
them or to their fathers and mothers." [Footnote: "The Continent of
Opportunity." Dr. Clark.] Hon. S. H. Blake, in the _Neglected
Continent_, writes: "I was especially struck by the statement of a
Roman Catholic--a Consular agent with a large amount of information
as to the land and its inhabitants. He stopped me in speaking of the
priests by saying, 'I know all that. You cannot exaggerate their
immorality. Everybody knows it--but the Latin race is a degenerate
race. Nothing can be done with it. The Roman Church has had four
centuries of trial and has made a failure of it.'"

When a person is dying, the Pai is hurriedly sent for. To this call
he will readily respond. A procession will be formed, and, preceded
by a boy ringing a bell, the _Host_, or, to use an everyday
expression, _God_, will be carried from the church down the street to
the sick one. All passers-by must kneel as this goes along, and the
police will arrest you if you do not at least take off your hat.
"Liberty of conscience is a most diabolical thing, to be stamped out
at any cost," is the maxim of Rome, and the Guarani has learned his
lesson well. "In Inquisition Square men were burned for daring to
think, therefore men stopped thinking when death was the penalty."

Wakes for the dead are always held, and in the case of a child the
little one lies in state adorned with gilded wings and tinselled
finery. All in the neighborhood are invited to the dance which takes
place that evening around the corpse. At a funeral the Pai walks
first, followed by a crowd of men, women and children bearing
candles, some of which are four and five feet long. The dead are
carried through the streets in a very shallow coffin, and the head is
much elevated. An old woman generally walks by the side, bearing the
coffin lid on her head. The dead are always buried respectfully, for
an old law reads: "No person shall ride in the dead cart except the
corpse that is carried, and, therefore, nobody shall get up and ride
behind. It is against Christian piety to bury people with irreverent
actions, or drag them in hides, or throw them into the grave without
consideration, or in a position contrary to the practice of the

All Saints Day is a special time for releasing departed ones out of
purgatory. Hundreds of people visit the cemeteries then, and pay the
waiting priests so much a prayer, If that "liberator of souls" sings
the prayer the price is doubled, but it is considered doubly

A good feature of Romanism in Paraguay is that the people have been
taught something of Christ, but there seems to be an utter want of
reverence toward His person, for one may see a red flag on the public
streets announcing that there are the "Auction Rooms of the child
God." In his "Letters on Paraguay," Robertson relates the following
graphic account of the celebration of His death: "I found great
preparations making at the cathedral for the sermon of 'the agony on
the cross.' A wooden figure of our Saviour crucified was affixed
against the wall, opposite the pulpit; a large bier was placed in the
centre of the cathedral, and the great altar at the eastern extremity
was hung with black; while around were disposed lighted candles and
other insignia of a great funeral. When the sermon commenced, the
cathedral was crowded to suffocation, a great proportion of the
audience being females. The discourse was interrupted alternately by
the low moans and sobbings of the congregation. These became more
audible as the preacher warmed with his discourse, which was partly
addressed to his auditory and partly to the figure before him; and
when at length he exclaimed, 'Behold! Behold! He gives up the ghost!'
the head of the figure was slowly depressed by a spring towards the
breast, and one simultaneous shriek--loud, piercing, almost
appalling--was uttered by the whole congregation. The women now all
struggled for a superiority in giving unbounded vent to apparently
the most distracting grief. Some raved like maniacs, others beat
their breasts and tore their hair. Exclamations, cries, sobs and
shrieks mingled, and united in forming one mighty tide of clamor,
uproar, noise and confusion. In the midst of the raging tempest could
be heard, ever and anon, the stentorian voice of the preacher,
reproaching in terms of indignation and wrath the apathy of his
hearers! 'Can you, oh, insensate crowd!' he would cry, 'Can you sit
in silence?'--but here his voice was drowned in an overwhelming cry
of loudest woe, from every part of the church; and for five minutes
all further effort to make himself heard was unavailing. This
singular scene continued for nearly half an hour; then, by degrees,
the vehement grief of the congregation abated, and when I left the
cathedral it had subsided once more into low sobs and silent tears.

"I now took my way, with many others, to the Church of San Francisco,
where, in an open space in front of the church, I found that the duty
of the day had advanced to the funeral service, which was about being
celebrated. There a scaffolding was erected, and the crucifixion
exactly represented by wooden figures, not only of our Lord, but of
the two thieves. A pulpit was erected in front of the scaffold; and
the whole square was covered by the devout inhabitants of the city.
The same kind of scene was being enacted here as at the cathedral,
with the difference, however, of the circumstantial funeral in place
of the death. The orator's discourse when I arrived was only here and
there interrupted by a suppressed moan, or a struggling sigh, to be
heard in the crowd. But when he commenced giving directions for the
taking down of the body from the cross, the impatience of grief began
to manifest itself on all sides, 'Mount up,' he cried, 'ye holy
ministers, mount up, and prepare for the sad duty which ye have to
perform!' Here six or eight persons, covered from head to foot with
ample black cloaks, ascended the scaffold. Now the groans of the
people became more audible; and when at length directions were given
to strike out the first nail, the cathedral scene of confusion, which
I have just described, began, and all the rest of the preacher's
oratory was dumb show. The body was at length deposited in the
coffin, and the groaning and shrieking of the assembled multitude
ceased. A solemn funeral ceremony took place: every respectable
person received a great wax taper to carry in the procession: the
coffin after being carried all round was deposited in the church: the
people dispersed; and the great day of Passion Week was brought to a


EXPEDITION TO THE SUN-WORSHIPPERS. [Footnote: An account of this
expedition was requested by and sent to the Royal Geographical
Society of London, Eng.]

I took passage on the "Urano," a steamer of 1,500 tons, for
Concepcion, 200 miles north of Asuncion.

On the second day of our journey the people on board celebrated a
church feast, and the pilot, in his anxiety to do it well, got
helplessly drunk. The result was that during that night I was thrown
out of the top berth I occupied by a terrific thud. The steamer had
run on the sandbank of an uninhabited island, and there she stuck
fast--immovable. We were landed on the shore, and there had further
time for reflection on the mutability of things. In the white sand
there were distinct footprints of a large jaguar and cub, probably
come to prey on the lazy alligators that were lying on the beach; and
I caught sight of a large spotted serpent, which glided into the low
jungle where the tiger also doubtless was in hiding.

After three days' detention here, a Brazilian packet took us off. On
stepping aboard, I saw what I thought to be two black pigs lying on
the deck. I assure the reader that it was some seconds before I
discovered that one was not a pig, but a man!

At sunset it is the custom on these river boats for all to have a
bath. The females go to one side of the ship, and the males to the
other; buckets are lowered, and in turn they throw water over each
other. After supper, in the stillness of the evening, dancing is the
order, and bare feet keep time to the twang of the guitar.

We occasionally caught sight of savages on the west bank of the
river, and the captain informed me that he had once brought up a bag
of beans to give them. The beans had been _poisoned_, in order that
the miserable creatures might be _swept off the earth!_

We landed at Concepcion, and I walked ashore. I found the only
British subject living there was a university graduate, but--a
prodigal son Owing to his habit of constant drinking, the authorities
of the town compelled him to work. As I passed up the street I saw
him mending a road of the "far country" There I procured five horses,
a stock of beads, knives, etc, for barter, and made ready for my land
journey into the far interior. The storekeeper, hearing of my plans,
strongly urged me not to attempt the journey, and soon all the
village talked. Vague rumors of the unknown savages of the interior
had been heard, and it was said the expedition could only end in
disaster, especially as I was not even going to get the blessing of
the Pai before starting. I was fortunate, however, in securing the
companionship of an excellent man who bore the suggestive name of
"Old Stabbed Arm"; and Dona Dolores (Mrs. Sorrows), true to her name,
whom I engaged to make me about twenty pounds of chipa, said she
would intercede with her saint for me. Loading the pack-horse with
chipa, beads, looking-glasses, knives, etc., Old Stabbed Arm and I
mounted our horses, and, each taking a spare one by the halter, drove
the pack-saddle mare in front, leaving the tenderhearted Mrs. Sorrows
weeping behind. The roads are simply paths through deep red sand,
into which the horses sank up to their knees; and they are so uneven
that one side is frequently two feet higher than the other, so we
could travel only very slowly. From time to time we had to push our
way into the dense forest on either side, in order to give space for
a string of bullock carts to go past. These vehicles are eighteen or
twenty feet long, but have only two wheels. They are drawn by ten or
twelve oxen, which are urged on by goads fastened to a bamboo, twenty
feet long, suspended from the roof of the cart, which is thatched
with reeds. The goads are artistically trimmed with feathers of
parrots and macaws, or with bright ribbons. These are of all colors,
but those around the sharp nail at the end are further painted with
red blood every time the goad is used.

The carts, rolling and straining like ships in foul weather, can be
heard a mile off, owing to the humming screech of the wheels, which
are never greased, but on the contrary have powdered charcoal put in
them to _increase_ the noise. Without this music (?) the bullocks do
not work so well. How the poor animals could manage to draw the load
was often a mystery to me, Sections of the road were partly destroyed
by landslides and heavy rains, but down the slippery banks of rivers,
through the beds of torrents or up the steep inclines they somehow
managed to haul the unwieldy vehicle. Strings of loaded donkeys or
mules, with jingling bells, also crawled past, and I noticed with a
smile that even the animals in this idolatrous land cannot get on
without the Virgin, for they have tiny statuettes of her standing
between their ears to keep them from danger. Near the town the rivers
and streams are bridged over with tree trunks placed longitudinally,
and the crevices are filled in with boughs and sods. Some of them are
so unsafe and have such gaping holes that I frequently dismounted and
led my horse over.

The tropical scenery was superb. Thousands of orange trees growing by
the roadside, filled with luscious fruit on the lower branches, and
on the top with the incomparable orange blossoms, afforded delight to
the eye, and notwithstanding the heat, kept us cool, for as we rode
we could pluck and eat. Tree ferns twenty and thirty feet high waved
their feathery fronds in the gentle breeze, and wild pineapples
growing at our feet loaded the air with fragrance.

There was the graceful pepper tree, luxuriant hanging lichens, or
bamboos forty feet high, which riveted the attention and made one
think what a beautiful world God has made. Many of the shrubs and
plants afford dyes of the richest hues, Azara found four hundred new
species of the feathered tribe in the gorgeous woods and coppices of
Paraguay, and all, with the melancholy _caw_, _caw_ of the toucans
overhead, spoke of a tropical land. Parrots chattered in the trees,
and sometimes a serpent glided across the red sand road.
Unfortunately, flies were so numerous and so tormenting that, even
with the help of a green branch, we could not keep off the swarms,
and around the horses' eyes were dozens of them. Several menacing
hornets also troubled us. They are there so fierce that they can
easily sting a man or a horse to death!

As night fell we came to an open glade, and there beside a clear,
gurgling brook staked out our horses and camped for the night.
Building a large fire of brushwood, we ate our supper, and then lay
down on our saddlecloths, the firmament of God with its galaxy of
stars as our covering overhead.

By next evening we reached the village of Pegwaomi. On the way we had
passed a house here and there, and had seen children ten or twelve
years of age sucking sticks of sugar-cane, but content with no other
clothing than their rosary, or an image of the Virgin round their
necks, like those the mules wear. Pegwaomi, I saw, was quite a
village, its pretty houses nestling among orange and lime trees, with
luscious bananas in the background. There was no Pai in Pegwaomi, so
I was able to hold a service in an open shed, with a roof but no
walls. The chief man of the village gave me permission to use this
novel building, and twenty-three people came to hear the stranger
speak. After the service a poor woman was very desirous of confessing
her sins to me, and she thought I was a strange preacher when I told
her of One in heaven to whom she should confess.

"Paraguay, from its first settlement, never departed from 'the age of
faith' Neither doubt nor free-thinking in regard to spiritual affairs
ever perplexed the people, but in all religious matters they accepted
the words of the fathers as the unquestionable truth. Unfortunately,
the priests were, with scarcely an exception, lazy and profligate;
yet the people were so superstitious and credulous that they feared
to disobey them, or reserve anything which they might be required to
confess." [Footnote: Washburn's "History of Paraguay."]

In the front gardens of many of the rustic houses I noticed a wooden
cross draped with broad white lace. The dead are always interred in
the family garden, and these marked the site of the graves. When the
people can afford it, a priest is brought to perform the sad rite of
burial, but the Paraguayan Pai is proverbially drunken and lazy. Once
after a church feast, which was largely given up to drinking, the
priest fell over on the floor in a state of intoxication. "While he
thus lay drunk, a boy crawled through the door to ask his blessing,
whereupon the priest swore horribly and waved him off, 'Not to-day,
not to-day those farces! I am drunk, very drunk!'" Such an one has
been described by Pollock: "He was a man who stole the livery of the
court of heaven to serve the devil in; in holy guise transacted
villainies that ordinary mortals durst not meddle with."

Lest it might be thought that I am strongly prejudiced, I give this
extract from a responsible historian of that unhappy land: "The
simple-minded and superstitious Paraguayans reverenced a Pai, or
father, as the immediate representative of God. They blindly and
implicitly followed the instructions given to them, and did whatever
was required at his hands. Many of the licentious brotherhood took
advantage of this superstitious confidence placed in them by the
people to an extent which, in a moral country, would not only shock
every feeling of our nature to relate, but would, in the individual
instances, appear to be incredible, and, in the aggregate, be counted
as slanderous on humanity."

During my stay in Pagwaomi, a dance was held on the sward outside one
of the houses, and the national whirl, the _sarandiy_, gave pleasure
to all. The females wove flowers in their hair, and made garlands of
them to adorn their waists. Others had caught fire-flies, which
nestled in the wavy tresses and lit up the semi-darkness with a soft
light, like so many green stars. Love whisperings, in the musical
Guarani, were heard by willing ears, and eyelight was thus added to
starlight. As the dancers flitted here and there in their white
garments, or came out from the shade of the orange trees, they looked
ethereal, like the inhabitants of another world one sees at times in
romantic dreams, for this village is surely a hundred years behind
the moon.

From this scene of innocent happiness I was taken to more than one
sick-bed, for it soon became known that I carried medicines.

Will the reader accompany me? Enter then--a windowless mud hut See,
lying on sheepskins and burning with fever, a young woman-almost a
girl-wailing "_Che raciy!>_" (I am sick!) Notice the intense
eagerness of her eyes as she gazes into mine when I commence to
minister to her. Watch her submit to my necessarily painful treatment
with child-like faith. Then, before we quietly steal out again,
listen to her low-breathed "_Acuerame_" (Already I feel better).

In a larger house, a hundred yards away, an earthenware lamp, with
cotton wick dipping in raw castor oil, sheds fitful gleams on a dying
woman. The trail of sin is only too evident, even in thoughtless
Pegwaomi. The tinselled saints are on the altar at the foot of the
bed, and on the woman's breast, tightly clutched, is a crucifix, but
Mrs. Encarnacion has never heard of the Incarnate One whom she is
soon to meet. Perhaps, if Christians are awake by that time, her
grandchildren may hear the "story."

In that rustic cottage, half covered with jasmine, and shaded by a
royal palm, a child lies very sick. Listen to its low, weak moaning
as we cross the threshold. The mother has procured a piece of tape,
the length of which, she says, is the exact measure of the head of
Saint Blas. This she has repeatedly put around her babe's head as an
unfailing cure. Somehow the charm does not work and the woman is
sorely perplexed. While we helplessly look on the infant dies!
Outside, the moon soared high, throwing a silver veil over the grim
pathos of it all; but in the breast of the writer was a surging
dissatisfaction and--anger, at his fellow--Christians in the
homeland, who in their thoughtless selfishness will not reach out a
helping hand to the perishing of other lands.

Would the ever-present Spirit, who wrote "Be ye angry" not
understand? Would the Master of patience and forbearance, who Himself
showed righteous anger, enter into it? Is the Great God, who sees
these sheep left without a shepherd, Himself angry? Surely it is well
to ask?

"Oh, heavy lies the weight of ill on many hearts, And comforters are
needed sore of Christlike touch."

In this village I made inquiries for another servant and guide, and
was directed to "Timoteo, the very man." Liking his looks, and being
able to come to satisfactory terms, I engaged him as my second
helper. Timoteo had a sister called Salvadora (Saviour). She pounded
corn in a mortar with a hardwood pestle, and made me another baking
of chipa, with which we further burdened the pack-horse, and away we
started again, with affectionate farewells and tears, towards the

Next day we were joined by a traveller who was escaping to the
interior. He plainly declared himself as a murderer, and told us he
had shot one of the doctors in Asuncion. Through being well
connected, he had, after three weeks' detention in prison, been
liberated, as he boasted to us, _con todo buen nombre y fama (with
good name and report). The relatives of the murdered man, however,
did not agree with this verdict, and sought his life. During the day
we shot an iguana, and after a meal from its fat tail our new
acquaintance, finding the pace too slow for his hasty flight, left
us, and I was not sorry. We met a string of bullock carts, each drawn
by six animals and having a spare one behind. The lumbering wagons
were on their way from the Paraguayan mate fields, and had a load of
over two thousand pounds each. Jolting over huge tree-trunks, or anon
sinking in a swamp, followed by swarms of gad-flies, the patient
animals wended their way.

Here and there one may see by the roadside a large wooden cross, with
a rudely carved wooden rooster on the top, while below it are the
nails, scourge, hammer, pincers and spear of gruesome crucifixion
memory. At other places there are smaller shrines with a statuette of
the Virgin inside, and candles invariably burning, provided by the
generous wayfarers. It is interesting to note that the old Indians
had, at the advent of the Spaniards, cairns of stones along their
paths, and the pious Indian would contribute a stone when he passed
as an offering to Pachacamac, who would keep away the evil spirits.
That custom is still kept up by the Christian (?) Paraguayan, with
the difference that _now_ it is given to the Virgin. My guide would
get down from his horse when we arrived at these altars, and
contribute a stone to the ever-growing heap. If a specially bright
one is offered, he told me it was more gratifying to the goddess.
Feeling that we were very likely to meet with many _evil spirits_,
Timoteo carefully sought for bright stones. The people are _very_
religious, yet with it all are terribly depraved! The truth is seldom
spoken, and my guide was, unfortunately, no exception to the rule. As
we left the haunts of men, and difficulties thickened, he would often
entreat the help of Holy Mary, but in the same breath would lie and

Sighting a miserable hut, we called to inquire for meat. The master
of the house, I discovered, was a leper, and I further learned, on
asking if I might water my horses, that the nearest water was three
miles away. The man and wife and their large family certainly looked
as though water was a luxury too costly to use on the skin. The leper
was most hospitable, however; he killed a sheep for us, and we sat
down to a feast of mutton. After this we pushed on to water the
horses. By sunset we arrived at a cattle ranch near the river Ipane,
and there we stayed for the night. At supper all dipped in the same
stew-pan, and afterwards rinsed out the mouth with large draughts of
water, which they squirted back on the brick floor of the dining-
room. The men then smoked cigarettes of tobacco rolled in corn
leaves, and the women smoked their six-inch-long cigars. Finding that
two of the men understood Spanish, I read some simple parts of
scripture to them by the light of a dripping grease lamp. They
listened in silence, and wondered at the strange new story. The
mosquitoes were so troublesome that a large platform, twenty feet
high, had been erected, and after reading all the inmates of the
house, with us, ascended the ladder leading to the top. There the
mosquitoes did not disturb us, so we slept peacefully on our aerial
roost between the fire-flies of the earth and the stars of heaven.

Next day we came to a solitary house, where I noticed strings of meat
hung in the sun to dry. This is left, like so many stockings and
handkerchiefs, hanging there until it is hard as wood; it will then
keep for an indefinite time. There we got a good dinner of fresh
beef, and about ten pounds of the dried meat (_charqui_) to take away
with us. At this place I bought two more horses, and we each got a
large bullock's horn in which to carry water, swinging from the
saddle-tree. I was not sorry to leave this house, for, tearing up the
offal around the building, I counted as many as sixty black vultures.
Their king, a dirty white bird with crimson neck covered with gore
and filth, had already gorged himself with all the blood he could
get. "All his sooty subjects stand apart at a respectful distance,
whetting their appetites and regaling their nostrils, but never
dreaming of an approach to the carcass till their master has sunk
into a state of repletion. When the kingly bird, by falling on his
side, closing his eyes, and stretching on the ground his unclenched
talons, gives notice to his surrounding and expectant subjects that
their lord and master has gone to rest, up they hop to the carcass,
which in a few minutes is stripped of everything eatable." Here we
left the high-road, which is cut through to Punta Pona on the
Brazilian frontier, and struck off to the west. Over the grassy
plains we made good progress, and by evening were thirty miles
farther on our journey. But when we had to cut the path before us
through the forest, ten or twelve miles was a good day's work. When
the growth was very dense, the morning and evening camps were perhaps
only separated by a league. Anon we struggled through a swamp, or the
horses stuck fast in a bog, and the _carapatas_ feasted on our blood.
"What are carapatas?" you ask. They are leeches, bugs, mosquitos,
gad-flies, etc., all compounded into one venomous insect! These
voracious green ticks, the size of a bug, are indeed a terrible
scourge. They fasten on the body in scores, and when pulled away,
either the piece of flesh comes with them or the head of the carapata
is torn off. _It was easy to pick a hundred of these bugs off the
body at night_, but it was _not_ easy to sleep after the ordeal! The
poor horses, brushing through the branches on which the ticks wait
for their prey, were sometimes _half covered with them!_

As we continued our journey, a house was a rare sight, and soon we
came to "the end of Christianity," as Timoteo said, and all
civilization was left behind. The sandy road became a track, and then
we could no longer follow the path, for there was none to follow.
Timoteo had traversed those regions before in search of the mate
plant, however, and with my compass I kept the general direction.

After about ten days' travel, during which time we had many reminders
that the flesh-pots had been left behind, _"Che cane o"_ (I am tired)
was frequently heard. Game was exceedingly scarce, and it was
possible to travel for days without sighting any animal or ostrich.
We passed no houses, and saw no human beings. For two days we
subsisted on hard Indian corn. Water was scarce, and for a week we
were unable to wash. Jiggers got into our feet when sleeping on the
ground, and these caused great pain and annoyance. Someone has
described a jigger as "a cross between Satan and a woodtick." The
little insects lay their eggs between the skin and flesh. When the
young hatch out, they begin feeding on the blood, and quickly grow
half an inch long and cause an intense itching. My feet were swollen
so much that I could not get on my riding-boots, and, consequently,
my lower limbs were more exposed than ever. If not soon cut out, the
flesh around them begins to rot, and mortification sometimes ensues.

On some of the savannas we were able to kill deer and ostrich, but
they generally were very scarce. Our fare was varied; sometimes we
feaisted on parrot pie or vultures eggs; again we lay down on the
hard, stony ground supperless. At such times I would be compelled to
rise from time to time and tighten up my belt, until I must have
resembled one of the ladies of fashion, so far as the waist was
concerned. Again we came to marshy ground, filled with royal duck,
teal, water-hens, snipe, etc, and forgot the pangs of past hunger. At
such places we would fill our horns and drink the putrid water, or
take off our shirts and wash them and our bodies. Mud had to serve
for soap. Our washing, spread out on the reeds, would soon dry, and
off we would start for another stage.

The unpeopled state of the country was a constant wonder to me;
generations have disappeared without leaving a trace of their
existence. Sometimes I stopped to admire the pure white water-lilies
growing on stagnant black water, or the lovely Victoria Regia, the
leaf of which is at times so large as to weigh ten pounds. The
flowers have white petals, tinted with rose, and the centre is a deep
violet. Their weight is between two and three pounds.

Wherever we camped we lit immense fires of brushwood, and generally
slept peacefully, but with loaded rifle at arm's length.

A portion of land which I rode over while in that district must have
been just a thin crust covering a mighty cave. The horses' footfalls
made hollow sounds, and when the thin roof shook I half expected to
be precipitated into unknown depths.

After many weeks of varied experiences we arrived at or near the land
I was seeking. There, on the banks of a river, we struck camp, and
from there I made short excursions in all directions in order to
ascertain the approximate value of the old gentleman's estate. On the
land we came upon an encampment of poor, half or wholly naked Caingwa
Indians. By them we were kindly received, and found that,
notwithstanding their extremely sunken condition and abject poverty,
they seemed to have mandioca and bananas in abundance. In return for
a few knives and beads, I was able to purchase quite a stock. Seeing
that all the dishes, plates, and bottles they have grow in the form
of gourds, they imagine all such things we use also grow. It was
amusing to hear them ask for _seeds of the glass medicine bottles_ I
carried with me.

A drum, ingeniously made by stretching a serpent's skin over a large
calabash, was monotonously beaten as our good-night lullaby when we
stretched ourselves out on the grass.

The Caingwa men all had their lower lip pierced, and hanging down
over the breast was a thin stick about ten inches long. Their faces
were also painted in strange patterns.

Learning from their chief that the royal tribe to which they
originally belonged lived away in the depths of the forest to the
east, some moons distant, I became curious. After repeated enquiries
I was told that a king ruled the people there, and that they daily
worshipped the sun. Hearing of these sun-worshippers, I determined,
if possible, to push on thither. The old chief himself offered to
direct us if, in return, I would give him a shirt, a knife, and a
number of white beads. The bargain was struck, and arrangements were
made to start off at sunrise next day, My commission was not only to
see the old gentleman's land, but to visit the surrounding Indians,
with a view to missionary work being commenced among them.

The morning dawned clear and propitious, but the chief had decided
not to go. On enquiring the reason for the change of mind, I
discovered that his people had been telling him that I only wanted to
get him into the forest in order to kill him, and that I would not
give him the promised shirt and beads. I thought that it was much
more likely for him to kill me than I him, and I set his mind at rest
about the reward, for on the spot I gave him the coveted articles. On
receipt of those luxuries his doubts of me fled, and I soon assured
him that I had no intention whatever of taking his life. Towards noon
we started off, and, winding our way through the Indian paths in
single file, we again soon left behind us all signs of man, and saw
nothing to mark that any had passed that way before.

That night, as we sat under a large silk-cotton tree silently eating
supper off plates of palm leaves, the old chief suddenly threw down
his meat, and, with a startled expression, said, "I hear spirits!"
Never having heard such ethereal visitors myself, I smiled
incredulously, whereupon the old savage glared at me, and, leaving
his food upon the ground went away out of the firelight into the
darkness. Afraid that he might take one of the horses and return to
his people, I followed to soothe him, but his offended mood did not
pass until, as he said, the _spirits_ had gone.

On the third day scarcity of water began to be felt. We had been
slowly ascending the rugged steeps of a mountain, and as the day wore
on the thirst grew painful. That night both we and the horses had to
be content with the dew-drops we sucked from the grass, and our dumb
companions showed signs of great exhaustion. The Indian assured me
that if we could push on we would, by next evening, come to a
beautiful lake in the mountains: so, ere the sun rose next morning,
we were in the saddle on our journey to the coveted water.

All that day we plodded along painfully, silently. Our lips were
dried together, and our tongues swollen. Thirst hurts! The horses
hung their heads and ears, and we were compelled to dismount and go
afoot. The poor creatures were getting so thin that our weight seemed
to crush them to the earth. The sun again set, darkness fell, and the
lake was, for all I could see, a dream of the chief, our guide. At
night, after repeating the sucking of the dew, we ate a little, drank
the blood of an animal, and tried to sleep. The patient horses stood
beside us with closed eyes and bowed heads, until the sight was more
than I could bear. Fortunately, a very heavy dew fell, which greatly
helped us, and two hours before sunrise next morning the loads were
equally distributed on the backs of the seven horses and we started
off once again through the mist for water! water! When the sun
illuminated the heavens and lit up the rugged peaks of the strangely
shaped mountains ahead of us, hope was revived. We sucked the fruit
of the date palm, and in imagination bathed and wallowed in the
water--beautiful water--we so soon expected to behold. The poor
horses, however, not buoyed up with sweet hopes as we were, gave out,
one after the other, and we were compelled to cruelly urge them on up
the steep. With it all, I had to leave two of the weaker ones behind,
purposing, if God should in kindness permit us to reach water, to
return and save them.

That afternoon the Indian chief, who, though an old man, had shown
wonderful fortitude and endurance, and still led the way, shouted:
"_Eyoape! Eyoape!_" (Come! Come!) We were near the lake. With new-
born strength I left all and ran, broke through the brushwood of the
shore, jumped into the lake, and found--nothing but hard earth! The
lake was dried up! I dug my heel into the ground to see if below the
surface there might be soft mud, but failing to find even that, I
dropped over with the world dancing in distorted visions before my
eyes. More I cannot relate.

How long I lay there I never knew. The Indian, I learned later,
exploring a deep gully at the other side, found a putrid pool of
slime, full of poisonous frogs and alive with insects. Some of this
liquid he brought to me in his hands, and, after putting it in my
mouth, had the satisfaction of seeing me revive. I dimly remember
that my next act was to crawl towards the water-hole he guided me to.
In this I lay and drank. I suppose it soaked into my system as rain
in the earth after a drought. That stagnant pool was our salvation.
The horses were brought up, and we drank, and drank again. Not until
our thirst was slaked did we fully realize how the water stank! When
the men were sufficiently refreshed they returned for the abandoned
horses, which were found still alive. Had they scented water
somewhere and drank? At the foot of the mountains, on the other side,
we later discovered much better water, and there we camped, our
horses revelling in the abundant pasturage.

After this rest we continued our journey, and next day came to the
edge of a virgin forest. Through that, the chief said, we must cut
our way, for the royal tribe never came out, and were never visited.
Close to the edge of the forest was a deep precipice, at the bottom
of which we could discern a silvery streak of clear water. From there
we must procure the precious fluid for ourselves and horses. Taking
our kettle and horns, we sought the best point to descend, and after
considerable difficulty, clinging to the branches of the overhanging
trees and the dense undergrowth, we reached the bottom. After slaking
our thirst we ascended with filled horns and kettle to water the
horses. As may be supposed, this was a tedious task, and the descent
had to be made many times before the horses were satisfied. My hat
served for watering pail.

Next morning the same process was repeated, and then the men, each
with long _machetes_ I had provided, set to work to cut a path
through the forest, and Old Stabbed Arm went off in search of game.
After a two hours' hunt, a fat ostrich fell before his rifle, and he
returned to camp. We still had a little chipa, which had by this time
become as hard as stone, but which I jealously guarded to use only in
case of the greatest emergency. At times we had been very hungry, but
my order was that it should not be touched.

Only the reader who has seen the virgin forest, with its interlacing
_lianas_, thick as a man's leg--the thorns six inches long and sharp
as needles--can form an idea of the task before us. As we penetrated
farther and farther in the _selva_, the darkness became deeper and
deeper. Giant trees reared their heads one hundred and fifty feet
into the heavens, and beautiful palms, with slender trunks and
delicate, feathery leaves, waved over us. The medicinal plants were
represented by sarsaparilla and many others equally valuable. There
was the cocoa palm, the date palm, and the cabbage palm, the latter
of which furnished us good food, while the wine tree afforded an
excellent and cooling drink. In parts all was covered with beautiful
pendant air-flowers, gorgeous with all the colors of the rainbow.
Monkeys chattered and parrots screamed, but otherwise there was a
sombre stillness. The exhalations from the depth of rotting leaves
and the decaying fallen wood rendered the steamy atmosphere most
poisonous. Truly, the flora was magnificent, and the fauna,
represented by the spotted jaguar, whose roar at times broke the
awful quiet of the night, was equally grand.

As the chief, ignorant of hours and miles, could not tell me the
extent of the forest, I determined to let him and Timoteo make their
way through as best they could, crawling through the branches, to the
Sun-Worshippers, and secure their help in cutting a way for the
horses. After dividing the food I had, we separated. Timoteo and the
Indian crept into the forest and were soon lost sight of, while Old
Stabbed Arm and I, with the horses, retraced our steps, and reached
the open land again. After an earnest conversation my companion
shouldered his rifle and went off to hunt, and I was left with only
the companionship of the grazing horses. I remained behind to water
the animals, and protect our goods from any prowling savage who might
chance to be in the neighborhood. My saddle-bed was spread under a
large _burning bush_, or incense tree, and my self-imposed duty was
to keep a fire burning in the open, that its smoke might be seen by
day and its light by night.

Going exploring a little, I discovered a much better descent down the
precipice, and water was more easily brought up. Indeed, I decided
that, if a certain deep chasm were bridged over, it might be possible
to get the horses themselves to descend by a winding way. With this
object in view I felled saplings near the place, and in a few hours
constructed a rough bridge, strong enough to bear a horse's weight.
Whether the animals could smell the water flowing at the bottom, or
were more agile than I had thought, I cannot tell, but they descended
the almost perpendicular path most wonderfully, and soon were taking
draughts of the precious liquid with great gusto. Leaving the horses
to enjoy their drink, I ascended the stream for some distance, in
order to discover, if possible, where the flow came from. Judge of my
surprise when I found that the water ran out of a grotto, or cavern,
in the face of the cliff-out of the unknown darkness into the
sunlight! Walking up the bed of the stream, I entered the cave, and,
striking a few matches, found it to be inhabited by hundreds of
vampire bats, which were hanging from the sides and stalactites of
the roof, like so many damp, black rags. On my entrance the unearthly
creatures were disturbed, and many came flying in my face, so I made
a quick exit. Several which I killed came floating down the stream
with me; one that I measured proved to be twenty-two inches across
the wings. My exploration had discovered the secret of the clots of
blood we had been finding on the horses' necks every morning. The
vampire-bats, in their nightly flights, had been sucking the life-
blood of our poor, already starving animals! It is said these
loathsome creatures--half beast, half bird--fan their victim to sleep
while they drain out the red blood. Provided with palm torches, I
again entered the cavern, but could not penetrate its depths; it
seemed to go right into the bowels of the mountain. Exploring down
stream was more successful, for large flamingoes and wild ducks and
geese were found in plenty.

That night I carefully staked out the horses all around the camp-fire
and lay down to think and sleep and dream. Old Stabbed Arm had not
returned, and I was alone with nature. Several times I rose to see if
the horses were securely tied, and to kill any bats I might find
disturbing them. Rising in the grey dawn, I watered the horses,
cooked a piece of ostrich meat, and started off on foot for a short
distance to explore the country to the north, where I saw many
indications that tapirs were numerous. My first sight of this
peculiar animal of Paraguay I shall never forget. It resembles no
other beast I have ever seen, but seems half elephant, with its
muzzle like a short trunk. In size it is about six feet long and
three and a half feet high. There were also ant-bears, peculiar
animals, without teeth, but provided with a rough tongue to lick up
the ants. The length of this animal is about four feet, but the thick
tail is longer than the body. Whereas the tapir has a hog-like skin,
the ant-bear has long, bristly hairs.

Returning to camp, judge of my surprise when I found it in possession
of two savages of strange appearance. My first thought was that I had
lost all, but, drawing nearer, I discovered that Timoteo and the
chief were also there, squatting on the ground, devouring the remains
of my breakfast. They had returned from the royal tribe, who had
offered to cut a way from their side, and these two strangers were to
assist us.

With this additional help we again penetrated the forest. The men cut
with a will, and I drove the horses after them. Black, howling
monkeys, with long beards and grave countenances, leapt among the
trees. Red and blue macaws screeched overhead, and many a large
serpent received its death-blow from our machetes. Sometimes we were
fortunate enough to secure a bees' nest full of honey, or find
luscious fruit. At times I stopped to admire a giant tree, eight or
ten feet in diameter, or orchids of the most delicate hues, but the
passage was hard and trying, and the stagnant air most difficult to
breathe. The fallen tree-trunks, over which we had to step, or go
around or under, were very numerous, and sometimes we landed in a
bed, not of roses, but of thorns. Sloths and strange birds' nests
hung from the trees, while the mosquitos and insects made life almost
unendurable. We were covered with carapatas, bruised and torn, and
almost eaten up alive with insects.

[Illustration: PARAGUAYAN FOREST INDIAN. These dwarf men use a very
long bow, while the Patagonian uses a short one]

Under the spreading branches of one of the largest trees we came upon
an abandoned Indian camp. This, I was told, had belonged to the
"little men of the woods," hairy dwarfs, a few of whom inhabit the
depths of the forest, and kill their game with blow-pipes. Of course
we saw none of the poor creatures. Their scent is as keen as an
animal's; they are agile as monkeys, and make off to hide in the
hollow trunks of trees, or bury themselves in the decaying vegetation
until danger is past. Poor pigmy! What place will he occupy in the
life that is to be?



After some days' journey we heard shouts, and knew that, like
entombed miners, we were being dug out on the other side! The
Caingwas soon met us, and I looked into their faces and gravely
saluted. They stared at me in speechless astonishment, and I as
curiously regarded them. Each man had his lower lip pierced and wore
the _barbote_ I have described, with the difference that these were
made of gum.

With a clear path before us we now made better progress, and before
long emerged from the living tomb, but the memory of it will ever
remain a nightmare.

We found a crowd of excited Indians, young and old, awaiting us. Many
of the females ran like frightened deer on catching sight of me, but
an old man, whom I afterwards learned was the _High Priest_ of the
tribe, came and asked my business. Assuring him, through Timoteo,
that my mission was peaceable, and that I had presents for them, he
gave me permission to enter into the glade, where I was told
_Nandeyara_ [Footnote: "Our Owner," the most beautiful word for God I
have ever heard.] had placed them at the beginning of the world. Had
I discovered the _Garden of Eden_, the place from which man had been
wandering for 6,000 years? I was conducted by Rocanandiva (the high
priest) down a steep path to the valley, where we came in view of
several large peculiarly shaped houses, built of bamboo. Near these
dwellings were perhaps a hundred men, women and children, remnants of
a vanishing nation. Some had a mat around their loins, but many were
naked. All the males had the _barbote_ in the lip, and had
exceptionally thick hair, matted with grease and mud. Most of them
had a repellant look on their pigment-painted faces, and I could very
distinctly see that I was not a welcome visitor. No, I had not
reached Eden! Only "beyond the clouds and beyond the tomb" would the
bowers of Eden be discovered to me. Hearing domestic hens cackling
around the houses, I bade Timoteo tell the priest that we were very
hungry, and that if he killed two chickens for us I would give him a
beautiful gift later on. The priest distinctly informed me, however,
that I must give first, or no fowl would be killed. From that
decision I tried to move him, urging that I was tired, the pack was
hard to undo, and to-morrow, when I was rested, I would well repay
them the kindness. My words were thrown away; not a bite should we
eat until the promised knife was given. I was faint with hunger, but
from the load on the packhorse I procured the knife, which I handed
to my unwilling host with the promise of other gifts later. On
receipt of this treasure he gave orders to the boys standing off at a
distance to catch two chickens. The birds were knocked over by the
stones thrown at them. Two women now came forward with clay pots on
their heads and fire-sticks in their hands, and they superintended
the cooking. Without cutting off either heads or legs, or pulling out
the birds' feathers, the chickens were placed in the pots with water.
Lying down near the fire, I, manlike, impatiently waited for supper.
Perhaps a minute had dragged its weary length along when I picked up
a stick from the ground and poked one of the fowls out of the water,
which was not yet warm. Holding the bird in one hand, and pulling
feathers out of my mouth with the other, I ate as my forefathers did
ages ago. Years before this I had learned that a hungry man can eat
what an epicure despises. After this feast I lay down on the ground
behind one of the tepees, and, with my head resting on my most valued
possessions, went to sleep.

Having promised to give the priest and his wife another present, I
was awakened very early next morning. They had come for their gifts.
Rising from my hard bed, I stretched myself and awoke my servant,
under whose head were the looking-glasses. I presented one of these
to the woman, who looked in it with satisfaction and evident
pleasure. Whether she was pleased with her reflection or with the
glass I cannot tell, but I feel sure it must have been the latter! A
necklace to the daughter and a further gift to the old man gained
their friendship, and food was brought to us. After partaking of this
I was informed that the king desired to see me, and that I must
proceed at once to his hut.

His majesty (?) lived on the other side of the river, close at hand.
This water was of course unbridged, so, in order to cross, I was
compelled to divest myself of my clothing and walk through it in
nature's garb. The water came up to my breast, and once I thought the
clothes I carried on my head would get wet. Dressing on the other
side, I presented myself at the king's abode. There I was kindly
received, being invited to take up my quarters with him and his royal
family. The king was a tall man of somewhat commanding appearance,
but, save for the loin cloth, he was naked, like the rest. The queen,
a little woman, was as scantily dressed as her husband. She was very
shy, and I noticed the rest of the inmates of the hut peeping through
the crevices of the corn-stalk partition of an inner room. After
placing around the shapely neck of the queen a specially fine
necklace I had brought, and giving the king a large hunting-knife, I
was regaled with roasted yams, and later on with a whole watermelon.

Timoteo, my servant, whose native language was Guarani, could
understand most of the idiom of the Sun Worshippers, which we found
to be similar to that spoken by the civilized inhabitants of the
country. There must therefore have been some connection between the
two peoples at one time. The questions, "Where have you come from?"
"Why have you come?" were asked and answered, and I, in return,
learned much of this strange tribe. Mate was served, but whereas in
the outside world a rusty tin tube to suck it through is in
possession of even the poorest, here they used only a reed. I was
astonished to find the mate sweetened. Knowing that they could not
possibly have any of the luxuries of civilization, I made enquiries
regarding this, and was told that they used a herb which grew in the
valley, to which they gave the name of _ca-ha he-he_ (sweet herb).
This plant, which is not unlike clover, is sweet as sugar, whether
eaten green or in a dried state.

There was not a seat of any description in the hut, but the king
said, "_Eguapu_" ("Sit down"), so I squatted on the earthen floor. A
broom is not to be found in the kingdom, and the house had never been

A curiosity I noticed was the calabash which the king carried
attached to his belt. This relic was regarded with great reverence,
and at first His Majesty declined to reveal its character; but after
I had won his confidence by gifts of beads and mirrors, he became
more communicative. One day, in a burst of pride, he told me that the
gourd contained the ashes of his ancestors, who were the ancient
kings. Though the Spaniards sought to carefully rout out and destroy
all direct descendants of the royal family of the Incas, their
historians tell us that some remote connections escaped. The Indians
of Peru have legends to the effect that at the time of the Spanish
invasion an Inca chieftain led an emigration of his people down the
mountains. Humboldt, writing in the 18th century, said: "It is
interesting to inquire whether any other princes of the family of
Manco Capac have remained in the forests; and if there still exist
any of the Incas of Peru in other places." Had I discovered some
descendants of this vanished race? The Montreal _Journal_, commenting
on my discovery, said: "The question is of extreme interest to the
scientific enquirer, even if they are not what Mr. Ray thinks them."

The royal family consisted of the parents, a son and his wife, a
daughter and her husband, and two younger girls. I was invited to
sleep in the inner room, which the parents occupied, and the two
married couples remained in the common room. All slept in fibre
hammocks, made greasy and black by the smoke from the fire burning on
the floor in the centre of the room. No chimney, window, door, or
article of furniture graced the house.

"The court of the Incas rivalled that of Rome, Jerusalem, or any of
the old Oriental countries, in riches and show, the palaces being
decorated with a great profusion of gold, silver, fine cloth and
precious stones." [Footnote: Rev. Thomas Wood, LL.D., Lima, Peru, In
"Protestant Missions in South America."]

An ancient Spanish writer who measured some of the stones of the
Incan palace at Cuzco tells us there were stones so nicely adjusted
that it was impossible to introduce even the blade of a knife between
them, and that some of those stones were thirty-eight feet long, by
eighteen feet broad, and six feet thick. What a descent for the
"Children of the Sun"! "How are the mighty fallen!" Thoughts of the
past and the mean present passed through my mind as I lay down in the
dust of the earthen floor that first night of my stay with the king.

Owing to the thousands of fleas in the dust of the room it was hard
for me to rest much, and that night a storm brewing made sleep almost
impossible. As the thunder pealed forth all the Indians of the houses
hastily got out of their hammocks and grasped gourd rattles and
beautifully woven cotton banners. The rattles were shaken
and the banners waved, while a droning chant was struck up by the
high priest, and the louder the thunder rolled the louder their
voices rose and the more lustily they shook the seeds in their
calabashes. They were trying to appease the dread deity of Thunder,
as did their Inca ancestors. The voice of the old priest led the
worship, and for _four hours_ there was no cessation of the
monotonous song, except when he performed some mystic ceremony which
I understood not.

Just as the old priest had awakened me the first morning to ask for
his present, so the king came tapping me gently the second. In his
hand he had a large sweet potato, and in my half-dreamy state I heard
him saying, "Give me your coat. Eat a potato?" The change I thought
was greatly to his advantage, but I was anxious to please him. I
possessed two coats, while he was, as he said, a poor old man, and
had no coat. The barter was concluded; I ate the potato, and he, with
strange grimaces, donned a coat for the first time in his life. Think
of this for an alleged descendant of the great Atahuallpa, whose
robes and jewels were priceless!

I offered to give the queen a feminine garment of white cotton if she
would wear it, but this I could not prevail upon her to do; it was
"ugly." As a loin-cloth, she would use it, but put it on--no! In the
latter savage style the shaped garment was thereafter worn. Women
have _fashions_ all over the globe.

The few inches of clothing worn by the Caingwa women are never
washed, and the only attempt at cleansing the body I saw when among
them was that of a woman who filled her mouth with water and squirted
it back on her hands, which she then wiped on her loin-cloth!

Prescott, writing of the Incas, says: "They loved to indulge in the
luxury of their baths, replenished by streams of crystal water which
were conducted through subterraneous silver channels into basins of

The shapely little mouth of the queen was spoilt by the habit she had
of smoking a _heavy_ pipe made of red clay. I was struck with the
weight and shape of this, for it exactly resembled those made by the
old cliff-dwellers, unknown centuries ago. One will weigh at least a
quarter of a pound. For a mouth-piece they use a bird's quill. The
tobacco they grow themselves.

Near the royal abode were the kitchen gardens. A tract of forest had
been fired, and this clearing planted with bananas, mandioca, sweet
potatoes, etc. The blackened trunks of the trees rose up like so many
evil spirits above the green foliage. The garden implements used were
of the most primitive description; a crooked stick served for hoe,
and long, heavy, sharpened iron-wood clubs were used instead of the
steel plough of civilization.

As I have already remarked, I found the people were sun-worshippers.
Each morning, just as the rising sun lit up the eastern sky, young
and old came out of their houses, the older ones carrying empty
gourds with the dry seeds inside. At a signal from the high priest, a
solemn droning chant was struck up, to the monotonous time kept by
the numerous gourd rattles. As the sun rose higher and higher, the
chanting grew louder and louder, and the echoes of _"He! he! he! ha!
ha! ha! laima! laima!"_ were repeated by the distant hills. When the
altar of incense (described later) was illuminated by the sun-god,
the chanting ceased.

After this solemn worship of the Orb of Day, the women, with quiet
demeanor and in single file, went off to their work in the gardens.
On returning, each carried a basket made of light canes, slung on the
back and held up by plaited fibres forming a band which came across
their foreheads. The baskets contained the day's vegetables. Meat was
seldom eaten by them, but this was probably because of its scarcity,
for when we killed an ostrich they clamored for a share. Reptiles of
all kinds, and even caterpillars, are devoured by them when hungry.

The Caingwas are under the average height, but use the longest bows
and arrows I have ever seen. Some I brought away measure nearly seven
feet in length. The points are made of sharpened iron-wood, notched
like the back of a fish-hook, and they are poisoned with serpent
venom. Besides these weapons, it was certainly strange to find them
living in the _stone age_, for in the hands of the older members of
the tribe were to be seen stone axes. The handles of these primitive
weapons are scraped into shape by flints, as probably our savage
forefathers in Britain did theirs two thousand years ago.

Entering the low, narrow doorway of one of the bamboo frame houses, I
saw that it was divided into ten-foot squares by corn-stalk
partitions a yard high. These places, like so many stalls for horses,
run down each side of the _hoga_. One family occupies a division,
sleeping in net hammocks made of long, coarse grass. A "family man"
usually has bands of human hair twisted around his legs below the
knees, and also around the wrists. This hair is torn from his wife's
head. Down the centre are numerous fires for cooking purposes, but
the house was destitute of chimney. Wood is burned, and the place was
at times so full of smoke that I could not distinguish one Indian
from another. Fortunately, the walls of the house, as was also the
roof, were in bad repair, and some of the smoke escaped through the
chinks. Sixty people lived in the largest hoga, and I judged the
number of the whole tribe to be about three hundred.

The doorways of all the houses faced towards the east, as did those
of the Inca. In the principal one, where the high priest lived, a
square altar of red clay was erected. I quickly noticed that on this
elevation, which was about a yard high, there burned a very carefully
tended fire of holy wood. Enquiring the meaning of this, I was
informed that, very many moons ago, Nande-yara had come in person to
visit the tribe, and when with them had lit the fire, which, he said,
they must not under any circumstances suffer to die out. Ever since
then the smoke of the incense had ascended to their "Owner" in his
far-off dwelling.

How forcibly was I reminded of the scripture referring to the Jewish
altar of long ago, "There the fire shall ever be burning upon the
altar; it shall never go out." If I had not discovered Eden, I had at
least found the altar and fire of Edenic origin.

Behind the altar, occupying the stall directly opposite the doorway,
stood the tribal god. As the Caingwas are sun-worshippers, I was
surprised to see this, but Rocanandivia, with grave demeanor, told me
that when Nandeyara departed from them he left behind him his
representative. In the chapter on Mariolatry, I have traced the
natural tendency of man to sink from spiritual to image worship, and
I found that the Caingwas, like all pagans, had reverted to a
something they could see and feel. Remembering that they had never
heard the second commandment, written by God because of this failing
in man, we can excuse them, but what shall be said of the enlightened

Being exceedingly anxious to procure their "Copy of God," I tried to
bargain with the priest. I offered him one thing and another, but to
all my proposals he turned a deaf ear, and finally, glaring at me,
said that _nothing_ would ever induce him to part with it. The people
would never allow the image to be taken away, as the life of the
tribe was bound up with it Seeing that he was not to be moved, I
desisted, though a covetous look in his eye when I offered a
beautiful colored rug in exchange gave me hope, Rocanandiva was, like
most idolatrous priests, very fanatical. When he learned that I
professed and taught a different religion, his jealousy was most
marked, and he often told me to go from them, I was not wanted.
Living with the king, however, saved me from ejection.

One day the priest, ever on the beg, was anxious to obtain some
article from me, and I determined to give it only on one condition.
Being anxious to tell the people the story of Jesus, I had repeatedly
asked permission of him, but had been as often repulsed. They did not
want _me_, or any new "words," he would reply. Turning to him now, I
said, "Rocanandiva, if you will allow me to tell 'words' to the
people you shall have the present." The priest turned on his heel and
left me. Knowing his cupidity, I was not surprised when, later, he
came to me and said that I could tell them _words_, and held out his
hand for the gift.

After sun-worship next morning the king announced that I had
something new to tell them. When all were seated on the ground in
wondering silence, I began in simple language to tell "the old, old
story." My address was somewhat similar to the following: "Many moons
ago, Nandeyara, looking down from his abode, saw that all the men and
women and children in the world were bad; that is, they had done
wrong things, such as . . . Now God has a Son, and to Him He said,
Look down and see. All are doing wicked things! He looked and saw.
The Father said that for their sin they should have to die, but that
Jesus, His Son, could come down and die in their place. The Son came,
and lived on earth many moons; but was hated, and at last caught, and
large pieces of iron (like the priest's knife) were put into His
hands and feet, and He was fastened to a tree. After this a man came,
and, with a very long knife, brought the blood out of the side of
Jesus, and He died." Purposing to further explain my story, I was not
pleased when the priest stopped me, and, stepping forth, told the
people that my account was not true. He then in eloquent tones
related to them what he called the _real story_, to which I listened
in amazed wonder.

"Many moons ago," he began, "we were dying of hunger! One day the
Sun, our god, changed into a man, and he walked down _that_ road."
(Here he pointed to the east.) "The chief met him. 'All your people
are dying of hunger,' said god. 'Yes, they are,' the chief replied.
'Will you die instead of all the people?' Nandeyara said. 'Yes, I
will,' the chief answered. He immediately dropped down dead, and god
came to the village where we all are now. 'Your chief is lying dead
up the road,' he said, 'go and bury him, and after three days are
passed visit the grave, when you will find a plant growing out of
his mouth; that will be corn, and it will save you!'" Then, turning
to me, the priest said: "This we did, and behold us alive! That is
the story!" A strange legend, surely, and yet the reader will be
struck with the grains of truth intermingled--life, resulting from
the sacrificial death of another; the substitution of the one for the
many; the life-giving seed germinating after _three days' burial_,
reminding one of John 12:24: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the
ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth
much fruit." Strange that so many aboriginal people have legends so
near the truth.

Some days later the chiefs son and I were alone, and I saw that
something troubled him. He tried to tell me, but I was somewhat
ignorant of his language, so, after looking in all directions to see
that we were really alone, he led the way into a dark corner of the
hoga, where we were. There, from under a pile of garden baskets,
calabashes, etc., he brought out a peculiarly-shaped gourd, full of
some red, powdery substance. This, with trembling haste, he put into
my hand, and seemed greatly relieved when I had it securely. Going
then to the corner where I kept my goods, he took up a box of matches
and made signs for me to exchange, which I did. When Timoteo returned
I learned that the young man was custodian of the devil--the only and
original one--and that he had palmed him off on me for a box of
matches! How the superstition of the visible presence of the devil
originated I have no idea, but there might be some meaning in the
man's earnest desire to exchange it for matches, or lights, the
emblem of their fire or sun-worship. Was this simple deal fallen
man's feeble effort to rid himself of the _Usurper_ and get back the
_Father_, for it is very significant that the Caingwa word, _ta-ta_
(light), signifies also father. Do they need light, or are they
sufficiently illumined for time and eternity? Will the reader
reverently stand with me, in imagination, beside an Indian grave? A
girl has died through snake poisoning. A shallow grave has been dug
for her remains. Into this hole her body has been dropped,
uncoffined, in a sitting position. Beside the body is placed some
food and a few paltry trinkets, and the people stand around with that
disconsolate look which is only seen upon the faces of those who know
not the Father. As they thus linger, the witch-doctor asks, "Is the
dog killed?" Someone replies, "Yes, the dog is killed." "Is the head
cut off?" is then asked. "Yes, the head is off," is the reply. "Put
it in the grave, then," says the medicine man; and then the dog's
head is dropped at the girl's feet.

Why do they do this? you ask. Question their _wise man_, and he will
say: "A dog is a very clever animal. He can always find his way. A
girl gets lost when alone. For that reason we place a dog's head with
her, that it may guide her in the spirit life." I ask again, "Do they
need missionaries?"

My stay with the sun-worshippers, though interesting, was painful.
Excepting when we cooked our own food, I almost starved. Their habits
are extremely filthy, indeed more loathsome and disgusting than I
dare relate.

My horses were by now refreshed with their rest, and appeared able
for the return journey, so I determined to start back to
civilization. The priest heard of my decision with unfeigned joy, but
the king and queen were sorrowful. These pressed me to return again
some time, but said I must bring with me a _boca_ (gun) like my own
for the king, with some more strings of white beads for the queen's

While saddling our horses in the grey dawn, the wily priest came to
me with a bundle, and, quietly drawing me aside, said that Nandeyara
was inside, and in exchange for the bright rug I could take him away.
The exchange was made, and I tied their god, along with bows and
arrows, etc., on the back of a horse, and we said farewell. I had
strict orders to cover up the idol from the eyes of the people until
we got away. Even when miles distant, I kept looking back, fearing
that the duped Indians were following in enraged numbers. Of course,
the priest would give out that I had _stolen_ the image.

Ah, Rocanandiva, you are not the first who has been willing to sell
his god for worldly gain! The hand of Judas burned with "thirty
pieces of silver," the earthly value of the Divine One. Pilate, for
personal profit, said: "Let Him be crucified." And millions to-day
sell Him for "a mess of pottage."

The same horse bore away the _devil_ and _god_, so perhaps without
the one there would be no need of the other.

So prolific is the vegetation that during our few weeks' stay with
the Indians the creeping thorns and briars had almost covered up the
path we had cut through the forest, and it was again necessary to use
our machetes. The larger growth, however, being down, this was not
difficult, and we entered its sombre stillness once more. What
strange creatures people its tangled recesses we knew not.

"For beasts and birds have seen and heard
That which man knoweth not."

I hurried through with little wish to penetrate its secret. Mere
existence was hard enough in its steaming semi-darkness. Our clothes
were now almost torn to shreds (I had sought to mend mine with horse-
hair thread, with poor results), and we duly emerged into daylight on
the other side, ragged, torn and dirty.

Our journey back to civilization was similar to the outward way. We
selected a slightly different route, but left the old chief safe and
well with his people.

One night our horses were startled by a bounding jaguar, and were so
terrified that they broke away and scattered in all directions.
Searching for them detained us a whole day, but fortunately we were
able to round them all up again. Two were found in a wood of
strangely-shaped bushes, whose large, tough leaves rustled like

One afternoon a heavy rain came on, and we stopped to construct a
shelter of green branches, into which we crept. The downpour became
so heavy that it dripped through our hastily-constructed arbor, and
we were soon soaking wet. Owing to the dampness of the fuel, it was
only after much patient work that we were able to light a fire and
dry our clothes. There we remained for three days, Timoteo sighing
for Pegwaomi, and the wind sighing still louder, to our discomfort.
Everything we had was saturated. Sleeping on the soaking ground, the
poisonous tarantula spiders crept over us. These loathsome creatures,
second only to the serpent, are frequently so large as to spread
their thick, hairy legs over a six-inch diameter.

The storm passed, and we started off towards the river Ipane, which
was now considerably swollen. Three times on the expedition we had
halted to build rough bridges over chasms or mountain streams with
perpendicular banks, but this was broad and had to be crossed through
the water. As I rode the largest and strongest horse, it was my place
to venture first into the rushing stream. The animal bravely stemmed
the current, as did the rest, but Old Stabbed Arm, riding a weaker
horse, nearly lost his life. The animal was washed down by the strong
current, and but for the man's previous long experience in swimming
rivers he would never have reached the bank. The pony also somehow
struggled through to the side, landing half-drowned, and Old Stabbed
Arm received a few hearty pats on the back. The load on the mare was
further soaked, but most of our possessions had been ruined long ago.
My cartridges I had slung around my neck, and I held the photographic
plates in my teeth, while the left hand carried my gun, so these were
preserved. To my care on that occasion the reader is indebted for
some of the illustrations in this volume. Nandeyara got another wash,
but he had been wet before, and never complained!

On the farther side of the river was a deserted house, and we could
distinctly trace the heavy footprints of a tapir leading up the path
and through the open doorway. We entered with caution. Was the beast
in then? No. He had gone out by a back way, probably made by himself,
through the wattled wall. We could see the place was frequented very
often by wild pigs, which had left hundreds of footprints in the
three-inch depth of dust on the floor. There we lit a fire to again
dry our clothes, and prepared to pass the night, expecting a visit
from the hogs. Had they appeared when we were ready for them, the
visit would not have been unwelcome. Food was hard to procure, and
animals did not come very often to be shot. Had they found us asleep,
however, the waking would have been terrible indeed, for they will
eat human flesh just as ravenously as roots. After spreading our
saddle-cloths on the dust and filth, Old Stabbed Arm and I were
chatting about the Caingwas and their dirty habits, when Timoteo,
heaving a sigh of relief, said: "Thank God, we are clean at last!" He
was satisfied with the pigpen as he recalled the _hoga_ of the Sun-

At last the village of Pegwaomi was reached, and, oh, we were not
sorry, for the havoc of the jiggers in our feet was getting terrible!
The keen-eyed inhabitants caught sight of us while we were still
distant, and when we reined up, Timoteo's aged mother tremblingly
said, "_Yoape_" ("Come here") to him, and she wept as she embraced
her boy. Truly, there was no sight so sweet to "mother" as that of
her ragged, travel-stained son; and Timoteo, the strong man, wept.
The fatted calf was then killed a few yards from the doorstep, by
having its throat cut. Offal littered up the doorway, and the
children in their glee danced in the red blood. The dogs' tails and
the women's tongues wagged merrily, making us feel that we were
joined on to the world again. I was surprised to find that we were
days out of reckoning; I had been keeping Sunday on Thursday!

During this stay at Pegwaomi I nearly lost Old Stabbed Arm. The day
after we returned our hostess very seriously asked me if he might
marry her daughter. Thinking he had sent her to ask, I consented. It
was a surprise to learn afterwards that he knew nothing at all of the

Although Pegwaomi gained no new inhabitant, I secured what proved to
be one of the truest and most faithful friends of my life--a little
monkey. His name was Mr. Pancho. With him it was love at first sight,
and from that time onward, I believe, he had only two things in his
mind--his food and his master. He would cry when I left him, and hug
and kiss me on my return. Pancho rode the pack-mare into the village
of Concepcion, and busied himself on the way catching butterflies and
trying to grasp the multi-colored humming-birds hovering over the
equally beautiful passion-flowers growing in the bushes on each side
of the path.

Surely a stranger sight was never seen on the streets of Concepcion
than that of a tired, dusty pack-horse bearing a live monkey, a dead
god, and an equally dead devil on his back! Mrs. Sorrows was
overjoyed to see me return, and earnestly told me that my first duty
was to hurry down to the store and buy two colored candles to burn
before her saint, who had brought me back, even though I was a
heretic, which fact she greatly lamented. We had been given up as
lost months before, for word came down that I had been killed by
Indians. Here I was, however, safe and fairly well, saving that the
ends of two of my toes had rotted off with jiggers, and fever burned
in my veins! Mrs. Dolores doctored my feet with tobacco ashes as I
reclined in a hammock under the lime trees surrounding her hut. I did
not buy the candles, but she did; and while I silently thanked a
Higher Power, and the _ta-tas_ burned to _her_ deity, she informed me
that my countryman, the prodigal, had been carried to the "potters'
field." Not all prodigals reach home again; some are buried by the

For some time I was unable to put my feet to the ground; but Pancho,
ever active, tied in a fig tree, helped himself to ripe fruit, and
took life merrily. Pancho and I were eventually able to bid good-bye
to Mrs. Sorrows, and, thousands of miles down life's pathway, this
little friend and I journeyed together, he ever loving and true. I
took him across the ocean, away from his tropical home, and--he died.
I am not sentimental--nay, I have been accused of hardness--but I
make this reference to Pancho in loving memory. Unlike some friends
of my life, _he_ was constant and true. [Footnote: From letters
awaiting me at the post-office, I learned, with intense sorrow and
regret, that my strange patron had gone "the way of all flesh" The
land I had been to explore, along-with a bequest of $250,000, passed
into the hands of the Baptist Missionary Society, to the Secretary of
which Society all my reports were given.]



The Gran Chaco, an immense region in the interior of the continent,
said to be 2,500,000 square miles in extent, is, without doubt, the
darkest part of "The Darkest Land." From time immemorial this has
been given up to the Indians; or, rather, they have proved so warlike
that the white man has not dared to enter the vast plain. The Chaco
contains a population of perhaps 3,000,000 of aborigines. These are
divided into many tribes, and speak numerous languages. From the
military outposts of Argentina at the south, to the Fort of Olimpo,
450 miles north, the country is left entirely to the savage. The
former are built to keep back the Tobas from venturing south, and the
latter is a Paraguayan fort on the Brazilian frontier. Here about one
hundred soldiers are quartered and some fifty women banished, for the
Paraguayan Government sends its female convicts there. [Footnote: The
women are not provided with even the barest necessities of life. Here
they are landed and, perforce, fasten themselves like leeches on the
licentious soldiery. I speak from personal knowledge, for I have
visited the "hell" of Paraguay.] Between these forts and Bolivia, on
the west, I have been privileged to visit eight different tribes of
Indians, all of them alike degraded and sunken in the extreme; savage
and wild as man, though originally made in the image of God, can be.

The Chaco is a great unknown land. The north, described by Mr.
Minchin, Bolivian Government Explorer, as "a barren zone--an almost
uninterrupted extent of low, thorny scrub, with great scarcity of
water," and the centre and south, as I have seen in exploring
journeys, great plains covered with millions of palm trees, through
which the astonished traveller can ride for weeks without seeing any
limit. In the dry season the land is baked by the intense heat of the
tropical sun, and cracked into deep fissures. In the rainy season it
is an endless marsh--a veritable dead man's land. During a 200-mile
ride, 180 lay through water with the sun almost vertical. All this
country in past ages must have been the bed of a great salt sea.

As I have said, the Chaco is peculiarly Indian territory, into which
the white man steps at his peril. I accepted a commission, however,
to examine and report on certain parts of it, so I left the civilized
haunts of men and set foot on the forbidden ground.

My first introduction to the savages in Chaco territory was at their
village of Teepmuckthlawhykethy (The Place Where the Cows Arrived).
They were busy devouring a dead cow and a newly-born calf, and I saw
their naked bodies through such dense clouds of mosquitos that in one
clap of the hands I could kill twenty or thirty. This Indian _toldo_
consists of three large wigwams, in which live about eighty of the
most degraded aborigines to be found on earth. When they learned I
was not one of the _Christians_ from across the river, and that I
came well introduced, they asked: Did I come across the _big water_
in a dug-out? Was it a day's journey? Would I give them some of "the
stuff that resembles the eggs of the ant?" (their name for rice).

I was permitted to occupy a palm hut without a roof, but I slept
under a tiger's skin, and that kept off dew and rain. They reserved
the right to come and go in it as they pleased. The women, with naked
babies astride their hips, the usual way of carrying them, were
particularly annoying. A little girl, however, perhaps ten years old,
named Supupnik (Sawdust), made friends with me, and that friendship
lasted during all my stay with them. Her face was always grotesquely
painted, but she was a sweet child.

These Indians are of normal stature, and are always erect and
stately, perhaps because all burdens are borne by straps on the
forehead. The expression of the savage is peculiar, for he pulls out
all the hair on his face, even the eyelashes and eyebrows, and seems
to think the omission of that act would be a terrible breach of
cleanliness. These same individuals will, however, frequently be seen
with their whole body so coated with dirt that it could easily be
scraped off with a knife in cakes, as the housewife would scrape a
burnt loaf! The first use to which the women put the little round tin
looking-glasses, which I used for barter, was to admire their pretty
(?) faces; but the men, with a sober look, would search for the
detested hair on lip or chin. That I was so lost to decency as to
suffer a moustache to cover my lip was to them a constant puzzle and
wonder, for in every other respect the universal opinion was that I
was a civilized kind of "thing." I write _thing_ advisedly, for the
white man is to them an inferior creation--not a _person_.

In place of a beard or moustache, the inhabitant of the Chaco prefers
to paint his face, and sometimes he makes quite an artistic design.

These wild inhabitants of Central South America generally wear a skin
around the loins, or a string of ostrich feathers. Some tribes, as,
for example, the Chamacocos, dispense with either. The height of
fashion is to wear strings of tigers' teeth, deer's hoofs, birds'
bills, etc., around the neck. Strings of feathers or wool are twisted
around ankles and wrists, while the thickly matted hair is adorned
with plumes, standing upright.

The men insert round pieces of wood in the lobe of the ear. Boys of
tender age have a sharp thorn pushed through the ear, where more
civilized nations wear earrings. This hole is gradually enlarged
until manhood, when a round piece, two inches in diameter and one and
a half inches thick, can be worn, not depending from the ear, but in
the gristle of it. The cartilage is thus so distended that only a
narrow rim remains around the ornament, and this may often be seen
broken out. Sometimes three or four rattles from the tail of the
rattlesnake also hang from the ear on to the shoulder.

These tribes of the Chaco were all vassals of the Inca at the advent
of the Spaniards. They had been by them reclaimed from savagery, and
taught many useful arts, one or two of which, such as the making of
blankets and string, they still retain. The Inca used the ear
ornaments of solid gold, but made in the form of a wheel. The nearest
approach to this old custom is when the wooden ear-plug is painted
thus, as are some in the author's possession.

I was fortunate in gaining the favor of the tribe living near the
river, and because of certain favors conferred upon them, was adopted
into the family. My face was painted, my head adorned with ostrich
plumes, and I was given the name of Wanampangapthling ithma (Big
Cactus Red Mouth). Because of this formal initiation, I was
privileged to travel where I chose, but to the native Paraguayan or
Argentine the Chaco is a forbidden land. The Indian describes himself
as a _man_; monkeys are _little men_; I was a _thing_; but the
Paraguayans are _Christians_, and that is the lowest degree of all.
The priests they see on the other side of the river are _Yankilwana_
(neither man nor woman); and a _Yankilwana_, in his distinctive garb,
could never tread this Indian soil. So abhorrent to them is the name
of Christian, that the missionaries have been compelled to use
another word to describe their converts, and they are called
"Followers of Jesus." All the members of some large expeditions have
been massacred just because they were _Christians_. Surely this is
convincing corroboration of my remarks regarding the state of Roman
Catholicism in those dark lands.

A few miserable-looking, diminutive sheep are kept by some tribes,
and the blankets referred to are made from the wool, which is torn
off the sheep with a sharp shell, or, if near the coast, with a
knife. The blankets are woven by hand across two straight branches of
tree, and they are sometimes colored in various shades. A bulbous
root they know of dyes brown, the cochineal insect red, and the bark
of a tree yellow. String is made from the fibre of the _caraguatai_
plant, and snail shells are used to extract the fibre. This work is,
of course, done by the women, as is also the making of the clay pots
they use for cooking. The men only hunt.

All sleep on the ground, men, women, children and dogs,
promiscuously. The wigwams are nothing more than a few branches stuck
in the ground and tied at the top. The sides are left open. Very
often even this most primitive of dwellings is dispensed with, and
the degraded beings crawl under the shelter of the bushes. Furniture
of any kind they are, of course, wit-out, and their destitution is
only equalled by the African pigmy or the Australian black.

The Chaco is essentially a barren land, and the Indians' time seems
almost fully taken up in procuring food. The men, with bows and
arrows, hunt the deer, ostrich, fox, or wolf, while the women forage
for roots and wild fruit.

One tribe in the north of the Chaco are cannibals, and they
occasionally make war on their neighbors just to obtain food.

A good vegetable diet is the cabbage, which grows in the heart of
certain palms, and weighs three or four pounds. To secure this the
tree has perforce to be cut down. To the Indian without an axe this
is no light task. The palm, as is well known, differs from other
trees by its having the seat of life in the head, and not in the
roots; so when the cabbage is taken out the tree dies.

Anything, everything, is eaten for food, and a roasted serpent or
boiled fox is equally relished. During my stay among them I ceased to
ask of what the mess was composed; each dish was worse than the
former. Among the first dishes I had were mandioca root, a black
carrion bird, goat's meat, and fox's head. The puma, otter, ant-bear,
deer, armadillo, and ostrich are alike eaten, as is also the jaguar,
a ferocious beast of immense size. I brought away from those regions
some beautiful skins of this animal, the largest of which measures
nearly nine feet from nose to tail.

In the sluggish, almost salt, streams, fish are numerous, and these
are shot by the Indian with arrows, to which is attached a string of
gut. Lakes and rivers are also filled with hideous-looking alligators
of all sizes. These grow to the length of twelve or fifteen feet in
these warm waters, and the tail is considered quite a delicacy.
Besides these varied dishes, there is the electric eel; and, sunk in
a yard depth of mud, is the _lollock_, of such interest to
naturalists The lollock is a fish peculiar to the Chaco. Though
growing to the length of three and four feet, it has only rudimentary
eyes, and is, in consequence, quite blind; it is also unable to swim.
The savage prods in the mud with a long notched lance, sometimes for
hours, until he sticks the appetizing fish.

The steamy waters are so covered with aquatic plants that in some
places I have been able to walk across a living bridge. Once, when
out hunting, I came upon a beautiful forest glade, covered with a
carpet of green. Thinking it a likely place for deer, I entered, when
lo, I sank in a fotid lake of slime. Throwing my gun on to the bank,
I had quite a difficulty to regain dry land.

In my journeyings here and there I employed one or another of the
braves to accompany me. All they could eat and some little present
was the pay. No sooner was the gift in their hand, however, after
supper, than they would put it back in mine and say, "Give me some
more food?" I was at first accompanied by Yantiwau (The Wolf Rider).
Armed with a bow and arrows, he was a good hunter for me, and a
faithful servant, but his custom of spitting on my knife and spoon to
clean them I did not like. When my supplies were getting low, and I
went to the river for a wash, he would say: "There's no
_kiltanithliacack_ (soap)--only _clupup_ (sand)." Yantiwau was
interested in pictures; he would gaze with wondering eyes at photos,
or views of other lands, but he looked at them _the wrong side up_,
as they all invariably do. While possessed of a profound respect for
me in some ways, he thought me very lacking in common knowledge.
While I was unable to procure game, through not seeing any, he could
call the bird to him in a "ducky, ducky, come and be killed" kind of
way; and my tongue was parched when he would scent water. This was
sometimes very easy to smell, however, for it was almost impossible
to drink out of a waterhole without holding the nose and straining
the liquid through my closed teeth. Chaco water at best is very
brackish, and on drying off the ground a white coat of salt is left.

My Indian's first and last thought was of his stomach. While capable
of passing two or three days without eating, and feeling no pangs of
hunger, yet, when food was to hand, he gorged himself, and could put
away an incredible amount. Truly, his make-up was a constant wonder
to me. Riding through the "hungry belt" I would be famishing, but to
my question: "Are you hungry?" he would answer, "No." After a
toilsome journey, and no supper at the end: "Would you like to eat?"
"No." But let an ostrich or a deer come in sight, and he could not
live another minute without food! Another proof to Yantiwau of my
incapacity was the fact that when my matches were all used I could
not light the fire. He, by rubbing a blunt-pointed hard stick in a
groove of soft wood, could cause such a friction that the dust would
speedily ignite, and set fire to the dry twigs which he was so clever
in collecting. Although such a simple process to the Indian, I never
met a white man who could use the firesticks with effect.

Sitting by the camp-fire in the stillness of evening, my guide would
draw attention to a shooting star. "Look! That is a bad witch
doctor," he would say. "Did you notice he went to the west? Well, the
Toothlis live there. He has gone for vengeance!"

The wide palm plains are almost uninhabited; I have journeyed eighty
miles without sighting human being or wigwam. In the rainy season the
trees stand out of a sea-like expanse of steaming water, and one may
wade through this for twenty miles without finding a dry place for
bivouac. Ant hills, ten and fifteen feet high, with dome-shaped
roofs, dot the wild waste like pigmy houses, and sometimes they are
the only dry land found to rest on. The horses flounder through the
mire, or sink up to the belly in slime, while clouds of flies make
the life of man and beast a living death. Keys rust in the pocket,
and boots mildew in a day. At other seasons, as I know by painful
experience, the hard-baked ground is cracked up into fissures, and
not a drop of water is to be found in a three days' journey. The
miserable savages either sit in utter dejection on logs of wood or
tree roots, viewing the watery expanse, or roam the country in search
of _yingmin_ (water).

Whereas the Caingwas may be described as inoffensive Indians, the
inhabitants of the Chaco are _savages_, hostile to the white man, who
only here and there, with their permission, has settled on the river
bank. Generally a people of fine physique and iron constitution, free
from disease of any kind, they are swept into eternity in an
incredibly short space of time if _civilized_ diseases are
introduced. Even the milder ones, such as measles, decimate a whole
tribe; and I have known communities swept away as autumn leaves in a
strong breeze with the _grippe_. I was informed that the hospital
authorities at Asuncion gave them the cast-off fever clothing of
their patients during an epidemic to sweep them off the face of the

The Indians have been ill-treated from the beginning. Darwin relates
that, in their eagerness to exterminate the red men, the Argentine
troops have pursued them for three days without food. On the frontier
they are killed in hundreds; by submitting to the white man they die
in thousands. Latin civilization is more terrible to them than war.
Sad to state, their only hope is to fight, and this the savage
affirms he will do for ever and ever.

Francia, the Dictator of Paraguay, ordered every Indian found--man,
woman or child--to be put to death! Lopez, a later ruler, took sport
in hunting Indians like deer. We are told that on one occasion he was
so successful as to kill forty-eight! The children he captured and
sold into slavery at fifteen and twenty dollars each. The white
settler considers himself very brave if he kills the savage with a
rifle sighted at five hundred yards, while well out of range of the
Indians' arrows, and I have known them shot just "for fun"! The
Indians retaliate by _cutting off the heels_ of their white captives,
or leaving them, _in statu naturae_, bound with thongs on an
anthill; and a more terrible death could not be devised by even the
inquisitor, Torquemada, of everlasting execration. The Indian is hard
and cruel, indifferent to pain in himself or others. A serpent may
sting a comrade, and he takes no notice; but let one find food and
there is a general scamper to the spot. The Chaco savage is barbarous
in the extreme. The slain enemies are often eaten, and the bones
burnt and scattered over their food. The children of enemies are
traded off to other tribes for more food.

The Chaco Indian is a born warrior. Sad to say, his only hope is to
fight against the Latin paleface.

Most of us have at times been able to detect a peculiar aroma in the
negro. The keen-scented savage detects that something in us, and we
"smell" to them. Even I, _Big Cactus Red Mouth_, was not declared
free from a subtle odor, although I washed so often that they
wondered my skin did not come off. _They never wash_, and in damp
weather the dirt peels from them in cakes. Of course they _don't_

When a man or woman is, through age, no longer capable of looking
after the needs of the body, a shallow grave is dug, the aged one
doubled up until the knees are pressed into the hollow cheeks, and
the back is broken. This terrible work done, the undesired one is
dragged by one leg to the open tomb. Sometimes the face and whole
body is so mangled, by being pulled through thorns and over uneven
ground, that it is not recognizable, and the nose has at times been
actually torn off. While sometimes still alive, the body is covered
up with mother earth. Frequently the grave is so shallow that the
matted hair may be seen coming out at the top. The burial is
generally made near a wood, and, if passible, under the _holy wood
tree_, which, in their judgment, has great influence with evil
spirits. Wild beasts, attracted by the odor of the corpse, soon dig
up the remains, and before next day it is frequently devoured.

An _ordinary_ burial service may be thus described: A deep cut is
first made in the stomach of the departed one. Into this incision a
stone, some bone ash, and a bird's claw are introduced. The body is
then placed over the grave on two sticks, a muttering incantation is
said by the witch doctor, and the sticks are roughly knocked from
under the body, so as to permit it to fall in a sitting posture. A
bow and arrows, and some food and cooking utensils, are dropped into
the grave. All shooting stars, according to the Indian belief, are
flying stones; hence the custom of placing a stone in the stomach of
the dead. It is supposed to be able to mount heavenward, and,
assuming its true character, become the avenging adversary, and
destroy the one who caused the death--always a bad witch doctor. The
bird's claw scratches out the enemy's heart, and the ashes annihilate
the spirit. One of the missionaries in the Lengua tribe stated that
he assisted at the burial of a woman where the corpse fell head
foremost into the grave, the feet remaining up. Four times the
attempt to drop her in right was made, with similar results, and
finally the husband deliberately broke his dead wife's neck, and bent
the head on to the back; then he broke her limbs across his knee, and
so the ghastly burial was at last completed! Truly, "the dark places
of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty." Let the one
whose idea is to "leave the pagan in his innocency" visit these
savages, and, if he lives to tell it, his ideas will have undergone a
great change. They are _lost!_ and millions have not yet heard of the
"Son of Man," who "came to seek and to save that which was lost."

At the death of any member, the _toldo_ in which he lived is burnt,
all his possessions are destroyed, and the people go into mourning.
The hair of both sexes is cut short or pulled out, and each one has
the face blackened with a vegetable dye, which, from experience, I
know hardly ever wears off again. As I have said, everything the man
owned in life is burnt and the village is deserted; all move right
away to get out of the presence of the death-giving spirit. To me the
_toldo_ would not only seem abandoned, but the people gone without
leaving a trace of their path; but not so to Wolf Rider, my guide. By
the position of the half-burnt wood of the fire, he could tell the
direction they had taken, and the number gone--although each steps in
the other's footprints--whether they were stopping to hunt on the
way, and much more he would never tell me. Some of the missionaries
have spent ten years in the Chaco, but cannot get the savage to teach
them this lesson of signs.

In some tribes the aged ones are just _"left to die"_ sitting under a
palm-leaf mat. All the members of the tribe move away and leave them
thus. Many are the terrible things my eyes have witnessed, but surely
the most pathetic was the sight of an old woman sitting under the
mat. I was one day riding alone, but had with me two horses, when I
caught sight of the palm-leaf erection and the solitary figure
sitting under it. Getting down from my horse, I approached the woman
and offered to take her to a place of safety, promising to feed her
and permit her to live as long as she chose. Would she come with me?
I begged and entreated, but the poor woman would not so much as lift
her eyes to mine. The law of her tribe had said she must die, and the
laws are to them unalterable. Most reluctantly, I left her to be
eaten later on by the wild beasts.

Terrible as this custom is, other tribes kill and eat their aged
parents "as a mark of respect." Another tribe will not permit one
member to go into the spirit world alone, so they hang another one,
in order that there may be two to enter together.

Whereas the Caingwas are a religious people, even attributing their
custom of piercing the lip to divine commandment, the Chaco
aborigines have no god and no religion. Missionaries in the solitary
station I have referred to, after ten years' probing, have been
unable to find any approach to worship in their darkened minda. "The
miserable wretches who inhabit that vast wilderness are so low in the
scale of reasoning beings that one might doubt whether or not they
have human souls." [Footnote: Washburn's "History of Paraguay."]
These "lost sheep" have no word to express God, and have no idols.
"The poverty of the Indian dialects of the Chaco is scarcely
surpassed by that of the dumb brutes."

These wretched tribes have perfect community of goods; what is
secured by one belongs equally to all. A piece of cloth is either
torn up and distributed, or worn in turns by each one. The shirt
which I gave my guide, Yantiwau, for much arduous toil, was worn by
one and another alternately. Much as the savage at first desires to
possess some garment, it does not take long for him to tire of it.
All agree with Mark Twain, that "the human skin is the most
comfortable of all costumes," and, clothed in the sunlight, the human
form divine is not unlovely.

Sometimes the Indians of the interior take skins, etc., to the
Paraguayan towns across the river. Not knowing the use of money,
their little trading is done by barter. Their knowledge of value is
so crude that on one occasion they refused a two-dollar axe for an
article, but gladly accepted a ten-cent knife. The Chaco Indian,
however, is seldom seen in civilization. His home is in the interior
of an unknown country, which he wanders over in wild freedom. While
the Caingwas are homekeeping, these savages are nomadic, and could
not settle down. The land is either burnt up or inundated, so they do
not plant, but live only by the chase. So bold and daring are they
that a man, armed only with a lance, will attack a savage jaguar; or,
diving under an alligator, he will stab it with a sharpened bone. The
same man will run in abject terror if he thinks he hears _spirits_.

Though not religious, the savages are exceedingly superstitious,
afraid of ghosts and evil spirits, and the fear of these spectral
visitants pursues them through life. During a storm they vigorously
shake their blankets and mutter incantations to keep away
supernatural visitors.

All diseases are caused by evil spirits, or the moon; and a comet
brings the measles. The help of the witch doctor has to be sought on
all occasions, for his special work is to drive away the evil spirit
that has taken possession of a sick one. This he does by rattling a
hollow calabash containing stones. That important person will perform
his mystic _hocus pocus_ over the sick or dying, and charm away the
spirits from a neighborhood. I have known an Indian, when in great
pain through having eaten too much, send for the old fakir, who,
after examination of the patient and great show of learning, declared
that the suffering one _had two tigers in his stomach_. A very common
remedy is the somewhat scientific operation of bleeding a patient,
but the manner is certainly uncommon--the witch doctor sucks out the
blood. One I was acquainted with, among the Lengua tribe, professed
to suck three cats out of a man's stomach. His professional name was
thereafter "Father of Kittens." The doctor's position is not one to
be envied, however, for if three consecutive patients die, he must
follow them _down the dark trail!_

These medicine-men are experts in poisons, and their enemies have a
way of dying suddenly. It cannot be denied that the Indians have a
very real knowledge of the healing virtues of many plants. The writer
has marvelled at the cures he has seen, and was not slow to add some
of their methods to his medical knowledge. Not a few who have been
healed, since the writer's return to civilization, owe their new life
to the knowledge there learned.

Infanticide is practised in every tribe, and in my extensive
wanderings among eight _toldos_, I never met a family with more than
two children. The rest are killed! A child is born, and the mother
immediately knocks it on the head with a club! After covering the
baby with a layer of earth, the woman goes about as if nothing had
occurred. One chief of the Lengua tribe, that I met, had himself
killed nineteen children. An ironwood club is kept in each _toldo_
for this gruesome work. Frequently a live child is buried with a dead
parent; but I had better leave much of their doings in the inkpot.

When a girl enters the matrimonial market, at about the age of twelve
or thirteen, her face is specially colored with a yellow paint, made
from the flower of the date palm, and the aspirant to her hand brings
a bundle of firewood, neatly tied up, which he places beside her
earthen bed at early morning. As the rising sun gilds the eastern
sky, the girl awakes out of her sleep, rubs her eyes,--and sees the
sticks. Well does she know the meaning of it, and a glad light
flashes in her dark eyes as she cries out, "Who brought the sticks?"
All men, women and children, take up the cry, and soon the whole
encampment resounds with, "Who brought the sticks?" The medicine-man,
who sleeps apart from the "common herd" under an incense-tree, hears
the din, and, quickly donning his head-dress, hurries down to the
scene. With an authoritative voice, which even the chief himself does

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