I explained who we were. The strangers could not do enough for us. In a moment they unloaded the baggage from our craft and put it on board their boats. They halted near the right bank, and on hearing of our pitiful plight immediately proceeded to cook a meal for us.
The people belonged to the rubber-collecting expedition of a trader named Dom Pedro Nunes, who went only once every year with a fleet of boats up to the headwaters of that river in order to bring back rubber. The expedition—the only one that ever went up that river at all—took eight or ten months on the journey there and back. It was really an amazing bit of luck that we should owe our salvation to meeting that expedition in an almost miraculous way, brought about by an extraordinary series of fortunate coincidences.
Had we not constructed that raft—had we not been on board at that moment—we should have missed the expedition and certainly should have died. Had we been following the bank of the river on foot, we never could have seen the boats nor heard them, as the banks were extremely high, and it was never possible to keep close to the stream when marching in the forest; we always had to keep some hundred metres or so from the water in order to avoid the thick vegetation on the edge of the stream. In fact, Benedicto, who was walking in the forest along the stream, had gone past the boats and had neither heard nor seen them. When we shouted out to him he was already a long distance off, a boat sent out to him by Dom Pedro Nunes having to travel nearly 800 m. before it could get up to him and bring him back.
The trader and his men treated us with tender care. We were practically naked when they met us, my attire consisting of the leather belt with the bags of money round my waist, and a small portion of the sleeveless coat, all torn to pieces. Dom Pedro Nunes immediately gave me some clothes, while his men gave garments to Filippe and Benedicto.
Several men rushed about collecting wood, and in a moment a large flame was blazing. The sight of proper food brought back our appetites as by magic. Our ravenous eyes gazed on several big pieces of anta (Tapirus americanus) meat, through which a stick had been passed, being broiled over the flame. We three starving men did not take our eyes off that meat for a second until the man who was cooking it removed the stick and said the meat was ready. We pounced upon it like so many famished tigers. The meat was so hot that, as we tore away at the large pieces with our teeth, our lips, noses, and fingers were absolutely burned by the broiling fat.
Dom Pedro Nunes gently put his hand in front of me, saying "Do not eat so quickly; it is bad for you." But I pushed him away with what vigour I had left. I could have killed anybody who had stood between that piece of meat and me. I tore at it lustily with my teeth, until there was nothing left of it.
By that time a large bag of farinha had been spread before us. We grabbed handfuls of it, shoving them into our mouths as fast as we could.
The sensation of eating—normal food—after such a long fast was a delightful one. But only for a few moments. Pedro Nunes was just handing me a cup of coffee when I dropped down unconscious, rejecting everything with a quantity of blood besides.
When I recovered consciousness, Pedro Nunes said I had been unconscious for a long time. They all thought I was dead. I felt almost unbearable pain in my inside, and a lassitude as if life were about to be extinguished altogether.
It was evidently the reaction, after eating too quickly—and I should like to meet the healthy man who would not eat quickly under those circumstances—and also the relaxation from the inconceivable strain of so many weeks of mental worry.
I well remember how Pedro Nunes and his men, when standing around us just as we began eating that first solid meal, had tears streaming down their cheeks while watching us in our dreadful plight. Once more Pedro Nunes—one of the most kindly men I have ever met—sobbed bitterly when he asked me to take off my clothes and change them for the newer ones he had given me. I removed from my pocket the contents: my chronometer, a notebook, and a number of caju seeds which I had collected, and which, caustic or not caustic, would have been our only food until we should have certainly perished.
We heard from Pedro Nunes that it would have taken us at least six or seven days' steady walking before we could get to the first house of rubber collectors. In our exhausted condition we could have never got there. As for the damaged raft, it could not have floated more than a few hours longer—perhaps not so long.
From the spot where I met Pedro Nunes—quite close to the junction of the Canuma River with the Madeira River—going down by river it would have been possible to reach Manaos in two or three days. Dom Pedro Nunes, however, with his expedition, could not return, nor sell me a boat, nor lend me men; so that I thought my best plan was to go back with him up the River Canuma and then the Secundury River, especially when I heard from the trader that the latter river came from the south-east—which made me think that perhaps I might find a spot at its most south-easterly point where the distance would not be great to travel once more across the forest, back to my men whom I had left near the Tapajoz.
Pedro Nunes declined to receive payment for the clothes he had given me and my men, so I presented him with the Mauser I possessed, which he greatly appreciated; while I gave the crew which had rescued us a present of L20 sterling in Brazilian money.
It was most touching to see how some of the rubber collectors employed by Pedro Nunes deprived themselves of tins of jam to present them to us, and also of other articles which were useful to them in order to make us a little more comfortable.
I purchased from Pedro Nunes a quantity of provisions—all of an inferior kind, but they were the best I could get. Among them were six tins of condensed milk, all he possessed, for which I paid at the rate of ten shillings each—the regular price in that neighbourhood. Those tins of milk were a great joy to Benedicto, Filippe and myself.
Although the pain was violent when we ate anything, the craving for food was now quite insatiable, and we could not resist the temptation of eating whatever came under our hands.
Late in the afternoon of that same day we started up the river with Pedro Nunes and his fleet of boats. In the evening, when we camped, the kindness of the trader and his men towards us was most pathetic. Drenching rain fell during the night.
On September 22nd we made an early start. Pedro Nunes went away in a small boat, as he wanted to go and explore a small tributary of the Secundury. The expedition travelled up the main stream at a great pace, with the many men who were rowing and punting.
Filippe, Benedicto and I suffered horrible internal pains that day owing to our careless eating the previous afternoon.
I was greatly worried by the man who had been left in charge of the expedition—a man of extreme kindness, but an incessant talker. He spoke so loudly, repeating the same things over and over again, that in my weak state, and accustomed as we were to the deathly silence of the forest, it tired me inexpressibly. His conversation consisted entirely of accusing everybody he knew of being robbers and assassins, and in long descriptions, with numberless figures, to show how he had been robbed of small sums of money by various people he had met in his lifetime.
I presented him with L10 sterling, hoping that he would keep quiet, as that seemed to be the entire sum of which he had been robbed by his relatives and friends; also because on seeing our wretched condition, he had presented me with an enormous pair of shoes, about six sizes too large for me. When I walked in them, especially up and down the steep banks, I lost now one shoe, now the other, so big were they. But I was grateful to him, as he would not take payment for them, and they saved my feet to a certain extent—when I could keep them on—from the thorns, which were numerous in that region.
The prolonged immersion in the water the day before, while we were navigating the raft, and the subsequent rest, had caused my feet to swell enormously, my ankles being about three times their normal size, so swollen were they. I experienced an unbearable pain in my heart, with continuous heart-burning and sudden throbbings, succeeded by spells of exhaustion. Giddiness in my head was constant, and I was so weak that it was all I could do to move. Even the exertion of shifting from one side to the other of the boat on which I was travelling was enough to make me almost collapse with fatigue.
We travelled great distances, going on all day and the greater part of the night, with relays of men, on September 22nd and 23rd.
The Secundury was a stream with an average width of 60 m. and in many places quite deep. It had a great many little springs and streamlets flowing into it between steep cuts in its high embankments, which were of alluvial formation mingled with decayed vegetation. The banks almost all along were from 40 to 50 ft. high. We came across a large tributary on the right side of the river. It was evidently the stream to which we had first come on our disastrous march across the forest, and which I had mistaken for the Secundury. Beyond this river we came across some small rapids, of no importance and quite easy to negotiate by the large boats, although in one or two cases tow-ropes had to be used by the men who had landed in order to pull the boats through.
On September 23rd we passed some easy corrideiras. I had slept almost that entire day on the roof of the boat, in the sun. It did me good. Late in the evening, at about seven o'clock, we arrived at a trader's hut, called Sao Jose, which was in the charge of a squinting mulatto—a most peculiar fellow.
On September 24th I stayed at the trader's house, spending the whole day drying thoroughly in the sun my notebooks and negatives and repacking them, so that I could leave them at that spot until I could fetch them again. My idea was to walk from that place across the forest once more back to our original point of departure near the Tapajoz River, where I had left the remainder of my party and the main part of my baggage.
A runaway seringueiro was induced to accompany me on that errand, while another man remained with faithful Filippe in charge of my valuable possessions. I left with them supplies for three months, which I had purchased from Pedro Nunes' expedition.
On September 25th I went a short distance farther up the river to its most south-easterly point. From there, with two men and provisions for thirty days, bidding goodbye to the men who had saved our lives, we started, still in a weak and exhausted condition, on our march back to the men we had left behind.
We only carried food supplies with us. I had left everything else on the Secundury River. Marching was indeed painful, as I had absolutely no strength, and was in a high fever. I stumbled along in excruciating pain, now losing one shoe, now the other, when they caught in some liana. There were a great many fallen trees in that part of the forest, which gave us no end of trouble, when, exhausted as Benedicto and I were, we had to climb over them or else squeeze under.
So great was my anxiety, however, to get back that, notwithstanding the pain, I marched along, following the new man, who was in good condition. We went 20 kil. that day.
The forest near the Secundury River was at first overgrown with dense vegetation, which gave us a good deal of work and extra exertion; but after that, when we got some distance from the water, the forest was fairly clean, except of course for the fallen trees. We found troublesome ravines of great height where streamlets had cut their way through.
In going down one of those difficult ravines I had an accident which might have been fatal. The ravine, the sides of which were almost vertical, was very narrow—only about 10 m. across. We let ourselves down, holding on to liane. When we reached the bottom we found a tiny brook winding its way between great round boulders, and leaving a space about 2 ft. wide for the water. I proceeded up on the other side, and I had got up to a height of some 30 ft. In order to go up this steep incline I had placed one foot against a small tree while I was pulling myself up by a liana. Unluckily, the liana suddenly gave way. The weight of the load which I had on my shoulders made me lose my balance, so that my body described an entire semicircle. I dropped down head first from that height on the rocks below.
Providence once more looked after me on that occasion. On the flight down I already imagined myself dead; but no—my head entered the cavity between the two rocks against which my shoulders and the load became jammed, while my legs were struggling up in mid-air. I was forced so hard against the two side rocks that I could not possibly extricate myself. It was only when Benedicto and the new man came to my help and pulled me out that we were able to resume our journey—I much shaken and somewhat aching, but otherwise none the worse for that unpleasant fall.
On September 26th my two men were already complaining of their loads. They said they could not go on any more—the man in good health and full of strength rebelling more than poor Benedicto, who was in a weak condition. So that we might march quickly I decided to abandon one bag of flour and eight tins of salt butter. With the lighter loads we marched comparatively well, and went 22 kil. that day with no particular experience worth noticing.
On September 27th we started once more quite early, after a hearty breakfast—notwithstanding the pain which I always had whenever I ate, especially a stabbing pain in my heart which was almost unbearable at times. We crossed several streamlets, one fairly large, all of which flowed into the Secundury. Rain, which came down in torrents, greatly interfered with our march that day, the new man I had employed worrying me all the time, saying that he did not like to march in wet clothes. Benedicto and I could not help laughing at him, as we had not been dry one moment since the beginning of July, and we were now at the end of September. Wet or not wet, I made the man come along. Finding the forest comparatively clean, we covered another 20 kil. that day. We had a most miserable night, rain coming down in sheets upon us. I was suffering from high fever, chiefly from exhaustion and the effects of over-eating, most injurious to my internal arrangements, which had got dried up during the long sixteen days' fast. I shivered with cold the entire night.
When we got up the next morning, dripping all over, with water still pouring down in bucketfuls upon us from above, Benedicto said that if it went on much longer like that he should surely turn into a fish. He looked comical, with water streaming down from his hair, his ears, nose and coat.
The trousers which our friend Pedro Nunes had given me were made of cheap calico, printed in little checks. They were of the kind that was usually sold to the seringueiros, and looked pretty when they were new. But they were a little too small, and had evidently not been shrunk before they were made. With the great moisture that night they shrank so badly all of a sudden that they split in four or five different places. I had no way of mending them.
As we went on—on September 28th—we encountered a great deal of entangled vegetation, many liane and thorns, which completely finished up my lower garments. My coat also, which was of similar material, was beginning to give signs of wear and tear, the sewing of the sleeves and at the back having burst everywhere.
We were going over almost level ground that day, across forest sparsely wooded and with much undergrowth of palms and ferns. We had drenching rain the entire day. My trousers were in shreds, dangling and catching in everything. When we had gone some eight or ten kilometres they were such a trouble to me that I discarded them altogether. The coat, too, was getting to be more of a nuisance than a protection. Owing to the incessant rain we were only able to march 14 kil. that day.
On September 29th we again started off, marching due east. We had slightly better weather, and were fortunate enough to shoot two monkeys, a coati, and a jacu, the new man possessing a rifle of his own, for which I had bought 200 cartridges from our friend Pedro Nunes. We had, therefore, that day, a good meal of meat; but what terrible pain we felt when we devoured the tough pieces of those animals, which we had broiled over a big flame! Notwithstanding the pain, however, we had an irresistible and insatiable craving for food.
That day we made a good march of 24 kil.
On September 30th the marching was comparatively easy, through fairly clean forest, so that we had to use our knife very little in order to open our way. We crossed a small campo with a good deal of rock upon it, and as our strength was gradually coming back we struggled along, covering a distance of 34 kil. between seven o'clock in the morning and seven in the evening. I was anxious to push on as fast as we possibly could, notwithstanding the grumblings of my men, for now that we had abandoned half of our supplies of food I did not want to have, if I could help it, another experience of starvation.
On October 1st we had more trouble cutting our way through, as we again found great ferns and palms, especially near streamlets of water, and quantities of fallen trees, which made us continually deviate from our direction. The forest was indeed dirty and much entangled in that section, and thus made our march painful, liane catching my feet and head all the time, tearing my ears and nose—especially when the man who walked in front of me let them go suddenly and they swung right in my face. Thorns dug big grooves into my legs, arms and hands. To make matters worse, the high fever seemed to exhaust me terribly. Worse luck, a huge boil, as big as an egg, developed under my left knee, while another of equal size appeared on my right ankle, already much swollen and aching. The huge shoes given me by the trader—of the cheapest manufacture—had already fallen to pieces. I had turned the soles of them into sandals, held up by numerous bits of string, which cut my toes and ankles very badly every time I knocked my feet against a tree or stone. My feet were full of thorns, so numerous that I had not the energy to remove them. The left leg was absolutely stiff with the big boil, and I could not bend it.
Limping along, stumbling all the time in intense pain—the boils being prevented from coming to maturity owing to the constant cold moisture—I really had as painful a time as one could imagine on those long marches back.
On October 2nd we had to cut our way through all the time, still marching due east. We encountered two high hill ranges, which gave us a lot to do as in our weak condition we proceeded to climb them. We had eaten more food than we should have done, and the result was that we now had none left, except a tin of guyabada (sweet cheese). I had become almost as improvident as the Brazilians when it came to food, as I could not resist the temptation, and instead of the usual three meals a day we were munching food all the time.
The strong fever was wearing me out. The dissatisfaction of my men because we had no more food—it was their own fault, for they had insisted on leaving most of it behind—and their constant grumbling were tiring me to death. We killed a small bird in the evening. By the time we had broiled it over a flame it satisfied but little our ravenous appetites.
On October 3rd we reached quantities of boulders and rocks, which showed me that we were once more approaching the extensive rocky table-land I had seen on our outward journey. As we climbed up higher and higher we came to an elevated streamlet of limpid water running in a channel carved out of the solid rock. It took us over two hours' steady marching, going perhaps some 21/2 miles an hour, to cross the summit of that high rocky tableland. Then we descended through chapada and found ourselves among a lot of ravines, on the slope of one of which we halted for the night. There we killed two large monkeys, which we proceeded to broil and eat. I never liked the idea of eating monkeys, as I could not get over the feeling that I was eating a child, they looked so human. The hands and arms particularly, after they had been roasted over the fire, looked too human for words.
On October 4th we climbed a steep and rocky hill, crossing on its summit another section of the rocky plateau, a regular dome of grey volcanic rock. Then, descending from this second tableland on its eastern side, we had to struggle and stumble through most rugged country, where I found an extinct circular crater some 50 ft. in diameter and 50 ft. deep, with a vent at an angle in its bottom going apparently to a great depth. Near that spot was also a strange giant natural gateway of rock.
The descent was steep, and most trying for us among the great boulders over which we had to climb on our hands and feet. When we got to the bottom of this elevated country, the forest we found had quite a different aspect, which suggested to me the approach of the big river. We found there plenty of wild fruit, particularly some small black berries—called in Brazilian pattaoa—quite good to eat; also some most palatable tiny red cherries. We wasted a good deal of time picking up the fruit instead of marching, my men complaining all day long of an empty stomach. They would not take my advice to march quickly, so that we might then get plenty of food on the river. During the last few days, as I knew we must have been near the camp where I had left my men in charge of my baggage, we had constantly been firing sets of three shots—the agreed signal—in order to locate the exact spot where they were. But we had received no answer. Failing that, it was impossible to locate them exactly in the virgin forest, unless we had plenty of time and strength at our disposal.
I made sure, by the appearance of the forest, that we were now not far off from the stream. In fact, on October 5th, when we had marched some distance, much to my delight as I walked ahead of my men, who were busy picking up berries as they struggled along, I recognized a little streamlet on which I had made my camp the first night I had started out on our disastrous journey across the forest.
My men, when I mentioned the fact, were sceptical and said it could not possibly be, as we must still be a long distance from the Tapajoz. But we had only gone a few hundred metres farther when I came upon my old camp. There an empty sardine-tin of a special mark which I carried was lying on the ground.
I think that that spoke pretty well for the accuracy with which I could march across the forest by compass. I knew that at that spot we were only 6 kil. from the river. We indulged there in the last tin of the sweet guyabada, which I had kept for an emergency. After that we metaphorically flew through the forest, so fast did we march—if stumbling along constantly and even occasionally falling can be called flying. Even at that last moment, when our hearts were rejoiced, our progress was impeded by a thunderstorm, which broke out with such force that we had to halt for nearly two hours until it slightly abated. The wind howled among the trees, which shook and waved to and fro, some crashing down, so that, with the thunder and lightning and the rush of the water, it seemed a regular pandemonium.
"The devil is angry with us," said Benedicto the philosopher. "He does not want us to get back."
My impatience to get quickly to the river was so great that I could not wait for the storm to be over. In the drenching rain we continued our tramp. My sandals had given way altogether in the quick march that day, and I was once more walking with bare feet. Marching so quickly, one did not always have time to detect thorns. That day my feet were indeed in a pitiable condition.
The last trial of all was yet to be added, when we had come to within 300 m. of the river. The seringueiro, from whose hut we had started on our way out, had evidently since our departure set the forest on fire in order to make a roca so as to cultivate the land. Hundreds of carbonized trees had fallen down in all directions; others had been cut down. So that for those last two or three hundred metres we had to get over or under those burned trees and struggle through their blackened boughs, the stumps of which drove holes into and scratched big patches of skin from my legs, arms and face. Where the skin was not taken off altogether it was smeared all over with the black from the burnt trees. We did not look unlike nigger minstrels, with the exception that we were also bleeding all over.
What had remained of my poor coat had been torn to shreds, so that all I possessed now in the way of clothing was a shirt. As the seringueiro had a wife I could not well appear in that condition before her when we had reached the hut. Hiding behind a tree, we shouted for the seringueiro to come to our assistance. Benedicto, who was not so bashful, and whose costume was not much better than mine, proceeded to the house.
A few minutes later, as I peeped from behind my tree, I had a moment of great joy. I had been wondering during the last few days whether my men had died in the forest, or what could have become of them, as we had not received an answer to our signals. There I saw Alcides rush out of the house and run toward me. His cheeks streamed with tears. "Senhor! Senhor!" he sobbed, embracing me.
Antonio, who followed behind, came up and shook hands, merely saying "Good morning!"
"Where is white Filippe? Where is the man X?" I hastily inquired, in order to make sure that they were still alive.
"They are fishing on the river." Alcides called out to them: "Come quickly! 'El Senhor' has returned!"
White Filippe immediately ran up, but the man X shouted back that he was busy fishing; he would come up later.
Alcides was much upset on seeing my plight. He ran immediately into the hut and got me some clothes from the seringueiro, which I put on before entering the house. The seringueiro was kindness itself to me, most thoughtful and hospitable. He prepared some food for us at once. That was a day of joy and sadness combined. I found that all my men were safe, but that they had abandoned all my baggage and all my collections in the forest. They believed that I had been assassinated by Indians or that I had died of starvation.
Alcides cried like a child for some time. He and the others were ill with fever. Those men I had left in charge of my baggage at the camp in the forest had remained at that camp for seven days after my departure. Believing that I was never coming back, three of them had abandoned everything there, and even their companion Antonio, who was in a dying condition and was unable to walk. They had proceeded quickly to the Tapajoz, where they had found plenty to eat. Two or three days later Antonio had become better; he had shot some monkeys and birds, and had been able to keep alive. Had it not been for the kind-hearted seringueiro, Albuquerque, who had started out to rescue Antonio, the poor devil would have certainly died there, abandoned by everybody.
I heard stories that day which pained me a great deal. When my men believed that I was lost in the forest the man X had proposed to his companions to follow the picada I had cut in order to find my body and rob me of all the money which he knew I carried.
"If he is alive," he had said to his companions, "we will cut his throat once for all, and we will divide the money amongst ourselves."
It was with some difficulty that Alcides had prevented him from smashing all my baggage open, as he wished to divide the contents with his companions. Alcides was an honest man. He had stood up against that rascal. After a severe fight it had been decided that the baggage should be left intact in the forest until such authorities as could be sent up from the Fiscal Agency could visit the spot and take charge of my things.
It was then that I understood why the man X was now ashamed to face me, and did not come to greet me after I had nearly sacrificed my life to save him and his companions.
Albuquerque, the seringueiro, had also been considerate enough to lift my baggage upon stones and then cover it up with palm leaves, so that it should be preserved as much as possible from moisture and ants. During the month they had been back on the Tapajoz the man X had once taken a journey alone to the spot where the baggage and Antonio had been left, hoping to find his companion dead and so rob him of the money which he knew he had in his possession—the pay he had received from me.
Here is another charming incident. Nearly dead with fatigue, I lay helpless in a hammock which the seringueiro had hung for me. He and his wife had gone out to look after their new plantation, and only my men remained loafing about.
The river was some 60 m. from the hut, and one had to go down a steep bank to reach the water. My throat was parched from the high fever, so I called Antonio, who was near me, to give me a glass of water. Antonio never budged, but called to white Filippe, some way off, to bring the water. Filippe called to the man X, repeating my order to him. The man X continued fishing without taking the slightest notice.
So that, exhausted as I was, I had to struggle down to the river myself, as those men, for whom I had almost died, reciprocated my sacrifice in so graceful a fashion.
I think that I might as well mention here a curious case of telepathy which occurred during those terrible days of starvation.
Naturally, when one has before one the prospect of leaving this world at any moment, and one is working under a severe mental strain, one generally thinks deeply of one's beloved parents and relatives. Thus my father, mother and sister were before me all the time in my imagination. Sometimes when I was half-dazed I could see them so vividly that I could almost believe they were so close that I could touch them. I never thought that I should see them again, in reality, although I never actually lost hope of doing so; but I was thinking incessantly of them, and of the anxiety I was causing them, as I had had no possible way of communicating with them for months and months.
There would be nothing extraordinary in that, but the amazing part of it all was that my parents and my sister—who had no idea whatever that I was exploring, as I always take the greatest care not to let them know—actually during that time of starvation saw me in their imagination lying unconscious in the forest, dying of hunger, swarming all over with ants and surrounded by crocodiles.
When I reached Rio de Janeiro in April of the following year I found there a number of letters which had been written to me by my parents and my sister during the month of September, in which they told me of those constant visions repeating themselves daily, especially between the dates of September 8th and September 24th. Those letters were written long before anybody knew that I had ever suffered from starvation in the forest. It is quite remarkable that, except the crocodiles—which, of course, were not to be found in the forest—they reproduced the conditions with wonderful faithfulness, the telepathic connection having in that case been established vividly at a distance of several thousand miles.
Baggage saved—The Journey down the Tapajoz River—Colonel Brazil—Wrecked—From Itaituba to the Amazon—Benedicto and the Man X are discharged
OCTOBER 6th and 7th I spent inside a hammock. I was in such a high fever and so absolutely exhausted that I believed I should never be able to pull through. Albuquerque and his wife were kindness itself to me, and looked after me most tenderly. While I had been away a trading boat had passed. That boat would be on its way down the river again in a few days. I thought I would take advantage of this to go down as far as the mouth of the Tapajoz on the Amazon in her.
On the evening of October 7th, Benedicto, who was a great glutton, prepared a huge bowl of the mamao fruit stewed and sweetened with quantities of sugar. I had obtained from Albuquerque some tins of shrimps, lobster and salmon, butter and jam—all condemned stuff from some ship—and I gave all my men a feast. Benedicto brought me some of the sweet he had prepared, and it looked so tempting that, ill as I was, I ate a quantity of it. After dinner I persuaded my men to go back to the forest to recover the baggage they had abandoned there. Tempted by a present of money I offered them if they would bring it back safely, they all agreed to go.
On October 8th, however, when the men were to start, the man X had a severe colic. He rolled himself on the ground in great pain, and refused to go.
The strong fever had finished me to such an extent that I did not think I should last many hours longer. Albuquerque and his wife stood by my hammock watching me, Albuquerque shaking his head compassionately, asking me if I wanted to write a last word to my family, which he would send down by the trading boat when she arrived. I well remember hearing his voice faintly, as I was in a half-dazed condition. I had not the strength to answer. As he walked out of the room he said to his wife: "Poor fellow! he will not be alive in another hour!"
Albuquerque was a most thoughtful Brazilian, intelligent and well-educated, quite superior for the position he occupied there.
I was still alive on October 9th, much to the surprise of everybody, and feeling much better. There was a great slaughter of chickens, Albuquerque saying that I needed chicken broth badly; in fact, that day I drank cup after cup, and it seemed to give me a little strength. Although those chickens had a local value of about L1 sterling each, Albuquerque would not hear of my paying for them. I knew what inconvenience it would be for him to slaughter them in that fashion, as he could not replace them perhaps for several months.
Good news came that day, when Albuquerque's wife entered the room saying that some trading boats were coming up the river—she could see them a long way off, just getting over the Capueras Falls. I decided to go up in one of those boats as far as the Fiscal Agency at S. Manoel, where I could obtain fresh clothes and provisions. Remaining still inside a house I felt was killing me.
The boats did not arrive that evening. The next day, October 10th, rain came down in sheets, so that we could not see more than a few metres in front of us, and the wind was howling with fury.
On October 11th, when the boats approached, Albuquerque took me up in a small canoe to them on the other side of the wide stream. It was the trading fleet of Don Eulogio Mori, a Peruvian trader, who at once offered all possible assistance and undertook to convey me up stream with pleasure.
Mr. Mori, a most enterprising man, who was in charge of the expedition, was a frank, open and jolly gentleman, most charmingly thoughtful and civil. He and his brother had the second largest rubber-trading business on the upper Tapajoz River.
He was amazed when I got on board and told him who I was, as the news had already spread down the river that I had been murdered by my own men in the forest. In fact, during my absence, when Alcides had travelled up to the Fiscal Agency to inform them of what was happening, he had been detained there for some days and accused with his companions of having murdered me.
As we went up the stream once more we passed Mount S. Benedicto, with its foliated rock in grey and red strata. Volleys were fired in honour of the saint; more candles were deposited on the platform of rock.
When we halted for lunch, one of the crew died of yellow fever. After lunch a grave was dug and the corpse duly deposited in it.
We had not gone far when the trading boats of Colonel Brazil, under the care of Mr. Joao Pinto, came in sight on their way down the river. Therefore I abandoned the idea of going up to S. Manoel, as, had I not taken the opportunity of going down with Mr. Pinto, I might have had to wait up the river some two or three months before I had another opportunity.
Again I met with the greatest kindness on the part of Mr. Pinto when I transhipped from the Peruvian boats.
In a few hours, travelling rapidly down stream, I was once more at Albuquerque's hut, where Mr. Pinto most kindly offered to halt one day in order that I might wait for the men who had gone in search of my baggage in the forest.
Next day, October 16th, as I was in great suspense lest the men should not arrive in time—Mr. Pinto being pressed to get quickly down the river with some thousands of kilos of rubber he had purchased—my men eventually arrived with part of the baggage. They had abandoned the rest in the forest, including my valuable botanical collection, which had taken me so many months of careful labour. Alcides said that the termites had played havoc with all my things. The wooden boxes had been almost entirely destroyed, as well as most of the contents. I was glad, nevertheless, to get back what I did, the man Benedicto on that occasion behaving splendidly—even going back to the spot where the tragic scene had taken place with the Indian Miguel on our outward journey and recovering some of my instruments which I had abandoned there.
In the afternoon of October 16th I bade goodbye to Albuquerque, and gave him a present of L20 sterling, as he would not accept payment for the hospitality he had offered me.
With a powerful crew of men we sped down the river quickly. In a couple of hours we had already arrived at the rapids of the Capueras. After passing the island of Pombas before entering the rapids, we encountered the first rapid of Sirgar Torta; then the second rapid of Baunilla—named after the vanilla plant. The third rapid of the Capueras group was called Chafaris; then the fourth was the Campinho.
We went along the banks of the beautiful island of Antas, after which we halted at the house of Jose Maracati, a Mundurucu chieftain, with thirty Indians under him. A delegate of the Para Province in charge of the Indians—a man of strong Malay characteristics and evidently of Indian parentage—received us, and gave me much information about the local rubber industry. He told me that the best rubber found in that region was the kind locally called seringa preta, a black rubber which was coagulated with the smoke of the coco de palmeira. He calculated that 150 rubber trees gave about 14 kilos of rubber a day. The seringa preta exuded latex all the year round, even during the rainy season.
There was in that region also another kind of rubber tree—the itauba—but it was of inferior quality, as the latex was too liquid, like reddish milk, quite weak, and with little elasticity.
A few trees of the castanha do Para were also found in that region, producing the well-known nut which has rendered Brazil famous in England.
Solveira trees were also plentiful all over that district, and gave latex which was good to drink; while another tree, called the amapa, exuded latex somewhat thinner than that of the solveira, which was supposed to be beneficial in cases of consumption or tuberculosis.
Very interesting were the different liane in the forest there, particularly the cepa de agua, which when cut gave most delicious fresh water to drink. The titica was a smaller liana, which was most troublesome when you went through the forest, as it generally caught you and twisted round your feet as it lay for long distances along the ground.
Another wild fruit which was abundant there was the pajura, dark in colour, soft-skinned, most palatable and quite nourishing, but which gave an insatiable thirst after you had eaten it.
We resumed our journey among a lot of islands, traversing the Cabeceira de Piquarana. The main rapid was formidable enough, although nothing in comparison with the rapids we had gone over on the Arinos-Juruena river. There was a barrier of rock extending from W.S.W. to E.N.E. across the river, which was there 1,500 metres broad and of great beauty, with hillocks on either side and some small islets in mid-stream.
Soon afterwards we came to another barrier of rock, extending from north to south. It was called the Bigua. There was an island of the same name, the name being taken from an aquatic bird which is plentiful there.
The traders talked a great deal of the dangers of those rapids, and they were certainly dangerous because of the innumerable submerged rocks; but after the fierceness of those we had encountered before they seemed child's play to us.
The river there followed a direction of b.m. 60 deg..
We spent the night of October 16th-17th at the seringueiro's farm of Boa Vista, most beautifully situated where the river described a big curve. In its crudeness the hospitality of those exiles was quite charming. They hardly ever spoke; they just laid things before you—all they possessed—and were overcome with surprise when you thanked them for it or when you offered payment.
There was a project of constructing a cart-road for some 20 kil. along the bank, in order to avoid the rapids which occurred there in the river. Although those rapids were not impressive to look at, they were strewn with submerged rocks just under the surface, which were very dangerous for the large trading boats. If that road were constructed a great deal of time would be saved, especially in ascending the river, when sometimes the trading boats took as long as a week or ten days to get over that particular rapid.
The first rapid we saw after we left Boa Vista was the Vira Sebo rapid, slightly worse than the following ones. I was getting a little better, living on the roof of the trading boat, thoughtfully looked after by Mr. Joao Pinto and the other employes of Col. Brazil. I was able to drink quantities of condensed milk, and my strength seemed to be slowly coming back.
The river had many islets as we proceeded on our journey, with wooded hillocks some 100 to 150 ft. high in long successive undulations along the river banks. The coast-line was generally of rocky volcanic formation, with accumulations of boulders in many places right across the stream.
After passing the rapids we were travelling through a region of extensive and beautiful sand-beaches, with hardly any rock showing through anywhere. The country on each side was almost altogether flat, merely an occasional hill being visible here and there.
On October 19th we came in for a howling storm of wind and rain, waves being produced in the river as high as those that occur in the sea. We tossed about considerably and shipped a lot of water. More immense sand-beaches were passed, and then we came to a region of domed rocks showing along the river bank. At all the baracaos, or trading sheds where the seringueiros bought their supplies, the same rubbish was for sale: condemned, quite uneatable ship biscuits sold at 5s. a kilo; Epsom salts at the rate of L2 sterling a kilo; putrid tinned meat at the rate of 10s. a tin; 1-lb. tins of the commonest French salt butter fetched the price of 10s. each. The conversation at all those halting-places where the trading boats stopped was dull beyond words, the local scandal—there was plenty of it always—having little interest for me.
At one place we were met by a charming girl dressed up in all her finery, singing harmonious songs to the accompaniment of her guitar. So great was her desire to be heard that she kept on the music incessantly during the whole time we stopped—some three hours—although nobody paid the slightest attention to it after the first song or two.
Farther down the river, there 800 m. wide, hills and undulations were to be seen on each side. At sunset that day we arrived at S. Isabel or Castanho, where I had the pleasure of meeting the greatest man upon that river—Col. R. E. Brazil, a man of immense strength of will and enterprise. He went under the name, which he well deserved, of the "King of the Tapajoz"; for it was he who indeed held the key of that river, nearly the entire commerce on that great waterway being, directly or indirectly, in his hands.
October 20th was spent at S. Isabel, where a great fleet of boats was waiting to be loaded with thousands upon thousands of kilos of magnificent rubber.
Both Col. Brazil and his employes treated me with great deference, and made preparations to get a boat ready at once for me to continue my journey down the stream. In fact, Col. Brazil, who would not hear of my paying for being conveyed down stream, insisted upon my being his guest, and declared that he himself would take me to a point where I might be able to get a steamer.
When all the boats were ready, at 4 p.m. on October 20th, we proceeded on our journey down the Tapajoz by a small channel on the right side of the river, in order to visit some of the trading sheds belonging to Col. Brazil, especially those at the mouth of the Crepore River, which was 100 m. wide where it entered the Tapajoz on the right side. The scenery was beautiful, the hills getting higher as we proceeded north, some of the islands we passed also being of great height and forming picturesque scenes, especially against the gorgeous tints of the sky at sunset.
I was interested in observing the wonderful regularity of the sky-line along the forest. It looked as if the trees had been trimmed artificially in a perfectly straight line. The fleet which Col. Brazil was taking down the river consisted of eight large boats. I was much impressed by the force of mind of Col. Brazil, together with his great charm and thoughtfulness when not at work. His men were in mortal fear of him, and trembled all over when he spoke to them.
No serious obstacle to navigation was encountered as we proceeded on our journey, although rocks were plentiful, great red domes and boulders galore showing through the water and along the coast-line. Whitish vertical cliffs were noticeable along the higher hills. The most impressive things I saw in that part of the river were the extensive beaches of beautiful reddish sand extending for hundreds and hundreds of metres at a time. Those beaches were often 10 to 20 ft. high.
The river was most interesting, especially near the beach of Curassa, with Crato in the distance; then the great meadow of "Mission Nova" extending in a north-westerly direction on the left bank, along the tributary of the same name. In the same direction extended also the rocky barrier at the beginning of the Mangabel rapid. The rapid was formed by a rocky barrier extending from north-west to south-east. We had hilly and undulating country all the way along, and the river wound about a great deal.
Col. Brazil was steering the first boat of the fleet carefully as we went through the tortuous channel, the entire fleet following us in good order. Picturesque islands of truly tropical appearance were to be seen, covered with tall burity palms, 30 to 40 ft. high, with narrow channels between.
The heavy clouds which had collected to the north suggested an approaching storm, but, as luck would have it, the sky cleared at sunset. As we wound our way among the many rocks reflected in the now still waters of that vast river, the scene was really beautiful.
The channel through which Col. Brazil navigated his boat was only 10 m. wide, with dangerous submerged rocks. Mangabel, taken as a whole, was an immense basin, 1,000 to 1,500 m. broad from west to east, interspersed with elongated, rounded and flattened rocks. It was indeed a most picturesque sight, especially when all the trading boats were winding their way at sunset descending the various rapids.
After going through a great channel, we went along a large fissure from south-east to north-west, still in the Mangabel rapid. The rock of that region was highly ferruginous. That fissure was of great depth, and absolutely free from rocks in the channel itself.
When we emerged from the fissure we were confronted to the east on the right bank by two enormous hemispherical domes 100 ft. high, grassy but absolutely without a tree.
The rocky formation of the hills was apparent a little farther down stream, when going along the great eastern channel of the river. On the left bank we had hills with campos on their summit. All the hills I noticed in that region had rounded backs.
I greatly admired the bearing of Col. Brazil as we dashed down at a terrific speed through the most intricate channel in the rapid, strewn with sharp rocks. Had we touched one of those rocks it would have meant the destruction of the boat, the loss of all the valuable cargo and most of the crew, as the majority of them could not swim.
There were three passages there, called respectively the Casson, near the left bank; the Dos Ananas, in the centre; and the channel da Terra Preta, which we followed, on the right. At Lua Nova, the end of the Mangabel rapid, the river turned in a sweeping curve to the north, the rocks getting fewer and fewer until eventually the river became quite clear of them, with only high hills along both banks. Lua Nova was a little settlement of five houses and a shed, some of them whitewashed, with doors and windows painted green. A small plantation of Indian corn, sugar-cane, and mandioca had been made, the soil being extremely fertile at that spot. We enjoyed a magnificent view to the west and north-north-west, the river there forming an elbow.
Close by, on leaving that place, we found on our right Lage's Point, where the rocky formation suddenly ended, and with it the dangers of the Mangabel rapids. Here there was a basin 1,500 m. wide, with extensive sand-beaches of great beauty. After passing the last row of rocks, extending from west to east, the entire river bottom was of clean yellow sand, so that the water appeared as limpid as crystal, while a few moments before it looked of a dirty yellow—not because it was really dirty, but because of the reflection from the rocky river bottom.
From Praia Formosa, which we then saw on our left side, the river was once more strewn with rocks, but not in such quantities as at Mangabel. High hills could be seen all along, which seemed as if they had been formed by alluvial deposits left there when the drainage from the high Matto Grosso plateau proceeded down toward the north in a disorderly fashion, until it found its way into the great fissures in the earth's crust which now form the beds of those great arteries, the Xingu, the Tapajoz, and the Madeira rivers.
I noticed that all the hills and undulations ran from south to north or from north-west to south-east, the southern slope being generally more elongated. After passing on our left the trading sheds of Sobradinho and S. Vicente, with their corrugated iron roofs—looking to us the most civilized things we had ever seen—we approached the Montanha, where another rapid had to be negotiated.
During the night I was sleeping inside the cabin of the boat, which Col. Brazil had placed at my disposal, and where I had all the baggage which I had saved from the forest. In the middle of the night all of a sudden the boat sank in 5 or 6 ft. of water. It was all I could do to scramble out of the cabin. The boat had sprung a great leak as big as a man's hand, which had been stopped up, and which had suddenly opened—hence the misfortune.
This sudden immersion in cold water gave me another bad attack of fever, as I had to sit the entire night in wet pyjamas while the crews of all the other boats were summoned in order to raise the boat once more, a work which lasted several hours.
Next morning when we departed Col. Brazil lent me some of his clothes, while all my things were spread on the roofs of the various boats to dry in the sun, I never shall forget Col. Brazil's amusement and that of his men when I unpacked some of the boxes, which had once been watertight, and pulled out a dress-suit, frock-coat, and other such stylish garments, now all wet and muddy, and some twenty pairs of shoes, all in a terrible condition, mildewed and soaked with the moisture they had absorbed in the forest and during the last immersion.
Near the tributary Montanha, on the left side of the main stream, were two small rapids. A rich rubber-producing land was situated a day and a half's journey along that tributary. The best way to reach it was from a place called El Frances, one of the most charming spots I saw on the lower Tapajoz River. The central hill at Montanha was 300 ft. high, the hills around it from 200 to 300 ft. high.
Farther down we came to the Rio Jamanchin, a tributary on the right side of the Tapajoz, which entered the river where great sand-shallows occupied nearly half the width of the stream.
Col. Brazil was the happy possessor of immense concessions on that tributary stream—in fact as far as the Tocantins River, a tributary on the left side of the Jamanchin. He had already made a mule trail across that region in order to get over the difficulty of the troublesome rapids which are to be found there, such as those of Portao, Cahy, and Apuhy. The mineral wealth was also considerable, according to the accounts I heard; while undoubtedly the production of rubber could not be better.
This was the spot at which the river Tapajoz came nearest to its eastern neighbour the river Xingu. The seringueiros on the latter river constantly cross over, following the Jamanchin in order to go down to the Amazon by the Tapajoz. Rubber collectors have found their way high up on the Xingu River—much farther up than on the river Tapajoz.
On October 25th we went down first the Limao rapid, and then the Burbure rapid. The river was beautiful all along, with low hills on both sides. We eventually arrived at Pimental, a fiendishly hot, steamy, unhealthy place, where across a streamlet was a station for the transhipment of rubber. The place was on low ground, which became inundated at high water. Another station was built some 200 m. off on high ground, which was used as a winter station. The second station was at the beginning of an excellent mule track which Col. Brazil had cut as far as a place lower down the river called Bella Vista, a distance of some 20 kil. He had imported at much expense a number of mules for the service. All the rubber was conveyed from that spot on mule-back, as between Pimental and Bella Vista was a dangerous rapid, on which many boats had been lost.
In the company of Col. Brazil I rode over that distance, in intense pain owing to the weak state in which I was. When we came to the river again, over great deposits of sand we saw a number of crocodiles basking in the sun.
Bella Vista consisted of four neat double-storied grey houses, two large white buildings, and some temporary constructions of mud with palm-leaf roofs, all of them situated on a high bank. The place was at the entrance of a wide channel, dry and sandy. When this was filled by the stream at high water a long island was formed.
Bella Vista was a great point for us, for there we should meet steam navigation again, Col. Brazil having purchased a handsome steamer which performed the service between that place and Belem (Para).
I broke down altogether while there, and was nursed with the tenderest care by the family of Mr. Lage, who was in charge of that trading station. It is difficult to imagine more kind-hearted, generous people than these exiles in those deadly regions. All the employes at the station were in a pitiable condition, suffering from malarial fever.
When the steamer Commandante Macedo arrived—she only came once a month in order to bring down the rubber—I went in her to the first town we had seen since leaving Diamantino, a place called Itaituba. It seemed to us as if we had dropped into London or Paris again, although the place merely consisted of a few red-roofed houses, the walls of which were gaily coloured, bright yellow, green, or white. Palm trees of great size showed here and there beyond the row of buildings as we approached the place on its high site.
Prominent along the river front were magnificently vigorous mango trees, with luxuriant foliage. A brick and stone church, unfinished, was visible, with a great pile of bricks in front waiting in vain for money and labour to complete it. The grand square, with its pretty Intendencia coloured bright blue, formed the end, on the west, of that most important "town" on the Tapajoz. In the centre of the square was a well-executed bust of Correa.
The most prominent feature of the place, however, was the elevated landing-stage, some 30 ft. above the level of the river at low water, erected there for loading and unloading when the river rose. The town was divided by three longitudinal avenues, the central one also with rows of magnificent mango trees, which indeed seemed to flourish at that place. I was particularly struck by the wonderful tidiness and cleanliness, the good drainage of the streets, and the upkeep of the different houses, of which the people seemed proud. Everybody was well off, owing to the rubber industry, which had brought much wealth to the place. Col. Brazil and his family have dedicated much time and energy to embellishing the town, and no doubt some day, when Itaituba is connected with proper telegraphic and postal services, it will become an important city, being the key, as it were, of the Tapajoz River.
On November 5th I bade good-bye to my good friend Col. Brazil, whose guest I had been since leaving the forest, and for whose thoughtful hospitality I feel deeply grateful. I presented him with my best rifle, a very handsome weapon, which had accompanied me on several previous journeys, and which was the only valuable thing remaining in my possession.
It was a new sensation for me to be steaming down comfortably on a beautifully-kept steamer, as spick-and-span as a private yacht. Her captain and co-proprietor with Col. Brazil was Captain Macedo, a man who had spent much time in Europe, and was one of the most polished gentlemen I met in Brazil.
Now that my work was practically over, it was a great relief to me to be basking in a cane chair upon the deck, looking at the wonderful scenery opening up before me as we went on. We passed a lovely sand-beach, Capitary, then the immense bay of Boin, and farther on the great rocks of Surucua. Then came in sight the headland called Punta de Cururu, with the Serra of the same name upon it. Once or twice the ship stopped at different sheds in order to take up merchandise, but we only halted long enough to get the cargo on board, and once more we proceeded gaily down stream. It was wonderful how one appreciated civilized ways of locomotion after travelling for months and months, as we had done, in the manner of prehistoric man.
In the evening, while we were sitting at dinner, there was a big bump. We had run aground somewhat heavily on a sand-dune. The captain rather frightened me as he said that on a previous occasion they had stuck on a sand-bank for several days before they could get off. As luck would have it that night, partly by the aid of a steel cable several hundred metres long, which had been fastened to a number of big trees on the shore, partly by her own power, we were able to back out and get her free. Only six hours were wasted. The tide, which reaches a long way up the Tapajoz River when the latter is low, helped us a great deal. At high tide the level of the water is raised more than one foot. It seemed amazing that the tide of the ocean could extend its influence by forcing the water back so far up the Amazon and its tributaries.
Although the steamer on which I was did not draw much water, being built specially for river navigation, careful soundings had to be taken continually. I well recollect the cries of the man at the lead. When the man cried out "Una braca!" (one fathom), there was great excitement on board, and we had to slow down to half speed or dead slow. In the distance on the left bank in the haze could be distinguished high hills, at the foot of which white ribbon-like streaks were visible along the water.
The Barros do Tapayuna, a sand and mud bar, extremely shallow, extended from the elongated island of the same name right across the stream, there about 5 kil. wide. That spot was also called the garganta, or throat of the Tapajoz, because at low water it was impossible to get through, and it was necessary to unload the steamer, the navigation being extremely difficult.
"Dos bracas!" (two fathoms) cried the lead man. "One and a half fathom!" he cried next, as we went over the shallowest part of that sand-bar.
Although shallow, that part of the river was not dangerous, because the bottom was of soft mud; not so, however, farther on, where the shallow channel was strewn with plentiful rocks. Captain Macedo had sensibly placed buoys and marks all over the most dangerous places, so as to minimize the dangers of navigation.
The river was magnificent farther down, where we passed a great quadrangular rock of deep Indian red, looking exactly like an immense square tower. Then vertical rocks were to be seen all along the right bank; while on the left bank, when we crossed over to the other side of the river, were immense beaches of beautiful sand. Above them were great stretches of the most wonderful grass, upon which thousands of cattle could graze—but not one animal was to be seen.
It was rather interesting to note that the formation of the right bank was exactly the same as that of the Paredao Grande we had seen in Matto Grosso. Vertical sides in great rectangles were noticeable, intersected by passages—regular canons—where small huts could be seen at the foot of the picturesque rocks, especially at places where small streamlets entered the Tapajoz. I was told that little lakes had formed beyond those frontal rocky masses, the entrances to which were blocked at low water by sand-bars. Beyond that row of vertical red rocks was a more or less confused mass of hills, some dome-like, others of a more elongated form, but still with a well-rounded sky-line. The water of the stream had now changed colour altogether, and had become of a deep green. Islets could be seen far, far away to the left side of the river, mere white dots and lines along the water-line, most of them having white sand-beaches around them; while on the right bank the great red walls in sections continued for many miles. As we neared the mouth of the Tapajoz, the river had the immense width of 14 kil. On the right, after going through the Passagem dos Surucue, we passed the mountain of Jaguarary, which stood prominent along a flat elevation on the right bank.
We halted in the afternoon at a picturesque little place called Prainha—prettier than any I had seen so far, because of its frontage battlement, with its numerous staircases to allow the people of the various houses to go down to the water. A tiny church stood farther back on a prominence.
Late at night we arrived at Santarem, at the junction of the Tapajoz River with the Amazon. At that spot the man X and poor Benedicto insisted on leaving me, so they received their full pay, and Benedicto a very handsome present of money; after which they disembarked. As the sum I paid Benedicto was a considerable one, so that he might be well off for the rest of his days, I warned him not to waste it in buying all kinds of absurd things.
We halted at Santarem for several hours. What was not my astonishment, just before we departed, to find that Benedicto had gone into a store and had spent over L25 sterling in buying innumerable tins of jam—in fact, he had bought up the entire supply which was in the store! When I asked him what he did that for, he said he was very fond of jam. With his friends and a number of people he had quickly collected round him, they opened tin after tin, ravenously devouring the contents, so that within a short time he would have none left.
Brazilians of all classes are hopelessly improvident.
Santarem to Belem (Para)—The Amazon—From Belem to Manaos—The Madeira-Mamore Railway
SANTAREM was an old settlement of no great interest. It had a few relatively fine ancient buildings and many ugly new ones.
Early on November 6th the steamer proceeded on her way to Belem (Para). On leaving Santarem we first emerged into the great Amazon River, a regular sea of fresh water, where we tossed about in a strong north-easterly gale. Unless one knew, one never could have imagined oneself on a river, as the stream was so wide at that point that the opposite bank could not be seen at all.
Things were a little better when we entered the channel of Monte Alegre. On that channel was the little town of the same name, half of the buildings being along the water's edge, the other half on the summit of a low hill near by. There is a sulphur spring there with wonderful medicinal properties, and coal is also said to be found.
A colony of Spaniards had been imported to work, but they were dissatisfied and had left. Tobacco, made up into fusiform sticks 6 ft. long and tied into bundles, was exported from that place in considerable quantities; the inhabitants were also engaged in breeding cattle, growing Indian corn, and drying fish—the pirarucu (Vastres gigas), a salmonoid vulgarly called the cod-fish of the Amazon. A big trade was done in that dried fish all over that region.
In the full moon of a glorious night we could discern to the north a mountain region with elevations of over 3,000 ft. Between those mountains—the Serra de Almerin—and ourselves, lay a long flat island, the vegetation on which was, for that particular region, comparatively sparse. That island of mud had formed during the last fifteen or twenty years, and was at the time of my visit several kilometres in length. It was called the Pesqueiro. Islands have a way of forming in a very short time in the Amazon, while others change their shape or disappear altogether.
On November 7th we were facing the principal outlet of the Amazon to the north-east. That main estuary is, however, not as navigable as the one south of it, through which most of the big ships pass. An archipelago had formed at that spot. The fortress of Matapa, very ancient, stood on the largest outlet.
We went through the channel called the Itoquara. Another, the Tajapurozinho, was to the south, forming a boundary on that side of the large island, which we skirted to the north in the Itoquara channel. The beautiful island of Uruttahi was now in sight, to the north of the largest outlet. Like all other islands in that neighbourhood, it was flat and of alluvial formation.
In order to avoid the open waters, where the small ship upon which I was tossed about considerably, we kept to the smaller channels between the islands, going first through the channel of Limao and after that through the Tajapuru. It was practically the same course as the Itoquara, which was called by different names in different parts. It was narrow and tortuous, and required great skill in the navigation of it; but it was extraordinarily deep—so deep that all the big ocean steamers entering the Amazon followed this channel in preference to the main outlet of the river, which is not navigable owing to many sandbanks.
We were there in a regular maze of islands, composed mostly of mud and of recent formation, not more than one or two feet above the water. For Brazil, they were fairly thickly inhabited, miserable huts being visible every few hundred metres or so.
On our right as we went through we had a luxuriant growth of mirichi palms, some of great height and close together—a regular forest of them. At the first glance as you looked at those islands, it seemed as if all along the coast-line a low palisade had been erected. It was indeed a natural palisade of aninga, an aquatic plant growing in profusion on the edge of mud-banks. The aninga is said to contain a powerful poison, the touch of which produces violent itching.
All the houses and huts on those islands necessarily had to be built on high piles, as the country was constantly inundated, the tide rising and falling some three feet in that particular channel.
As we neared the mouth of the river, with Para as our objective, we first saw the lighthouse of Buyussu in the immense bay which takes its name from the little town of Coralhina. Both this town and that of Boa Vista were on the left side of us, on the great island of Marajo. On the right the island of Oya was visible, and the island of Araras. Between the light of Buyussu and the island of Oya opened the great bay of Melgasso.
Considering the amount of navigation that went through, it was amazing to see how badly lighted that river was—the two lights, such as the one at Buyussu, and the one at Mandy, at the entrance of the bay of Marajo, being no bigger than and not so brilliant as the ordinary street oil-lamp in an English or French village. I understand that all ships navigating the Amazon have to pay a large tax on each journey for the maintenance of the lighthouses on that immense waterway. It is quite criminal that no proper lights are constructed in order to protect the safety of the passengers and the valuable cargoes which go by that important water route.
More picturesque than most of the scenery I had so far witnessed on the Amazon was the narrow Foro da Jararaca. From the lamp-post—it cannot in all honesty be called a lighthouse—of Mandy, we made for the other lamp-post of Capin; and from this for the third lamp-post of Arrozal, navigation being most difficult in that part. From there we steered direct for the Farol de Cutijuba, a light somewhat more respectable than the others at the entrance of the Barra of Para.
After going through the bay of Coralhina we did not follow the great channel that was before us, but skirted the island of Concepcao to the left, passing between it and Paketta Island. After that island we found ourselves in the bay of Jappelin, so named after a bird of that region, which builds an elongated nest.
Having passed the Cutijuba Island, and then the Taxipa Island on our left, in the early morning we entered between the islands of Arabiranga and Jararakinha. The larger vessels generally follow a course outside on the east of this island before entering the large bay of Marajo.
We could plainly see that we were approaching a large city, for quantities of little sailing boats were now visible on the water. Signs of civilization were beginning to appear on the island of Arabiranga. A brick and tile kiln, which supplied Belem (Para) with most of its building materials, had been established there. Alongside the island could be seen a lot of steamers belonging to the Amazon River Company. Beyond was the bay of Guajara, with the city and many ocean steamers looming in the distance.
On November 18th we steamed into the bay, and there stood the city of Belem (Para) before us, while the noise of the town began to get louder and louder as we approached the dock. That sound was welcome to me in a way, and at the same time worrying, after the dead silence I had been accustomed to for the last many months.
A swarm of robber-porters invaded the steamer the moment we came alongside the pier. The bustle, the loud shouting, the pushing, seemed most irritating. Ill as I was, for a few moments I almost contemplated the idea of turning back toward the virgin forest. The heat was oppressive, the bells of the tramways jangled all the time, the rattle of the mediaeval carriages on the cobble-stones of the pavement was distressing.
Things were not pleasanter when I put up in the best hotel, where the best room I could get was not unlike a coal-cellar. We will not speak of the food.
Those aspiring efforts at semi-civilization were to my mind ten times worse than no civilization at all. Had it not been for the extreme kindness of my friend Commandante Macedo, of Mr. Ross, the manager of the London and Brazilian Bank, and of the British Consul, I would have left the place that same day.
At Belem I dismissed Alcides, Antonio, and white Filippe, paying their full passage by sea and railway and full wages up to the day of their arrival at their respective homes. They had certainly many faults, and had not behaved well to me; but I am given to weigh matters justly, and there was no doubt that those men had endured terrific hardships and, willingly or unwillingly, had carried through quite a herculean task. I therefore not only paid them the high wages upon which I had agreed, but I gave each a handsome present of money.
The three men duly signed receipts and unsolicited certificates, in which they declared that during the entire journey they had been treated by me in a generous manner and with every possible thoughtfulness and consideration.
As they had not been able to spend a single penny since we had left Diamantino they had accumulated a considerable sum of cash. I warned them, as I had done with Benedicto, to be careful and not waste their money. They went out for a walk. Some hours later they returned, dressed up in wonderful costumes with fancy silk ties, patent leather shoes, gold chains and watches, and gaudy scarf-pins. In a few hours they had wasted away nearly the entire sum I had paid out to them. Everything was extremely expensive in Para—certainly three or four times the price which things would fetch in London or New York.
Two days later white Filippe and Antonio embarked for Rio de Janeiro, with hardly a word of farewell to me. Alcides refused to travel on the same steamer with his companions, and left by a later one.
The city of Para is much too well known for me to enter into a long description of it. Since its discovery in the year 1500, when Vincente Yanes Pinzon cast anchor in the Maranon or Amazon, Belem has become a beautiful city. As everybody knows, it is the capital of the Para province, which has an area of 1,149,712 sq. kil. Geographically, Belem could not be situated in a better position, and is bound some day to become the most flourishing city of the Brazilian Republic. It is undoubtedly the key to the great Amazon River, although it is not actually at the mouth of the Amazon, but 138 kil. from the ocean. Through it is bound to pass the trade not only of that riverine portion of Brazil, but also of Peru and Bolivia.
Belem (Para) is mostly known to Europeans as the nest of yellow fever. During the last few years it has been freed absolutely from that scourge, the cases of yellow fever being now few and far between, owing to the wonderful progress made by hygiene and the praiseworthy efforts made by the Province to keep the city in a healthy condition.
The population of Para is 192,230 inhabitants. Many spacious and handsome edifices, such as the Government buildings and the professional Institutes, do great credit to the city; while the Peace Theatre is one of the finest in Brazil. Many private mansions are of some architectural beauty, and some of the new avenues and the municipal gardens are handsome. The slaughter-house, the iron market, etc., are quite up to date, and the city even boasts of a crematorium.
My object in coming to Belem (Para) was merely to see my men safely on board on their return to the Minas Geraes and Goyaz Provinces; also to buy some new cameras and instruments, so that I could start on the second part of my expedition, following the entire course of the Amazon almost up to its source, then cross over the Andes and reach the Pacific Ocean.
My English friends in Para tried to dissuade me from attempting the journey, as I was in a pitiful condition. What was worse, civilization, instead of making me feel better, was smashing me up altogether. Every day I was getting weaker and weaker, and more exhausted. I had hardly strength to walk about, less still to go up or down stairs. Beri-beri commenced to develop in my right foot, and added to my other trials.
The English consul told me it was absolute folly to try and proceed on such a long journey in such an exhausted state.
Having bought fresh clothes and cameras for my new expedition, I left Para on November 12th at noon on the excellent ship Anthony of the Booth line, on my way up the Amazon to Manaos.
I will not attempt here to give a description of that amazing river the Amazon—amazing because it is very big and not because it is beautiful, for indeed I do not believe that in all my travels I have ever seen a river quite so ugly and uninteresting as the Amazon.
First of all, it is so big that you seldom see both sides of the river at a time; its waters are muddy and filthy; its climate is damp, oppressive and unhealthy; its vegetation, when you are near enough the banks to see it, is entangled, half-rotted, and smelly. All along one's nostrils are offended by the fetid odour of mud and decayed vegetable matter.
People in Europe seem imbued with the idea that, as you go along the Amazon, you must be attracted by the great number of birds of beautiful plumage, insects and butterflies of all sizes and amazing colours. Occasionally, especially in the early morning and at sunset, one does notice perhaps a flock of green paroquets with yellow foreheads, notable for their peculiar, clumsy, rapid wing-flapping flight and their harsh shrieks when settling on the trees. Occasionally, too, one may see a family of larger parrots dashing across the sky; but, indeed, birds in the lower Amazon are not plentiful by any means, nor, indeed, is their plumage particularly attractive, most birds, except the parrots, being small and very soberly tinted.
As for the melodious songs of birds which civilized people always imagine in the equatorial forest—the song that will set you dreaming while you are basking under palm trees—the actual traveller will find the greatest disappointment of all in that respect. With one or two exceptions, such as the Troglodytes fuscus, a small brown wren which emits sweet musical notes, most birds of the Amazon have grating voices and harsh piercing whistles, or monotonous deep repetitions of two or three funereal notes which are more apt to drive you insane than to fascinate you. Among the most unmusical singers of the lower Amazon may be counted the several families of finches and fly-catchers, and the local thrushes, which feed on ants.
Similar disappointment awaits one in regard to the vegetation. People imagine Brazil a land of beautiful flowers, the forest made up of immense trees with luxuriant foliage, overladen with parasitic orchids—eternally in bloom, of course, in the dreamy minds of the untravelled, and just waiting to be picked and to be placed in one's buttonhole. The sky, naturally, over such a forest, could only be swarming with birds of all sizes, with plumage of the richest colours and hues; and what else could such a luxuriant country have in the way of butterflies and insects than some which resemble precious gems in the iridescent tones of their wings and bodies?
That is what people imagine. The following is what you really see.
The trees, overcrowded everywhere, far from being gigantic, are, instead, mean-looking and anaemic—not unlike the pallid, overgrown youth of the over-populated slums of a great city. Orchids? Yes, there are plenty of orchids about, but you never see them unless you go on a special search for them with a high ladder or some other such means of climbing high trees. In any case, you would not detect them unless you had the eye of an expert. It is well not to forget that in tropical climates, as in temperate zones, plants are not always in bloom when you happen to be passing. As for the butterflies, you seldom see any at all in the actual forest.
Perhaps one of the most common birds of the Amazon is a kind of grey-eyed, noisy, mimicking magpie, locally called guache or japim or jappelin (Cassicus icterranotus), quite amusing with its energetic movements, its observant habits, its familiar interest in everything and everybody, and its facility for reproducing correctly enough sounds which momentarily attract its attention. The wonderful activity of its slender body, clothed in velvety black, neatly-groomed yellow feathers, and its charming wickedness make it, perhaps, one of the most attractive birds near towns and settlements on the river. It builds elongated nests which are 20 to 30 in. in length, the entrance to which is in the lower portion. They are suspended from the branches of trees. As I have said, the large bay near the mouth of the Amazon has been named in honour of this bird.
Another bird of great interest is the araruna (or Macrocerus hyacinthinus), a magnificent macaw of great size, which is perhaps the rarest and most beautiful found in the interior of Brazil from the northern end of the central plateau as far as the Amazon River. Its feathers are of a soft, metallic, dark greyish-blue, almost black, except round the eyes, where the uncovered white skin shows through. I have seen these birds in flight on four or five different occasions on the Tapajoz River, and tried in vain to secure a specimen. I generally saw them in couples, flying at a great height and speed. These birds are extremely intelligent, and become most affectionate and faithful companions to a considerate master. In fact, they will attack any one endeavouring to get near their owners. Their beaks are extremely strong. When in captivity they are disastrous to one's belongings, as they seem to possess an irresistible desire to crush and tear anything they see. They can chip off pieces of furniture made of the hardest wood with considerable ease. This is easily understood when you can see them crush into fragments the extremely hard nuts of the Acrocomia lasiopatha, on which they principally live.
Sir Roger Casement, of Putumayo atrocities fame, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Manaos, possessed a most beautiful specimen of the Macrocerus hyacinthinus. It was most touching to see the pathetic devotion which existed between master and bird and vice versa. Only the people of the hotel where we both stayed did not appreciate the magnificent blue-black visitor, for when its master was out it spent all its time chipping off pieces from tables and chairs, and took the greatest pride and delight in flinging forks, knives and spoons off the dining-room tables, and tearing the menus to strips. The Brazilian waiters, in their caution to maintain their own anatomy intact, did not dare go near it; for the bird, even on hearing remarks made on its behaviour, would let itself down the sides of chairs and defiantly proceed to attack the intruders.
Similar but larger and more beautiful than this macaw is the ararama, extremely rare and perfectly black. The natives say that it is impossible to keep it in captivity as it is quite untameable. I saw a couple of these birds. They were really magnificent—certainly 3 ft. in length from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail.
When the steamer was close enough to the banks or an island we occasionally saw small groups of assahy palms (Euterpe oleracea) 20 to 30 ft. high, with smooth stems and feather-like foliage. Other palms, equally graceful, with stems like polished columns and delicately-cut fronds aloft, were also to be seen; but otherwise most of the vegetation was entangled and untidy.
From the trees hung liane in festoons or suspended like cords. Creepers of all kinds smothered the trunks and branches of the trees, which seemed to struggle for a little life and air; while, when we had an opportunity of examining the branches of the trees a little closer, we could see absolute swarms of parasites covering every bough.
Near some of the houses could be seen the Musa paradisiaca, the most common kind of banana palm in that region, with its green leaves ten to twelve feet long reflecting beautiful shades like silk velvet when caressed by the wind. I saw one or two specimens of the bread-fruit tree, with its digitated foliage, and several kinds of pine-apple plants (Bromelia)—some with leaves toothed along their edges, others shaped more like the blade of a long knife.
I was in great pain, and could not observe much. Also, most of the time we were at a great distance from the banks, and the river was so wide that it was almost like being in mid-ocean.
On November 14th we passed Obidos, at the mouth of the Rio Trombetas, the narrowest point, where the river went through a channel only 2,000 m. broad, but of extreme depth. The channel was formed by a depression between two hillocks 250 ft. high or so. The settlement of Obidos consisted of two long white buildings near the water, and a series of stores. To the left of the village as we looked at it was a high cliff extending for some 2,000 m. up stream over a beautiful beach. The cliff showed patches of red and yellow rock of a brilliant colour, the lower strata being of a deep red and clearly defined, the upper ones of a raw sienna colour, the dividing-line between the two colours being somewhat undulating. There was dense forest on the summit of the cliff. A good deal of vegetation had crept down and was clinging to the side of the cliff.
A little white church with a pointed spire stood on the highest point of the cliff, close to the town. Behind the cliff rose a hill of some height, upon which the better houses, with red-tiled roofs, were situated. A wide road led up to them.
The water of the stream was of a dirty yellow, and very turbulent owing to the strong wind that was blowing and the violent current. Proceeding up stream, we then came to a hill 300 ft. high on the right, which ended abruptly in an almost vertical red and yellow cliff plunging into the water. On the opposite side of the river, along the narrow neck, were lowlands, quite open and scantily wooded, over which rose great columns of black smoke, caused by the natives burning down the forest in order to prepare the land for their plantations. It was at this point that the entire volume of the Amazon could be gauged at a glance. As you looked up stream a long bluish line of low forest could be perceived over the gradually expanding deep yellow river. Dozens upon dozens of columns of smoke were visible. When night came the effects of those forest fires, with the reflection of the light upon the low clouds and in the water, were very weird and beautiful.
Greetings were occasionally exchanged upon the river as a big ocean steamer went by, or an over-enthusiastic captain let off rockets, which brought all the passengers from the dinner-table to the port-holes. Farther on we came to a pretty plantation on the left with innumerable banana palms crowded together, and some cocoa trees. At one time the exportation of cocoa from that section of the Amazon between Obidos and Santarem was considerable—some 8,000 kilos yearly. I was told that that industry has now gone down a great deal, and not more than 4,000 kilos were exported in 1911.
As we went farther up stream we passed alluvial banks of comparatively recent formation, in some places only one foot above the water and liable to constant inundation—in other places 10 or 12 ft. above the stream, and exposing an abrupt crumbling section of grey clay on a lower stratum with a narrow band of raw sienna colour. This yellow band rarely exceeded a thickness of 1 ft. We had an object-lesson here, where the banks were eroded by water and were gradually crumbling away, of the reason why the trees were so anaemic and generally died. The roots, instead of burrowing deep into the ground, spread out laterally in a horizontal position quite close to the surface of the ground. That night we had a beautiful effect of rain and smoke and the reflection from the fires, a wonderful study of reds and yellows and dark blues which would have fascinated the immortal painter Turner.
Farther on we passed an island 6 ft. above the water with beautiful green grass upon it, wonderful grazing land, and no trees whatever. On both sides of the channel we followed, in fact, we had fine open country all around, which seemed excellent for grazing purposes.
More interesting to me than the river itself were the wonderful effects of the ever-changing light in the sky. I saw no more the wonderful radiations which had given me so much pleasure in Matto Grosso, but we beheld here a great haze of delicate tones up to a great height and a light blue sky above it. The clouds seemed to possess no well-defined form, but were more like masses of mist, the edges blending gradually with the blue of the sky. Only to the west was there an attempt at globular formation in the clouds. The clouds of heavy smoke which rose and rolled about over the landscape helped to render the otherwise monotonous scene a little more picturesque.
Farther up stream we reached on the right a long island almost absolutely free from trees, except at its western end, where a miserable growth of sickly trees covered its point. Beyond was a beautiful spit of red sand some 2,000 m. long.
On November 15th we reached Itaquatiara, where the banks of the river were much higher than usual on the right side. I was much struck by the sight of a lot of fallen timber lying about on the slopes of the high bank, and by that of innumerable logs of wood floating on the water, quite an unusual sight in Brazilian waters. Itaquatiara was placed geographically on a most convenient site, opposite the mouth of the great Madeira River. Now that the Madeira-Mamore railway is completed, bringing down the trade of Bolivia and of the Acre territory, there is no doubt that it will become a most important trading centre. To my mind it is bound to supplant Manaos, which is very inconveniently situated, not on the Amazon River itself but on the tributary Rio Negro.
All the rubber which goes down the Madeira River has so far been conveyed to Manaos by a great detour, involving much expense and time. In the future, I think, when Itaquatiara has developed into a big city, and proper arrangements are made for landing and storing cargoes, it is certain to become a most important centre of commerce. Land is already going up in value tremendously, although Manaos has waged war against the growth of a town at that spot, which will be inimical to her own interests.
As is well known, the Madeira-Mamore railway was built from Porto Velho, on the Madeira River, around and along a series of rapids and waterfalls which rendered navigation most difficult, as far as Guajara Merim, on the river Mamore, a mere continuation of the Madeira River. The construction of the railway had long been contemplated by the Brazilian and Bolivian Governments, but it was a difficult matter owing to the dense forest and the unhealthy climate, which equals, if it does not even surpass, the deadliness of Panama in the time of the French. The works of the railway were begun as long ago as 1878 by Collings Brothers, who were then contractors, but nothing effectively was done until the Brazilian Government, fully realizing the necessity of opening up that rich country, especially after the purchase from Bolivia of the Acre Territory, perhaps one of the richest regions on earth as far as rubber is concerned, entered into a contract with a Brazilian engineer named Catambry, to build the railway. The Brazilian engineer transferred the contract to Mr. Percival Farquhar, who, in his turn, organized the Madeira-Mamore Company, entrusting the actual construction of the railway to Messrs. May, Jeckill & Randolph.
They started work in July, 1907, with preliminary engineering, the actual construction not beginning until January 1908. Work began with one engine, a Baldwin locomotive rebuilt, which had been there since 1878. Gradually the number of engines—all Baldwin locomotives—was increased to twelve. During the construction six tugs and eleven lighters were used on the Madeira River for handling the material. The contractors took into Brazil during the four and a half years occupied in the construction from 43,000 to 45,000 men, although they never had more than 5,000 men working at any one time. Many, indeed, were the deaths registered, and the steamers were constantly bringing back men laid up with fever. The supplies for those men had all to be brought from Europe and America, except sugar and coffee, as nothing could be obtained in the country itself. The four chief engineers were all Americans, Mr. Randolph and Mr. Jeckill, who were at the head of the entire concern, spending all their time on the line in progress or at their head office in Manaos, which was mostly in charge of Mr. May. One chief surgeon, Dr. Carl Lovelace, handled all the hospital work, with the assistance of fifteen physicians; but innumerable were the lives lost from yellow fever and beri-beri, the two most prevalent diseases in that fatal country.
Before the railway was built it was necessary to unload the battellaos or trading boats thirty-eight times during the journey at the thirty-eight different rapids and falls on the way. The journey over the rapids took not less than forty days. I shall not speak of the constant danger to boats, their crews and merchandise. Now by the railway the entire journey occupies from eight to ten hours. The length of the completed railway, now in full working order, is 364 kil. The last rail was laid on April 30th, 1912, when Mrs. Jeckill drove the last and golden spike—an honour which no other white woman, I believe, has ever had in so inhospitable a country.
Attacked by Beri-beri—A Journey up the Madeira River to the Relief of Filippe the Negro and Recovery of Valuable Baggage left with him—Filippe paid off—A Journey up the River Solimeos—Iquitos
I ARRIVED in Manaos in the evening of November 15th. I was very ill indeed, my right foot so swollen that I could hardly stand on it, and so painful that I could not put on a shoe or even a slipper, so that I had to hop about with only a sock over it. The doctor on board had told me that I was suffering from beri-beri, and although I tried not to believe him I was gradually forced to the conclusion that he was right. In fact, atrophy set in by degrees—one of the characteristics of beri-beri being that after a time you feel no pain at all. You can dig a pin into the affected part, or pluck off all the hairs without feeling the slightest pain. I was in a bad way, although I never laid up for an entire day. From the moment I arrived I "got busy," to use an American expression, in order to go to the rescue of Filippe the negro and another man I had left in charge of my valuable baggage near the mouth of the Canuma River, a tributary of the Madeira. It was necessary for me to borrow or charter a steam launch for one or two days, so that I could save men and baggage. I applied to the Governor of the Amazonas, who had received telegraphic instructions from the Central Government to give me every possible assistance. When I called upon him he said he was not the "black servant" of the President of the Republic; that he was practically an independent ruler, and would obey nobody's orders or instructions, especially from the Central Government.
I told him that the work I had done was principally for the good of Brazil; that all I asked him was to help me to save the lives of two Brazilian citizens, and the maps, photographs, etc., which would be useful chiefly to Brazilians, whatever their political views were. I would gladly pay out of my own pocket, within reasonable bounds, all expenses in connection with the trip. If I had applied to him it was only because I had found it impossible at Manaos to charter a steam launch.
I spread out before the Governor a map of South America, showing the journey I had taken from Rio de Janeiro to Manaos marked in red. The Governor, who had evidently never seen a map before, turned it upside down, mistook the entire map of South America for a map of his own Province, and seemed to be under the impression that the Amazon had its birth close to Rio de Janeiro.
A bitter enemy of all foreigners, especially Englishmen, the Governor was detested by everybody, and was at open war with the Commandante of the Federal troops in the town. All the money which should have been spent in embellishing or improving the town, was mis-spent in keeping a large army of police—over 2,000 men, I believe—for his personal protection.
My audience with the Governor did not last long, and I paid him back in his own coin. He immediately turned round then, with great courtesy begging me to stay and talk matters over, and said that he would be delighted to be of use to me in showing me around the city. I merely turned my back upon him, as I would on any nonentity, and limped out of the palace. Several messages were sent to me afterwards, which I treated with the contempt they deserved.
As nearly all the launches in the place belonged to the Government, I had then to apply to the Commandante of the flotilla of the Government boats. It will be easily understood that my anxiety was great to go and rescue my men; so that on leaving the palace I immediately proceeded to the private house of this gentleman—a great friend of the Governor, I learned afterwards. On sending in my card at five o'clock in the afternoon I was kept waiting a little time, then there appeared a yellow-faced individual in his pyjamas, muttering words which I should not like to repeat.