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Across Unknown South America
by Arnold Henry Savage Landor
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The capital of Goyaz—situated on the Rio Vermelho, a tributary of the great Araguaya River—had, according to the census of 1900, a population of some 13,475 people, but I rather doubt whether it possessed as many as 8 to 10,000 souls when I visited it. One could notice indications that Goyaz had been in days gone by a flourishing place. There were a number of fine churches, and a large cathedral in course of construction—but since abandoned. Some of the buildings, too—the finest was the prison—must have been quite handsome, but were now in a dilapidated condition. It was really heart-breaking to see such a magnificent country go to rack and ruin—a State naturally the richest perhaps in Brazil, yet rendered the poorest, deeply steeped in debt, and with the heavy weight of absurdly contracted loans from which it had no hope whatever of recovering under present conditions. They had in the province the most beautiful land in Brazil, but it was a land of the dead. People, industries, trade, commerce, everything was dead. Formerly, in the time of the Emperor and of that great patriot General Couto de Magalhaes, Goyaz city could be reached—within a few kilometres—by steam on the beautiful river Araguaya, which formed the western boundary of the province, an ideal waterway navigable for 1,200 kil.—in Goyaz province alone. In the time of the Emperor, when Brazil was a wild country, steam navigation actually existed up the Araguaya River from Conceicao as far as Leopoldina (the port for Goyaz city). The river was free from obstacles of any kind, even in the rainy season. There were then three beautiful English-built launches on that service. A fine repairing shop had been erected at Leopoldina.

But in these days of civilization, order and progress, the steamers have been purposely run aground and left to rot. There was actually a tree growing through the hull of one of those launches when I last heard of them; the machine shop was robbed of all its tools, and the machinery destroyed and abandoned. The Presidente told me that the Provincial Government had eventually bought the wrecks of the launches and the machine shops for L20—and as it cost too much to leave a man in charge everything had since been abandoned.

When I visited Goyaz there was no sign and no hope of re-establishing steam navigation on that marvellous waterway.

The Tocantins River, which intersected the Province from Goyaz city to its most northern point, was also another serviceable stream—but no one used it, except, perhaps, some rare private canoe taking up goods to settlements on its banks.

The navigation of the Tocantins, when I was in Goyaz, extended merely to the Port of Alcobaca, 350 kil. from Para, from which point rapids existed which made steam navigation impossible as far as Praia da Rainha. The distance of 180 kil. between those two places was eventually to be traversed by a railway, a a concession for which had been granted to the Estrada de Ferro Norte do Brazil. In the High Tocantins I believe two steam launches were temporarily running as far as Porto Nacional or perhaps a little higher.

Undoubtedly the State of Goyaz will some day, notwithstanding its apathetic inhabitants, see great changes for the better. The new epoch will begin when the several railways which were in course of construction from various directions enter the Province. Not one of them had penetrated the Province at the time of my visit, although the work of preparing the road had just been begun on Goyaz territory, as we have seen, for a few kilometres north of the Paranahyba River, on the extension of the Mogyana line from Sao Paulo. A second railway line in course of construction was a branch of the Western Minas Railway; and there was a third up the Araguaya from Para. Those railways will certainly revolutionize the country. The inhabitants of Goyaz, ultra-conservative in their ideas, were not at all anxious to see a railway reach their capital. In their curious way of reasoning they seemed to think that the railway would make life dearer in the city, that strangers would be coming in great numbers to reap the benefit of their country, and that the younger people who were satisfied to live there—because they could not get away—would all fly to the coast as soon as the railway was established, to enjoy the luxuries of Rio and Sao Paulo, of which they had heard, but could so far only dream of. They did not stop to think that the railways will certainly make Goyaz the richest country in the world.

The financial condition of that beautiful State can perhaps best be shown by quoting the words of the Presidente himself in his message to the Legislative Congress of Goyaz on May 13th, 1910, on assuming the Presidency of the Province.

"On my assuming the Government of the Province, I ordered the Secretary of Finance to give an account of the balance existing in the State Treasury; and it was verified that up to April 30th last there existed a sum of Rs. 87,000,000 (L5,800 sterling), which became reduced to Rs. 50,000,000 (L3,334 sterling) after the payments made on the 1st, 3rd, and 4th of the present month (May, 1910). It must be understood that the above-mentioned sum does not represent a balance existing in the Treasury, because it includes deposits and guarantees, as well as the deposits of the Orphan Asylum and of the Monte Pio.

"Leaving out the sums left in the Treasury on deposit, and which represent in fact a debt of the State, we come to the conclusion that there is no money whatever in the Treasury, and that the State 'ainda fica a dever' (is instead deep in debt). The expenses were vastly higher than the income of the Province and whereas the expenses of administration increased daily, the receipts remained stationary."

There was a certain humour in the Presidente's remarks on crime, when he referred to the difficulties experienced by the Chief of Police, who received no remuneration.



"It is easy," he said, "to understand the drawbacks resulting for the maintenance of order and the repression of crime, which is daily becoming more common—owing, no doubt, to the facility of entrance, through our unguarded boundaries, of persecuted people or fugitives from our neighbouring States, and of the impunity of criminals due to the benevolence of our juries. The diminution of our police force in so large a State with such difficult communications has had the result that the police force, moved incessantly from one end of the State to the other, never arrives in time to prevent crime!

"Many criminals have been prosecuted and are now safely guarded in prisons, but unhappily the greater number of criminals are loose all over the State without fear of being prosecuted, and terrorizing the population. Bands of gipsies were followed by officers and soldiers, and their attacks on property and individuals were prevented.... In the town of Catalao the two armed parties were successfully prevented from violence and 'viessem as maos' (coming to blows). At Morrinhos armed citizens in a menacing attitude were dispersed by the police ... in other localities other riots or attempts (sic) at disorder were immediately repressed, and we can now say that the State enjoys perfect peace, save the municipality of Douro, which is threatened by bandits from Bahia. They are constantly springing upon the terrified population of the municipality and especially of the town.

"... The bandits continue their incursions; murders follow one another in the entire zone between Formosa and Barreiros, including Santa Rita and Campo Largo, the inhabitants of which zone are paralyzed with terror.... Our commerce with Bahia, as well as relations between private individuals, is thus interrupted."

In his message the Presidente wisely and frankly disclosed the difficulty of administering justice under existing laws, when juries would absolve proved and confessed murderers wholesale. He endeavoured to stimulate some sense of honour in the officials in charge of the various municipalities, where "as rendas em geral mal applicadas" (the revenue generally misapplied) found its way into channels through which it was not intended to pass.

A fervent appeal the Presidente made to prevent the spread of smallpox. The vaccine which the Government sent to various points of the State was not used.

Curious, indeed, but perfectly true, were his statements regarding the police force.

"The officers are zealous and understand their duty. The policemen, notwithstanding all their defects, are being instructed and disciplined. The policemen are in general 'criminals' (morigerados). Ha falta de armamento, e o existente nao e o melhor. (There is lack of armament and the existing one is not the best.) The pay is small ... and the body needs reorganization."

The Academy of Law (Academia de direito) was not satisfactory and did not answer the purpose for which it was established.

The Lyceum, with its 105 pupils, gave fair results, barring the tolerance in examinations, which, however, did not reach a criminal point (sic). It possessed no building of its own, and was badly housed in a private dwelling.

Public instruction was admittedly defective all over the province. The teachers were almost as ignorant and illiterate as the people who went to learn—and perhaps more so; while the Escola Normal (Normal School) for women was almost altogether unattended. The public works were uncared for—there was not a single new work of art begun in the State. Nor could the State boast of a single road or trail or bridge in fair condition.

The laws on the possession of land would one day lead to immense difficulties and confusion. The greater part of the land now occupied was in the hands of people who had no legal right whatever to it.

The existing laws on mining were equally unsatisfactory, and the Presidente rightly remarked that "without facilities and guarantees, capitalists will never venture upon so risky and problematic an enterprise as mining in a State so distant and so difficult of access." He also exhorted the people to re-establish steam navigation on the Araguaya River, such as existed in the days of the Empire.

I was told that a launch had actually been purchased in the United States, but was either waiting at Para for want of an engineer or else had again been sold owing to the impossibility—due to lack of money—of its being transported in sections over the rapids above Conceicao.

The question of boundaries with neighbouring States was an amusing one. According to some rule for which no one can account, the Government of Goyaz claimed from the State of Matto Grosso enormous stretches of land on the opposite side of its natural, indisputable geographical western boundary, the main stream Araguaya, as well as the isolated settlement of Conceicao, on the opposite side of the Araguaya River, which was undoubtedly in the State of Para. One only had to glance at a map—bad as maps were—to see that in both cases the claim was an absurd one. In the case of Conceicao it was perfectly ridiculous. The Para Government held the place with a military force and occupied the territory with complete jurisdiction. In a more peaceful manner the State of Matto Grosso was in possession of the entire territory west of the Rio Grande do Araguaya, which the people of Goyaz said belonged to them. On the west the Araguaya formed a perfect geographical boundary from the Southern Goyaz boundary—where the Araguaya had its birth—as far as the most northern point of the State; whereas, were one to accept the supposed Goyaz boundary formed by the Rio das Mortes—a tributary of lesser volume than the main stream—it would involve an imaginary compound boundary line up the Paredao stream, then up the Rio Barreiros, then an imaginary straight line from north to south across mountainous country, winding its way east until it met the Serra dos Bahus, then again north-east over undetermined country, then along the Rio Apore and eventually joining the Paranahyba River.

Curiously enough, nearly all the Brazilian Government maps—and all the foreign ones copied, of course, from the Brazilian, all remarkable for their inaccuracies—gave the wrong boundary as the correct one! In any case, both the States of Matto Grosso and Para were in actual occupation of the respective disputed territories, and Goyaz was much too poor to afford fighting for them, so that I fear her most unreasonable claims will ever remain unsatisfied.

The final blow to the financial status of the Province was the loan raised on the Banco do Brazil of Rs. 300,000,000 (L20,000 sterling) at an interest of 7 per cent per annum. The Presidente counted on the receipts from the exports as well as on economy in administration in order to pay the interest on this sum—a dream which soon became impossible to realize.

It was then attempted to float an internal loan of Rs. 200,000,000 (about L13,334 sterling) at an interest of 6 per cent; but, as the Presidente pathetically ended his message to the State Congress, "not a single person presented himself to subscribe to the loan."

The receipts from the export of cattle from Goyaz State amounted in 1910 to only Rs. 171,901,000 (or L11,460 1s. 4d. sterling). After all expenses were deducted the State of Goyaz then showed a deficit of Rs. 325,510,743 (L21,700 14s. 4d. sterling).



CHAPTER VIII

Fourteen Long and Weary Days—Disappointment—Criminals as Followers

IT was in the town of Goyaz that I had entertained hopes of finding suitable followers to accompany my expedition. The officials in Rio de Janeiro had given me glowing accounts of the bravery of the people of Goyaz. According to them those settlers of the interior were all daredevils, courageous beyond words, and I should have no difficulty whatever in finding plenty of men who, for a consideration, would join the expedition.

"They will one and all come with you," a well-known Colonel had exclaimed enthusiastically to me in Rio—"and they will fight like tigers."

I carried the strongest possible—although somewhat curiously worded—credentials from the Federal Government to the Presidente and other officials of Goyaz, the letters, which had been handed to me open, stating that the Presidente was earnestly requested to do all in his power to help to make the expedition a success. When I presented these documents, I explained clearly to the Presidente that all I wished was that he should help me to collect thirty plucky men, whom I would naturally pay, and pay well, out of my own pocket, feed and clothe, during the entire time the expedition lasted, as well as pay all their expenses back and wages up to the day of reaching their original point of departure.

"I cannot help you; you will get nobody. Besides, I have received an official but confidential message from Rio requesting me to do all I can to prevent your going on."

Such treachery seemed inconceivable to me, and I took no notice of it. I again requested the Presidente to endeavour to find me men and animals, as nothing would deter me from going on. If no Brazilians came, I said that I would go alone, but that the value of the expedition would naturally suffer, as I should thus have to leave behind all the instruments, cameras, and other impedimenta, which, single-handed, I could not possibly carry.

It was my intention to travel north-west from Goyaz city as far as the River Araguaya. There I wanted to descend the Araguaya as far as the Tapirapez River—a small tributary on the west side of the Araguaya, shown on some of the very incorrect existing maps approximately in Lat. 11 deg. S., and on others in Lat. 9 deg. and some minutes S. Proceeding westward from that point again, I proposed crossing over to the Xingu River, then to the Tapajoz, and farther to the Madeira River. It was necessary for me to hire or purchase a canoe in order to descend the Araguaya River as far as the Tapirapez.

Believing that perhaps I might be able to find men without the assistance of the Governor, I tried every possible channel in Goyaz. I sent men all round the town offering high pay. I applied to the commanding officer of the Federal troops. I applied to the Dominican monks, who have more power in Goyaz State than all the officials taken together.

The Father Superior of the Dominicans shook his head at once and told me that, much as he wished to oblige me, I was asking for something impossible. He was right. The people were so scared of the Indians, and of the horrors of camping in the jungle, that no money in the world would ever induce them to move out of their town.

"Are there no young fellows in the town who will come along for the love of adventure as well as the money they will get?" I asked.

"For love! ... love!" said the friar, bursting with laughter. "I do not believe that such a thing exists in Brazil."

Having removed "love or money" from the programme of temptation, there remained little else except patience. In the meantime I endeavoured to hire a canoe. The Presidente kindly undertook to do this for me with the help of a well-known Colonel, one of the most revered men in the city.

"There is only one boat on the Araguaya," said the Presidente to me. "You cannot build a raft, as all the woods in these regions are too heavy and not one will float. You must hire that boat or nothing."



The honoured Colonel his friend also impressed that point well upon me. "Only that boat or nothing." They also added that they had arranged for me to hire that boat for four days, and it would only cost me L500 sterling. My distinguished friends had taken ten days to arrange that bargain. It took me ten seconds to disarrange it all. All the more as I had heard that a German traveller, Dr. Krause, had the previous year gone down the Araguaya River, where he had done excellent research work, and had also travelled up the tributary Tapirapez, crossing over nearly as far as the Xingu River. He had found in that region no Indians and the country of little interest. Furthermore, on my arrival in Goyaz capital I learnt that a Brazilian Government expedition, under the leadership of Dr. Pimentel, had already been in Goyaz some six months trying to start on a journey down the Araguaya, and, if possible, also to go up the Tapirapez and other tributaries of that great stream. Moreover, the Araguaya was perhaps, after the Madeira, one of the best known southern tributaries of the Amazon. As we have already seen, during the time of Dom Pedro, the Emperor, there was even steam navigation almost all along the course of the upper Araguaya as far as Leopoldina, the port for Goyaz capital. Several Englishmen and Germans and very many Brazilians had travelled on that river, where even military posts had at one time been established at intervals on its banks.

So that, rather than be imposed upon and travel for hundreds of kilometres in so well-known a region, I decided slightly to alter my route in order to cover ground that was newer and infinitely more interesting and important.

The Presidente's friend, the highly revered Colonel, had also undertaken to purchase a number of horses and mules for me. "The people of Goyaz," said he, "are terrible thieves; they will swindle you if you buy them yourself. I will purchase them for you and you will then pay me back the money. By to-morrow morning," he had stated, "I shall have all the horses and mules you require."

This was on the day of my arrival in Goyaz. Twelve days after that date he appeared with a famished, skeleton-like horse—only one—for which he made me pay nearly double what I had myself paid for other excellent animals.

I took care after that experience to beware of the "revered and honest men of Goyaz." Those who behaved honestly were generally those who were described as thieves. Everything is reversed in Brazil, and I should have known better.

Let us have a look around the city. Mules and horses were grazing in the principal square on a severe slope; the streets were paved in a fashion calculated to dislocate your feet or possibly break them if you happened to be walking out after dark. There was not the slightest semblance of drainage in any part of the town. The people flung out into the streets all that could be flung out, and also a good deal that should not be flung. The dirt was excessive all over the place when the rain did not come to the rescue and wash it all off.

The boast of the town was its brilliant illumination—one hundred petroleum lights all told, lighted up until ten p.m. when there was no moon. When there was, or should have been, a moon, as on stormy nights, the municipality economized on the paraffin and the lamps were not lighted. I do not know anything more torturing than returning home every night after my dinner at the palace, walking on the slippery, worn slabs of stone of the pavements, at all angles—some were even vertical—in the middle of the road. You stumbled, slipped, twisted your feet, jamming them in the wide interstices between the slabs. I never could understand why the municipality troubled to have lights at all. They gave no light when they were lighted—not enough to see by them—and they were absolutely of no use to the natives themselves. By eight o'clock p.m. all the people were asleep and barricaded within their homes.

Yet—can you believe it?—in this mediaeval city you would be talked about considerably and would give much offence if you went out of your house in clothes such as you would wear in England in the country. On Sundays and during all Easter week—when I was there—all the men went out in their frock-coats, top hats of grotesquely antiquated shapes, extra high starched collars, and, above all, patent leather shoes—with the sun scorching overhead. The women were amusing enough in their finery—which had been perhaps the fashion elsewhere fifty or sixty or more years ago. But they believed they were as well-dressed and quite as up-to-date as the smartest women of Paris or London. They never let an opportunity pass of telling you so.

The most striking building in the principal square of Goyaz was the prison. I visited it in the company of the Chief of Police. The place had been specially cleaned on the occasion of my visit, and that particular day it looked quite neat. I was shown very good food which—at least that day—had been prepared for the prisoners. Nearly all the prisoners were murderers. "But the biggest criminals of all," said the Chief of Police to me, "are not inside this prison; they are outside!" The poor devils inside were mere wretches who had not been able to bribe the judges.

Curiously enough, petty theft was considered a shame in the Province of Goyaz, and was occasionally severely punished; whereas murderers were usually set free. I saw a poor negro there who had stolen a handful of beans and had been sent to five years' penal servitude, while others who had killed were merely sentenced to a few months' punishment. In any case, no one in Brazil can be sentenced to more than thirty years' detention, no matter how terrible the crime he has committed.

The display of police guarding the prison was somewhat excessive. There were fifty policemen to guard fifty prisoners: policemen standing at each door, policemen at each corner of the building, while a swarm of them occupied the front hall. The various common cells were entered by trap doors in the ceiling, of great height, and by a ladder which was let down. Thus escape was rendered improbable, the iron bars of the elevated windows being sounded every morning and night for further safety.

The sanitary arrangements were of the most primitive kind, a mere bucket in a corner serving the needs of eight or ten men in each chamber.

As there was no lunatic asylum in Goyaz, insane people were sent to prison and were kept and treated like criminals.

I noticed several interesting cases of insanity: it generally took either a religious or a criminal form in Brazil. One man, with a ghastly degenerate face, and his neck encircled by a heavy iron collar, was chained to the strong bars of a window. His hands and feet were also chained. The chain at his neck was so short that he could only move a few inches away from the iron bars. He sat crouched like a vicious dog on the window-ledge, howling and spitting at us as we passed. His clothes were torn to shreds; his eyes were sunken and staring, his long, thin, sinewy arms, with hands which hung as if dead, occasionally and unconsciously touching this or that near them. I tried to get close, to talk and examine him; but his fury was so great against the policeman who accompanied me that it was impossible to get near. He was trying to bite like a mad dog, and injured himself in his efforts to get at us. Another lunatic, too—loose in a chamber with other prisoners—gave a wonderful exhibition of fury—that time against me, as he was under the impression that I had come there to kill him! He was ready to spring at me when two policemen seized him and drove him back.

There was a theatre in Goyaz—a rambling shed of no artistic pretensions. The heat inside that building was stifling. When I inquired why there were no windows to ventilate the place I was told that a leading Goyaz gentleman, having once travelled to St. Petersburg in Russia in winter-time, and having seen there a theatre with no windows, eventually returned to his native city, and immediately had all the windows of the theatre walled up, regardless of the fact that what is suitable in a semi-arctic climate is hardly fit for a stifling tropical country.

One thing that struck me most in Goyaz was the incongruity of the people. With the little literature which found its way so far in the interior, most of the men professed advanced social and religious ideas, the majority making pretence of atheism in a very acute form. "Down with faith: down with religion: down with the priests!" was their cry.

Yet, much to my amazement—I was there in Easter week—one evening there was a religious procession through the town. What did I see? All those fierce atheists, with bare, penitent heads stooping low, carrying lighted candles and wooden images of our crucified Saviour and the Virgin! The procession was extremely picturesque, the entire population, dressed up for the occasion, being out in the streets that night, while all the men, including the policemen and federal soldiers—all bareheaded—walked meekly along in the procession, each carrying a candle. When the procession arrived at the church, the Presidente himself—another atheist—respectfully attended the service; then the priest came out and delivered a spirited sermon to the assembled crowds in the square. Then you saw those atheists—old and young, civil and military—again kneeling on the hard and irregular paving-stones—some had taken the precaution to spread their handkerchiefs so as not to soil their trousers—and beating their chests and murmuring prayers, and shaking their heads in sign of repentance.

Such is the world! The prettiest part of the procession was that formed by the young girls, all garbed in immaculate white, and with jet-black hair—masses of it—hanging loose upon their shoulders. The chanting was musical and the whole affair most impressive.

I had received somewhat of a shock in the morning on passing the principal church—there were five or six in Goyaz. Spread out upon the pavement was the life-size wooden figure of our Saviour—which had evidently long been stored in a damp cellar—much mildewed and left there in the sun in preparation for the evening performance. The red wig of real hair, with its crown of thorns, had been removed and was drying upon a convenient neighbouring shrub! Really, those people of Goyaz were an amusing mixture of simplicity and superstition.

One great redeeming point of the people of Goyaz was that they were extremely charitable. They had erected a huge building as a workhouse. It was entirely supported by charity. A small library had also been established.

As I have elsewhere stated, I needed for my expedition no less than thirty men, so that they could, if necessary, carry all my instruments, cameras, provisions, ammunition, etc., where animals could not get through.

Fourteen long and tedious days elapsed in Goyaz. No one could be induced to come. In despair I sent a despatch to the Minister of Agriculture, asking for the loan of at least four soldiers—whom I should naturally have paid out of my own pocket, as I had duly explained to the Presidente, who backed my request. To my regret I received a reply from the Minister of War saying that at that moment the Government could not possibly spare four soldiers. It must be said that, although the men of Goyaz did not shine for their bravery, it was not so with the ladies, several of whom offered, if necessary, to accompany the expedition and do, of course, the work of the men. I believe that they meant it.

I have, indeed, the greatest respect and admiration for the noble self-sacrifice of the women of Goyaz. Devoted mothers and wives, to men who deserved no devotion at all—nearly all the men had concubines—gentle, humble, thoughtful, simple and hard-working, they did all the work in the house. They were a great contrast to the lazy, conceited, vain male portion of the population. Certainly, in a population of 10,000 people, I met two or three men who deserved respect, but they were the exception.

If the men were so timid, it was not altogether their fault; they could not help it. It was enough to look at them to see that no great feats of bravery could be expected of them. They were under-developed, exhausted, eaten up by the most terrible complaint of the blood. The lives in which they merely vegetated were without any mental stimulus. Many suffered from goitre, others had chests that were pitiful to look at, so under-developed were they; all continually complained, every time you spoke to them, of headache, toothache, backache, or some other ache. They were always dissatisfied with life and with the world at large, and had no energy whatever to try and improve their condition. They were extremely polite; they had a conventional code of good manners, to which, they adhered faithfully—but that was all.



At the end of the fourteen days in Goyaz I had been able to purchase a good number of mules and horses—at a very high price, as the people would not otherwise part with their quadrupeds. Also I had collected all the riding and pack saddles and harness necessary, a sufficient quantity of spare shoes for the animals, a number of large saws, axes, picks and spades, large knives for cutting our way through the forest, and every possible implement necessary on a journey of the kind I was about to undertake. Everything was ready—except the men!

Alcides Ferreiro do Santos and Filippe da Costa de Britto—the two men lent me by Mr. Louis Schnoor in Araguary—upon seeing my plight were at last induced to accompany the expedition at a salary of close upon a pound sterling a day each.

At the last moment the Presidente came to my rescue. He supplied me with six men.

"They are criminals," he said to me, "and they will give you no end of trouble"—a fact fully demonstrated three hours later that same evening, when one of them—an ex-policeman—disappeared for ever with a few pounds sterling I had advanced him in order to purchase clothes. Another fellow vanished later, carrying away some 40 lb. of coffee, sugar, knives, and other sundries. So then I had two criminals less.

I packed my animals, and was about to depart with the four remaining rascals and the two Araguary men—six all told—when a policeman, sent in haste, called me to the Palace. The truly good-hearted Presidente and his charming family were in a great state of mind. They told me that my men had gone about the town the previous night drinking, and had confided to friends that they were merely coming with me in order to murder and rob me of all I possessed as soon as they had an opportunity. It was an open secret that I carried a very large sum of money upon my person, as after leaving Sao Paulo city it was impossible to obtain money by cashing cheques on letters of credit or other such civilized means, and it was imperative for me to carry several thousand pounds sterling in cash in order to be able to purchase horses, mules, boats, food, and pay the men, as long as the journey should last.

When you stop to consider that I had before me the prospect of not replenishing my exchequer for at least one year, or perhaps two years or more, it will be easily understood that if one wants to travel, and travel quickly as I do, there is no other possible way than to carry the money with one in hard cash. The risk was certainly enormous, although no one except myself ever really knew the amount that I actually carried. A large portion of that sum was in Brazilian notes, a good deal in English bank-notes, and some four hundred pounds sterling in English gold. As I could trust nobody, that sum, except what I gradually spent, and barring the few moments when I took my daily morning bath, never left my person, even for a few minutes, for the entire period of one year. Most of the notes were contained in two bulky leather bags and the gold in a third, attached firmly to a strong belt which day and night—much to my discomfort—encircled my waist. The larger bank-notes, letters of credit, etc., were divided into my various coat, shirt, and trousers pockets. The gold was so heavy that it caused with its friction a large sore on my right hip—a sore which remained there more or less for an entire year.

"You cannot start under such conditions," said the Presidente appealingly. "I cannot furnish other men. No one will go, notwithstanding the high pay you give them."

I thanked the Presidente for his exquisite kindness, and for the very generous and thoughtful hospitality he and his delightful family had offered me in Goyaz, and which left in my mind the only pleasant moments spent in that dull city.



CHAPTER IX

The Departure—Devoured by Insects

A FEW minutes later I had again joined my caravan, watched intently, at a respectful distance, by a few astonished natives of Goyaz. As soon as all my mules and horses had been packed—they were very heavily laden—I took my departure in a direction north-west by west. The six men mounted on mules came along. I had armed all my followers with the best repeating carbines that are made, as well as with excellent automatic pistols, and the long daggers locally used; but personally I carried no weapons of any kind.

Having been unsuccessful in obtaining sufficient men from the officials of Goyaz, there yet remained for me one last faint hope. It was to try and get a few followers from the Indian colony of the Salesian friars, a few days' journey west of the Araguaya River.

On April 26th, from the height of Santa Barbara (elev. 2,150 ft. above the sea level), a picturesque chapel and graveyard to the west of the city, I bade good-bye for good to Goyaz capital (elev. 1,950 ft.). One obtained from this point a fine view of the entire city spreading from north to south, at the bottom of the imposing frame of mountains on the south with their extraordinary columnar formation. Each natural column, with its mineral composition and crystallization, shone like silver in the bright light. The ensemble from our point of vantage resembled the set of pipes of an immense church organ. High hills stood to the east. In the distance to the south-west the lower country was open with the exception of mountains in the far background.

We marched rapidly enough across wooded country until we crossed the Rio Vermelho (elev. 1,750 ft.). My men became very excited and began firing their carbines recklessly. I had handed to them fifty cartridges each, with strict instructions not to fire without my orders. I was some distance off. When I heard the fusillade I immediately galloped to the spot. The men had blazed away nearly all their ammunition, nor would they cease firing when I ordered them until they had exhausted their supply of 300 cartridges in all. Why were they firing? Because, said they, they had crossed the first water on their journey.

My heart absolutely sank into my boots when I realized that it was my fate to travel with such contemptible imbeciles for perhaps a year longer or more, and that was only the first day! Oh, what a prospect! We had our first quarrel when the men demanded to have their belts replenished with cartridges for their protection against attack. As I refused to let them have them there was a mutiny, the men declining to go on another yard unless the cartridges were handed to them. We had not been gone more than three hours, and a mutiny already! With a great deal of patience I induced them to go on, which they eventually did with oaths and language somewhat unpleasant. Still I held firm.

After several ascents and descents and a great many mishaps with our mules, unaccustomed yet to the work, we made camp, having marched 18 kil., on the bank of the Rio Agapa (elev. 1,650 ft.), near which the grazing was fair.

Two mules escaped during the night, and we could only make a late start the next morning. Alcides traced them all the way back to Goyaz, where he recovered them. Up and down we went, from 1,760 ft. to 1,550 ft., at which elevation we crossed the Rio Indio with a beautiful rocky bed the banks of which showed strata of red and grey clay and delicious crystalline water. No fossils of any kind were to be seen anywhere, although I looked hard in search of them all the time. The country was undulating and fairly thickly wooded near streams, otherwise it consisted mostly of campos, at the highest point of which another beautiful panoramic view of the escarpment in the plateau we had left behind could be obtained. The elevation was constantly changing between 1,750 ft. and 2,050 ft. above the sea level. Burity and other palms were plentiful. We crossed that day three streams, the last one the Rio Uva.

In a distance of 38 kil. we saw only a miserable shed, although we passed a site where a ruined house and paddock showed that once there must have been quite an ancient and important farm. Yes, indeed, Goyaz State had seen better days in the time of the Emperor and when slavery was legal. With the present lack of population and the prohibitive prices of labour it was impossible to carry on farming profitably.

The landscape was everywhere beautiful, but one never saw a bird, never perceived a butterfly, nor any other animal life of any kind. I was just remarking this fact to Alcides when a snake, eight or nine feet long, crossed at a great speed in front of my mule. The mules and horses were rather frightened at first of snakes, and it was amusing to watch how high they stepped when they saw them and tried to escape from them. We were in great luck. A flock of six beautiful red araras (macaws) passed above our heads. They looked perfectly gorgeous as they flapped their wings heavily and shrieked loudly as they sped along.

The formation of the soil in that region was interesting enough. Under a greyish white surface layer there were thin sedimentary strata of pebbles, deposited evidently by water, then under these a thick stratum—30 ft. or more—of warm-coloured red earth. The streams which had cut their way through this geological formation were invariably limpid in the extreme.

We were beginning to find beautiful flowers and butterflies again, the latter in great swarms near the water.

My caravan of grey and white pack-animals—some fourteen—was quite a picturesque sight as it wound its way down steep hill-sides, the mounted men urging the mules with shouts and lashes from their whips. We experienced difficulty in finding a good camp that night, the grazing being poor and the water scarce when sunset came. It seemed a pity that the most suitable camping places were not always to be found when you wished to halt!

We were now at an elevation of 1,550 ft. When we proceeded the next morning we found nothing of interest. Fairly wooded country alternated with campos, at first rather undulating, then almost flat, until we arrived at the Tapirapuana River (elev. 1,350 ft.), 8 yards wide and 3 ft. deep, which we crossed without much trouble, in the afternoon, at a spot some 28 kil. distant from our last camp. Luxuriant foliage hung over the banks right down into the water, which flowed so slowly—only at the rate of 1,080 metres an hour—that it looked almost stagnant, and of a muddy, dirty, greenish colour.

We were much troubled by mosquitoes, flies and carrapatinhos, the latter a kind of tiny little clinging parasite which swarmed absolutely all over us every time we put our feet on the ground on dismounting from our animals. The irritation was such that you actually drove your nails into your skin in scratching yourself. They could only be driven away by smearing oneself all over with tobacco juice, the local remedy, or with strong carbolic soap, which I generally used, and which worked even more satisfactorily.

A tubercular leper came to spend the evening in our camp. He was most repulsive, with his enlarged features, especially the nose, of a ghastly, shiny, unwholesome, greenish white, and pitifully swollen feet and hands.

The heat was not unbearable in that region—89 deg. Fahrenheit in the shade, 105 deg. in the sun. There was a breeze blowing that day from the north-east, with a velocity of 200 metres a minute by anemometer.

A good portion of the following day was wasted trying to recover four animals that had escaped. In order that they might graze properly it was necessary to let them loose. They sometimes strayed away long distances. Occasionally they hid in the shade of the matto (forest and shrub), and it was easy to miss them while looking for them. Luckily, two of my men—Alcides and a man called Antonio—were excellent trackers, and sooner or later they were generally able to bring back the animals, which was not at all difficult, as one only had to follow the marks of their hoofs to find where they had gone.

We departed late in the afternoon through thick shrub, over marked undulations—in some spots quite steep. From the highest point that day (elev. 1,900 ft.) we obtained an extensive view of flat tablelands in the distance to the east, with a low hill-range standing in front of them. It was scenery quite typical of Central Brazil, with no irregular, striking mountains; but everywhere we had plenty to study in the effects of erosion on that great continent.

I tried to make up for time lost by marching at night—a most trying experience, as my men, unaccustomed to the work and frightened at every shadow, let the mules stray in all directions. I unfortunately had to hand over to my followers a few cartridges each, or else they would not come on. Every now and then that night they fired recklessly in the dark—much to the danger of beasts and men alike—thinking they had seen an Indian, or a leopard, or some other wild animal. I was glad when we arrived in camp and ascertained that no one had been wounded.

That night-march demoralized animals and men alike. Most of the animals strayed away during the night, as the grazing was bad where we halted. I was compelled to halt for two days in that miserable spot, simply devoured by flies and mosquitoes and carrapatos, in order to recover them.

If you do not know what a carrapato is, let me tell you. It is an insect of the order of Diptera and the genus Mosca pupiparas, and is technically known as Melophagus ovinus. Its flattened, almost circular body varies in size from the head of an ordinary nail to the section of a good-sized pencil. Like the carrapatinho—its miniature reproduction—it possesses wonderful clinging powers, its legs with hook attachment actually entering under the skin. Its chief delight consists in inserting its head right under your cutaneous tissues, wherefrom it can suck your blood with convenient ease. It is wonderfully adept at this, and while I was asleep, occasionally as many as eight or ten of these brutes were able to settle down comfortably to their work without my noticing them; and some—and it speaks highly for their ability—were even able to enter my skin (in covered parts of the body) in the day-time when I was fully awake, without my detecting them. I believe that previous to inserting the head they must inject some poison which deadens the sensitiveness of the skin. It is only after they have been at work some hours that a slight itching causes their detection. Then comes the difficulty of extracting them. If in a rash moment you seize the carrapato by the body and pull, its head becomes separated from its body and remains under your skin, poisoning it badly and eventually causing unpleasant sores. Having been taught the proper process of extraction, I, like all my men, carried on my person a large pin. When the carrapato was duly located—it is quite easy to see it, as the large body remains outside—the pin was duly pushed right through its body. The carrapato, thus surprised, at once let go with its clinging legs, which struggled pitifully in the air. Then with strong tobacco juice or liquefied carbolic soap, or iodine, you smeared all round the place where the head was still inserted. The unpleasantness of these various beverages immediately persuaded the brute to withdraw its head at once. You could then triumphantly wave the pin and struggling carrapato in the air. You were liberated from the unpleasant visitor. It was not uncommon while you were extracting one—the operation took some little time—for two or three others to find their way into your legs or body. I fortunately possess blood which does not easily get poisoned, and felt no ill effects from the hundreds of these brutes which fed on me during the entire journey; but many people suffer considerably. My men, for instance, had nasty-looking sores produced by the bites of the carrapato. The mules and horses were simply swarming with these insects, which gave them no end of trouble, especially as they selected the tenderest parts of the skin in various localities of the body to settle upon. Where an animal had a sore it would soon be swarming with carrapatos near its edge. It would then putrefy, and maggots in hundreds would be produced inside the wound almost within a few hours.

There was, near by, an old moradoria, a large patch of muricy trees (Byrsonima), of which various species exist. These were not unlike small olive trees and produced a small sweet fruit quite good to eat.

We went for 22 kil. through a forest with beautiful fan palms over 30 ft. high. There was no animal life. We crossed three streamlets, the country between being undulating. Between the last two streams we came across rock showing through the alluvial deposits. It was an interesting conglomerate of minute crystals cemented together by hardened clay, the whole forming large blocks.

More trouble was in store for us. One of my mules was seriously injured. Its spine was so badly strained that it was quite disabled for further work. My cook, who had a slight attack of indigestion, wished to be left there to die, and declined to proceed any farther. With true Brazilian reasoning he wished, nevertheless, to be paid off before dying. With true English reasoning I explained to him that money would be of little use to him in the next world. If he really intended to die I would certainly not pay him, but his wages would naturally go on while he was alive, continued the journey, and did the cooking. He quickly returned to life, and to his senses.

Really, in the entire experiences of my travels I have never come across more pitiable specimens of manhood than those fellows. They absolutely gave me a sickly feeling that I never lost while they were with me, for many many months to come. The animals, too, were almost as bad as the men. They had little endurance, they had no courage, everything seemed to affect them. The worst Abyssinian mule, for instance, was, for equal work, vastly superior to the best Goyaz mule. It was a useless task to try and train those animals. On my many previous expeditions I had been able to win the affection of my animals, and was able to train them in a few days so that they obeyed with the perfection of soldiers, but in Brazil, the last day I had them—after several months that they had been with me—they were just as disobedient and stupid as on the first day. In fact, they never even seemed to recognize us again. They had learnt absolutely nothing, except bad habits. Everything seemed to frighten them. One mule, for instance, was afraid of crossing small streams. Its legs invariably began to quiver on entering the water, and down would go mule and baggage rolling into the water. All the thrashing in the world could not make it get up. We had to drag the brute bodily across the stream, when it would jump up on its legs again. It was quite futile to try and prevent that animal collapsing every time it had to go across water. So that, on approaching any streamlet, we had to unload it in order at least to prevent the baggage getting soaked.

The interior of Brazil—even comparatively near a city, as we were still to Goyaz—did not compare in civilization with the lowest and poorest countries of Central Asia or Africa. Humble countries like Persia and Beluchistan or Abyssinia some ten or fifteen years ago were more advanced than Brazil to-day. They had good trails on which a regular postal service was established, there were regular rest-houses on those trails, and horses or camels could easily be hired and exchanged at the different stations, so that one could travel comparatively quickly. It was not so in Brazil. Even if you wished to take a short journey of a few days from a city, you had to purchase your horses or your mules, and have the riding and pack saddles made for you at a high cost.

As we have seen, even in the city of Goyaz itself, there did not exist a single hotel, nor did we find a proper rest-house in the 531 kil. between the railway terminus and Goyaz capital. Nor is there one of these conveniences west between Goyaz and Cuyaba, the capital of Matto Grosso. Of course there were no hotels because nobody travelled, but it can also be said that many people do not care to travel where there are no hotels. In so humble and poor a country as Persia you always could indulge in a delicious bath in every caravanserai, which you found in the remotest spots all over the country. In Brazil you have to resort to the streams, where the moment you remove your clothes you are absolutely devoured by mosquitoes, flies and insects of all kinds—a perfect torture, I can assure you. Once you were in the water, immersed up to the mouth, it took a brave man to come out again, as millions of mosquitoes and flies and gnats circled angrily and greedily above your head ready for the attack the moment you came out.

We were travelling all the time at elevations varying from 1,450 ft. at our last camp to 1,400 ft. at our present camp, the highest elevation between these two places being on a rocky hillock about 100 ft. higher than those altitudes.

Our camp was on a streamlet flowing from south to north, of milky water containing lime, which made our tongues and gums smart when we drank it.

Again on May 3rd we went through forest all the time, with wonderful palms and many medicinal plants. Alcides had an extensive knowledge of the curative qualities of the various plants. Various species of the Caroba (Bignoniaceae), very beneficial, they say, as a blood purifier, especially in the worst of terrible complaints, were plentiful there. Giant nettles, the Ortiga or Cassausan, as it is locally called, were also frequently noticeable, especially when we passed too near and were stung all over by them.

We had risen to 1,200 ft. on the summit of a range called O Fogo. From it we had another exquisite view of the mountain range called Bucainha, which we had left behind to the east. It had a marked erosion on its north side.

On the west side of the pass we found curious small domes as well as pillars and other rocks of columnar formation. We had met during the day many Aricori palms, which, I was told, produced a sweet fruit excellent to eat when ripe, in the month of November.

After a steep rocky descent we made our camp. We halted earlier than usual. I was sitting outside my tent while my dinner was being cooked. I could not help smiling at the warlike array which had been necessary in order to make a start from Goyaz. The camp was a regular armoury. Beautiful magazine rifles, now rusty and dirty owing to the carelessness of the men, were lying about on the ground; revolvers and automatic pistols stuck half out of their slings on the men's belts as they walked about the camp; large knives and daggers had been thrown about, and so had the huge, heavy, nickel-plated spurs of the men, with their gigantic spiked wheels. These wheels were as much as two inches in diameter and even more. It was the habit of Brazilians to wear the spurs upside down, so that when they got off their mounts they had to remove them or it would have been impossible for them to walk. Naturally, worn like that, they were much more effective, and were intended to torment the animals with greater success.

I reprimanded the men for keeping their weapons so dirty. One man thereupon sat himself three feet away from me and proceeded to clean his rifle, keeping the muzzle pointed constantly at me. On my suggesting that he might point the weapon in another direction he roughly replied the usual thing: "There is nothing to be afraid of, it is not loaded"—and he proceeded to pull the trigger, the gun pointed straight at me, when I leapt up and snatched it out of his hands. There was a cartridge in the barrel and several cartridges in the magazine.



During the night the fusillade was constant. It was enough for the men to hear a leaf fall. Immediately there was an alarm and the rifles were fired. Once or twice the bullets came so unpleasantly near me that I suspected they were intended for me. I thanked my stars that my men were bad shots. To make sure of this fact, I one day had a shooting competition. After that I became quite assured that it was sufficient to be at the spot where they aimed to consider myself in absolute safety. It was not so, of course, when they aimed somewhere else. I did not care to take away the cartridges from them altogether, as they would have then imagined that I was afraid of them—an impression which it would have been fatal to let them entertain even for a moment. Each man was allowed to replenish his belt each day to the extent of ten cartridges.

I have elsewhere referred to the absurd pack-saddles used in Brazil, so heavy and unsteady when going over rough country, with the underpads so difficult to adjust that the animals were soon a mass of sores on the back, the sides of the body, on the chest and tail. I had other lighter and more sensible saddles, but I had to discard them as the Brazilians would not hear of using them, and I gave up in despair of teaching them how to pack them. I eventually left those saddles behind.

The riding-saddles, too, were almost as absurd as the pack-saddles, constructed as they were of innumerable and useless pieces of wood, iron and leather. The stirrups were gaudy, and consisted of a regular shoe of silver or other metal, into which you inserted the greater part of your foot, or else of a much ornamented circular ring. The head-piece and bit were also extremely heavy, clumsy, and highly decorated, for everything must be made for show if it had to be used in Brazil.

It was not possible to associate in any way or be friendly with my men. They were unpleasant beyond all conception. One could not say a word—no matter how kind—without the prospect of a long argument or a row. It was quite beyond them to be civil, and, like all ignorant people, they always imagined that they could teach others everything—including good manners! They were ridiculously courteous to one another—a muleteer talking to another always addressing him as "Sir," and referring to his comrades as his "colleagues."

We travelled that day nearly altogether over finely powdered reddish earth of volcanic origin. I had so far not met with a single fossil, not a shell, not a petrified bone of any animal, nor, indeed, impressions on rock of leaves, twigs or other parts of plants. The farther one went on, the more one had proof that that portion at least of the American continent had never been submerged in its entirety.

Some rocks displayed on the surface peculiar perforations such as would be produced by incessant water dripping over them, but these were caused, I think, merely by water falling over them while they were in a molten state; other rocks were thoroughly polished on the surface, as if sand or other gritty substance had flowed with great force over them, mixed with water—perhaps during a period of volcanic activity and torrential rains.

Geological research was somewhat difficult for a passing traveller in that region, for everything was smothered in vegetation. Only here and there in the cuts of rivers was I able to judge a little better of the actual formation of the land.

We camped on the stream Agua Limpa, which duly deserved its name of "clear water" (elev. 1,470 ft.). It flowed south. On May 4th, going through forest again over a hill (elev. 1,650 ft.), we obtained a glorious view of the immense expanse to the west and to the south-west—a great stretch of greenish, long sweeping lines with a plateau in the background. A somewhat taller hill rose at one end of it. We then descended to another deliciously clear river, which deserved as well as the previous one the name of Agua Limpa (elev. 1,450 ft.), but this one flowed north into the Rio Claro. The land was fine, sparsely wooded all the time, absolutely flat, but getting slightly undulating beyond that stream. It seemed wonderful land for agricultural purposes.

After passing the Indain River, the Bom Successo, and another stream, all three flowing south, we swerved more to the north-west, rising up on an elevated spot, from which we obtained another glorious panorama, a high Serra to the west, another in the distance to the east, the two extending almost parallel towards the south, where the gap in the horizon line between these ranges was filled by a very distant range showing a conical peak, and to the west of this another in the shape of a dome. It was the grandeur of these panoramas that impressed one most, rather than their monotonous beauty.

All the outlines of the scenery of Central Brazil had, so to speak, been worn smooth by the erosive action of water and wind, so that no fantastically shaped mountains had yet been encountered, no landscape which some great commotion had rendered strangely picturesque. There, only the steady work of uncountable ages showed itself in a most impressive way to those who understood. From a striking pictorial point of view very little remained in one's mind of those wonderful scenes after one had turned one's head away, except, perhaps, their immensity and the deep green tones—the two salient points of the scenery.

When we had descended from the pass (elev. 1,650 ft.) we came to the Rio Tres de Majo, where a hamlet of three sheds was found. Twenty-eight kilometres from our last camp we arrived at the Rio Rancheria, where stood a miserable farm. Both those streams, at an elevation of 1,300 ft., flowed into the Rio Claro to the north.

We had the misfortune of halting near the farmhouse, and suffered tortures from the millions of mosquitoes, gnats, carrapatos and carrapatinhos which made that night almost unbearable. I invariably found that carrapatos and carrapatinhos were more plentiful where living people or animals were to be found. Near those dirty farmhouses we were simply swarming all over with them. My poor animals, owing to the long marches we had been making, and the terrible pack-saddles, had sore backs and loins, sore chests. Yet we could not stop, and the poor things must stand the pain and strain.



CHAPTER X

Fishing—Termites—The Great Araguaya River

AN amusing incident happened. A cow chewed up the coat of one of my men, which was lying on the ground. In his fury the owner of the coat, on discovering the misdeed, seized his carbine and fired four shots at the cow and four at the farmhouse. None of us could tell where the bullets went. The cow, startled by the shots, gave a few jumps and kicks, then, absolutely uninjured, peacefully continued grazing. The house too remained untouched. Amazing shots my men were!

Across almost flat country we reached the Rio Claro—"the Limpid River" (elev. 1,250 ft. above the sea level), 200 metres wide, and flowing along a winding course in a general direction of south-west to north-east. Wide beaches of sand and fine gravel were to be seen on the convex or inner curves of its channel. Along the banks there was luxuriant vegetation, which hung down and dipped into the water.

Diamonds were to be found in that river. At low water curious eruptive, highly ferruginous rocks showed in the river bed, some in the shape of spherical balls riddled with perforations, as if they had been in a state of ebullition, others as little pellets of yellow lava, such as I had before encountered between Araguary and Goyaz, and which suggested the spluttering of molten rock suddenly cooled by contact with cold air or water.

We encamped some three kilometres from the Rio Claro, on the streamlet Arejado, where again we were devoured by mosquitoes. Although we all had thick mosquito nets, and although we slept wrapped—head and all—in our respective blankets, the brutes managed to find their way in and stung us with incredible vigour. We were fresh blood for them. The irritation caused by their bites was a torment.

We were now getting closer to the country where we were to meet the terrible wild Indians, the most ferocious and cruel cannibals on earth, according to the accounts heard in Goyaz. My men were already beginning to lose heart. With the sleepless night due to the mosquitoes, and the heavy atmosphere caused by a fast-approaching thunderstorm, they were morose in the morning. With the exception of Alcides and the negro Filippe, the others came insolently forward and refused to go any farther. They shoved the muzzles of their rifles under my nose; they wished to be paid up instantly and go back. With a little patience it was easy to get out of difficulties of that sort, if you possessed the gift of keeping calm.

Faithful Alcides, who had a fiery temper, seized his rifle and was about to fire at them, when I took the weapon from him.

"Do not shoot them, Alcides: these men have been good (sic) until now because they were in good health. They are bad now because they are ill. I will cure them."

And so saying I felt the pulse and forehead of the astonished rioters.

"Yes, indeed, these men are very, very ill. They need medicine. Alcides, get the castor oil—the large tin."

I had two kinds of castor oil: one tasteless—pour facon de parler—for my own use and cases of serious illness; another in large tins, of the commonest kind, with an odour that would kill an ox, which I used occasionally for punishment on my men when they were disobedient.

Alcides, who quickly entered into the spirit of that little joke, immediately produced the deadly tin, collecting upon the ground the four cups belonging to the strikers. Taking my instructions, he poured some four ounces of the sickening oil into each cup—and perhaps a little more. I handed a cup to each man and saw that he drank it. They all eventually did so, with comic grimaces and oaths. The men, I must tell you, had great faith in my powers as a medicine man. Once or twice before I had already cured them of insignificant ailments, and whenever I told them seriously that they were ill they believed, in their ignorance, that they were really ill.

This done, and to put them again in a good temper, I patted them on the back and, handing each of them a fish-hook and a line, sent them all to fish in the river, saying that as they were so ill I would delay my departure until the afternoon.

"That pool, over there," some three hundred yards distant, I suggested would be an excellent place for them to fish in. In that direction, as meek as lambs, like so many naughty children they all went, carrying the lines away and some toucinho (lard) for bait. Alcides, who was an enthusiastic fisherman, also went off with a line, and had good sport. He reported that the other men lay flat upon their backs most of the time, groaning and moaning, upon the rocks, basking in the sun instead of fishing. The castor oil in any case had the desired effect that the men did not mutiny again for some time.

We did not leave camp until 2 p.m. The country was teeming with plants of great medicinal value, such as the sucupira, which gave a bean much used in Goyaz to relieve stomach troubles; the algudanzinho, with its lovely cadmium-yellow cup-shaped flower—a plant which was most plentiful in that region, and the root of which was said to be very beneficial for the worst of venereal complaints; and also the acaraiba. Many were the handsome wild flowers we came across, principally red and yellow; but to my mind they could bear no comparison with even the ugliest European wild flowers. They were coarse in shape and crude in colour, and in their beauty there was the same difference as there would be between the lovely refined face of an aristocratic woman and that of a handsome massive peasant girl.

Water was certainly not lacking in that country. We crossed the Rio Striminho, then the Rio Stacco flowing from south-west to north-east into a lagoon formed by the Rio Claro. We camped on the bank of the Rio Stacco. The water was delicious.



The negro Filippe killed a wild boar. My men had a great time preparing a huge dinner. They absolutely gorged themselves. Personally I never touch pig in any shape or form, as I cannot get over the idea that its meat is poisonous for any thoroughly healthy person. It may, of course, not be so to people who are not absolutely healthy. The very sight and odour of it make me quite ill, and I fully share the idea of Mahommedans that the meat—certainly of tame pigs—is most unclean.

As we went on we had good sport, my men taking the greatest delight in fishing in the rivers on the banks of which we halted. The travelling was easy over flat country. We made short marches for some days, in order to let the animals recover their lost strength. In the river Las Almas (elev. 1,250 ft.), 20 metres wide and 3 ft. deep, flowing north-west, we caught a beautiful pintado fish—so called because of its spotted appearance. That fish possessed a huge flat head, with long feelers, two on the nose—at the side of the nostrils, to be accurate—two under its lower mandible. The mouth was enormous in comparison with the total length of the fish, and could be opened at an extraordinarily wide angle. Inside were most peculiar teeth in sets of twos, while the mouth was lined with thousands of hard, tiny sharp points. The eyes were far back upon the skull. The bony dome of the palate was divided in the centre, and a similar separation was to be observed in the centre of the lower jaw, giving thus a great flexibility to the interior of the mouth. When measured, the length of the head was exactly one-third of the length of the entire fish.

Other fish, too, were caught that day, called mandibe or fidalgo.

The aspect of the country was gradually changing. During that day's march we had gone over beautiful open stretches of grassy land with only a few stunted trees upon them. Bosquets or tufts of small palms or other trees were to be seen, raised on small mounds, showing how the country was gradually wearing itself down. Nearly each tree was raised on a mound of grey clay. Some fine specimens of Lexia trees, with their peculiarly distorted branches, were to be observed.

Those great scavengers of Brazil, the Urubu, of which two varieties were to be found—the Urubu commun (Cathartes atratus) and the Urubu rei (Cathartes Papa)—a cross between a vulture and a crow, were fairly plentiful now that game was more abundant in the country. They often pierced our ears with their unmusical shrieks. The urubu belonged to the vulture family and was found in all tropical South America. It had black plumage, somewhat shaggy, with reddish legs and feet, and bluish, almost naked, head and neck. Like all rapacious birds of its kind, it lived entirely on dead animals and what refuse it could find about the country. Near farms these birds were generally to be seen in great numbers.

We had a delicious breakfast of fish—really excellent eating—which set everybody in a good humour, and then we proceeded over slight undulations (elev. 1,250 to 1,300 ft.) through forest until we got to the Ponte Alto (High Bridge) River, so called because..., there is no bridge whatever there! The Brazilians are really too delightful in their reasoning; and, mind you, it is not done with a mischievous sense of the ludicrous—indeed no; it is done seriously. The Ponte Alto stream was, like most of the other watercourses of that region, wonderfully limpid.

From that point we were in charming open country, where we could freely breathe the delicious air. Occasionally we saw some angelin trees (the Angelino amargoso and Angelino pedra), technically known as Andira vermifuga M. and Andira spectabilis Sald.

Nearly all the woods we found had a high specific gravity: the two latter, for instance, 0.984 and 1.052 respectively, and a resistance to crushing of kilos 0.684 and kilos. 0.648.

Cacti of great size were numerous. We were now in a region where termite-hills (ant-hills) were to be seen in great numbers. They stood from 2 to 3 ft. above ground, although occasionally some could be seen nearly double that height. Some of the ant-heaps were extraordinary in their architecture, and resembled miniature castles with towers and terraced platforms. Whether they had been built so by the ants or worn down to that shape by the pouring rain and wind, was not so easy to tell.

The more one saw of the termites, the more one disliked them, for they were the most insidious, destructive little brutes of that region. They were ugly in appearance, with their fat white bodies of a dirty greenish-white colour. Nevertheless one could not help having great admiration for those little rascals, which in one night were able to devour the bottom of stout wooden boxes, and in a few hours damaged saddles, clothes, shoes, or any article which happened to be left resting for a little while on the ground. They were even able to make an entire house tumble down in a comparatively short time if the material used in the construction were wood.

Yes, one hated them; yet, when one knew all about them, one had to spend hours watching their doings with a microscope, it was so interesting. They seemed to have two social classes among them—the labouring class and the warriors. To the labourers was given the heavy task of digging underground channels, the surplus earth of which was thrown up with great force through apertures in the soil until the earth so displaced and amassed formed a high heap, riddled in its interior by hundreds of channels and miniature chambers and apartments. To the warriors—really more like a kind of perfect police service—was entrusted the safety of the colony and principally the protection of the young. White ants have many enemies, especially among the larger ants, which carry on regular wars against them; for although ants and termites—commonly called white ants—have many points in common, yet they belong to totally different orders of insects, as can be easily noticed in their structure and development. The peculiar structure of the enlarged heads of the warrior termites was particularly noticeable. Some had a formidable head provided with tentacles and powerful rodent clippers—as well as the peculiar whitish cuirasses in sections of the body. The workers had more normal shapes, the head being better proportioned with the body.

It was enough to split one of the heaps and watch the termites at work to learn a lesson of what devotion and duty mean. In the many passages overcrowded with ants—there was never confusion—you saw hundreds of them, either conveying food or building materials to the various quarters. Some carried leaves, others carried pieces of wood, seeds, or dead insects. If one was not strong enough to convey its load, others came to its assistance—although they generally seemed to resent the intrusion of others in doing their work. I always noticed that when one was in difficulty and others ran to the rescue there generally ensued what seemed to be a row, and the new arrivals hurriedly left—either disgusted or angry, I could not tell which by their minute expression.

Then there were extraordinarily fat lady ants, lying flat upon their backs, and with many attendants around them doing massage and general nursing with the greatest possible gentleness and care. If one wanted to see a great commotion one only had to introduce into one of the chambers a larger ant of a different kind. What struck me was that the moment the fray was over the termites at once—if perhaps a little more excitedly—resumed their work.

What astonished me more than anything was that they would go on working at all—as if nothing had happened—when I split open one of their dwellings and many of the channels, which must have been normally in the dark—were now exposed to the light. This made me suspect that their vision was either missing altogether or was very defective.

Nature is a wonderful organizer. The majority of termites—including warriors and workers—were sexless; that was perhaps why they were such good workers, as they had nothing to distract them. The males and females whose duty was merely to propagate and improve the race were provided temporarily with wings, so that they could fly away from the colony and disseminate their love among other winged termites of other colonies. The relation between different colonies was friendly. When their task was accomplished and flight was no more necessary for them, they conveniently and voluntarily shed their wings, leaving merely a small section of the wing root attached to the thorax.

The local name for all kinds of termites was cupim, but technically they are known in the Order of Neoroptera as Termes album. Another variety of insect, the Psocus domesticus, was also as destructive as the Termes album.

We frequently met with plants of caju, or acaju or acajueiro (Anacardium Occidentale L.) on our course. They belonged to the Terebinthaceae group. In a preceding chapter I have already described the red or yellow delicious fruit of this tree. Then we found other interesting trees, such as the oleo, the tall and handsome poinna, and numerous specimens of the small but good-looking palm pindova.

There were not many flowers in that particular spot, barring perhaps an occasional cluster of white flowers, principally bocca de carneiro, said to have properties refreshing for the blood.

Near a small stream I noticed some lovely, slender, tall jeguitiba vermelho trees (Couratari estrellensis Raddi), from 75 to 80 ft. high, with branches and clusters of deep green healthy leaves at the summit only.

There was a little less monotony in the scenery before us that day, for to the west stood, over a long, slightly undulating line, one peculiar conical hill heavily wooded. In pools of stagnant water were lovely water flowers, and in the neighbourhood of that moisture many handsome burity palms were prominent in the landscape.

We had been mounting gently all the time from our last camp. Early in the afternoon we reached that magnificent river, the Araguaya, over 200 yards wide, although something like between 2,500 and 3,000 kil., or perhaps more, from its mouth. Its lovely placid waters, reflecting with the faithfulness of a mirror the vegetation on the high steep banks as well as the clouds in the sky, made an effective picture. The dead silence, disturbed only by the shouts of my men urging the mules to the water-side, was most impressive, the water flowing so slowly that it almost looked stagnant.

Not a mountain, not a hill could be perceived, except one low humble range of hills to the south. It was on those hills that the great Araguaya had its birth.

We crossed the great stream—mules, baggage and all, on three canoes upon which a platform had been erected. Once landed on its western bank, we were, notwithstanding local boundary quarrels, in the immense State of Matto Grosso, the wildest of Brazil.



CHAPTER XI

The Tucano—Fish of the Araguaya River—A Bad Shot—A Strange Sight

I SEEMED to have no luck on that journey. Everything went wrong all the time. Everything seemed to stand in my way to prevent my progress. My men were demoralized, my mules and horses in a pitiable condition. I called a halt of two or three days in order that we might shoe the animals again and rearrange the pack-saddles. We had, of course, a good supply of new shoes, but the work of shoeing so many animals was hard, especially as I had to do most of it myself with Alcides and Filippe, the other men being absolutely useless. Add to this a stifling temperature of 90 deg. Fahrenheit.



To make things worse there came a downpour, such as I have seldom seen, and which lasted for two entire days. That was the dry season too! The house in which we had put up—and through the roof of which we could admire the stars at our ease while in bed—was turned into a regular swimming-tank when the rain came. We had a good deal of trouble to keep our things dry, propping them up on improvised stands of stones which we removed from the crumbling walls of the building. Fortunately, most of my pack-saddle cases were air- and water-tight, so that the contents could not be injured. The wind blew with great fury—at the rate of 460 metres a minute, to be strictly accurate.

There was a humble hamlet at Rio Grande or Porto do Castanho, on the Matto Grosso side, where we had crossed the Araguaya River. It was the gloomiest of gloomy places even in glorious weather. Imagine it on a wet, windy day. The few tiny one-storied cabins—they could hardly be called houses—had got soaked with the storm, and looked miserable. The inhabitants were busy baling water from inside their dwellings. Many tiles of the roofs had been blown away, and those that remained had grown extra dark with the moisture, with merely a bluish tinge from the reflected light of the grey sky upon their shiny surfaces. The solitary palm tree at the end of the oblong square looked pitiful, with its long bladed leaves split and broken by the wind, while the dense foliage along the river banks was now several tones darker and richer than we had seen it before.

Under usual circumstances the plaza—or square—was so high above the river that one could not see the water at all until one went to the edge of the stream, but during flood the river rose as much as 20 ft. and occasionally overflowed the greater portion of the square.

The grass of the square—a mere field—alone seemed happy in the damp. Half dried and anaemic from the hot sun, it seemed to be quickly coming back to life and vigour in those few hours which had rendered us all miserable. My poor horses and mules, worn and sore, stood dripping and wretched, with quivering knees, in the middle of the square—too miserable to feed, only now and then slashing their long wet tails to right or left to drive away impertinent flies.

With the storm the temperature had suddenly descended to 75 deg., and everybody was shivering with cold after the oppressive heat before the storm.

Upon the half-rotted wooden cross which stood in front of the church was perched a vulture—so thin and shaggy and soaked and motionless that you might easily have mistaken it for a stuffed bird. It was the very picture of misery. But everybody was miserable—one could not help it. I was, too—who am not much given to being depressed.

While marching or camping in the midst of unspoilt nature, I never felt depressed, no matter what happened, and was absolutely regardless of climatic conditions; but in those miserable settlements—feeble attempts at civilization—I must confess that I used to get low-spirited too, and often thought what an idiot I had been to leave my happy homes in Florence and in London, in order to come to these wretched places.

After the attempts at baling out the water had proved futile—as there was more coming in than it was possible to fling out—the people in resignation barricaded their doors and windows. Not a soul was to be seen or heard anywhere. The place was absolutely dead. Even after the storm was over no sign of life could be noticed. The people were all still hiding and trembling in their houses, the comparatively slight but sudden change in the temperature bringing upon most of them attacks of strong malarial fever, which was there prevalent.

At last, splashing her little naked feet along the footpath in the grass—now changed into a streamlet—there approached a little girl with a face as black as coal. She looked terrified as she approached the window out of which I was looking. But she overcame her fright and, prettily stretching out her tiny hand, called out "Boa tarde!" (Good afternoon). Her father and mother were ill; would I give her some medicine for them? Soon after, when the sky had cleared, other patients came along asking for quinine or any medicine I could give them. Others wished to have their teeth pulled out. The Brazilians of the interior had great trouble with their teeth, which were usually in a state of decay.

My own men had wrapped themselves up in their blankets in order to keep warm. They had slept most of the time. They were too cold and lazy even to get up to cook and eat their food. None of the houses possessed a chimney, cooking being done outside; nor, of course, any sanitary arrangements. Those of my men who had toothache cried and moaned the whole night, as might be expected of children aged six of any other country. I have seldom seen men more sensitive and frightened at pain or illness.

The main structure at Porto do Castanho (Port of the Chestnut Tree, because there should be a chestnut tree there) was the church, a mere barn, which elsewhere but in central Brazil would not be considered good enough for storing hay, still less for the worship of the Almighty. Not that it was used much for the latter purpose, as there was no priest within several hundred kilometres. The walls of the church were all scraped and dirty, the corners chipped off by passing animals. All the passers-by went and wiped their dirty hands on the walls of the church—perhaps attracted by the whitewash, which none of the other buildings possessed.

The shops—there were two—had nothing for sale, except some locally grown tobacco. In one shop I found some small iron nails, which were sold at the equivalent of 6d. each!

May 11th. The drenching rain continued the entire night, the minimum temperature being 73 deg. Fahrenheit. My poor animals were in a terrible condition the next morning through the damp, the sores having become badly infected. They were in a purulent condition, and a mass of maggots—the terrible bishus, which were the pest of Brazil. So we had the great job of cleaning them all with a powerful disinfectant as well as washing them with a decoction of warm barbatimao (Stryphnodendron barbatimao M.), a wood with a great resistance to crushing (K. 1.015) and a specific gravity of 1.275. The decoction, which was really very beneficial for wounds and sores of animals, was made with the bark of that tree warmed in water over a fire. Another decoction we frequently used was of salt and carrapicho herb, but this was not quite so effective as the former.

My men killed a magnificent tucano—a large bird with climbing, inquisitive habits. It possessed an enormous yellow bill of singularly light structure, the point of which was black. The lower part of the bill was of a brilliant red, and of a similar red was the rib of the upper part of the bill. The plumage was of a handsome velvety black on the body and tail—quite shiny—while the chest was of a pure white, and the under part of the tail of bright vermilion feathers. White feathers showed at the base of the tail above.

The tucano (Ramphastos) is too well known for me to describe it fully again. It is found all over tropical Brazil. There are many different varieties, such as the Ramphastos vitellinus, Ramphastos ariel, the Ramphastos Cuvieri, the Pteroglossus Beauharnaisii, or curl-crested tucano, etc., extremely common, especially farther north, near the borders of the Amazon.

I was sorry when my men killed this beautiful bird. I had watched it for some time, with its inquisitive habits, hopping from branch to branch, peeping its bill into cavities and examining everything that happened below by bending its head attentively, now on one side then on the other. It evidently took intelligent interest in our doings. My men had gone out to do their cooking. The bird watched them with the greatest attention—with jerky movements not unlike those of a magpie.

The tucanos have, I believe, been described as being stupid; but on the contrary I think they are extremely clever—quite as clever as many parrots or macaws. I observed how shrewd that particular bird was. It would come quite close to us, and examine with really amazing attention what we were doing as long as we were not taking any notice of it, but the moment a man happened to touch a stone or try to point a rifle at it, it would fly a long distance off, with shrill yelps, and would not return until it was quite sure that we were not noticing its presence.

The uses of the enormous bill of the tucano have often been discussed by ornithologists, many of whom believe that the bill is of no use to that bird and Nature made in this case a mistake and has not yet had time to rectify it. Scientists frequently allege that Nature makes mistakes, because many of them have never really understood Nature. How could they? They have never been near enough to Nature unspoiled. Many of them also believe that tucano birds are great fishers, following the notion that many water birds have red or yellow bills of large size. That, too, is another great mistake, for the tucano is eminently a fruit and nut eater, and of course a feeder on worms and insects contained in fruit.

The huge bill, attaining the length of six or seven inches, is toothed at the sides in order to be able to saw the stems of fruit. The shape and size of the bill, far from being a mistake of nature, are made so in order to enable that bird to dig holes into the bark of trees and to enable it to crush and chew the many curiously shaped fruits found in certain parts of the Brazilian forest. Moreover, the bill is also a great protection to the head in going through the dense foliage, where thorns are innumerable and alive with dangerous insects of great size, which can, owing to the length of its beak, be destroyed at a distance from the bird's most vital organs.

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