Across Unknown South America
by Arnold Henry Savage Landor
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The River Arinos—A Rickety Canoe—Mapping the River—The Siphonia Elastica—Rubber and its Collection—An Enormously Rich Country—A German in Slavery

WE struck the River Arinos at a point called Porto Velho. There were at that place the miserable sheds of three seringueiros (rubber-collectors). I had made for that particular spot because I had heard that a big canoe carved out of the trunk of a tree probably existed there. I was told that the canoe was large enough to carry many people. It had been constructed, it seemed, some ten years previously by a rubber-collecting expedition which came to grief, was abandoned, and had since been taken possession of by seringueiros. I had purchased it on chance from its last owner for Rs. 300,000. With accessories I gave about Rs. 450,000, or roughly, L30. It was the only canoe upon that river.

I considered myself lucky, when I arrived at Porto Velho, to find that the canoe actually existed at all. There she was, floating more or less gracefully upon the water. She had a total length of 42 ft., was 31/2 ft. wide, and had been roughly scooped out of a giant tree which was not quite straight. Her lines, therefore, were not as elegant as might have been expected. For instance, her starboard and port sides were not absolutely straight lines, but described curves—in fact, the port side almost an angle. That gave the canoe an original appearance, which to my practical mind at once suggested great difficulty of steering. Her sides, coarsely cut with an axe, were from 3 to 5 in. thick; her bottom from 6 in. to 1 ft. thick. The two extremities were solid blocks, so that her weight—she was carved out of unusually heavy wood—was altogether over 2,000 lb.

When I went down to the water to examine my purchase I found that the vessel was in a pitiful condition and needed sound repairing before she could proceed on a long journey. She was sufficiently good for crossing the stream—that was all she was used for by the seringueiros—but it would be a different matter to go down rapids for some thousands of kilometres. It took all the strength of my men, the seringueiros, and myself combined to pull the canoe out of the water upon the beach and to turn her over. We worked hard for two days with saws and hammers, knives, tar and wadding, in order to stop up a gigantic crack which extended from one end of the canoe to the other under her bottom. Although the crack did not go right through, I could well imagine that a hard knock against a rock might be quite sufficient to split the canoe in two. We scraped her and cleaned her; we overhauled and strengthened her thoroughly; we cut rough seats inside, and built an elevated deck upon which the baggage might be comparatively safe from moisture.

We were proud of our work when we launched her. Wiping the dripping perspiration from our foreheads, necks and arms, we looked just as if we had come out of a bath, we sweated so in our efforts to push her back into the water, the heat near the water, screened as it was from the breeze by the high banks and trees, being suffocating! We gazed at her—the queen of the Arinos River. She looked lovely in our eyes. On her stern I fixed the steering gear, a huge paddle 12 ft. long; and upon a neatly-made staff, which I had cut myself, I hoisted the British flag, which had hitherto flown over my tent. It was, I think, the first time the British flag had waved over that river. The canoe was baptized the "Elfrida," after my sister's name.

It will be remembered that only four men remained with me. Not one of them had ever been in a canoe before—except to be ferried across a river, perhaps—not one had the slightest idea of navigation, and it followed, of course, that not one had ever used a paddle or steered a canoe.

As the river had never been surveyed, it was my intention to make an accurate map of its entire course as far as its junction with the Tres Barras, several thousand kils. away, from which point I imagined the river must be slightly better known. Therefore, as I should be busy all day long with the prismatic compass and watch, constantly taking notes of the direction of the stream and the distances covered (checked almost daily by astronomical observations) I should not be able to take an active part in the navigation.

The canoe was undermanned. Imagine her length—42 ft.—with only two men to paddle. A third man was stationed on her bow to punt when possible and be on the look-out for rocks; while Alcides, whom I had promoted to the rank of quartermaster, was in charge of the steering. I had taken the precaution to make a number of extra paddles. We carried a large quantity of fishing-lines with hooks of all sizes, and cartridges of dynamite.

The river was most placid and beautiful, and the water wonderfully clear. Unlike rivers elsewhere, the Arinos did not show a branch or a twig floating on its waters, not a leaf on its mirror-like surface. That did not mean that branches of trees—sometimes even whole trees—did not fall into the river, but, as I have stated already, the specific gravity of woods in that part of Brazil was so heavy that none floated. Hence the ever-clean surface of all the streams.

We were then in a region of truly beautiful forest, with figueira (Ficus of various kinds), trees of immense size, and numerous large cambara. The bark of the latter—reddish in colour—when stewed in boiling water, gave a refreshing decoction not unlike tea and quite good to drink.

Most interesting of all the trees was, however, the seringueira (Siphonia elastica), which was extraordinarily plentiful in belts or zones along the courses of rivers in that region. As is well known, the seringueira, which grows wild in the forest there, is one of the most valuable lactiferous plants in the world. Its latex, properly coagulated, forms the best quality of rubber known.

There are, of course, many latex-giving plants of the Euphorbiae, Artocarpae and Lobeliae families, but no other are perhaps such abundant givers of latex as the Brazilian seringueira (of the Euphorbiae family), a tree plentiful not only in Matto Grosso on all the head-waters and courses of the rivers flowing into the Amazon, but also abundant in the Provinces of Para and the Amazon. In less quantities the seringueira is also to be found in Ceara, Rio Grande do Norte and Maranhao.

The seringueira prevailed chiefly near the water, in swampy places, or in places inundated when the river was high. Never was the tree to be found at a distance away from water.

The height of the seringueira varies from 25 ft. to 50 ft. Its diameter is seldom more than 35 in. Its leaf is composed of three elongated leaflets, smooth-edged and complete in themselves. The seed is smooth-skinned, and of a reddish tone. The fruit consists of a well-rounded wooden capsule enclosing three cells which contain white oily almonds not disagreeable to eat. From the almonds an oil of a light red colour, not unlike the colour of old port wine, can be extracted. That oil can be substituted for linseed oil, and has the further advantage of not desiccating so quickly. Mixed with copal and turpentine it gives a handsome varnish. It can be used advantageously in the manufacture of printing-ink and soap. So that every part of the seringueira can be put to some use or other.

Among the other more important trees which produce rubber may be mentioned the Siphonia brevifoglia, the Siphonia brasiliensis, Siphonia rhytidocarpa, and the Siphonia lutea, all found chiefly in the State of Para. In other parts of Brazil grow the Ficus anthelmintica, the Ficus doliaria (or gameilleira), the Ficus elastica, Ficus indica, Ficus religiosa, Ficus radula, Ficus elliptica, Ficus prinoides, the Plumeria phagedenica, the Plumeria drastica, the Sorveira or Collophora utilis, and the Mangabeira or Harncornia speciosa.

At present we shall be chiefly interested in the seringueira (Siphonia elastica).

The collection of the latex from the seringueira and the subsequent process of coagulation were simple enough. A seringueiro, or rubber-collector, started from his hut early every morning carrying with him a small steel axe or pick, the head of which was 3 in. long and shaped like a bird's beak; a tin bucket, and some barro—soft clay which had been soaked in water. He walked along the estrada or track which he had cleared for himself, leading from one rubber tree to the next. There may be twenty, thirty, fifty or more rubber trees that have been tapped on one estrada, according to the district and the activity of the seringueiro. In the case of a new tree a collar of the fibre of burity palm was in the first instance nailed with pegs of hard wood round the stem, not horizontally, but at an angle: sometimes, when necessary, in a spiral. In other cases a similar band of clay was made to encircle the tree. These collars served as channels, compelling the latex, as it exuded from cuts made in the tree, to flow into a small tin cup suspended at the lowest point of the collar. The incisions were never made lower than 2 or 3 ft. from the ground. They must not penetrate deeper than the entire thickness of the bark of the tree, and they must on no account touch or wound the actual wood, or the tree would suffer greatly—even die. In some regions the incisions were made longitudinally, in others transversely. The operation was repeated by the seringueiro each time on every rubber tree as he went along the estrada, the latex flowing freely enough into the tin cup after each fresh incision had been made.

The seringueiro thus tapped each tree on his way out along the estrada, which in some cases may be several miles long; in other cases, where rubber trees were plentiful, only a few hundred yards in length. On his return journey the seringueiro emptied each small tin cup—by that time filled with latex—into the large bucket which invariably accompanied him on his daily round. Rubber-trees possess in a way at least one characteristic of cows. The more milk or latex one judiciously extracts from them, the more they give, up to a certain point. But, indeed, such a thing is known as exhausting a tree in a short time. A good seringueiro usually gives the trees a rest from the time they are in bloom until the fruit is mature. In some regions even a much longer respite is given to the trees—generally during the entire rainy season. In some localities, too, in order to let the latex flow more freely, a vertical incision is made above and meeting a horizontal one. At intervals oblique incisions are cut next to the vertical ones, but in Matto Grosso I never saw that complicated system of incisions adopted—only vertical incisions parallel to one another at a distance of 0.25 m. (9-7/8 in.) being made there, and in rows one above another. Some of the trees had actually hundreds of those cuts—many, of course, healed. Each cut only exudes latex for a comparatively short time, merely an hour or so.

During the first month after a tree is tapped, the supply of latex is generally plentiful; the second month it gives less; less still the third month. On an average twenty trees give about one litre of latex a day. Three litres of latex are necessary in order to obtain one litre of rubber. At the head-waters of the Arinos River 600 trees gave from 30 to 35 arobas (450 to 525 kils.) of fine rubber in the first month, and about 20 arobas (300 kils.) of sarnambe (second quality with impurities). One aroba is 15 kils.

The latex of the seringueira in the Arinos region was of a beautiful white, quite liquid, and with a pungent, almost sickening, odour. When a new tree was tapped, the lower towards the ground the incisions were made the better. If after considerable tapping the tree did not yield much, it was advisable to incise the tree higher up. In that region the trees exuded latex more abundantly when they began to have new leaves in October. Late in the dry season the latex flowed less freely. When the weather was windy all the latex seemed to contract to the summit of the trees and hardly flowed at all from the incisions. When it rained, on the contrary, it flowed freely, but was spoilt by being mixed with water; so that a good seringueiro must know well not only where and how, but also when to tap the trees, in order to get good results.

Several ways were employed in order to coagulate the latex. The simplest was the one used in Matto Grosso. The latex was poured into a rectangular wooden mould, 0.61 m. long (2 ft.), 0.46 m. wide (11/2 ft.), and 0.15 m. deep (about 6 in.). Upon the latex was placed a solution of alum and warm water. Then coagulation took place. In order to compress the coagulating latex into solid cakes, a primitive lever arrangement was used—merely a heavy wooden bar, one end of which was inserted into the cavity of a tree, above the wooden mould, while at the other end of the bar heavy logs of wood were suspended. One night was sufficient for the latex to coagulate thoroughly and be properly compressed into cakes, weighing each about 221/2 kils. The cakes were lifted out by belts of liane which had been previously laid into the moulds.

The discoverer of the method of coagulating rubber with alum was Henry S. Strauss. He also found that by keeping the latex in hermetically sealed vessels it could be preserved in a liquid state. The same result could be obtained with ammonia.

In the Amazon and Para Provinces a different process was used. The latex was coagulated by placing it near the fire. The heat evaporated the aqueous part and coagulated the vegetable albumen. In order to make what was called a garrafa, or large ball of rubber—some weighed 20, 30, 40 kils. and more—a small ball of latex was made to coagulate round a horizontal bar of wood. That ball was gradually increased in circumference by smearing it over with more latex, which became gradually coagulated and dried by the heat and smoke produced by the burning of certain woods, and of the oily seeds of the urucuri palm, technically known as the Attalea excelsa. In this process the rubber did not remain white, as with the alum process; in fact, it became dark brown, almost black, owing, of course, to the smoke. Locally, the smoking process was said to be the better of the two, for the coagulation with alum took away somewhat from the elasticity of the rubber.

Interesting was the sorveira (Collophora utilis), a tree which gave latex that was quite delicious to drink, but could not be coagulated. The trees, to any untrained person, closely resembled the seringueira, only the leaves were more minute and differently shaped. It must be remembered that nearly all the trees of the Brazilian forest had leaves only at a very great height above the ground, and it was not always easy to see their shape, especially when close to other trees where the foliage got interwoven into an almost solid mass. We frequently enjoyed the sweet milk of the sorveira—it tasted slightly of fresh walnuts with sugar on them. It was unsafe to drink too much of it, as it had injurious effects upon one's digestive organs.

There was there also the leiteiro (or producer of milk), a smaller tree, and the liana macaco, which both produced abundant milk, but in neither case had a way, so far, been found to coagulate it.

The two days spent at Porto Velho were interesting. The four men who had remained with me behaved fairly well, principally owing to the prospect, that, in drifting down stream, they would not have to work, and would be saved the heavy trouble of grooming, packing and unpacking the animals, and the tedious job every morning of riding miles through the country in order to recover those that had strayed away during the night.

"Thank heaven!" exclaimed Antonio, as he gazed at the canoe, "we shall not have to hunt for her every morning!"

"Yes," answered Filippe, "no more pack-saddles to fix, no more leading the animals to drink. She"—pointing to the canoe—"can drink all the time if she likes...."

Filippe was a prophet. The canoe did "drink" all the time, much to our concern. Little did my men suspect before we started that they would have the hardest time of their lives—so hard, indeed, that it was amazing humans could endure it at all.

One of the three seringueiros at Porto Velho interested me greatly. He was a tall, gentlemanly, refined person, who seldom uttered a word. I noticed that he avoided meeting me, and, although extremely civil, seemed afraid to enter into conversation. The little shed he had built himself (7 ft. by 4 ft., and 7 ft. high) was extraordinarily neat, and open on all sides—quite unlike the sheds Brazilian rubber collectors build themselves.

From my tent I watched him. The man got up before sunrise every day, going at once to the river for a swim. Humming some sort of a song, he would then go through a series of gymnastic exercises, interrupted by sonorous slaps upon different parts of his anatomy to kill impertinent mosquitoes, of which there were swarms on the Arinos River. That done, he would assume a suit of working-clothes, and, returning to his shed, would pick up his tools and noiselessly depart, so as not to disturb our sleep! At sunset, when he returned, he immediately proceeded to the river to have another swim and to get rid of the many insects which always collected upon one's person in going through the forest. Then he put on a clean suit of clothes, and, saluting us from a distance, went to his shed to rest.

I was certain the man was not a Brazilian, but as curiosity is not one of my chief characteristics I took no special notice of him. This brought him round to my tent one evening. The man was a German by birth, of a good family and excellent education. He could speak German, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese to perfection, and was well versed in the literature of those languages. He had evidently drifted about for many years in many parts of South America in search of a fortune, in the Argentine, in Uruguay, and had ended by becoming a slave in Brazil. Yes, the poor old man was a voluntary slave. He had borrowed from his employer and was unable to repay. He was therefore a slave in the true sense of the word, as his employer could, according to local custom, sell him to any one he chose.

I was terribly upset to see a European in such a position, and, what was worse, I was not in a position to help. Nor indeed was help asked for or wanted. The old fellow bore the burden bravely, and said he had never been happier in his life. Supposing he were made to return to his own country—from which he had been absent so many years—he philosophically argued, what could he be, with no money and no friends, but a most unhappy man? All his relatives and friends must have died; the habits he had acquired in the wilds were not suitable for European cities; he was too old to change them. The German was an extraordinarily fine type of a man, honest, straightforward, brave. He spoke in the kindest and fairest way of his master. He had sold himself because of necessity. It was now a matter of honour, and he would remain a slave until it was possible to repay the purchase money—some four hundred pounds sterling, if I remember rightly—which he never expected to be able to repay at all.

The German told me some interesting things about the immediate neighbourhood of the camp. The Indians of the Cayapo tribe, who lived close by, did not interfere with the seringueiros. He had been there several years in succession, and he had never seen an Indian. The seringueiros only went to collect rubber during some three or four months each year, after which time they returned to the distant towns south as far as Cuyaba and Corumba. At the beginning of the rainy season, when the time came for them to retire, the Indians generally began to remind the seringueiros that it was time to go, by placing obstacles on the estrada, by removing cups or even the collars from the rubber trees. But so far in that region, although footmarks of Indians and other signs of them had been noticed, not one individual had been actually seen. Their voices were frequently heard in the distance singing war songs.

"Hark!" said the German to me, "do you hear them?"

I listened attentively. Far, far down the river a faint chorus of voices could just be heard—intermittent sounds of "hua ... hua ... hua ... hua." In the stillness of the night the sound could be distinguished clearly. It went on until sunrise, when it gradually died out.

There was a big lagoon to the west of Porto Velho, formed by the river at high water. The lagoon dried up during the dry season. It was separated from the river only by a narrow tongue of land, 80 ft. high.

I took careful and repeated observations for latitude, longitude, and altitude, the latter by a boiling-point thermometer, from our point of departure at the headwaters of the Arinos River. The elevation of the river was there 1,200 ft. by aneroid, 1,271 ft. by the hypsometrical apparatus. The latitude was 14 deg. 2'.2 South; the longitude 56 deg. 17' West of Greenwich.

We were having beautiful, clear skies. Only on July 4th at sunset a solitary streak of mist extended to the summit of the sky.

I had two plans in my mind when I decided to descend the Arinos River. One was to abandon that river at the point where it met the Juruena River and strike across country westward until the Madeira-Mamore Railway was met. The other plan—even more difficult—was to continue down the river as far as its junction with the Tres Barras, from which place I would strike across the virgin forest as far as the Madeira River. I had not the faintest idea how I could realize either plan with the ridiculously meagre resources at my disposal. I had money enough, but unfortunately that was one of the few spots on earth where money was of little use. Again I trusted in Providence to come to our help. Both plans involved thousands of kilometres of navigation of a diabolical river, in an almost uncontrollable canoe, with an insufficient and absolutely incapable crew. Then would come the crossing of the virgin forest on foot, for some hundreds of kilometres—nobody knew how many. The least number of men necessary in order to be able to carry provisions sufficient to execute either plan was thirty. I only had four. Yet I started. The second plan was successfully carried out, but necessarily at the cost almost of all our lives, and with sufferings unimaginable.


Hoisting the British Flag—An Escaped Slave—A Dilemma—Benedicto—The Lutra Brasiliensis—The Seringueiros—A Marvellous River—Rapids

ON July 6th we packed the canoe with our baggage and dogs. The British flag was hoisted at the stern of the canoe, and with tender embraces from the seringueiros, whose eyes were wet with tears—they imagined that we were going to certain death—we pulled out of Porto Velho at seven minutes to eleven o'clock a.m.

"We will pray with all our hearts that you may reach the end of your journey safely!... Beware of the rapids; they are terrible.... Be careful because the canoe does not steer true.... Do not let the canoe knock too hard against rocks, or she may split in two!... Good-bye!... good-bye!"

With those encouraging remarks from the seringueiros, who were sobbing bitterly, we drifted with the current, Antonio and Filippe the negro paddling in the style generally adopted for scooping soup with a spoon out of a dish.

I had provided the canoe with a number of improvised paddles we had cut ourselves. There were no two of equal size, shape, or weight. We had chopped them with an axe from sections of a tree. They were originally all intended to be the same, but what we intended to have and what we got were two different matters, as the five of us each worked on a separate paddle.

The seringueiros stood on the high bank, waving their arms in the air. One of them blew plaintive sounds on one of the horns used by them for calling their companions while in the forest. Those horns could be heard enormous distances. Filippe the white man, who was not paddling, fired back a salute of ten shots. There was nothing my men loved more than to waste ammunition. Fortunately we had plenty.

The average width of the river was there from 80 to 100 metres, with a fairly swift current. It was lucky that ours was the only boat on that river, for indeed we needed all that breadth of water in our snake-like navigation. I remonstrated with Alcides, who was at the helm, and advised him to keep the nose of the canoe straight ahead, as we were coming to a corrideira or small rapid.

Alcides, who could never be told anything, became enraged at my words of warning, and also at the derision of the other men, as we were drifting side on and he could not straighten her course. Just as we were entering the rapid, in his fury Alcides, in disgust, let go the steering-gear, which he said was useless. We were seized by the current and swung round with some violence, dashing along, scraping the bottom of the canoe on rocks, and bumping now on one side, now on the other, until eventually we were dashed violently over a lot of submerged trees, where the bank had been eroded by the current and there had been a landslide. The canoe nearly capsized, the three dogs and some top baggage being thrown out into the water by the impact. We got stuck so hard among the branches of the trees that we all had to remove our lower garments and get into the water trying to get the canoe off.

My men used pretty language. That small accident was lucky for us. The shouts of my men attracted to the bank a passing man. Half-scared, a wild figure of a mulatto with long, unkempt hair and beard, his body covered by what must have once been a suit of clothes, stood gazing at us, clutching a double-barrelled gun in his hands.

"Is there a revolution in Matto Grosso?" he inquired when I caught sight of him. "Why do you fly the red flag?"

"That is not the flag of revolution, that is the flag of peace. It is the English flag."

"The English flag! The English flag!" he exclaimed, running down the slope of the river bank. "You are English!... Oh, sir, take me with you! I entreat you take me with you! I am an escaped slave.... I owe my master much money.... I can never repay it.... I am a seringueiro. My estrada is some miles down the river. I have been there alone suffering for months. I had no more food, nothing. There is very little fish in the river. The life is too terrible. I can stand it no more. If you do not take me with you I shall kill myself."

I tried to persuade the strange figure to return to his master—the master lived in comfort in the city of Cuyaba. "If you chose to borrow money and sell yourself, it was only right that you should repay your debt." That was the only way I could look at it. But the man would not hear of it. If I did not take him he would kill himself—there, before me, he repeated; that was all.

So difficult a dilemma to solve—at so inconvenient a moment, when we were as busy as busy could be, trying to disentangle the canoe—was rather tiresome. The strange man, having laid his gun upon the ground, helped us with all his might in our work. When the canoe got off, the strange man, gun and all, jumped clumsily into her and nearly capsized her a second time. He implored me with tears in his eyes to take him along. He would work day and night; he would present me with his double-barrelled gun (an old muzzle-loader); he did not want pay—he only wanted to get freed from his master, who, he said, robbed and ill-treated him.

"Do you swear upon all that is most sacred that you have made up your mind not to go back to your master?"

"Yes. If you say 'No' to me, I shall kill myself now."

Benedicto—that was his name—spoke with quiet determination.

"Very good, Benedicto. You can remain. What is more, you shall receive from this moment the same pay as the other men. You can keep your old gun, too."

Benedicto embraced and kissed my hands, then my feet. The poor man's joy was so great that it was really worth living to see that such moments of happiness could be procured in a man's lifetime.

Benedicto was a free man again, and for the first time in his life was earning genuine money! He was handed a paddle, and he paddled away for all he was worth, splashing with water those in front and behind him. He was in a state of great excitement, tears flowing freely down his cheeks and beard, and dripping on to his knees as he sat in the bottom of the canoe. He sobbed to his heart's content, and kept on splashing us all over with his paddle. We were all so touched by that pathetic scene that we preferred getting wet to remonstrating.

Fortunately the river was placid enough under the corrideira. When things had quieted down a little, I taught Benedicto and the others how to paddle properly, and Alcides how to steer straight. I had then five men. That improved matters greatly, as four could paddle while the fifth was steering.

The Arinos River flowed from Porto Velho in a south-westerly, then in a due westerly direction, then north, then again west, from which last point it doubled, as it were, and proceeded east and south-east, returning to within quite a short distance of our original point of departure. We sounded our horn, and immediately heard in reply the horn of the seringueiros at Porto Velho. Judging by the sound, the distance could not have been more than a few hundred metres, although we had travelled some six thousand metres down stream.

For the first time I noticed swallows flying swiftly over the river, close to the water. Another easy corrideira was encountered. When we had been out several hours my men were already beginning to get into the right way of paddling, and Alcides was commencing to understand the capricious mysteries of the steering-gear.

On account of my men's inexperience—and due credit being given to the current—we went at the rate of 13 kils. an hour. Innumerable were the rubber trees all along the banks. Occasionally small sand beaches were met with. Here and there a fallen giant tree obstructed part of the river. Families of ariranhas (Lutra brasiliensis) played in the water. The pretty little animals—not unlike otters—raised their heads above water, and, hissing loudly, frequently came to attack the canoe. They were extraordinarily brave. They were greatly attracted by the vivid red of the British flag, which in their imagination suggested blood. They became wildly excited when I waved the flag at them, and when I placed it near the water they would charge the canoe—so much so that two or three times my men were able to kill them by striking them on the head with the heavy wooden paddles.

The river was at its lowest when I descended it, which made it all the more difficult for us, as we were treated to innumerable small rapids which would otherwise have been entirely covered over with water. A great island (80 m. long) of pebbles and beautiful crystals was passed in the centre of the stream, which there formed two channels; one entirely blocked by fallen trees and accumulated rolling material, the other, 40 m. wide, very deep and swift.

The banks of the river were about 20 ft. high, generally of red earth, with a stratum of white sand above. The vegetation was luxuriant and extraordinarily tidy along the summit of the banks. The water was quite crystal-like, it was so clear. All the time our nostrils were fully expanded to inhale the delicious scent of the forest, which closely resembled that of jessamine. Masses of violet-coloured convolvuli were festooned from the trees. That was a great treat for me, after the months I had gone through when my entire days were spent eating up dust raised in clouds by the troop of animals marching in front of me.

When you came to survey a river it was really amazing what zigzags water could make in cutting its way through a country. From north-west the Arinos veered south-west, and from south-west to north-east.

By one o'clock we were in a spacious basin, 200 m. in diameter, close to which a small tributary, 2 m. wide, entered the Arinos on the left bank. Farther down on the right bank were neat beaches of white and red sand. We stopped for a few moments at a seringueiro's shed. The poor fellow—a negro—was in a pitiable condition from malarial fever.

Those martyrs of labour were much to be pitied, and also admired. There, hundreds of miles away from everybody, they stayed, abandoned in the forest until the agents of their masters who had dropped them there found it convenient to come and fetch them back again. If they came back at all and never failed, it was not, you can be sure, for the interest they took in human life, but because of the quantity of valuable rubber which they expected would be collected before their return. Those poor creatures had no possible way of escape, except under extraordinary circumstances. They were conveyed to their stations overland by means of pack animals, which at once were sent back and did not return until the end of the collecting season. Even then, if the seringueiro wanted to get away, he was frequently compelled to purchase an animal from his employer at three or four times its actual value—that is to say, perhaps sixty or eighty pounds sterling. So that the more a man worked or earned the more he became indebted to his master.

Like all men who have lived a great deal in exile and solitude, the seringueiros—nearly all blacks or mulattos—were extraordinarily generous. They always wanted to give you all they possessed—which was next to nothing, but meant a fortune to them. They would deprive themselves of anything if they thought they could give the slightest pleasure.

We left the seringueiro. I feared the poor man could not live long in his broken-down condition. He was most grateful for some medicine and provisions I left with him. His farewell to us was in so melancholy a voice, as he tried to lift himself out of an improvised bamboo couch, that for days it rang in my ears, and before my eyes constantly remained his skeleton-like, sunken features as he waved his farewell and fell back exhausted.

Behind a narrow barrier of sand, about 10 ft. high, as we proceeded down stream in a north-westerly direction, was a large lagoon.

The river was really too beautiful for words, the clear green water reflecting with precision in deeper tones the view before us. Only when its course was disturbed and diverted by a sharp rock or by the branches of a fallen and dying tree, the successive angular ridges of the troubled water shone like polished silver in parallel lines from the reflected light of the sun, just like a huge luminous skeleton of a fish.

The trees were truly wonderful along the river—tall and healthy, with dense deep green foliage. But Nature seemed absolutely asleep. Barring the few swallows we had seen soon after our departure, and the ariranhas, we went the whole day without hearing the song of a bird, or the howling of a wild animal. We did hear a noise resembling the bark of a dog—so much did it resemble it that my dogs barked back. But it came not from a dog at all. The peculiar noise was made by a large bird.

After passing a handsome beach of white sand on our left, the river described sharp angles, west, north-west, north-east, then north. There were rapids, fairly strong, although not dangerous in any way. The river was forced through a channel 50 m. wide, in which the current was very strong. To make things worse, a giant tree had fallen and obstructed much of the passage, compelling us to negotiate the rapid in its worst part. A large bay, 180 m. in diameter, opened out below that point. Farther came a perfectly straight stretch of water for 3,000 m. Halfway down that stretch, to the right, we passed the mouth of the Agua Clara, a charming rivulet of crystalline water, 10 m. wide. A conglomerate stratum of alluvial formation, composed of well-rounded pebbles held together by red earth, and crumbling easily under pressure of the fingers, showed through in many places. The beaches of handsome, fine white sand were most interesting.

The forest was getting thin on both sides. In fact, late in the afternoon we had open country on the left bank—only a few trees being visible near the water's edge, and an occasional giant jatoba (Hymencoea Courbaril L.), the latter chiefly on the right bank. The right bank was sparsely wooded, and at one time we had open campos on both sides of us.

A streamlet 3 m. wide entered the Arinos on the left. We got to one point where the river proved treacherous, although apparently almost tranquil on the surface. The Brazilians have an excellent name for such places—rebojo, or a curve formed by sudden deviation of a current. If we had not been careful in going across such places, it would have been easy for the canoe to have been turned over and sucked under.

Patches of thick forest were met on either bank, and in those patches numerous indeed were the rubber trees. In the afternoon we saw chiefly campos and chapada, or thin scrub.

Considering all, we did well—chiefly owing to the strong current—on our first day of navigation. We had gone some 70 kils. when we halted at sunset, at the junction of the very deep streamlet Quarustera with the Arinos. The elevation of our camp, 60 ft. above the river, was 1,200 ft.

The nights were cool enough—minimum 55 deg. Fahr. on the night of June 6th—7th. There was a thick haze over the river in the morning, and as we did not know what we might be coming upon suddenly we did not make a start until 7.15. After crossing a large and shallow bay the stream was forced into a channel 50 m. wide. There was open country—campos—on the right bank. A curious isolated volcanic boulder split in two was then observed in the stream, while the banks were of alluvially deposited conglomerate. From that spot luxuriant forest was on the right bank once more, while open country was on the left. Upon examination I found that the thick forest was merely a band or zone near the water—behind was open country.

Farther, the river went through a neck 40 m. wide where the current was very swift. The banks almost all along were from 10 to 20 ft. high. Slender tucuma or tucuman palms were to be seen, which had stems only 3 to 4 in. in diameter, but were 30 to 40 ft. high, and had a ball-like tuft of leaves at the top. We then came upon open country (chapada) on both sides, and went over small corrideiras, which we got to like, as we travelled along on them at a greater speed than in the still waters, with a minimum of exertion. The river seemed to be getting narrower all the time that day, and, of course, deeper. In many spots it went through a channel not more than 30 m. wide.

We heard—but not for long—the cackling of the jacu (Penelope cristata), a handsome gallinaceous bird. The jacu made most delicious eating. Then that day flocks of small green parrots flew over our heads on several occasions.

Ariranhas gave us once more a good deal of amusement and sport. It was seldom one found such cheeky and inquisitive animals. They would pop their heads out of the water quite close to the canoe and sniff and grind their teeth at us. They had beautiful little heads—something between a cat and a seal—with lovely, but wicked, black eyes of wonderful luminosity. They had a perfect craving for blood. The Brazilians have strange tales about them—not exactly fit for publication.

The sand beaches were not so frequent as we advanced on our journey. We noticed instead extensive beaches of gravel. Another tributary stream, 10 m. wide at its mouth, entered the Arinos from the east. There was heavy forest there with plenty of rubber-trees on the right bank, whereas the country was open on the left bank.

Farther down, the banks became low, so that the slightest rise in the river would inundate the country. The forest was particularly thick, and the rubber trees plentiful, along a stretch of 4,300 m. of river in a perfectly straight line.

The river was getting more and more beautiful at every turn. We emerged into a bay 300 m. in diameter. Great blocks of conglomerate were strewn about. A great spur projected to the centre of the bay. The richness in rubber of that region was amazing. Wonderful giant trees, heavily laden with dark green foliage, were reflected in deeper tones in the water of the river—there almost stagnant because held up by some obstacle lower down. Innumerable festoons of creepers hung down from those trees. The stream was there 80 m. wide, and beautiful that day in great stretches of 4,300 m., 1,400 m., 1,000 m., 3,000 m., 1,500 m., and 1,200 m.—in a perfectly straight line. The forest was occasionally interrupted on one side or the other by great expanses of chapada.

Immense bacabeira palms, 40 to 50 ft. high, were numerous, most graceful to look at, with their ten or eleven huge compound leaves placed like an open fan. Yellow filaments of some length hung in a cluster where the petiole of the leaves met.

We arrived at a pedreria—an accumulation of rocks—extending almost right across the stream, and which was the cause of the placidity of the waters above it. There were two channels—one to bearings magnetic 330 deg., the other to 360 deg.—on either side of a central island. We followed the first and larger channel. The island, which had a most luxuriant growth of trees upon it, was subdivided into two by a channel 10 m. wide at its south-eastern end.

For purposes of identification I named all the islands we saw. The larger of these two I called Esmeralda Island. In order to establish its exact position I landed and took observations for latitude and longitude. Lat. 13 deg. 15'.6 S.; long. 56 deg. 46' W.

We were then at an elevation of 1,150 ft. The temperature in the shade was 77 deg. Fahr. and 98 deg. in the sun. Six-tenths of the sky was covered with thick globular clouds, which made the air heavy, although the temperature was not excessively high. It must be remembered that we in the canoe were in the sun all the time and suffered a good deal in the morning and afternoon, when the sun was not high, by the refraction of the sun's rays from the water. The refracted light was so powerful that it interfered a good deal with the navigation. The river looked like a molten surface of boiling silver, which absolutely blinded us at times, and made it impossible to see what was ahead in the water.

Esmeralda Island was formerly joined at its most south-westerly point to the western bank of the river. From that point the river described an arc of a circle as far as bearings magnetic 20 deg. (N.N.E.). We negotiated successfully two small rapids with large volcanic rocks just under the surface of the water. We just escaped going over one of them, which would have certainly capsized the canoe. As it was we merely scraped the side of the canoe against it.

The left bank, which had crumbled down, showed strata of conglomerate and yellow sand, with upper alluvial deposits of a light grey colour.

We were travelling due north in a straight line of 1,800 m. when we came upon the entrance of a lakelet on the west side of an islet. A huge fish—some 5 ft. in length—unaccustomed to the unusual sight of human beings, played about under our canoe for some time, much to the excitement of my men. Birds of superb metallic blue, vivid yellow, and iridescent plumage played about among the trees. On the left bank farther down was a great growth of high bamboos, then again forest with plenty of vigorous rubber trees.

Again small and fairly swift rapids were encountered in a turn of the river from bearings magnetic 70 deg. to 250 deg.. A tributary stream which came from the south entered the Arinos on its left bank. Then we came to another island forming two channels—one (N.W.) 20 m. wide, with some rough-looking rapids; the other channel (N.), larger and shallower, divided in its turn in two by a mound of yellow gravel.

Alcides, who steered, had an idea that in going down rapids you should always send the canoe over places where the water broke and foamed, which meant rocks underneath, and not keep her in the centre of the channel where the water was deeper. This idea was, I think, suggested by his inability to swim, and the hope that if we got wrecked he could touch bottom with his feet, so that his life might be in comparative safety. I tried to argue the point with him, but it was no use. It invariably led to such unpleasantness that once more I decided to trust in Providence, as long as we went forward.

I had just shouted to Alcides to keep in the centre of the channel. Of course he disobeyed. We were caught in the strong current. One moment later there was a violent bump which knocked us all off our seats and sent us sprawling in the bottom of the canoe. We had stuck fast between two rocks. The canoe, being of such great length, vibrated to and fro with the current forcing it at the side. Laden as she was with baggage, in a few moments she became filled with water, and it was only after working hard for the best part of an hour that we were able to extricate ourselves from our position. We had hardly finished baling the water out on resuming our course than, 1,500 m. farther, we came to more rapids, then 700 m. beyond yet other rapids.

The forest was fairly thick all along on both banks, with innumerable healthy rubber trees. Although the forest seemed impenetrable at first sight, I always found that it was easy enough to go through it if one knew how. Quite close to the water naturally the vegetation was somewhat entangled. In many places were extensive patches of bamboos of considerable height; but there is a way of disentangling the most confused growth, if you happen to understand how those plants and liane grow and get twisted. Any one with a keen sense of observation should experience no difficulty whatever in going through the densest forest anywhere in the world—even without using a knife—although, of course, the latter is useful when you wish to keep up a certain speed in your marching.

Eleven kilometres and a half from the last rapids—having travelled north-west, south-west, east, and even due south, so winding was the course of the river—we came to a tributary stream 10 m. wide, on the left side of the Arinos. Eight kilometres farther we passed the inlet—then dry—of a small lagoon fed by the stream. The river banks, where eroded by the water, showed a lower layer of reddish-brown rock with a bright red ferruginous stratum above it. The top layer, 10 ft. thick, seemed formed of lime and alluvial deposits.

We emerged into a large basin 200 m. across, with a charming little island in the centre forming two channels with fairly strong rapids. We followed the channel on the right. At that point the river folded over itself into a great elbow. A cliff, 120 ft. high, towered on one side in brilliant red and yellow. The lower half of the strata was perfectly horizontal; the upper half at an angle of 45 deg. to the lower. The vivid colouring was intensified by contrast with a beautiful beach of immaculate white sand on the left side of the great elbow.

I observed a wonderful double lunar halo on the night of July 7-8, the outer circle in successive tints of most delicate yellow, orange, pale blue and white—the yellow being nearest the centre.


Dangerous Navigation—Eddies—Whirlpools—An Extraordinary Creature—The Man X.—Pedro de Toledo Island—An Interesting Rodent

WE were rather proud of ourselves, as we had gone 69 kils. on July 7th, paddling away—barring the interval for lunch—from 7.15 in the morning until 7.30 at night.

The night was fairly cold—minimum 57 deg. Fahr.; the elevation 1,100 ft. Where I made camp at the elbow of the stream (on the left bank) there were innumerable rubber trees. A similar wealth of Siphonia elastica appeared to be on the opposite bank, where the forest was luxuriant.

On July 8th we began our journey by going down rapids. Then after some 15,300 m. of fairly smooth navigation we crossed a basin 130 m. wide, where we encountered strong eddies—most unpleasant, as they swerved the canoe about in a way that was alarming. Lower down a swift corrideira and more eddies gave us some trouble.

A beautiful ariranha peeped out of the water close to the canoe, spitting angrily at us. It was attracted by the blood-red of the English flag, which it evidently wanted to bite. My men fired and wounded it; but so vicious were those little otters, and so great their craving for blood, that it still came on to within a foot or two of the canoe, when my men killed it.

The river was there compressed into a deep channel, 85 m. wide, with a strong current, after which it split into two arms—one north-west, 25 m. wide; the other north-east, 30 m. broad. The island thus formed between the two arms was 2,500 m. long. We called it Ariranha Island.

A streamlet 3 m. wide entered the Arinos on the right bank. Where the banks were free from vegetation an undulating stratum of red earth was exposed, directly above which was a stratum from 1 to 2 ft. thick of a brilliant yellow colour. Above that rested the usual grey alluvial deposits from 6 to 8 ft. thick.

From a direction due west the stream suddenly turned north, between high banks. A strong corrideira was found before the stream divided itself into three arms—two of those arms flowing north-east, the other north-west. We followed the latter—a channel 20 m. wide, with a high bank of gravel on its left side. Where those arms met again—some 500 m. farther—a basin 200 m. in diameter was formed. A hill 150 ft. high, covered with dense vegetation, faced us to the north. It was quite an unusual sight in such flat country. The stream took a sharp turn at that spot—it positively doubled. Strong eddies were encountered. The greatest care should have been taken in going over places of that kind, but "care" was a word I had absolutely scratched out of my vocabulary as useless in my journey across Brazil. How and why we ever got across those places with the crew I had on board, would indeed be beyond me to explain—unless, as on preceding occasions, it was due to the unceasing protection of a guardian angel.

After crossing a circular basin 200 m. in diameter, the river became suddenly squeezed into a channel 30 m. wide, much strewn with rocks. A somewhat troublesome rapid had to be negotiated there, rendered more difficult by the recent fall, across the best part of the stream, of a giant tree. The branches which stuck out of the water formed a regular barrier and waved to and fro with the violent pressure of the water. Before we could realize where we were, Alcides steered us straight into the branches and foliage of the fallen tree. As we were travelling at an accelerated speed with the strong current, all our hats were scraped off our heads, and, what was worse, our scalps, faces, and arms had patches of skin torn off as we crashed among the branches. It took us some time before we were able to disentangle ourselves, resume navigation, and recover as we went along the various headgear floating independently down the stream.

Another little tributary, 2 m. wide, entered the Arinos on the left side. No sooner had we freed ourselves from the rapids than we were in a circle 80 m. across, with nasty-looking eddies, which swung the undermanned canoe now to one side, then violently to the other, in a dangerous way. We could not have struck a worse time for navigating the river. It was then the end of the dry season and the water at its lowest, so that every possible obstacle that could be found in that river stood to impede our progress. This would not have been the case at high water when navigation in that portion of the stream would have been comparatively smooth and easy. We were thanking our stars that we had passed the vicious eddies safely, when we were confronted by more rapids, with treacherous submerged rocks. Yet another basin, 150 m. wide, was crossed, with large blocks of black rock showing through on the left bank. More rapids were met—quite easy to negotiate. The sky was half covered with feathery radiations from the south.

To the north another hill, 120 ft. high, eroded by water, stood on the left bank of the stream, where red volcanic rock was also visible in a stratum 15 ft. thick, covered by a thick layer of yellow earth. Strong rapids came next. We had had so much luck in the descent of the rapids—which, bad as they were, really were so far quite unimportant as compared to what we were to find later—that my men began to be quite adventurous. Saving trifling mishaps, we were getting on well. The tributaries of the Arinos we had seen so far that day were small streamlets 1 m. wide on the right; another, 2 m. wide—a limpid stream—coming from the south-west on the left. Several springs of clear water filtered through the left bank. In the centre of the river was an extensive bank of gravel held up by blocks of volcanic rock.

In a basin 150 m. wide rose a pretty island. Rapids were found in the channels, of which the western was wider and more free from obstacles. For one entire kilometre there were strong eddies and rapids in succession; then came 3,500 m. of fairly easy travelling. The river for 23,500 m. had been flowing almost in a straight line due north, with slight variations of a few degrees to the north-east and once to the north-west. Plenty of tucum or tucuma palms adorned the right bank; whereas on the left bank was fairly open country.

Again, after some more rapids, the river was squeezed into a neck only 25 m. wide, gradually widening to some 150 m., where whirlpools and eddies of considerable magnitude were formed. On several occasions the canoe was caught in them and swerved right round, describing one or more circles upon herself. Two islets were passed, then a tributary 10 m. wide coming from the east on the right side of us.

A great number of submerged rocks close to the surface formed a ridge 200 m. in length all along the centre of the stream. In a wonderful stretch 4,000 m. long in a perfectly straight line north, the river was from 50 to 100 m. wide. A small tributary rivulet entered it on the west. At the end of that long stretch a wall, 100 ft. high, of brilliantly yellow rock in its lower part, with 15 ft. of vivid red rock above, diverted the stream almost at a right angle toward the west. Rapids and eddies were encountered after passing an obstruction of accumulated gravel in the centre of the river, there 50 m. wide.

Giant trees, not unlike weeping willows, bent over the river, their streamers touching the water. A rocky barrier extended as far as the centre of the stream, leaving only one safe passage on the left side close to the bank. The stream was at that point 100 m. broad, and of great beauty, in a straight line north for 7,400 m.

My men were beginning to paddle a little better, and we were travelling at a considerable speed with the current. We had glorious weather, and although the heat was great our travelling was perfectly delightful. In the daytime we were not worried much by insects. The canoe now and then stuck fast in shallow places or upon rocks, but we all jumped gaily into the water and pushed her along until she floated again. Those baths in the deliciously clear water were quite refreshing. We generally jumped in clothes and all, and left it to the sun to dry the garments upon our backs and legs. I usually wore pyjamas while travelling in the canoe, as they were more comfortable than other clothes and dried quicker when we came out of the water again.

Many sharp successive turns were met next in the course of the river, which then showed stunted vegetation on the right bank and thick forest on the left. A high natural wall, 100 ft. high, of bright cadmium yellow for 30 ft. in its lower part, of vivid red for 50 ft. above that, and darker red above, barred our way in front (north). On its summit were peculiar white-barked slender trees—so white that they looked almost as if they had been painted, but of course they had not. The entire centre of the river, forming there an extensive basin, was blocked by a high bank of gravel, leaving merely narrow channels close to the banks. The high wall deflected the stream from 290 deg. to bearings magnetic 30 deg.. A range of hills some 300 ft. high then appeared before us, extending from N.N.W. to S.S.E.

We went over a stony place which obstructed almost the entire river, except a narrow channel close to the banks. That was followed by rapids. Some 2 kil. 300 m. farther, a hill range to the north switched the stream sharply from north to north-west, which direction it kept with a mere deviation of 20 deg. for 6,500 m.

The stream was then 100 metres wide nearly all along, and of amazing beauty. Yet another stony place disturbed the placidity of the transparent crystal-like water. At the end of that wonderful stretch of river came another great vertical wall, on the left side—of most brilliant colouring, a stratum of vivid red 60 ft. deep with thin bright horizontal yellow streaks, and an upper stratum 18 ft. thick of a similar dazzling yellow. The northern portion of the cliff differed in colouring, and had a brown lower stratum 30 ft. thick, followed upwards by a yellow stratum 2 ft. thick, and a red stratum—a most brilliant vermilion—15 ft. thick. Above was a pink layer 15 ft. thick and a summit deposit of brown earth 45 ft. deep. There again the river was shifted by that obstacle from b.m. 290 deg. to due north. A charming island—which I baptized Bridget Island—700 m. long and 100 m. wide, absolutely smothered in vegetation, was found there. It had an extensive spur of yellow sand and gravel. The right bank was sparsely wooded with open country behind. Two channels were found, one flowing north-west, 40 m. wide, the other north-east, 30 m. broad. We followed the latter, where the rapids seemed less fearsome than in the broader channel.

At the end of Bridget Island another island, 500 m. long, was found, which we called Lucky Island. This second island was 200 m. down stream from the first, and was situated at the junction of the River dos Patos ("river of ducks") with the River Arinos on the right side of the latter stream.

We were amazed to see opposite the island on the right bank a fishing tackle and some clothes. As we had already gone 89 kil. 850 m. that day, having kept an average speed of 11 kil. 250 m. an hour, and the sun was about to set, we decided to halt on "Lucky Island" for the night. We were busy preparing our dinner when a strange figure appeared on the right bank, rifle in hand. His astonishment at seeing us was no greater than ours at seeing him.

"Who were we?" "Where did we come from?" "What did we want there?" "Where were we going?"

All those questions having been duly answered, I sent my canoe over to ferry the fellow across. He was one of the queerest men I have ever met. His eyes constantly roamed about like those of a wild feline animal. He never kept still a moment, springing up unexpectedly to his feet when he was sitting down, and squatting himself down when he had been standing up. All the time he was handling his rifle—a very handsome one—and with rapid movements watched intently now one then another of our party. He seemed in a state of great nervous strain and excitement. He appeared to be a first or second cross of Indians and negroes—quite young, some twenty-four years of age. He had very little clothing upon his person, which showed limbs of extraordinary muscular strength. Seldom is it given to one to see so cruel a face, seldom were criminal characteristics so clearly marked on any one's countenance and in the formation of the skull. A man with a face like that could be capable of any crime. His conversation supplied ample further testimony that his physiognomy had not deceived me. I had so far thought that my men were the coarsest, the most brutal individuals I had ever met, but they were not in it at all with the strange figure we had before us. The conversation of my men had seemed to me disgustingly vulgar, but it now appeared the acme of refinement when the new man opened his mouth to talk. Good gracious me! what extraordinary oaths—what perversion of ideas—what foaming hatred for the Creator, our Saviour, all the saints imaginable, and humanity in general! Evidently the poor man had a screw loose somewhere within his brain-case.

I gave him some tobacco, a quantity of which I carried for my men. Without a word of acknowledgment he seized it, and, with paper my men gave him, proceeded to make himself a cigarette.

"I am tired of this life," said he, as he rolled the tobacco. "I am a slave. I owe my master 1 conto 200 milreis (L80). He sold me this rifle, and some cartridges, and I cannot repay him. I am rotting away with fever. I am dying of starvation, I am going mad in this place.... I have no more food, and have been unable for three days to catch fish. Do not let me die here. Take me with you. I will give you my rifle, this ring"—a cheap ring which he proceeded to take from his finger—"I shall work hard and require no pay if you will save me from death."

I told him that he had better consider his position seriously before doing anything rash. We should not be leaving until the next morning.

The man, whom we shall call X, as I do not wish to divulge his real name, sat up the entire night talking to my men. His excitement was great—at least, judging by the loudness of his voice. During those long sleepless hours—with all of them shouting at the top of their voices it was impossible to sleep—I overheard the entire history of his life. What a life! I prayed my stars that X would change his mind and decide to stay where he was, for though I needed extra men badly I feared that his company would not be a welcome addition to our party, bad as it was. Like all men who have lived much in seclusion, he possessed marvellous vitality and magnetism. My men were simply hypnotised by the remarkable tales of his deeds, or rather misdeeds.

Long before we were ready to start, X went to seat himself in the canoe to make sure we should not leave him behind. When I asked him to reconsider once more what he was doing, which was not fair to his master, no matter how bad he may have been, X positively refused to remain there.

"If you do not want me to come," he said with determination, "you will have to fling me into the water and keep my head under until I am drowned."

That was rather a trying dilemma. Much as I disapprove of slavery, I did not like the idea of taking matters into my own hands and freeing other people's slaves; yet it was impossible to refuse assistance to a suffering man when he asked for it. In any case I had no wish to be responsible for his death.

"X," I said to him, "you have quite made up your mind to go with us?"


"Will you promise faithfully that you will work and give no trouble?"

"May my old father and mother be struck by lightning this moment if I shall give you trouble!" was his reply.

"Very good, X. You can keep your rifle and cartridges and your ring"—he had just deposited them at my feet—"they are your own property. I do not want them. You shall receive the same salary as the other men from this day as long as you do your work satisfactorily."

X jumped out of the canoe to embrace me. On his brutal face was for a moment an expression of gratitude ... he rested his head upon my shoulder and sobbed for many minutes.

With a crew of six men, things were a little better for us. Four could paddle while one steered, and the sixth stood on the prow with a long pole punting, or on the look-out for dangerous obstacles.

X paddled with such vigour that Alcides at the helm had the greatest difficulty in keeping the canoe straight. It had a good effect on the other men, who also paddled away with all their might, and we were speeding along with the strong current almost as fast as a steam launch.

The minimum temperature during the night (July 8th-9th) had been 57 deg. Fahr. The elevation above the sea level of Lucky Island was 1,100 ft.

The River dos Patos came from the S.S.E., then bent to the east where its sources were.

Lucky Island was 250 m. in length. The river had an average width of 80 m. As we went along my men sang gaily, particularly X, who seemed like a bird let out of its cage, so happy did he feel at being a free man again. His repertoire was not of the choicest kind, but what was lacking in quality was made up in quantity. For some hours we were treated to a vocal concert, X's solos sending my men into fits of merriment. His wit—of the crudest kind—was sometimes funny.

This great gaiety seemed most weird in that region where silence reigned supreme always. The voices seemed to travel immense distances, echoed from one side to the other of the river. Words were reproduced with great clearness by the echo two or three times over. Especially when we had forest on both sides of the stream was the echo particularly perfect.

Quantities of rubber trees—absolutely going to waste—were to be seen now on one side, then on the other, of the river where the banks were wooded.

Another most beautiful island, 800 m. long and 80 m. wide—Pedro de Toledo Island—was passed. It had a channel 10 m. wide in a north-westerly direction, another, which we followed, 50 m. broad, north-east. On emerging from this channel at the end of the island we were in a basin 140 m. in diameter. Some 3 kils. farther, another great basin was crossed—very shallow, only 2 ft. deep—with a gravel bottom. The current was swift. Then, 2 kils. beyond, yet another basin, 100 metres wide, 11/2 ft. deep, with strong eddies, was crossed. The river, which had so far kept more or less in a northerly direction, at that point actually swung round in two consecutive angles from 350 deg. north to due south, in which direction it flowed for 1,000 m. An immaculately white beach was on the right of us, on which we duly stranded. It was quite enough for Alcides to see an obstacle of any kind in the river for him to send the canoe right over it. I seized that opportunity to land and commence a most interesting collection of the innumerable minute sand plants which were to be found on those beaches.

Where the river turned north once more there stood a hill 100 ft. high, the lower half of which was of red volcanic rock, the upper half of yellow earth. Along the water's edge a thick and florid growth of bamboo could be seen in many places, while on the edge of the forest hung myriads of purple convolvuli. For hundreds of kilometres the Arinos was indeed one of the most ideally beautiful rivers I have ever seen. Its banks of alluvial formation, 25 to 30 ft. high, had chapada on their tops. Farther on the chapada gave way once more to dense forest with plentiful rubber trees. Another basin, 150 m. in diameter, was met with, after which we entered a channel from 40 to 50 m. wide, through which the stream was compressed.

A pretty little islet of gravel, 100 m. long, 20 m. wide, and rising 6 ft. above the water, had a tuft of trees growing on it, and a spur, also of gravel, extending westward for more than another 100 m. The river in that section flowed in a W.N.W. direction for 1,400 m.

We soon after came to a shallow basin (1 ft. deep) 100 m. wide, in which eddies were strong and troublesome. There were many pointed rocks scattered about in its bed of gravel, as well as three parallel rocky barriers right across the basin.

A rivulet 2 m. wide at the mouth entered the Arinos on the right side, while on the left side we had an island 800 m. long, leaving two channels, one 10 m. wide, the other 40 m. A tiny streamlet flowed into the main stream on the left. Banks, regular dunes of gravel, were formed where the river broadened into basins. We came to a basin 400 m. wide and extremely shallow. Three channels—W.N.W., N.W., and N.N.E.—were formed in the river by two islands, each 400 m. long—the Two Sisters Islands—which were in the centre. We found the N.N.E. channel the best. Where the river narrowed again to a width of 50 m. huge rocks stood in the centre. From that point for some 300 m. we went over a succession of gravel banks and nasty rocks forming barriers across the stream.

Small streamlets entered the Arinos, one on the left, the other on the right. A cluster of high rocks was on the right bank. On both sides were extensive white sand beaches. The river soon widened to 100 m. in a basin with an islet 12 ft. high, and a cluster of trees on its north-east side. Another island 6 ft. high, 80 m. long—Mosquito Island—with a spit of gravel to the south, was near it.

Rubber trees were most plentiful on the right bank where the forest was thick, whereas on the left bank was chapada. Huge gorgeous butterflies with black-striped brown wings and velvety bodies flew in great numbers around the canoe. Some settled on my hat, hands, and on the sleeves of my white shirt. They were so unaccustomed to see human beings that when touched they did not attempt to fly away.

The river was getting more and more wonderful every hour as we went along—in great straight lines of 3,500 m., 3,000 m., 2,200 m., 2,000 m., 4,000 m., in length.

Some ducks rose from the water only a few yards in front of the canoe. The man who was behind me fired with his carbine close to my head. The bullet grazed my right ear. It was a trifle trying to be travelling with such careless sportsmen, but the best thing was to say nothing and go on.

A big island—Passos Island—300 m. long, preceded by a smaller islet 80 m. long—Passos Junior I.—was subsequently passed, where the river formed a channel (N.W.) 50 m. wide and a minor one (W.) 30 m.

The river there changed from a westerly course to W.S.W. Once more we had before us a great wall of red rock which at first seemed to bar our way. In the lower section of the wall was a cave eroded by water and extending some way back. It was too low to be entered by the canoe. The lower stratum of the wall was at an angle—in other words, had a dip of 21 deg.—while the stratum above it, 30 ft. in thickness, intersected by a yellow band, was perfectly horizontal. On the left side of this high natural wall was a charming waterfall of limpid water. Farther on a great land-slip displayed for a length of 40 m. brilliant red earth over a stratum 60 ft. thick of white chalk. The river, which described a number of turns, was bordered on the left side by a hill range covered with handsome trees.

The ardour of my men for rowing had already passed away. They smoked and sang the whole time, and let the current—fortunately strong—carry us along. Whenever I remonstrated they scooped the water carelessly with their paddles for a few minutes. As is the case with individuals mentally deficient, everything seemed to distract them. One moment it was the flight of a jacutinga—a handsome black gallinaceous bird with a white crest. Another moment it was the jump of an inquisitive fish. Many mergulhao commun (Podiceps Americanus), wonderfully graceful, velvety black birds with long beaks, flew about unconcerned from tree to tree. Whenever anything moved about anywhere, the paddles were abandoned, the rifles were seized, and there was a regular fusillade. The men seldom hit anything, although on many occasions, with the unsteady canoe, we all of us had narrow escapes. One day the man in front of me fired a shot at a bird—but so close to my head, not more than one foot away, that the concussion blinded me for several seconds. On other occasions the rifles went off when they were not expected to. I had ceased to give orders of any kind about the careful use of the weapons. It was time and lung-power absolutely wasted, and only made things worse.

After floating down a beautiful stretch of 3,000 m., two more islands were reached within a great circle over 200 m. wide. A small tributary entered the Arinos on the right bank. Another island, 500 m. long, was seen farther down, at the end of which, where two channels met again, violent eddies were produced by the meeting of the two strong currents.

Immense quantities of Siphonia elastica were there to be seen on both sides of the stream in the forest, which was getting more and more luxuriant as we proceeded on our journey farther north. Many wild banana palms (bananeira do matto) were to be seen here and there along the lovely, deliciously clean river, with its extraordinarily tidy banks.

Another great basin, 300 m. in diameter, was met, with three islands and two gravel beaches in its centre. The two principal islands—Paolo and Francesca—were each 100 m. long and 50 m. wide.

We now made the acquaintance of the capivara (Hydrochoerus capibara), a rodent which we found common farther down in those waters. It was a stupid animal. When fired at several times by my men it remained perfectly still, gazing at its enemies. It was only when a bullet hit the ground too near that it would move away, surprised more than concerned.

After going down a corrideira (small rapid) we encountered thousands of white and lemon-yellow butterflies. On islets of red earth swarms of them were basking in the sun—which was getting hotter and hotter as we got farther north.

Again we were soon after faced by a high natural wall of brilliant yellow and red colouring. In its western part it showed a white stratum 3 ft. thick upon a layer of yellow lava of an equal thickness. A stratum of lighter yellow was nearest the surface of the water, while above was a thick layer of grey earth. On the right side, at this point, a tributary streamlet flowed into the Arinos. The basin formed by the crescent-shaped wall was perfectly circular. When the river emerged from it, it folded back from 40 deg. b.m. to 290 deg..

Owing to the steepness of the banks we experienced difficulty in finding a suitable camping place for the night. Eventually at sunset we had to clear with our big knives a patch in the dirty forest on the edge of the stream. I never liked to camp out of sight of the canoe in case anything happened during the night—an attack, a flood, a forest fire, or anybody trying to steal or get away with the canoe; the danger from my own men being quite as great as from any enemy I could have found. I well knew that if we lost that canoe we were done for entirely.

There was a great falling off in the distance covered that day owing to the laziness of my men. We had only gone 67 kil. 600 m.—or 22 kil. 250 m. less than the previous day, when we had travelled less hours and gone easily over a distance of 89 kil. 850 m.


Oleo Pardo Trees—Beautiful Palms—The River Bottom—Swarms of Butterflies—Millions of Bees—A Continuous Torture

THE night of July 10th was cool—minimum temperature 58 deg. F. When we departed at 7.10 in the morning the river was extremely tortuous at first—in one place actually veering from north to due south. On the right side of us was a lake divided by a low bank, 3 to 5 ft. high, from the river by which it was fed. The entrance into the lake was narrow. We had hardly gone 1 kil. when we found ourselves in a great basin 300 m. long, 200 m. wide, with one large island—Nellie Island—150 m. in length, and several other small islets in its centre.

Another lagoon was shortly after reached on the right bank, its inlet being 10 m. wide.

The waters of the Arinos were, at this point, of a leaden placidity. We seemed to travel slowly now that the current did not help us. The river was again compressed into a deep channel 50 m. wide. Before us loomed a cliff 100 ft. high, reflected with irreproachable faithfulness in the almost still waters of the stream. There was not a breath of wind to disturb the mirror-like surface, nor to cool our sweating brows in the stifling heat of the broiling sun. The lower 40 to 60 ft. of the cliff was red, the upper light yellow—almost white. Where we reached this rocky wall there was a circle 150 m. in diameter, with a low, thickly-wooded triangular island, 80 m. long, 100 m. wide—Eleonora Island.

The north-eastern passage was shallow, with a stony bottom. We followed the northern channel along the vertical wall. On leaving the island we came to a stretch 2,500 m. long of beautiful water flowing due north, with ideally fascinating banks embellished by dense vegetation—neat, clean, and healthy—of the richest green.

After crossing a bay, 100 m. wide, with volcanic rocks showing through on both banks and in the river bed, the stream was squeezed through a rocky neck 25 m. wide, and spread again immediately afterwards to its normal width of 50 m. We were beginning to find big rocks more frequently, many in the river channel—a bad sign for us, for I feared we might soon encounter rapids.

Wonderful oleo pardo trees (Myrocarpus frondosus Fr. All.), with their octopus-like branches hanging down to the water, were fairly common in that region. There were two kinds of oleo trees in Brazil—the brown or oleo pardo and the red or oleo vermelho, the latter technically known as Myrospermum erytroxylon Fr. All.

We subsequently entered a basin 150 m. wide which contained a circular island 100 m. in diameter—Horus Island.

Eight hundred metres farther we came to another large circular bay with a large globular mass of lava on its left side. The current was very swift over a nasty rocky bottom. The canoe was suddenly flung by the current between an accumulation of rocks and an island, and, as we found it impossible to turn, floated down at an uncomfortable speed through a narrow channel, dodging as best we could the many ugly rocks just below the surface of the water. At the end of this channel we encountered violent eddies forming wide circles of most treacherous water—although on the surface it looked placid enough.

The tributary Sumidoro, 30 m. wide at its mouth, entered the Arinos from the west-south-west at this point. Its water was deliciously clear. A little way off to the left we could hear the noise of a waterfall on the Sumidoro, before it joined the Arinos.

The river, after the meeting of this important tributary, became even more exquisitely beautiful than before. Rocks strewn about added to the picturesqueness of the landscape as well as to the dangers of navigation, while springs of crystalline water, cool and quite delicious to drink, descended here and there from the banks.

The river had an average width of 60 m. in this part, and was much strewn with broken-up volcanic boulders, especially on the left bank. On the right bank was a beach of immaculate white sand. For 300 m. we went over a great stony place with shallow water. We had to be careful, but all the same many times did we bump with great force and get stuck upon submerged rocks—which we could not see owing to the blinding, glittering refraction of the sun upon the troubled waters.

A tributary 4 m. wide, coming from the north-east, entered the Arinos on the right bank. A great number of rubber trees were to be seen on the right bank, where the forest was luxuriant; but not on the left bank, where the growth of trees was scanty. Caranda or burity or tucuman palms were plentiful along the water's edge near the spot where a small rivulet entered the Arinos on the left bank. Two thousand metres farther down we came upon denuded country, low, and liable to inundation when the river rose. Farther on were campos and open country, with the exception of a thin row of trees immediately along the river. On the left we had luxuriant forest, wonderfully healthy, neat and clean. The stream was there beautiful—60 to 70 m. wide.

When we had gone 10 kils. 800 m. more the entire channel became strewn with rocks and mounds only 1 ft. below the surface of the water, and not unlike parallel small dunes of sand with a deposit of gravel upon them. For 700 m. the river was obstructed and navigation rendered somewhat troublesome.

Where the river turned from bearings magnetic 310 deg. to 360 deg. (due N.) we went over a nasty stony place with a strong corrideira above it, and we were confronted with a rocky barrier almost the entire width across the stream. We kept on the west side, the only way where it was possible to get the canoe through. A little farther another corrideira, stronger than the first, obliged us to find a passage on the east side of the river—which bore upon its bank campos and chapada. Curious mounds of white sand and gravel were visible in the centre of the river, and also near the left bank below the second corrideira; then we came to parallel ridges of white sand and gravel right across the river bottom at an angle of 45 deg. in relation to the general direction of the stream.

Two tributaries, one 3 m. wide on the left bank, the other 4 m. wide on the right side (the latter coming from the north-east), swelled the Arinos from that point. The width of the stream was now increased to 80 m., the water being shallow. The bed of the river was ever changing, and supplied me with constant interest. It was adorned with strangely precise triangles of beautiful white sand exposed through a layer of gravel which covered most of the river bottom.

A thickly-wooded hill range, 150 ft. high and extending from W.S.W. to E.N.E., stood to the north of us. Its slopes, eroded by the water, had caused a landslip, leaving bare vertical red rock for half the height of the hill-range and two much eroded spurs of bright yellow and white earth extending into the stream.

The river at that point turned from north to east. Open country was again on our right after leaving the hill range, and lowlands liable to inundation. Soon afterwards, however, higher land appeared with banks 35 ft. high.

Swarms of small white butterflies played upon the banks on the edge of the water.

Sand and gravel mounds were numerous in the centre of the channel, with occasional basins of shallow water with corrideiras upon them. For instance, in one of those places for 150 m. the river was only from 1 to 3 ft. deep, and we had to drag the long heavy canoe, which drew 2 ft. of water, along the undulating gravel bed. In fact, we spent a good deal of our time every day in the water, pushing or pulling along the canoe over innumerable obstacles, her great length making it difficult to navigate her properly through the many shallow and tortuous passages.

In a circular basin, 120 m. in diameter, beyond that point we encountered strong eddies near the left bank. On the north side big rocks emerged from the water and a corrideira was formed.

An island 50 m. long and two other islets were separated from the mainland by two channels, one 20 m. wide and only 3 in. deep—the other 60 m. wide and 3 ft. deep. The right bank was there 45 ft. high.

Fifteen hundred metres farther down we entered another basin 200 m. in diameter, with an island 80 m. long and eight dry beaches of gravel.

My men were greatly excited in trying to capture a capivara they had wounded. We actually got the animal on board, but my men were so timid in going near it that it jumped overboard again and made its escape.

The right bank, which had been high, was now reduced to only 4 ft. above the water; whereas the left bank rose to a height of 46 ft. A rivulet 3 m. wide coming from the west had cut its way through the latter bank.

The main river was getting more and more magnificent at every turn. I should have enjoyed the journey very much had it not been for the constant attention I had to pay to my men, who left their paddles and steering gear at every moment in order to fire recklessly at birds or ariranhas or capivaras, much to the danger of everybody on board. They would blaze away with their repeating rifles—and bullet cartridges, of course—at parrots and even colibri birds 100 or 200 metres off. They said the rifles were bad because they could never hit anything! I had ceased scolding them. They made me positively ill with pity, I was only praying for our supply of cartridges to come to an end soon, so that if we were to die at all it might not be through being pierced by one of our own bullets.

The river had been flowing, with slight deviations, northwards.

We came to an enchanting island 70 m. wide, with thick vegetation upon it and fine rocks.

The river in that portion flowed practically north in great stretches of 6,000 and 4,000 m. Another large and beautiful island, 250 m. long and 70 wide—Ghislaine Island—was passed, and we admired the gorgeous vegetation upon it.

Below the island the river was 100 m. wide and very shallow—not more than from 1 to 4 ft. in depth. We halted at sunset, having gone that day 92 kil. 300 m.

During the night of July 11th my men suffered a great deal from cold, the thermometer being as low as 45 deg. Fahrenheit. In the morning there was a thick fog over the river—so thick that we had to delay our departure until eight o'clock, as we could not see more than two or three metres ahead.

Two kilometres beyond we came to a rivulet, 2 m. wide, on the left bank, and soon after to a small corrideira with a navigable channel in the centre. Three hundred metres farther down we passed another tributary on the right bank. There was open country with sparse stunted trees on the left of us, thick forest with plenty of rubber trees on the right. I noticed several good specimens of the pao dolce—a tree with a curious cluster of yellow flowers not unlike the flower of wistaria upside down. Not only was the pao dolce pretty to look at, but a most refreshing beverage could be made from a decoction of its leaves.

The course of the river was winding, with basins and rapids of no great importance. Another tributary 2 m. wide was reached on the left bank, and soon after another tiny streamlet entered the Arinos from the same side.

I had a narrow escape. One of the men, who was sitting behind me in the canoe, saw an ariranha (Lutra Brasiliensis) put its head out of the water only ten metres in front of the canoe. In his great hurry to kill the beautiful animal he seized his rifle and emptied the eight shots out of his magazine, firing the first three shots close to my head on the left side, the other five just as close on the other side. The muzzle of his rifle was so near my ear that the noise deafened me for several minutes and my hair was almost singed off. The ariranha, needless to say, escaped unhurt, and luckily so did I.

We went over a long strip of shallow water from 1 to 3 ft. deep. We now had open country on the right bank, with a small streamlet finding its way into the Arinos on that side. The river was flowing again in long straight stretches—3,000 m., 2,000 m., 2,500 m. in length. In the portions where the banks were thickly wooded innumerable rubber trees were to be seen.

In the centre of a basin 150 m. wide we found another island, 100 m. long and 50 m. wide, absolutely smothered in vegetation and with a handsome gravel spit at its southern end. Two kilometres farther another basin, 300 m. broad, appeared. An amazing quantity of rubber trees was to be seen round that basin. Near the water we also found fine specimens of the mate (Ilex Paraguayensis St. Hil.), with its wax-like leaves, much used in certain parts of South America for making a kind of tea.

For close upon 13 kils. the river flowed—with slight deviations—almost always due north, and with its limpid waters was of extraordinary beauty. The country was open on the right side of us. We saw that day two white urubu (Cathartes). The Brazilians have a curious superstition about them. They say that if you write with a quill taken from the wing of one of these birds any business which you may be transacting will go well; in fact, anything you may wish to do and which you set down on paper with one of these quills and ink is sure to turn out successfully.

That day I again suffered much, while taking astronomical observations, from the millions of bees and other insects which settled in swarms upon my hands and face and stung me all over. We were then in lat. 12 deg. 26'.5 S., long. 56 deg. 37' W. The temperature in the sun was not unbearable—merely 85 deg. Fahr.

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