Ranching, Sport and Travel
by Thomas Carson
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The Texas Cattlemen's Annual Convention was a most important event in our lives. It was held sometimes in El Paso, sometimes in San Antonio, but oftenest in Fort Worth, and was attended by ranchmen from all over the State, as well as by many from New Mexico, and by buyers from Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas and elsewhere. Being held early in spring the sales then made generally set the prices for the year. Much dickering was gone through and many deals made, some of enormous extent. Individual sales of 2000, 5000 or even 10,000 steers were effected, and individual purchases of numbers up to 20,000 head; even whole herds of 30,000 to 50,000 cattle were sometimes disposed of. It was a meeting where old friends and comrades, cattle kings and cowboys, their wives, children and sweethearts, met and had a glorious old time. It brought an immense amount of money into the place, and hence the strenuous efforts made by different towns (the saloons) "to get the Convention."

Among the celebrities to be met there might be Buffalo Jones, a typical plainsman of the type of Buffalo Bill (Cody). Jones some years ago went far north to secure some young musk oxen. None had ever before been captured. He and his men endured great hardships and privations, but finally, by roping, secured about a dozen yearlings. The Indians swore that he should not take them out of their territory. On returning he had got as far as the very edge of the Indian country and was a very proud and well-pleased man. But that last fatal morning he woke up to find all the animals with their throats cut. Only last year Jones, with two New Mexican cowboys and a skilled photographer, formed the daring and apparently mad plan of going to Africa and roping and so capturing any wild animal they might come across, barring, of course, the elephant. His object was to secure for show purposes cinematograph pictures. He took some New Mexican cow-ponies out with him, and he and his men succeeded in all they undertook to do, capturing not only the less dangerous animals, such as antelope, buck and giraffe, but also a lioness and a rhinoceros, surely a very notable feat.

Amarillo in the Panhandle was then purely a cattleman's town. It was a great shipping point—at one time the greatest in the world—and was becoming a railroad centre. I was there a good deal, and for amusement during the slack season went to work to fix up a polo ground. No one in the town had ever even seen the game played, so the work and expense all fell on myself. I was lucky to find a capital piece of ground close to the town, absolutely level and well grassed. After measuring and laying off, with a plough I ran furrows for boundary lines, stuck in the goalposts, filled up the dog-holes, etc., and there we were. At first only three or four men came forward, out of mere curiosity perhaps. After expounding the game and the rules, etc., as well as possible we started in to play. The game soon "caught on," and in a little while a number more joined, nearly all cattlemen and cowpunchers. They became keen and enthusiastic, too keen sometimes, for in their excitement they disregarded the rules. The horses, being cow-ponies, were of course as keen and as green as the players, and the game became a most dangerous one to take part in. Still we kept on, no one was very badly hurt, and we had lots of glorious gallops—fast games in fact.

The word "polo" is derived from Tibetan pulu, meaning a knot of willow wood. In Cachar, and also at Amarillo, we used bamboo-root balls. The game originated in Persia, passed to Tibet, and thence to the Munipoories, and from the Munipoories the English learnt it. The first polo club ever organized was the Cachar Kangjai Club, founded in 1863. It may be remarked here that, hard as the riding is in polo, in my opinion it does not demand nearly such good riding as does the "cutting" of young steers. In polo your own eye is on the ball, and when another player or yourself hits it you know where to look for it, and rule your horse accordingly. In "cutting," on the other hand, your horse, if a good one, does nearly all the work; just show it the animal you want to take out and he will keep his eye on it and get it out of the herd without much guidance. But there is this great difference: you never can tell what a steer is going to do! You may be racing or "jumping" him out of the herd when he will suddenly flash round before you have time to think and break back again. Herein your horse is quicker than yourself, knowing apparently instinctively the intention of the rollicky youngster, so that both steer and your mount have wheeled before you are prepared for it. You must therefore try to be always prepared, sit very tight, and profit by past experiences. It is very hard work and, as said before, needs better horsemanship than polo. To watch, or better still to ride, a first-class cutting horse is a treat indeed.

During these last few years of ranch life my leisure gave me time to make odd excursions here and there. Good shooting was to be had near Amarillo—any amount of bobwhite quail, quantities of prairie-chickens, plovers, etc. And, by-the-bye, at Fort Sumner I had all to myself the finest kind of sport. There was a broad avenue of large cotton-wood trees some miles in length. In the evening the doves, excellent eating, and, perhaps for that reason, tremendously fast fliers, would flash by in twos or threes up or down this avenue, going at railroad speed. But my pleasure was marred by having no companion to share the sport.

Then I made many trips to the Rocky Mountains to fish for rainbow trout in such noble streams as the Rio Grande del Norte, the Gunnison, the Platte and others. In the early days these rivers were almost virgin streams, hotching with trout of all sizes up to twelve and even fifteen pounds. The monsters could seldom be tempted except with spoon or live bait, but trout up to six or seven pounds were common prizes. Out of a small, a ridiculously small, tributary of the Gunnison River I one day took more fish than I could carry home, each two to three pounds in weight. But that was murdering—mere massacre and not sport.

During a cattle convention held at El Paso I first attended a bull-fight in Juarez and I have since seen others in the city of Mexico and elsewhere. The killing of the poor blindfolded horses is a loathsome, disgusting sight, and so affected me that I almost prayed that the gallant, handsome matadors would be killed. Indeed, at Mexico City, I afterwards saw Bombita, a celebrated Spanish matador, tossed and gored to death. The true ring-bull of fighting breed is a splendid animal; when enraged he does not seem to suffer much from the insertion of banderillas, etc., and his death stab is generally instantaneously fatal. Certainly the enthusiasm of the ring, the presence of Mexican belles and their cavalleros, the picturesqueness and novelty of the whole show are worth experiencing.

It should be remembered that the red cloth waved in front of him is the main cause of Toro's irritation. Why it should so irritate him we don't know. When a picador and his horse are down they are absolutely at the mercy of the bull; and the onlooker naturally thinks that he will proceed to gore man and horse till they are absolutely destroyed. But the cloth being at once flaunted near him he immediately attacks it instead and is thus decoyed to another part of the ring. Thus, too, the apparent danger to the swordsman who delivers the coup de grace is not really very great if he show the necessary agility and watchfulness. When a bull charges he charges not his real enemy, but that exasperating red cloth; and the man has only to step a little to the side, but still hold the cloth in front of the bull, to escape all danger. Without this protecting cloth no matador would dare to enter the ring. The banderilleros, too, thus escape danger because they do their work while the bull's whole attention is on the red cloth operated by another man in front. The man I saw gored, tossed and killed must have made some little miscalculation, or been careless, and stood not quite out of the bull's way, so that the terrible sharp horns caught him, as one may say, by mistake.

The Mexicans, too, like my coolies in India, were great cock-fighters. It is a national sport and also a cruel one.

Matadors are paid princely sums. The most efficient, the great stars, come from Spain. Many of them are extremely handsome men and their costume a handsome and picturesque one. As a mark of their profession they wear a small pigtail, not artificial but of their own growing hair. I travelled with one once but did not know it till he removed his hat.

Denver and San Francisco were great centres of prize-fighting. In both places I saw many of the great ring men of the day, in fact never missed an opportunity of attending such meetings. It was mostly, however, "goes" between the "coming" men, such as Jim Corbett and other aspirants. A real champion fight between heavyweights I was never lucky enough to witness.

Base-ball games always appealed to me, and to witness a first-class match only a very great distance would prevent my attendance. To appreciate the game one must thoroughly understand its thousand fine points. It absorbs the onlooker's interest as no other game can do. Every player must be constantly on the alert and must act on his own judgment. The winning or losing of the match may at any moment lie with him. The game only lasts some two hours; but for the onlookers every moment of these two hours is pregnant with interest and probably intense excitement. Here is no sleeping and dozing on the stands for hours at a time as witnessed at popular cricket matches. Time is too valuable in America for that, and men's brains are too restless. At a ball-game the sight of a man slumbering on the benches is inconceivable.

Sea-fishing also attracted me very much. On the California coast, around Catalina and other islands, great sport is to be had among the yellow-tails, running up to 50 lbs. weight. They are a truly game fish and put up a capital fight. Jew-fish up to 400 lbs. are frequently caught with rod and line, but are distinctly not a game fish. Albacores can be taken in boat-loads; they are game enough but really too common. The tuna is par excellence the game fish of the coast. At one time you might reasonably expect to get a fish (nothing under 100 lbs. counted), but lately, and while I was there, a capture was so rare as to make the game not worth the candle. A steam or motor launch is needed and that costs money. I hired such a boat once or twice; but the experience of some friends who had fished every day for two months and not got one single blessed tuna damped my ambition. Tunas there run up to 300 lbs., big enough, and yet tiny compared with the monsters of the Mediterranean, the Morocco coast and the Japanese seas; there they run up to 2000 lbs. The tuna is called the "leaping" tuna because he plays and hunts his prey on the surface of the water; but he never "leaps" as does the tarpon. Once hooked he goes off to sea and will tow your boat maybe fifteen miles; that is to say, he partly tows the boat, but the heavy motor launch must also use its power to keep up or the line will at once be snapped. The tuna belongs to the mackerel family, is built like a white-head torpedo, and for gameness, speed and endurance is hard to beat. Only the pala of the South Pacific Seas, also a mackerel, may, according to Louis Becke, be his rival. Becke indeed claims it to be the gamest of all fish. But its manoeuvres are different from a tuna's and similar to those of the tarpon. What is finer sport, I think, and perhaps not quite so killing to the angler, is tarpon-fishing. Most of our ambitious tarpon fishers go to Florida, where each fish captured will probably cost you some fifty dollars. My tarpon ground was at Aransas Pass, on the Gulf Coast of Texas. There in September the fish seem to congregate preparatory to their migration south. I have seen them there in bunches of fifty to seventy, swimming about in shallow, clear water, their great dorsal fins sticking out, for all the world like a lot of sharks. My first experience on approaching in a small row boat such an accumulation of fish muscle, grit and power will never be forgotten. It was one of the events of my chequered life. The boatman assured me I should get a "strike" of a certainty as soon as the bait was towed within sight of them. My state of excitement was so great that really all nerve force was gone. My muscles, instead of being tense and strong, seemed to be relaxed and feeble; my whole body was in a tremble. To see these monster fish of 150 to 200 lbs. swimming near by, and to know that next moment a tremendous rush and fight would begin, was to the novice almost a painful sensation. Not quite understanding the mechanism of the powerful reel and breaks, and being warned that thumbs or fingers had sometimes been almost torn off the hand, I grasped the rod very gingerly. But I need not say what my first fish or any particular fish did or what happened. I will only say that I got all I wanted—enough to wear me out physically till quite ready to be gaffed myself. It is tremendously hard work. To rest myself and vary the sport I would leave the tarpon and tackle the red-fish, an equally game and fighting fish, but much smaller, scaling about 15 to 20 lbs. There was a shoal of them visible, or at least a bunch of about 100, swimming right on the edge of the big breaking surf. Like the tarpon they thus keep close company on account of the sharks (supposition). It was dangerous and difficult to get the boat near enough to them; but when you did succeed there was invariably a rush for your bait and a game fight to follow. They are splendid chaps. Then I would return to the tarpon and have another battle royal; and so it went on. But sometimes you would hook a jack fish (game, and up to 25 lbs.), and sometimes get into a shark of very big proportions. Indeed, the sharks are a nuisance, and will sometimes cut your tarpon in two close to your boat, and they eagerly await the time when you land your fish and unhook him to turn him loose.

Another noble fish, of which I was lucky enough to get several, was the king-fish, long, pike-shaped and silvery, a most beautiful creature, and probably the fastest fish that swims. I had not realized just how quick any fish could swim till I hooked one of these. He acts much as the tarpon does. But I have not yet told how the latter, the king of the herring race, does act. On being hooked he makes a powerful rush for a hundred yards or so; then he springs straight up high out of the water, as much as six to ten feet, shakes his head exactly as a terrier does with a rat, falls back to make another rush and another noble spring. He will make many springs before you dare take liberties and approach the landing shore. But the peculiarity of this fish is that his runs are not all in one direction. His second run may take quite a different line; and at any time he may run and spring into or over your boat. When two anglers have fish on at the same time, and in close neighbourhood, the excitement and fun are great. The tarpon's whole mouth, palate and jaws have not a suspicion of muscle or cartilage about them; all is solid bone, with only a few angles and corners where it is possible for the hook to take good hold. Unless the hook finds such a fold in the bones you are pretty sure to lose your fish—three out of four times. Probably by letting him gorge the bait you will get him all right, but it would entail killing him to get the hook out. In winter the tarpons go south, and perhaps the best place to fish them is at Tempico in Mexico. But let me strongly recommend Aransas Pass in September. There is good quail-shooting, rabbits, and thousands of water-fowl of every description; also a very fair little hotel where I happened to be almost the only visitor. At Catalina Islands, by the way, whose climate is absolutely delightful, where there are good hotels, and where the visitors pass the whole day in the water or on land in their bathing-suits, one can hire glass-bottom boats, whereby to view the wonderful and exquisitely beautiful flora of the sea, and watch the movements of the many brilliantly-coloured fish and other creatures that inhabit it. The extraordinary clearness of the water there is particularly favourable for the inspection of these fairy bowers. One day I determined to try for a Jew-fish, just to see how such a huge, ungainly monster would act. Anchoring, we threw the bait over, and in a short time I pulled in a rock cod of nearly 7 lbs. weight. My boatman coolly threw the still hooked fish overboard again, telling me it would be excellent bait for the big ones we were after. Well, I did not get the larger fish; but the sight on looking overboard into the depths was so astonishing as to be an ample reward for any other disappointment. On the surface was a dense shoal of small mullet or other fish; below them, six or eight feet, another shoal of an entirely different kind; below these another shoal of another kind, and so on as far down as the eye could penetrate. It was a most marvellous sight indeed, and showed what a teeming life these waters maintain. It seemed that a large fish had only to lie still with its huge mouth open, and close it every now and then when he felt hungry, to get a dinner or a luncheon fit for any fishy alderman. It must be a fine field for the naturalist, the ichthyologist, probably as fine as that round Bermudas' coral shores, as illustrated by the new aquarium at Hamilton. But I can hardly think that the fish of any other climate can compare for brilliancy of colouring and fantastic variety of shape with those captured on the Hawaiian coast and well displayed in the aquarium at Honolulu.

I must not forget to mention that at Aransas Pass one may sometimes see very large whip or sting-rays. They may easily be harpooned, but the wonderful stories told me of their huge size (I really dare not give the dimensions), their power and ferocity, quite scared me off trying conclusions with them. There one may also capture blue-fish, white-fish, sheepheads and pompanos; all delicious, the pompanos being the most highly-prized and esteemed, and most expensive, of America's many fine table fishes. Order a pompano the first opportunity.

Having already mentioned sharks, it may be stated here that one captured in a net on the California coast four years ago was authoritatively claimed to be the largest ever taken, yet his length was only some 36 feet; although it is true that the Challenger Expedition dredged up shark teeth so large that it was judged that the owner must have been 80 to 90 feet long. The Greynurse shark of the South Seas is the most dreaded of all its tribe; it fears nothing but the Killer, a savage little whale which will attack and whip any shark living, and will not hesitate to tackle even a sperm whale. Shark stories are common and every traveller has many horrible ones to recount. Yet the greatest and best authorities assert that sharks are mere scavengers (as they are, and most useful ones) and will never attack an active man, or any man, unless he be in extremities—that is, dead, wounded or disabled; though, as among tigers, there probably are some man-eaters. A large still-standing reward has been offered for a fully-certified case of a shark voluntarily attacking a man, other than exceptions as above noted, and that reward has not yet been claimed. Whenever I hear a thrilling shark story I ask if the teller is prepared to swear to having himself witnessed the event; invariably the experience is passed on to someone else and the responsibility for the tale is laid on other shoulders. On a quite recent voyage a talkative passenger confidently stated having seen a shark 70 feet long. I ventured to measure out that distance on the ship's deck, and asked him and his credulous listeners to regard and consider it. It gained me an enemy for life.

One of the most famous and historical sharks was San Jose Joe, who haunted the harbour of Corinto, a small coast town in Salvador. Every ship that entered the harbour was sure to have some bloodthirsty fiend on board to empty his cartridges into this unfortunate creature. His carcass was reckoned to be as full of lead as a careful housewife's pin-cushion of pins. But all this battering had no effect on him. Finally, and after my own visit to that chief of all yellow-fever-stricken dens, a British gun-boat put a shell into Joe and blew him into smithereens. In many shark-infested waters, such as around Ocean Island, the natives swim fearlessly among them. This ocean island, by the way, is probably the most intrinsically valuable spot of land on earth, consisting of a solid mass of coral and phosphate. "Pelorus Jack," who gave so much interest to the Cook Channel in New Zealand, was not a shark.



Purchase of Lots—Building—Boosting a Town.

Enough of odds and ends. To return to purely personal affairs. After selling the cattle and ranch the question at once came up—What now? I had enough to live on, but not enough to allow me to live quite as I wished, though never ambitious of great wealth. What had been looked forward to for many years was to have means enough to permit me to travel over the world; and at the same time to have my small capital invested in such a way as would secure not only as big a per cent. interest as possible, with due security, but also a large probability of unearned increment, so to speak; and above all to require little personal attention. Dozens of schemes presented themselves, many with most rosy outlooks. I was several times on the very verge of decision, and how easily and differently one's whole future may be affected! Perhaps by now a millionaire!—perhaps a pauper! At one time I was on the point of buying a cotton plantation in the South. The only obstacle was the shortage of convict labour! A convict negro must work; the free negro won't. Finally I bought some city lots in the town of Amarillo—the most valuable lots I could find, right at the city's pulse, the centre of business; in my judgment they would in all probability always be at the centre, and that as the city grew so would their value grow, and thus the unearned increment would be secured. I bought these lots by sheer pressure; the owner did not want to sell, but I made him name his own price, and closed the deal, to his astonishment. It was a record price and secured me some ridicule. But the funniest part has to come. In a little while I became dissatisfied with my deal, and actually approached the seller and asked him if he would cancel it. He too had regretted parting with the property, and to my relief assented. Once more I spent nearly a year ranging about the whole western country, looking into different propositions, and again I came back to Amarillo, again was impressed with the desirability of the same lots, and actually demanded of the still more astonished owner if he would sell them to me. No! no! he did not want to part with them; and I knew he spoke the truth. Again I forced him, and so hard that at last he put on what he considered a prohibitory price, a much higher one than before asked, but I snapped him up at once. The news soon got all over town, it could not be kept quiet. Once more the supposed knowing ones and "cute" business men eyed me askance, and no doubt thought me a fool, or worse. Only one man approved of my action, but I valued his opinion more than that of all the rest. This deal again made a stir amongst the Real Estate offices, and lot values went soaring; and when I had erected a handsome business block on the property a regular "boom" set in. It gave the little town a lift and the people confidence. One man was good enough to tell me that I had more "nerve" than anyone he had ever met. Did he mean rashness? Well, my nerve simply came from realizing what a fine outlook lay before the town. It seemed to me to be bound to be a great distributing centre, also a railroad centre; that the illimitable acreage of plains-lands was bound in time to be settled on, and that thus the population would rapidly increase; which anticipations have happily come true. My whole capital, and more, was now sunk and disposed of. My mind at least in that respect was at rest; and it certainly looked as if the long-nursed scheme was about to be realized. In a few years the unearned increment was at least 100 per cent.; rents also went up surprisingly, and also, alas! the taxes. Unfortunately, within a year after completion of the building, and while I was in Caracas, Venezuela, an incendiary, a drunken gambler who had been running a "game" illicitly in one of the rooms, and who had been therefore turned out, deliberately used kerosene oil and set fire to the building. Result, a three-quarters' loss! Luckily I was well insured; even in the rentals, to the surprise of many people who had never heard of rental insurance before. The insurance settlement and payment was effected between myself and the agent in less than half an hour, and just as soon as I could get at it an architect was working on plans for a new structure. With the three months' loss on account of my absence, it was more than a year before the new building was ready for occupancy. It was, and is, a better-arranged and handsomer one than the old block, and its total rental is much greater. The town has grown very much and seems to be permanently established. The building, and my affairs, are entirely in the hands of a responsible agent; and I am free to go where inclination calls. Nothing shall be said about the worries, the delays, the wage disputes, the lawsuits, etc., seemingly always in attendance on the erection of any building. Well, it is over now, and too sickening to think about! Nor shall much be said about the frequent calls on the property-owner to subscribe, to "put up," for any bonus the city may have decided to offer to secure the placing in "oor toon" of a State Methodist College, a State Hospital, a State Federal Building; or to induce a new railroad to build in; not to mention the securing for your own particular district of the town the site of a new court-house, a new post-office, etc. etc. The enmity caused by this latter contest is always bitter. But always anything to boost the town! This little town actually last year paid a large sum to the champion motor-car racer of America to give an exhibition in Amarillo. Even a flying-machine meeting was consummated, one of the first in the whole West.

In this plains country, such as surrounds Amarillo, during the land boom, immense tracts were bought by speculators, who then proceeded to dispose of it to farmers and small settlers. They do this on a methodical and grand scale. One such man chartered special trains to bring out from the middle States his proposed clients or victims. To meet the trains he owned as many as twenty-five motor-cars, in which at once on arrival these people were driven all over the property to make their selection.

The first breaking of this prairie country is done with huge steam ploughs, having each twelve shares, so that the breaking is done very rapidly, the depth cultivated being only some two inches or three inches. The thick close sod folds over most beautifully and exactly, and it was always a fascinating sight, if a sad one, to watch this operation—the first opening up of this soil that had lain uncultivated for so many aeons of time. The seed may be simply scattered on the sod before the breaking, and often a splendid crop is thus obtained. Simplicity of culture, truly!

Before leaving the United States of America a few notes about that country. Though as a rule physically unpicturesque, it has some great wonder-places and beauty spots, such as the Yosemite Valley, the Grand Canon of the Colorado, the Yellowstone Park, the Falls of Niagara, and the big trees of California, which trees it may be now remarked are conifers (Sequoia gigantea and Sequoia sempervirens), which attain a height of 400 feet. Sempervirens is so called because young trees develop from the roots of a destroyed parent.

If the reader has never seen these enormous trees he cannot well appreciate their immense altitude and dimensions. Remember that our own tallest and noblest trees in England do not attain more than 100 feet or so in height; then try to imagine those having four times that height and stems or trunks proportionately huge. It is like comparing our five-storey buildings with the forty-storey buildings of New York, eight times their altitude.

Yet these big trees are not so big as the gums of Australia; the Yellowstone Geysers are, or were, inferior to the like in New Zealand; and Niagara is surpassed by the Zambesi Falls, still more so by the waterfall in Paraguay, and infinitely so by the recently-discovered falls in British Guiana. The Guayra Falls, on the Parana River, in Paraguay, though not so high in one leap as Niagara, have twice as great a bulk of water, which rushes through a gorge only 200 feet wide.

Its cities, such as San Francisco, Chicago, St Louis, New Orleans and others, are not as a rule beautiful; even Washington, the capital, was a tremendous disappointment to my expectant gaze; though my judgment might possibly be affected by the following incident. While standing at the entrance of the extremely beautiful New Union Railway Station a cab drove up, out of which a woman stepped, followed by a man. He hurried after her, and right in front of me drew a pistol and shot her dead, and even again fired twice into her body as she lay on the ground. Then he quickly but coolly put the gun to his own head and killed himself.

This city seems badly planned and some of its great federal buildings are monstrous. The Pennsylvania Avenue is an eyesore and a disgrace to the nation. Boston, I believe, is all that it should be. Denver is a delightful town. New York, incomparable for its fabulous wealth, its unequalled shops, its magnificently and boldly-conceived office buildings and apartment blocks, its palatial and perfectly-appointed hotels, its dirty and ill-paved streets, is the marvel of the age and is every year becoming more so. Its growth continues phenomenal. If not now it will soon be the pulse of the world.

There is never occasion in American hotels, as there is in English, in my own experience, to order your table waiter to go and change his greasy, filthy coat or to clean his finger-nails! No, in the smallest country hotel in the United States the proprietor knows that his guests actually prefer a table servant to have clean hands, a clean coat, etc., and waiters in restaurants are obliged to wear thin, light and noiseless boots or shoes, not clodhoppers.

That phenomenon and much-criticized individual, the American child, is blessed with such bright intelligence that at the age of ten he or she is as companionable to the "grown-up" as the youth of twenty of other countries, and much more interesting.

English people are inclined to think Americans brusque and even not very polite. Let me assure them that they are the politest of people, though happily not effusive. They are also the most sympathetic and, strange as it may appear, the most sentimental. Their sympathy I have tested and experienced. Their brusqueness may arise from the fact that they have no time to give to formalities. But a civil question will always be civilly answered, and answered intelligently. Nor are Americans toadies or snobs; they are independent, self-reliant and self-respecting people.



Mexico—Guatemala—Salvador—Panama—Colombia—Venezuela—Jamaica —Cuba—Fire in Amarillo—Rebuilding.

Among the many long trips leisure has permitted, the first was a tour through Mexico, Guatemala and Salvador to Panama; thence through Colombia and Venezuela; Jamaica and Cuba; needless to say a most interesting tour.

Mexico has a most delightful climate at any time of the year, except on the Gulf Coast, the Tierra Caliente, where the heat in summer is tropical and oppressive. She has many interesting and beautiful towns. The city itself is rapidly becoming a handsome one, indeed an imperial one. Accommodation for visitors, however, leaves much to be desired. The country's history is of course absorbingly interesting, and the many remains of Aztec and older origin appeal much to one's curiosity. There is a capital golf-course, a great bull-ring, and a pelota court. There is much wealth, and every evening a fine display of carriages and horses. The little dogs called Perros Chinos of Mexico, also "Pelon" or hairless, have absolutely no hair on the body. They are handsome, well-built little creatures, about the size of a small terrier. They are said to be identical with one of the Chinese edible dogs. Cortez found them in Mexico and Pizarro in Peru. How did they get there? Popocatepetl, a magnificent conical volcano, overlooks the city and plain. I tried to ascend it but a damaged ankle failed me. A trip to Oaxaca to see wonderful Mitla should not be missed. There also is the tree of Tuli, a cypress, said to measure 154 feet round its trunk. Also a trip to Orizaba city is equally interesting, if only for the view of the magnificent Pico de Orizaba, a gigantic and most beautiful cone 18,000 feet high; but also for the beautiful scenery displayed in the descent from the high plateau of Mexico, a very sudden descent of several thousand feet in fifteen miles, with a railroad grade of one in fourteen, from a temperate climate at once into a tropical one. More than that, it leads you to the justly-celebrated little Hotel de France in Orizaba, the only good hotel in all Mexico.

The imposing grandeur of a mountain peak depends of course greatly on its elevation above its base; for instance, Pike's peak, to the top of which I have been, is some 15,000 feet above sea-level, but only 8000 above its base. The great peaks of the Andes likewise suffer, such as Volcan Misti at Arequipa, nearly 20,000 feet above the sea, but from its base only 12,000 feet. Then imagine Orizaba peak at once soaring 16,000 feet above the city, not one of a chain or range, but proudly standing alone in her radiant beauty. From Orizaba I went on to Cordova, where it is the custom of the citizens of all ranks and ages to assemble in the evenings in the plaza to engage in the game of keeno or lotto. Many tables are laid out for the purpose. The prizes are small, but apparently enough to amuse the people. Of course I joined in the game, happened to be very successful, and as my winnings were turned over to some small boys, beautiful little black-eyed rascals, my seat was soon surrounded by a merry crowd and great was the fun. How beautiful and captivating are these Spanish and even Mestizo children, the boys even more so than their sisters. From this point I took train, over the worst-built and coggliest railroad track I ever travelled on, to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, to see the famous Eads Route, over which he proposed to transport bodily, without breaking cargo, ocean-going sailing ships and steamers from the Gulf to the Pacific Ocean. Also to visit the Tehuana tribe of Indians, whose women have the reputation of being the finest-looking of native races in the Western world. They wear a most extraordinary and unique combined headdress and shawl. In the markets could certainly be seen wonderfully beautiful faces, quite beautiful enough to justify the claim mentioned. At Rincon is the starting-point of the projected and begun Pan-American railroad, which will eventually reach to Buenos Ayres. At Salina Cruz, the Pacific end of the isthmus, and I should think one of the windiest places on earth, perhaps beating even Amarillo, I met a young American millionaire, a charming man who had large interests in Guatemala. We sailed together from Salina Cruz on a small coasting steamer bound for Panama. Except only at Salina Cruz, where a terrific wind blows most of the year, the weather was calm, but the heat very great. Not even bed-sheets were provided, nor were they needed. Sailing by night we made some port and stopping-place every day. The view of the coast is most interesting. You are practically never out of sight of volcanoes, some of them of great height and many of them active. One particularly, Santa Maria, attracted our attention because of its erupting regularly at intervals of half an hour; regularly as your watch marked the stated period a great explosion occurred and a cloud of smoke, steam and dust was vomited out and floated away slowly landwards. In the clear calm air it was a magnificent spectacle and I never tired watching it. Another volcanic peak had recently been absolutely shattered, one whole side as it were blown off it. On arriving at San Jose, the port of Guatemala city, we had a great reception, my friend being the owner of the railroad—the only railroad in this State. A special train took us up to the capital, splendidly-horsed carriages were put at our disposal, and we were banqueted and entertained at the Opera, my friend insisting that I should share in all this hospitality. The American minister joined our party and made himself agreeable and useful. Guatemala city was once the Paris of America, was rich, gay and prosperous; to-day it is—different, but still very interesting. You are there in a bygone world, an age of the past. Revolutions and inter-State wars have driven capital from the country; progress is at a standstill; confidence in anybody does not exist. As in the Central American States, "Ote toi de la que m'y mette" is on the standard of every ambitious general, colonel or politician. It is the direct cause of all the revolutions. At Corinto a lady, whom we became intimate with, landed for the professed purpose of "revoluting." Yet the country is a naturally rich one, having on the highlands a splendid temperate climate, and everywhere great mineral and agricultural resources. We were fortunate to see a parade of some of the State troops; and such a comical picture of military imbecility and inefficiency could surely not be found elsewhere. The officers swaggered in the gayest of uniforms; the men were shoeless, dirty and slovenly. On approaching the city one passes near by the famous volcanoes Fuego, Aqua and Picaya (14,000 feet), and mysterious Lake Anatitlan.

A shooting-trip had been arranged for us: a steam launch on the lake, Indians as carriers, mules, etc. etc., but my friend declined for want of time. Among the fauna of the country are common and black jaguars, tapirs, manatees, peccaries, boas, cougars or pumas, and alligators. Also the quetzal, the imperial bird of the great Indian Quiche race, and the Trogan resplendens. Poinciana regia and P. pulcherrima are common garden shrubs or trees, but the finest Poinciana I ever saw was in Honolulu. Vampire bats are more common in Nicaragua, but also exist in Guatemala. They have very sharp incisors and bite cattle and horses on the back or withers, men on the toes if exposed, and roosters on the comb. They live in caves, and not as the large fruit bats of India, which repose head downwards, hanging from trees in great colonies. Vampires live on blood, having no teeth suitable for mastication.

It is a strange fact that Germans, who now have the great bulk of the trade throughout Central America, are very unpopular. Nor are the Americans popular. "Los Americanos son Bestias," "Esos Hombres son Demonios" express the feeling.

I was told that in Guatemala there exists a tribe of Indians which does not permit the use of alcoholic drink and actually pays the State compensation instead.

Among other places we called at were Esquintla, Acajutla, and La Libertad, from which point we got a magnificent view of the Atatlan volcano in full activity; also at San Juan del Sur. From Leon, in Nicaragua, some fourteen active volcanoes can be seen. In Salvador only two of the eleven great volcanoes of the State are now "vivo," viz., San Miguel and Izalco. The latter is called the Lighthouse of Salvador, because it explodes regularly every twenty minutes. The lesser living vents are called infernillos—little hells. Altogether it looks like Central America, as a whole, with its revolutions and its physical and political instability, must be a very big hell.

Salvador, though the smallest of the Central American States, is the most prosperous, enterprising and densely-populated. She was the first to become independent and the first to defy the Church of Rome.

It had been my intention to sail through Lake Nicaragua and down the river San Juan to San Juan del Norte. But accommodation at that port and steamer communication with Colon was so bad and irregular that the trip was regretfully abandoned, and I went on to Panama with my friend. This gentleman possessed a personal letter from President Roosevelt addressed to the canal officials, ordering (not begging) them to permit a full inspection of the works, and to tell the "truth and the whole truth." Consequently we saw the works under unusual and most favourable conditions. The Americans have made remarkable progress, assisted by their wonderful labour-saving appliances, chief among which are the 100-ton shovels, the Lidgerwood car-unloaders, and the track-shifters. But chiefly, of course, by their sanitary methods, the protection afforded the employees against mosquitoes, and the abolition of mosquito conditions. The natives and negroes are immune to yellow fever, but not to malaria. As most of us know, Major Ross of the I.M.S., in 1896, proved the connection of malaria with the anopheles mosquito; and in 1902 Mr Reed of the U.S. Health Commission tracked the yellow fever to the stegomyia mosquito. Yellow fever requires six days to develop. It should be noted that the stegomyia insect is common in India, but luckily has not yet been infected with the germ of yellow fever. And it may also be here mentioned that the connection between bubonic plague and rats, and the fleas that infest them, was discovered by the Japanese scientist, Kitasato.

The history of the canal may be touched on, if only to show the American method of securing a desired object, certainly a quick, effective and, after all, the only practical method. The Panama railway was built by Americans in 1855 to meet the rush to California gold-fields. The De Lesseps Company bought the road for an enormous figure, and started the canal works, to be abandoned later on, but again taken up by a new French Company. In 1901 Uncle Sam got his "fine work" in when he bluffed the new French Panama Company into selling it to him for 40,000,000 dollars, simply by threatening to adopt the Nicaragua route. Yet the Company's property was well worth the 100,000,000 dollars asked for it. To carry out the bluff, the Isthmian Canal Commission (U.S.) actually reported to Congress that the Nicaragua route was the most "practical and feasible" one, when it was well known to the Commission that the route was so impracticable as not to be worthy of consideration. At least common report had it so. In 1903 Colombia refused the United States offer to purchase the enlarged canal zone. At once Panama province seceded from the State, and sold the desired zone to the United States for 10,000,000 dollars, conditionally on the United States recognizing and guaranteeing the young Republic. The deal was cleverly arranged, and was again perhaps the only effective method to obtain possession.

The tide at Panama measures 20 feet, at Colon only 2 feet. In 1905 the International Board of Consulting Engineers, summoned by President Roosevelt, recommended, by eight to five, a sea-level canal (two locks). But Congress adopted the minority's 85-feet-level plan (6 locks), with an immense dam at Gatun, which dam will not be founded on rock, but have a central puddled core extending 40 feet below the bottom of the lake, and sheet piling some 40 feet still deeper. At least that is as I then understood it.

De Lesseps was not an engineer and knew little of science. His Company's failure was directly due to his ignorance and disregard of the advice of competent men.

Manual labour on the canal has been done mostly by Jamaica negroes. As said before, they are immune to yellow fever; and, speaking of the negro, it may be said here that his susceptibility to pain, compared to that of the white man, is as one to three, but the effect of a fair education is to increase it by one-third. What then is that of the monkey, the bird, the reptile or the fish? May I dare the statement, though most of us perhaps know it, that the sensitiveness of woman to that of man is as fifty-three to sixty-four. Even the woman's sense of touch, as in the finger-tips, being twice as obtuse as man's. The Bouquet D'Afrique, of course, is perceptible to us and offensive, but it is said that to the Indians of South America both black and white men are in this respect offensive. The "Foetor Judaiicus" must be noticeable also to have deserved the term.

But this is sad wandering from the subject in hand and not exactly "reminiscences." I only hope that this and other departures, necessary for stuffing purposes, may be excused, especially as they are probably the most entertaining part of the book.

To return to the town of Panama. In the bay and amongst the islands were quite a number of whales and flocks of pelicans. More curious to observe was an enormous number of small reddish-brown-coloured snakes, swimming freely on the surface of the sea, yet not seemingly heading in any particular direction. I could get no information regarding them. The famous Pearl Islands lie forty miles off Panama. The pearls are large and lustrous.

On reaching harbour the health officials came on board, and to my surprise selected me alone among the passengers for quarantine. The explanation was that I had gone ashore at Corinto. So I was ordered to take up my abode during the period of incubation in the detention house, a building in an isolated position; there I was instructed, much to my relief, that I might go to town or anywhere else during daylight, but must, under severe penalty, be back and inside the protecting screens before the mosquitoes got to work. The object was that no mosquito after biting me should be able to bite anyone else. We had been some two and a half days out of Corinto, so my period of detention was not of long duration. I also got infinitely better messing than any hotel in Panama afforded.

The seas on either side of Darien Isthmus were at one time the scene of the many brave but often cruel deeds of the great adventurers and explorers like Drake, buccaneers like Morgan, pirates like Kidd and Wallace. Morgan, a Welshman, sacked and destroyed old Panama, a rich and palatial city, in 1670. He also captured the strong fortress town, Porto Bello. Drake captured the rich and important Cartagena. Captain Kidd, native of Greenock, was commissioned by George III. to stamp out piracy, but turned pirate himself and became the greatest of them all.

It had been my intention to sail from Panama to Guayaquil, cross the Andes, and take canoe and steamer down the Amazon to Para. But the reports of yellow fever at Guayaquil, the unfinished state of the Quito railroad, and the disturbed state of the Trans-Andean Indians, through whose country there would be a week's mule ride, decided me to alter my plans once more. So, bidding good-bye to my very kind New York friend, who went home direct, I myself took steamer for a Colombian port and thence trained to Baranquillo, a considerable town on the Magdalena River. It was a novel experience to there find oneself a real live millionaire! The Colombian paper dollar (no coin used) was worth just the hundredth part of a gold dollar; so that a penny street car ride cost the alarming sum of five dollars, and dinner a perfectly fabulous amount. By Royal Mail steamer the next move was to La Guayra, the seaport of Caracas, a most romantic-looking place, where the mountains, some 9000 feet high, descend almost precipitously to the sea. There we saw the castle where Kingsley's Rose of Devon was imprisoned. At that time President Castro was so defying France that war and a French fleet were expected every day. Consequently his orders were that no one whomsoever should be allowed to enter the country. All the passengers of course, and for that very reason perhaps, were hoping to be allowed to land, if only to make the short run up to the capital and back. At Colon, assisted by my American friend and the United States consul, we "worked" the Venezuela Consul into giving me a passport (how it was done does not matter), which at La Guayra I, of course, produced. Of no avail! No one must land. But just when the steamer was about to sail a boat full of officials appeared at the steamer's side, called out my name, and lo! to the wonder of the other passengers, I was allowed to go ashore. This was satisfactory, and I at once took train to the capital, climbing or soaring as in a flying-machine the steep graded but excellent road (most picturesque) to Caracas. There I found that the Mardi Gras Carnival was just beginning. In my hotel was the war correspondent of the New York Herald, just convalescing from an attack of yellow fever and still incapable of active work. He was good enough to ask me to fill his place should hostilities ensue. No other correspondent was in the country and he himself had to put up a 10,000 dollar bond. I willingly agreed, and so stayed nearly two weeks in Caracas awaiting eventualities. During this time, owing to the Carnival, the town was "wide open"; every night some twenty thousand people danced in the Plaza Bolivar, a huge square beautifully paved with tiling. The dancers were so crowded together that waltzing simply meant revolving top-wise. A really splendid band provided the music. What a gay, merry people they are! And how beautiful these Venezuela women, and how handsome the men! In the streets presents of great value were tossed from the carriages to the signoras on the balconies. At a ball the men, the fashionables, wore blue velvet coats, not because of the season, but because it is the customary male festive attire. Caracas was delightful and extraordinarily interesting. What splendid saddle mules one here sees! Castro every day appeared with his staff all mounted on mules. All the traffic of the country is done with them, there being no feasible wagon roads. Castro had a most evil reputation. The people hated but feared him. His whole army consisted of Andean Indians, and he himself had Indian blood in his veins. The climate at Caracas is delightful. After two weeks and nothing developing, and not feeling quite well, I returned to La Guayra and took steamer back to Colon. Feeling worse on the steamer I called in the doctor, and was greatly alarmed when he pronounced yellow fever. On arriving at Colon, of course, I was not permitted to land so had to continue on the ship to Jamaica. The attack must have been a very mild one, as when we reached Jamaica I was nearly all right again.

Jamaica is a beautiful island with a delightful winter climate. Also very good roads. Among other places visited was Constant Spring Hotel, once the plantation residence and property of one of my uncles. At Port Antonio, on the north side of the island, is a very fine up-to-date American hotel, which of course was greatly appreciated after the vile caravanserais of Central America. Thence on to Cuba, the steamer passing through the famous narrows leading to Santiago. A pleasant daylight railroad run through the whole island brought me to the great city of Havana, not, as it appeared to me, a handsome or attractive city, but possessing a good climate and a polite and agreeable population. The principal shopping street in Havana is so narrow that awnings can be, and are, stretched completely across it. In the centre of the harbour was visible the wreck of the United States battleship Maine. Here in Havana, on calling at the Consulate for letters, or rather for cablegrams, as I had instructed my Amarillo agent not to write but to cable, and only in the case of urgent consequence, I found a message awaiting me. No need to open it therefore to know the contents! Yes, my building had been burnt to the ground two months ago. A cable to Caracas had not been delivered to me. So, back to Amarillo to view the ruins. In the United States of America one cannot insure for the full value of a building; or at least only three-quarters can be recovered. So my loss amounted to 8000 or 10,000 dollars. But no need of repining, and time is money, especially in such a case. So a new building was at once started, rushed and completed, in almost record time.



Bermudas—Switzerland—Italy—Monte Carlo—Algiers—Morocco—Spain—Biarritz and Pau.

In November 1907 I again left Amarillo bound for Panama and the Andes. But the only steamer offering from New Orleans was so small, and the messing arrangements so primitive, that I abandoned the idea, railed to New York, saw a steamer starting for the Bermudas and joined her. For honeymoon and other trips the Bermudas are a favourite resort of New Yorkers. Fourteen honeymoon couples were reckoned to be on board. The climate of these islands is very delightful. The hotels are quite good; English society pretty much confined to the Army and Navy; two golf-courses; the best of bathing, boating and sea-fishing. The Marine Aquarium is most interesting. The roads are good and not a motor-car in the land!

The islands are composed solely of coralline limestone. It can be quarried almost anywhere. Blasting is not necessary, the stone being so soft that it can be sawn out in blocks of any size to meet the architect's needs. It is beautifully white and hardens after exposure.

After staying two weeks I returned to New York and took passage to Cherbourg, crossed France to Lausanne, saw some friends and then went on to St Moritz, which we all know is so famous for its wonderful winter climate, intensely cold but clear skies and bright sunshine. Curling, hockey, skiing, tobogganing and bobbing were in full swing; the splendid hotels crowded; dinners and dances every day. A very jolly place indeed. After ten days' stay a sledge took me over the mountains to Chiavenna, thence steamer over the lake to Como, and train to Milan. It was very cold and foggy there, but the city is a handsome one; I saw the Cathedral, the arcade, etc., and visited the famous Scala Opera House and its wonderful ballet. Thence to Genoa—very cold—and on to Monte Carlo, at once entering a balmy, delicious climate. The season was just beginning, but the play-rooms were pretty full. With its splendid shops, fine hotels, gardens, Casino, pigeon-shooting, etc. etc., Monte Carlo is unrivalled. It is distinctly a place to wear "clothes," and the women's costumes in the play-rooms and Casino are enough to make the marrying man think twice.

After visiting Monaco, Nice and Cannes, at Marseilles I took steamer to Algiers. Barring its agreeable winter climate there is not much attraction there. Here I was told that the marriageable Jewess is kept in a dark room, fed on rich foods and allowed no exercise; treated, in fact, as a goose for a fat liver.

So I went on to Blida, where is a French Army Remount Depot. A large number of beautiful Arab horses were being inspected and shown by their picturesque owners. They were not the type for cow-ponies and seemed a bit light for cavalry purposes. From Blida I went by train to Oran, a considerable port in Algiers. There was nothing particular to see or do except visit a certain Morocco chief who had started the late troubles at Fez and was here in durance vile (chains). Among the few tourists I met a Hungarian and his English wife and we became fairly intimate. His wife told me he was the dread of her life, being scorching mad on motor-cars. It happened there was one and only one car in the town for hire, and the Baron must needs hire it and invite me, with his wife, to a trip up a certain hill or mountain overlooking the city. A holy man, or marabout, denned on the top and we must pay our respects. The road proved to be exceedingly steep, and zigzagged in a remarkable way, with very sharp, angular turns. No car had ever been up it, and few carriages. We reached the top in due time, saluted the old man and started back. My friend was at the wheel and did a few turns all right, till we came to a straight shoot, very narrow, a ditch on one side, trees on the other, and just here the brake refused to work. Reaching over I touched his shoulder and suggested that he should go slower. No reply; he was speechless, and we knew at once that he had lost control, and realized our horrible position. On we rushed, he guiding it straight all right, till we approached the bend, the worst on the road, and quite impossible to manipulate at great speed. Right in front was an unguarded cliff, with a drop of 500 feet over practically a precipice. But—well, there was no "terrible accident" to be reported. Most fortunately a pile of rocks had been accumulated for the purpose of building a parapet wall, and on to the top of this pile the car jumped and lodged, without even turning over. The jar and shock were bad enough, but no one was much hurt. It reminded me of another occasion when I got a jar of a different kind. Once, after playing golf with a man in America, he offered to drive me to town in his motor-car. Knowing him to be a scorcher I excused myself by saying that I was not ready to go. He started; very soon afterwards word came back that he had run into a telegraph post and killed himself and his driver. Such things tend to cool one's motor ambition.

At Oran I boarded a small French steamer for Mellilla, in Spanish Morocco, a Spanish convict station and a considerable military post. This was just before Spain's recent Riff Campaign. The table fare on the steamer was not British! Cuttle-fish soup or stew was prominent on the bill; a huge dish of snails was always much in demand, and the other delicacies were not tempting, to me at least. Eggs, always eggs! How often in one's travels does one have to resort to them. In Mellilla itself there was no hotel. We messed at the strangest restaurant it was ever my ill-luck to enter. The troops reminded me somewhat of those of Guatemala, slovenly, slouching, and poorly dressed. Their officers were splendid in gold braid, feathers and gaudy uniforms. Around the town were circular block-houses, beyond which even then no one was allowed to go. Indeed, mounted tribesmen could be seen sometimes riding up to the line and flourishing their guns in apparent defiance. Curiosity made me venture forward till warned back by the guard. These Riffians were certainly picturesque-looking rascals. Mellilla was then not on the tourist's track, so was all the more interesting and novel.

From there by steamer to Gibraltar, stopping at Ceuta on the way. At Gibraltar a friend, Capt. B——, took me all over the rock, the galleries, and certain fortifications. A meeting of hounds near Algeciras was attended. Thence by train to Granada to visit the marvellously lovely Alhambra, and of course to meet the King of the Gipsies; Ronda, romantic and picturesque; Cordova and its immense mosque and old Roman bridge; and so on to Madrid by a most comfortable and fast train; but the temperature all through Central Spain is extremely cold in winter. The country is inhospitable-looking, and the natives seem to have abandoned their picturesque national dress. One must now go to Mexico to see the cavalier in his gay and handsome costume. In Madrid I of course visited the splendid Armoury; also the National Art Gallery with its Velasquezs and Murillos. From Madrid to San Sebastian, the season not yet begun, and Biarritz. Here I spent a most enjoyable month: dry, bracing climate, good golf-course, good hotels, etc. It was the English season; the Spanish season being in summer. On King Edward's arrival with his entourage and fashionable followers golf became impossible, so I went on to Pau and played there. From Pau a short run took me to Lourdes, with its grotto, chapel, etc. From Pau to Bordeaux, a handsome, busy town. Then Paris and home.



Salt Lake City—Canada—Vancouver—Hawaii—Fiji—Australia—New Zealand—Tasmania—Summer at Home.

The fall of 1908 saw me off on a tour which finally took me round the world. Space will only permit of its itinerary and a few of my impressions and experiences. From Amarillo I trained north to Salt Lake City, passing through the wonderful gorge of the Arkansas River and the canon of the Grand; scenery extremely wild and impressive. At Salt Lake found a large, busy, up-to-date city. Visited the tabernacle, and heard the great organ, the largest in the world; and a very fine choir. The acoustics of this immense and peculiarly-shaped building are most perfect. The Temple Gentiles are not allowed to enter. Outside the irrigation limits the country has a most desolate, desert, hopeless aspect. What nerve the Mormons had to penetrate to such a spot.[3]

[Footnote 3: See Appendix.]

It may be noted here that one Sidney Rigdon was the compiling genius of Mormonism; and it was he who concocted the Mormon Bible, not Joe Smith. And what a concoction! No greater fraud was ever perpetrated.

Hence by Butte, Montana, the great copper-mining city, to Great Falls, where we crossed the Missouri River, there 4000 miles from the sea, yet twice as large as the Thames at Windsor. On entering Canadian territory a remarkable change in the character of the people, the towns and the Press was at once noticeable. From Calgary by the C.P.R. the trip through the Selkirk range to Vancouver was one of continuous wonder and delight—noble peaks, dense pine forests, rushing rivers and peaceful lakes. Arrived at Vancouver city, a city of illimitable ambition and bright prospects. I there met in the lobby of the hotel two very old friends whom I had not seen for many years. They dined with me, or rather wined and dined, and we afterwards spent a probably uproarious evening. I say probably, because the end was never evident to me till I woke up in my bed, whither someone had carried me, with my stockinged foot burning in a candle; another such illuminant had been lighted and placed at my head. My waking (and I was "waked" in two senses) endangered, and at the same time prevented, the probable burning down of the building. Next morning I was taken suddenly ill, but not due to the evening's carousal, so went across the bay to Victoria and hunted up a doctor, who immediately ordered me into hospital (the Victoria Jubilee) and operated on me the very same day. The operation was the most painful that I have ever undergone but was entirely successful, though it detained me in the hospital for over a month.

From Victoria I trained to San Francisco, passing through lovely Washington and Oregon States, and Northern California; and from San Francisco took steamer to Honolulu. San Francisco was rising from its ashes, but still presented a terrible aspect, and gave a good idea of how appalling the catastrophe must have been. At Honolulu I spent a most enjoyable two weeks, golfing a little, surf riding, etc. The climate is ideal, hotels are good, parts of the islands lovely. They are all volcanic, and indeed some are nothing but an agglomeration of defunct craters.

On one of the islands, Maui, is the largest crater on earth (unless perhaps a certain one in Japan), its dimensions being 2000 feet in depth, eight miles wide, and situated on the top of a mountain, Haleakala, 10,000 feet high. Its surface, seen from the rock-rim, exactly resembles that of the moon. I of course also visited the largest island of the group—Hawaii—passing en route Molokai, the leper settlement. Hawaii has two very high volcanic mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, some 13,000 feet. The land is very prolific, the soil consisting of pulverized lava and volcanic dust, whose extreme fertility is due to a triple proportion of phosphates and nitrogen. On the slope of Mauna Loa is the crater of Kilauea, and in its centre the "pit," called Haleamaumau, the most awe-inspiring and in other ways the most remarkable volcano in the world. Landing at Hilo, by train and stage we went to see it. My visit was made at night when the illumination is greatest. Traversing the huge crater, four miles in diameter, the surface devoid of all vegetation, seamed and cracked, and in places steam issuing from great fissures, we suddenly arrived at the brink of the famous pit, and what an astonishing sight met our gaze! The sheer walls of the circular pit were some 200 feet deep: the diameter of the pit one quarter of a mile: the contents a mass of (not boiling, for what could the temperature be!) restless, seething, molten, red-hot lava, rising from the centre and spreading to the sides, where its waves broke against the walls like ocean billows, being a most brilliant red in colour! Flames and yet not flames. Now and then geysers of fire would burst through the surface, shoot into the air and fall back again. The sight was to some people too awful for prolonged contemplation, myself feeling relieved as from a threat when returning to the hotel, but still with a desire to go back and again gaze into that awful maelstrom. The surface of the pit is not stationary, at one time being, as then, sunk 200 feet; another time flush with the brim and threatening destruction; and again almost disappearing out of sight. At any time and in whatever condition it is an appalling spectacle and one never to be forgotten.

Sugar and pineapples are the main products of the islands; but one should not miss visiting the aquarium at Honolulu to see the collection of beautiful and even comical-looking native fishes; some of extravagant colouring, brilliant as humming-birds, gay as butterflies; of shapes unsuspected, and in some cases indescribable, having neither length nor breadth, depth nor thickness; hard to distinguish head from tail, upside from underside; speed being apparently the least desirable of characteristics. Do they depend for protection and safety on their grotesque appearance? or do their gaudy robes disarm and enchant their ferocious and cannibalistic brethren?

One of the funniest sights I ever saw was a base-ball game played here between Chinese and Japanese youngsters. What a commanding position these islands occupy in ocean navigation, as a coaling or naval station, or as a distributing point. America was quick to realize this; and now splendid harbours and docks are being constructed, and the place strongly fortified so as to rival Gibraltar.

In January 1909 I joined the new and delightful New Zealand Steamship Company's steamer Makura bound for Sydney. On board was, amongst a very agreeable company, a gentleman bound for New Zealand on a fishing-trip, who told me such marvellous tales of his fishing prowess in Scotland that I put him down for one of the biggest liars on earth. More of him afterwards. Also on board was a young English peer, Earl S——, a very agreeable man, whose company I continued to enjoy for the greater part of this tour. We had a delightful passage, marred for me, however, by a severe attack of neuritis, which continued for three solid months, the best doctors in Sydney and Melbourne failing to give relief. Our ship first called at Fanning Island, a cable station (delivering four months' mail), a mere coral atoll with its central lagoon, fringe of cocoanut trees and reef. The heavy swell breaking on the reef, and the wonderful blue of the water, the peaceful lagoon, the bright, clear sky, and the cocoanut trees, formed a picture never to be forgotten. A picture typical of all the many thousands of such Pacific islets. After passing the Union and Wallace groups we crossed the 180 deg. meridian, and so lost a day, Sunday being no Sunday but Monday. Then arrived at Suva, Fiji Islands. The rainy season having just begun it was very hot and disagreeable. The Fijians are Papuans, but tall and not bad-looking. Maoris, Hawaiians and Samoans are Polynesians, a much handsomer race. The Fijians were remarkable for their quick conversion to devout Christianity. So late as 1870 cannibalism was general. Prisoners were deliberately fattened to kill. The dead were even dug up when in such a condition that only puddings could be made of them. Limbs were cut off living victims and cooked in their presence; and even more horrible acts were committed. The islands are volcanic, mountainous, and covered by forests.

Our visit was about the time of the Balolo worm season. The Balolo worm appears on the coast punctually twice a year, once in October (the Little Balolo) and once about the 20th November (the Great Balolo). They rise to the sea surface in writhing masses, only stay twelve hours and are gone. The natives make a great feast of them. The worm measures 2 ins. to 2 ft. long, is thin as vermicelli and has many legs. Never is a single worm seen at any other time.

Leaving Fiji, we passed the Isle of Pines, called at Brisbane, and arrived at Sydney on the 25th November. Of the beauties and advantages of Sydney Harbour we have all heard, and I can only endorse the glowing descriptions of other writers. Hotels in Australia and New Zealand are very poor, barring perhaps one in Sydney and a small one in Melbourne. A great cricket match was "on"—Victoria versus New South Wales—so I must needs go to see, not so much the game itself as the very famous club ground, said to be the finest in the world. In the Botanical Gardens, near a certain tree, the familiar, and I thought the unmistakable, odour of a skunk was most perceptible. Hailing a gardener and drawing his attention to it, he replied that the smell came from the tree ("malotus" he called it), but the crushed leaves, the bark and the blossom certainly gave no sign of it and I remained mystified. Fruit of many kinds is cheap, abundant and good. Sydney is not a prohibition town! Far from it. Drink conditions are as bad as in Scotland. Many of the people, especially from the country, have a pure Cockney accent and drop their h's freely; indeed I met boys and girls born in the colony, and never out of it, whose Cockney pronunciation was quite comical. It struck me that Australians and New Zealanders are certainly not noted for strenuousness.

Of course the tourist must see the Blue Mountains, and my trip there was enjoyable enough, I being greatly impressed with the Leura and other waterfalls (not as falls) and the wonderful and beautiful caves of Janolan. Wild wallabies were plentiful round about, and the "laughing jackass" first made himself known to me.

February 2nd.—S—— and myself took passage to New Zealand, the fish-story man being again a fellow-traveller. During the crossing numerous albatrosses were seen. In New Zealand we visited all the great towns, Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and others, all of them pleasant, agreeable places, Christchurch being especially attractive. What a grand, healthy, well-fed and physically fit-looking people the New Zealanders are. Scotch blood predominates, and really there is a great similarity between the two peoples. At Rotorua we met the Premier and other celebrities, S—— being very interested in Colonial politics. Rotorua is a very charming place; I did some fishing in the lake, where trout were so numerous that it was not much sport catching them. Illness unfortunately prevented my going further afield and fishing for larger trout in the rivers. A Colonel M—— and sister who were in New Zealand at that time claimed to have beaten the record, their catch averaging over 20 lbs. per fish (rainbows), as they told me on again meeting them in the Hebrides. We did the Wanganui River of course; and the geysers at Whakarewarewa, under the charge of Maggie, the Maori guide.

As you no doubt are aware, the Maori fashion of salutation is to rub noses together. As long as they are pretty noses there cannot be much objection; but some of the Maori girls are themselves so pretty that mere rubbing is apt to degenerate and one's nose is liable to slip out of place. Maggie, the Maori guide, a very pretty woman and now at Shepherd's Bush, can tell all about it and even give a demonstration.

Here in Whakarewarewa one is impressed with the fact that this little settlement is built on what is a mere shallow crust, under which, at the depth of only a few feet, is a vast region of boiling mud and water. Everywhere around are bubbling and spluttering mud-wells, some in the form of miniature geysers; steam is issuing everywhere from clefts and crannies in the ground; and one almost expects a general upheaval or sinking of the whole surface. The principal geyser was not and had not been for some weeks in action. It can be forced into action, however, by the singular method of dropping a bar of soap down the orifice, when a tremendous rush of steam and water is vomited out with terrific force. Sir Joseph Ward, the Premier, is the only person authorized to permit this operation: but though he was at our hotel, and we were personally intimate with him, he declined to favour us with the permission, it being explained that the too-frequent dosing of the geyser had seemed to have a relaxing effect on the activity.

At Dunedin S—— left me to visit Milford Sound. Too unwell to accompany him, I continued on to the Bluff and then took steamer to Hobart, Tasmania. New Zealand has a great whale-fishery and it was my hope to see something of it by a short trip on one of the ships employed; but the opportunity did not present itself.

May I here offer a few notes picked up on the subject of whales, etc. The sperm or cachalot whale is a dangerous and bold fighter and is perhaps the most interesting of all cetaceans. His skin, like that of the porpoise, is as thin as gold-beaters' leaf. Underneath it is a coating of fine hair or fur, not attached to the skin, and then the blubber. He has enormous teeth or tushes in the lower jaw, but has no baleen. He devours very large fish, even sharks, but his principal food seems to be cuttle-fish and squids, some of them of as great bulk as himself. These cuttle-fish's tentacle discs are as big as soup-plates, and surrounded by hooks as large and sharp as tiger claws; while their mouths are armed with a parrot-like beak capable of rending anything held to them by the tentacles. These disc hooks are often found in ambergris, an excretion of the sperm whale. The sperm whale spouts diagonally, other whales upwards. So-called porpoise leather is made of the skin of the white whale. The porpoise is the true dolphin, the sailor's dolphin being a fish with vertical tail, scales and gills. Bonitoes are a species of mackerel, but warm-blooded and having beef-like flesh.

Near Hobart I saw the famous fruit and hop lands on the Derwent River. It was midsummer here and extremely hot, hotter than in Melbourne or anywhere else on this trip. From Hobart I railed to Launceston and thence steamer to Melbourne.

Melbourne is a very handsome city as we all know. It was my hope to continue on with S—— north by the Barrier Reef, or rather between the reef and the mainland, and so on to China, Japan, Corea, and home by Siberia; but my doctor advised me not to attempt it, so I booked passage for Colombo instead, and S—— and myself necessarily parted. But it was with much regret that I missed this wonderful coasting trip, long looked forward to and now probably never to be accomplished. On my way home I visited beautiful Adelaide, and the younger city, Perth, which reminded me much of the West American mining towns. Colombo needs no call for notice. At Messina we saw the ruined city, the devastation seeming to have been very terrible; but it presented no such awful spectacle of absolutely overwhelming destruction as did San Francisco. Etna was smoking; Stromboli also. Then Marseilles, Paris, and home.

During that summer at home I was fortunate enough to see the polo test matches between Hurlingham and Meadowbrook teams, otherwise England versus America. It was a disheartening spectacle. The English could neither drive a ball with accuracy nor distance; they "dwelt" at the most critical time, were slow in getting off, overran the ball, and in fact were beaten with ease, as they deserved to be.

An even more interesting experience was a visit to the aviation meeting at Rheims, the first ever held in the world, and a most successful one. Yet the British Empire was hardly represented even by visitors. Such great filers as Curtis, Lefevre, Latham, Paulhan, Bleriot and Farman were all present.

In the autumn I had a week's salmon-fishing at Garynahine in the Lews. The weather was not favourable and the sport poor considering the place. Close by is the Grimersta river and lodge, perhaps the finest rod salmon fishery in Scotland. A young East Indian whom I happened to know had a rod there, and was then at the lodge. On asking him about fishing, etc., he told me, and showed me by the lodge books, that the record for this river was fifty-four salmon in one day to one rod, all caught by the fly! The fortunate fisherman's name? Mr Naylor! the very man I had travelled with to New Zealand! I have vainly tried for three seasons now to get a rod on this river, if only for a week, and at L30 a week that would be long enough for me. I also this autumn had a rod on the Dee, but only fished twice; no fish and no water. During this summer I golfed very determinedly, buoyed up by the vain hope of becoming a first-class player—a "scratch" man. Alas! alas! but it is all vanity anyway! What does the angler care for catching a large basket of trout if there be no one by to show them to? And what does the golfer care about his game if he have not an opponent or a crowd to witness his prowess? At Muirfield I enjoyed the amateur championship—R. Maxwell's year.



Yucatan—Honduras—Costa Rica—Panama—Equador—Peru—Chile—Argentina—Brazil—Teneriffe.

October 1909 saw me on board the steamer Lusitania, bound for New York and another long trip somewhere. What a leviathan! What luxury! Think of the Spanish dons who crossed the same ocean in mere cobble boats of fifty tons, and our equally intrepid discoverers and explorers. What methods did they adopt to counteract the discomfort of mal de mer? Which reminds me that on this same Lusitania was the Viscomte D——, Portuguese Ambassador or Minister to the United States of America, who confidentially told me that he at one time was the worst of sailors, but since adopting a certain belt which supports the diaphragm the idea of sea-sickness never even suggests itself to him. For the public benefit it may be said that this belt is manufactured by the Anti Mal de Mer Belt Co., National Drug and Chemical Co., St Gabriel Street, Montreal, Canada. Bad sailors take note! On this steamer were also, as honoured guests, Jim Jeffries, the redoubtable, going to his doom; "Tay Pay" O'Connor; and Kessler, the "freak" Savoy Hotel dinner-giver; also, by the way, a certain London Jew financier, who gave me a commission to go to and report on the Quito railroad.

When travelling west from New York in the fall one is filled with admiration for the wonderful colour of the maple and other trees. Europe has nothing at all comparable. This wonderful display is alone worth crossing the Atlantic to see.

I found that the past summer had been a record hot one for Texas. The thermometer went to 115 deg. in the shade. Eggs were cooked (fried, it is to be supposed) on the side-walk, and popcorn popped in the stalks. In November I sailed from New Orleans for Yucatan to visit at Merida a Mexican friend, who turned out to be the King of Yucatan, as he was popularly called, he being an immense landed proprietor and practically monopolist of the henequin industry. Henequin, or Sisal hemp, is the fibre of Agave Sisalensis, a plant very like the Agave Americana, from which pulque is extracted. Thence round the corner, so to speak, to British Honduras, where we called in at Belize, whose trade is in mahogany and chicklee gum, combined with a deal of quiet smuggling done with the Central American States. Quite near Belize, among the innumerable islands and reefs, was the stronghold of the celebrated pirate Wallace (Scotchman). Many man-o'-war birds and pelicans were in the harbour. From Belize to Porto Barrios, the eastern terminus of the Guatemala railway. Here we are close to the scene of that wonderful and mysterious Central American prehistoric civilization, which has left for our antiquarians and learned men a life-work to decipher the still dumb symbols carved on its stupendous ruins. In Guatemala, and near this railway, are Copan and Quirigua, and probably other still undiscovered dead cities. Some of these Guatemala structures show a quite extraordinary resemblance to those at Angkor in Cambodia. Mitla and Palenque are in Mexico and are equally remarkable. The latter is still difficult to get to. Here again (Palenque) the temple shows a strange similarity to that at Boro Budoer in Java. Was it Stamford Raffles who said that, as far as the expenditure of human labour and skill goes, the pyramids of Egypt sink into insignificance when compared with this sculptured temple of Boro Budoer. Chichen-Itza, Labna, Sayil and Uxmal are all in Yucatan and approached from Merida. How many more of such very wonderful ruins are still hidden in the dense jungle of these countries it will be many years yet before we may know. Some I have seen myself, and it is still my hope very soon to visit others.

Among the wild animals of Yucatan and Honduras are the jaguar (Felis onca) with spots, ocellated or eyed; and the panther (Felis concolor) called puma in Arizona; the vaca de aqua or manatee, shaped like a small whale but with two paddles; the howling monkey, largest in America, and the spider monkey; the iguana, largest land lizard known to history, and alligators. Alligators are confined to the Western Hemisphere; crocodiles were supposed to be peculiar to the East, but lately a true crocodile (Crocodilus Americanus) has been identified in Florida. The alligator covers its eggs with a heap of rubbish for warmth and so leaves them; the African crocodile, on the contrary, buries them in the sand and then sits over them. The cardinal bird and the ocellated turkey must not be forgotten. Here may be found the leaf-cutting ants, which store the leaf particles in order to grow a fungus on, and which they are very particular shall be neither too damp nor too dry. Also another ant, the Polyergus Rufescens, a pure slave-hunter, absolutely dependent on its slaves for all the comforts of life and being even fed by them.

In Honduras there are many Caribs, still a strong race of Indians, having a strict and severe criminal law of their own. They are employed mostly as mahogany cutters, and are energetic, intelligent and thoroughly reliable workmen. Puerto Cortez in Honduras has the finest harbour on the whole Atlantic coast of Central America.

Note.—St Thomas is supposed to have visited and civilized the Central American Indians, as Quetzalcohuatl did in Mexico.

On leaving New Orleans it had been my intention to enter Nicaragua and report to a certain New Orleans newspaper on the conditions in that most distressful country; said paper having commissioned me to do so. Entrance to the State could only be made from Guatemala, but that country's consul in New Orleans refused to issue the necessary passport. Had I gone as an Englishman, and not as an American, there might have been no difficulty. As said before, Central American States have a dread and suspicion of Yankees. This was at the time that two Yankee revolutionists had been shot by the President of Nicaragua.

The next place of call was Limon, the port of Costa Rica. Every foot of land on these coasts, suitable for the growth of bananas, has been bought up by the great American Fruit Co., a company of enormous resources and great enterprise. Limon is a delightful little town from whence the railway runs to San Jose, the capital, which stands some 4000 feet above sea-level. Costa Rica is a peace-loving little state, prosperous, and enjoying a delightful climate. Much coffee and cocoa is grown, shaded by the Bois immortel or madre de Cacao. The live-stock industry is also a large one, and the animals seen on the high grassy plains are well grown and apparently well bred enough. I visited Cartago, a city which soon afterwards was destroyed by an earthquake.

On the railroad trip up to and back from the capital we passed through lovely and romantic scenery, high hills, deep ravines and virgin tropical forest. The rainy season was at its height, and how it rained! The river was a raging torrent, and from the railway "cut" alongside continuous land-slides of loose gravelly soil were threatening the track with demolition. Indeed, at some points this had actually occurred, and the train several times had to be stopped to allow the gangs of workmen to clear the way. A bad slide, had it hit the train, would have pushed the whole thing into the deep and turbulent river. All the passengers were much alarmed, and I stood on the car platform ready to jump, though the jump would necessarily have been into the seething water.

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