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THROUGH THE
BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

BY

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS BY KERMIT ROOSEVELT


AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE EXPEDITION ,/

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
1914

.7?

78

Copyright, 1914, by

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


All rights reserved, including that of translation into
foreign languages, including the Scandinavian

Published October, 1914

NOV -3 1914

)CLA387321

jj./.

&

TO
H. E.

LAURO MULLER

SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS FOR BRAZIL, AND TO HIS


GOVERNMENTAL COLLEAGUES

COLONEL RONDON
GALLANT OFFICER, HIGH-MINDED GENTLEMAN, AND INTREPID EXPLORER
AND TO HIS ASSISTANTS

CAPTAIN AMILCAR, LIEUTENANT LYRA, LIEUTENANT MELLO,


LIEUTENANT LAURIADO, AND DOCTOR CAJAZEIRA, OF
THE BRAZILIAN ARMY, AND EUSEBIO OLIVEIRA
OUR COMPANIONS

IN SCIENTIFIC

WORK AND

IN

THE EXPLORATION

OF THE WILDERNESS

THIS
IS

BOOK

INSCRIBED, WITH ESTEEM, REGARD, AND AFFECTION

BY THEIR FRIEND

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Map

showing the entire South American journey of Colonel Roosevelt and members of the expedition

PREFACE
This

is

an account of a zoogeographic reconnoissance

through the Brazilian hinterland.

The
given
tifica

official

it

by the

and proper

title

of the expedition

is

that

Government: Expedicao Scien-

Brazilian

When

Roosevelt-Rondon.

started from the United

was to make an expedition, primarily concerned


with mammalogy and ornithology, for the American MuStates,

it

seum of Natural History of

New

This was under-

York.

taken under the auspices of Messrs. Osborn and Chapman,


acting on behalf of the

work

describe

larged,

and how

how
it

Museum.

In the body of this

the scope of the expedition was en-

was given a geographic

logical character, in

as well as a zoo-

consequence of the kind proposal of

the Brazilian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, General

Lauro Muller.

expedition was

In

its

body of the work

my

will

Government.

Throughout the

be found reference after reference

colleagues and companions of the expedition,

services to science I

whom

and enlarged form the

rendered possible only by the generous

assistance of the Brazilian

to

altered

I shall

always

have endeavored to
feel

set forth,

whose

and

for

the most cordial friendship and

regard.

Theodore Roosevelt.
Sagamore Hill,
September

I,

1914.

CONTENTS
PAGE

CHAPTER
I.

The Start

Up the Paraguay

38

III.

A Jaguar-Hunt

62

IV.

The Headwaters of the Paraguay

II.

V.
VI.

Up the River

on the Taquary

95

of Tapirs

132

Through The Highland Wilderness of Western


Brazil

VII.
VIII.

IX.

167

With a Mule-Train Across Nhambiquara Land

The River of Doubt

243

Down an Unknown River

into

the

Equatorial

Forest
X.

203

282

To the Amazon and Home; Zoological and Geographical Results of the Expedition

Appendices
A.

The Work of the Field Zoologist and Field


Geographer

B.

321

in

South America

The Outfit for Travelling

in

343

the South

American Wilderness
C.

Index

My Letter of
MIJLLER

May

353
i

to General Lauro
370
373

ILLUSTRATIONS
Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel

Rondon

at Navaite on

Doubt

the River of
Frontispiece

Photogravure from a photograph by Cherrie.


FACING PAGE

The

mussurama swallowing the jararaca or fer-de-lance, after


having just killed it. Method of the mussurama's attack upon the

Group

jararaca

Man-eating

Group

fish,

piranha

42

Indian

boy with coati (coon-like animal) and parakeet.


with young ostrich. Indian girl at cooking-pot

girl

Group

24

Indians rolling logs at


the river

wood

station.

Tupi
48

Palms along the bank of


50

Cattle on the upper Paraguay River

Group

58

Nips with the marsh deer. Returning to the fazenda (ranch)


with the marsh deer on the saddle

76

Group The brown boy on the long-horned trotting steer, which he


managed by a string through its nostril and lip. Colonel Roosevelt
and the

80

jaguar

first

A South American puma. A South American jaguar ....


GroupNine-banded armadillo. Capybaras. Collared peccary ...
Group

The

An

entire party

on the way back to the ranch

102

passed an Indian fishing village on the edge of the river, with huts,
scaffoldings for drying the fish, hammocks, and rude tables.

Wood
Group A jabiru's
Group

88

92

Indian village

We

84

ibis.

South American jabiru.


nest.

troupial nest
xi

Sariema

106

..118

ILLUSTRATIONS

xu

FACING PAGE

Snake-birds and cormorants

Mixed

120

flocks of scores of

cormorants and darters covered certain

trees,

both at sunset and after sunrise.

Group

The great ant-eater.

South American tapir

134

Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel Rondon with bush deer


We hung the buck in a tree.

138

The

142

return from a day's hunt


Tapir, white-lipped peccary, and bush deer.

Kermit Roosevelt

Two

152

pranchas being pulled by launch with our baggage and provisions


The prancha was towed at the end of a hawser and her crew poled.

160

Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel Rondon looking over the vast landscape .
The ground was sandy, covered with grass and with a sparse growth of
stunted, twisted trees, never more than a few feet high.

174

The

188

Salto Bello Falls

There

a sheer drop of forty or fifty yards, and a breadth perhaps three


times as great.
is

One woman was making a hammock. The mothers carried the


child slung against their side or hip, seated in a cloth belt, or sling,

Group

which went over the opposite shoulder of the mother

Group

The

game

192

of headball played by Parecis Indians at Utiarity

Falls

194

The

The

a player runs forward, throws himself flat on the ground,


and butts the ball toward the opposite side. Often it will be sent
to and fro a dozen times, from head to head until finally it rises.
kick-off:

Falls of Utiarity
I

196

doubt whether, excepting, of course, Niagara, there is a waterfall in


North America which outranks this if both volume and beauty are
considered.

Group

A lonely grave by the wayside.

The dance

The

Parecis dance

of the Parecis Indians


carried pipes through which they blew a kind of deep

number

198

200
stifled

whistle in time to the dancing.

Group

Tres Burity.

The

Campos Novos

a party of Nhambiquaras, very friendly and


and very glad to see Colonel Rondon

At the Juruena we met


ciable,

kitchen under the ox-hide at

208

so-

216

ILLUSTRATIONS

xiii
FACING PAGE

Nhambiquara child with a pet monkey. The men had holes


pierced through the septum of the nose and through the upper lip,
and wore a straw through each hole

Group

Group

Maloca or beehive hut of the Nhambiquaras.

shelter hut

The

ant-hills

and

Nhambiquara
220

utensils

were not infrequently

Group A Nhambiquara
"Adam and Eve"

family.

taller

than a horseman's head

Nhambiquara women and

222

children.

236

Second position
Nhambiquara archer. First
headnet and gauntlets. Colonel Roosevelt's
Group did my writing

Group

position.

240

in

canoe disappears down the River of Doubt

244

Colonel Roosevelt's and Colonel Rondon's canoes at the mouth of the


Bandeira
In mid-afternoon we came to the mouth of a big and swift affluent.
It was undoubtedly the Bandeira.
.

The

218

rapids of Navaite

250

There were many

Cherrie holding a

rifle

At one point

it

248

to

curls,

and one or two regular

falls.

show the width of the rapids

was

less

at Navaite

252

than two yards across.

Portaging around Navaite Rapids


We spent March 3 and 4 and the morning of the 5th

254
in portaging

around

the rapids.

Rapids of the Duvida

258

Dragging the canoes over a portage by means of ropes and logs

Manner of dragging the canoes across a hilly portage.


the big canoe which was soon afterward lost

Group

The Upper Duvida. Cherrie


Group Red-and-yellow macaw. Egret.
Group

in his

Toco toucan.

The

Making

canoe

Curassow.

Hyacinthine macaw.

290

chasm or canyon, between two

mountains

Rapids at the chasm. We bathed and


though in it we caught piranhas

Group

266
284

Trumpeter

river rushed through a wild gorge, a

262

300

swam

in the river al-

308

ILLUSTRATIONS

xiv

Castanho-tree (Brazil-nut). Pacova-tree


Group At the rubber-man's house. The canoe

FACING PAGE

Group

314
rigged

with a cover

under which Colonel Roosevelt travelled when sick

The camaradas, gathered around


Rondon

the

monument

erected

324

by Colonel
332

MAPS
FACING PAGE

Map

showing the entire South American journey of Colonel Roosevelt


and members of the expedition

Map

of the River of Doubt (Duvida), christened Rio Roosevelt and subsequently Rio Teodoro by direction of the Brazilian Government
.

vii

338

THROUGH THE
BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

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THROUGH THE
BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN


WILDERNESS
CHAPTER

THE START
One day

ing to a close,
in to call

when my
Father Zahm, a

in 1908,

on me.

Father

presidential
priest

term was com-

whom

Zahm and

knew, came

had been cronies

some time, because we were both of us fond of Dante


and of history and of science I had always commended

for

to theologians his book,

was an Ohio boy, and

"Evolution and Dogma."

his early schooling

tained in old-time American fashion in a

He

had been ob-

little

log school;

where, by the way, one of the other boys was Januarius

MacGahan, afterward the famous war

Aloysius

dent and friend of Skobeloff.

MacGahan even

at that time

Father

Zahm

correspon-

told

me

that

added an utter fearlessness

to chivalric tenderness for the weak, and

was the defender

boy who was oppressed by a larger one. Later


Father Zahm was at Notre Dame University, in Indiana,
with Maurice Egan, whom, when I was President, I appointed minister to Denmark.
of any small

On

the occasion in question Father

Zahm had

just re-

turned from a trip across the Andes and down the


zon,

and came

he and

Ama-

in to propose that after I left the presidency

should go up the Paraguay into the interior of

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

At the time I wished to go to Africa, and


so the subject was dropped; but from time to time afterward we talked it over. Five years later, in the spring of
South America.

1913, I accepted invitations conveyed through the govern-

ments of Argentina and Brazil to address certain learned


bodies in these countries.
instead of

Then

making the conventional

sea round South America, after I


I

it

occurred to

me

that,

tourist trip purely

had

finished

my

by

lectures

would come north through the middle of the continent

Amazon; and I decided to write


him my intentions. Before doing so,

into the valley of the

Father

Zahm and

tell

desired to see the authorities of the American

however,

Museum

of Natural History, in

out whether they cared to have


uralists

with

me

into Brazil

New York
me

City, to find

take a couple of nat-

and make a

collecting trip for

museum.

the

Accordingly,

wrote to Frank Chapman, the curator of

ornithology of the museum, and accepted his invitation to

lunch at the

museum one day

early in June.

in addition to various naturalists, to

also

my

found Father Zahm; and as soon as

At the lunch,
astonishment

saw him

told

was now intending to make the South American


trip.
It appeared that he had made up his mind that he
would take it himself, and had actually come on to see
Mr. Chapman to find out if the latter could recommend
a naturalist to go with him; and he at once said he would

him

accompany me.

Chapman was

pleased

when he found

up the Paraguay and across


into the valley of the Amazon, because much of the ground
over which we were to pass had not been covered by colout that

we intended

lectors.

He saw Henry

to go

Fairfield Osborn, the president of

THE START

museum, who wrote me that the museum would be


pleased to send under me a couple of naturalists, whom,

the

my

Chapman would choose.


The men whom Chapman recommended were

with

approval,

George K. Cherrie and Leo E. Miller.

Messrs.

gladly accepted

The former was to attend chiefly to the ornithology


and the latter to the mammalogy of the expedition; but
each was to help out the other. No two better men for

both.

Both were veterans

such a trip could have been found.


of the tropical

American

Miller was a

forests.

young man,

born in Indiana, an enthusiastic naturalist with good

He was

erary as well as scientific training.


in the

Guiana

forests,

and joined us

was an older man, born


mont.

He had

in

at the time

at Barbados.

Iowa, but

now

a wife and six children.

lit-

Cherrie

a farmer in Ver-

Mrs. Cherrie had

accompanied him during two or three years of their early


married

life in

his collecting trips along the Orinoco.

Their

camp a couple
from any white man or woman. One

second child was born when they were in


of

hundred miles

night a few weeks later they were obliged to leave a camping-place,

where they had intended to spend the night, be-

cause the baby was fretful, and

its cries

which prowled nearer and nearer


thought

it

safest

and seek a new

in the twilight until

they

once more to put out into the open river


resting-place.

twenty-two years collecting

most of the

attracted a jaguar,

Cherrie had spent about

in the

field-naturalists I

American

tropics.

Like

have met, he was an unusually

man; and willy-nilly he had been forced


at times to vary his career by taking part in insurrections.
Twice he had been behind the bars in consequence, on one
occasion spending three months in a prison of a certain
efficient

and

fearless

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

South American

and

state, expecting

each day to be taken out

In another state he had, as an interlude to his

shot.

ornithological pursuits, followed the career of a gun-runner,

acting as such off and on for


particular

two and a half years. The


revolutionary chief whose fortunes he was follow-

came into power, and Cherrie immortalized


name by naming a new species of ant-thrush after him
ing finally

delightful touch, in

its

his

practical combination of those not

normally kindred pursuits, ornithology and gun-running.


In Anthony Fiala, a former arctic explorer,

an excellent

man

charge of

handling and shipment.

its

for

we found

assembling equipment and taking

In addition to his

four years in the arctic regions, Fiala had served in the

New York

Squadron

War, and through

in

Porto Rico during the Spanish

squadron had been

his service in the

brought into contact with his

little

Tennessee wife.

She

came down with her four children to say good-by to him


when the steamer left. My secretary, Mr. Frank Harper,
went with us. Jacob Sigg, who had served three years
in the United States Army, and was both a hospital nurse
and a cook, as well

went

as

having a natural taste for adventure,

Zahm. In southHe had been bridge

as the personal attendant of Father

ern Brazil

my

son Kermit joined me.

and a couple of months previously, while on top


of a long steel span, something went wrong with the derrick, he and the steel span coming down together on the
building,

He

rocky bed beneath.

escaped with two broken

ribs,

two

teeth knocked out, and a knee partially dislocated, but

was

practically

In
dition.

its

all

right again

when he

started with us.

composition ours was a typical American expe-

Kermit and

were of the old Revolutionary stock,

THE START
and

in

was on

our veins ran about every strain of blood that there

water during colonial times.

this side of the

Cher-

was born in Ireland, and his mother in Scotland; they came here when very young, and his father
served throughout the Civil War in an Iowa cavalry regiment. His wife was of old Revolutionary stock. Father
rie's

father

Zahm's father was an Alsacian immigrant, and

was partly of

Irish

his

mother

and partly of old American stock, a

descendant of a niece of General Braddock.

Miller's father

came from Germany, and his mother from France. Fiala's


father and mother were both from Bohemia, being Czechs,
and his father had served four years in the Civil War in
the Union Army his Tennessee wife was of old Revolutionary stock. Harper was born in England, and Sigg in

We

Switzerland.
ethnic origin.

were as varied

in religious creed as in

Zahm and

Father

Miller were Catholics,

Kermit and Harper Episcopalians, Cherrie a Presbyterian,


Fiala a Baptist, Sigg a Lutheran, while I belonged to the

Dutch Reformed Church.


For arms the naturalists took 16-bore shotguns, one of
Cherrie's having a

rifle

barrel underneath.

for the rest of the party

myself, including

my

The

firearms

were supplied by Kermit and

Springfield

rifle,

Kermit's two Win-

and 30-40, the Fox 12-gauge shotgun, and


another 16-gauge gun, and a couple of revolvers, a Colt and
chesters, a 405

a Smith

&

Wesson.

We

took from

New York

a couple

of canvas canoes, tents, mosquito-bars, plenty of cheesecloth, including nets for the hats,

hammocks.

We

and both

light cots

took ropes and pulleys which proved

valuable on our canoe


the clothing he fancied.

and
in-

Each equipped himself with


Mine consisted of khaki, such as

trip.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

6
I

wore

flannel shirts

Army

with a couple of United States

in Africa,

and a couple of

silk shirts,

one pair of hob-

and one pair of laced leather


boots coming nearly to the knee. Both the naturalists told
nailed shoes with leggings,

me

that

it

was well to have

either the boots or leggings as

a protection against snake-bites, and

also

had gauntlets

because of the mosquitoes and sand-flies.

where possible to

live

We

intended

on what we could get from time to

time in the country, but we took some United States

Army emergency

and

rations,

also ninety cans, each con-

taining a day's provisions for five men,

The
there

The

is

trip I

made up by

Fiala.

proposed to take can be understood only

if

a slight knowledge of South American topography.

great mountain chain of the

Andes extends down the

entire length of the western coast, so close to the Pacific

Ocean that no
rivers of

of

rivers

any importance enter

South America drain into the Atlantic.

The

it.

South-

ernmost South America, including over half of the

terri-

tory of the Argentine Republic, consists chiefly of a cool,

open plains country.

ward of the Andes,

lies

can continent, which


subtropical regions.

Northward of

this country,

and

east-

the great bulk of the South Ameri-

is

included in the tropical and the

Most

of this territory

is

Brazilian.

Aside from certain relatively small stretches drained by

immense region of tropical and subtropical America east of the Andes is drained by the three
great river systems of the Plate, the Amazon, and the
coast rivers, this

Orinoco.

At

their headwaters the

Amazon and

the Ori-

noco systems are actually connected by a sluggish natural


canal.

The headwaters

of the northern affluents of the

Paraguay and the southern

affluents of the

Amazon

are

THE START

sundered by a stretch of high land, which toward the east

broadens out into the central plateau of Brazil.


cally this

is

Geologi-

a very ancient region, having appeared above

the waters before the dawning of the age of reptiles,


indeed, of

plateau

open

is

any true land vertebrates on the


partly of forest.

The

great and low-lying

basin of the Paraguay, which borders


largest,

zon, which borders


all

This

globe.

a region partly of healthy, rather dry and sandy,

prairie,

one of the

or,

and the

still

on the south,

greater basin of the

on the north,

it

it

is

is

Ama-

the very largest of

the river basins of the earth.

In these basins, but especially in the basin of the

Am-

azon, and thence in most places northward to the Carib-

bean Sea,

lie

the most extensive stretches of tropical forest

The

to be found anywhere.

forests of tropical

and of portions of the Farther-Indian

West

Africa,

region, are the only

ones that can be compared with them.

Much

difficulty

has been experienced in exploring these forests, because

under the torrential rains and steaming heat the rank

growth of vegetation becomes almost impenetrable, and


the streams difficult of navigation; while white

much from
diseases

men

suffer

the terrible insect scourges and the deadly

which modern science has discovered to be due

very largely to insect


are of great interest.

bites.

The fauna and

however,

The American museum was

larly anxious to obtain collections

the headwaters of the

from the southern

flora,

particu-

from the divide between

Paraguay and the Amazon, and

affluents of the

was to ascend the Paraguay

Amazon.

Our purpose

as nearly as possible to the

head of navigation, thence cross to the sources of one of


the affluents of the Amazon, and

if

possible descend

it

in

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

The Paraguay is regularly naviboats can go. The starting-point for our

canoes built on the spot.

gated as high as
trip

was to be Asuncion,

My

little

but on reaching Rio de Janeiro the minister of

Mr. Lauro Muller, who had been kind

affairs,

enough to take great personal

me

Paraguay.

exact plan of operations was necessarily a

indefinite,

foreign

in the state of

interest in

my

informed

trip,

that he had arranged that on the headwaters of the

Paraguay, at the town of Caceres,

Army

Brazilian

would be met by a

colonel, himself chiefly Indian

Colonel Rondon.

Colonel

Rondon has been

by

blood,

for a quarter

of a century the foremost explorer of the Brazilian hin-

He was

terland.

at the time in

Manaos, but

his lieuten-

ants were in Caceres and had been notified that

we were

coming.

More important
only an

still,

efficient public

who

Mr. Lauro Muller

servant but a

man

is

not

of wide culti-

him that reminded me of


help me make my trip of much more

vation, with a quality about

offered to

John Hay

consequence than

had

He

originally intended.

has taken

a keen interest in the exploration and development of the


interior

of Brazil,

and he believed that

my

expedition

could be used as a means toward spreading abroad a more


general knowledge of the country.

would co-operate with me

in

every

He
way

told
if I

me

that he

cared to un-

dertake the leadership of a serious expedition into the unexplored portion of western Matto Grosso, and to attempt

the descent of a river which flowed nobody

but which the best-informed


be a very big

river, utterly

knew whither,

men believed would prove


unknown to geographers.

eagerly and gladly accepted, for

I felt

to
I

that with such help

THE START
the trip could be

made

of

much

a substantial addition could be

scientific value,

made

and that

to the geographical

knowledge of one of the least-known parts of South America.


Accordingly,

some

was arranged that Colonel Rondon and

it

assistants

and

scientists should

meet me

at or

below

Corumba, and that we should attempt the descent of the

come

of which they had already

river,

across the head-

waters.
I

had to travel through

and Chile

for six

Uruguay, the Argentine,

fulfil

my

speaking engagements.

and Sigg

left

me

weeks to

Fiala, Cherrie, Miller,

Brazil,

at Rio, continuing

we had

come
down from New York. From Buenos Aires they went up
the Paraguay to Corumba, where they awaited me. The
two naturalists went first, to do all the collecting that was
to Buenos Aires in the boat in which

possible;

Fiala and Sigg travelled

more

leisurely,

all

with the

heavy baggage.
Before

followed

them

witnessed an incident worthy

of note from the standpoint of a naturalist, and of possible

importance to us because of the trip we were about

to take.
Africa,

South America even more than Australia and

and almost as much as India,

sonous snakes.

As

in India,

is

a country of poi-

although not to the same

degree, these snakes are responsible for a very serious mor-

among human beings. One


evidences of the modern advance

tality

of the most interesting


in Brazil

is

the estab-

lishment near Sao Paulo of an institution especially for


the study of these poisonous snakes, so as to secure antidotes to the poison and to develop enemies to the snakes

themselves.

We

wished to take into the interior with us

10

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

some

bottles of the anti-venom serum, for

pedition there

On

is

always a certain danger from snakes.

one of his trips Cherrie had

The man was

snake-bite.
forest, and,

on such an ex-

lost a native follower

by

bitten while out alone in the

although he reached camp, the poison was

ready working in him, so that he could give no

al-

intelligible

account of what had occurred, and he died in a short time.


Poisonous snakes are of several different families, but
the most poisonous ones, those which are dangerous to

man, belong to the two great

Most

snakes and the vipers.

families of the colubrine

of the colubrine snakes are

and are the common snakes that we

entirely harmless,

But some of them, the cobras

meet everywhere.

stance, develop into

most formidable of
brine snakes in the

what

all

are

on the whole perhaps the

The only poisonous

snakes.

New World

coral-snakes of the genus

for in-

colu-

are the ring-snakes, the

elaps,

which are found from

the extreme southern United States southward to the Ar-

These coral-snakes are not vicious and have

gentine.

small teeth which cannot penetrate even ordinary clothing.

They

are only dangerous

one with bare

if

actually trodden on

feet or if seized in the

hand.

by some

There are

harmless snakes very like them in color which are sometimes kept as pets; but

such a pet or

who

as to the genus to

The

it

behooves every

keeps

handles such a snake to be very sure

which

it

belongs.

great bulk of the poisonous snakes of America,

including

all

the really dangerous ones, belong to a divi-

sion of the widely spread family of vipers


as the pit-vipers.
distinct

man who

which

is

known

In South America these include two

subfamilies or genera

whether

they are called

THE START

11

would depend,

families, subfamilies, or genera

suppose,

upon the varying personal views of the individual


describer on the subject of herpetological nomenclature.
largely

One genus

includes

Brazilian species

United States.

is

rattlesnakes, of

the

which the big

as dangerous as those of the southern

But the

large majority of the species

and

individuals of dangerous snakes in tropical America are

These are

included in the genus lachecis.

aggressive snakes without rattles.

They

active, vicious,

are exceedingly

Some of them grow to a very large size, being


indeed among the largest poisonous snakes in the world

poisonous.

their only

rivals in this respect

being the diamond rat-

mambas, and the


snake-eating cobra. The fer-de-

tlesnake of Florida, one of the African

Indian hamadryad, or

dreaded in Martinique, and the equally danger-

lance, so

ous bushmaster of Guiana are included in this genus.

dozen species are known


identical with the

in Brazil, the biggest

one being

Guiana bushmaster, and the most com-

mon

one, the jararaca, being identical or practically iden-

tical

with the fer-de-lance.

The snakes

of this genus, like

the rattlesnakes and the Old- World vipers and puff-adders,


possess long poison-fangs

which

strike

any other human garment except stout

through clothes or
leather.

Moreover,

they are very aggressive, more so than any other snakes


in the world, except possibly

some of the cobras.

As, in

addition, they are numerous, they are a source of really


frightful
fields

danger to scantily clad

and

forests,

or

who

for

men who work

in

any reason are abroad

the
at

night.

The poison
uniform

of

venomous serpents

in its quality.

On

is

not in the least

the contrary, the natural forces

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

12

to use a term which

is

vague, but which

our present-day knowledge permits


in so

many

that

is

as exact as

have developed

different families of snakes these poisoned fangs

have worked

in

two or three

totally different fashions.

Unlike the vipers, the colubrine poisonous snakes have


small fangs, and their poison, though on the whole even

more deadly, has

and owes

entirely different effects,

Even within the

deadliness to entirely different qualities.

same family there are wide


the long poison-fangs.

In the jararaca an

differences.

extraordinary quantity of yellow

venom

This poison

its

is

spurted from

is

secreted in

among vipers, give the head


shape. The rattlesnake yields

glands which,

its

of-spades

large

peculiar ace-

much

smaller

quantity of white venom, but, quantity for quantity, this

venom is more deadly. It is the great quantity of


venom injected by the long fangs of the jararaca, the bushwhite

master, and their fellows that renders their bite so generally


fatal.

Moreover, even between these two

allied

genera of

pit-vipers, the differences in the action of the poison are

marked to be

sufficiently

easily recognizable,

and to render

the most effective anti-venomous serum for each slightly

from the other.

different

make

alike to

However, they are near enough

this difference, in practice, of

small consequence.

comparatively

In practice the same serum can be used

to neutralize the effect of either, and, as will be seen later


on, the snake that

immune

immune

to one kind of

venom

is

also

to the other.

But the
snakes

is

deadly

as,

jararaca.

is

effect of the

venom

of the poisonous colubrine

totally different from, although to the full as

the effect of the poison of the rattlesnake or

The serum

that

is

an antidote as regards the

THE START
pit-viper

wholly or well-nigh

is

13
as

useless

regards the

The animal that is immune to the bite of


one may not be immune to the bite of the other. The
colubrines.

bite of a cobra or other colubrine poisonous snake

painful in

immediate

its

of the big vipers.

than

effects

The victim

suffers

more

is

the bite of one

is

There

more.

is

greater effect on the nerve-centres, but less swelling of the

wound

itself,

and, whereas the blood of the rattlesnake's

victim coagulates, the blood of the victim of an elapine

that of one of the only poisonous American


ubrines becomes watery and incapable of coagulation.
snake

is,

col-

Snakes are highly specialized in every way, including

Some live
on mammals, or

their prey.

exclusively

mals,

birds.

on warm-blooded

Some

live

ani-

exclusively on

batrachians, others only on lizards, a few only on insects.

A very

few species

live exclusively

on other snakes.

These

venomous snake, the Indian


hamadryad, or giant cobra, and several non-poisonous
include one very formidable

In Africa

snakes.

within

it

I killed

a small cobra which contained

a snake but a few inches shorter than

itself;

but,

as far as I could find out, snakes were not the habitual


.

diet of the African cobras.

The poisonous snakes use


victims,

and

also to kill

menaces them.
only fight

if

Some

own

of

venom

possible foe

them

when

kill

are good-tempered,

and on rare occasions

accord

to

entirely

their

which they think

injured or seriously alarmed.

cessively irritable,

of their

any

their

and

Others are exwill

even attack

unprovoked and un-

threatened.

On

reaching Sao Paulo on our southward journey from

Rio to Montevideo, we drove out to the "Instituto Serum-

14

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

therapico," designed for the study of the effects of the

venom

of poisonous Brazilian snakes.

who

tor Vital Brazil,

Its director

is

Doc-

has performed a most extraordinary

work and whose experiments and

investigations are not

only of the utmost value to Brazil but will ultimately be


recognized as of the utmost value for humanity at large.
I

know

of no institution of similar kind anywhere.

a fine modern building, with

all

has

the best appliances, in which

experiments are carried on with

all

kinds of serpents,

ing and dead, with the object of discovering


erties of their several

It

all

liv-

the prop-

kinds of venom, and of developing

various anti-venom serums which nullify the effects of the


different

venoms.

ple at large

by

Every

effort

is

made

to teach the peo-

been the diminution

bites in the province of

field

One notable

the lessons thus learned in the laboratory.


result has

open

practical demonstration in the

in the mortality

from snake-

Sao Paulo.

In connection with his institute,

and

by the

right

laboratory, the doctor has a large serpentarium, in which


quantities of the

common

poisonous and non-poisonous

snakes are kept, and some of the rarer ones.

voted considerable time to the

effort to find

He
out

has deif

there

any natural enemies of the poisonous snakes of his


country, and he has discovered that the most formidable
are

enemy

of the

many

dangerous Brazilian snakes

poisonous, entirely harmless, rather


snake, the mussurama.

Of

all

uncommon

is

a non-

Brazilian

the interesting things the

doctor showed us, by far the most interesting was the op-

portunity of witnessing for ourselves the action of the mus-

surama toward a dangerous snake.

The doctor

first

showed us specimens of the various

THE START

15

important snakes, poisonous and non-poisonous,

in alcohol.

Then he showed us preparations of the different kinds of


venom and of the different anti-venom serums, presenting
us with some of the latter for our use on the journey.

He has been able


venom serum, one

to produce

two

distinct kinds of anti-

to neutralize the virulent poison of the

rattlesnake's bite, the other to neutralize the poison of

These poisons

the different snakes of the lachecis genus.

somewhat

are

some

different

differences

between the poisons of the

cies of lachecis; in

and

less,

son

and moreover there appear to be

some

cases the poison

different spe-

nearly color-

is

in others, as in that of the jararaca,

saw,

it is

But the

whose

poi-

yellow.

vital difference

is

that between

these poi-

all

sons of the pit-vipers and the poisons of the colubrine

As yet the

snakes, such as the cobra and the coral-snake.

doctor has not been able to develop an anti-venom serum

which

will neutralize the poison of these colubrine snakes.

Practically this
for the

is

a matter of

little

consequence

Brazilian coral-snakes are dangerous only

mishandled by some one whose bare skin


bite.

in Brazil,

The numerous

is

when

exposed to the

accidents and fatalities continually

occurring in Brazil are almost always to be laid to the

account of the several species of lachecis and the single


species of rattlesnake.

Finally, the doctor took us into his lecture-room to

show us how he conducted

his experiments.

The

various

snakes were in boxes, on one side of the room, under the


care of a skilful and impassive assistant,

who handled them

with the cool and fearless caution of the doctor himself.

The poisonous ones were taken out by means

of a long-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

16

handled

steel

sert this

under the snake and

is

hook.

All that

is
lift

necessary to do

him

not only unable to escape, but he

he cannot

unable to

He

strike, for

strike unless coiled so as to give himself support

The

and leverage.

table on which the snakes are laid

and smooth,

fairly large

nary

the ground.

off

is

to in-

is

differing in

no way from an

is

ordi-

table.

There were a number of us

The doctor

or three photographers.

room, including two

in the

put on the table

first

a non-poisonous but very vicious and truculent colubrine


snake.

picked

no

up, opened

it

and handed

fangs,

and examined
its

at

and

It struck right

its

teeth,

to me.

In

or three times.

opened

I also

and then put

temper having been much

me two

Then the doctor

at us.

mouth, and showed that

its
it

left

its

had

mouth

down, whereupon,

it

ruffled,

its

it

struck violently

it

action and temper this

snake was quite as vicious as the most irritable poisonous

Yet

snakes.

it is

entirely harmless.

One

of the innumer-

able mysteries of nature which are at present absolutely


insoluble

is

why some

snakes should be so vicious and

others absolutely placid and good-tempered.

After removing the vicious harmless snake, the doctor

warned us to get away from the


put on
called

it,

very big lachecis

in succession, a

bushmaster

and

and

table,

a big rattlesnake.

his attendant

of the
Each

kind

coiled

menacingly, a formidable brute ready to attack anything


that approached.
his iron crook
it

Then the attendant

on the neck of each

right behind the head,

The

snake's

mouth was

and held

in

adroitly dropped

in succession,
it

seized

toward the doctor.

each case wide open, and the

great fangs erect and very evident.

It

would not have

THE START

17

been possible to have held an African ring-necked cobra

in

such fashion, because the ring-neck would have ejected

its

venom through

the fangs into the eyes of the onlookers.

There was no danger

and the doctor inserted

in this case,

a shallow glass saucer into the

mouth

the fangs, permitted

its

to eject

it

of the snake behind

poison, and then himself

squeezed out the remaining poison from the poison-bags

From

through the fangs.

came

the big lachecis

a large

quantity of yellow venom, a liquid which speedily crystal-

number

lized into a

yielded a

much

less

of minute crystals.

The

rattlesnake

quantity of white venom, which the

doctor assured us was far more active than the yellow


lachecis

venom.

Then each snake was returned

to

its

box

unharmed.
After this the doctor took out of a box and presented
to

me

fine,

handsome, nearly black snake, an individual

of the species called the mussurama.

This

is

in

my

perhaps the most interesting serpent in the world.

eyes
It is

a big snake, four or five feet long, sometimes even longer,


nearly black, lighter below, with a friendly, placid temper.
It lives exclusively

mune

on other snakes, and

is

completely im-

to the poison of the lachecis and rattlesnake groups,

which contain

all

Doctor Brazil told

ments with

the really dangerous snakes of America.

me

that he had conducted

this interesting snake.

and prefers wet places

in

which to

It

is

live.

many

not very

experi-

common,

It lays eggs,

and

the female remains coiled above the eggs, the object being

apparently not to
evaporation.

weather.

warm them, but

It will

Otherwise

six days, or a big

not eat
it

to prevent too great

when moulting, nor

will eat a small

one every fortnight.

snake every

in cold
five or

18

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS


There

and non-poisonous snakes, not alone


irascibility

among poisonous

the widest difference, both

is

in

nervousness and

but also in ability to accustom themselves to

out-of-the-way surroundings.

Many

of non-poi-

species

sonous snakes which are entirely harmless, to

any other animal except

man

their small prey, are nevertheless

very vicious and truculent, striking right and

on the smallest provocation

biting freely

or to

this

and

left

the case

is

with the species of which the doctor had previously placed


a specimen on the table.

many

snakes,

some

and some vicious ones, are so nervous

entirely harmless

and uneasy that

Moreover,

it is

with the greatest

difficulty

they can

be induced to eat in captivity, and the slightest distur-

bance or interference

will

prevent their eating.

other snakes, however, of which the

mussurama

There are
is

perhaps

the best example, which are very good captives, and at the

same time very

showing a complete indifference

fearless,

not only to being observed but to being handled

when

they are feeding.

There

is

in the

United States a beautiful and attractive

snake, the king-snake, with

mussurama.

It is friendly

sonous, so that
serpents,

immune

and

it

much

the same habits as the

toward mankind, and not poi-

can be handled

freely.

It feeds

on other

will kill a rattlesnake as big as itself,

being

Mr. Ditmars, of the

to the rattlesnake venom.

Bronx Zoo, has made many interesting experiments with


I have had them in my own possesthese king-snakes.
sion.

They

are good-natured

dled with impunity, but

Doctor Brazil informed


to

make

the

mussurama

and can generally be han-

have known them to

me

that

bite a

it

bite,

whereas

was almost impossible

man.

The king-snake

will

THE START

19

feed greedily on other snakes in the presence of

knew

of one case where

it

it

couple of years ago

not

is

partly swallowed another snake

while both were in a small boy's pocket.


to viper poison but

man

immune

It

is

immune

to colubrine poison.

was informed of a case where one

of these king-snakes was put into an enclosure with an In-

dian snake-eating cobra or hamadryad of about the same


It killed

size.
it,

and very soon showed the

believe

laid

my

it

made no

the cobra but

effort to

effects of the

cobra poison.

afterward died, but unfortunately

notes and cannot

now remember

swallow

have mis-

the details of the

incident.

Doctor Brazil informed


the king-snake, was not

mussurama

killed

me

that the mussurama, like

immune

in his possession,

to the colubrine poison.

which had with impunity

and eaten several rattlesnakes and representatives

of the lachecis genus, also killed and ate a

venomous

coral-

snake, but shortly afterward itself died from the effects

of the poison.

It

is

one of the

many

that these American serpents which

should only have grown

immune

kill

puzzles of nature

poisonous serpents

to the poison of the

most

dangerous American poisonous serpents, the pit-vipers, and

immune to the poison of the coralsnakes which are commonly distributed throughout their
range.
Yet, judging by the one instance mentioned by
should not have become

Doctor

Brazil,

they attack and master these coral-snakes,

although the conflict in the end results in their death.

would be interesting to
exceptional, that

is,

find out

whether

this attack

It

was

whether the mussurama has or has

not as a species learned to avoid the coral-snake.

was not exceptional, then not only

is

If

it

the instance highly

20

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

curious in

itself,

but

would

it

mussurama

failure of the

to

also

become

go far to explain the


plentiful.

For the benefit of those who are not acquainted with


the subject,

snake
in

is

may mention

not dangerous to

that the poison of a poisonous


its

own

species unless injected

very large doses, about ten times what would normally

be injected by a

bite;

but that

it

is

deadly to

all

other

snakes, poisonous or non-poisonous, save as regards the

very few species which themselves eat poisonous snakes.

The Indian hamadryad,


It evidently

snake-eater.

or giant cobra,

exclusively a

is

draws a sharp distinction between

poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, for Mr. Ditmars has


recorded that two individuals in the Bronx Zoo which are
habitually fed on harmless snakes, and attack
refused to attack a copperhead which
their

would be interesting to

its

all

find out

pit-vipers,

and

if

was thrown into

not

immune

the poison of

its

if

the

hamadryad

also whether,

small relative, the true cobra

even

eagerly,

being evidently afraid of this pit-viper.

cage,

to prey on

them

for

it

it

may

to the viper poison,

will

is

It

afraid

prey on

well be that,

it is

immune

to

close ally, the smaller cobra.

and many other questions would be speedily


settled by Doctor Brazil if he were given the opportunity
It must be remembered, moreover, that not
to test them.
only have his researches been of absorbing value from the
All these

standpoint of pure science but that they also have a real


utilitarian worth.

mussurama.

The

He

is

now

collecting

favorite prey of the

and breeding the

mussurama

is

the

most common and therefore the most dangerous poisonous snake of Brazil, the jararaca, which is known in MarIn Martinique and elsewhere
tinique as the fer-de-lance.

THE START
this

snake

is

21

such an object of terror as to be at times a


Surely

genuine scourge.

it

would be worth while

for the

authorities of Martinique to import specimens of the mus-

surama to that
British India

is

island.

The mortality from

very great.

while for the able Indian

Surely

it

would be well worth

Government

create such an institute as that over


Brazil

At

is

snake-bite in

to copy Brazil

and

which Doctor Vital

the curator.

first

sight

seems extraordinary that poisonous

it

pents, so dreaded

by and

ser-

most animals,

so irresistible to

should be so utterly helpless before the few creatures that

prey on them.

But the explanation

is

Any

easy.

specialized creature, the higher its specialization,

be proportionately helpless when once


ized traits are effectively nullified
is

is

highly
apt to

peculiar special-

its

by an opponent.

This

eminently the case with the most dangerous poisonous

snakes.

In them a highly peculiar specialization has been

carried to the highest point.

They

rely for attack

and

All other

means

and methods of attack and defence have atrophied.

They

defence purely on their poison-fangs.

neither crush nor tear with their teeth nor constrict with
their bodies.

The

poison-fangs are slender and delicate,

and, save for the poison, the


character.

wound

inflicted

is

of a trivial

In consequence they are utterly helpless in the

presence of any animal which the poison does not affect.

There are several mammals immune to snake-bite, including various species of hedgehog, pig, and

other

mammals which

kill

them do

so

mongoose

the

by pouncing on

them unawares or by avoiding their stroke through sheer


quickness of movement; and probably this is the case with
most snake-eating birds. The mongoose is very quick,

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

22

but in some cases at least

Game

"African

Trails"

it

have mentioned one

permits

itself to

in the

be bitten by

poisonous snakes, treating the bite with utter indifference.

There should be extensive experiments made to determine


if

there are species of

and viper poison.

mongoose immune to both cobra

Hedgehogs, as determined by actual

experiments, pay no heed at

all

to viper poison even

when

bitten on such tender places as the tongue and lips and


eat the snake as

if it

Even among animals

were a radish.

which are not immune to the poison

different species are

very differently affected by the different kinds of snake


poisons.

Not only

others to

all

are

some

species

poisons, but there

amount of immunity each


One species will be quickly
species of snake,

and be

is

more

than

a wide variation in the

displays to
killed

resistant

any given venom.

by the poison from one

fairly resistant to the poison of

another; whereas in another species the conditions

may

be

directly reversed.

The mussurama which Doctor


fine

handed me was a

specimen, perhaps four and a half feet long.

the smooth, lithe bulk in


its coils

and

Brazil

fro,

so that

on

its

it

my

hands, and then

rested at ease in

own

my

arms;

I lifted

let it
it

twist

glided to

length, with the sinuous grace of

its

showed not the slightest trace of either nervousMeanwhile the doctor bade his atness or bad temper.
kind, and

tendant put on the table a big jararaca, or fer-de-lance,

which was accordingly done.

The

jararaca was

about

three feet and a half or perhaps nearly four feet long

was about nine inches shorter than the mussurama. The latter, which I continued to hold in my arms,
behaved with friendly and impassive indifference, moving

that

is,

it

THE START
and

easily to

hiding

my

fro

my

through

hands, and once or twice

head between the sleeve

its

The doctor was not

coat.

surama would behave,

for

it

snake, and unless hungry


to

23

it

and the body of

quite sure

how

the mus-

had recently eaten a small


pays no attention whatever

venomous snakes, even when they attack and

However,

it

fortunately proved

to have a

still

bite

it.

good ap-

petite.

The
itself

jararaca was alert and vicious.

on the

table, threatening the bystanders.

big black serpent

the

down on

enemy and headed

go with

my

It partly coiled

hands

it

put the

the table four or five feet fro.m

As soon

in its direction.

as I let

glided toward where the threatening,

formidable-looking lance-head lay stretched in a half

The mussurama

displayed not the slightest sign of excite-

ment.

Apparently

to run

its

out

flickering

its

nosed

its

it

trusted

little

to

its

eyes, for

it

began

head along the body of the jararaca, darting


tongue to

way up toward

placid were
it

coil.

meant to

its

where

feel just

the head of

its

actions that I did not at

attack, for there

it

it

So

antagonist.

first

was not the

was, as

suppose that

slightest exhibi-

tion of anger or excitement.


It

was the jararaca that began the

no fear whatever of

its

foe,

but

its

fight.

irritable

It

showed

temper was

aroused by the proximity and actions of the other, and


like a flash it

drew back

its

head and struck, burying

fangs in the forward part of the mussurama's body.

its

Im-

mediately the latter struck in return, and the counter-attack was so instantaneous that

what had happened.

it

was

difficult to see just

There was tremendous writhing and

struggling on the part of the jararaca; and then, leaning

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

24
\,

over the knot into which the two serpents were twisted,
I

saw that the mussurama had

lower jaw, putting

gaping mouth of

seized the jararaca

by the

own head completely into the widethe poisonous snake. The long fangs
its

were just above the top of the mussurama's head; and


appeared, as well as

could see, that they were once again

driven into the mussurama; but without the slightest


fect.

Then

which

it

ef-

the fangs were curved back in the jaw, a fact

particularly noted,

and

all effort

at the offensive

was abandoned by the poisonous snake.


Meanwhile the mussurama was chewing hard, and gradually shifted

its grip,

little

by

of the head of the jararaca in

little,

its

until

got the top

it

mouth, the lower jaw of

the jararaca being spread out to one side.

The venomous

serpent was helpless; the fearsome master of the wild

of the forest, the deadly foe of humankind, was

struggled.

But

held

Its cold, baleful serpent's eyes shone,

in the grip of death.

as evil as ever.

itself

life

it

was dying.

Nothing availed

In vain

it

writhed and

it.

Once or twice the mussurama took a turn round the


middle of the body of its opponent, but it did not seem
to press hard, and apparently used its coils chiefly in order
to get a better grip so as to crush the head of

or to hold the latter in place.


its

teeth;

effort that

Then

it

and the repeated

its

antagonist,

This crushing was done by


bites

were made with such

the muscles stood out on the mussurama's neck.

took two

coils

round the neck of the jararaca and

proceeded deliberately to try to break the backbone of

opponent by twisting the head round. With this purpose it twisted its own head and neck round so that the
its

lighter-colored surface

was uppermost; and indeed

at

one

The mussurama swallowing

the jararaca, or fer-de-lance, after having just killed

From

Method

of the

a photograph, by

Maza

mussurama's attack upon the jararaca

Reproduced by courtesy of Dr. Vital Brazil

it

THE START
time

it

looked as

had made almost a complete

if it

own body.

spiral revolution of its

relaxed

its

25

It

grip except to shift slightly the jaws.

although the body continued to

When

began to try to get the head

some

its

move

head crushed
convulsively.

opponent was dead, the mussurama

satisfied that its

process of

moment

never for a

In a few minutes the jararaca was dead,


in,

single

difficulty

This was a

mouth.

in its

on account of the angle

the lower jaw of the jararaca stuck out.

But

at

which

finally the

head was taken completely inside and then swallowed.

mussurama proceeded

After this, the

unbroken speed, to devour


process of crawling outside

opponent by the simple

its
it,

deliberately, but with

the body and

jararaca writhing and struggling until the

the early portion of the meal, the


to this writhing and struggling

on that of

its

by

tail

last.

of the

During

mussurama put a
resting

its

stop

own body

prey; but toward the last the part of the

body that remained outside was

left

free to wriggle as

it

wished.

Not only was the mussurama


presence, but

it

was

totally indifferent to our

totally indifferent to being handled

while the meal was going on.

Several times

the combatants in the middle of the table

writhed to the edge, and

finally,

when

tially

replaced

when they had

the photographers

found that they could not get good pictures,

mussurama up

held the

against a white background with the par-

swallowed snake

on uninterruptedly.

mouth; and the feast went


never saw cooler or more utterly

in its

and the ease and certainty with


poisonous snake was mastered gave me

unconcerned conduct;

which the

terrible

the heartiest respect and liking for the easy-going, good-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

26

natured, and exceedingly efficient serpent which

holding in

Our

my

was not intended

trip

had been

as a hunting-trip but as a

Before starting on the trip

expedition.

scientific

arms.

while travelling in the Argentine,

itself,

received certain pieces of

first-hand information concerning the natural history of

the jaguar, and of the cougar, or puma, which are worth

The

recording.

facts

about the jaguar are not new in the

sense of casting

new

are interesting;

but the facts about the behavior of the

puma

in

one

on

light

district of

its

character, although they

Patagonia are of great interest,

because they give an entirely new side of

There was travelling with


cisco P.

Moreno, of Buenos

the present day a

member

cation of the Argentine, a

way

me

at the time

Doctor Fran-

Doctor Moreno

Aires.

is

man who

at

Edu-

of the National Board of

has worked in every

for the benefit of his country, perhaps especially for

the benefit of the children, so that

duced to

its life-history.

for

me

it

was

they know

Jacob

Riis.

He

as the

my
is

when he was

first

intro-

"Jacob Riis of the Argentine"

deep and affectionate intimacy with

also

an eminent

man

of science,

who

has done admirable work as a geologist and a geographer.

At one

period, in connection with his duties as a

boundary

commissioner on the survey between Chile and the Argentine,

made
the

he worked for years

in Patagonia.

It

was he who

the extraordinary discovery in a Patagonian cave of

still

fresh fragments of skin

and other remains of the

mylodon, the aberrant horse known as the onohipidium,


the huge South American tiger, and the macrauchenia,

them

extinct animals.

all

of

This discovery showed that some of

THE START

27

the strange representatives of the giant South American

had lasted down to within a compara-

pleistocene fauna
tively few

thousand years, down to the time when man,

substantially as the Spaniards found him, flourished on

Incidentally the discovery tended to

the continent.

that this fauna had lasted

much

later in

show

South America

than was the case with the corresponding faunas in other


parts of the world; and therefore

claims advanced

man on

tended to disprove the

by Doctor Ameghino

geologically, of this fauna,

of

it

and

for the

for the

extreme age,

extreme antiquity

the American continent.

One day Doctor Moreno handed me a copy

my

Outlook containing

account of a cougar-hunt in Ari-

zona, saying that he noticed that


in cougars attacking

had very

men, although

had

that such attacks sometimes occurred.

that
to

little faith

explicitly stated

told him, Yes,

had found that the cougar was practically harmless

man, the undoubtedly authentic instances of attacks on

men

being so exceptional that they could in practice be

Thereupon Doctor Moreno showed

wholly disregarded.

me

of The

me that he had himself been


mauled by a puma which was undoubt-

a scar on his face, and told

attacked and badly

edly trying to prey on him; that

is,

which had started on

me most interesting.
I had often met men who knew other men who had seen
other men who said that they had been attacked by pumas,
a career as a man-eater.

but this was the

man who had


I

have

said,

scientific

is

first

This was to

time that

had ever come across a

himself been attacked.

Doctor Moreno, as

not only an eminent citizen, but an eminent

man, and

his

account of what occurred

is

unques-

tionably a scientifically accurate statement of the facts.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

28
I

give

exactly as the doctor told

it

paraphrasing a letter

it;

he sent me, and including one or two answers to questions


I

The

put to him.

by the way,

doctor,

stated to

me

that

he had known Mr. Hudson, the author of the "Naturalist

on the Plata," and that the


of

pumas from personal

latter

knew nothing whatever

experience and had accepted as

facts utterly wild fables.

Undoubtedly,
America,

like the

said

puma

the
in

puma

the

doctor,

North America,

South

in

as a general

is

cowardly animal which not only never attacks

rule a

but rarely makes any

efficient

defence

when

Indian and white hunters have no fear of


of the country, and

But there

its

harmlessness to

one particular spot

is

attacked.
it

man

man
The

in

most parts

is

proverbial.

southern Patagonia

in

where cougars, to the doctor's own personal knowledge,


have

for years

local

change

been dangerous foes of man.

in habits,

by the way,

am

nothing unprece-

In portions of

dented as regards wild animals.


as I

is

This curious

its

range,

informed by Mr. Lord Smith, the Asiatic tiger can

hardly be forced to fight man, and never preys on him,


while throughout most of
beast,

its

range

and often turns man-eater.

it

is

a most dangerous

So there are waters in

which sharks are habitual man-eaters, and others where


they never touch men; and there are rivers and lakes

where crocodiles or caymans are very dangerous, and others


where they are practically harmless

have myself seen

this in Africa.

In March, 1877, Doctor Moreno with a party of men


working on the boundary commission, and with a number
of Patagonian horse-Indians, was
beside

encamped

for

some weeks

Lake Viedma, which had not before been

visited

THE START

29

by white men for a century, and which was rarely visited


even by Indians. One morning, just before sunrise, he
left his camp by the south shore of the lake, to make a
topographical sketch of the lake.
carried a prismatic
It

was

round

cold,
his

compass

when

in a leather case

and he wrapped

neck and head.

He was unarmed,

his

but

with a strap.

poncho of guanaco-hide

He had walked

a few hundred

him from behind


and knocked him down. As she sprang on him she tried
to seize his head with one paw, striking him on the shoulder with the other.
She lacerated his mouth and also his
back, but tumbled over with him, and in the scuffle they
yards,

a puma, a female, sprang on

He

separated before she could bite him.


feet,

sprang to his

and, as he said, was forced to think quickly.

had recovered

herself,

and

sat

on her haunches

She

like a cat,

looking at him, and then crouched to spring again; where-

upon he whipped off his poncho, and as she sprang at him


he opened it, and at the same moment hit her head with
the prismatic compass in its case which he held by the
strap.
She struck the poncho and was evidently puzzled

by

it,

for,

turning, she slunk off to one side, under a bush,

and then proceeded to try to get round behind him.


faced her, keeping his eyes upon her, and backed

off.

He
She

him for three or four hundred yards. At least


twice she came up to attack him, but each time he opened
followed

his

poncho and

back.

yelled,

and

at the last

She continually, however,

moment

tried,

she shrank

by taking advan-

tage of cover, to sneak up to one side, or behind, to at-

tack him.

Finally,

when he got near camp,

she abandoned

the pursuit and went into a small patch of bushes.


raised the alarm;

an Indian rode up and

He

set fire to the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

30

bushes from the windward

When

side.

from the bushes, the Indian rode


bolas,

after her,

which twisted around her hind

was struggling to

The

bolas.

free herself,

the cougar broke

and threw

his

and while she

legs;

he brained her with his second

doctor's injuries were rather painful, but not

serious.

Twenty-one years
on the same
a basaltic

with

lake,

cliff.

whom

later, in April, 1898,

he was camped

but on the north shore, at the foot of

He was

in

company with

four soldiers,

he had travelled from the Strait of Magellan.

In the night he was aroused by the shriek of a

man and

As the men sprang up from where


they were lying asleep they saw a large puma run off out
of the firelight into the darkness. It had sprung on a soldier named Marcelino Huquen while he was asleep, and
had tried to carry him off. Fortunately, the man was so
wrapped up in his blanket, as the night was cold, that he
was not injured. The puma was never found or killed.
About the same time a surveyor of Doctor Moreno's
party, a Swede named Arneberg, was attacked in similar
fashion.
The doctor was not with him at the time. Mr.
Arneberg was asleep in the forest near Lake San Martin.
The cougar both bit and clawed him, and tore his mouth,
breaking out three teeth. The man was rescued; but this
the barking of his dogs.

puma

also escaped.

The doctor stated that in this particular locality the


Indians, who elsewhere paid no heed whatever to the puma,
never let their women go out after wood for fuel unless
two or three were
occasions

pumas.

together.

This was because on several

women who had gone

out alone were killed by

Evidently in this one locality the habit of at

THE START

become chronic with a

occasional man-eating has

least

which elsewhere

species

the least dangerous, of

31

the most cowardly, and to

is

man

the big cats.

all

These observations of Doctor Moreno have a peculiar


value, because, as far as

know, they are the

trust-

first

worthy accounts of a cougar's having attacked man save


under circumstances so exceptional as to make the attack

more than the

similar exceptional instances

by various other

species of wild animals that

signify little

of attack

are not normally dangerous to

The

man.

known not only


attacked, but also now

jaguar, however, has long been

when

to be a dangerous foe

itself

and then to become a man-eater.

me

of such attacks furnished

Therefore the instances

are of merely corroborative

value.

In the excellent zoological gardens at Buenos Aires the


curator, Doctor Onelli, a naturalist of note,

showed us a

big male jaguar which had been trapped in the Chaco,

where

it

had already begun a career

They were

killed three persons.

were eaten;

as a man-eater, having

killed,

and two of them

the animal was trapped, in consequence of

the alarm excited

by the death

This

of his third victim.

jaguar was very savage; whereas a young jaguar, which

was
as

in a cage

was

visit

with a young

also the case

tiger,

was playful and

with the young

La Plata Museum

tiger.

friendly,

On my

trip to

was accompanied by Captain

Vicente Montes, of the Argentine Navy, an accomplished


officer of scientific

attainments.

He had

at

one time been

engaged on a survey of the boundary between the Argentine

and Parana and

dried beef in camp.

Brazil.

On

They had

quantity of

several occasions a jaguar

came

32

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

into

camp

protecting

so that he could not reach

it

however, was disastrous.


visited

Finally they succeeded in

after this dried beef.

On

The

it.

the next occasion that he

camp, at midnight, he seized a man.

was asleep

at the time,

Everybody

and the jaguar came

was

killed,

the woods.

the dogs, and finally


first-class condition.

two

moment

but the next

There was a scene of uproar and con-

and the jaguar was forced to drop

flee into

seized

the jaguar driving his fangs through the man's

skull into the brain.

fusion,

yell,

in so noise-

As he

lessly as to elude the vigilance of the dogs.

the man, the latter gave one

result,

Next morning they followed him with


killed him.
He was a large male, in

The only

was that

incidents

prey and

his

in

feature of note about these

each case the man-eater was a

powerful animal in the prime of

life;

whereas

it

frequently

happens that the jaguars that turn man-eaters are old


animals, and have become too inactive or too feeble to

catch their ordinary prey.

During the two months before starting from Asuncion,


in

Paraguay, for our journey into the

so

busy that

But

interior, I

was kept

had scant time to think of natural

in a strange land a

man who

cares for wild birds

wild beasts always sees and hears something that


to

him and

interests him.

near Rio Janeiro

the southern tropic

history.

is

and

new

In the dense tropical woods

heard in late October

springtime, near

the songs of many birds that

could

But the most beautiful music was from a


shy woodland thrush, sombre-colored, which lived near the

not identify.

ground

in

branches.

the thick timber, but sang high

among

At a great distance we could hear the

the

ringing,

THE START

33

musical, bell-like note, long-drawn and of piercing sweet-

which occurs

ness,
this

at intervals in the song; at first I

was the song, but when

it

was

thought

possible to approach the

singer I found that these far-sounding notes were scattered

through a continuous song of great melody.


ened to one that impressed
in

Argentina

which

is

me

more.

never

list-

In different places

heard and saw the Argentine mocking-bird,

not very unlike our own, and

remarkable singer.

But

is

also a delightful

and

never heard the wonderful white-

by Hudson, who knew


well the birds of both South America and Europe, to be
the song-king of them all.
Most of the birds I thus noticed while hurriedly passbanded mocking-bird, which

said

is

ing through the country were, of course, the conspicuous

The spurred

marked
plover, were everywhere; they were very noisy and active
and both inquisitive and daring, and they have a very

ones.

lapwings, big, tame, boldly

curious dance custom.

him, and

will look for


yell the

No man

need look for them.

when they

find

discovery to the universe.

lower Parana

saw

him they

They

will fairly

In the marshes of the

flocks of scarlet-headed blackbirds

on

the tops of the reeds; the females are as strikingly colored


as the males,

heads make

it

and their jet-black bodies and


impossible for

them

among

their natural surroundings.

west

saw

brilliant red

to escape observation

On

the plains to the

flocks of the beautiful rose-breasted starlings;

unlike the red-headed blackbirds, which seemed fairly to

court attention, these starlings sought to escape observation

by crouching on the ground

were hidden.

wet

places,

so that their red breasts

There were yellow-shouldered blackbirds

and cow-buntings abounded.

in

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

34

But the most conspicuous birds

saw were members of


of which our own king-

the family of tyrant flycatchers,


bird

the most familiar example.

is

numerously represented

Some

individuals.

This family

very

is

both in species and

in Argentina,

of the species are so striking, both in

and habits, and

color

in

one case also

in shape, as to at-

The least conspicuous, and nevertheless very conspicuous, among those


that I saw was the bientevido, which is brown above,
yellow beneath, with a boldly marked black and white
tract the attention of even the unobservant.

head, and a yellow crest.

It

is

very noisy,

the neighborhood of houses, and builds a big


It

is

ful

really a big,

heavy king-bird,

fiercer

than any northern king-bird.

common

is

domed

in

nest.

and more power-

saw them

assail

not

only the big but the small hawks with fearlessness, driving

them

in

headlong

They not only capture

flight.

but pounce on mice, small

frogs, lizards,

and

little

insects,

snakes,

rob birds' nests of the fledgling young, and catch tadpoles

and even small

Two

of the tyrants which I

with which
tail is

grew

which seem

tract attention
It

saw

nating

like

The

two

scissor-

the open country, and the long

at times to

whether the bird

is

hamper

its flight, at-

in flight or

perched on

has a habit of occasionally soaring into the air

and descending
I

observed are

fairly familiar in Texas.

common throughout

tail feathers,

a tree.

fish.

in loops

in the orchards
little bird,

and

spirals.

and gardens.

The scarlet tyrant


The male is a fasci-

coal-black above, while his crested head

and the body beneath are


rapid, low-voiced musical

brilliant scarlet.
trill

He

in the air, rising

utters his

with

flut-

tering wings to a height of a hundred feet, hovering while

THE START
he

and then

sings,

35

The

back to earth.

falling

color of the

bird and the character of his performance attract the at-

tention of every observer, bird, beast, or man, within reach


of vision.

The red-backed

tyrant

is

United States, and until

in the

and Hudson's ornithology

He

longed to this family.


colored
birds

is

any of

utterly unlike

looked him up in Sclater

never dreamed that he be-

for only the male

is

coal-black with a dull-red back.

on December

gonian plains.

kind

his

so brightly

saw these

near Barilloche, out on the bare Pata-

They behaved

like

pipits

or

longspurs,

running actively over the ground in the same manner and

showing the same restlessness and the same kind of

But whereas

pipits

are

flight.

inconspicuous, the red-backs at

once attracted attention by the contrast between their


bold coloring and the grayish or yellowish tones of the

ground along which they ran.


ever,

is

much more

The

conspicuous;

saw

neighborhood as the red-back and also


places.

He

The male

is

how-

silver-bill tyrant,
it

in the

same

in

many

other

jet-black, with white bill

and wings.

runs about on the ground like a pipit, but also frequently

perches on some bush to go through a strange flight-song

performance.

He

perches motionless,

bolt

upright,

and

even then his black coloring advertises him for a quarter


of a mile round about.

up

But every few minutes he springs

into the air to the height of

twenty or thirty

feet,

the

white wings flashing in contrast to the black body, screams

and gyrates, and then instantly returns to


and resumes

his erect pose of waiting.

his

It is

former post

hard to im-

agine a more conspicuous bird than the silver-bill;

the next and last tyrant flycatcher of which

I shall

but

speak

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

36

possesses on the whole the

any small bird


moreover

most advertising coloration of

have ever seen

in the

open country, and

this advertising coloration exists in

and throughout the year.

It

both sexes

a brilliant white,

is

all

over,

except the long wing-quills and the ends of the tail-feathers,

The

which are black.


tance, I thought

first

must be an

one

see

a silver mirror.

like
it;

its

of

and

it

on the top

shines in the

cat, or

man must

it.

These common Argentine


all

prey,

Every hawk,

no one can help seeing

open country, and

It perches

albino.

of a bush or tree watching for

sun

saw, at a very long dis-

birds,

most of them of the

them with a

strikingly advertis-

ing coloration, are interesting because of their beauty and


their habits.

They

are also interesting because they offer

such illuminating examples of the truth that

many

of the

most common and successful birds not merely lack a concealing coloration, but possess a coloration which

highest degree revealing.

The

them.

in the

coloration and the habits

of most of these birds are such that every


foe that can see at all

is

must have

its

hawk

or other

attention attracted to

Evidently in their cases neither the coloration nor

any habit of concealment based on the coloration

is

a sur-

vival factor, and this although they live in a land teeming

with bird-eating hawks.


there are
in

one

many known

set of cases,

Among

factors

some

in

the higher vertebrates

which have

influence,

some

another set of cases, in the

development and preservation of

species.

Courage,

ligence, adaptability, prowess, bodily vigor,

intel-

speed, alert-

ness, ability to hide, ability to build structures

which

will

young while they are helpless, fecundity all,


and many more like them, have their several places; and
protect the

THE START
behind
often

all

which

these visible causes there are at

more potent causes of which

nothing.

37

Some

may

species

owe much

be wholly lacking

work other and

as yet science can say

to a given

in influence

on other

and every one of the attributes above enumerated


vival factor in

some

attribute

species, while in others

it

species;
is

a sur-

has no sur-

vival value whatever, and in yet others, although of benefit, it is

on

not of sufficient benefit to offset the benefit conferred

foes or rivals

by

totally different attributes.

Intelli-

of course a survival factor;

but

to-day there exist multitudes of animals with very

little

gence, for instance,

intelligence

is

which have persisted through immense periods

of geologic time either unchanged or else without

any

in the direction of increased intelligence;

and dur-

ing their species-life they have witnessed the

death of

change

countless other species of far greater intelligence but in

other ways less adapted to succeed in the environmental

The same statement can be made of all the


many, many other known factors in development, from
fecundity to concealing coloration; and behind them lie
forces as to which we veil our ignorance by the use of
high-sounding nomenclature as when we use such a con-

complex.

venient but far from satisfactory term as orthogenesis.

CHAPTER

II

UP THE PARAGUAY

On

the afternoon of December 9

and picturesque

city of

we

left

the attractive

Asuncion to ascend the Paraguay.

With generous courtesy the Paraguayan Government had


put at
self,

my

disposal the gunboat-yacht of the President him-

a most comfortable river steamer, and so the open-

The

ing days of our trip were pleasant in every way.

we

food was good, our quarters were clean,

slept well,

below or on deck, usually without our mosquito-nettings,

and
It

in

was

daytime the deck was pleasant under the awnings.


hot, of course, but

we were

dressed suitably in our

exploring and hunting clothes and did not

The

river

was low,

some weeks

for there

judging

information

mind the

heat.

had been dry weather

for

from the vague and contradictory

received

there

is

much

elasticity

to the

terms wet season and dry season at this part of the Paraguay.

Under the

mighty

river;

brilliant

the sunset was glorious as

we

leaned on the

and after nightfall the moon, nearly

port railing;

hanging high

in the heavens,

mering radiance.

among

sky we steamed steadily up the

On

full

and

turned the water to shim-

the mud-flats and sand-bars, and

the green rushes of the bays and inlets, were stately

water-fowl;

crimson flamingoes and rosy spoonbills, dark-

colored ibis and white storks with black wings.

with snakelike necks and pointed

on the brink of the

river.

Snowy
38

bills,

Darters,

perched in the trees

egrets flapped across the

UP THE PARAGUAY

39

Caymans were common, and differed from the


crocodiles we had seen in Africa in two points: they were
not alarmed by the report of a rifle when fired at, and
marshes.

they lay with the head raised instead of stretched along


the sand.

For three days, as we steamed northward toward the


Tropic of Capricorn, and then passed
the Republic of Paraguay.

was a

On

it,

we were within

our right, to the east, there

fairly well-settled country,

where bananas and

or-

anges were cultivated and other crops of hot countries

On

raised.

we

the banks

passed an occasional small town,

or saw a ranch-house close to the river's brink, or stopped


for

wood

some

at

west lay the

Chaco,

still

little

level,

Across the river to the

settlement.

swampy,

fertile

wastes

known

as the

given over either to the wild Indians or to

The broad river ran


curves between mud-banks where terraces marked suc-

cattle-ranching on a gigantic scale.


in

cessive periods of flood.

bank, but

it

belt of forest stood

on each

was only a couple of hundred yards wide.

Back of it was the open country; on the Chaco side this


was a vast plain of grass dotted with tall, graceful palms.
In places the belt of forest vanished and the palm-dotted
prairie

came

to the river's edge.

cattle country,

and not

The Chaco

really unhealthy.

ered with ranches at a not distant day.

and many other winged

insect pests

is

It will

an ideal
be cov-

But mosquitoes

swarm over

it.

Cherrie

and Miller had spent a week there collecting mammals and


birds prior to

my

arrival at Asuncion.

They were

veter-

ans of the tropics, hardened to the insect plagues of Guiana

and the Orinoco.


been so tortured as

But they reported that never had they


in the

Chaco.

The

sand-flies crawled

40

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

through the meshes

them

to sleep;

the mosquito-nets,

in

knee touched the net

in their sleep a

if

on

and forbade

by
birdshot; and the nights were a torment, although they had
done well in their work, collecting some two hundred and
fifty specimens of birds and mammals.
Nevertheless for some as yet inscrutable reason the
river served as a barrier to certain insects which are menaces to the cattlemen.
With me on the gunboat was an
old Western friend, Tex Rickard, of the Panhandle and
the mosquitoes

fell

so that

it

Alaska and various places


large tract of land
cattle in the

was to

stop.

in

and some

it

looked as

if

riddled

He now

between.

has a

thousand head of

thirty-five

Chaco, opposite Concepcion, at which city he

He

told

me

that horses did not do well in

the Chaco but that cattle throve, and that while ticks

bank of the great river, they would


on the west bank. Again and again he had crossed

swarmed on the
not live

east

herds of cattle which were covered with the loathsome


bloodsuckers; and in a couple of months every tick would

be dead.

The worst animal

foes of

dangerous

foes, are insects;

and

the tropics.

Fortunately,

man, indeed the only

this

exactly as

especially true in

is

certain

differences

too minute for us as yet to explain render some insects

man

deadly to

or domestic animals, while closely allied

forms are harmless,

so,

for other reasons,

which

also

we

are not as yet able to fathom, these insects are for the

most part

by geographical and other conThe war against what Sir Harry Johnston calls

strictly limited

siderations.

the really material devil, the devil of evil wild nature in the
tropics, has

been waged with marked success only during

the last two decades.

The men,

in the

United States,

in

UP THE PARAGUAY

the

men

England, France, Germany, Italy

Cruz

in

41

Rio Janeiro and Doctor Vital Brazil

like

in

Doctor

Sao Paulo

who work experimentally within and without the laboratory in their warfare against the disease and death bearing
insects

make

and microbes, are the true leaders

the tropics the

home

in the fight to

of civilized man.

Late on the evening of the second day of our

trip, just

we reached Concepcion. On this


when we stopped for wood or to get provisions at
before midnight,

day,

pic-

women from rough mud and

turesque places, where the

thatched cabins were washing clothes in the

river, or

where

ragged horsemen stood gazing at us from the bank, or where

ranchmen stood

dark, well-dressed

houses

we

many

caught

in front of red-roofed

They belonged

fish.

to one of

the most formidable genera of fish in the world, the pi-

ranha or cannibal
get the chance.

fish,

the fish that eats

At

this point

guay the piranha do not seem to go


in all the

teen inches or over.

the world.

can

it

Farther north there are species of small

piranha that go in schools.

they swarm

men when

on the Para-

in regular schools,

but

waters and attain a length of eigh-

They

are the

most ferocious

Even the most formidable

fish,

fish in

the sharks or

the barracudas, usually attack things smaller than themselves.

larger

But the piranhas habitually attack things much


than themselves. They will snap a finger off a hand

incautiously trailed in the water; they mutilate swimmers

in

every river town in Paraguay there are

been thus mutilated; they

wounded man or
them to madness.
pieces;

and

beast;

They

will

men who have

rend and devour alive any

for blood
will tear

in the

water excites

wounded wild fowl

bite off the tails of big fish as they

grow

to
ex-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

42

hausted when fighting after being hooked.


I

Miller, before

reached Asuncion, had been badly bitten by one.

we caught sometimes

that

bit

Those

through the hooks, or the

double strands of copper wire that served as leaders, and

Those that we hauled on deck

got away.

minutes.

Most predatory

alligator-gar

and

deep-bodied

fish,

fish are

lived for

long and slim, like the

But the piranha

pickerel.

many

is

a short,

with a blunt face and a heavily under-

shot or projecting lower jaw which gapes widely.

The

razor-edged teeth are wedge-shaped like a shark's, and the

The

jaw muscles possess great power.

rabid, furious snaps

drive the teeth through flesh and bone.


its

The head with

short muzzle, staring malignant eyes, and gaping, cruelly

armed jaws,

is

the embodiment of evil ferocity;

match

actions of the fish exactly

its

looks.

and the

never wit-

nessed an exhibition of such impotent, savage fury as was

shown by the piranhas as they flapped on deck. When


fresh from the water and thrown on the boards they uttered an extraordinary squealing sound. As they flapped
about they
itself.

bit

One

with vicious eagerness at whatever presented

them flapped

of

into a cloth

Another grasped one of

a bulldog grip.

other snapped at a piece of wood, and

deep therein.

and seized

They

left

its

it

with

fellows;

an-

the teeth-marks

are the pests of the waters,

and

it is

necessary to be exceedingly cautious about either swim-

ming or wading where they


into,

or of their

own

are found.

If cattle are driven

accord enter, the water, they are

commonly not molested; but

if

by chance some unusually

big or ferocious specimen of these fearsome fishes does

taking

part of an ear, or perhaps of a

bite

an animal

teat

from the udder of a cow

off

the

blood brings up every

RcJV

m*m

Wi

mJ

wk

'*~i

m^i^-

fli

JI

:
...

Man-eating

fish,

piranha

Note the razor-edged teeth

From photographs

by Harper

UP THE PARAGUAY
member

of the ravenous throng which

43

anywhere near,

is

and unless the attacked animal can immediately make


escape from the water

is

it

devoured

Paraguay the natives hold them


the caymans are not feared at

them

feature about

is

in
all.

Here on the

alive.

much
The

its

whereas

respect,

only redeeming

that they are themselves fairly good

many

to eat, although with too

bones.

At daybreak of the third day, finding we were still


moored off Concepcion, we were rowed ashore and strolled
through the

off

streets of the quaint, picturesque old

town;

a town which, like Asuncion, was founded by the conquistadores three-quarters of a century before our
glish

and Dutch forefathers landed

United States.
possession of

The

what

what

in

is

own Ennow the

Jesuits then took practically complete

is

tianizing the Indians,

now Paraguay,
and

controlling

and Chris-

raising their flourishing missions

to a pitch of prosperity they never elsewhere achieved.

They were

expelled

by the

(backed by the

civil authorities

other representatives of ecclesiastical authority) some

fifty

years before Spanish South America became independent.

But they had already made the language of the Indians,


Guarany, a culture-tongue, reducing
printing religious books in

it.

to writing,

it

Guarany

is

and

one of the most

wide-spread of the Indian tongues, being originally found


in various closely allied
in

forms not only

Uruguay and over the major part

in

Paraguay but

of Brazil.

It

remains

here and there, as a lingua geral at least, and doubtless in


cases as an original tongue,

among

the wild tribes.

In most

of Brazil, as around Para and around Sao Paulo,


left

its

it

has

traces in place-names, but has been completely

superseded as a language by Portuguese.

In Paraguay

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

44
it

still

exists

side

by

common

with Spanish as the

side

language of the lower people and as a familiar tongue

among

The blood

the upper classes.

their language dual;

of the people

while the upper

predominantly white, with a strong infusion of

There

Indian.

mixed,

the lower classes are chiefly of In-

dian blood but with a white admixture;


classes are

is

no other case quite

is

parallel to this in

the annals of European colonization, although the Goanese in India have a native tongue and a Portuguese creed,

while in several of the Spanish-American states the In-

dian blood

is

dominant and the majority of the population

speak an Indian tongue, perhaps

itself,

with the Qui-

as

Whether

chuas, once a culture-tongue of the archaic type.


in

Paraguay one tongue

and,

if so,

which

will

be the victor,

The English

prophesy.

will ultimately drive out the other,


it

is

yet too early to

missionaries and the Bible Society

have recently published parts of the Scriptures

and
in

in

Asuncion a daily paper

Oklahoma
and

in

there

the

is

Guarany;

published with the text

Spanish and Guarany

columns,

parallel

is

in

just

a similar paper published in

tongue

as

in

English

which the extraordinary Cherokee

Cadmus, made a

chief Sequoia, a veritable

literary lan-

guage.

as

The Guarany-speaking Paraguayan is a


much an inheritor of our common culture

peasant populations of Europe.


the wild Indian,

who

He

Christian,
as

and

most of the

has no kinship with

hates and fears him.

The Indian

of the Chaco, a pure savage, a bow-bearing savage, will

never come east of the Paraguay, and the Paraguayan

is

only beginning to venture into the western interior, away

from the banks of the

under the lead of pioneer

river

set-

UP THE PARAGUAY
whom, by

Rickard,

tiers like

thoroughly trust, and for

There

faithfully.

is

45

the way, the wild Indians

whom

they work eagerly and

a great development ahead for Para-

guay, as soon as they can definitely shake

off

the revolu-

tionary habit and establish an orderly permanence of gov-

The people

ernment.
blood

are a fine people; the

strains

of

white and Indianare good.

We

walked up the

Concepcion, and inter-

streets of

estedly looked at everything of interest: at the one-story

houses, their

windows covered with gratings of

fretted

ironwork, and their occasional open doors giving us glimpses


into cool inner courtyards, with trees

two-wheel

and flowers;

at the

drawn by mules or oxen; at an occawith spurs on his bare feet, and his big toes

carts,

sional rider,

thrust into the small stirrup-rings; at the

and

little stores,

Then we came to a
kept by a Frenchman and his wife, of

the warehouses for matte and hides.


pleasant

little inn,

old Spanish style, with


as

an inn

in

the garrison

He

guay.

me

Normandy

around a

coffee,

told
in

or inner court, but as neat

Concepcion

when
is

in

were

sitting at

came the

colonel of

the second city in Para-

me

that they had prepared a reception for

my

rough hunting-clothes, but there was

nothing to do but to accompany


to their good nature to pardon

matter of dress.

We

or Brittany.

little table,

for

was

its patio,

The

my
my

colonel drove

kind hosts and trust


shortcomings in the

me

about

smart

in a

two good horses and a liveried driver.


It was a much more fashionable turnout than would be
seen in any of our cities save the largest, and even in them

open

carriage, with

probably not

in the service of a public official.

South American countries there

is

In

all

more pomp and

the

cere-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

46

mony
and

in connection

with public functions than with

us,

at these functions the liveried servants, often with

knee-breeches and powdered hair, are like those seen at

European functions; there is not the democratic


simplicity which better suits our own habits of life and
ways of thought. But the South Americans often surpass
similar

us,

not merely in

pomp and ceremony but

real importance, courtesy;

in

what

is

of

and courtesy we can

in civility

well afford to take lessons from them.

We

first

visited the barracks,

saw the troops

in the

setting-up exercises, and inspected the arms, the artillery,

There was a German lieutenant with the

the equipment.

Paraguayan

officers;

one of several German

officers

who

now engaged in helping the Paraguayans with their


army. The equipments and arms were in good condition;
the enlisted men evidently offered fine material; and the
are

officers

were doing hard work.

militarists to

It

ponder the fact that

can country where a really

is

worth while

in

efficient

for anti-

every South Ameri-

army

is

developed,

the increase in military efficiency goes hand in hand with a


decrease in lawlessness and disorder, and a growing reluc-

tance to settle internal disagreements by violence.

They

are introducing universal military service in Paraguay; the


officers,

many

of

whom

have studied abroad, are grow-

ing to feel an increased esprit de corps, an increased pride in

the army, and therefore a desire to see the

army made the

servant of the nation as a whole and not the tool of any


faction or individual.

they

will

If these feelings

grow strong enough

be powerful factors in giving Paraguay what she

most needs, freedom from revolutionary disturbance and


therefore the chance to achieve the material prosperity

UP THE PARAGUAY

47

without which as a basis there can be no advance in other

and even more important matters.

Then

was driven to the City

accompanied by

Hall,

German long settled in the counleading men of the city. There was a

the intendente, or mayor, a


try and one of the

When

breakfast.

had to speak

impressed into

my

ser-

young Paraguayan who was a graduof the University of Pennsylvania.


He was able to

vice as interpreter a

ate

my

render into Spanish

ideas

on such subjects as orderly

and the far-reaching mischief done by the revolu-

liberty

tionary habit

with

and

clearness

oughly understood not only how

way

I felt

but also the American

My

hosts were hospitality

of looking at such things.

itself,

and

We

vigor, because he thor-

enjoyed the unexpected greeting.

steamed on up the

another boat

a steamer,

Now and then we passed


my surprise, perhaps a bar-

river.

or, to

The Paraguay

kentine or schooner.

Once we passed a big beef-canning

is

a highway of

factory.

traffic.

Ranches stood

on either bank a few leagues apart, and we stopped at


wood-yards on the west bank.

Indians worked around

At one such yard the Indians were evidently part


of the regular force. Their squaws were with them, cook-

them.

ing at queer open-air ovens.

a parrot and a young coati

small child had as pets

kind of long-nosed rac-

Loading wood, the Indians stood

coon.

the

One

logs

from one to the other.

in a line, tossing

These Indians wore

clothes.

On

this

day we got into the

of the day the deck

sun rose and


the

moon

set in

tropics.

Even

in the heat

was pleasant under the awnings; the

crimson splendor; and the nights, with

at the full,

were wonderful.

At night Orion

48

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

blazed overhead; and the Southern Cross hung in the starbrilliant

heavens behind

constellations paled;

But

us.

and

after the

moon

rose the

clear in her light the tree-clad

banks stood on either hand as we steamed steadily against


the swirling current of the great river.

At noon on the twelfth we were at the Brazilian boundary.


On this day we here and there came on low, conical
hills close

to the river.

In places the palm groves broke

through the belts of deciduous trees and stretched for


a mile or so right along the river's bank.

At times we

passed cattle on the banks or sand-bars, followed by their

handsome ranch-house, under a cluster of shady


trees, some bearing a wealth of red and some a wealth of
yellow blossoms; or we saw a horse-corral among the trees
herders; or a

close to the brink,

man

a herd of cattle

stopped

or
at

in

it

and a barefooted

and trousers leaning against the fence; or

in shirt

factory

with the horses

among

little

one

the palms;

or a big tannery or

came in sight. We
The owner was a Spaniard,

native hamlet

tannery.

the manager an "Oriental," as he called himself, a Uru-

The peons, or workers, who


wooden cabins back of the main

guayan, of German parentage.


lived in a long line of

building, were mostly Paraguayans, with a few Brazilians,

and a dozen German and Argentine foremen.


also some wild Indians, who were camped
squalid fashion of Indians

who

There were
in the usual

are hangers-on round the

man but have not yet adopted his ways. Most of


the men were at work cutting wood for the tannery. The
women and children were in camp. Some individuals of
white

both sexes were naked to the waist.

young

ostrich as a pet.

One

little girl

had a

O
be

_^

'

I
^

UP THE PARAGUAY
Water-fowl were

Our tame

muscovy ducks.
cies

and

when

We

plentiful.

birds

saw

large flocks of wild

come from

this wild spe-

absurd misnaming dates back to the period

its

misnamed

the turkey and guinea-pig were

fashion

49

in similar

our European forefathers taking a large and hazy

view of geography, and including Turkey, Guinea, India,

and Muscovy
outlandish,

as places which, in their capacity of being

could be comprehensively used as including

The muscovy ducks were very good eating.


Darters and cormorants swarmed. They waddled on the
sand-bars in big flocks and crowded the trees by the water's

America.

Beautiful snow-white egrets also

edge.

well back from the river.


green,

lit

full-foliaged tree of vivid

round surface crowded with these

its

had suddenly blossomed with huge white


worth

in the trees, often

seeing.

birds, as

flowers,

is

if it

a sight

Here and there on the sand-bars we saw

huge jabiru storks, and once a flock of white wood-ibis

among

On

the trees on the bank.


the

Brazilian

boundary we met a shallow

river

steamer carrying Colonel Candido Mariano da Silva Ron-

don and several other Brazilian members of the expedition.


Colonel

Rondon immediately showed

more than

all,

that he was

that could be desired.

he knew his business thoroughly, and

It
it

all,

and

was evident that


was equally

dent that he would be a pleasant companion.

evi-

He was

classmate of Mr. Lauro Miiller at the Brazilian Military

Academy.
Positivist

He

is

of almost pure Indian blood, and

the Positivists are a really strong body

as they are in

all

in Brazil,

The colonel's
been formally made members of

France and indeed

seven children have

is

in Chile.

the Positivist Church in Rio Janeiro.

Brazil possesses the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

50

same complete

good fortune, do

intellectual as we, for our great

United

States,

and

my

Brazilian

as

Colonel

"libres penseurs."

in the

companions included

men who

Catholics and equally sincere


selves

and

liberty in matters religious, spiritual,

described them-

Rondon has spent

the last twenty-four years in exploring the western highlands of Brazil, pioneering the

way

and

for telegraph-lines

During that time he has travelled some four-

railroads.

teen thousand miles, on territory most of which had not

by

previously been traversed

civilized

three thousand miles of telegraph.

knowledge of the Indian

tribes

He

man, and has

built

has an exceptional

and has always zealously

endeavored to serve them and indeed to serve the cause

Thanks

of humanity wherever and whenever he was able.

mainly to

his efforts, four of the wild tribes of the region

he has explored have begun to tread the road of

They have taken

tion.

Christians.

It

the

may seem

first

becoming

steps toward

strange that

among

fruits of the efforts of a Positivist should

a theology.

much

But

in

a status as

up-

In the wilder and poorer districts

are divided into the

and "Indians."
is

at least as

first-

It represents the indispensable first step

ward from savagery.

men

is

the

be the conver-

sion of those he seeks to benefit to Christianity.

South America Christianity

civiliza-

When

two great

classes of

"Christians"

an Indian becomes a Christian he

accepted into and becomes wholly absorbed or partly

by the crude and simple neighboring civilizaand then he moves up or down like any one else

assimilated
tion,

among

his fellows.

Among

Colonel

Rondon's companions were Captain

Amilcar de Magalhaes, Lieutenant Joao Lyra, Lieutenant

Indians rolling logs at


From

a photograph by

Palms along the bank


From

wood

station

Kermit Roosevelt

of the river

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

UP THE PARAGUAY

51

Joaquin de Mello Filho, and Doctor Euzebio de Oliveira,


a geologist.

The steamers

halted; Colonel

and span

his officers, spick

cussed and agreed on

When

we took

visited

these

tea.

several of

white uniforms, came

in their

aboard; and in the afternoon


to talk over our plans.

Rondon and

him on his steamer


had been fully dis-

happened to mention

that one of our naturalists, Miller, had been bitten

by a

piranha, and the man-eating fish at once became the subject of conversation.
zilian taxidermists

My

piranha.
tell

Curiously enough, one of the Bra-

had

also just

been severely bitten by a

new companions had

story after story to

Only three weeks previously a twelve-year-

of them.

boy who had gone

swimming near Corumba was


Colonel
attacked, and literally devoured alive by them.
Rondon during his exploring trips had met with more

old

in

than one unpleasant experience

He had

lost

in

connection with them.

one of his toes by the bite of a piranha.

was about to bathe and had chosen a shallow pool


edge of the

river,

satisfied that

which he carefully inspected

none of the man-eating

fish

were

at the

until he
in

it;

He
was

yet as

soon as he put his foot into the water one of them attacked

him and

bit off a toe.

On

another occasion while wading

across a narrow stream one of his party


fish bit

him on the

was attacked; the

when he put
he was near the bank and

thighs and buttocks, and

down his hands tore them also;


by a rush reached it and swung himself out of the water
by means of an overhanging limb of a tree; but he was
terribly injured, and it took him six months before his
wounds healed and he recovered. An extraordinary incident occurred on another trip. The party were without

52

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS


On

food and very hungry.

mited

and waded

it,

having

his

his

full,

mouth;

stunned, but in a

was a piranha and seemingly

it

moment

tion out of his tongue.


his life

it

recovered and bit a big sec-

Such a hemorrhage followed that

was saved with the utmost

occasion a

member

they

fish as

One man, Lieutenant Pyrineus,


tried to hold one fish by putting its

on the surface.

head into

stunned

in to seize the

floated

hands

reaching a stream they dyna-

of the party

difficulty.

was

off

On

another

by himself on a

The mule came into camp alone. Following his


track back they came to a ford, where in the water they
mule.

found the skeleton of the dead man, his clothes uninjured

Whether

but every particle of flesh stripped from his bones.

he had drowned, and the


or whether they had

They had
which made

fishes

killed

him

had then eaten


it

his

body,

was impossible to

say.

not hurt the clothes, getting in under them,


it

seem

These man-eating
they frequent.

fish are

But

that the piranhas

World caymans and


foes of

Africa.

man

likely that there

it

or,

had been no

struggle.

a veritable scourge in the waters

must not be understood by


for the

crocodiles

this

matter of that, the New-

ever become such dreaded

as for instance the man-eating crocodiles of

Accidents occur, and there are certain places where

swimming and bathing are dangerous; but in most places


the people swim freely, although they are usually careful
to find spots they believe safe or else to keep together and

make

a splashing in the water.

Rondon had met with various


experiences with wild creatures. The Paraguayan caymans
are not ordinarily dangerous to man; but they do someDuring

his trips Colonel

times become man-eaters and should be destroyed when-

UP THE PARAGUAY
The huge caymans and

ever the opportunity offers.


odiles

colonel

of the

knew

Amazon

are far

croc-

more dangerous, and the

of repeated instances where men,

had become

children

53

their victims.

women, and

Once while dynamit-

ing a stream for fish for his starving party he partially

stunned a giant anaconda, which he killed as


slowly

He

off.

said that

was of a

it

size

it

crept

that no other

anaconda he had ever seen even approached, and that


his opinion such a brute if

a full-grown man.
his dogs;

in

hungry would readily attack

Twice smaller anacondas had attacked

one was carried under water

but

for the

anaconda

One of his
men was bitten by a jararaca; he killed the venomous
snake, but was not discovered and brought back to camp
until it was too late to save his life.
The puma Colonel
Rondon had found to be as cowardly as I have always found
is

it,

a water-loving serpent

he rescued

it.

but the jaguar was a formidable beast, which occasion-

ally

turned man-eater, and often charged savagely when

He had known

brought to bay.

by a jaguar he was following

a hunter to be killed

in thick grass cover.

All such enemies, however, he regarded as utterly trivial

compared to the

dangers of the wilderness

real

torment and menace of attacks by the swarming

the

insects,

by mosquitoes and the even more intolerable tiny gnats,


by the ticks, and by the vicious poisonous ants which occasionally cause villages

deserted

by human

and even whole

beings.

These

insects,

districts to

be

and the fevers

they cause, and dysentery and starvation and wearing


hardship and accidents in rapids are what the pioneer explorers

have to

interesting.

fear.

The

The

conversation was to

me most

colonel spoke French about to the ex-

54

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

tent

I did;

guese;

but of course he and the others preferred Portu-

and then Kermit was the

interpreter.

we stopped

In the evening, soon after moonrise,

wood

at the little Brazilian

are about twelve

town of Porto Martinho.

Some

hundred inhabitants.

There

of the build-

were of stone; a large private house with a castellated

ings

tower was of stone;


matte, of which

there were shops, and a post-office,

and

stores, a restaurant

much

billiard-hall,

is

grown

Most of the houses were


which

many

trees rose,

sidewalks.

was a

It

clad inmates of the

roundabout.

in the region

them

of

fragrant.

hot,

still

walls, inside of

We

wandered

and along the narrow

streets,

evening;

was on the heavy December

doors and windows

air.

the smell of the

Through the open

we caught dim glimpses of the halfpoorer houses; women and young girls

whom

sat outside their thresholds in the moonlight.

All

we met were most

little

zilian

the captain of the

friendly:

the intendente, a local trader;

garrison;

trader and ranchman, a Uruguayan,

newspaper containing

who, as

voluble Spanish, was

ics);

my

much

liberty,

who had

Bra-

another

just received

speech in Montevideo, and

gathered from what

mocracy, honesty,

for

low, with overhanging, sloping

through the wide, dusty

tropics

and warehouses

and there were gardens with high

eaves;

his

for

understood of his rather

impressed by

my

views on de-

and order (rather well-worn top-

and a Catalan who spoke French, and who was ac-

companied by
eight or ten,

his

who

three languages

pretty daughter, a dear


said with

Brazilian,

much

little

girl

of

pride that she spoke

Spanish, and Catalan

Her

father expressed strongly his desire for a church and for a


school in the

little city.

UP THE PARAGUAY
When

55

wood was aboard we resumed our


was like glass. In the white moon-

at last the

The

journey.

river

palms on the edge of the banks stood mirrored

light the

We

in the still water.

sat forward

and

as

we rounded

the

curves the long silver reaches of the great stream stretched

ahead of

us,

and the ghostly outlines of

Here and there

distance.

hills

rose in the

prairie fires burned,

and the red

glow warred with the moon's radiance.

Next morning was

Occasionally

overcast.

we

passed a

wood-yard, or factory, or cabin, now on the eastern, the

now on the western,


Paraguay was known to men
Brazilian,

and

diers

priests

towns and

of European birth, bore sol-

and merchants

up and down the current of


forts rise

on

its

its

as they sailed

Mississippi at the end of the


in the

little

banks, long before the Mississippi

upper course, the settlements are much

and

and rowed

stream, and beheld

had become the white man's highway.

tury;

The

the Paraguayan, bank.

first

Now, along
like those

its

on the

quarter of the last cen-

not distant future

it

will witness a burst

much like that which the Mississippi saw when the old men of to-day were very young.
In the early forenoon we stopped at a little Paraguayan

of growth and prosperity

hamlet, nestling in the green growth under a group of low


hills

by the

turesque old stone


Spanish,
floats

guayan

fort,

the colonial,

over

On

river-brink.

it,

known

days.

as Fort

Now

the

hills

stood a pic-

Bourbon

in the

Paraguayan

flag

by a handful of ParaHere Father Zahm baptized two children,

and

soldiers.

one of these

it

is

garrisoned

the youngest of a large family of fair-skinned, light-haired

was a Paraguayan and the


mother an "Oriental," or Uruguayan. No priest had
small people, whose father

56

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

visited the village for three years,

respectively one

and two years of

and the children were

The

age.

sponsors in-

commandante and a married couple from


In answer to what was supposed to be the per-

cluded the local


Austria.

functory question whether they were Catholics, the parents


returned the unexpected answer that they were not.

Fur-

ther questioning elicited the fact that the father called himself

a "free-thinking Catholic," and the mother said she

was a "Protestant Catholic," her mother having been a


Protestant, the daughter of an immigrant from Normandy.
However,

it

appeared that the older children had been

baptized by the Bishop of Asuncion, so Father

Zahm

at

the earnest request of the parents proceeded with the cere-

mony.

They were good

people; and, although they wished

liberty to think exactly as they individually pleased,


also

they

wished to be connected and to have their children

connected with some church, by preference the church of


the majority of their people.

communities where there

is

very short experience of

no church ought to convince

the most heterodox of the absolute need of a church.

earnestly wish that there could be such an increase in the

personnel and equipment of the Catholic Church in South

America

as to permit the establishment of

earnest priest in every village or


far interior.

Nor

is

little

one good and

community

in the

there any inconsistency between this

wish and the further wish that there could be a marked extension and development of the native Protestant churches,

such as

saw established here and there

guay, and Argentina, and of the Y.

The bulk

of these good people

who

M.

in Brazil,

Uru-

C. Associations.

profess religion will

continue to be Catholics, but the spiritual needs of a more

UP THE PARAGUAY
or less considerable minority will best be

57

met by the

es-

tablishment of Protestant churches, or in places even of a

Church or Ethical Culture

Positivist
is

Society.

Not only

the establishment of such churches a good thing for the

body politic as a whole, but a good thing for the Catholic


Church itself; for their presence is a constant spur to
activity

and clean and honorable conduct, and a constant

reflection

on sloth and moral

each of these commonwealths

laxity.
is

The government

doing everything possible

to further the cause of education, and the tendency


treat education as peculiarly a function of

to

make

ligatory,

it,

where the government

and

free

in

is

to

government and

acts, non-sectarian, ob-

cardinal doctrine of our

own

great

democracy, to which we are committed by every principle


of sound Americanism.
liberty, for

There must be absolute

religious

tyranny and intolerance are as abhorrent in

matters intellectual and spiritual as in matters political

and material
conduct

is

and more and more we must

all realize

that

of infinitely greater importance than dogma.

But no democracy can

afford to overlook the vital impor-

tance of the ethical and spiritual, the truly religious,

ment

in life;

and

average good

in practice the

clearly to understand this,

ele-

man grows

and to express the need

in

concrete form

by saying that no community can make

much headway

if it

does not contain both a church and a

school.

We

took breakfast

the eleven-o'clock Brazilian break-

fast

on

Colonel Rondon's boat.

ing

more

plentiful.

and mud-banks

like

The ugly
logs,

Caymans were becom-

brutes lay on the sand-flats

always with the head raised,

sometimes with the jaws open.

They

are often dangerous

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

58

to domestic animals, and are always destructive to

and

it is

good to shoot them.

missed nearly as

many more

We

improve one's aim.

I killed

fish,

half a dozen,

and

throbbing boat does not

passed forests of palms that ex-

tended for leagues, and vast marshy meadows, where storks,


herons, and ibis were gathered, with flocks of cormorants

and darters on the sand-bars, and

stilts,

skimmers, and

About

clouds of beautiful swaying terns in the foreground.

noon we passed the highest point which the old Spanish conquistadores and explorers, Irala and Ayolas, had reached in

the course of their marvellous journeys in the

the sixteenth century

tlement in what

is

at a time when there was not a

now

a single English sea

half of

first

set-

when hardly
captain had ventured so much as to
the United States, and

cross the Atlantic.

By

the following day the country on the east bank had

become a vast marshy

plain dotted here

tree-clad patches of higher land.

a contrast to the fine weather

We

The morning was

we had

rainy;

hitherto encountered.

At one of the

passed wood-yards and cattle-ranches.

latter the owner,

and there by

an Argentine of Irish parentage,

who

still

spoke English with the accent of the land of his parents'

was the

time the Ameri-

nativity,

remarked that

can

had been seen on the upper Paraguay;

flag

gunboat carried

it

this

at the masthead.

first

for our

Early in the after-

noon, having reached the part where both banks of the


river

were Brazilian territory, we came to the old colonial

Portuguese fort of Coimbra.


hills rise,

one on either side of the

water-gorge between them.

guayans

It stands

in the

It

war of nearly

river,

where two steep

and

it

guards the

was captured by the Parahalf a century ago.

Some

*->

>.

On
Oh

-5

UP THE PARAGUAY

59

modern guns have been mounted, and there is a garrison


of Brazilian troops. The white fort is perched on the hillside, where it clings and rises, terrace above terrace, with
bastion and parapet and crenellated wall. At the foot of
the

on the riverine

hill,

with

plain, stretches the old-time village

In the village dwell several hun-

roofs of palm.

its

dred souls, almost entirely the officers and soldiers and their

There

families.

is

one long

The

street.

one-story, daub-

and-wattle houses have low eaves and steep sloping roofs

Under one

of palm-leaves or of split palm-trunks.

or

two

old but small trees there are rude benches; and for a part of

the length of the street there

is

a rough stone sidewalk.

graveyard, some of the tombs very old, stands at

little

As we passed down the

one end.

street the wives

and the

swarming children of the garrison were at the doors and


windows; there were
as

any

in

paralleled

was going on

with skins as

fair

Most were of intervening shades. All this


among the men; and the fusion of the colors
steadily.

Around the

were gathered.

Not

we passed some rounded green

trees,

village black vultures

long before reaching


their tops covered

time

girls

the northland, and others that were predomi-

nantly negro.

was

women and

it

with the showy wood-ibis; at the same

we saw behind them,

farther inland, other trees crowded

with the more delicate forms of the shining white egrets.

The

river

a long lake;
endless

there

never

now widened so that


it wound in every

marshy

plain,

clouds of storm.

The

direction

it

looked like

through the

whose surface was broken here and

by low mountains.
saw surpassed.

in places

We

The splendor

of the sunset

were steaming east toward

river ran, a

broad highway of mol-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

60

ten gold, into the flaming sky; the far-off mountains loomed
purple across the marshes;

belts of rich green, the river

banks stood out on either side against the rose-hues of the


rippling water;

hung the

in front,

four miles before


it

stands,

cliffs.

We

we

dim and

tropic night,

On December

as

forged steadily onward,

vast.

15

we reached Corumba.

it

is

reached the west bank, on which

becomes high rocky ground,

The country roundabout was

saw gauchos, cattle-herders

cowboys

riding

For three or

falling

away

into

evidently well peopled.

the equivalent of our own


Women

along the bank.

were washing

and their naked children bathing, on the shore;

clothes,

we were

caymans and piranhas rarely ventured


near a place where so much was going on, and that accitold that

dents generally occurred in ponds or lonely stretches of the


river.

Several steamers

came out

to meet us, and accom-

panied us for a dozen miles, with bands playing and the


passengers cheering, just as

if

we were

nearing some town

on the Hudson.

Corumba
streets,

is

on a steep

some of them

scarlet flowers,

hillside,

with wide, roughly paved

lined with beautiful trees that bear

and with

well-built houses,

of one story, some of two or three stories.

most of them

We were greeted

with a reception by the municipal council, and were given


a state dinner.

The

fortable as possible

dows and

hotel, kept

stone

by an

floors,

high

doors, a cool, open courtyard,

Of course Corumba

is

still

Italian,

was

ceilings,

as

com-

big win-

and a shower-bath.

a frontier town.

The

vehicles

and mule-carts; there are no carriages; and


The water comes
well as mules are used for riding.

are ox-carts

oxen as

from a big central well; around

it

the water-carts gather,

UP THE PARAGUAY
and

their contents are then peddled

houses.

The

families

in their

return and take

them

accordingly done.

reach

around at the different

showed the mixture of races charac-

one mother, after the children had been

teristic of Brazil;

photographed

61

ordinary costume, begged that


in their

Sunday

clothes,

we

which was

In a year the railway from Rio will

Corumba; and then

this city,

and the country round-

much development.
At this point we rejoined the rest of the
very glad we were to see them. Cherrie and
about, will see

party, and

Miller had

already collected some eight hundred specimens of

mals and birds.

mam-

CHAPTER

III

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY

The morning
Rondon

Colonel
of

what

is

after our arrival

Corumba

at

to inspect our outfit;

asked

for his experience

necessary in tropical travelling has been gained

through a quarter of a century of arduous exploration


the wilderness.

It

was Fiala who had assembled our foodand supplies of

tents, cooking-utensils,

and

Sigg, during their stay in

everything in shape for our

end of
gest;

his inspection said

that

it

in

kinds,

all

and he

Corumba, had been putting

start.

Colonel

Rondon

at the

he had nothing whatever to sug-

was extraordinary that

Fiala,

without per-

sonal knowledge of the tropics, could have gathered the

things most necessary, with the

maximum

in the

of bulk and

of usefulness.

Miller had

swarmed

minimum

at

made

a special study of the piranhas, which

one of the camps he and Cherrie had made

Chaco.

So numerous were they that the members

of the party had to be exceedingly careful in dipping

water.

ward

up

Miller did not find that they were cannibals totheir

own

kind;

they were "cannibals" only in the

sense of eating the flesh of men.

When

dead piranhas,

and even when mortally injured piranhas, with the blood

thrown among the ravenous living, they were


unmolested. Moreover, it was Miller's experience, the

flowing, were
left

direct contrary of

and a commotion

what we had been


in

told, that splashing

the water attracted the piranhas,


62

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY

63

whereas they rarely attacked anything that was motionless


unless

it

Dead

was bloody.

birds

and mammals, thrown

whole and unskinned into the water were permitted to


float

off

unmolested, whereas the skinned carcass of a

good-sized

monkey was

at once seized, pulled

under the

by the blood-crazy fish.


A man who had dropped something of value waded in after it
to above the knees, but went very slowly and quietly, avoidwater, and completely devoured

ing every possibility of disturbance, and not venturing to

But nobody could bathe,

put his hands into the water.

and even the


that

slightest disturbance in the water, such as

made by scrubbing

the hands vigorously with soap,

immediately attracted the attention of the savage


creatures,
find

who

little

darted to the place, evidently hoping to

some animal

in difficulties.

Once, while Miller and

some Indians were attempting to launch a boat, and were

making a great commotion


a naked Indian

him

as he struggled

Men

piranha attacked

belonged to the party and mutilated

and splashed, waist-deep

in the stream.

not making a splashing and struggling are rarely

attacked; but
in the

man

who

in the water, a

if

one

is

attacked by any chance, the blood

water maddens the piranhas, and they

assail

the

with frightful ferocity.

At Corumba the weather was


the comfortable

little

hotel

In the patio of

hot.

we heard

but

the cicadas;

did not hear the extraordinary screaming whistle of the

locomotive cicada, which


the house in which

had heard

in the

stayed at Asuncion.

gardens of

This was as

markable a sound as any animal sound to which

re-

have

listened, except only the batrachian-like wailing of the tree

hyrax

in

East Africa;

and

like

the East African

mammal

64

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

this

South American insect has a voice, or rather utters a

sound which, so far as


at

the beginning remotely suggests batrachian

The
first

affinities.

locomotive-whistle part of the utterance, however, re-

sembles nothing so

an

resembles any other animal sound,

it

heard

much

as a small

seems impossible that

it

it

when
can be produced by
steam

siren;

insect.

On December

17 Colonel

Rondon and

members

several

of our party started on a shallow river steamer for the

ranch of Senhor de Barros, "Las Palmeiras," on the Rio

We

Taquary.

went down the Paraguay

and then up the Taquary.

we

shallow

river

It

was a beautiful

aground

were

for a

several

few miles,

The
wound

trip.

times

through a vast, marshy plain, with occasional spots of

on which

land

higher

attractive bird

was the

these storks whitened

They were not

flying they
selves

many

There were

But the conspicuous and

stately jabiru

Flocks of

stork.

and lined the

the marshes

shy, for such big birds;

river

before

had to run a few paces and then launch them-

on the

overhead

grew.

Darters swarmed.

water-birds.

banks.

trees

in

air.

wide

Once, at noon, a couple soared round


rings, rising higher

and higher.

On

an-

other occasion, late in the day, a flock passed by, gleaming white with black points in the long afternoon lights, and

with them were spoonbills, showing rosy amid their snowy


companions.

and we

Caymans, always

called jacares,

killed scores of the noxious creatures.

swarmed;

They were

singularly indifferent to our approach and to the sound of

the shots.

Sometimes they ran into the water erect on

their legs, looking like miniatures of the monsters of the

prime.

One showed by

its

behavior

how

little

an ordinary

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY

65

shot pains or affects these dull-nerved, cold-blooded creatures.

As

it

lay on a sand-bank,

It slid into the

bullet.

of a school of

was

hit

water but found

It at

fish.

it

itself in

holding

its

fish.

fish;

Some

when

and a second bullet

its

It seized

head above water as soon as

jaws had closed on a


of the crocodiles

the midst

once forgot everything except

greedy appetite, and began catching the


fish after fish,

with a long 22

killed

its
it.

shot performed most extraor-

Our weapons, by the way, were good, exThe outfit furnished by the American museum was excellent except in guns and cartridges;
this gun was so bad that Miller had to use Fiala's gun or
else my Fox 12-bore.
In the late afternoon we secured a more interesting
Kermit had charge of two
creature than the jacares.
hounds which we owed to the courtesy of one of our Argentine friends. They were biggish, nondescript animals,
dinary antics.

cept Miller's shotgun.

obviously good fighters, and they speedily developed the

utmost affection for

all

the

members

of the expedition,

who took care of them. One


name given the wild bush natives
He
semicivilized African porters.

but especially for Kermit,

we named

" Shenzi," the

by the Swahili, the


was good-natured, rough, and stupid hence his name.
The other was called by a native name, "Trigueiro." The
chance now came to try them. We were steaming between
long stretches of coarse grass, about three feet high, when

we

spied from the deck a black object, very conspicuous

against the vivid green.

mandua

It

was a giant

ant-eater, or ta-

bandeira, one of the most extraordinary creatures

of the latter-day world.

small black bear.

It

It

is

about the

size of a rather

has a very long, narrow, toothless

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

66

snout, with a tongue

can project a couple of feet;

it

it is

covered with coarse, black hair, save for a couple of white


stripes;

on

it

has a long, bushy

fore feet.

its

It

and very powerful claws

tail

walks on the sides of

but
its

its

a rather unpleasant enemy, in spite of

is

mouth,

these claws.

It

for

it

sometimes hugs a

foe,

ordinary method of defending

man

forearm, can rip open

gripping

itself is

or beast.

him

man

where he had been


he came up to

by

its

As soon

Several of our com-

in a rowboat,

by

one, which charged

the giant

him when

tamandua we pushed

off

and landed only a couple of hundred yards

distant from our clumsy quarry.

out most of

and we

at close quarters.

we saw

as

muscular

with a very ugly scar down his back,

hit

kill it

tight;

to strike with

panions had had dogs killed by these ant-eaters;


across one

its

can strike a formidable blow with

long, stout, curved claws, which, driven

came

are used

but the beast has courage, and

in digging out ant-hills;

toothless

with

fore feet

The claws

these claws curved in under the foot.

in a grapple

its

its

The tamandua through-

habitat rarely leaves the forest, and

helpless animal in the

open

plain.

it is

The two dogs ran ahead,

by Colonel Rondon and Kermit, with me behind


carrying the rifle.
In a minute or two the hounds over-

followed

took the cantering, shuffling creature, and promptly began


a fight with

it;

the combatants were so mixed up that

had to wait another minute or

We

risk of hitting a dog.

bank and hoisted

it

so before I could fire without

carried our prize

aboard the steamer.

just about to set, behind

back to the

The sun was

dim mountains, many miles

dis-

tant across the marsh.

Soon afterward we reached one of the outstations of

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


the huge ranch
alongside the

we were about

bank

corrals.

gauchos had come to meet

and

fires,

sat beside

to visit, and hauled

for the night.

and sheds and

place,

them

key and strumming

us.

where the

Several of the peons or

After dark they kindled

singing songs in a strange minor

guitars.

and hot.

light

up

There was a landing-

The

red firelight flickered

away from the

over their wild figures as they squatted


blaze,

67

and the shadow met.

It

was

still

There were mosquitoes, of course, and other

swarmed round every light; but the


steamboat was comfortable, and we passed a pleasant night.
At sunrise we were off for the "fazenda," the ranch of
M. de Barros. The baggage went in an ox-cart which
had to make two trips, so that all of my belongings reached
the ranch a day later than I did. We rode small, tough
ranch horses. The distance was some twenty miles. The
whole country was marsh, varied by stretches of higher
insects of all kinds

and, although these stretches rose only three or

ground;

four feet above the marsh, they were covered with thick
jungle, largely palmetto scrub, or else with

open palm

for-

For three or four miles we splashed through the

est.

marsh,

now and then

crossing

boggy pools where the

horses labored hard not to mire down.

was clad

in a shirt, trousers,

wore spurs on

little

Our dusky guide

and fringed leather apron, and

his bare feet;

he had a rope for a bridle,

and two or three toes of each foot were thrust into

little

iron stirrups.

The
with

pools in the

fish,

marsh were drying.

They were

filled

most of them dead or dying; and the birds had

gathered to the banquet.

The most

notable dinner guests

were the great jabiru storks; the stately creatures dotted

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

68

But

the marsh.
tered

and herons abounded; the former ut-

ibis

querulous cries

queer,

when they discovered our

The spurred lapwings were as noisy as they


always are. The ibis and plover did not pay any heed

presence.

to the

them

but the black carrion vultures feasted on

fish;

mud; and

in the

in the

pools that were not dry

small alligators, the jacare-tinga, were feasting also.

many

the

places

from the dead

stench

In

was un-

fish

pleasant.

Then

for miles

we

rode through a beautiful open forest of

slender

caranda palms, with other trees scattered

among them.

Green parakeets with black heads chattered

tall,

as they flew; noisy green

and red parrots climbed among

and huge macaws, some entirely

the palms;

blue, others

almost entirely red, screamed loudly as they perched in


the trees or took wing at our approach.
its cries

kept

its

companions

circling

If one

was wounded

naturalists found the bird fauna totally different

which they had been collecting

The

around overhead.

in the hill

from that

country near

Corumba, seventy or eighty miles distant; and birds


swarmed, both species and individuals. South America
has the most extensive and most varied avifauna of all
the continents.

On

although very interesting,


cies

mammalian fauna,
poor in number of spe-

the other hand,

and individuals and

is

rather

its

in the size of the beasts.

It pos-

more mammals that are unique and distinctive in


type than does any other continent save Australia; and
they are of higher and much more varied types than in
sesses

Australia.

But there

is

nothing approaching the majesty,

beauty, and swarming mass of the great

mammalian

Africa and, in a less degree, of tropical Asia; indeed,

life
it

of

does

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


not even approach the similar

mammalian

life

America and northern Eurasia, poor though


pared with the seething vitality of tropical

World.

of

this

life

69

North

is

com-

in the

Old

During a geologically recent period, a period ex-

tending into that which saw

man

spread over the world in

substantially the physical and cultural stage of

many

exist-

ing savages, South America possessed a varied and striking

fauna of enormous beasts


mastodons, horses of

sabre-tooth

many

tigers,

huge

lions,

kinds, camel-like pachyderms,

giant ground-sloths, mylodons the size of the rhinoceros,

and many, many other strange and wonderful creatures.

From some

cause, concerning the nature of

which we can-

not at present even hazard a guess, this vast and giant fauna

vanished completely, the tremendous catastrophe (the duration of

which

is

unknown) not being consummated

within a few thousand or a few score thousand years.


the white

man

When

reached South America he found the same

weak and impoverished mammalian fauna that


practically

until

unchanged to-day.

Elsewhere civilized

exists

man

has been even more destructive than his very destructive

mammalian

uncivilized brothers of the magnificent

life

of

the wilderness; for ages he has been rooting out the higher

forms of beast

and

in

our

life

in

own day he

Europe, Asia, and North Africa;


has repeated the feat, on a very

large scale, in the rest of Africa

But

in

for the

and

South America, although he

is

wanton slaughter of the most

largest, or the

most beautiful,

in

North America.

in places responsible

interesting

birds, his

and the

advent has meant

mammalian fauna. None


mammals, the graminivores, ap-

a positive enrichment of the wild


of the native grass-eating

proach

in size

and beauty the herds of wild or half-wild

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

70

and horses, or so add to the

cattle

There

scape.

every reason

is

interest of the land-

why

the good people of

South America should waken, as we of North America, very


late in the day, are

beginning to waken, and as the peoples

of northern Europe
partially

not

southern Europe

have

already

wakened, to the duty of preserving from impov-

erishment and extinction the wild

which

life

an asset of

is

such interest and value in our several lands; but the case
against civilized

man

in this

matter

anyhow, when the plain truth

is

grewsomely heavy

is

told,

and

it is

harmed by

exaggeration.

After five or six hours' travelling through this country


of

marsh and of palm

we were

heading.

overgrown

meadow, and

the ranch for which

In the neighborhood stood giant

trees, singly or in groups,

Ponds,

we reached

forest

with

with dense, dark-green


water-plants,

pastureland,

drier

lay

foliage.

head of

cattle

wet

about;

open or dotted with

many

palms and varied with tree jungle, stretched for


miles on every hand.

There are some thirty thousand

on the ranch, besides herds of horses and

droves of swine, and a few flocks of sheep and goats.

home

fig-

The

buildings of the ranch stood in a quadrangle, sur-

rounded by a fence or low stockade.

One end

quadrangle was formed by the ranch-house


high, with

whitewashed walls and

itself,

of the

one story

red-tiled roof.

Inside,

the rooms were bare, with clean, whitewashed walls and

palm-trunk

rafters.

There were

the unglazed windows.

We

and we feasted royally on

On

wooden shutters on
hammocks or on cots,

solid

slept in

delicious native Brazilian dishes.

another side of the quadrangle stood another long,

low white building with a red-tiled roof;

this held

the

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY

71

kitchen and the living-rooms of the upper-grade peons,

headmen, the cook, and jaguar-hunters, with

the

families:

dark-skinned men, their wives showing varied

strains of white, Indian,

tumbled merrily

The

and negro blood.

children

and were fondly tended by

in the dust,

Opposite the kitchen stood a row of build-

their mothers.

some whitewashed daub and

ings,

wattle, with tin roofs,

These

others of erect palm-logs with palm-leaf thatch.

were the saddle-room, storehouse, chicken-house, and

The chicken-house was


for

the

their

to

allotted

stable.

Kermit and Miller

preparation of the specimens;

and there they

With a big skin, like that of the


giant ant-eater, they had to squat on the ground; while
the ducklings and wee chickens scuffled not only round

worked

industriously.

the skin but

all

over

of meat and catching

it,

ing on which

The fourth end of the quadcorral and a big wooden scaffold-

flies.

was formed by a

rangle

grabbing the shreds and scraps

hung hides and

strips of

drying meat.

Ex-

traordinary to relate, there were no mosquitoes at the

why

ranch;

cannot say, as they ought to swarm

vast "pantanals," or swamps.


heat,

it

was very

ings: sheds,

pleasant.

Therefore, in spite of the

Near by stood other

and thatched huts of palm-logs

ordinary peons lived, and big corrals.

were flamboyant
flowers

and

trees,

delicately

vivid-green

oven-birds haunted these trees.

in

build-

which the

In the quadrangle

with their masses of


cut,

in these

brilliant red

foliage.

Noisy

In a high palm in the

garden a family of green parakeets had taken up their

abode and were preparing to build


incessantly both

crawled

among

when they

the branches.

flew
Ibis

They chattered
and when they sat or
nests.

and plover, crying and

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

72

wailing, passed immediately overhead.

Jacanas frequented

the ponds near by; the peons, with a familiarity which to us

seems sacrilegious, but to them was entirely inoffensive and

matter of course, called them "the Jesus Christ birds," because they walked on the water.
strange bird

There was a wealth of


There were large pa-

in the neighborhood.

life

pyrus-marshes, the papyrus not being a


tenth, as high as in Africa.

Some

blackbirds.

own

fifth,

perhaps not a

In these swamps were

many

me

of our

uttered notes that reminded

Others, with crimson heads and necks and

redwings.

on a sway-

thighs, fairly blazed; often a dozen sat together

ing papyrus-stem which their weight bent over.

were

all

There

is

There

kinds of extraordinary bird's-nests in the trees.


still

America.

need for the work of the collector in South

But

believe that already, so far as birds are

more need for the work of


the careful observer, who to the power of appreciation and
observation adds the power of vivid, truthful, and interwhich means, as scientists no less than
esting narration
concerned, there

infinitely

is

historians

should note, that training in the writing of

good English
expects to

make

count in the
ralist,

to

*a

is

indispensable to any learned


his learning

effect

on

count for what

his fellow

the faunal naturalist,

men.

who

and

reptiles,

and vividly what he has


fulness than

country.

any mere

The work

ought to

The outdoor natu-

devotes himself primarily

study of the habits and of the

beasts, fish,

it

man who

life-histories of birds,

and who can portray truthfully


seen, could

collector,

do work of more use-

in this

of the collector

is

upper Paraguay

indispensable;

but

it is

only a small part of the work that ought to be done;

and

after collecting has reached a certain point the

work

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


of the

field

73

observer with the gift for recording what he has

seen becomes of far more importance.

The long days spent

"pantanal," were pleasant and interesting.

we saw

tamandua bandeira, the

the

swamp, the

riding through the

Several times

Ker-

giant ant-bear.

mit shot one, because the naturalists eagerly wished for a


second specimen;

afterward

we were

relieved of

all

sity to molest the strange, out-of-date creatures.

a surprise to us to find

necesIt

was

them habitually frequenting the open

They were always on muddy ground, and in the


papyrus-swamp we found them in several inches of water.
The stomach is thick-walled, like a gizzard; the stomachs
of those we shot contained adult and larval ants, chiefly
marsh.

termites, together with plenty of black

ments of

both green and dry.

leaves,

mould and

frag-

Doubtless the earth

and the vegetable matter had merely been taken incidentally,

adhering to the viscid tongue

Out

into the ant masses.

in the

when

make good

one lumbering

its

on

paws;

off at

its

and

black howler

It

is

by

It

flight.

a rocking canter,

was curious to see


the big bushy tail

back, evidently hoping to grasp a dog with


it

at its assailants.

also

escape

fight effectively,

One, while fighting the dogs, suddenly threw

held aloft.
itself

its

was thrust

open marsh the taman-

dua could neither avoid observation, nor


nor

it

now and then

reared, in order to strike

In one patch of thick jungle

monkey

sitting motionless in a tree top.

saw the swamp-deer, about the


a real

swamp

animal, for

papyrus-swamps, and out


in the water,

among

The tough

little

we saw

size of

we found

in the

it

We

our blacktail.
often in the

open marsh, knee-deep

the aquatic plants.


horses bore us well through the marsh.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

74

Often

in crossing

bayous and ponds the water rose almost

to their backs; but they splashed and


essary

swam

Some were

The dogs were

through.

wolf of the neighborhood, a

lank animal, with

smaller teeth than a big northern wolf.

undoubtedly descended from

species of wild dogs, wolves,

These,

necset.

we

part from the big red

in

tall,

if

a wild-looking

of distinctly wolfish appearance.

were assured, were descended

is

waded and

The domestic dog

at least a

and

much

dozen different

jackals,

some of them

probably belonging to what we style different genera.

The degree

of fecundity or lack of fecundity between dif-

ferent species varies in extraordinary

and inexplicable fash-

mammals.

In the horse family,

ion in different families of

for instance, the species are not fertile inter se;

among

whereas

the oxen, species seemingly at least as widely sep-

domestic ox, bison, yak, and

species such as the


gaurbreed freely together

and

the lion and tiger also breed

arated as the horse, ass, and zebra

their offspring are fertile;

together, and produce offspring which will breed with either

parent stock; and tame dogs in different quarters of the


world, although

all

of

them

fertile inter se,

are in

many

cases obviously blood kin to the neighboring wild, wolf-like

or jackal-like creatures which are specifically, and possibly

even generically, distinct from one another.


wolf of the South American plains
the northern wolves;
it

and

it

is

The

big red

not closely related to

was to me unexpected to

find

interbreeding with ordinary domestic dogs.

In the evenings after dinner

we

sat in the bare

ranch

dining-room, or out under the trees in the hot darkness,

and talked of many things: natural history with the naturalists,

and

all

kinds of other subjects both with them

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


and with our Brazilian
simply "an

officer

and a gentleman''

honorably true of the best army


military service.

He

is

petent explorer, a good

officers

field naturalist

in

every good

hardy and com-

and

scientific

man,

With him the conversation

ranged from jaguar-hunting and the

"matto grosso," the great

the

not

is

in the sense that is

also a peculiarly

a student and a philosopher.

in

Rondon

Colonel

friends.

75

perils of exploration

wilderness, to Indian

anthropology, to the dangers of a purely materialistic industrial civilization,


nel's Positivism

and to

was

Positivist morality.

The

colo-

very fact to him a religion of hu-

in

manity, a creed which bade him be just and kindly and


useful to his fellow

men, to

live his life bravely,

bravely to face death, without reference to what he

less

believed, or did not believe, or to

The

men

what the unknown

native hunters

of mixed blood.

who accompanied us were swarthy


They were barefooted and scantily

and each carried a long, clumsy spear and a keen

clad,

machete, in the use of which he was an expert.


then, in thick jungle,

was

here-

might hold for him.

after

by

and no

we had

unwieldy spear, handling

and

to cut out a path, and

interesting to see one of them,

his

Now

it

although cumbered

his half-broken little horse

with complete ease while he hacked at limbs and branches.

Of the two

ordinarily with us one

was much the younger;

and whenever we came to an unusually doubtful-looking


ford or piece of

boggy ground the

elder

man

always sent

the younger one on and sat on the bank until he saw what
befell the experimenter.

In that rather preposterous book

of our youth, the "Swiss Family Robinson," mention

made

of a

tame monkey

called Nips,

is

which was used to

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

76

test all edible-looking things as to the healthfulness of

the adventurers

felt

doubtful;

resemblance of function

we

which

and because of the obvious

christened this younger hunter

Our guides were not only hunters but cattle-herders.


The coarse dead grass is burned to make room for the
green young grass on which the cattle thrive. Every now
Nips.

and then one of the men,

as he rode

ahead of

leaving the saddle, would drop a lighted

sock of

tall

match

us,

without

into a tus-

dead blades; and even as we who were behind

rode by tongues of hot flame would be shooting up and


a local prairie

fire

would have

Kermit took Nips


day.

He

off

started.

with him for a solitary hunt one

shot two of the big marsh-deer, a buck and a

doe,

and preserved them as museum specimens.

were

in the

They

papyrus growth, but their stomachs contained

only the fine marsh-grass which grows in the water and on


the land along the edges of the swamps; the papyrus was

used only for cover, not for food.

The buck had two

big

scent-glands beside the nostrils; in the doe these were rudi-

mentary.

On

this

day Kermit

also

came

across a herd of

the big, fierce white-lipped peccary; at the sound of their

grunting Nips promptly spurred his horse and took to his


heels,

explaining that the peccaries would charge them,

hamstring the horses, and

kill

the riders.

Kermit went

into the jungle after the truculent little wild hogs

and followed them

for

on foot

an hour, but never was able to

catch sight of them.

In the afternoon of this same day one of the jaguar-

merely ranch hands, who knew something of the


tracks^
of the jaguarwho had been searching

hunters
chase

for

rode in with the information that he had found fresh sign

AV
o
>->

SO

'2

J3

en

5;

e
'3

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


at a spot in the

swamp about

morning we rose

at two,

two

Next

nine miles distant.

and had started on our jaguar-

Colonel Rondon, Kermit, and

hunt at three.

77

made up

trailers or jaguar-hunters,

I,

with the

the party, each

on a weedy, undersized marsh pony, accustomed to trav-

and we were accom-

ersing the vast stretches of morass;

panied by a brown boy, with saddle-bags holding our lunch,

who

rode a long-horned trotting steer which he managed

by a

and

string through its nostril

We

carried each a long, clumsy spear.

Besides our

pack.

own two

The two

lip.

trailers

had a rather poor

dogs, neither of which

was used

to jaguar-hunting, there were the ranch dogs, which were

two jaguar hounds borrowed

well-nigh worthless, and then


for the occasion

from a ranch

six or eight leagues distant.

These were the only hounds on which we could place any

and they were

trust,

One was a white

bitch, the other,

They were

a gelded black dog.


tures with prick ears

As our shabby

by the two trailers.


the best one we had, was

led in leashes

lean, half-starved crea-

and a look of furtive wildness.


horses shuffled

little

away from the

ranch-house the stars were brilliant and the Southern Cross

hung

well

up

in the heavens,

to the right.

tilted

The

landscape was spectral in the light of the waning moon.

At the
across,

first

an

alligator, the jacare-tinga,

unconcernedly

floated

paws;

shallow ford, as horses and dogs splashed

evidently at night

hour we shogged along.


the

among

first

overcast.

dim gray
The sun

it

the

some

five feet long,

splashing

did not fear us.

hoofs

and

Hour

after

Then the

night grew ghostly with

of the dawn.

The sky had become

rose red

and angry through broken

clouds; his disk flamed behind the

tall,

slender columns of

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

78

the palms, and

The

monkeys howled mournfully.

birds

parrots, parakeets screamed at us

we

rode by.

Ibis called

bayous and ponds, where white

and thronging

and chattered

at us as

with wailing voices, and the plov-

they wheeled in the

ers shrieked as

The black
awoke. Macaws,

the waste fields of papyrus.

lit

We

air.

lilies

floated

waded

across

on the water

lilac-flowers splashed the green

marsh with

color.

At last, on the edge of a patch of jungle, in wet ground,


we came on fresh jaguar tracks. Both the jaguar hounds
challenged the sign. They were unleashed and galloped
along the

trail,

while the other dogs noisily accompanied

The hunt

them.

led right

Evidently

through the marsh.

the jaguar had not the least distaste for water.


it

had been hunting

for capybaras or tapirs,

Probably

and

it

had

gone straight through ponds and long, winding, narrow


ditches or bayous, where
to

swim

it

must now and then have had

for a stroke or two.

It

had

also

wandered through

the island-like stretches of tree-covered land, the trees at


this point being
is

mostly palms and tarumans; the taruman

almost as big as a live-oak, with glossy foliage and a

fruit like

an

olive.

The pace quickened,

burst into yelling and howling;

the motley pack

and then a sudden quick-

game had either climbed


thicket.
The former proved

ening of the note showed that the


a tree or turned to bay in a

The dogs had entered a patch of tall tree


jungle, and as we cantered up through the marsh we saw
the jaguar high among the forked limbs of a tarumanto be the case.

tree.

It

big, lithe,

at the

was a beautiful picture

the

spotted coat of the

formidable cat fairly shone as

pack below.

it

snarled defiance

did not trust the pack;

the dogs

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


were not stanch, and
I

feared

we might

the jaguar

if

lose

tance of seventy yards.


little

Springfield with

So

it.

came down and

I fired

was using

which

have

at once,

my

79

started

from a

favorite

rifle,

dis-

the

most kinds of

killed

African game, from the lion and elephant down; the bullets

were the sharp, pointed kind, with the end of naked

lead.

At the shot the jaguar

the branches, and although

but a score of yards before

up

it

fell like

staggered to

it

it

a sack of sand through


its feet it

sank down, and when

went

came

was dead under the palms, with three or four of the

bolder dogs riving at

The jaguar

is

it.

the king of South American game, rank-

ing on an equality with the noblest beasts of the chase of

North America, and behind only the huge and


tures

fierce crea-

which stand at the head of the big game of Africa

and Asia.

This one was an adult female.

It

was heavier

and more powerful than a full-grown male cougar, or African panther or leopard.
creature, giving the

It

same

was a

big,

powerfully built

effect of strength that

a tiger

pumas do not.
when we had it

or lion does, and that the lithe leopards and

by the way, proved good eating,


for supper, although it was not cooked in the way it ought
to have been.
I tried it because I had found cougars such
Its flesh,

good eating;

not try lion's

flesh,

have always regretted that

which

am

Next day came Kermit's


laneous pack with us,

all

sure

must be

We

turn.

much

in Africa I did

excellent.

had the miscel-

enjoying themselves; but,

although they could help in a jaguar-hunt to the extent of


giving tongue and following the chase for half a mile, cowing the quarry

by

stanch to be of use

their clamor, they


if

there

was any

were not

sufficiently

difficulty in the hunt.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

80

The only two dogs we could

This was the black dog's day.

jaguar hounds.
in the

On

two borrowed

trust were the

morning we came to a

About ten

winding bayou.

long, deep,

the opposite bank stood a capybara, looking like a

blunt-nosed pig,

and

it

slid into

wet hide shining black.

its

Then

the water.

killed

it,

found that the bayou

extended for a mile or two in each direction, and the two


hunter-guides said they did not wish to swim across for

moment we came across


was hot, we had been travelling
dogs were much exhausted. The

fear of the piranhas.

Just at this

fresh jaguar tracks.

It

for five hours,

and the

black hound in particular was nearly done up, for he had

He

been led in a leash by one of the horsemen.

on the ground, panting, unable to catch the

lay

flat

Kermit

scent.

threw water over him, and when he was thoroughly drenched

and freshened, thrust

The game

old

hound

his nose into the jaguar's footprints.

at once

snuffed the scent he challenged loudly, while

Then he

down.
trail,

cat

swum

far

across the bayou.

what seemed a

Evidently the big

Soon we found where

distant.

Piranhas or no piranhas,

intended to get across; and


at

lying

still

staggered to his feet and started on the

going stronger with every leap.

was not

As he

and eagerly responded.

likely spot.

we tried to force our


The matted growth

plants, with their leathery, slippery stems,

it

had

we now

horses in
of water-

formed an un-

pleasant barrier, as the water was swimming-deep for the


horses.
sage.

The

latter

Kermit

were very unwilling to attempt the pas-

finally forced his horse

through the tangled

mass, swimming, plunging, and struggling.


of clear .water, through which

dogs splashed and

swam

we swam

behind

us.

On

He

left

after him.

a lane

The

the other bank

The brown boy on

the long-horned trotting steer, which he


string through

From

its

nostril

lip

a photograph by Kcrmit Roosevelt

Colonel Roosevelt and the


From

and

first

jaguar

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

managed by

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


they struck the fresh

trail

and followed

led into a long belt of timber, chiefly

it

81

at a run.

It

composed of low-

growing nacury palms, with long, drooping, many-fronded


In silhouette they suggest coarse bamboos; the

branches.

nuts hang in big clusters and look like bunches of small,

Among

unripe bananas.

some big ordinary


timber

the lower palms were scattered

trees.

belt, listening to

We

cantered along outside the

the dogs within; and in a

moment

a burst of yelling clamor from the pack told that the jag-

uar was afoot.

moments

These few minutes are the

in the chase,

The

will tree.

really exciting

with hounds, of any big cat that

furious baying of the pack, the shouts

and

cheers of encouragement from the galloping horsemen, the

what the quarry


is
all combine to make the moment one of fierce and thrilling excitement.
Besides, in this case there was the possi-

wilderness surroundings, the knowledge of

bility the

jaguar might come to bay on the ground, in

which event there would be a

slight

element of

might need straight shooting to stop a charge.

risk, as it

However,

about as soon as the long-drawn howling and eager yelping

showed that the jaguar had been overtaken, we saw him,


a huge male, up in the branches of a great fig-tree.

from Kermit's 405 Winchester,


brought him dead to the ground. He was heavier than
bullet behind the shoulder,

the very big male horse-killing cougar

whose

skull

ever seen;

shot in Colorado,

Hart Merriam reported as the biggest he had


he was very nearly double the weight of any

of the male African leopards

we

shot;

he was nearly or

quite the weight of the smallest of the adult African lionesses

we

shot while in Africa.

stout frame,

He had

the big bones, the

and the heavy muscular build of a small

lion;

he

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

82

was not
the

lithe

and slender and long

as with

tail,

all

was

jaguars,

like a

cougar or leopard;

short, while the girth of

body was great; his coat was beautiful, with a satiny


gloss, and the dark-brown spots on the gold of his
back, head, and sides were hardly as conspicuous as the
the

black of the equally well-marked spots against his white


belly.

This was a well-known jaguar.


indulged

in

floods he

had taken up

and had

occasionally

on one occasion during the

cattle-killing;

abode near the ranch-house

his

killed a couple of

cows and a young

hunters had followed him, but he had


for the time being

He had

made

The

steer.

his escape,

and

had abandoned the neighborhood.

In

these marshes each jaguar had a wide irregular range and


travelled a good deal, perhaps only passing a
in a

was
ily

day or two

game

given locality, perhaps spending a week where


plentiful.

and swim

Jaguars love the water.

They drink

greed-

In this country they rambled through

freely.

the night across the marshes and prowled along the edges
of the ponds and bayous, catching the capybaras and the

caymans;

for these small

pond caymans, the jacare-tinga,

form part of their habitual food, and a big jaguar when

hungry
if

will attack

and

kill

large

caymans and

crocodiles

he can get them a few yards from the water.

On

marshes the jaguars also followed the peccary herds;


said that they always strike the
fierce little

tapir.

wild pigs.

If in timber,

hindmost of a band of the

however, the jaguar must

as

it is

Elsewhere they often prey on the

for the squat, thick-skinned,

respect for timber,

these

kill it

at once,

wedge-shaped tapir has no

Colonel

Rondon phrased

rushes with such blind, headlong speed through and

it,

and

among

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


and trunks that

branches

brushes the jaguar


in the

off,

tough hide.

immediately

It

is

and

bull;

is

cautious about atwill at times,

it

scarce, kill every other domestic animal.

is

a thirsty brute,

drag

it

The jaguar

Cattle are often killed.

tacking a herd accompanied by a bull; but

where wild game

killed

the claws leaving long raking scars

meddle with a big

will not

not

if

83

and

if it kills

from water

far

will often

victim a long distance toward a pond or stream;

its

Rondon had once come

Colonel

across a horse which a jag-

uar had thus killed and dragged for over a mile.


also stalk

and

kill

seemed to be

less

whether

is

this

the deer;

in this

Jaguars

neighborhood they

habitual deer-hunters than the cougars;

generally the case

They

cannot say.

have been known to pounce on and devour good-sized


anacondas.

In this particular neighborhood the ordinary jaguars


molested the cattle and horses hardly at

and then to

kill

calves.

It

all

except

was only occasionally that

under special circumstances some old male took to


killing.

now

There were plenty of capybaras and

cattle-

deer,

and

evidently the big spotted cats preferred the easier prey

when

it

was

lions living

available; exactly as in East Africa

we found

the

almost exclusively on zebra and antelope, and

not molesting the buffalo and domestic cattle, which in


other parts of Africa furnish their habitual prey.

In some

other neighborhoods, not far distant, our hosts informed

us that the jaguars lived almost exclusively on horses and


cattle.

They

also told us that the cougars

had the same

habits as the jaguars except that they did not prey on

such big animals.

The cougars on

this

ranch never molested

the foals, a fact which astonished me, as in the Rockies they

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

84

are the worst enemies of foals.

my

It

was

interesting to find

and the mixed-blood hunters and ranch


workers, combined special knowledge of many of the habthat

its

hosts,

of these big cats with a curious ignorance of other

matters concerning them and a readiness to believe fables

This was precisely what

about them.

had found to be

the case with the old-time North American hunters in discussing the puma, bear, and wolf, and with the English

and Boer hunters of Africa when they spoke of the

and rhinoceros.

Until the habit of scientific accuracy in

observation and record

at

home

is

achieved and until specimens

and carefully compared, entirely truthful

are preserved

men,

lion

in the wilderness, will

and repeat as matters of gospel

whole-heartedly accept,

faith, theories

which

split

the grizzly and black bears of each locality in the United


States,

and the

or the jaguars and


into

several

habits.

and black rhinos of South Africa,

lions

pumas

species,

different

They

will,

of any portion of South America,

with widely different

all

moreover,

describe

these

imaginary

habits with such sincerity and minuteness that they deceive

most

listeners;

and the

result

sometimes

is

that an

otherwise good naturalist will perpetuate these fables, as

Hudson

did

when he wrote

capital observer

of the

puma.

Hudson was a

and writer when he dealt with the

nary birds and mammals of the well-settled

Buenos Aires and

knew nothing

at the

mouth

of the wilderness.

districts

of the Rio Negro;

This

is

no

ordi-

near

but he

reflection

on

him; his books are great favorites of mine, and are to a

what such books should be; I only


wish that there were hundreds of such writers and observers
who would give us similar books for all parts of America.
large degree models of

South American

South American jaguar

From photographs

puma

by Elzvin R. Sanborn

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


But

a mistake to accept

it is

him

as

85

an authority on that

concerning which he was ignorant.

An
our

interesting incident occurred

first

We

jaguar.

on the day we

killed

took our lunch beside a small but

deep and obviously permanent pond.

went to the edge


up some water, and something growled or bellowed
me only a few feet away. It was a jacare-tinga or small
I

to dip
at

cayman about five feet long. I paid no heed to it at the


moment. But shortly afterward when our horses went
down to drink it threatened them and frightened them;
and then Colonel Rondon and Kermit called me to watch
it.

It lay

on the surface of the water only a few

feet dis-

we threw cakes of mud


it, whereupon it clashed its jaws and made short rushes
us, and when we threw sticks it seized them and crunched

tant from us and threatened us;


at
at

them.

We

could not drive

it

away.

Why

shown such truculence and heedlessness


unless perhaps

another

little

when another
opened

its

it

it

should have

cannot imagine,

was a female, with eggs near by.

pond a jacare-tinga showed no


of

my

companions approached.

jaws, and lashed

its tail.

less

In

anger

It bellowed,

Yet these pond

ja-

cares never actually molested even our dogs in the ponds,


far less us

on our horses.

This same day others of our party had an interesting


experience with the creatures in another pond.

One

them was Commander da Cunha

(of the Brazilian

Navy),

companion.

They

capital

sportsman

and

delightful

of

found a deepish pond a hundred yards or so long and


thirty or forty across.

mans and by capybaras


aquatic guinea-pig,

It

was tenanted by the small cay-

the largest known rodent, a huge

the size of a small sheep.

It

also

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

86

swarmed with piranhas, the ravenous fish of which I have


so often spoken.
Undoubtedly the caymans were subsisting
largely

on these piranhas.

turned

if

any caymans were

was shot and sank


tacked

When

injured.

in the water, the piranhas at

But much more extraordinary was the


a

cayman about

five feet long

ranhas attacked and tore


the bank to face
the wound;

tacked

all

its

it,

then, as the

inexplicable.

any place

are in danger;

flesh.

We

if

Evidently they did not


it

was unwounded;

Their habits are in

saw men frequently bathing


is

never

safe,

a school of the fish appear swimmers

and a wounded man or beast

piranhas are in the neighborhood.

appears that an unwounded


dent.

out on

the soft parts, their terrible teeth cutting out

unmolested; but there are places where this

peril if

it

pi-

The fish first attacked


blood maddened them, they at-

but blood excited them to frenzy.

in

fact that

foes.

molest either cayman or capybara while

some ways

once at-

was wounded the

and actually drove

human

chunks of tough hide and

and

a capybara

and had eaten half the carcass ten minutes

it,

later.

when

But the tables were readily

Such accidents are

cient frequency to justify

man

rare;

is

is

in

deadly

Ordinarily

attacked only by acci-

but they happen with

much

it

suffi-

caution in entering water

where piranhas abound.

We

came across ponds tenanted by numbers


of capybaras. The huge, pig-like rodents are said to be
shy elsewhere. Here they were tame. The water was
They usually went ashore to feed
their home and refuge.
on the grass, and made well-beaten trails in the marsh
immediately around the water; but they must have travelled these at night, for we never saw them more than a
frequently

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY

87

away from the water in the daytime. Even at


midday we often came on them standing beside a bayou or
pond. The dogs would rush wildly at such a standing

few

feet

beast,
or!

which would wait

were only a few yards

until they

The dogs

and then dash into and under the water.

would
really

also run full

funny to

tilt

into the water,

and

it

was then

and disappointment

see their surprise

at

the sudden and complete disappearance of their quarry.

Often a capybara would stand or


water, with only

its

blunt,

on

sit

dive, for capybaras

below the surface; and


tly

among

if

haunches

in the

short-eared head above the

surface, quite heedless of our presence.

would

its

But

swim with equal

if

alarmed

facility

they wish to hide they

it

on or

rise

gen-

the rushes or water-lily leaves with only their

In these waters the capybaras and small

nostrils exposed.

caymans paid no attention to one another, swimming and


resting in close proximity.
They both had the same
enemy, the jaguar.
in the sense that a

and

eat,

its

roundings

The capybara
hare or rabbit

is

is.

game animal only


The flesh is good to

amphibious habits and queer nature and sur-

make

it

In some of the ponds the

interesting.

water had about gone, and the capybaras had become for
the time being beasts of the marsh and the

they could always find

little

of water-lilies, in which to

lie

mud; although

slimy pools, under a mass

and

hide.

Our whole stay on this ranch was delightful. On the


long rides we always saw something of interest, and often
it was something entirely new to us.
Early one morning
we came across two armadillos the big, nine-banded arma-

dillo.

We

were riding with the pack through a dry, sandy

pasture country, dotted with clumps of palms, round the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

88

trunks of which grew a dense jungle of thorns and Spanish

The

bayonets.

armadillos were feeding in an open space

between two of these jungle clumps, which were about a

hundred yards apart.

was

One was on

in a squatting position,

with

its

fore legs off the ground.

Their long ears were very prominent.

them.

The dogs raced

at

had always supposed that armadillos merely

shuffled along,

aced; and

and curled up

was almost

when

turtle gallop

as surprised as

if I

when menhad seen a

two armadillos bounded


rabbits.
One headed back

nearest patch of jungle, which

speed

for protection

these

run, going as fast as

at full

the other

fours;

all

and

it

ran really

too

for the

The other ran

reached.

fast,

off at

until

nearly

it

reached the other patch, a hundred yards distant, the dogs


in

immediately behind

cry

full

changed

mind, wheeled

its

like a bullet right

to seize

it

or stop

it.

in its tracks,

and turned to pursue

it

suddenly

and came back

Dog

through the pack.

it

Then

it;

after

but

dog
its

tried

wedge-

shaped snout and armored body, joined to the speed at

which

it

was
its

grasp

and

It

had run

it

to drive straight ahead

pursuers, not one of which could halt

through
it,

galloping, enabled

it

reached in safety

at speed about a

was much impressed by

this

its

it

or

thorny haven of refuge.

hundred and

fifty yards.

unexpected exhibition;

evi-

dently this species of armadillo only curls up as a last resort,


its

and ordinarily trusts to

build and

reach

its

its

armor give

its
it

speed,

and to the protection

while running, in order to

burrow or other place of

safety.

Twice, while

laying railway tracks near Sao Paulo, Kermit had acciden-

dug up armadillos with a steam-shovel.


There were big ant-hills, some of them of huge dimen-

tally

Nine-banded armadillo

Capybi

Collared peccary
From photographs

by Elwin R. Sanbor

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


through the country.

sions, scattered

stems of

built against the

numerous, render certain

sufficiently

that

did not here

come

any of the poisonous or biting ants which, when

across

They

Sometimes they were

We

trees.

89

districts uninhabitable.

are ordinarily not very numerous.

march

Those of them
and

in large bodies kill nestling birds,

at once

destroy any big animal unable to get out of their way.


It

has been suggested that nestlings in their nests are in

some way immune from the attack of these

The

ants.

experiments of our naturalists tended to show that this

was not the

They plundered any

case.

nest they

came

across and could get at.

Once we saw a small herd of


lowed by three

little

pigs

sow

peccaries, one a

fol-

they are said to have only two

young, but we saw three, although of course

one belonged to another sow.

The herd

it

is

possible

galloped into a

mass of thorny cover the hounds could not penetrate; and

when they were

in safety

we heard them

utter,

from the

depths of the jungle, a curious moaning sound.

On
fairly

one ride we passed a clump of palms which were


ablaze

with bird

hyacinth macaws;

color.

There were magnificent

green parrots with red splashes;

tou-

cans with varied plumage, black, white, red, yellow; green

jacmars; flaming orioles and both blue and dark-red tanagers.

It

was an extraordinary

collection.

All were noisy.

Perhaps there was a snake that had drawn them by


presence;

but we could find no snake.

persed as

we rode up;

the huge blue

The assembly dismacaws departed

in pairs, uttering their hoarse "ar-rah-h, ar-rah-h."

been said that parrots


the wing.

They

in the wilderness are

are certainly noisy

its

It

has

only noisy on

on the wing; and

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

90

those that
ordinarily

we saw were quiet while they were feeding; but


when they were perched among the branches,

and especially when,

as in the case of the little parakeets

near the house, they were gathering materials for nestbuilding, they were just as noisy as while flying.

The

were

water-birds

always

We

delight.

shot

merely the two or three specimens the naturalists needed

museum.
the handy little
for the

iru

and then

Springfield,

had thus gained by a

range, before

midable

The

tall as

man, show

the credit

great, splendid birds,

when wounded,

fight

their assailants, clattering their for-

One day we found

bills.

all

Kermit shot a jab-

a jabiru.

with the Liiger automatic.

and advance against

lost

series of inexcusable misses, at long

I finally killed

standing about as

on the wing with

killed a wood-ibis

the nest of a jabiru in

a mighty fig-tree, on the edge of a patch of jungle.

was

a big platform of sticks, placed

on a horizontal branch.

There were four half-grown young standing on


passed

it

in

the morning,

the early afternoon


out,

and we

bird

was present

when both parents were

was

was

with the small camera.

In

when we again passed

it

at this time.

its bill

It

It

was very

just as a

As we rode away the

the sun was

Only one parent

showed no

hot,

and

hen opens her

fear.

was returning

adequate idea of the wealth of bird

It
life

is

no-

its bill
it

had

hot weather.

young

birds

flight the

other

old bird and the four

to the nest.

suppose

bill in

were standing motionless, and with gliding


old bird

it

stood on a branch near the nest,

slightly open.

opened

it

also

it

tried to get photographs.

ticed that, as

We

it.

perched alongside; the sky was then overcast, and


not possible to photograph

It

hard to give an

in these marshes.

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


A

91

naturalist could with the utmost advantage spend six

months on such a ranch as that we


to do

some

but only a

collecting,

servation in the field

is

what

is

now most

should be pro-

receive reasonable

The books now most needed

protection.

Most

needed.

life

by law; and the mammals should

with the

Exhaustive ob-

little.

of this wonderful and harmless bird


tected

He would have

visited.

are those dealing

life-histories of wild creatures.

Near the ranch-house, walking familiarly among the


They
cattle, we saw the big, deep-billed Ani blackbirds.
feed on the insects disturbed by the hoofs of the cattle,
and often cling to them and pick off the ticks. It was
the end of the nesting season, and we did not find their
curious communal nests, in which half a dozen females lay
eggs

their

indiscriminately.

bywhich

ponds near

ibises

The
his

all

were

very tame, and so were

neck out

In flying, the

the small herons.

and storks stretch the neck straight

jabiru

in front of

also

splendid bird on the wing


in front,

downward curve

the

in

ibises

usually went in pairs, instead of in

flocks like the wood-ibis

the night herons and

The common

stretches

but there appears to be a

at the base of the neck,

The

due merely to the craw.

which

them.

slight

may

be

big slender herons, on the

contrary, bend the long neck back in a beautiful curve,


so that the

day

head

saw what

is

nearly between the shoulders.

I at first

thought was a small yellow-bellied

kingfisher hovering over a pond,

and

finally

plunging

to the surface of the water after a school of tiny


fish;
bill

but

it

One

proved to be a bien-te-vl king-bird.

wood-hewers, birds the

size

down
young

Curved-

and somewhat the coloration

of veeries, but with long, slender sickle-bills, were

common

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

92

in the little

garden back of the house; their habits were

those of creepers, and they scrambled with agility up, along,

and under the trunks and branches, and along the posts
and rails of the fence, thrusting the bill into crevices for

The

insects.

oven-birds, which had the carriage and some-

what the look of wood-thrushes,


on a

delightful friends

am

close acquaintance;

individual, not only in the extraordinary

they build, but in

all

domed mud

nests

their ways, in their bright alertness,

their rather jerky quickness of

With

calls.

come tame and

they are very

and curiosity about whatever goes on,

their interest in

and varied

would prove

sure

familiar.

movement, and

little

their loud

encouragement they be-

The parakeets were too

but otherwise were most attractive

little birds,

as they flew

to and fro and scrambled about in the top of the

behind the house.

noisy,

palm

There was one showy kind of king-

bird or tyrant flycatcher, lustrous black with a white head.

One afternoon

several score cattle were driven into a big

square corral near the house, in order to brand the calves

and a number of unbranded yearlings and two-year-olds.

special element of excitement

was added by

the" presence

of a dozen big bulls which were to be turned into draught-

oxen.

The

agility, nerve,

and prowess of the ranch work-

men, the herders or gauchos, were noteworthy.


skinned

men were

descent, although

of white blood.

obviously mainly of Indian and negro

some of them

They wore

fringed leather apron,


feet

The dark-

must have been

also

showed a strong

strain

the usual shirt, trousers, and

with jim-crow hats.

literally as

Their

bare

tough as horn; for when

one of them roped a big bull he would brace himself, bending back until he

was almost

sitting

down and

digging his

A JAGUAR-HUNT ON THE TAQUARY


heels into the ground,

93

and the galloping beast would be

stopped short and whirled completely round when the rope

The maddened

tautened.

bulls,

and an occasional

steer or

cow, charged again and again with furious wrath; but two
or three ropes would settle on the
it

would go; and when

it

was

doomed

released

beast,

and down

and rose and charged

once more, with greater fury than ever, the men, shouting

with laughter, would leap up the sides of the heavy stockade.

We

stayed at the ranch until a couple of days before

Christmas.

Hitherto the weather had been lovely.

night before

we

It

left

there

was not unexpected,

season was overdue.

was a

for

The

started, in a couple of

torrential tropic

we had been

The

downpour.

told that the rainy

following forenoon the baggage

two-wheeled ox-carts, for the land-

ing where the steamboat awaited us.

Each

cart

was drawn

The huge wheels were over seven feet


high.
Early in the afternoon we followed on horseback,
and overtook the carts as darkness fell, just before we
reached the landing on the river's bank. The last few miles,

by

eight

oxen.

ground had been

after the final reaches of higher, tree-clad

passed, were across a level plain of low ground on which

the water stood, sometimes only up to the ankles of a

on

foot,

of us,
lie

sometimes as high as his waist.

many

Directly in front

leagues distant, rose the bold mountains that

west of Corumba.

Behind them the sun was setting

and kindled the overcast heavens with

Then

man

lurid

the last rose tints faded from the sky;

splendor.

the horses

plodded wearily through the water; on every side stretched


the marsh, vast, lonely, desolate in the gray of the halflight.

We

overtook the ox-carts.

The

cattle strained in

94

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

the yokes; the drivers wading alongside cracked their whips

and uttered strange

the carts rocked and swayed

cries;

huge wheels churned through the

as the

As the

faded

last light

we reached

mud and

water.

the small patches of

dry land at the landing, where the flat-bottomed side-wheel

The tired horses and


oxen were turned loose to graze. Water stood in the
corrals, but the open shed was on dry ground.
Under it
steamboat was moored to the bank.

the

slung their

hammocks; and

roasted, or scorched, slabs


sticks

and horse-herders

wild-looking ox-drivers

half-clad,

close

and

by they

legs of

lit

fire

and

mutton, spitted on

and propped above the smouldering flame.

Next morning, with

real regret,

we waved good-by

to

our dusky attendants, as they stood on the bank, grouped

around a

little fire,

beside the big,

empty

ox-carts.

A dozen

miles down-stream a rowboat fitted for a spritsail put off

from the bank.

The owner,

ranch, asked for a tow to

had with him

in the

countryman from a small

Corumba, which we gave.

boat his comely brown wife

smoking a very large cigar

their

two

He

who was

children, a

young

man, and a couple of trunks and various other belongings.


On Christmas eve we reached Corumba, and rejoined the
other

members

of the expedition.

CHAPTER

IV

THE HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


At Corumba

our entire party, and

all

their belongings,

came aboard our good little river boat, the Nyoac. Christmas Day saw us making our way steadily up-stream against
the strong current, and between the green and beautiful

banks of the upper Paraguay.

The

was jammed with men, dogs,

rifles,

shallow

steamer

little

partially cured skins,

boxes of provisions, ammunition, tools, and photographic


supplies, bags containing tents, cots, bedding,

saddles,

hammocks, and the other

and

clothes,

necessaries for a trip

through the "great wilderness," the "matto grosso" of


western Brazil.
It

was a

brilliantly clear day, and,

in that latitude

later on,

We

sat

it

and

was

cool

although of course

at that season the heat

and pleasant

was intense

in the early

morning.

on the forward deck, admiring the trees on the

brink of the sheer river banks, the lush, rank grass of the

marshes, and the

many

The two

water-birds.

one

Colonel Ron-

black and one white, stood at the wheel.

don read Thomas a Kempis.

pilots,

Kermit, Cherrie, and Miller

squatted outside the railing on the deck over one paddle-

wheel and put the

final

touches on the jaguar-skins.

satisfied himself that the

boxes and bags were in place.

was probable that hardship lay


day was our own, and the day was
It

ning the after-deck, open

Fiala

all

in the future;

pleasant.

around, where
95

we

but the

In the evedined,

was

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

96

we drank

decorated with green boughs and rushes, and

the health of the President of the United States and of


the President of Brazil.

Now

This

edge.

who

settler

mines;
soil.

and then we passed


willing to

there

is

field for

work can earn

water-power;

The country

a fine

ranches on the river's

a fertile land, pleasant to live

is

is

little

there

is

before in the Chaco, and

ate.
its

was a dear

It liked to

little

it

was

little

owl a month

them

travelling with

little bird,

in a

very tame and affection-

came

into the cabin,

noises as a signal that

up and perched on
trapped

It offers

rail.

be handled and petted; and when Miller,

especial protector,

queer

rich

has a great future.

it

Cherrie and Miller had secured a

It

abundance of

immigration and for agricultural, mining,

and business development; and

basket.

and any
There are

his living.

soon be opened by

will

in,

his

many mammals.

hand.

it

it

would make

wished to be taken

Cherrie and Miller had

Among them was

a tayra weasel,

whitish above and black below, as big and bloodthirsty as a


fisher-martin;

and a tiny opossum no bigger than a mouse.

They had taken

four species of opossum, but they had not

found the curious water-opossum which they had obtained

on the

rivers flowing into the

sum, which

is

Caribbean Sea.

This opos-

black and white, swims in the streams like

a muskrat or otter, catching fish and living in burrows

which open under water.


zled to

know why

Miller and Cherrie were puz-

the young throve, leading such an exis-

tence of constant immersion; one of

them once found a

female swimming and diving freely with four quite well-

grown young

We

in her

pouch.

saw on the banks screamers

big, crested

waders of

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


archaic type, with spurred wings, rather short

no especial

affinities

meadow by
two

does.

They

These

are

tails

of white as in our whitetail

instead

and

In one

buck and

stared at us, with their thickly haired

on end.

raised

tails

bills,

with other modern birds.

pond we saw three marsh-deer,

97

black underneath,
deer.

One

of the

vagaries of the ultraconcealing-colorationists has been to

uphold the (incidentally quite preposterous) theory that


the

tail

of our deer

is

colored white beneath so as to har-

monize with the sky and thereby mislead the cougar or


wolf at the

critical

moment when

makes

its

spring;

marsh-deer shows a black instead of a white

this

yet has just as

much need

of protection from

ing coloration plays


deer, the

no more part

tamandua, the

puma than

it

flag,

its

but

and

enemies,

In South America conceal-

the jaguar and the cougar.

the

it

in the lives of the adult

tapir, the peccary, the jaguar,

and

plays in Africa in the lives of such ani-

mals as the zebra, the sable antelope, the wildebeeste, the


lion,

and the hunting hyena.

Next day we spent ascending the Sao Lourenco.

It

was

narrower than the Paraguay, naturally, and the swirling

brown current was,

if

anything, more rapid.

tropical trees, standing densely

together

by long bush ropes

slender and very long.

The

strange

on the banks, were matted


lianas, or vines,

Sometimes we saw

some very

brilliant red or

blue flowers, or masses of scarlet berries on a queer palmlike tree, or

an array of great white blossoms on a much

larger tree.

In a lagoon bordered by the taquara

bamboo

when they came to


mouths like seals, and made

a school of big otters were playing;


the surface, they opened their

a loud hissing noise.

The

crested screamers, dark gray

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

98

and as large as turkeys, perched on the very topmost


branches of the

Hyacinth macaws screamed

tallest trees.

harshly as they flew across the river.

Among

the trees

was the guan, another peculiar bird as big as a big grouse,


and with certain habits of the wood-grouse, but not akin
to

The windpipe

any northern game-bird.

of the male

is

very long, extending down to the end of the breast-bone,

and the bird utters queer guttural screams.

man
it.

dead cay-

floated down-stream, with a black vulture devouring

Capybaras stood or squatted on the banks; sometimes

they stared stupidly at us;

sometimes they plunged into

the river at our approach.

At long

little clearings.

intervals

we passed

In each stood a house of palm-logs, with

steeply pitched roof of

palm thatch; and near by were

patches of corn and mandioc.

The dusky owner, and

per-

haps his family, came out on the bank to watch us as we


passed.
in the

It

the thermometer

was a hot day

on the deck

shade stood at nearly ioo degrees Fahrenheit.

Biting

came aboard even when we were in midstream.


Next day we were ascending the Cuyaba River. It had
begun raining in the night, and the heavy downpour continued throughout the forenoon. In the morning we halted
at a big cattle-ranch to get fresh milk and beef.
There

flies

were various houses, sheds, and corrals near the

river's

edge, and fifty or sixty milch cows were gathered in one


corral.

among

Spurred plover, or lapwings,


the hens.

in the trees over

ashore.

familiarly

Parakeets and red-headed tanagers

our heads.

boat was moored at the bank.


breakfast over a

strolled

little

kind of primitive house-

A woman

stove at one end.

The boat was one

lit

was cooking

The crew were

of those which are really stores,

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


and which travel up and down these

rivers,

99

laden with

what the natives most need, and stopping wherever there


is

a ranch.

They

which many of the

are the only stores

They

country-dwellers see from year's end to year's end.

down-stream, and up-stream are poled by their crew,

float

or

now and then

a house with a tin roof;


or with

roofs,

roofs

This one had

tow from a steamer.

get a

others bear houses with thatched

made

The

of hides.

wound

river

through vast marshes broken by belts of woodland.

Always the two


to

tell

beast

had something of

naturalists

of their past experience, suggested

we came

crested, of

two

Black and golden

across.

different species

interest

by some

bird or

orioles, slightly

were found along the

river;

they nest in colonies, and often we passed such colonies,


the long pendulous nests hanging from the boughs of trees
directly over the water.

Cherrie told us of finding such

a colony built round a big wasp-nest, several feet in diam-

These wasps are venomous and

eter.

foes

irritable,

and few

would dare venture near bird's-nests that were under

such formidable shelter; but the birds themselves were


entirely unafraid,

and obviously were not

any danger of

in

disagreement with their dangerous protectors.

dark

ibis flying across

bow

the

deep, two-syllabled note.

We

of the boat, uttering his

Miller told

how on

the Orinoco

these ibises plunder the nests of the big river-turtles.


are very skilful in finding

her eggs, scratch

where the female

them out

saw a

They

turtle has laid

of the sand, break the shells,

and suck the contents.


It

was astonishing to

marshes.

They

find so

did not in any

few mosquitoes on these

way compare

the mosquitoes on the lower Mississippi, the

as pests with

New

Jersey

100

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

Red River of the North, or the Kootenay. Back


the forest near Corumba the naturalists had found them

coast, the
in

very bad indeed.

Cherrie had spent two or three days on

a mountain-top which was bare of forest; he had thought


there would be few mosquitoes, but the long grass har-

bored them (they often swarm

where there

is

in long grass

no water), and

at night

torment that as soon as the sun


under

his mosquito-netting.

set

and bush, even

they were such a

he had to go to bed

Yet on the vast marshes they


most

was

were not seriously troublesome

in

formed that they were not

any way a bother on the

in

places.

in-

grassy uplands, the high country north of Cuyaba, which

from thence stretches eastward to the coastal region.


is

at

any

rate certain that this inland region of Brazil,

including the state of


ersing,

is

It

Matto Grosso, which we were

trav-

a healthy region, excellently adapted to settle-

ment; railroads

will speedily penetrate

it,

and then

it

will

witness an astonishing development.

On

the morning of the 28th

ings of the great

we reached

the

home

build-

Sao Joao fazenda, the ranch of Senhor

Dom

Our host himself, and his son,


Joao the younger, who was state secretary of agricul-

ture,

and the

Joao da Costa Marques.

latter' s

charming

wife,

and the president of

Matto Grosso, and several other ladies and gentlemen, had


come down the river to greet us, from the city of Cuyaba,
As usual, we
several hundred miles farther up-stream.
were treated with whole-hearted and generous hospitality.

Some

miles below the ranch-house the party

met

us,

on a

stern-wheel steamboat and a launch, both decked with

many

flags.

The handsome white ranch-house

stood only

a few rods back from the river's brink, in a grassy opening

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY

101

dotted with those noble trees, the royal palms.

Other

trees, buildings of all kinds, flower-gardens, vegetable-gar-

dens, fields, corrals, and enclosures with high white walls

stood near the house.


police,

with a band, were

detachment of

soldiers or state

and two

in front of the house,

flagpoles,

one with the Brazilian

American

flag

The

flag already hoisted.

was run up on the other

as I stepped ashore,

while the band played the national anthems of the two

The house

countries.

was

fort

all

held

much

and the com-

comfort;

the more appreciated because even indoors

the thermometer stood at 97 F.

and cooled the

heavy

rain

time.

Around the house the

fell,

In the late afternoon

air.

We were

riding at the

birds were tame: the parrots

and parakeets crowded and chattered

in

the tree tops;

jacanas played in the wet ground just back of the garden;


ibises

and screamers

distance

swamps

called loudly in the

little

off.

Until

we came

actually in sight of this great ranch-

house we had been passing through a hot,

fertile,

pleasant

wilderness, where the few small palm-roofed houses, each


in its little

very

many

patch of sugar-cane, corn, and mandioc, stood

One

miles apart.

of these

on an old Indian mound, exactly


form the only

hillocks

little

like the

origin.

These occasional Indian

mounds, made ages ago, are the highest


are

still

swamps

bits of

ground

Indian tribes in this neighborhood.

scaffoldings for drying the fish,

We

river,

in

There

of the upper Paraguay region.

Indian fishing village on the edge of the

They

mounds which

along the lower Mississippi, and

which are also of Indian


the immense

houses stood

passed an

with huts,

hammocks, and rude

tables.

cultivated patches of bananas and sugar-cane.

Out

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

102

in a shallow place in the river

the Indians stood to spear

was a

scaffolding

The Indians were

fish.

on which
friendly,

peaceable souls, for the most part dressed like the poorer
classes

among

the Brazilians.

Next morning there was to have been a great rodeo, or


round-up, and we determined to have a hunt first, as there
were

and

still

several kinds of beasts of the chase, notably tapirs

which the naturalists desired specimens.

peccaries, of

Dom Joao,

our host, and his son accompanied

a noteworthy family.
ics,

Born

in

Theirs

us.

Matto Grosso,

is

in the trop-

our host had the look of a northerner and, although a

grandfather, he possessed an abounding vigor and energy

such as very few

men

of

any climate or surroundings do

The son who was

All of his sons are doing well.

possess.

with us was a stalwart, powerful man, a pleasant companion,

an able public servant, a finished horseman, and a

skilled hunter.

He

carried a sharp spear, not a

Matto Grosso it is the custom


riflemen and spearmen to go in

in

turns at
shot
in.

fails

in

rifle,

for

hunting the jaguar for

him together when he


bay, the spearman holding him off if the first
at

to stop him, so that another shot can be put

Altogether, our host and his son reminded one of the

American ranchmen and

best type of

ranchmen who

planters and
field sports,

who

are capital

planters, of those

are adepts in bold

men

and manly

of business, and

who

also

often supply to the state skilled and faithful public servants.

The

hospitality the father and son extended to us

was patriarchal:

neither, for instance,

would

sit

at table with

their guests at the beginning of the formal meals; instead

they exercised a close personal supervision over the

feast.

Our charming

table.

hostess, however, sat at the

head of the

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


At

morning we

six in the

started, all of us

The day was lowering and overcast.


with

on

103

fine horses.

dozen dogs were

but only one or two were worth anything.

us,

Three

or four ordinary countrymen, the ranch hands, or vaqueiros,

accompanied us; they were mainly of Indian blood, and

would have been

called peons, or caboclos, in other parts of

but here were always spoken to and of as "cama-

Brazil,

They

radas."

men who were

among

were, of course, chosen from

the

hunters, and each carried his long, rather

heavy and clumsy jaguar-spear.

In front rode our vigor-

ous host and his strapping son, the latter also carrying a
jaguar-spear.

men and

The

bridles

and saddles of the big ranch-

handsome and

of the gentlefolk generally were

were elaborately ornamented with

The

silver.

stirrups, for

instance, were not only of silver, but contained so

much

extra metal in ornamented bars and rings that they would

have been awkward

for less-practised riders.

Indeed, as

it

was, they were adapted only for the tips of boots with long,

pointed toes, and were impossible for our feet; our hosts'
stirrups

were long, narrow

silver slippers.

The camaradas,

on the other hand, had jim-crow saddles and


rusty

little

But

toes.

well

iron stirrups into


all,

which they thrust

gentry and commonalty

and with the same

skill

bridles,

and

alike,

fearlessness.

hosts gallop at headlong speed over

their

and

naked

rode equally

To

see our

any kind of country

toward the sound of the dogs with their quarry

at bay,

them handle their horses in a morass, was a pleasure.


It was equally a pleasure to see a camarada carrying
his heavy spear, leading a hound in a leash, and using his

or to see

machete to cut
jungle,

all

his

at the

way through

same time and

the tangled vine-ropes of a


all

without the slightest

ref-

104

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

erence to the plunges, and the odd and exceedingly jerky behavior, of his wild, half-broken horse

most of the horses are apt to come


broken or

else of

on such a ranch

for

in the categories of half-

One dusky tatterdemalion

broken-down.

wore a pair of boots from which he had removed the

soles, his

bare, spur-clad feet projecting from beneath the uppers.

He

was on a

for

little

devil of a stallion,

which he rode blindfold

a couple of miles, and there was a regular circus

removed the bandage; but evidently

him that the animal was hardly


for a

man

it

when he

never occurred to

a comfortable riding-horse

going out hunting and encumbered with a spear,

a machete, and other belongings.

The

we were out we

eight hours that

spent chiefly in

splashing across the marshes, with excursions


into vine-tangled belts

and clumps of timber.

now and then


Some of the

We

bayous we had to cross were uncomfortably boggy.

had to lead the horses through one, wading ahead of them;


and even so two of them mired down, and

their saddles

to be taken off before they could be gotten out.

had

Among

the marsh plants were fields and strips of the great caete
rush.

These caete

marsh

plants.

horsemen.

flags

towered above the other and

They were

higher than the heads of the

Their two or three huge banana-like leaves

The

stood straight up on end.


orange,

red,

shaped and

and yellow

its

bill

large brilliant flowers

were

joined

solid string or cluster.

round these flowers; one


has

lesser

into

Humming-birds buzzed

species, the sickle-billed

especially adapted

shaped blossoms and gets

its

singularly

for use

in

hummer,

these queerly

food only from them, never

appearing around any other plant.

The

birds were tame, even those striking

and beautiful

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


birds

105

which under man's persecution are so apt to become

The huge

and shy.

scarce

jabiru storks, stalking through

the water with stately dignity, sometimes refused to fly


until

we were only

a hundred yards off; one of

them

flew

The

over our heads at a distance of thirty or forty yards.

screamers, crying curu-curu, and the ibises, wailing dole-

came even

fully,

in

The wonderful hyacinth macaws,

closer.

twos and threes, accompanied us at times for several

hundred yards, hovering over our heads and uttering their


In one

rasping screams.

howler monkey.

The

Not watching with


ling

wood we came on

place smelt almost like a menagerie.

sufficient care I

on which the venomous

brushed against a sap-

swarmed.

fire-ants

burnt the skin like red-hot cinders, and

More than once


small caymans

My horse

in the drier parts of the

making

way from one

showed that on

encountered jaguars or

We

their

human

left

little

They
sores.

marsh we met
pool to another.

The dead

car-

their wanderings they

had

stepped over one before

casses of others

the black

saw

it.

foes.

had been out about three hours when one of the

dogs gave tongue in a large belt of woodland and jungle

march through the marsh. The


other dogs ran to the sound, and after a while the long
barking told that the thing, whatever it was, was at bay
or else in some refuge.
We made our way toward the place
on foot. The dogs were baying excitedly at the mouth of
a huge hollow log, and very short examination showed us
that there were two peccaries within, doubtless a boar and
to the

sow.

left

of our line of

However, just

at this

from an unsuspected opening

moment

the peccaries bolted

at the other

end of the

log,

dove into the tangle, and instantly disappeared with the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

106

hounds

cry after them.

in full

later before

we

was twenty minutes

It

With much

again heard the pack baying.

difficulty,

and by the incessant swinging of the machetes,

we opened

a trail through the network of vines and branches.

He was

This time there was only one peccary, the boar.


at

bay

The dogs were about

stump.

in a half-hollow

head, raving with excitement, and


use the

rifle;

it

was not

so I borrowed the spear of

younger, and killed the

This was an

fierce little

animal

possible to

Dom

Joao the

boar therewith.

akin to our collared peccary,

smaller and less fierce than


a valiant and truculent

his

its

little

white-jawed kinsfolk.
beast, nevertheless,

It

is

and

if

given the chance will bite a piece the size of a teacup out
of either
ties,

man

feeds

home

on

or dog.

It

found singly or

is

roots, fruits, grass,

in hollow logs.

hollow log

we heard them

and delights to make

young

makes an
When the two were

If taken

tionate and entertaining pet.

in small parits

affec-

it

in the

utter a kind of moaning, or

menacing, grunt, long drawn.

An

hour or two afterward we unexpectedly struck the

two jaguars and at once loosed the dogs,


Unfortuyelling, on the line of the scent.

fresh tracks of

who

tore off

nately, just at this

moment

of rain drove in our faces.

that the dogs lost the

trail

the clouds burst and a deluge

So heavy was the downpour

and we

lost the

dogs.

We

found them again only owing to one of our caboclos; an


Indian with a queer Mongolian face, and no brain at
that

could discover, apart from his special dealings with

wild creatures, cattle, and horses.


rags;

all

He

rode in a huddle of

but nothing escaped his eyes, and he rode anything

anywhere.

The downpour continued

so heavily that

we

Wood
From a photograph

ibis

by Elzvin R. Sanborn

Sariema

South American jabiru


From

a photograph by Elwin R. Sanborn

From

a photograph by Miller

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


knew

the rodeo had been abandoned, and

faces

for

the long,

dripping,

splashing

107

we turned our
homeward.

ride

Through the gusts of driving rain we could hardly see the


way. Once the rain lightened, and half a mile away the
sunshine gleamed through a

Suddenly

in this rift of

the leaden cloud-mass.

rift in

shimmering brightness there ap-

With

peared a flock of beautiful white egrets.


wing-beats

graceful

plumage flashing

the

birds

in the sun.

and were swallowed

in the

urged

their

They then

strong,
their

flight,

crossed the

rift

gray gloom of the day.

On

the marsh the dogs several times roused capybaras.

Where

there were no ponds of sufficient size the capybaras

sought refuge in
ran well.

flight

through the tangled marsh.

Kermit and Fiala went

speed, for a mile and a half, with

bayed

it

literally

bayed

it,

after

one on

foot, full-

two hounds which then

for the

capybara fought with

the courage of a gigantic woodchuck.

If the

pack over-

took a capybara, they of course speedily finished


a single dog of our not very valorous outfit

to overmatch

its

They

it;

but

was not able

shrill-squeaking opponent.

Near the ranch-house, about forty


was a jabiru's nest containing young
birds exercised themselves

up

in a big tree,

jabirus.

The young

feet

by walking solemnly round the

edge of the nest and opening and shutting their wings.

Their heads and necks were down-covered, instead of being

naked

like those of their parents.

a moving-picture of

Fiala wished to take

them while thus engaged, and

so, after

arranging his machine, he asked Harper to rouse the young

by throwing a stick up to the nest. He did so, whereupon one young jabiru hastily opened its wings in the desired fashion, at the same time seizing the stick in its bill
birds

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

108
It

dropped

when

it

it

at once,

with an

air of

comic disappointment,

found that the stick was not

edible.

There were many strange birds round about.


were not uncommon.

Toucans

have never seen any other bird

take such grotesque and comic attitudes as the toucan.

This day
big

saw one standing

pointing straight into the air and the

bill

the river and in the

with feet

like a

but, like so
iations

grebe and

bill

and

tail like

many South American

among

with the
also

tail

The toucan is a born comedian.


ponds we saw the finfoot, a bird

cocked perpendicularly.

On

in the top of a tree

other species.

birds,

The

fauna of South America contains

those of a darter,

with no close

affil-

exceedingly rich bird

many

species

which seem

to be survivals from a very remote geologic past, whose


kinsfolk have perished under the changed conditions of

recent ages;

and

in the case of

screamer, their like

many

species

is

swarmed

not

many,

known

in this

like the

hoatzin and

elsewhere.

Herons of

neighborhood.

somest was the richly colored tiger bittern.


species

were so unlike ordinary herons that

The hand-

Two

other

did not recog-

them as herons at all until Cherrie told me what they


were. One had a dark body, a white-speckled or ocellated
neck, and a bill almost like that of an ibis. The other
looked white, but was really mauve-colored, with black
nize

on the head.

When

perched on a tree

it

stood like an

ibis;

and instead of the measured wing-beats characteristic of


a heron's flight,

it

flew with a quick, vigorous flapping of

There were queer mammals, too, as well as


In the fields Miller trapped mice of a kind entirely

the wings.
birds.

new.

Next morning the sky was leaden, and a drenching

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


rain

as

fell

we began our

season had fairly begun.


still

109

The rainyFor our good fortune we were

descent of the river.

where we had the cabins aboard the boat, and the

ranch-house, in which to dry our clothes and soggy shoes;

humid atmosphere, hot and steaming,


they stayed wet a long time, and were still moist when we
put them on again. Before we left the house where we
but

in the intensely

had been treated with such courteous hospitality


est

the

fin-

ranch-house in Matto Grosso, on a huge ranch where

some

there are

sixty thousand

son of our host,

me

presented

Dom

head of horned

cattle

the

Joao the younger, the jaguar-hunter,

with two magnificent volumes on the palms

of Brazil, the

work of Doctor Barboso Rodriguez, one-

time director of the Botanical Gardens at Rio Janeiro.

The two

No

gift

more

appropriate, none that I would in the future value

more

were

folios

as a reminder of

in a

my

box of native cedar.

stay in

Matto Grosso, could have

been given me.


All

afternoon the rain continued.

that

pouring in torrents

when we

left

Lourenco and steamed up the


anchoring;
his

is

Cuyaba

latter a

was

for the

still

Sao

few miles before

Dom

Joao the younger had accompanied us in


The little river steamer was of very open

launch.

build, as

the

It

necessary in such a hot climate;

and to keep

things dry necessitated also keeping the atmosphere

The German

taxidermist

who was with

stifling.

Colonel Rondon's

party, Reinisch, a very good fellow from Vienna, sat on

stool, alternately

heat,

drenched with rain and sweltering with

and muttered to himself: "Ach, Schweinerei

Two

small caymans, of the

common

species,

!"

with promi-

nent eyes, were at the bank where we moored, and be-

110

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

trayed an astonishing and stupid tameness.


size of

in

any way

feet

Neither the

the boat nor the commotion caused by the paddles

from

They

affected them.

us, half

lay inshore, not twenty

out of water; they paid not the slightest

heed to our presence, and only reluctantly


peatedly poked

with clods of

at,

and

and even then one

sticks;

crawled up on shore, to find out


rid himself of the

re-

having been repeatedly hit

after

mud and

when

left

first

thereby he could not

if

annoyance we caused him.

Next morning it was still raining, but we set off on a


hunt, anyway, going afoot. A couple of brown camaradas
led the way, and Colonel Rondon, Dom Joao, Kermit, and
I

The incessant downpour speedily wet us to


We made our way slowly through the forest,

followed.

the skin.

the machetes playing right and


step, for the trees

creepers.

Some

Mosquitoes

left,

were tangled

up and down,

in a

at every

network of vines and

of the vines were as thick as a man's leg.

hummed

about

us,

the venomous

fire-ants

stung us, the sharp spines of a small palm tore our hands
afterward some of the wounds festered.

Hour

after

hour

we thus walked on through the Brazilian forest. We saw


monkeys, the common yellowish kind, a species of cebus;
a couple were shot for the museum and the others raced
Then we came
off among the upper branches of the trees.
on a party of
long-tailed,

big tree.

coatis,

which look

lanky raccoons.

like reddish, long-snouted,

They were

in the

One, when shot at and missed, bounced down

to the ground, and ran off through the bushes;

ran after

top of a

it

and secured

it.

He came

Kermit

back, to find us

peering hopelessly up into the tree top, trying to place

where the other coatis were.

Kermit solved the

difficulty

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


by going up along some huge twisted
fifty

lianas for forty or

and exploring the upper branches;

feet

down came

111

whereupon

three other coatis through the branches, one

being caught by the dogs and the other two escaping.


Coatis fight savagely with both teeth and claws.

saw one of them

told us that he once

feed on

on some

mammals,

small

all

large ones;

tling chase

they

through the

We

at full speed.

they broke away

birds,

kill

and

iguanas;

Miller

They

a dog.

kill

reptiles,

and even

Cherrie saw a rat-

trees, a coati following

an iguana

heard the rush of a couple of tapirs, as


in the jungle in front of the dogs,

headed, according to their custom, for the river;

One

never saw them.

and

but we

of the party shot a bush deer

very pretty, graceful creature, smaller than our whitetail


deer, but kin to

it

and doubtless the southernmost rep-

resentative of the whitetail group.

The

whitetail deer

using the word to designate a group

of deer which can either be called a subgenus with


species,

or a widely spread species diverging into

varieties

spread

down

is

the only North American species which has


into

South America.

It

and has outlying representatives

do not

and the specimen thus obtained furnished a

probable refutation of the theory.

had

just shed its small antlers.

The

It

was a buck, and

antlers are, therefore,

shed at the same time as in the north, and

it

appears that

they are grown at the same time as in the north.


this variety

now

Yet

dwells in the tropics south of the equator,

where the spring, and the breeding season

comes

in

has been contended that the species

has spread from South America northward.


think so;

many
many

for

most

birds,

at the time of the northern fall in September,

Oc-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

112

and November.

tober,

migrant, and that

That the deer

has not yet been

it

long enough to change

its

have

South America
accordance

in

geologically doubtless very

changed their breeding season,

dered probable by the fact that


the time of

in

mating season

with the climate, as the birds


old residents

an intrusive im-

is

is

ren-

conforms so exactly in

it

growth to the universal

rule

which

obtains in the great arctogeal realm, where deer of

many

species

(its

antler

abound and where the

have long

much

its

forms show that they

The marsh-deer, which has diverged

existed.

further from the northern type than this bush deer

horns show a likeness to those of a blacktail), often

keeps

its

June or July, although

antlers until

grow them again

must not be
the

fossil

laid

in

on

August;
this fact,

cow caribou both keep

however, too

in its hoofs,

of

have grown long,

life,

begins to

much

stress

inasmuch as the wapiti and

their antlers until spring.

specialization of the marsh-deer,

shown

it

by the way,

which, thanks to

its

is

further

mode
swamp

semiaquatic

such African

like those of

The

antelopes as the lechwe and situtunga.

when we presented

monkeys to him, told


us that the females both of these monkeys and of the
Miller,

the

howlers themselves took care of the young, the males not

them, and moreover that when the young one

assisting

was a male he had always found the mother keeping by


herself,

among

away from

the old males.

On

the other hand,

the marmosets he found the fathers taking as

care of the

young

as the mothers;

if

much

the mother had twins,

the father would usually carry one, and sometimes both,

around with him.


After

we had been

out four hours our camaradas got

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


lost;

113

three several times they travelled round in a com-

plete circle;

and we had to

About noon the

rain,

them right with the compass.


which had been falling almost without
set

interruption for forty-eight hours, let up, and in an hour


or

two the sun came

found our rowboat.


worthless lot

out.

In

and the

it

We

went back to the

the hounds

rest of the

a motley and rather


Rondon and

stayed

on the chance that a tapir might be roused

and take to the


Kermit

and

party were ferried across

to the opposite bank, while Colonel


in the boat,

river,

river.

However, no tapir was found;

killed a collared peccary,

and

shot a capybara

representing a color-phase the naturalists wished.

Next morning, January i, 1914, we were up at five


and had a good New Year's Day breakfast of hardtack,
ham,

sardines,

hunt on

and

foot.

coffee before setting out

much

on an

feared that the pack

was almost
two or three

or quite worthless for jaguars, but there were

of the great spotted cats in the neighborhood and

worth while to make a try

for

all-day's

them, anyhow.

it

seemed

After an

hour or two we found the fresh tracks of two, and after

them we went.

Our party

Lieutenant Rogaciano
of

Matto Grosso, of

consisted of Colonel

an excellent

old

Rondon,

man, himself a native

two

Matto Grosso stock

others

of the party from the Sao Joao ranch, Kermit, and myself,

together with four dark-skinned camaradas, cowhands from


the same ranch.

We

soon found that the dogs would not

by themselves follow the jaguar

trail;

camaradas, although they carried spears.


one of our party
ance,

who

nor would the

Kermit was the

possessed the requisite speed, endur-

and eyesight, and accordingly he

led.

Two

of the

dogs would follow the track half a dozen yards ahead of

114

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

him, but no farther; and two of the camaradas could just

about keep up with him.

For an hour we went through

thick jungle, where the machetes were constantly at work.

Then the trail struck off straight across the marshes, for
jaguars swim and wade as freely as marsh-deer. It was
a hard walk. The sun was out.
We were drenched with
sweat.
We were torn by the spines of the innumerable
clusters of small

palms with thorns

We

like needles.

were

by the hosts of fire-ants, and by the mosquitoes,


which we scarcely noticed where the fire-ants were found,
exactly as all dread of the latter vanished when we were
menaced by the big red wasps, of which a dozen stings
will disable a man, and if he is weak or in bad health will
seriously menace his life.
In the marsh we were continually wading, now up to our knees, now up to our hips.
Twice we came to long bayous so deep that we had to
swim them, holding our rifles above water in our right
hands. The floating masses of marsh grass, and the
slimy stems of the water-plants, doubled our work as we
swam, cumbered by our clothing and boots and holding
our rifles aloft. One result of the swim, by the way, was
that my watch, a veteran of Cuba and Africa, came to an
indignant halt. Then on we went, hampered by the weight
bitten

of our drenched clothes while our soggy boots squelched


as

we walked.

There was no breeze.

sky the sun stood almost overhead.


in waves.

By noon

In the

undimmed

The heat beat on us

could only go forward at a slow walk,

and two of the party were worse

off

than

was.

Kermit,

with the dogs and two camaradas close behind him, disappeared across the marshes at a
out of sight, and

it

trot.

was obviously

At

last,

when he was

useless to follow him,

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY

115

The two exand we left them

the rest of us turned back toward the boat.

hausted members of the party gave out,

under a

Colonel

tree.

much

were not

go for several hours more

fectly able to

go too
it

tired;

Rondon and Lieutenant Rogaciano


I was somewhat tired, but was per-

and we three walked on to the

fast;

did not try to

if I

river,

about half past four, after eleven hours'

with nothing to

We

eat.

soon after

it

hounds and

stiff

were soon on the boat.

party went back for the two

lief

reaching

men under

walking

re-

the tree, and

reached them Kermit also turned up with his

his

camaradas

had followed the jaguar

trailing wearily

trail until

behind him.

He

the dogs were so tired

that even after he had bathed them, and then held their
noses in the fresh footprints, they would pay no heed to

the scent.

hunter of

scientific tastes, a hunter-natural-

or even an outdoors naturalist, or faunal naturalist

ist,

interested in big

mammals, with a pack

of hounds such

with which Paul Rainey hunted lion and leopard

as those

in Africa, or

such a pack as the packs of Johnny Goff and

Jake Borah with which

hunted cougar, lynx, and bear

in

the Rockies, or such packs as those of the Mississippi and

Louisiana planters with


cat*

and deer

whom

have hunted bear, wild-

in the cane-brakes of the lower Mississippi,

would not only enjoy

fine

hunting in these vast marshes

of the upper Paraguay, but would also do


scientific

value as regards

all

in the tropics

real

the big cats.

Only a limited number of the


worked

work of

naturalists

who have

have had any experience with the

big beasts whose life-histories possess such peculiar interest.

Of

all

the biologists

who have

seriously studied the South

American fauna on the ground, Bates probably rendered

116

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

most

service;

but he hardly seems even to have seen the

animals with which the hunter


terests,

and those of the other

in other directions.

histories of the

His

in-

biologists of his kind, lay

In consequence, in treating of the

life-

very interesting big game, we have been

forced to rely either on native report, in which

largely

acutely accurate observation


fable, or else

sportsmen,

is

is

invariably mixed with wild

on the chance remarks of

who had

stand even what


there

fairly familiar.

is

travellers or

make them underobserve. Nowadays

not the training to

was

it

desirable to

a growing proportion of big-game hunters, of sports-

men, who are of the


big-game butcher

is

and Shiras type.

Schilling, Selous,

These men do work of capital value

for science.

The mere

tending to disappear as a type.

other hand, the big-game hunter

who

is

tant position than ever before, and

it is

On

more impor-

now

recognized that

he can do work which the closet naturalist cannot do.

big-game hunter of

this

in

The

type and the outdoors, faunal nat-

the student of the life-histories of big

have open to them

the

a good observer,

a good field naturalist, occupies at present a

uralist,

mere

mammals,

South America a wonderful

field in

which to work.

The
erally

fire-ants, of

have above spoken, are gen-

found on a species of small tree or sapling, with a

tail

They bend

body as they bite,


and head being thrust downward. A few seconds

greenish trunk.

the

which

the whole

after the bite the poison causes considerable pain;


it

may make

a tiny festering sore.

most extraordinary diversity

There

in the traits

achieves the perpetuation of species.

and predaceous

insects the prowess

is

is

certainly the

by which nature

Among
in

later

some

the warrior

cases of such

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY

117

type as to render the possessor practically immune from


In other cases the condition of

danger.

normally be the

sacrifice of the life of

its

There

the possessor.

wasps that prey on formidable fighting

are

may

exercise

spiders,

which

yet instinctively so handle themselves that the prey practically


ing,

never succeeds

defending

or retaliat-

itself

being captured and paralyzed with unerring efficiency

and with
is

in either

entire security to the wasp.

On

absolute.

tically eager for a success

among

the termites, are

indifference to their

own

fran-

which generally means their an-

condition of their efficiency

the

safety

the other hand, these fighting ants, in-

cluding the soldiers even

nihilation;

The wasp's

security.

is

absolute

Probably the majority

of the ants that actually lay hold on a foe suffer death in

consequence;

certainly they not merely run the risk of

but eagerly invite death.

The
its

we descended

following day

the Sao Lourengo to

junction with the Paraguay, and once more began the

At one cattle-ranch where we stopped,


the troupials, or big black and yellow orioles, had built
a large colony of their nests on a dead tree near the primiascent of the latter.

tive little ranch-house.

The

birds were breeding; the old

ones were feeding the young.


naturalists found

many

In this neighborhood the

birds that were

new

to them, in-

cluding a tiny woodpecker no bigger than a ruby-crowned


kinglet.

They had

collected

nal monkeys, not as agile as

two were found

The
at that

early

hour

at

two night monkeys nocturthe ordinary monkey; these

dawn, having stayed out too

morning was always lovely on these

many

morning we saw a

birds
fine

and beasts were to be

marsh buck, holding

his

late.

rivers,

seen.

head

and

One

aloft as

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

118

he stared at

us, his red coat vivid against the

green marsh.

Another of these marsh-deer swam the river ahead of us;


I

shot at

it

as

it

landed, and ought to have got

it,

but did

As always with these marsh-deer and as with so


many other deerI was struck by the revealing or advertising quality of its red coloration; there was nothing
not.

in

surroundings with which this coloration

normal

its

harmonized; so far as

it

had any

effect

whatever

it

was

When

al-

ways a revealing and not a concealing

effect.

animal

was an additional

black of the erect

fled the

tail

the

revealing mark, although not of such startlingly advertis-

The

ing quality as the flag of the whitetail.

one of

forms, and with the ordinary whitetail custom of

its

displaying the white flag as

it

runs,

found

is

mediate neighborhood of the swamp-deer.


foes.

whitetail, in

Evidently

it

is

It

in the

im-

has the same

of no survival consequence whether

the running deer displays a white or a black

flag.

Any

competent observer of big game must be struck by the fact


that in the great majority of the species the coloration

not concealing, and that in


quality.

Moreover,

if

many

and

stripes have,

has a highly revealing

the spotted or striped young repre-

sent the ancestral coloration,

spots

it

is

and

if,

as seems probable, the

on the whole, some

evident that in the

slight conceal-

history of most of

ing value,

it is

these large

mammals, both among those that prey and those

life

that are preyed on, concealing coloration has not been a


survival factor; throughout

the ages during which they

have survived they have gradually


cealing coloration they

may

lost

whatever of con-

once have had

if

any

and

have developed a coloration which under present conditions


has no concealing and perhaps even has a revealing quality,

birds exercised themselves by walking


solemnly round the edge of the nest

From

jablru's nest

The young

a photograph by Harper

troupial nest

troupials, or big black and yellow orioles, had


built a large colony of their nests on a dead tree

The

From

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


and which

never would have had a con-

in all probability

any "environmental complex"

cealing value in

the species as a whole lived during

ment.

Indeed,

in

their

harmful

its

and

which

ancestral develop-

big waders and other water-birds

native surroundings, to find


often

their

in

seems astonishing, when one observes

it

these big beasts

119

strikingly

how

revealing

non-

utterly

coloration

is.

Evidently the various other survival factors, such as habit,

and

in

many

cases cover, etc., are of such overmastering

importance that the coloration


sequence whatever, one
rarely a factor of

The

any

way

is

generally of no con-

or the other, and

is

only very

serious weight.

junction of the Sao Lourenco and the Paraguay

a day's journey above Corumba.

From Corumba

there

is
is

a regular service by shallow steamers to Cuyaba, at the

head of one

fork,

of the other.

age to each

and to Sao Luis de Caceres,

The steamers

little

at the

head

are not powerful and the voy-

city takes a week.

There are other forks

Above Cuyaba and Caceres launches

that are navigable.

go up-stream for several days' journey, except during the

North of

dryest parts of the season.


lies

marshy

plain

the highland, the Plan Alto, where the nights are cool

But

and the climate healthy.

my

this

view that these marshy

healthy;

of course there

and
over,

plains, although hot, are also

numbers to be a

must be nets

The country

offers
it

wish emphatically to record

and, moreover, the mosquitoes, in most places,

are not in sufficient

night.

is

serious pest, although

for protection against

at

excellently suited for settlement,

is

a remarkable

field

for cattle-growing.

a paradise for water-birds and for

kinds of birds, and for

them

many mammals.

It

is

many

Moreother

literally

an

120

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

ideal

place

in

months or a

which a

year.

most virgin

field

It is readily accessible,

work, and the

field for

as well as delightfully attractive.

In

a steam-launch.

it

offers

an

The man should have

he could with comfort cover

it

al-

would be healthy

life

parts of the country from south of

Cuyaba and

could spend six

naturalist

Coimbra

all

to north of

There would have to be a good deal

Caceres.

of collecting (although nothing in the nature of butchery

should be tolerated), for the region has only been superficially

worked, especially as regards mammals.

man were
of the

But

if

the

only a collector he would leave undone the part

work best worth

The

doing.

region offers extraor-

dinary opportunities for the study of the life-histories of


birds which, because of their size, their beauty, or their
All kinds of problems

habits, are of exceptional interest.

would be worked
3d, as

saw

For example, on the morning of the

out.

we were ascending

in the trees

the Paraguay,

we again and again

on the bank big nests of

sticks, into

Some

out of which parakeets were flying by the dozen.


of

them had straws

big globular nests

we

could

In some of the

bills.

make out

several holes of exit

Apparently these parakeets were building or

or entrance.

remodelling

or twigs in their

and

communal

nests;

but whether they had them-

had taken old nests and added


There was so much
to or modified them, we could not tell.
of interest all along the banks that we were continually
selves built these nests, or

longing to stop and spend days where


flocks of scores of cormorants
trees,

forest,

were.

Mixed

and darters covered certain

both at sunset and after sunrise.

was no deep

we

Although there

merely belts or fringes of trees along

the river, or in patches back of

it,

we

frequently saw

mon-

^^ %l^/f >

>/:"..
...

"ij^BJ

'''^/A**

'5JIIP

/,

|
f

fe#^f

*< ii

UM&&L
%

-J

E<?fSfc

*.

Snake-birds and cormorants


Mixed

flocks of scores of

cormorants and darters covered certain

From photographs

trees,

by Harper

both at sunset and after sunrise

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


keys in this riverine tree-fringe

and black howlers of more

mans and capybaras

active

121

common monkeys

We

leisurely gait.

sitting socially near

saw cay-

one another on

At night we heard the calling of large


These were now the most common
of tree-ducks.

the sand-banks.
flights

of

the ducks, although there were

all

The evenings were

also.

many muscovy

pleasant and not hot, as

ducks

we

sat

was a waxing moon. The


screamers were among the most noticeable birds. They
were noisy; they perched on the very tops of the trees,
on the forward deck;

there

down among the branches; and they were not shy.


They should be carefully protected by law, for they readily
become tame, and then come familiarly round the houses.
From the steamer we now and then saw beautiful orchids
not

in the trees

on the

river bank.

One afternoon we stopped

at the

home

buildings or

headquarters of one of the great outlying ranches of the

Land and Cattle Company, the Farquahar syndithan


cate, under the management of Murdo Mackenzie
whom we have had in the United States no better citizen
or more competent cattleman.
On this ranch there are
some seventy thousand head of stock. We were warmly
greeted by McLean, the head of the ranch, and his assistant Ramsey, an old Texan friend. Among the other asBrazil

sistants,

all

Frenchmen.

equally

were

several

Belgians and

The hands were Paraguayans and

and a few Indians


goes

cordial,

hard-bit

armed and knows how

set,

each of

Brazilians,

whom

always

to use his arms, for there are

constant collisions with cattle thieves from across the Bolivian border,

and the ranch has to protect

itself.

These

cowhands, vaqueiros, were of the type with which we were

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

122

now

familiar: dark-skinned, lean, hard-faced

men,

in slouch-

worn shirts and trousers, and fringed leather aprons,


with heavy spurs on their bare feet. They are wonderful
hats,

riders

man

and ropers, and fear neither

nor beast.

no-

ticed one Indian vaqueiro standing in exactly the attitude

of a Shilluk of the White Nile, with the sole of one foot


against the other leg, above the knee.

This

is

a region with

extraordinary possibilities of cattle-raising.

At

this

a cannery;

ranch there was a tannery; a slaughter-house;


a church;

buildings of various kinds and

degrees of comfort for the thirty or forty families

made

flamboyants on the river-brink.


pets around the house.

among

lemon-trees and

There were

The most

who

and the handsome,

the place their headquarters;

white, two-story big house, standing

all

fascinating

spotted fawn which loved being petted.

all

kinds of

was a wee,

Half a dozen cu-

rassows of different species strolled through the rooms;


there were also parrots of several different species, and

immediately outside the house four or

undipped wings, which would


feet

and then

to the

and

same

come within

us

fly gracefully off, shortly

with
a few

afterward returning

They included big and little white egrets


mauve and pearl-colored heron, with a par-

spot.

also the

tially

let

five herons,

black head and many-colored

bill,

which

flies

with

quick, repeated wing-flappings, instead of the usual slow

heron wing-beats.
In the warehouse were scores of skins of jaguar, puma,
ocelot,

and jaguarundi, and one skin of the

toothed red wolf.

These were

all

big, small-

brought in by the cow-

hands and by friendly Indians, a price being put on each,


as

they destroyed the stock.

The

jaguars occasionally

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


horses

killed

and full-grown cows, but not

123

The

bulls.

pumas killed the calves. The others killed an occasional


very young calf, but ordinarily only sheep, little pigs, and
chickens.
There was one black jaguar-skin; melanism is
much more common among jaguars than pumas, although
once Miller saw a black puma that had been killed by Indians.
The patterns of the jaguar-skins, and even more of
the ocelot-skins, showed wide variation, no two being alike.
The pumas were for the most part bright red, but some
were reddish gray, there being
tism that

much

the same dichroma-

found among their Colorado kinsfolk.

The

jaguarundis were dark brownish gray.

All these animals,

the spotted jaguars and ocelots, the

monochrome black

jaguars, red pumas,


in the

same

at the skins

locality,

and dark-gray jaguarundis, were


with the same environment.

cats the coloration pattern,

vival factor.

The

in these

whether concealing or reveal-

of no consequence one

is

A glance

and a moment's serious thought would have

been enough to show any sincere thinker that

ing,

killed

way

or the other as a sur-

spotted patterns conferred no benefit as

compared with the nearly or quite monochrome blacks,


reds,

beasts

that

by

The

and dark grays.

bodily condition of the various

was equally good, showing that

is,

their success in

life,

was unaffected
Except white, there is no

their ability to catch their prey,

their several color schemes.

color so conspicuously advertising as black;

jaguar had been a

fine,

well-fed,

yet the black

powerful beast.

The

spotted patterns in the forests, and perhaps even in the

marshes which the jaguars so frequently traversed, are


probably a shade less conspicuous than the
red and gray, but the

puma and

monochrome

jaguarundi are just as

124

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

hard to

see,

and evidently

find

it

just as easy to catch

The

prey, as the jaguar and ocelot.

saw was spotted; the grown deer had

fawn which we

little

lost

the spots;

spots do really help to conceal the wearer,

it

if

the

evident

is

that the deer has found the original concealing coloration


of so

little

value that

it

has actually been lost in the course

When

of the development of the species.

these big cats

and the deer are considered, together with the dogs,


peccaries, capybaras,

and big ant-eaters which

same environment, and when we

tapirs,

live in the

also consider the differ-

ence between the young and the adult deer and tapirs

when
monochrome

(both of which

adult have substituted a complete or

partial

for the ancestral spots

it

is

evident that in the present

life

and

and

streaks),

in the ancestral

development of the big mammals of South America coloration

is

not and has not been a survival factor; any pattern

and any color

opment of the
factors.

may accompany
qualities

Indeed,

it

the persistence and devel-

and attributes which are survival

seems hard to believe that

in

their

ordinary environments such color schemes as the bright


red of the marsh-deer, the black of the black jaguar, and

the black with white stripes of the great tamandua, are

not positive detriments to the wearers.


dently not the case.

Yet such

is

evi-

Evidently the other factors in species-

survival are of such overwhelming importance that the


coloration becomes negligible from this standpoint, whether
it

be concealing or revealing.

The

cats

mould themselves

They take advanThey move with extraor-

to the ground as they crouch or crawl.

tage of the tiniest scrap of cover.

The other animals which try


such manner as to escape observation

dinary stealth and patience.


to

sneak

off

in

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


approach more or

most nearly

less closely to

On

count.

and

the ideal which the cats

Wariness, sharp senses, the habit of

realize.

when

being rigidly motionless


of danger,

ability to

there

is

the least suspicion

take advantage of cover,

seen at once.

marsh-deer out

avoid observation;

effort to

its

level of the grass

open makes no

in the

concern

is

purely to see

foes in time to leave a dangerous neighborhood.

of the neighboring forest skulk and hide and

The

dense cover to avoid being seen.


caries

make no

effort to

The deer
lie

by being

The

can face any opponent with

As

prowess

for the giant

am

in

either

collared peccary also

trusts to its truculence, but seeks refuge in a hole

ratus.

still

they trust for defence to their

gregariousness and truculence.

it

its

white-lipped pec-

escape observation

or motionless;

noiseless

all

the bare, open, treeless plain, whether marsh,

meadow, or upland, anything above the


is

125

its

where

formidable biting appa-

tamandua,

in spite of its fighting

wholly unable to understand

how such

a slow

and clumsy beast has been able through the ages to


and thrive surrounded by jaguars and pumas.

exist

Speaking

generally, the animals that seek to escape observation trust

primarily to smell to discover their foes or their prey, and

whatever moves and do not see whatever

see

By
region.

There were low

hills

was covered with dense


passed

we had

the morning of January 5

little

clearings

is

motionless.

left

the marsh

here and there, and the land

forest.

From time

to time

with palm-thatched houses.

we

We

were approaching Caceres, where the easiest part of our


trip

would end.

little

good.

We

had

lived in

much comfort on

the

The food was plentiful and the cooking


At night we slept on deck in cots or hammocks.

steamer.

126

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

The mosquitoes were rarely troublesome, although in the


daytime we were sometimes bothered by numbers of biting
horse-flies.
The bird life was wonderful. One of the characteristic sights we were always seeing was that of a number of heads and necks of cormorants and snake-birds,

without any bodies, projecting above water, and disap-

Skimmers and thick-

pearing as the steamer approached.


billed tern

were plentiful here right

in the heart of the con-

In addition to the spurred lapwing, characteristic

tinent.

and most interesting resident of most of South America,

we found tiny red-legged plover which also breed and are


The contrasts in habits between
at home in the tropics.
closely allied species are wonderful.

and bay snipe there are species that


in

Among

live all the

the plovers

year round

almost the same places, in tropical and subtropical lands;

and other related forms which wander over the whole earth,
and spend nearly

all

their time,

now

temperate regions of the far north,


perate regions of the south.

These

birds of the seashore and the river


lives in regions of

in the arctic

now

and cold

in the cold

latter

tem-

wide-wandering

bank pass most of their

almost perpetual sunlight.

They spend

the breeding season, the northern summer, in the land of


the midnight sun, during the long arctic day.
fly for endless distances

down

They then

across the north temperate

zone, across the equator, through the lands where the days

and nights are always of equal length, into another hemisphere,

and spend another summer of long days and long

twilights in the far south,

where the antarctic winds cool

them, while their nesting home, at the other end of the


world,
night.

is

shrouded beneath the iron desolation of the polar

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


In the late afternoon of the 5th
old-fashioned

we reached

127

the quaint

town of Sao Luis de Caceres, on the


of the settled region of the state of Matto

little

outermost fringe

Grosso, the last town

we

should see before reaching the

Amazon. As we approached we passed


black washerwomen on the river's edge. The

of the

villages

half-clad

men, with the

local

sloping foot of the

her moorings.

band, were gathered at the steeply

main

street,

where the steamer came to

Groups of women and

brown, watched us from the low


bodices were red, blue, green, of

white and

girls,

their skirts

bluff;

and

Sigg had gone

all colors.

ahead with much of the baggage; he met us

in

an impro-

vised motor-boat, consisting of a dugout to the side of which

he had clamped our Evinrude motor; he was giving several of the local citizens of

The

enjoyment.

prominence a

streets of the little

with narrow brick sidewalks.

The

white or blue, with roofs of red

ride, to their

huge

town were unpaved,

one-story houses were

tiles

and window-shutters

come down from colonial days and


tracing back through Christian and Moorish Portugal to a
remote Arab ancestry. Pretty faces, some dark, some light,

of latticed woodwork,

looked out from these windows;


for generations past,

windows

in

must thus have looked out of

the vanished colonial days.

here in Caceres the spirit of the


fine
its

the

new government

principal,

many

their mothers' mothers,

new

But now even

Brazil

is

moving; a

school has been started, and

an earnest

man

similar

we met

doing excellent work, one of

teachers who, during the last few years, have

been brought to Matto Grosso from Sao Paulo, a centre


of the

new educational movement which

for Brazil.

will

do so much

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

128

Zahm went

Father
Franciscan

to spend the night with

friars, capital fellows.

house of Lieutenant

comfortable

some French

spent the night at the

Lyra;

hot-weather

house with thick walls, big doors, and an open patio borLieutenant Lyra was to accompany

dered by a gallery.

he was an old companion of Colonel Rondon's explora-

us;

We

tions.
final

two of the

stores to

make some

purchases, and in the evening strolled through the

dusky
and

visited one or

streets

and under the

girls sat in

trees of the plaza;

women

the

groups in the doorways or at the windows,

and here and there a stringed instrument tinkled

in the

darkness.

From Caceres onward we were


Colonel Rondon's explorations.

For some eighteen years

he was occupied in exploring and


lines

entering the scene of

in

opening telegraph-

through the eastern or north-middle part of the great

forest state, the wilderness state of the

"matto grosso"

the "great wilderness," or, as Australians would call

"the bush."

unknown

Then,

in

1907, he began to penetrate the

He was

region lying to the north and west.

the head of the exploring expeditions sent out


Brazilian

Government to traverse

unknown

land;

to

map

it,

by the

for the first time this

for the first time the courses of

the rivers which from the same divide run into the upper
portions of the Tapajos and the Madeira,
affluents of the

Amazon, and

two of the mighty

to build telegraph-lines across

to the Madeira, where a line of Brazilian settlements, con-

nected by steamboat lines and a railroad, again occurs.

Three times he penetrated into

this absolutely

unknown,

Indian-haunted wilderness, being absent for a year or two


at a time

and

suffering every imaginable hardship, before

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY


way through

he made his

to the Madeira and completed

The

the telegraph-line across.


Brazilian

Army and

him shared the


his

men

officers

and men of the

the civilian scientists

and the

toil

died of beriberi;

who

followed

Some of
wounded by

credit of the task.

some were

killed or

he himself almost died of fever;

the Indians;

129

again and

again his whole party was reduced almost to the last ex-

tremity by starvation, disease, hardship, and the overexhaustion due to wearing fatigues.
wild,

naked savages he showed a combination of

The

kindliness.

result

the few soldiers

first

He and

was that they ultimately became

guarded the telegraph-lines, and helped

his firm friends,

posts.

fearless-

good judgment, and resolute patience and

ness, wariness,

the

In dealing with the

left at

the isolated, widely separated

his assistants explored,

little

and mapped

for

and the Gy-Parana, two impor-

time, the Juruena

tant affluents of the Tapajos and the Madeira respectively.

The Tapajos and

the Madeira, like the Orinoco and Rio

Negro, have been highways of travel for a couple of centuries.

The Madeira

means of

ingress, a

Tapajos) was the chief

(as later the

century and a half ago, to the

little

Portuguese settlements of this far interior region of Brazil;

one of these

little

towns,

named Matto

original capital of the province.

Grosso, being the

has long been aban-

It

doned by the government, and practically so by

rising

tropical luxuriance of the wild forest.

The

mouths of the main


as a rule well

affluents of these

known.

mouth was known.


it

inhabi-

and church now

tants, the ruins of palace, fortress,

amid the rank

its

But

The

in

many

river itself

highway

rivers

were

cases nothing but the

was not known, and

was placed on the map by guesswork.

Colonel

Rondon

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

130

found, for example, that the course of the Gy-Parana was

map two

put down on the

degrees out of

He, with his party, was the


the

to traverse

first

He and

length.

its

its

to find out

first

upper course, the

his assistants

proper place.
its

to

first

sources,

map

its

performed a similar service

and

for the Juruena, discovering the sources, discovering

descending some of the branches, and for the

first

time

making a trustworthy map of the main river itself, until


its junction with the Tapajos.
Near the watershed between the Juruena and the Gy-Parana he established

named Jose

farthest station to the westward,


after one of the

his

Bonofacio,

chief republican patriots of Brazil.

couple of days' march northwestward from this station,

he

1909 came across a part of the stream of a river

in

running northward between the Gy-Parana and the Juhe could only guess where

ruena;

it

it

to be into the Madeira, although

it

entered the Gy-Parana or Tapajos.

which

it

flows

penetrated

it;

was, as to

its

some highway
it

on

his

Doubt.

was unknown, no
and as
length,

all

debouched, believing
it

was

The

civilized

possible that

region through

man

having ever

conjecture as to what the river

and as to

its

place of entering into

was mere guesswork, he had entered


sketch maps as the Rio da Duvida, the River of
river,

Among

the officers of the Brazilian

scientific civilians

Army and

who have accompanied him

the

there have

been not only expert cartographers, photographers, and


telegraphists, but astronomers, geologists, botanists,
zoologists.

and

Their reports, published in excellent shape by

the Brazilian Government,

make an

invaluable series of

volumes, reflecting the highest credit on the explorers, and

on the government

itself.

Colonel Rondon's

own accounts

HEADWATERS OF THE PARAGUAY

131

of his explorations, of the Indian tribes he has visited, and


of the beautiful and wonderful things he has seen, possess

a peculiar interest.

CHAPTER V
UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS
After

leaving Caceres

in the local

river
is

is

we went up

the Sepotuba, which

Indian dialect means River of Tapirs.

when

only navigable for boats of size

high.

It

is

This

the water

a swift, fairly clear stream, rushing

down

from the Plan Alto, the high uplands, through the tropical
lowland

On

forest.

the right hand, or western bank, and

here and there on the

left

bank, the forest

broken by

is

natural pastures and meadows, and at one of these places,

known

as Porto

mouth, there

is

Campo,

sixty or seventy miles

Here we halted,

a good-sized cattle-ranch.

because the launch, and the two pranchas


boats with houses on their decks

not carry our entire party and

above the

native trading-

which

it

towed, could

Accordingly most

outfit.

of the baggage and some of the party were sent ahead to

where we were to meet our pack-train,

Meanwhile the

rest of us

made our

first

at Tapirapoan.

camp under

tents

to wait the return of the boats.

The

tents were placed in a line, with the tent of Colonel

Ron-

at Porto

Campo,

don and the tent


dle,

in

which Kermit and

beside one another.

poles, stood the Brazilian


rise

and sunset the

flags

the mid-

In front of these two, on

and American

flags;

tall

and at sun-

were hoisted and hauled down

while the trumpet sounded and

Camp was

I slept, in

all

of us stood at attention.

pitched beside the ranch buildings.

near the tents grew wonderful violet orchids.


132

In the trees

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


Many

birds were around us;

Cherrie and Miller many,

many

133

saw some of them, and

They ranged from

more.

party-colored macaws, green parrots, and big gregarious

cuckoos
five

down

to a brilliant green-and-chestnut kingfisher,

and a quarter inches

long,

and a tiny orange-and-green

manakin, smaller than any bird

hummer.

We

have ever seen except a

saw a bird that

also

colored; a kind of whippoorwill


naturalists could only

We

really

which even the sharp-eyed

make out because

saw orange-bellied

squirrels

was protectively

moved

its

head.

with showy orange

tails.

it

common. We killed our first poisonous snake


(the second we had seen), an evil lance-headed jararaca
that was swimming the river. We also saw a black-andorange harmless snake, nearly eight feet long, which we
were told was akin to the mussurama; and various other
snakes.
One day while paddling in a canoe on the river,
Lizards were

hoping that the dogs might drive a tapir to


into the water a couple of small
in shooting

thrown over

their heads;

men was

and

all

they drove

bush deer instead.

There

them; we caught them with ropes

was no point
as specimens,

us,

for the naturalists

of us needed the meat.

needed them

One

of the

stung by a single big red maribundi wasp.

For

twenty-four hours he was in great pain and incapacitated


for work.

In a lagoon two of the dogs had the tips of their

bitten off

tails

by piranhas

hands told us that

in this

swam, and the ranch


lagoon one of their hounds had
as they

been torn to pieces and completely devoured by the ravenous

fish.

It

was a further

illustration of the uncertainty of

temper and behavior of these ferocious

little

other lagoons they had again and again

dogs

unmolested.

They vary

locally

monsters.

left

in

In

us and our

aggressiveness

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

134

just as sharks

and crocodiles

and

in different seas

rivers

vary.

On the morning of January 9th we

started out for a tapir-

Tapirs are hunted with canoes, as they dwell in

hunt.

thick jungle and take to the water

them.

follow

In this region there were extensive papyrus-swamps

and big lagoons, back from the


fled to these for refuge,

places

when hounds

it

river,

throwing

was exceedingly

off

and often the tapirs

the hounds.

In these

them;

our best

difficult to get

chance was to keep to the river in canoes, and paddle

toward the spot

in the direction of

the noise, seemed to be heading.

which the hounds, by

We

started in four ca-

Three of them were Indian dugouts, very low

noes.

water.

The

light, safe,

fourth was our Canadian canoe, a beauty;

roomy, made of thin

covered canvas.

went

slats of

canoe, together with two paddlers.

The

paddlers were natives of the poorer

in

wood and cement-

Colonel Rondon, Fiala with his camera,

and

good men.

in the

this

The bowsman was

class.

They were

of nearly pure white blood;

the steersman was of nearly pure negro blood, and was


evidently the stronger character and better

two.

The

man

of the

other canoes carried a couple of fazendeiros,

ranchmen, who had come up from Caceres with their dogs.

These dugouts were manned by Indian and half-caste paddlers,

and the fazendeiros, who were of nearly pure white

blood, also at times paddled vigorously.

All were dressed

in substantially similar clothes, the difference being that

men

or laborers, were

man wore

anything save a

those of the camaradas, the poorer


in tatters.

In the canoes no

On

horse-

back they wore long leather leggings which were

really

shirt,

trousers,

and hat, the

feet being bare.

y
The

great ant-eater

South American tapir


From

photographs by Elzvin R. Sanborn

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


simply high, rather

boots with the soles

flexible

spurs were on their tough bare feet.

among

gradation between and


groes,

On

and Indians.

135
off;

their

There was every

the nearly pure whites, ne-

the whole, there was most white

blood in the upper ranks, and most Indian and negro blood

among

the camaradas; but there were exceptions in both

classes,

and there was no discrimination on account of

All alike were courteous

The hounds were


and then

let loose

and

color.

friendly.

at first carried in

on the banks.

We

two of the dugouts,


went up-stream

for

a couple of hours against the swift current, the paddlers

making good headway with

their

pointed paddles

the

broad blade of each paddle was tipped with a long point,


so that

it

could be thrust into the

The

dugout against the bank.


almost like a wall, the

tall trees

man

In most places

it

to keep the low

tropical forest

came down

laced together with vines,

and the spaces between their trunks


jungle.

mud

filled

with a low, dense

could only be penetrated by a

With few exceptions the trees were


unknown to me, and their native names told me nothing.
On most of them the foliage was thick; among the exceptions were the cecropias, growing by preference on newwith a machete.

formed
leaf

alluvial soil bare of other trees,

bunches were, as

of sloths.

We

whose rather scanty

was informed, the

saw one or two

and a family of monkeys.

squirrels

favorite food

among

the trees,

There were few sand-banks

in

the river, and no water-fowl save an occasional cormorant.

But

as

we pushed along near

overhung and dipped

the shore, where the branches

in the

swirling water,

continu-

They were hanging from


river, and when our approach

ally roused little flocks of bats.

the boughs right over the

we

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

136

roused them they zigzagged rapidly in front of us for a

few rods, and then again dove

in

among

the branches.

At last we landed at a point of ground where there


was little jungle, and where the forest was composed of
palms and was fairly open. It was a lovely bit of forest.
The colonel strolled off in one direction, returning an hour
later with a squirrel for the naturalists.
Meanwhile Fiala
and I went through the palm wood to a papyrus-swamp.

Many

trails led

through the woods, and especially along

the borders of the

swamp; and, although

makers had evidently been


footprints of both tapir
print

much

and

their principal

cattle,

yet there were in

them

deer.

The

foot-

tapir

like that of a small rhinoceros,

We

the odd-toed ungulates.

makes a

being one of

could hear the dogs

now and

then, evidently scattered and running on various

They were

They would
ran away from

a worthless lot of cur-hounds.

chase tapir or deer or anything else that

them

trails.

as long as the trail

was easy

to follow;

were not stanch, even after animals that

fled,

but they

and they

would have nothing whatever to do with animals that


were formidable.

While standing by the marsh we heard something coming along one of the

game

paths.

In a

moment

a buck

of the bigger species of bush deer appeared, a very pretty

and graceful creature.


as

it

saw

us, giving us

It

stopped and darted back as soon

no chance

for a shot; but in another

moment we caught glimpses of it running by at full speed,


back among the palms. I covered an opening between
two tree-trunks. By good luck the buck appeared in the
right place, giving

and

fire.

me

just time to hold well

At the report he went down

ahead of him

in a heap,

the

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


"umbrella-pointed" bullet going

one shoulder, and

in at

The leaden

ranging forward, breaking the neck.


of the bullet, in the proper

mushroom

portion

or umbrella shape,

stopped under the neck skin on the farther

very effective

137

side.

It

is

bullet.

Miller particularly wished specimens of these various

bush

species of

deer, because

have not yet been

The

old buck.

satisfactorily

mutual relationships

their

worked

out.

This was an

antlers were single spikes, five or six inches

long;

they were old and white and would soon have been

shed.

In the stomach were the remains of both leaves and

grasses, but especially the former;

browser and grazer.

There were

the buck was both a


also seeds, but

no ber-

or nuts such as I have sometimes found in deers'

ries

This species, which

stomachs.

borhood,

is

is

abundant

in this neigh-

At

solitary in its habits, not going in herds.

time the rut was past, the bucks no longer sought

this

the does, the fawns had not been born, and the yearlings

had

by

left their

When

itself.

chased they were very apt to take to the

This instinct of taking to the water, by the way,

water.
is

mothers; so that each animal usually went

quite explicable as regards both deer and tapir, for

affords

but

them

it is

refuge against their present-day natural foes,

little

puzzling to see the jaguar readily climbing

trees to escape dogs;


in its habitat

for ages

any natural

seek safety in

its

have passed since there were

foes

But

trees.

has been kept alive by


sion

it

from which
is

it

it

needed to

possible that the habit

them on occaamong the beasts

seeking refuge in

from the big peccaries, which are

on which

it

ordinarily preys.

We hung the

buck

in a tree.

The

colonel returned,

and

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

138

who had been

not long afterward one of the paddlers

watching the river called out to us that there was a tapir

good distance up-stream, and that two of

in the water, a

the other boats were after

and the two paddlers dug

We

it.

jumped

into the canoe

their blades in the water as they

drove her against the strong current, edging over for the

The

opposite bank.
great rate, only

its

tapir

was coming down-stream

queer head above water, while the dug-

outs were closing rapidly on


cries.

As the

at a

it,

tapir turned

the paddlers uttering loud

slightly to

one side or the

other the long, slightly upturned snout and the strongly

pronounced arch of the


neck gave

it

head and upper

marked and unusual aspect. I could not


was directly in line with one of the pursuing
a

shoot, for

it

dugouts.

Suddenly
eagerly in

dived,

it

curved downward as

we gazed

crest along the

it

all

did

snout

the

being

slightly

There was no trace of

so.

directions; the

dugout

in front

it;

came

alongside our canoe and the paddlers rested, their pad-

Then we made out

dles ready.

the bank.

It

had dived

the tapir clambering up

at right angles to the course

it

was following and swum under water to the very edge of


the shore, rising under the overhanging tree-branches at a
point where a drinking-trail for
in the bank.

The branches

deep shadow, so that

it

game

led

partially hid

it,

down
and

a break
it

was

in

did not offer a very good shot.

My bullet went into its body too far back, and the tapir disappeared

in the forest at a gallop as if

bullet really secured


its

it,

by making

it

unhurt, although the


unwilling to trust to

speed and leave the neighborhood of the water.

or four of the hounds were

by

river, leaving the others yelling

this

Three

time swimming the

on the opposite

side;

and

Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel

We

hung the buck

From

Rondon with bush


in a tree

a photograph by Fiala

deer

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


as soon as the

on the

139

swimmers reached the shore they were put


and galloped

tapir's trail

after

giving tongue.

it,

we saw the tapir take to the water


up-stream, and after it we went as fast as the paddles

In a couple of minutes
far

could urge us through the water.


to head

down

We

were not

in

time

but fortunately some of the dogs had come

it,

to the river's edge at the very point where the tapir

was about to

and turned

land,

We

the dogs were swimming.

it

Two

back.

or three of

were more than half the

breadth of the river away from the tapir, and somewhat

down-stream, when

it

dived.

swim beneath the water


a hippopotamus, for

it

It

made an

astonishingly long

this time, almost as

from shore.

It

its

brain, while

it

was

me

river bed, but

that this was not

remain where

it

it,

until the

that the strong current would

down-stream over the


sured

shot

the

sank at once.

feared

thirty or forty yards

There was now nothing to do but wait


floated.

had been

passed completely under our canoe

and rose between us and the hither bank.


bullet going into

if it

was

until

it

so,

rose,

my

body

roll

companions

it

as-

and that the body would


which would be

in

an hour

They were right, except as to the time. For over


a couple of hours we paddled, or anchored ourselves by
clutching branches close to the spot, or else drifted down

or two.

a mile and paddled up again near the shore, to see

if

the

body had caught anywhere. Then we crossed the river


and had lunch at the lovely natural picnic-ground where
the buck was hung up. We had very nearly given up the
tapir
it

when

it

had sunk.

suddenly floated only a few rods from where

With no

body was hoisted

little difficulty

into the canoe,

the big, round black

and we

all

turned our

140

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS


The

prows down-stream.

too
annoyance a

time, and

us any

now

skies

had been lowering

late to interfere

and beat upon

us.

for

some

with the hunt or cause

heavy downpour of rain came on

Little

we

cared, as the canoe raced

forward, with the tapir and the buck lying in the bottom,

and a dry, comfortable camp ahead of

When we

reached camp, and Father

he reminded

me

us.

Zahm saw the

tapir,

of something I had completely forgotten.

When, some six years previously, he had spoken to me in


the White House about taking this South American trip,
I

had answered that

Africa, but

could not, as

added that

America and that

if I

intended to go to

hoped some day to go to South

did so

should try to shoot both a

jaguar and a tapir, as they were the characteristic big-

game animals

of the country.

"now you've
heavy

"Well," said Father Zahm,

them both!" The storm continued


sunset.
Then the rain stopped and the

shot

until after

moon broke through the cloud-rack. Father Zahm and


I walked up and down in the moonlight, talking of many
things, from Dante, and our own plans for the future, to
full

the deeds and the wanderings of the old-time Spanish

conquistadores in their search for the Gilded King, and of


the Portuguese adventurers

who then

the mastery of the oceans and of the

divided with

unknown

them

continents

beyond.
This was an attractive and interesting camp

ways than

one.

The

vaqueiros with their wives

were housed on the two


tents were pitched.
tile-roofed

house

in

On

big,

more

and families

sides of the field in

one side was a

in

which our

whitewashed,

which the foreman dwelt

an

olive-

skinned, slightly built, wiry man, with an olive-skinned

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS

141

wife and eight as pretty, fair-haired children as one could

wish to

see.

He

usually went barefoot, and his manners

were not merely good but distinguished.

Corrals and out-

On

the opposite side

buildings were near this big house.

of the field stood the row of steep-roofed, palm-thatched

huts in which the ordinary cowhands lived with their

dusky helpmeets and

children.

Each night from these

palm-thatched quarters we heard the faint sounds of a

music that went far back of civilization to a savage ancestry near

by

in point of

remote;

for

through the

moonlight,

we heard

time and otherwise immeasurably


still,

hot

air,

under the

brilliant

the monotonous throbbing of a tom-

tom drum, and the twanging of some odd stringed instrument. The small black turkey-buzzards, here always
called crows,

were as tame as chickens near the big house,

walking on the ground or perched in the trees beside the


corral,

waiting for the

offal of

the slaughtered cattle.

Two

palm-trees near our tent were crowded with the long, hanging nests of one of the cacique orioles.

We

lived well,

with plenty of tapir beef, which was good, and venison of


the bush deer, which was excellent;

and as much

nary beef as we wished, and fresh milk, too


this country.

ordi-

rarity in

There were very few mosquitoes, and every-

thing was as comfortable as possible.

The

was a big one. I did not wish to


kill another, unless, of course, it became advisable to do
so for food; whereas I did wish to get some specimens of
the big, white-lipped peccary, the "queixa" (pronounced
"cashada") of the Brazilians, which would make our coltapir I killed

lection of the big

complete.

mammals

of the Brazilian forests almost

The remaining members

of the party killed

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

142

two or three more


very

much

One was

tapirs.

a bull,

full

grown but

The

smaller than the animal I had killed.

The

hunters said that this was a distinct kind.

skull

and

skin were sent back with the other specimens to the Ameri-

can Museum, where after due examination and comparison

specific

its

solitary beasts.

Two

the case of a cow and


live in

Tapirs are

identity will be established.

are rarely found together, except in


its

spotted and streaked

dense cover, usually lying

down

in the

calf.

They

daytime and

at night coming out to feed, and going to the river or to

some lagoon to bathe and swim.

From

this

camp

Sigg

took Lieutenant Lyra back to Caceres to get something


that had been overlooked.

They went

in a

rowboat to

which the motor had been attached, and at night on the

way back
But

in

almost ran over a tapir that was swimming.

unfrequented places tapirs both feed and bathe

during the day.


big palm-nuts;

The stomach

of the one I shot contained

they had been swallowed without enough

mastication to break the kernel, the outer pulp being what


the tapir prized.

Tapirs gallop well, and their tough hide

and wedge shape enable them to go


dense cover.
foe,

They

tapir

is

through very

try to stamp on, and even to bite, a

but are only clumsy

The

at speed

fighters.

a very archaic type of ungulate, not un-

like the non-specialized beasts of the oligocene.

From some

such ancestral type the highly specialized one-toed modern


horse has evolved, while during the uncounted ages that

saw the horse thus develop the tapir has continued substantially unchanged.

Originally the tapirs dwelt in the

northern hemisphere, but there they gradually died out,


the more specialized horse, and even for long ages the

I
i

K-

^ppl

"
.

1TCA wi

P a o

yw

19

If

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS

143

had vanished; and nowa-

rhinoceros, persisting after they

days the surviving tapirs are found

in

Malaysia and South

The

America, far from their original home.

relations of

the horse and tapir in the paleontological history of South

America are very curious.

Both were, geologically speak-

comparatively recent immigrants, and

ing,

different dates

The

later.

it

is

if

they came at

almost certain that the horse came

horse for an age or two, certainly for

many

hundreds of thousands of years, throve greatly and devel-

oped not only several different species but even different


genera.

It

was much the most highly

specialized of the

two, and in the other continental regions where both were

found the horse outlasted the

But

tapir.

the tapir outlasted the horse.

in

South America

From unknown

causes the

various genera and species of horses died out, while the


tapir has persisted.

The highly

specialized, highly devel-

oped beasts, which represented such a


development, died out, while their

full

evolutionary

less specialized

kinsfolk,

which had not developed, clung to

and

although the direct reverse was occurring

this

America and

in the

Old World.

It

is

and throve;
in

North

one of the innu-

merable and at present insoluble problems


life

life

remote

in the history of

on our planet.
I

spent a couple of days of hard work in getting the big

white-lipped peccaries

white-lipped

being rather a mis-

nomer, as the entire under jaw and lower cheek are white.

They were

said to be found

on the other

distance back from, the river.

side of,

Rondon had

Colonel

out one of our attendants, an old follower of

blood Parecis Indian, to look for tracks.


cellent

man, who dressed and behaved

and some

his,

sent

a full-

This was an ex-

just like the other

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

144

good men we had, and was called Antonio Parecis. He


found the tracks of a herd of thirty or forty cashadas, and

we started after them.


day we killed nothing. We were

the following morning

On

the

first

rather

too large a party, for one or two of the visiting fazendeiros

came along with

much wished

very
cary

their dogs.

is

doubt whether these

to overtake our game, for the big pec-

a murderous foe of dogs (and

One

to men).

men

of their

is

sometimes dangerous

number frankly

refused to

come or

to let his dogs come, explaining that the fierce wild swine

were "very badly brought up"

(a literal translation of his

words) and that respectable dogs and

go near them.
their dogs;

The

not to

other fazendeiros merely feared for

a groundless fear,

that the dogs could

men ought

by any

I believe,

as I

exertion have been dragged

into dangerous proximity with such foes.

man, Benedetto, came with

do not think

us,

The ranch

and two or three other

camaradas, including Antonio, the Parecis Indian.


horses were

swum

The

across the river, each being led beside

Then we
were saddled, and we
a dugout.

It

fore-

crossed with the dogs;

our horses

started.

was a picturesque cavalcade.

The

of every shade from white to dark copper,

native hunters,
all

wore leather

leggings that left the soles of their feet bare, and on their

bare heels wore spurs with wheels four inches across.

went

in single

file,

for

They

no other mode of travel was possible;

and the two or three leading men kept their machetes out,

and had to cut every yard of our way while we were


the forest.

The hunters rode

little

stallions,

in

and their

hounds were gelded.

Most

of the time

we were

in forest or

swampy

jungle.

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


we

Part of the time

145

marshy

crossed or skirted

one of them a herd of half-wild cattle was feeding.

and

storks, ducks,

were

ibises

In

plains.

Herons,

and we saw

in these marshes,

one flock of lovely roseate spoonbills.


In one grove the

they

as in Africa

fig-trees

were

killing the palms, just

In the gloom

the sandalwood-trees.

kill

of this grove there were no flowers, no bushes;

the air

was heavy; the ground was brown with mouldering leaves.


Almost every palm was serving as a prop for a fig-tree.

The
est

every stage of growth.

The young-

ones merely ran up the palms as vines.

In the next

fig-trees

were

stage the vine

in

had thickened and was sending out shoots,

wrapping the palm stem

in a

Some

deadly hold.

of the

shoots were thrown round the stem like the tentacles of

an immense

cuttlefish.

hooked into every

Others looked

crevice,

were

like claws, that

and round every projection.

In

the stage beyond this the palm had been killed, and

dead carcass appeared between the


trunks;

and

later the

fig-tree.

pools at the foot of the

murdered

if

Water stood
trees,

and of the

the dark stillness of the grove;

sentient beings

in

There was something

that had murdered them.


evil in

winding vine-

big,

palm had disappeared and the vines

had united into a great

and

its

it

black
trees

sinister

seemed as

had writhed themselves round and were

strangling other sentient beings.

We

passed through wonderfully beautiful woods of

palms, the ouaouaca palm


spelled in English.
slender,

wawasa palm,

The trunks

rose tall

as

it

should be

and strong and

and the fronds were branches twenty or thirty

long, with the

from the midrib

many

long,

tall

feet

narrow green blades starting

at right angles in pairs.

Round

the ponds

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

146

stood stately burity palms, rising like huge columns, with


great branches

that looked like fans, as the long,

blades radiated from the end of the midrib.

One

tree

stiff

was

gorgeous with the brilliant hues of a flock of party-colored

macaws.

Now
omous

Green parrots flew shrieking overhead.

and then we were bitten and stung by the ven-

fire-ants,

assailed

and

by more

ticks crawled

upon

Once we were

us.

serious foes, in the shape of a nest of

maribundi wasps, not the biggest kind, but about the


of our hornets.

We were

at the time passing

jungle, under tall trees, in a spot

through dense

where the down timber,

and thorns made the going

holes, tangled creepers,

size

difficult.

The leading men were not assailed, although they were


now and then cutting the trail. Colonel Rondon and I
were in the middle of the column, and the swarm attacked
us; both of us

were badly stung on the

face, neck,

the colonel even more severely than

and rode to the rear and


stung too; and
I

we went

was.

to the front;

at a rate that a

and hands,

He wheeled

our horses were

moment

previously

would have deemed impossible over such ground.

At the

close of the day,

when we were almost back

the river, the dogs killed a jaguar kitten.


trace of the mother.
her,

Some

There was no

accident must have befallen

and the kitten was trying to

was very emaciated.

at

shift for herself.

She

In her stomach were the remains of

some tendons from the skeleton or dried carThe loathsome berni flies, which
of some big animal.

a pigeon and
cass

deposit eggs in living beings


dents,

men

had

been at

it.

cattle,

dogs, monkeys, ro-

There were seven huge,

white grubs making big abscess-like swellings over

These

flies

deposit their grubs in men.

its eyes.

In 1909, on Colonel

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


Rondon's hardest
one to

five

trip,

every

man

147

of the party had from

grubs deposited in him, the

fly

acting with

great speed, and driving

its

The grubs cause

but a couple of cross cuts with

torture;

ovipositor through clothing.

a lancet permit the loathsome creatures to be squeezed out.

In these forests the multitude of insects that

bite, sting,

devour, and prey upon other creatures, often with accompa-

niments of atrocious suffering, passes


thetic

myth

belief.

The very

pa-

of "beneficent nature" could not deceive even

the least wise being

if

he once saw for himself the iron

Of course "nature" in
common parlance a wholly inaccurate term, by the way,
especially when used as if to express a single entity
is encruelty of

life

in

the tropics.

tirely ruthless,

individuals,

no

less so as

and entirely

regards types than as regards

indifferent to

good or

evil,

and

works out her ends or no ends with utter disregard of pain

and woe.

The

following morning at

sunrise

This time only Colonel Rondon and

and Antonio the Indian.


which

Two

it

We

we

started

again.

went with Benedetto

brought along four dogs

was fondly hoped might chase the cashadas.

them disappeared on the track of a tapir and we


saw them no more; one of the others promptly fled when
we came across the tracks of our game, and would not
even venture after them in our company; the remaining
one did not actually run away and occasionally gave tongue,
but could not be persuaded to advance unless there was a
of

man ahead

of him.

However, Colonel Rondon, Benedetto,

and Antonio formed a

trio of

hunters

who

could do fairly

well without dogs.

After four hours of riding, Benedetto,

who was

in the

148

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

lead,

suddenly stopped and pointed downward.

We

were

riding along a grassy intervale between masses of forest,

and he had found the fresh track of a herd of big peccaries crossing

from

left

The

thirty or forty in the herd.

caries

logs,

go

in

small peccaries go singly or

and when chased take refuge

in small parties,

hollow

There were apparently

to right.

where they show valiant


herds of considerable

fight;

size,

in holes or

but the big pec-

and are so truculent

move

that they are reluctant to run, and prefer either to

slowly off chattering their tusks and grunting, or else ac-

Where much persecuted the survivors


gradually grow more willing to run, but their instinct is
tually to charge.

not to run but to trust to their truculence and their mass-

They

action for safety.


kill

dogs.

They

inflict

a fearful bite and frequently

often charge the hunters and

have heard

men being badly wounded by them, while almost every


man who hunts them often is occasionally forced to scramble
of

up a

tree to avoid a charge.

man

being killed by them.

tree in
it.

up a

which the

But

have never heard of a

They sometimes surround the


man has taken refuge and keep him up

Cherrie, on one occasion in Costa Rica,


tree for several hours

by a great herd of three or four

hundred of these peccaries;


several of them.

was thus kept

and

this

although he killed

Ordinarily, however, after

making

charge they do not turn, but pass on out of sight.


great foe

is

the jaguar, but unless he exercises

tion they will turn the tables on him.

their

Their

much

cau-

Cherrie, also in

Costa Rica, came on the body of a jaguar which had

evi-

dently been killed by a herd of peccaries some twenty-four

hours previously.
hoofs,

The ground was trampled up by

and the carcass was rent and

slit

into pieces.

their

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


Benedetto, as soon as

changed

off his horse,


rifle

we

149

discovered the tracks, slipped

his leggings for sandals,

over his arm, and took the

trail

threw

his

of the herd, followed

by the only dog which would accompany him. The peccaries had gone into a broad belt of forest, with a marsh
on the farther side. At first Antonio led the colonel and
me,

of us on horseback, at a canter round this belt to

all

the marsh side, thinking the peccaries had gone almost

through

it.

occasionally

The dog only


Finally we
barked, and then not loudly.
But we could hear nothing.

heard a shot.

Benedetto had found the herd, which showed

no fear of him; he had backed out and

We

the shot had been

or

a signal shot.

three went into the forest on foot toward where

all

hot.

fired

We

move

fired.

It

was dense jungle and

stiflingly

could not see clearly for more than a few feet,

easily

Soon we

without free use of the machetes.

heard the ominous groaning of the herd, in front of

and almost on each

Then Benedetto joined us, and


the rear. We moved slowly forward,

side.

the dog appeared in

toward the sound of the


varied at times

us,

fierce

moaning grunts which were

by a Castanet chattering

Then we dimly made out the dark forms


moving very slowly to the

left.

My

of the tusks.

of the peccaries

companions each

chose a tree to climb at need and pointed out one for me.
I fired at

leaves,

the half-seen form of a hog, through the vines,

and branches; the colonel

fired;

I fired

shots at other hogs; and the Indian also fired.


caries did not charge;
erect,

three

The

walking and trotting, with

more
pec-

bristles

groaning and clacking their tusks, they disappeared

into the jungle.

and not one was

We
left

them clearly;
But a few paces on we came

could not see one of


dead.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

150

my wounded

across one of

ones, standing at

palm trunk;

and

not even

wounded ones;
With eyes almost as quick and

trail

to the front.

killed

bay by a

The dog would


but here Antonio came

forthwith.

it

the

sure as those

of a wild beast he had watched after every shot, and


able to

the results in each case.

tell

tion to the one I

had

just killed I

He

Rondon and he

said that in addi-

had wounded two others

so seriously that he did not think they

that Colonel

was

would go

far,

and

himself had each badly

wounded one; and, moreover, he showed the trails each


wounded animal had taken. The event justified him. In a
few minutes we found my second one dead. Then we found
Antonio's. Then we found my third one alive and at
bay, and I killed it with another bullet. Finally we found
the colonel's. I told him I should ask the authorities of
the American museum to mount his and one or two of
mine in a group, to commemorate our hunting together.
If we had not used crippling rifles the peccaries might
have gotten away,

for in the

dark jungle, with the masses

of intervening leaves and branches,

it

was impossible to

be sure of placing each bullet properly in the half-seen

moving

beast.

tained wild

figs,

palm

of the peccaries

nuts,

the ride

we

in

killed con-

and bundles of root

beasts were covered with ticks.

least twice the

On

found where the herd had wallowed

The stomachs

the mud.

The dead

We

fibres.

They were

at

weight of the smaller peccaries.

home we saw

a buck of the small species

of bush deer, not half the size of the kind

had already

was only a patch of red in the bush, a good distance off, but I was lucky enough to hit it. In spite of
its small size it was a full-grown male, of a species we had
shot.

It

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


The

not yet obtained.

new

the

antler

antlers

had recently been shed, and

without thinking

by him a hundred and


worth while to take

it

we saw many of the beautiful violet


swamps were multitudes of flowers,
which I did not know the names.
I

growth had just begun.

stork let us ride

151

great jabiru

fifty

flight.

orchids;

yards

off

This day

and

the

in

red, yellow, lilac, of

alluded above to the queer custom these people in

the interior of Brazil have of gelding their hunting-dogs.

This absurd habit


are so few

is

doubtless the chief reason

hounds worth their

salt

kinds of hunting, where the quarry

Thus

peccary.

far

we had

more

in the
is

why

there

serious

the jaguar or big

seen but one dog as good as

the ordinary cougar hound or bear hound in such packs


as those with

which

had hunted

in the Rockies

the cane-brakes of the lower Mississippi.

when every dog

otherwise

thing

is

and

in

can hardly be

It

that shows himself worth any-

promptly put out of the category of breeders

the theory apparently being that the dog will then last
longer.

All the breeding

is

from worthless dogs, and no

dog of proved worth leaves descendants.

The country along


country, and some day

ment.

It

don only

this river
it

is

a fine natural cattle

will surely see a great develop-

was opened to development by Colonel Ronfive

cattle-ranch

is

or six years ago.

Already an occasional

to be found along the banks.

roads are built into these interior portions of

When

rail-

Matto Grosso

and

the whole region will grow and thrive amazingly


will the
terial.

so

The growth will not be merely maAn immense amount will be done in education;
railroads.

using the word education in

its

broadest and most accurate

152

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

sense, as applying to

child

and the man.

He

explorer.

both mind and

to both the

Rondon is not merely an


now a leader in the move-

Colonel

has been and

spirit,

is

ment for the vital betterment of his people, the people of


Matto Grosso. The poorer people of the back country
everywhere

suffer

because of the harsh and improper laws

In practice these laws have resulted in establish-

of debt.

grown up here and

ing a system of peonage, such as has

there in our
this matter;

own

nation.

radical change

and the colonel

is

needed

in

fighting for the change.

is

In school matters the colonel has precisely the ideas of our

men and women

wisest and most advanced

Cherrie

States.

naturalist

who

is

and explorer

not only an exceedingly

in the tropics,

oughly good citizen at home

is

board of the town of Newfane,

and Kermit and

colonel,

length,

and were

in the

I,

but

is

United
efficient

also a thor-

the chairman of the school


in

Vermont.

He and

the

talked over school matters at

in hearty accord as to the vital educa-

tional needs of both Brazil

and the United States: the need

of combining industrial with purely mental training, and

the need of having the wide-spread popular education,

which

is

ernment,

and must be supported and paid

made

for

by the gov-

a purely governmental and absolutely non-

by the

sectarian function, administered

out interference with, nor furtherance


reputable church.

The

colonel

is

of,

also

state alone, with-

the beliefs of any

head of the Indian

what corresponds roughly with our


commissioner of Indian affairs. Here also he is taking
the exact view that is taken in the United States by the
service of Brazil, being

stanchest and wisest friends of the Indians.

must be treated with

intelligent

The Indians

and sympathetic under-

Kermit Roosevelt
From

a photograph by Fiala

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS

153

standing, no less than with justice and firmness;

they become
tic,

citizens,

and

until

absorbed into the general body

poli-

they must be the wards of the nation, and not of any

private association, lay or clerical, no matter

how

well-

meaning.

The Sepotuba River was scientifically explored and


mapped for the first time by Colonel Rondon in 1908, as
This was

head of the Brazilian Telegraphic Commission.

during the second year of his exploration and opening of

unknown northwestern wilderness of Matto Grosso.


Most of this wilderness had never previously been trodden
by the foot of a civilized man. Not only were careful
maps made and much other scientific work accomplished,
the

but posts were established and telegraph-lines constructed.

When Colonel Rondon began the work he was a major.


He was given two promotions, to lieutenant-colonel and
colonel, while absent in the wilderness.

most important exploring

trip,

His longest and

and the one fraught with

most danger and hardship, was begun by him

May
left

in 1909,

3d, the anniversary of the discovery of Brazil.

on

He

Tapirapoan on that day, and he reached the Madeira

River on Christmas, December 25, of the same year, having descended the Gy-Parana.

The mouth

had long been known, but

upper course

its

of this river
for half its

unknown when Rondon descended


who took part under him in this piece

length was absolutely

it.

Among

of

those

exploration were the present Captain Amilcar and Lieu-

tenant Lyra;

and two better or more

such wilderness work

it

would be impossible to

acted as his two chief assistants on our

party exhausted

all

men for
They
find.

efficient

trip.

In 1909 the

their food, including even the salt,

by

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

154

For the

August.

last four

on the game they

killed,

months they
on

Their equipage was what the


backs.

By

lived exclusively

fruits,

and on wild honey.

men

could carry on their

the time the party reached the Madeira they

were worn out by fatigue, exposure, and semi-starvation,

and

their enfeebled bodies

were racked by

fever.

The work of exploration accomplished by Colonel


Rondon and his associates during these years was as remarkable

as,

and

in its results

even more important than,

work undertaken elsewhere on the globe at or


about the same time. Its value was recognized in Brazil.
any

similar

It received

no recognition by the geographical

Europe or the United

societies of

States.

The work done by

the original explorers of such a wil-

derness necessitates the undergoing of untold hardship and

danger.

Their successors, even their immediate successors,

have a relatively easy time.


well beaten that

it

Soon the road becomes so

can be traversed without hardship by

any man who does not venture from

it

although

if

he

goes off into the wilderness for even a day, hunting or


collecting,

he will have a slight taste of what his predeces-

The

by Colonel Rondon is not yet wholly subdued, and still holds menace to
human life. At Caceres he received notice of the death
sors endured.

wilderness explored

of one of his gallant subordinates, Captain Cardozo.

He

died from beriberi, far out in the wilderness along our

proposed

line

of march.

Colonel

Rondon

also

received

news that a boat ascending the Gy-Parana, to carry provisions to

meet those of our party who were to descend

that stream, had been upset, the provisions

men drowned.

The

risk

lost,

and three

and hardship are such that the

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS

155

ordinary men, the camaradas, do not like to go into the

The men who go with

wilderness.

the Telegraphic

Com-

mission on the rougher and wilder work are paid seven

much

times as

On

as they earn in civilization.

this trip

Rondon met with much difficulty in secursome one who could cook. He asked the cook on the

of ours Colonel
ing

steamer Nyoac to go with us;

little

but the cook with

"Senhor, / have never done

unaffected horror responded:

anything to deserve punishment

!"

Five days after leaving us, the launch, with one of the
native trading-boats lashed alongside, returned.

13th

we broke camp, loaded

ourselves and

all

On

the

our belongings

on the launch and the house-boat, and started up-stream


for Tapirapoan.

with

All told there were about thirty

dogs and tents, bedding and provisions;

five

beef,

growing rapidly

thing

jammed

It rained

skins

fresh;

all

fresh

and every-

together.

most of the

first

day and part of the

first

After that the weather was generally overcast and

night.

pleasant

for

but sometimes rain and torrid

travelling;

and

The cooking

sunshine alternated.
ing

less

men,

was done at a funny

little

it

was good cook-

open-air fireplace, with two

or three cooking-pots placed at the stern of the house-boat.

The

was a platform of earth, taken from anthills, and heaped and spread on the boards of the boat.
Around it the dusky cook worked with philosophic solemfireplace

nity in rain and shine.


skins of every shade

Our attendants,

and hue,

slept

up among boxes, bundles, and

most of the time, curled

slabs of beef.

the

men

slept too near

it,

An enormous

bow of the house-boat.


it made futile efforts to

land turtle was tethered toward the

When

friendly souls with

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

156

scramble over them;

and

them gravely used

for a seat.

it

in return

now and then one

Slowly the throbbing engine drove the launch and

The

unwieldy side-partner against the swift current.

had

risen.

Ahead

We made

of us the

river

street stretched in curves

between endless walls of dense tropical


passing through a gigantic greenhouse.

yellow-stemmed

its

about a mile and a half an hour.

brown water

rity palms, cecropias,

of

huge

trees,

figs,

was

like

Wawasa and

bu-

forest.

It

feathery bamboos, strange

low trees with enormous leaves,

tall

trees with foliage as delicate as lace, trees with buttressed

trunks, trees with boles rising smooth and straight to lofty


heights,

down

all

woven together by

a tangle of vines, crowded

Their drooping branches

to the edge of the river.

hung down to the water, forming a screen through which


it was impossible to see the bank, and exceedingly difficult
Rarely one of them showed
to penetrate to the bank.
flowers

large white blossoms, or small red or yellow blosMore

soms.

made

often the

lilac

flowers of the begonia-vine

Innumerable epiphytes cov-

large patches of color.

ered the limbs, and even grew on the roughened trunks.

We

saw

little

fishers flitting

bird

life

a darter now and then,

from perch to perch.

passed a ranch.

At one the

At long

large, red-tiled,

and king-

intervals

whitewashed

house stood on a grassy slope behind mango-trees.

wooden

shutters were thrown

The

back from the unglazed

windows, and the big rooms were utterly bare


not an ornament.

we

A palm, loaded with

not a book,

scores of the pendu-

lous nests of the troupials, stood near the door.

Behind

were orange-trees and coffee-plants, and near by

fields of

bananas,

rice,

and tobacco.

The

sallow foreman was cour-

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


teous and hospitable.

157

His dark-skinned women-folk kept

it was
owned by a company with headquarters at Caceres.
The trip was pleasant and interesting, although there
was not much to do on the boat. It was too crowded to
move around save with a definite purpose. We enjoyed

in the furtive

the

scenery;

Like most of the ranches,

background.

we

talked

in

English,

Portuguese,

bad

Some of us wrote. Fiala


hammocks, and other
equipment, suggested by what he had already seen.

French, and broken German.

made
field

sketches of improved tents,

Some

of us read books.

Colonel Rondon, neat, trim,

alert,

work on applied geoFather Zahm read a novel by Fographical astronomy.


gazzaro.
Kermit read Camoens and a couple of Brazilian
and

soldierly, studied

novels,

varied

a standard

"OGuarani" and "Innocencia." My own reading


from "Quentin Durward" and Gibbon to the "ChanMiller took out his

son de Roland.''

from the basket

and water.

in

little

pet owl Moses,

which Moses dwelt, and gave him food

Moses crooned and chuckled gratefully when

he was stroked and tickled.

we moored to the bank by a


little fazenda of the poorer type.
The houses were of palmleaves.
Even the walls were made of the huge fronds or
leafy branches of the wawasa palm, stuck upright in the
ground and the blades plaited together. Some of us went
ashore.
Some stayed on the boats. There were no mosquitoes, the weather was not oppressively hot, and we
slept well.
By five o'clock next morning we had each
Late the

first

drunk a cup of

evening

delicious Brazilian coffee,

and the boats

were under way.


All

day we steamed slowly up-stream.

We

passed two

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

158

At

or three fazendas.

we

one, where

the trees were overgrown with pretty

At dark we moored

at a spot

halted to get milk,


little

yellow orchids.

where there were no branches

to prevent our placing the boats directly alongside the

Most of the
party took their hammocks ashore, and the camp was
pitched amid singularly beautiful surroundings. The trees
were wawasa palms, some with the fronds cresting very
There were hardly any mosquitoes.

bank.

trunks,

tall

some with the fronds

ing almost from the ground.

The

some could not have been

length;

Bushes and

tall

grass,

seemingly

longer

ris-

fronds were of great

less

than

fifty feet long.

dew-drenched and glittering with

the green of emeralds, grew in the open spaces between.

We

left

at

had strayed

sailors

One

sunrise the following morning.

could not find the river;


ing his absence.

We

ficulty he forced his

He
and we

inland.

round and

got turned

started before discover-

stopped at once, and with

way through

of the

much

dif-

the vine-laced and thorn-

guarded jungle toward the sound of the launch's engines

and of the bugle which was blown.

when

who

the sun
strays a

is

behind clouds, a

In this dense jungle,

man

hundred yards from the

become hopelessly

without a compass
river

may

readily

lost.

As we ascended the river the wawasa palms became


constantly more numerous. At this point, for many miles,
they gave their
banks.

own

Everywhere

character to the forest on the river

among
trunks made them

their long, curving fronds rose

the other trees, and in places their lofty

hold their heads higher than the other trees.

were never as

On

tall as

the giants

among

But they

the ordinary trees.

one towering palm we noticed a mass of beautiful violet

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS

159

orchids growing from the side of the trunk, half-way to

On

the top.
a

little

another big

tree,

not a palm, which stood in

opening, there hung well over a hundred troupials'

we

Besides two or three small ranches

nests.

day

this

The various houses and sheds, all


palm-thatched, stood by the river in a big space of cleared
ground, dotted with wawasa palms. A native house-boat
was moored by the bank. Women and children looked
passed a large ranch.

from the unglazed windows of the houses; men stood


front of them.

The

biggest house

was enclosed by a stock-

ade of palm-logs, thrust end-on into the ground.

and oxen grazed round about; and carts with


each wheel

made

in

Cows

solid wheels,

of a single disk of wood, were tilted on

their poles.

We made

our noonday halt on an island where very

trees grew, bearing fruits that

tall

Other trees

taste.

red

and yellow blossoms;

flowers

were pleasant to the

on the island were covered with

rich

and masses of delicate blue

and of star-shaped white flowers grew underfoot.

Hither and thither across the surface of the river flew


swallows, with so

much white

in their

plumage that

as

they flashed in the sun they seemed to have snow-white

The

bodies, borne

by dark wings.

grew

there were stretches of broken water that

swifter;

were almost

the

laboring

sobbed as with increasing

difficulty

rapids;

launch and her clumsy consort.

At

beside the bank, where the forest

permit

comfortable

camp.

current of the river

engine
it

his socks

and

shoe-laces.

and

urged forward the

nightfall

we moored

was open enough to

That night the ants

large holes in Miller's mosquito-netting,

voured

strained

ate

and almost de-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

160

At

sunrise

of swift,

stretches
river;

we

There were occasional

again started.

broken water, almost rapids,

everywhere the current was

in

the

and our progress

swift,

The prancha was towed at the end of a hawser,


and her crew poled. Even thus we only just made the

was

slow.

more than one case. Two or three times cormorants and snake-birds, perched on snags in the river or

riffle

on

in

trees alongside

a few yards.

it,

permitted the boat to come within

In one piece of high forest

among

of toucans, conspicuous even

of their huge

bills

and the

we saw

a party

the tree tops because

with which

leisurely expertness

they crawled, climbed, and hopped among the branches.

We

went by several fazendas.


Shortly before noon

January 16we

reached Tapira-

poan, the headquarters of the Telegraphic Commission.

was an

attractive place, on the river-front,

gayly bedecked with

flags,

the United States, but of


in

our honor.

standing in the middle of

it

was

not only those of Brazil and


the other American republics,

all

There was a

and

It

large, green square,

it.

On

with trees

one side of this square

were the buildings of the Telegraphic Commission, on the


other those of a big ranch, of which this

is

the headquarters.

In addition, there were stables, sheds, outhouses, and corrals;

and there were cultivated

cows, beef-cattle, oxen,


will.

fields

near by.

Milch

and mules wandered almost at

There were two or three wagons and

carts,

and a

traction automobile, used in the construction of the telegraph-line, but not available in

time of our

the rainy season, at the

trip.

Here we were to begin our trip overland, on pack-mules


and pack-oxen, scores of which had been gathered to meet

Two

pranchas being pulled by launch with our baggage and provisions


The prancha was towed at the end of a hawser and her crew poled
From

a photograph by Harper

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS

161

Several days were needed to apportion the loads and

us.

arrange for the several divisions in which

it

was necessary

that so large a party should attempt the long wilderness

march, through a country where there was not


for

man

or beast, and where

which

into a district in

prevalent.

Fiala,

it

was always

much

possible to run

fatal cattle or horse diseases

with his usual

efficiency,

food

were

took charge of

handling the outfit of the American portion of the expedition,

with Sigg as an active and useful assistant.

who

like the others

worked with whole-hearted

cheerfulness, also helped him, except

had

so far done the hardest

of the expedition.

They had

and two hundred and

birds

latter,

Cherrie and

and the best work


thousand

collected about a
fifty

and

zeal

when he was engaged

The two

in helping the naturalists.

Miller,

Harper,

mammals.

It

was not

probable that they would do as well during the remainder


of our trip, for

march

we intended

thenceforth to halt as

little,

as steadily, as the country, the weather,

and

and the

means of transportation permitted. I


kept continually wishing that they had more time in which

condition of our

to study the absorbingly interesting life-histories of the


beautiful

and wonderful beasts and birds we were

time seeing.

competent

now

Every

collectors;

first-rate

but

the

museum must still employ


think that a museum could
work of most
the immense wilder-

confer most lasting benefit, and could do

permanent good, by sending out into


nesses,

where wild nature

with the

men

all

gift of

is

at her best, trained observers

recording what they have observed.

should be collectors, for collecting

but they should


selves to see,

also,

and to

is

still

Such

necessary;

and indeed primarily, be able themset vividly before the eyes of others,

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

162
the

full

of the creatures that dwell in the

life-histories

waste spaces of the world.

At
ber of

this point

both Cherrie and Miller collected a num-

mammals and

birds which they

obtained; whether any were

new

had not previously

to science could only be

Mumammal

determined after the specimens reached the American

While making the round of

seum.

small

his

army

traps one morning, Miller encountered an

The

midable foraging ants.

moving with a well-extended

of the for-

species

was a

large black one,

front.

These

ants,

sometimes

called army-ants, like the driver-ants of Africa,

big bodies and destroy or

that

is

make prey

in

of every living thing

unable or unwilling to get out of their path in time.

They run
vance.

fast,

and everything runs away from

Insects form their chief prey;

little

resistance to them.

attracted to this

army

of ants

make

Miller's attention

by

of ants were biting

but did not try to use


assailants.

On

its

it,

astonish-

was

first

noticing a big centiped,

nine or ten inches long, trying to

number

their ad-

and the most dan-

gerous and aggressive lower-life creatures


ingly

move

and

flee

it

before them.

writhed at each

bite,

long curved jaws against

its

other occasions he saw big scorpions and

big hairy spiders trying to escape in the same way, and

showing the same helpless inability to injure their ravenous

foes, or to

defend themselves.

to a great height,
at once kill

much

But they

seem to imagine; days

ants climb trees

higher than most birds' nests, and

and tear to pieces any

they reach.

The

are not as

may

fledglings in the nests

common

as

some writers

elapse before their armies are

encountered, and doubtless most nests are never visited


or threatened

by them.

In some instances

it

seems likely

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS

163

that the birds save themselves and their young in other

Some

ways.

nests

are

From

inaccessible.

others

probable that the parents remove the young.

is

it

Miller once,

Guiana, had been watching for some days a nest of ant-

in

wrens which contained young.


ing,

he found the

tree,

He

foraging ants.

Going thither one morn-

and the nest

at first

itself,

swarming with

thought that the fledglings had

been devoured, but he soon saw the parents, only about


thirty yards

gaged

off,

with food

in their beaks.

They were

en-

dense part of the jungle, coming out

in entering a

again without food in their beaks, and soon reappearing

once more with food.

new

Miller never found their

nests,

him certain that they were feeding


young, which they must have themselves removed

but their actions


their

from the old

left

nest.

These ant-wrens hover

in front of

and

over the columns of foraging ants, feeding not only on the


other insects aroused by the ants, but on the ants them-

This fact has been doubted;

selves.

them with the ants

in their bills

and

but Miller has shot


in their

stomachs.

Dragon-flies, in numbers, often hover over the columns,

down at them; Miller could not be certain he had


them actually seizing the ants, but this was his belief.

darting
seen
I

have myself seen these ants plunder a nest of the dan-

gerous and highly aggressive wasps, while the wasps buzzed

about

in great excitement,

to retaliate.

by

have

but seemed unable effectively

also seen

them

clear a sapling tenanted

their kinsmen, the poisonous red ants, or fire-ants;

fire-ants fought

and

have no doubt injured or

of their swarming and active black foes;

quickly did

away with them.

black foraging ants;

killed

the

some

but the latter

have only come across

but there are red species.

They

at-

164

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

tack

human

beings precisely as they attack

and precipitate

flight

animals,

all

the only resort.

is

Around our camp here

butterflies of gorgeous coloring

swarmed, and there were many fungi as delicately shaped

and tinted

as flowers.

The

scents in the

woods were won-

There were many whippoorwills, or rather Brazil-

derful.

ian birds related to them; they uttered at intervals through

the night a succession of notes suggesting both those of

our whippoorwill and those of our big chuck-will's-widow


of the Gulf States, but not identical with either.

There

were other birds which were nearly akin to familiar birds


of the United States: a dull-colored catbird, a dull-colored
robin,

and a sparrow belonging to the same genus

common

as our

song-sparrow and sweetheart sparrow; Miller had

heard this sparrow singing by day and night, fourteen

thousand

up on the Andes, and

feet

the songs of both of our sparrows.

wood-peckers of various

species.

semblance to any of ours.


little

its

song suggested

There were doves and


Other birds bore no

One honey-creeper was

re-

a perfect

gem, with plumage that was black, purple, and tur-

quoise,

and

brilliant scarlet feet.

Two

of the birds which

Cherrie and Miller procured were of extraordinary nesting

One, a nunlet,

habits.

bluebird.

It is

tail coverts.

to fly

It

in

shape resembles a short-tailed

plumbeous, with a fulvous belly and white


is

a stupid

away even when

little bird,

shot at.

and does not

It catches its

like

prey and

ordinarily acts like a rather dull flycatcher, perching on

some dead
its

tree,

swooping on insects and then returning to

perch, and never going on the ground to feed or run

about.

But

it

nests in burrows

which

it

digs

itself,

one

bird usually digging, while the other bird perches in a bush

UP THE RIVER OF TAPIRS


Sometimes these burrows are

near by.

sand-bank, the sand being so loose that


it

does not cave

The

an angle.

about the

is

with a waxy red

bill.

The other

size

At

this

renheit
ture;

it

heaps a

camp

and the

a marvel that

feet,

and then

It

also

burrows

and

pile of sticks

leaves.

from 91

to 104

But there were

we

Brazilian dishes were delicious:

canja,

the best soup a hungry


in rather small pieces

a well-flavored but simple gravy.

Thanks

fared sumptuously,

Two

with plenty of beef, chickens, and fresh milk.

as a riding-beast

Fah-

very heavy, being saturated with mois-

to the neighborhood of the ranch,

and beef chopped

nun or

in the level soil,

no mosquitoes, and we were very comfortable.

rice,

rising

and over the mouth of

the heat was great


air

bird, called a

and there were many rain-storms.

chicken and

in the

of a thrush, grayish in color,

the burrow being five feet long;

the burrow

it is

nest consists of a few leaves and grasses,

and the eggs are white.


waxbill,

in the side of a

Sometimes the burrows are

running down about three

level plain,

at

in.

165

of the

a thick soup of

man

ever tasted;

and served with

The mule

allotted

was a powerful animal, with easy

me

gaits.

Government had waiting for me a very


handsome silver-mounted saddle and bridle; I was much
pleased with both.
However, my exceedingly rough and

The

Brazilian

shabby clothing made an incongruous contrast.

At Tapirapoan we broke up our baggage as well as


our party. We sent forward the Canadian canoe which,
with the motor-engine and some kerosene, went in a cart
drawn by six oxen and a hundred sealed tin cases of
provisions, each containing rations for a day for six men.
They had been put up in New York under the special

166

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

direction of Fiala, for use

when we

got where

we wished

to take good and varied food in small compass.


skins, skulls,

and alcoholic specimens, and

not absolutely necessary, were sent back

guay and to

New

York,

in

all

the baggage

down

charge of Harper.

All the

the Para-

The

sepa-

rate baggage-trains, under the charge of Captain Amilcar,

were organized to go

in

one detachment.

The main body

of the expedition, consisting of the American members,

and of Colonel Rondon, Lieutenant Lyra, and Doctor Cajazeira, with their baggage and provisions, formed another
detachment.

CHAPTER

VI

THROUGH THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS OF WESTERN


BRAZIL

We

were now

in the land of the

bloodsucking bats,

the vampire bats that suck the blood of living creatures,


clinging to or hovering against the shoulder of a horse or

cow, or the hand or foot of a sleeping man, and making


a

wound from which

the blood continues to flow long after

At Tapirapoan there
were milch cattle; and one of the calves turned up one
morning weak from loss of blood, which was still trickling
from a wound, forward of the shoulder, made by a bat.
But the bats do little damage in this neighborhood compared to what they do in some other places, where not
the bat's thirst has been satiated.

only the mules and cattle but the chickens have to be

housed behind bat-proof protection at night or their

may pay

the penalty.

The

chief

lives

and habitual offenders are

various species of rather small bats;

but

it

is

said that

other kinds of Brazilian bats seem to have become, at least


sporadically and locally, affected

occasionally vary their


living blood.

One

by the

customary

of the Brazilian

example and

by draughts of
members of our party,
diet

Hoehne, the botanist, was a zoologist

me

evil

also.

He

informed

known even the big fruit-eating bats to


take to bloodsucking.
They did not, according to his
observations, themselves make the original wound; but
that he had

167

168

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

after

it

had been made by one of the true vampires they

would lap the flowing blood and enlarge the wound.


South America makes up for

relatively to Africa

its lack,

and India, of large man-eating carnivores by the extraordinary ferocity or bloodthirstiness of certain small creatures of which the kinsfolk elsewhere are harmless.

only here that

fish

no bigger than trout

kill

It

is

swimmers, and

bats the size of the ordinary "flittermice" of the northern hemisphere drain the life-blood of big beasts and of

man

himself.

There was not much ferge mammalian

life

in the neigh-

Kermit hunted industriously and brought

borhood.

in

an

occasional armadillo, coati, or agouti for the naturalists.

Miller trapped rats and a queer opossum


lection.

Cherrie

got

many

skinned their specimens in a

birds.

little

new

Cherrie

to the col-

and

open hut or shed.

Miller

Moses

the small pet owl, sat on a cross-bar overhead, an interested spectator, and chuckled whenever he

Two

wrens,

who bred

was petted.

just outside the hut, were

much

by the presence of Moses, and paid him visits of


noisy unfriendliness. The little white-throated sparrows
came familiarly about the palm cabins and whitewashed
houses and trilled on the rooftrees. It was a simple song,
excited

with just a hint of our northern whitethroat's sweet and


plaintive melody,

and of the opening bars of our song-

sparrow's pleasant,

homely

lay.

It

brought back dear

memories of glorious April mornings on Long Island, when


through the singing of robin and song-sparrow comes the
piercing cadence of the meadow-lark; and of the far north-

land woods in June, fragrant with the breath of pine and


balsam-fir,

where sweetheart sparrows sing from wet spruce

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS

169

and rapid brooks rush under the drenched and

thickets

swaying alder-boughs.

From Tapirapoan our

course lay northward up to and

across the Plan Alto, the highland wilderness of Brazil.

From
ically

the edges of this highland country, which

very ancient, the affluents of the

and of the Plate to the south,

flow,

Amazon

is

geolog-

to the north,

with immense and de-

vious loops and windings.

Two

days before we ourselves started with our mule-

train,

a train of pack-oxen

tools,

and other things, which we would not need

after a

month

left,

or six weeks,

the valley of the Amazon.


oxen.

Most

of

them were

loaded with provisions,

we began our

descent into

There were about seventy


well broken, but there were

about a score which were either not broken at


very badly broken.
culty,

and bucked

until,

all

or else

These were loaded with much


like

diffi-

Again and again

wild broncos.

they scattered their loads over the corral and over the
part of the road.
black,

The pack-men, however

and dusky-white

showed severity

it

copper-colored,

were not only masters of their

but possessed tempers that could not be

first

ruffled;

art,

when they

was because severity was needed, and

not because they were angry.

They

finally got all their

longhorned beasts loaded and started on the

trail

with

them.

On January
train.

Of

21

we

ourselves started, with the mule-

course, as always in such a journey, there

was

some confusion before the men and the animals of the


train settled

down

to the routine performance of duty.

In addition to the pack-animals

The

first

we

all

day we journeyed about twelve

had riding-mules.
miles, then cross-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

170

ing the Sepotuba and camping beside


falls,

it,

below a

The country was

or rather rapids.

level.

series of

was a

It

great natural pasture, covered with a very open forest of


low, twisted trees, bearing a

cross-timbers of Texas and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma;

for stock-raising as

likeness

superficial
It

is

and there

the

to

as well fitted
is

much

also

fine agricultural land, while the river will ultimately yield

The

a fine country for settlement.

electric

power.

heat

great at noon; but the nights are not uncomfort-

is

We

able.

It

is

were supposed to be

season, but hitherto

The

with showers.
mosquitoes.

middle of the rainy

most of the days had been


astonishing thing

Insect pests that

and especially by

in the

settlers,

work by day can be

because they

,are

marshy

its

far less serious

and unpleasant

Hitherto, during

rest.

our travels up the Paraguay and

stood,

The mosquitoes

foes offer the really serious

problem, because they break one's

level,

varied

was the absence of

foes in the clearings than in the woods.

and other night

fine,

in this

tributaries,

tropical region of western

Brazil,

we had

by mosquitoes at all, in our


home camps. Out in the woods they were at times a
serious nuisance, and Cherrie and Miller had been subjected to real torment by them during some of their special
practically not been bothered

expeditions; but there were practically none on the ranches

and

in

our camps in the open

when marshes were


lightedby

close

their absence.

from coming to

this region

by.

fields
I

they teem.

and

ticks,

de-

fear of insect foes.


foes.

and of the beaten tracks of

There are

even

need not be deterred

This does not mean that there are not such


side of the clearings,

river,

was puzzled

Settlers

by the

by the

Outtravel,

poisonous ants, wasps

of

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


which some species are
and gnats.

really serious

menaces

merely mean that, unlike so

tropical regions, this particular region

is,

171

biting
many

flies

other

from the stand-

point of the settler and the ordinary traveller, relatively


free

from

The

original explorer,

working

and a pleasant place of residence.

insect pests,

and to an only

field naturalist

less

degree the hard-

or big-game hunter, have to face

these pests, just as they have to face countless risks, hardships,

and

This

difficulties.

professions or avocations.

States where

life

is

now

inherent in their several

is

Many

regions in the United

absolutely comfortable and easy-

going offered most formidable problems to the


a century or two ago.

We

error of thinking that the


terrible hardships,

and even the

must not

fall

first

explorers need not suffer

first

merely because the ordinary

settlers

explorers

into the foolish

who come

after

travellers,

them, do not have

to endure such danger, privation, and wearing fatigue

although the

first

among

the genuine settlers also have to

undergo exceedingly trying experiences.

and adventurers make

plorers

heavy

cost to themselves.

The

early

fairly well-beaten trails at

Ordinary

travellers,

with

discomfort and no danger, can then traverse these

but

ex-

little

trails;

incumbent on them neither to boast of their own

it is

experiences nor to misjudge the efforts of the pioneers because, thanks to these very efforts, their

pleasant places.
off

The ordinary traveller,


who on this beaten

the beaten route and

ried

by

own lines fall in


who never goes
route

is

car-

others, without himself doing anything or risking

much more initiative and


package. He does nothing;

anything, does not need to show


intelligence

than an express

others do

the work, show

all

all

the forethought, take

all

the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

172
risk

and are entitled to

the credit.

all

are carried in practically the

He and

his valise

same fashion; and

for each

the achievement stands about on the same plane.

kind of traveller

is

If this

a writer, he can of course do admira-

work of the highest value; but the value comes


because he is a writer and observer, not because of any
particular credit that attaches to him as a traveller.
We
ble work,

all

recognize this truth as far as highly civilized regions

when Bryce

are concerned:

writes of the

monwealth, or Lowell of European


our admiration

man

for the insight

legislative assemblies,

and thought of the ob-

and we are not concerned with

server,

is

travels across Arizona in a

American com-

When

his travels.

Pullman

we do not

car,

think of him as having performed a feat bearing even the

most remote resemblance

to the feats of the first explorers

we

of those waterless wastes; whatever admiration

connection with his trip

is

feel in

reserved for the traffic-super-

intendent, engineer, fireman, and brakeman.

But

as re-

gards the less-known continents, such as South America,

we

remember these obvious truths. There


yet remains plenty of exploring work to be done in South
sometimes

fail

to

America, as hard, as dangerous, and almost as important


as

work such as has


now being done, by men and

any that has already been done;

recently been done, or

women
The

is

such as Haseman, Farrabee, and Miss Snethlage.

collecting naturalists

who go

into the wilds

and do

work encounter every kind

of risk and undergo

every kind of hardship and exertion.

Explorers and nat-

first-class

uralists

of the right type have open to

America a

field

them

in

South

of extraordinary attraction and difficulty.

But to excavate ruins that have already long been known,

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS

173

to visit out-of-the-way towns that date from colonial days,


to traverse old, even

if

uncomfortable, routes of travel,

highway

or to ascend or descend

the Paraguay, and the lower Orinoco

worth performing, but they

are well

Amazon,

rivers like the


all

of these exploits

no sense represent

in

exploration or adventure, and they do not entitle the per-

former, no matter

much

how

and no matter how

well he writes

of real value he contributes to

any way with the

to compare himself in

wanderer, or to

criticise

no hardship or

human knowledge,
real wilderness

Such a performance

the latter.

worth heeding.

Its value

depends purely on observation, not on action.

The man

entails

does

little;

man

the

derer,

difficulty

he merely records what he

The

of the beaten routes.

He must have

He

is

only

true wilderness wan-

man

on the contrary, must be a

as of observation.

sees.

of action as well

body
and the

the heart and the

to do and to endure, no less than the eye to see

brain to note and record.

Let

me make

excellent
off

work

the beaten

it

of so

clear that I

many

trails.

men who have not gone


merely wish to make it plain that

of the wilderness explorer.

has

and has
its

its

place.

actions

of

From

It

is

place, just as the

Both stand

those

alleged

Savage Landor stands

not depreciating the

of the

work must not be put

this excellent

less,

am

in

with that

in the class

excellent work, neverthe-

work of the true explorer

in sharpest contrast

explorers,

with the

among whom Mr.

unpleasant prominence.

the Sepotuba rapids our course at the outset lay

westward.

The

first

day's march

lay through dense tropical forest.

away from the

Away from

river

the broad,

beaten route every step of a man's progress represented

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

174

slashing a trail with the

machete through the tangle of

bushes, low trees, thorny scrub, and interlaced creepers.

There were palms of new kinds, very

and

graceful, with rather short

plantains,

pacovas,

or

trunks of the

tall,

slender, straight,

and few fronds.

thronged the spaces


their boles

tall trees;

The wild
among the

were short, and their

broad, erect leaves gigantic; they bore brilliant red-and-

whose trunks

orange flowers.

There were

huge

There were towering

swellings.

trunks, whose leaves

made

trees

bellied into

trees with buttressed

a fretwork against the sky far

Gorgeous red-and-green trogons, with long

overhead.

tails,

perched motionless on the lower branches and uttered a


loud, thrice-repeated whistle.
false bell-bird,

which

bell-birds;

keeps

Heavy

it

rain

fell

is

We

heard the calling of the

gray instead of white

among

the very topmost branches.

we reached our
sunrise we climbed a

shortly after

Next morning

at

like the true

camping-place.
steep slope to

the edge of the Parecis plateau, at a level of about two

thousand

feet

above the

sea.

We

were on the Plan Alto,

the high central plain of Brazil, the healthy land of dry


air,

of cool nights, of clear, running brooks.

directly behind us

when we topped

we looked back over


mering

we

in the long

the

rise.

The sun was


Reining

in,

the vast Paraguayan marshes, shim-

morning

lights.

Then, turning again,

rode forward, casting shadows far before us.

twenty miles to the next water, and

in hot

It

was

weather the

journey across this waterless, shadeless, sandy stretch of


country

is

hard on the mules and oxen.

But on

this

day

the sky speedily grew overcast and a cool wind blew in

our faces as we travelled at a quick, running walk over the

immense

rolling

plain.

The ground was sandy;

it

was

/
/
/

Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel Rondon looking over the vast landscape
The ground was sandy, covered with grass and with a sparse growth of stunted, twisted trees, never more
than

From

few feet high

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS

175

covered with grass and with a sparse growth of stunted,


twisted trees, never more than a few feet high.

were

rheas

them

ostriches and

small

on

pampas-deer

made

the coloration of the rheas

plain;

There
this

difficult to see

it

at a distance, whereas the bright red coats of the

little

deer,

them

afar

and

their uplifted flags as they ran, advertised

We

off.

saw the footprints of cougars and

also

Cougars are the most

of the small-toothed, big, red wolf.

inveterate enemies of these small South American deer,

both those of the open grassy plain and those of the


It

is

not nearly as easy to get lost on these open plains

as in the dense forest;

and where there

is

ably straight road or river to come back

without a compass

American

necessity.

the native hunters and

themselves

and,

We

to,

these

in

man

even

thick South

on cloudy days, a compass

is

were struck by the fact that

permitted,

for

miles

in circles or in exactly the

wrong

if

They had no such

forest-dwelling

a long, reason-

ranchmen on such days continually

through the forest either


direction.

But

safe.

is

forests, especially

an absolute

lost

forest.

travelled

sense of direction as the

'Ndorobo hunters

in Africa had, or as the

true forest-dwelling Indians of South America are said to

On

have.

certainly half a dozen occasions our guides

completely astray, and

we had

to take

regard their assertions, and to lead the


reliance

On
derful;

way

aright

to dis-

by

sole

on our compasses.

this cool

day we travelled

well.

The

air

was won-

the vast open spaces gave a sense of abounding

vigor and freedom.


station

command,

went

Early

in

the afternoon

made by Colonel Rondon

explorations.

we reached

in the course of his first

There were several houses with whitewashed

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

176

stone floors,

walls,

and

or

tiled

rapid brook of cool water, in which

The heavy,

They

thatched roofs.

Through

stood in a wide, gently sloping valley.

we enjoyed

ran a

it

delightful

humid atmosphere of the


low, marshy plains had gone; the air was clear and fresh;
the sky was brilliant; far and wide we looked over a landbaths.

intensely

scape that seemed limitless;

the breeze that blew in our

might have come from our own northern

faces

plains.

The midday sun was very hot; but it was hard to realize
that we were in the torrid zone. There were no mosquitoes,
so that we never put up our nets when we went to bed;
but wrapped ourselves in our blankets and slept soundly

through the

cool,

pleasant nights.

this region will be the

population.

It

is

home

good

of a healthy, highly civilized

From June

much

there would be

On

these

in

plains

to September the

Any sound

nights are often really cold.

and

and the valleys

for cattle-raising,

are fitted for agriculture.

could live here;

Surely in the future

northern race

such a land, with such a climate,

joy of living.
the

Telegraphic

Commission

motor-trucks;

and these now served to

relieve the

and oxen;

some of them,

among

for

especially

already showed the effects of the strain.


wild country with a pack-train
animals.

It

was strange to

in the wilderness
ilized

man

mission.

is

uses

mules

the oxen,

Travelling in a

not easy on the pack-

see these big

where there was not a

motor-vans out

settler,

not a civ-

except the employees of the Telegraphic

Com-

They were handled by Lieutenant Lauriado,

who, with Lieutenant Mello, had taken


our transport service;

competent men.

special charge of

both were exceptionally good and

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


The

we again rode on

following day

177

across the Plan

In the early afternoon, in the midst of a downpour

Alto.

of rain,

we

crossed the divide between the basins of the

Paraguay and the Amazon.

That evening we camped on

a brook whose waters ultimately ran into the Tapajos.

The

rain

heavily,

fell

throughout the afternoon, now

and the mule-train did not get up

But enough tents and


Fires were

us.

lit,

and

until dark.

were pitched to shelter

flies

after

now

lightly,

all

a fourteen hours' fast

of

we

feasted royally on beans and rice and pork and beef, seated

around oxskins spread upon the ground.

The sky

cleared;

down through the cool night; and wrapped


our blankets we slept soundly, warm and comfortable.

the stars blazed


in

Next morning the

trail

had turned, and our course

northward and at times east of north.

We

same

and stunted

high, rolling plains of coarse grass

led

traversed the
trees.

Kermit, riding a big, iron-mouthed, bull-headed white mule,


rode

off to

one side on a hunt, and rejoined the

line of

march carrying two bucks of the little pampas-deer, or


field deer, behind his saddle.
These deer are very pretty
and graceful, with a tail like that of the Columbian blacktail.

Standing motionless facing one,

they are hard to make out;

if

in the sparse scrub,

seen sideways the reddish

of their coats, contrasted with the greens and grays of

when they bound off


very conspicuous. They carefully

the landscape, betrays them; and


the upraised white

tail is

avoid the woods in which their cousins the


deer are found, and go singly or in couples.

can be

They
cious.

made out

still

at quite a distance, but

carried their antlers.

it

little

bush

Their odor
is

not rank.

Their venison was

deli-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

178

We

came across many queer insects. One red grasshopper when it flew seemed as big as a small sparrow;
and we passed in some places such multitudes of active
little

green grasshoppers that they frightened the mules.

At our camping-place we saw an extraordinary colony of


spiders.
It was among some dwarf trees, standing a few

When we

yards apart from one another by the water.


reached

the camping-place, early in the afternoon

the

pack-train did not get in until nearly sunset, just ahead


of the rain

no

They were under

spiders were out.

leaves of the trees.

the

Their webs were tenantless, and

deed for the most part were broken down.

But

in-

dusk

at

they came out from their hiding-places, two or three hundred of them in

all,

and spin new webs.


sat in the middle;
eral sides

and

at once

Each spun

began to repair the old

its

own

circular web,

and

and each web was connected on sev-

with other webs, while those nearest the trees

were hung to them by spun ropes, so to speak. The

result

was a kind of sheet of web consisting of scores of wheels,


in each of which the owner and proprietor sat; and there
were half a dozen such sheets, each extending between two
trees.

The webs

could hardly be seen, and the effect was

of scores of big, formidable-looking spiders poised in midair,

equidistant from one another, between each pair of

trees.

When

darkness and rain

fixing their webs,

they were

still

and pouncing on the occasional

that blundered into the webs.


are nocturnal;

fell

out,

insects

have no question that they

they certainly hide in the daytime, and

it

seems impossible that they can come out only for a few

minutes at dusk.
In the evenings, after supper or dinner

it

is

hard to

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


tell

by what

the exceedingly movable evening meal

title

should be called

the members of the party sometimes told


Most

stories of incidents in their past lives.

men

ness across which

of

Rondon and Lyra

of varied experiences.

hardship and suffering of the

this

179

first trips

them were
told of the

through the wilder-

we were going with such

comfort.

On

very plateau they had once lived for weeks on the


Naturally they

fruits of the various fruit-bearing trees.

became emaciated and

feeble.

In the forests of the

Ama-

zonian basin they did better because they often shot birds

and plundered the hives of the wild honey-bees.

In cut-

ting the trail for the telegraph-line through the Juruena

basin they lost every single one of the hundred and sixty

mules with which they had started.

who

build the

first

Those men pay dear

foundations of empire

Fiala told of

the long polar nights and of white bears that

came round

the snow huts of the explorers, greedy to eat them, and

themselves destined to be eaten by them.


Cherrie's experiences

who

many

strange things;

more owing to the character of the man

things he

fact that he

past experience

Once we were talking about the


cavalry, and some one mentioned the

theory that the lance

emphatically;

own

subjects.

proper weapons for

the moral effect

himself.

had seen and done and undergone often

enabled him to cast the light of his

on unexpected

This

goes into the untrodden

wastes of the world must see and do

The

the party

fact that the latter-day naturalist

of the most vigorous type

still

all

had covered the widest range.

was partly owing to the

and

Of

it

is

especially formidable because of

produces on the enemy.

and a

little

Cherrie nodded

cross-examination elicited the

was speaking from

lively personal recollection

180

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

of his

own

when charged by

feelings

lancers.

was while

It

he was fighting with the Venezuelan insurgents in an unsuccessful uprising against the tyranny of Castro.

on

foot,

with

five

Venezuelans,

all

cool

He was

men and good

shots.

In an open plain they were charged by twenty of Castro's


lancers,

who

galloped out from behind cover two or three

hundred yards

It

off.

gave quarter and

in

was a war

in

which neither

side

which the wounded and the prisoners

just

Madero was butchered


in Mexico.
Cherrie knew that it meant death for him and
his companions if the charge came home; and the sight of
were butchered

as President

the horsemen running in at


in rest

sion

on

erately

and the blades


his

mind.

speed, with their long lances

full

glittering, left

But he and

his

companions shot

and accurately; ten of the lancers were

headlong haste.

cool

man

delib-

killed,

the

and the others rode

nearest falling within fifty yards;


in

an indelible impres-

with a

rifle, if

off

he has mas-

tered his weapon, need fear no foe.

At

this

camp

the auto-vans again joined us.

were to go direct to the


falls

first

They

telegraph station, at the great

Of course they
Father Zahm, at-

of the Utiarity, on the Rio Papagaio.

travelled faster than the mule-train.

tended by Sigg, started for the

falls in

them.

Cherrie and

Miller also went in them, because they had found that

was very

difficult to collect birds,

when we were moving every

and especially mammals,

day, packing up early each

morning and the mule-train arriving

late in the afternoon

or not until nightfall.

Moreover, there was

which made

to

it

difficult

it

much

work except under the

rain,

tents.

Accordingly, the two naturalists desired to get to a place

where they could spend several days and

collect steadily,

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


The

thereby doing more effective work.

181

rest of us con-

tinued with the mule-train, as was necessary.


It

was always a picturesque

broken, and again at nightfall

and

stringing in

when camp was


laden mules came

sight

when

the

were thrown down, while

their burdens

the tents were pitched and the

fires lit.

We

breakfasted

aluminum cups and plates being


round which we sat, on the ground or

before leaving camp, the

placed on ox-hides,

on camp-stools.

We

fared well, on rice, beans, and crack-

with canned corned beef, and salmon or any game

ers,

that had been shot, and coffee, tea, and matte.


usually sat

down somewhere

were nearly ready


duffel-bag

popped

war-sack,

as

old days on the plains.

writing-materials into

we would have
I

then

and when the mules

to write,

my

called

it

my

in the

found that the mules usually

arrived so late in the afternoon or evening that I could

not depend upon being able to write at that time.


course,

if

we made

a very early start

could not write at

At night there were no mosquitoes.

all.

Of

In the daytime

gnats and sand-flies and horse-flies sometimes bothered us


a

but not much.

little,

Small stingless bees

numbers and crawled over the


ling;

skin,

lit

making a

on us

in

slight tick-

but we did not mind them until they became very

numerous.
to cause

There was a good deal of

any

rain,

but not enough

serious annoyance.

Rondon and Lieutenant Lyra held many discussions as to whither the Rio da Duvida flowed, and where
its mouth might be.
"River of
Its provisional name
Doubt" was given it precisely because of this ignorance
concerning it; an ignorance which it was one of the purposes of our trip to dispel.
It might go into the GyColonel

182

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

Parana, in which case

its

course must be very short;

might flow into the Madeira low down,

it

which case

in

its

which was unlikely,

course would be very long;

or,

might flow into the Tapajos.

There was another

it

river, of

which Colonel Rondon had come across the headwaters,

whose course was equally doubtful, although


there

was rather more probability of

its

in its

case

flowing into the

name the Tapajos is known for its


upper half. To this unknown river Colonel Rondon had
given the name Ananas, because when he came across it

Juruena, by which

he found a deserted Indian

field

with pineapples, which

Among

the hungry explorers ate greedily.


colonel

and

work

little

hoped to accomplish on the

in clearing

the things the


trip

was to do

up one or the other of these two

doubtful geographical points, and thereby to push a

forward the knowledge of this region.


scribed in the

first

chapter,

my

marily in the interest of the American

History of
birds

New

Museum

pri-

of Natural

York, to add to our knowledge of the

and mammals of the

zilian wilderness;
tific

Originally, as de-

was undertaken

trip

little

and the

far interior of the western Bra-

labels of our

baggage and scien-

equipment, printed by the museum, were entitled

"Colonel Roosevelt's South American Expedition for the

American Museum of Natural History."


already

mentioned,

at

Rio the

Brazilian

through the secretary of foreign


Muller, suggested that

But, as

affairs,

have

Government,
Doctor Lauro

should combine the expedition

with one by Colonel Rondon, which they contemplated

making, and thereby make both expeditions of broader


accepted

the

interest.

pleasure;

and we found, when we joined Colonel

much
Rondon

proposal with

scientific

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


and

his associates, that their

183

baggage and equipment had

been labelled by the Brazilian Government "Expedicao


Scientifica

Roosevelt-Rondon."

the proper and

official

title

This thenceforth became


Cherrie

of the expedition.

and Miller did the chief zoological work.

The

geological

work was done by a Brazilian member of the expedition,

The astronomical work necessary

Euzebio Oliveira.

obtaining the exact geographical location of the

for

rivers

and points of note was to be done by Lieutenant Lyra,


under the supervision of Colonel Rondon; and at the
graph stations

this astronomical

tele-

work would be checked by

wire communications with one of Colonel Rondon's assistants at Cuyaba, Lieutenant Caetano, thereby securing a

The sketch-maps

minutely accurate comparison of time.

and surveying and cartographical work generally were to


be made under the supervision of Colonel Rondon by Lyra,

with assistance from Fiala and Kermit.

handled the worst problem

member was Doctor

Captain Amilcar

transportation;

the medical

Cajazeira.

At night around the camp-fire

my

Brazilian

compan-

ions often spoke of the first explorers of this vast wilder-

ness of western Brazil

hardly known, but

men

who

whose very names are now

did each his part in opening the

country which will some day see such growth and devel-

opment.

Among

the most notable of

guese, Ricardo Franco,

who

them was

a Portu-

spent forty years at the work,

during the last quarter of the eighteenth and the opening


years of the nineteenth centuries.
distances the

He

ascended for long

Xingu and the Tapajos, and went up the

Madeira and Guapore, crossing to the headwaters of the


Paraguay and partially exploring there also. He worked

184

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

among and with

the Indians,

much

as

Mungo Park worked

with the natives of West Africa, having none of the

aids,

instruments, and comforts with which even the hardiest


of

modern

who

He was one

explorers are provided.

For

many

years the sole method of

tion between this remote interior province

was by the
of

men

Matto
communica-

established the beginnings of the province of

Grosso.

the

of the

long, difficult,

palace, cathedral,

civilization

and perilous route which led up

Amazon and Madeira; and

Matto Grosso, the

and

its

then capital, the town

seat of the captain-general, with its

and

fortress,

was accordingly placed

When

to the west, near the Guapore.

far

less circuitous lines

of communication were established farther eastward the old


capital

was abandoned, and the

over the lonely


explorer

still

little

town.

tropic wilderness surged

The tomb

of the old colonial

stands in the ruined cathedral, where the

forest has once

more come to

its

own.

But

civilization

is

again advancing to reclaim the lost town and to revive


the

memory

found

of the wilderness wanderer

who

helped to

Rondon has named a river after Franco;


mountains has also been named after him; and

Colonel

it.

a range of

the colonel, acting for the Brazilian Government, has established a telegraph station in

what was once the palace

of the captain-general.

Our northward trail led along the high ground a league


or two to the east of the northward-flowing Rio Sacre.
Each night we camped on one of the small tributary brooks
that fed

it.

Fiala, Kermit,

and

occupied one tent.

In

"pium" flies, vicious little sand-flies, became bad enough to make us finally use gloves and headnets.
There were many heavy rains, which made the

the daytime the

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS

185

The soil was more often


was slippery when wet. The weather

travelling hard for the mules.

clay than sand, and

it

was overcast, and there was usually no oppressive heat

At

even at noon.
staring skull
after

intervals along the trail

we came on

and bleached skeleton of a mule or

day we rode forward across endless

flats

the

Day

ox.

of grass and

of low open scrubby forest, the trees standing far apart

and

most places being but

in

of a horseman.

Some

orange, yellow, pink;

of

little

them

higher than the head

carried blossoms, white,

and there were many

most beautiful being the morning-glories.

flowers, the

Among

were bastard rubber-trees, and dwarf palmetto;

grew more than a few

ter

or

mammal

places

it

life;

was not

if

the lat-

were torn

feet high their tops

and dishevelled by the wind.

the trees

There was very

bird

little

there were few long vistas, for in most

among

possible to see far

trunks of the wind-beaten

little

a charm that would be

felt

Yet the desolate

trees.

landscape had a certain charm of

its

the gray, gnarled

own, although not

by any man who does not

take pleasure in mere space, and freedom and wildness,

and

in plains

the

rain.

standing empty to the sun, the wind, and

The country bore some resemblance

country west of Redjaf on the White Nile, the

to

home

the
of

the giant eland; only here there was no big game, no

chance of seeing the towering form of the

giraffe,

the black

bulk of elephant or buffalo, the herds of straw-colored


hartebeests, or the ghostly

shimmer of the sun

glinting on

the coats of roan and eland as they vanished silently in

the gray sea of withered scrub.

One

feature

in

common with

was the abundance of

ant-hills,

the African landscape

some

as high as a

man.

186

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

They were

red in the clay country, gray where

and the

sandy;

was

it

houses were also in trees, while their

dirt

At some
of the camping-places we had to be on our watch against
the swarms of leaf-carrying ants. These are so called in
raised tunnels traversed trees

the books
porters

the

because

Brazilians

and ground

call

alike.

them "carregadores,"

or

they are always carrying bits of leaves

and blades of grass to

They

underground homes.

their

are inveterate burden-bearers, and they industriously cut

and carry

into pieces

we had
we had

off

any garment they can get

at;

and

to guard our shoes and clothes from them, just as

often had to guard

all

These ants did not

termites.

our belongings against the

bite us;

but we encountered

huge black ants, an inch and a quarter long, which were


very vicious, and their bite was not only painful but quite
poisonous.

Praying-mantes were common, and one eve-

ning at supper one had a comical encounter with a young


dog,

a jovial near-puppy,

He had been

Cartucho.

from a character
I

suppose are

in

of Colonel

christened

Rondon's, named
jolly-cum-pup,

the

one of Frank Stockton's

now remembered

stories,

which

only by elderly people, and

by them only if they are natives of the United States.


Cartucho was lying with his head on the ox-hide that served
as table, waiting with poorly dissembled
his share of the banquet.

The mantis

ox-hide and proceeded to crawl over

it,

flew

it

down on

taking

from one corner to another; and whenever

menaced

impatience for

it

the

little flights

thought

itself

assumed an attitude of seeming devotion and

real defiance.

tucho cocked

Soon

it lit

in front of Cartucho's nose.

his big ears forward, stretched his neck,

cautiously sniffed at the

new

arrival, not

Car-

and

with any hostile

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


design, but merely to find out

whether

187

would prove to

it

be a playmate.

The mantis promptly assumed an

tude of prayer.

This struck Cartucho as both novel and

and he thrust

interesting,

The mantis

his sniffing black nose

dexterously thrust forward

the other armed fore

leg,

first

still

atti-

nearer.

one and then

touching the intrusive nose, which

was instantly jerked back and again slowly and inquiringly

Then

brought forward.

the mantis suddenly flew in Car-

tucho's face, whereupon Cartucho, with a smothered yelp


of dismay, almost turned a back somersault;

and the

tri-

umphant mantis flew back to the middle of the ox-hide,


among the plates, where it reared erect and defied the
laughing and applauding company.

On

the morning of the 29th

starting, because the rain

into the morning,

there had been

we were

rather late in

had continued through the night

drenching everything.

After nightfall

some mosquitoes, and the piums were a pest

during daylight;

where one

bites

it

leaves a tiny black

spot on the skin which lasts for several weeks.


slippery

mud

so that

it

one of the pack-mules

had to be abandoned.

fell

Soon

In the

and injured

itself

after starting

we

came on the telegraph-line, which runs from Cayuba; this


was the first time we had seen it. Two Parecis Indians
joined us, leading a pack-bullock.
hat, shirt, trousers,

and sandals, precisely

Brazilian caboclos, as the poor


ally

with

little

were

dressed in

like the

ordinary

backwoods peasants, usu-

white blood in them, are colloquially and

half-derisively styled

word

They were

caboclo being originally a

Guarany

meaning
in

"naked savage."
These two Indians
the employ of the Telegraphic Commission, and

had been patrolling the

telegraph-line.

The

bullock car-

188

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS


and the

ried their personal belongings

The commission pays

they could repair a break.

which

tools with

the or-

dinary Indian worker 66 cents a day; a very good worker


gets $i,

No man

and the chief #1.66.

gets anything unless

Colonel Rondon, by just, kindly, and under-

he works.

standing treatment of these Indians,

who

often been exploited and maltreated

by rubber-gatherers,

made them the


has gathered them
has

cultivate

the line

at the telegraph stations,

where they

of mandioc, beans, potatoes, maize, and

fields

and the
is

He

loyal friends of the government.

other vegetables, and where he


raising;

previously had

entire

introducing

is

them

work of guarding and

to stock-

patrolling

theirs.

After six hours' march

we came

to the crossing of the

Rio Sacre at the beautiful waterfall appropriately


This

the Salto Bello.

Here there

is

is

the end of the automobile road.

The men

a small Parecis village.

work the

called

of the vil-

by which everything is taken across


the deep and rapid river. The ferry-boat is made of planklage

ferry

ing placed on three dugout canoes, and runs on a trolley.

we enjoyed
The Indian

Before crossing
cool

water.

swim

a good
village,

in the swift, clear,

where we camped,

is

placed on a jutting tongue of land round which the river

sweeps just before

it

leaps from the overhanging precipice.

The falls themselves are very lovely.


a wooded island, but the river joins
forward for the

final

plunge.

again before

There

forty or fifty yards, with a breadth


great;

Just above

and the volume of water

is

is

them
it

races

a sheer drop of

two or three times


large.

is

On

the

left

as

or

bank a cliff extends for several hundred yards below


the falls. Green vines have flung themselves down over
hither

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


its

and they are met by other vines thrusting up-

face,

ward from the mass of vegetation


in the perpetual mist

The

over the rock wall, rushes

bottom of a thickly wooded

among

ing

bow

at its foot, glistening

from the cataract, and clothing even

the rock surfaces in vivid green.


itself

189

throwing

long curves at the

off in

ravine, the white water churn-

the black bowlders.

at the foot of the

river, after

There

is

a perpetual rain-

The masses

falls.

of green water

that are hurling themselves over the brink dissolve into


shifting,

On

foaming columns of snowy

the edge of the

cliff

lace.

below the

falls

Colonel

Rondon

had placed benches, giving a curious touch of rather conventional tourist-civilization to this cataract far out in

the lonely wilderness.

beauty.
ise it

It

is

It

is

well worth visiting for

also of extreme interest because of the

that they had calculated that this


six

thousand horse-power.

see another fall of

are

many

much

prom-

Lieutenant Lyra informed

holds for the future.

fall

would furnish

Eight miles

off

rivers in this region

me

thirty-

we were

greater height and power.

its

to

There

which would furnish almost

unlimited motive force to populous manufacturing com-

The country round about is healthy. It is an


upland region of good climate; we were visiting it in the
rainy season, the season when the nights are far less cool
than in the dry season, and yet we found it delightful.
There is much fertile soil in the neighborhood of the
streams, and the teeming lowlands of the Amazon and
munities.

the Paraguay could


tage to both sides
civilization

and

readily

be

made

with immense advan-

tributary to an industrial

seated on these highlands.

has been built to and across them.

telegraph-line

railroad

should

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

190

Such a

follow.

line could

be easily

serious natural obstacles.

a trolley-line could

built, for there are

In advance of

construction

its

be run from Cuyaba to the

the power furnished

by the

latter.

Once

no

this

using

falls,
is

done the

land will offer extraordinary opportunities to settlers of


the right kind: to home-makers and to enterprising busi-

men

ness

of foresight, coolness, and sagacity

work with the

ing to

who

are will-

the immigrants, the home-

settlers,

makers, for an advantage which shall be mutual.

The

Parecis Indians,

ingly interesting.
cheerful,

ally

whom we met

They were

to

good-humored,

all

here,

were exceed-

appearance an unusu-

pleasant-natured

people.

Their teeth were bad; otherwise they appeared strong and

The colonel
was received as a valued friend and as a leader who was
He is raising them by deto be followed and obeyed.
grees
the only way by which to make the rise permanent.
In this village he has got them to substitute for the flimsy
Indian cabins houses of the type usual among the poorer
vigorous, and there were plenty of children.

field

laborers and back-country dwellers in Brazil.

These

houses have roofs of palm thatch, steeply pitched.

They

are usually open at the sides, consisting merely of a frame-

work

of timbers, with a wall at the back;

but some have

the ordinary four walls, of erect palm-logs.

mocks
in

are slung in the houses,

and the cooking

them, with pots placed on small open

ally in a kind of clay oven.

The

fires,

The hamis

also

done

or occasion-

big gourds for water,

and the wicker baskets, are placed on the ground, or hung


on the

poles.

The men had adopted, and were wearing, shirts and


trousers, but the women had made little change in their

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


A

clothing.

191

few wore print dresses, but obviously only for

Most of them, especially the girls and young


married women, wore nothing but a loin-cloth in addition
to bead necklaces and bracelets.
The nursing mothers
ornament.

and almost

all

the mothers were nursing

sometimes carried

the child slung against their side or hip, seated in a cloth

which went over the opposite shoulder of the

belt, or sling,

The women seemed to be well treated, although


polygamy is practised. The children were loved by every
one; they were petted by both men and women, and they
mother.

behaved well to one another, the boys not seeming to bully


the girls or the smaller boys.

naked, but the

both of the

girls early

little

Most

wore the

boys and the

of the children were

and some,

loin-cloth;

little

girls,

wore colored

print garments, to the evident pride of themselves


their parents.

and

life

In each house there were several families,

went on with no privacy but with good humor,

The man

consideration, and fundamentally good manners.

or

and

woman who had

nothing to do lay in a

hammock

or

squatted on the ground leaning against a post or wall.

The
or

children played together, or lay in

little

tagged round after their mothers; and

hammocks,

when

called

they came trustfully up to us to be petted or given some


small trinket; they were friendly

little

souls,

and accus-

One woman was weaving a


cloth, another was making a hammock; others made
ready melons and other vegetables and cooked them over
tiny fires.
The men, who had come in from work at the
ferry or along the telegraph-lines, did some work themtomed

to good treatment.

selves, or

hair,

played with the children; one cut a small boy's

and then had

his

own

hair cut

by a

friend.

But the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

192

men was an

absorbing amusement of the

game

extraordinary

of ball.

In our family

we have always

relished Oliver Herford's

nonsense rhymes, including the account of Willie's

dis-

pleasure with his goat:

"I do not like my billy goat,


I wish that he was dead;
Because he kicked me, so he did,
He kicked me with his head."
Well, these Parecis Indians enthusiastically play foot-

them, but

rubber

about eight inches

two

ball,

and the

sides,

lifts

opponents.

in the air;
it

on

circular

is

and

The players are divided


much as in association foot-

a player runs forward, throws him-

first

butt,

much and
One or two
flat

Usually this butt

It

placed on the ground to be put in play

it

throws himself

catches

is

Then

This

being played

in diameter.

on the ground, and butts the

posite side.

never

own

its

use a light hollow

manufacture.

and stationed

ball

as in football.
self flat

They

tribe or people.

ball, of their

into

not only native to

is

have never heard or read of

by any other

up

The game

with their heads.

ball

on

lifts

when

it

rolls

the ball

is

toward the op-

on the ground,

and bounds toward the

of the latter run toward

his face
it,

ball

and

it;

one

and butts the

ball back.

back

curve well

it flies

in a

and an opposite player, rushing toward


his

head with such a swing of

his

it,

brawny

neck, and such precision and address that the ball bounds

back through the

air as a football soars after a drop-kick.

If the ball flies off to

one side or the other

back, and again put in play.

Often

it

will

it

is

brought

be sent to and

One woman was making


From

The mothers

a photograph by

hammocl

Kermit Roosevelt

carried the child slung against their side or hip, seated in a cloth belt, or
sling,

which went over the opposite shoulder of the mother

[A few wore print dresses

most

of

From photographs

them wore nothing but

by Cherrie

and Miller

a loin-cloth]

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


fro a

dozen times, from head to head, until

with such a sweep that

it

finally

Then

good-humored triumph

There

are, of course,

game

of civilization;

is

no such

and

many

be eight or ten, or
ball

arise

shrill,

from the

and the game instantly begins again with fresh

tors;

rises

it

passes far over the heads of the

opposite players and descends behind them.


rolling cries of

193

zest.

rules as in a specialized ball-

saw no disputes.

vic-

There

may

side.

The

more, players on each

never touched with the hands or

thing except the top of the head.

It

feet, or
is

with any-

hard to decide

whether to wonder most at the dexterity and strength


with which

it

down through

is

hit or

the

air,

butted with the head, as

it

comes

or at the reckless speed and

skill

with which the players throw themselves headlong on the

ground to return the


they do not grind

ball

off their

if

it

noses

comes low down.

Why

cannot imagine.

Some

of the players hardly ever failed to catch and return the


ball

if it

came

in their

neighborhood, and with such a vig-

orous toss of the head that

it

often flew in a great curve

for a really astonishing distance.

That night a pack-ox got


mit and

were sleeping, entering

at the other.
us; but

our

we

It

One

is

first

at one

of

though chewed

which Ker-

end and then

extraordinary that he did not

and underclothes

It

my

socks escaped, and

full

of holes,

was

still

waken

ox deliberately ate

slept undisturbed while the

shirts, socks,

rags.

into the tent in

chewed them into

my

good

undershirt, alfor

some weeks'

wear; but the other things were in fragments.


In the morning Colonel Rondon arranged for us to have

by the waterthunderous murmur, had been

breakfast over on the benches under the trees


fall,

whose

roar, lulled to a

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

194
in

our ears before we slept and when we waked.

could have been no more picturesque place


fast of

to see

such a party as ours.

what

is

now

even
rants

South America should

and

see the

two great

easy of access;

they

it

for the break-

who

really care

most beautiful and most characteristic of the

far interior of
this region,

All travellers

There

will

and

be made

in their

journey

visit

They

waterfalls.

are

as soon as the traffic war-

still

more

so; then,

from Sao

Luis de Caceres, they will be speedily reached by light

steamboat up the Sepotuba and by a day or two's automobile

ride,

The

with a couple of days on horseback in between.


t

colonel held a very serious council with the Parecis

Indians over an incident which caused him grave concern.

One

of the commission's employees, a negro, had killed a

wild

Nhambiquara Indian; but

really

it

appeared that he had

been urged on and aided by the Parecis, as the

members

of the tribe to which the dead Indian belonged

were much given to carrying

off

the Parecis

women and

other ways making themselves bad neighbors.


tried

The

in

colonel

hard to get at the truth of the matter; he went to

the biggest Indian house, where he sat in a

Indian child cuddling solemnly up to him,

hammock an
by the way

while the Indians sat in other hammocks, and stood round

about; but

it

was impossible to get an absolutely frank

statement.

Nhambiquaras had
made a descent on the Parecis village in the momentary
It

appeared,

absence of the

however,

men

that

the

of the village;

but the

latter, notified

by the screaming of the women, had returned in time to


rescue them. The negro was with them and, having a good
rifle, he killed one of the aggressors.
The Parecis were, of

The

kick-off: a player runs forward,

throws himself

flat

on the ground, and butts the

ball

toward the

opposite side

From

Often

it

will

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

be sent to and fro a dozen times, from head to head until finally

From

The game

it

rises

a photograph by Fiala

of headball played

by Parecis Indians

at Utiarity Falls

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS

195

course, in the right, but the colonel could not afford to

have

men

his

It

take sides in a tribal quarrel.

was only a two hours' march across to the Papa-

gaio at the Falls of Utiarity, so

named by

their discoverer,

Colonel Rondon, after the sacred falcon of the Parecis.

On

way we

the

passed our Indian friends, themselves bound

both the

thither;

men and

the

women

bore burdens

the

burdens of some of the women, poor things, were heavy

and even the small naked children carried the

At Utiarity there

live hens.

a big Parecis settlement and a tele-

is

graph station kept by one of the employees of the comHis pretty brown wife

mission.
tress to a

has been

group of

made

little

Parecis

is

acting as schoolmis-

girls.

The

Parecis chief

a major and wears a uniform accordingly.

The commission has

erected good buildings for

employees and has superintended the erection


houses for the Indians.

Most

of the latter

still

its

own

of good
prefer the

simplicity of the loin-cloth, in their ordinary lives, but

they proudly wore their civilized clothes in our honor.

When

in the late afternoon the

men began

to play a regu-

match game of headball, with a scorer or umpire to


keep count, they soon discarded most of their clothes,

lar

coming down to nothing but trousers or a


or three of

Among
of

little

The

them had

their faces stained with red ochre.

women and children looking on were


girls who paraded about on stilts.

the

great waterfall

was half a mile below

though we had found Salto


perior in beauty

twice as broad;

Two

loin-cloth.

Bello, these falls

and majesty.

They

us.

a couple

Lovely

were far su-

are twice as high

and the lay of the land

various landscapes in which the waterfall

is
is

and

such that the


a feature are

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

196

more

striking.

few hundred yards above the

at an angle and widens.

river turns

shallows are crested with whitecaps.

expanse of flecked and hurrying water

umns

and broken by the wind the


grandeur.

The

From below
fall is

the

The broad, rapid


Beyond this wide
rise

the mist col-

and as these columns are swayed

of the cataract;

between them.

falls

forest appears

the view

is

through and

one of singular

over a shelving ledge of rock which

goes in a nearly straight line across the river's course.

But

at the left there

is

a salient in the

cliff-line,

and here

accordingly a great cataract of foaming water comes

down

almost as a separate body, in advance of the line of the

main

fall.

there

is

if

doubt whether, excepting, of course, Niagara,

a waterfall in North America which outranks this

both volume and beauty are considered.

fall

Above the

the river flows through a wide valley with gently slop-

ing sides.

Below,

it

slips along,

a torrent of whity-green

water, at the bottom of a deep gorge; and the sides of the

gorge are clothed with a towering growth of tropical forest.

Next morning the cacique of these Indians, in his


major's uniform, came to breakfast, and bore himself with
it rained most
It was raining heavily
entire propriety.
of the time and a few minutes previously I had noticed
the cacique's two wives, with three or four other young

women, going out to the mandioc fields. It was a picturesque group. The women were all mothers, and each
They wore loin-cloths or short
carried a nursing child.
Each carried on her back a wickerwork basket
supported by a head-strap which went around her foreEach carried a belt slung diagonally across her
head.
body, over her right shoulder; in this the child was carskirts.

*Jfe

Sz
**fc40

v^npp^

^-B
3gfe

ffff^f-",
V

>.

.'

-'-'-;> ""''V

*.\.

-.

<-}^>'

jf.

''

^'4
'-

<T

i'Jr-'f^
*v
:

'

,.

-"^

'

ill

lT

<7

/
v

The
I

Falls of Utiarity

doubt whether, excepting, of course, Niagara, there is a waterfall in North America which outranks
if both volume and beauty are considered

From

a photograph by Cherrie

this

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


ried,

against and perhaps astride of her

left

197

They

hip.

were comely women, who did not look jaded or cowed;

and they laughed cheerfully and nodded to us

as

they

way to the fields. But


them and the chief in his soldier's
breakfast was rather too striking; and

passed through the rain, on their


the contrast between

uniform seated at
incidentally

it

etched in bold lines the folly of those

who

even exceptionally good and pleasant-

idealize the life of

natured savages.

Although

it

was the rainy season, the

point had not been

difficult,

when

dry and at

the climate

practically

This

is

do the

is

no hardship

its

May

this

to October,

best, there

at all for travellers

a healthy plateau.
first

and from

up to

trip

would be

and

But, of course, the

visitors.

men who

pioneering, even in country like this, encounter

make payment with their


At more than one halting-place we had come

dangers and run risks; and they


bodies.

some

soldier or laborer of the

The grave-mound
and an uninscribed wooden

lay within a rude stock-

across the forlorn grave of

commission.
ade;

beaten,

marked the

forgotten

humble

man

life

gray and weather-

cross,

last resting-place of the

beneath, the

man who had

unknown and
paid with his

the cost of pushing the frontier of civilization

into the wild

savagery of the wilderness.

the conditions become less healthy.

At

Farther west

this station Colo-

Rondon received news of sickness and of some deaths


among the employees of the commission in the country
Beriberi
to the westward, which we were soon to enter.
nel

and malignant malarial fever were the diseases which


claimed the major number of the victims.
Surely these are "the

men who do

the

work

for

which

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

198

they draw the wage."

Kermit had with him the same

copy of Kipling's poems which he had carried through

At these

Africa.

dor; and

we

was one sunset of angry

there

falls

contrasted this going

down

splen-

of the sun, through

broken rain-clouds and over leagues of wet tropical

forest,

with the desert sunsets we had seen in Arizona and So-

Guaso Nyiro north and west of Mount

nora, and along the

when

Kenia,

changed

the barren mountains were

into

flaming "ramparts of slaughter and peril" standing above

"the wine-dark
It rained

during most of the day after our arrival at

Whenever there was any let-up the men promptly

Utiarity.

came

below."

flats

forth from their houses and played headball with

and we would

the utmost vigor;

listen to their shrill

we
They

dulating cries of applause and triumph until


interested

and

strolled over to look on.

baseball or football.

It

strange and exciting

by, one

little tribe

also

grew

are

more

game than an American boy

infatuated with the

is

with

is

an extraordinary thing that

game should be played

of Indians in

centre of South America.

If

what

any

is

by,^

un-

this

and only

almost the very

traveller or ethnologist

knows of a tribe elsewhere that plays a similar game, I


wish he would let me know. To play it demands great
activity, vigor, skill, and endurance.
Looking at the
strong, supple bodies of the players, and at the number of
children roundabout,

it

seemed

as

if

the tribe

must be

vigorous health;

yet the Parecis have decreased in

bers, for measles

and smallpox have been

By
ily

the evening the rain was coming

than ever.

It

was not

out of our belongings;

fatal to

in

num-

them.

down more heav-

possible to keep the moisture

everything became mouldy except

lonely grave

by the wayside

At more than one halting-place we had come across the

forlorn grave of

some

commission

From

Most

of

a photograph by Cherrie

The Parecis dance


them wore on one leg anklets which
From

a photograph by Miller

rattled

soldier or laborer of the

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS

199

what became rusty. It rained all that night; and daylight saw the downpour continuing with no prospect of

The pack-mules could not have gone on with


march; they were already rather done up by their

cessation.

the

previous ten days' labor through rain and mud, and

it

until the

weather became better

before attempting to go forward.

Moreover, there had

seemed advisable to wait

been no chance to take the desired astronomical observa-

There was very

tions.

there

but

grass for the mules;

was abundance of a small-leaved plant

inches high

eight or ten

unfortunately, not very nourishingon which


muddy

In such weather and over such

they fed greedily.


trails

little

oxen travel better than mules.

In spite of the weather Cherrie and Miller,

Zahm and

whom,

to-

we had found awaiting us, made good collections of birds and mammals.
Among the latter were opossums and mice that were new
to them. The birds included various forms so unlike our
home birds that the enumeration of their names would
mean nothing. One of the most interesting was a large
gether with Father

Sigg,

black-and-white woodpecker, the white predominating in


the plumage.

Several of these woodpeckers were usually

found together.

They were showy,

and perched on twigs,

and

restless,

in ordinary bird fashion,

at least

noisy,

as often as they clung to the trunks in orthodox

pecker style.

The

prettiest bird

wood-

was a tiny manakin,

coal-

black, with a red-and-orange head.

On February

2 the rain let up, although the sky re-

mained overcast and there were occasional showers.


walked

off

distance,

with

from a

my

rifle

for a couple of leagues;

slight hillock, the mist

at

columns of the

that
falls


THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

200

were conspicuous

The only mammal

in the landscape.

saw on the walk was a rather hairy armadillo, with a flexible tail, which I picked up and brought back to Miller
it

showed none of the speed of the nine-banded armadillos

we met on our
it

trotted about before

habits.
I

It

spent

saw me,

it

was new to the

much

Judging by

jaguar-hunt.

its

actions, as

must be diurnal

it

in

collection.

by the

of the afternoon

Under

waterfall.

the overcast sky the great cataract lost the deep green

and fleecy-white of the

sunlit falling waters.

showed opaline hues and

At

times,

all

and under

tints
all

it

it

and amethyst.

of topaz

lights,

Instead

was majestic and

beautiful.

Colonel

Rondon had given

women

those for the

the Indians various presents,

including calico prints, and,

especially prized, bottles of scented


their hair.

For

The men

would
string

for

clothing,

but not

them

of

all,

and appeared

as

cast aside

doubtless they

have appeared had none but themselves been

all

present.

Paris,

held a dance in the late afternoon.

this occasion most,

their civilized

from

oil,

what they

They were

absolutely naked except for a beaded

round the waist.

Most

of

them were spotted and

dashed with red paint, and on one leg wore anklets which
rattled.

number

carried pipes through

which they blew

a kind of deep stifled whistle in time to the dancing.


of

them had

his pipe leading into a

gave out a hollow, moaning boom.


or green or yellow

macaw

One

huge gourd, which

Many

wore two red

feathers in their hair,

and one

had a macaw feather stuck transversely through the septum of his nose. They circled slowly round and round,
chanting and stamping their

feet,

while the anklet rattles

*3
o

THE HIGHLAND WILDERNESS


clattered

201

They advanced

and the pipes droned.

to the

wall of one of the houses, again and again chanting and

bowing before

They

it;

was

was a demand

told this

for drink.

entered one house and danced in a ring around the

cooking-fire in the middle of the earth floor;

was

told

that they were then reciting the deeds of mighty hunters

and describing how they brought

in

the

They

game.

drank freely from gourds and pannikins of a fermented

made from mandioc which were brought

drink

them.

During the

mained

in the houses,

first

part of the dance the

and

all

out

to

women

re-

the doors and windows were

shut and blankets hung to prevent the possibility of seeing


out.

But during the second part

came out and looked


danced when the

on.

all

women and

the

They were themselves

men had

finished,

The

have

to

but were overcome

with shyness at the thought of dancing with so


strangers looking on.

girls

many

children played about with un-

concern throughout the ceremony, one of them throwing


high in the

air,

and again catching

in his

hands, a loaded

feather, a kind of shuttlecock.

In the evening the growing

Anything approaching

cloud-rack.

put our

men

in a circle,

moon shone through

in

by a

good
fire

spirits;

fair

the

weather always

and the muleteers squatted

near a pile of packs, and listened to

a long monotonously and rather mournfully chanted song

about a dance and a

love-affair.

We

ourselves

busily with our photographs and our writing.


so

much humidity

in the air that

There was

everything grew

and stayed damp, and mould gathered quickly.


season

it is

a country in

worked

damp

At

this

which writing, taking photographs,

and preparing specimens are

all

works of

difficulty, at least

202

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

so far as concerns preserving

of the labor;

From

and a man's clothing

here Father

companied by

and sending home the

Sigg.

Zahm

is

results

never really dry.

returned to Tapirapoan, ac-

CHAPTER

VII

WITH A MULE-TRAIN ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


From

this point

the land of

we were

still

we

started with the mule-train

Fiala and Lieutenant Lauriado stayed

ox-carts.

at Utiarity to take canoes

and go down the Papagaio, which

had not been descended by any

scientific party,

They were then

haps by no one.

wilder region,

On February

the naked Nhambiquaras.

the weather cleared and

and two

to enter a

and per-

to descend the Juruena

and Tapajos, thereby performing a necessary part of the

work of the expedition. Our remaining party consisted of


Colonel Rondon, Lieutenant Lyra, the doctor, Oliveira,
Cherrie, Miller, Kermit,

and myself.

On

we

the Juruena

expected to meet the pack ox-train with Captain Amilcar

and Lieutenant Mello;

the other Brazilian

the party had returned.

had now begun the

The pium

part of the expedition.


pest.

We

flies

The

entering.

the rains had

made

of

difficult

were becoming a

There was much fever and beriberi

we were

members

in the

feed for the animals

country

was poor;

the trails slippery and difficult;

and

many, both of the mules and the oxen, were already weak,
and some had to be abandoned. We left the canoe, the
motor, and the gasolene; we had hoped to try them on
the

Amazonian

rivers,

but we were obliged to cut down

everything that was not absolutely indispensable.


Before leaving

we prepared
203

for

shipment back to the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

204

museum some
weapons and
collected.

of

macaw

utensils of the Indians,

These included woven

which Kermit had

fillets,

Enoerey; wickerwork baskets;

hammocks;

is

fillets

made

woven

belts;

and

feathers, for use in the dances;

a gourd in which the sacred drink

tles;

some of the

of the bigger skins, and also

offered to the

anklet rat-

flutes or pipes;

a belt of the kind used

by the women

carrying the babies, with the weaving-frame.

were Parecis

articles.

He

also secured

god

in

All these

from the

Nham-

biquaras wickerwork baskets of a different type and bows

The bows were seven

and arrows.
rows

feet long

and the

There were blunt-headed arrows

five feet.

ar-

for birds,

arrows with long, sharp wooden blades for tapir, deer, and

mammals; and the poisoned war-arrows, with sharp


barbs, poison-coated and bound on by fine thongs, and
with a long, hollow wooden guard to slip over the entire
point and protect it until the time came to use it. When
other

people talk glibly of "idle" savages they ignore the im-

by many of their industries, and the


extraordinary amount of work they accomplish by

mense labor
really

entailed

the skilful use of their primitive and ineffective tools.


It

was not

into the

until early in the afternoon that

drove with us a herd of oxen for food.


fifteen miles

little

we camped

brook.

years previously
trip

when they

to the Juruena.
*

It

was

beside the
at

started

We

After going about

swampy headwaters

of

the spot where nearly seven

Rondon and Lyra had camped on

the

discovered Utiarity Falls and penetrated

When

they reached this place they had

Pronounced "sairtown," as nearly


and pronunciation, I can render

spelling

we

"sertao," * as Brazilians call the wilderness.

as,
it.

with our preposterous methods of

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


They

been thirty-six hours without food.


deer

small deer

and

killed a

bush

ate literally every particle.

they lived on wild

The

For much of the time on

dogs devoured the entire skin.


this trip

205

fruit,

and the two dogs that

remained alive would wait eagerly under the trees and eat
the fruit that

was shaken down.

In the late afternoon the piums were rather bad at this

camp, but we had gloves and head-nets, and were not

and although there were some mosquitoes we

bothered;
slept

well

swamp
little

under our mosquito-nets.

uttered a peculiar, loud shout.

tree-frog in

air until

brayed

it

like

frogs

in

the

Miller told of a

Colombia which swelled

itself

out with

looked like the frog in iEsop's fables, and then


a mule;

and Cherrie told of a huge frog

Guiana that uttered a


through country
days.

in

short, loud roar.

Next day the weather was


for ten

The

like that

still

Our march

fair.

lay

which we had been traversing

Skeletons of mules and oxen were more

by the wayside we passed the


graves of officers or men who had died on the road. Barbed
wire encircled the desolate little mounds. We camped on
the west bank of the Burity River.
Here there is a balsa,
or ferry, run by two Parecis Indians, as employees of the
Telegraphic Commission, under the colonel. Each had a
thatched house, and each had two wives all these Indifrequent; and once or twice

ans are pagans.

All were dressed

much

like the poorer

peasants of the Brazilian back country, and

all

were pleas-

The women ran the ferry about


as well as the men.
They had no cultivated fields, and
for weeks they had been living only on game and honey;
ant and well-behaved.

and they hailed with joy our advent and the quantities

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

206

of beans and rice which, together with some beef, the

They

colonel left with them.

feasted most of the night.

hammocks, baskets, and


other belongings, and they owned some poultry. In one
house was a tiny parakeet, very much at home, and familiar, but by no means friendly, with strangers.
There

Their

houses

are wild

contained

Nhambiquaras

several of these

their

in the

neighborhood, and recently

had menaced the two ferrymen with an

The ferrymen had

attack, even shooting arrows at them.

driven

them

off

by

firing their rifles in the air;

and they

expected and received the colonel's praise for their


restraint;

for the colonel

is

doing

all

self-

he can to persuade

The

the Indians to stop their blood feuds.

were

rifles

short and light Winchester carbines, of the kind so universally used

by the rubber-gatherers and other adventurThere

ous wanderers in the forest wilderness of Brazil.

were a number of rubber-trees

in the

neighborhood, by

the way.

We

enjoyed a good bath in the Burity, although

impossible to
ing current.

make headway by swimming

they vary from things


flies.

The

like small

was

against the rac-

There were few mosquitoes.

hand, various kinds of piums were a

it

little

On

the other

too abundant;

gnats to things like black

small stingless bees have no fear and can hardly

be frightened away when they


but they never

bite,

light

on the hands or

and merely cause a

as they crawl over the skin.

slight

face;

tickling

There were some big

bees,

however, which, although they crawled about harmlessly


after lighting
if

if

they were undisturbed, yet stung

they were molested.

The

insects

fiercely

were not ordinarily a

serious bother, but there were occasional hours

when they

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


were too numerous

do

my
The

207

and now and then

for comfort,

had to

writing in a head-net and gauntlets.


night

we reached

the Burity

it

In the morning the mules

next day the rain continued.

were ferried over, while the oxen were

men

a dozen of our

rained heavily, and

whites,

swum

Indians,

stark naked and uttering wild cries

Half

across.

and negroes,

drove the oxen

the river and then, with powerful overhand strokes,

all

into

swam

behind and alongside them as they crossed, half-breasting

was a fine sight to see the big, longbeasts swimming strongly, while the sin-

the swift current.

horned, staring

It

ewy naked men urged them forward, utterly at ease in the


rushing water. We made only a short day's journey, for,
owing to the lack of

mules had to be driven

grass, the

off

nearly three miles from our line of march, in order to get

them

feed.

We

called Huatsui,

camped
which

is

Accompanying us on
for

headwaters of a

at the

little

brook

"monkey."
march was a soldier bound
With him trudged his wife.

Parecls for
this

one of the remoter posts.

They made the whole journey on foot. There were two


children.
One was so young that it had to be carried alternately by the father and mother.
The other, a small
boy of eight, and much the best of the party, was already
a competent wilderness worker.

He

bore his share of the

when camp was reached


sometimes himself put up the family shelter. They were
mainly of negro blood. Struck by the woman's uncomplaining endurance of fatigue, we offered to take her and

belongings on the march, and

the baby in the automobile, while


alas! this

it

accompanied

us.

But,

proved to be one of those melancholy cases where

the effort to relieve hardship well endured results only in

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

208

showing that those who endure the adversity cannot stand


even a

The woman proved

slight prosperity.

traveller in the auto, complaining that she

as comfortable as, apparently, she

a querulous

was not made

had expected; and

after

one day the husband declared he was not willing to have


her go unless he went too;

and the family resumed

their

walk.

In this neighborhood there were multitudes of the

big,

gregarious, crepuscular or nocturnal spiders which I have

On

before mentioned.

the afternoon,

arriving in camp, at about four in

ran into a number of remains of their

webs, and saw a very few of the spiders themselves sitting


in the

webs midway between

trees.

then strolled a couple

of miles up the road ahead of us under the line of telegraph-poles.

were out;

It

was

bright sunlight and no spiders

still

in fact, I did

not suspect their presence along

the line of telegraph-poles, although


so,

ought to have done

for I continually ran into long strings of tough, fine

web, which got across

my

face or

hands or

barrel.

rifle

returned just at sunset and the spiders were out in force.


I

saw dozens of

dividuals.

colonies, each of scores or

Many

the broad, cleared


the wire
since I

own

trail.

But most were dependent from

Each was

had passed.

wheel, and

all

in-

were among the small trees alongside

Their webs had

itself.

hundreds of

all

been made or repaired

sitting in the

middle of

his

the wheels were joined to one another;

and the whole pendent fabric hung by

fine ropes

from the

wire above, and was in some cases steadied by guy-ropes,

thrown thirty

them

feet off to little trees alongside.

until nightfall,

day's rest, their day's

and evidently, to them,

work had

just begun.

watched

after their

Next morn-

Tres Burity
From

The

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

kitchen under the ox-hide at


From

Campos Novos

a photograph by Theodore Roosevelt

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


ing

owing to a

desire to find out

what the

and

were as

facts

regards the ox-carts, which were in difficulties


Miller, Kermit,

209

Cherrie,

walked back to the Burity River,

where Colonel Rondon had spent the night.

It

was a

misty, overcast morning, and the spiders in the webs that

hung from the telegraph-wire were just going to their day


homes. These were in and under the big white china
Hundreds of spiders
insulators on the telegraph-poles.
were already climbing up into these. When, two or three
hours later, we returned, the sun was out, and not a spider
was to be seen.
Here we had to cut down our baggage and rearrange
the loads for the mule-train. Cherrie and Miller had a
most workmanlike equipment, including a very
and two
one

fly

light

was

flies.

One

allotted to

fly

they gave for the kitchen use,

Kermit and me, and they kept only


Colonel

the tent for themselves.


in

light tent

Rondon and Lyra went

one tent, the doctor and Oliveira

in another.

Each of

us got rid of everything above the sheer necessities.

This

was necessary because of the condition of the baggage-

The oxen were

animals.

so

weak that the

on the carts had to be abandoned.


mules had already been
days'
this

march from

country

all

is

country.

Utiarity.

on the road during the three


In the

first

expeditions into

was becoming very heavy.

and even
This state

due to the scarcity of forage and the type of

Good

grass

is

scanty, and the endless leagues of

sparse, scrubby forest render

it

exceedingly

difficult to find

when they wander. They must be turned


loose to roam about and pick up their scanty

the animals
absolutely

Nine of the pack-

the baggage-animals had died;

in our case the loss

of affairs

left

effort to bring

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

210

subsistence,

and must be given as long a time

as possible

to feed and rest; even under these conditions most of

grow weak when,

as in our case,

They cannot be found

corn.

and then hours must be spent

it

is

them

impossible to carry

again until after daylight,


in gathering

them; and

this

means that the march must be made chiefly during the heat
of the day, the most trying time. Often some of the animals would not be brought in until so late that it was well
on

in the forenoon,

perhaps midday, before the bulk of

and they reached the camping-

the pack-train started;

place as often after nightfall as before

many

conditions

of the mules and oxen grew constantly

weaker, and ultimately gave out;


to load

them

especially

and

heavy or bulky

little

was imperative
all

luxuries,

Travelling through a

luxuries.
is

it

and discard

as lightly as possible,

wild country where there


is

Under such

it.

food for

man

or beast

beset with difficulties almost inconceivable to the

who

know this kind of


man who only knows the

does not himself

especially to the

tion.

scientific

party of some

size,

man

wilderness, and

ease of civiliza-

with the equipment

necessary in order to do scientific work, can only go at


if

men who

the

all

actually handle the problems of food and

work thoroughly.
Our march continued through the same type of

transportation do their

high,

nearly level upland, covered with scanty, scrubby forest.


It

is

the kind of country

padao

and

pronounced

almost as

spelled shapadon.

in a beautiful spot,

if

to the Brazilians as chait

were a French word"

Our camp on the fourth

night was

an open grassy space, beside a

cool, rushing little river.

waded our

known

We

clear,

ourselves reached this, and

beasts across the deep, narrow stream, in the

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


late afternoon;

The

211

and we then enjoyed a bath and swim.

loose bullocks arrived at sunset,

the mounted herdsmen urged

them

and with

shrill cries

and across the

into

The mule-train arrived long after nightfall,


was not deemed wise to try to cross the laden an-

swift water.

and

it

Accordingly the loads were taken

imals.

over on the heads of the men;

naked

ewy,

figures

it

was

off

fine to see the sin-

bearing their burdens

broken moonlit water to the hither bank.


cool

and pleasant.

We

kindled a

fire

and brought

and

through the

The

was

night

sat beside the

Then, healthily hungry, we gathered around the

blaze.

rice,

and

a brook,

and

ox-hides to a delicious dinner of soup, beef, beans,


coffee.

Next day we made a short march, crossed

camped by another clear, deep, rapid little river, swollen


by the rains. All these rivers that we were crossing run
actually into the Juruena, and therefore form part of the

headwaters of the Tapajos;


river,

for the

and the basin which holds

immense extent of country.

its

Tapajos

is

a mighty

headwaters covers an

This country and the adja-

cent regions, forming the high interior of western Brazil,


will

tion;

surely

some day support a

large industrial popula-

of which the advent would be hastened, although

not necessarily in permanently better fashion,

if

Colonel

Rondon's anticipations about the development of mining,


especially gold-mining, are realized.

gion will be a healthy


tural

home

and pastoral population.

In any event the

for a considerable

Above

all,

streams, with their numerous waterfalls,

the

re-

agricul-

many

swift

some of great

height and volume, offer the chance for the upgrowth of a

number

of big manufacturing communities, knit

by

rail-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

212

roads to one another and to the Atlantic coast and the

and Amazon, and

valleys of the Paraguay, Madeira,

ing and being fed

by the

dwellers in the rich, hot, alluvial

lowlands that surround this elevated territory.


of Colonel

Rondon and

feed-

The work

his associates of the Telegraphic

Commission has been to open

this great

and virgin land to

the knowledge of the world and to the service of their


nation.

In doing so they have incidentally founded the


Before their day almost

Brazilian school of exploration.

the scientific and regular exploration of Brazil was

all

done by foreigners.

But, of course, there was

much exwho were

by nameless Brazilians,
merely endeavoring to make new homes or advance their
private fortunes: in recent years by rubber-gatherers, for
instance, and a century ago by those bold and restless adploration and settlement

venturers, partly of Portuguese and partly of Indian blood,

the Paolistas, from one of

whom

descended on his father's

self

The camp by

this river

Colonel

Rondon

is

him-

side.

was

in

some old and grown-up

once the seat of a rather extensive maize and man-

fields,

by the Nhambiquaras. On this day


Cherrie got a number of birds new to the collection, and
two or three of them probably new to science. We had
found the birds for the most part in worn plumage, for
dioc

cultivation

the breeding season, the southern spring and northern

was

over.

But some birds were

tropics the breeding season

is

still

more

breeding.

fall,

In the

irregular than in the

Some birds breed at very different times from that


chosen by the majority of their fellows; some can hardly

north.

be said to have any regular season; Cherrie had found one


species of honey-creeper breeding in every

month

of the

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND

Just before sunset and just after sunrise big, noisy,

year.

blue-and-yellow

macaws

flew over this camp.

enough to form a loose

plentiful

to

itself,

dant,

found

it

flock,

was an

interesting,

Although not an abun-

rest.

fauna which the two naturalists

mammals had been made.

of birds and

several species of opossums, mice,

Cherrie got

At

this

many

and

Miller trapped

which were new

rats

birds which he did not recog-

camp, among totally strange forms, he found

an old and familiar acquaintance.


brought

but each pair kept

upland country, where hitherto no collections

in this

to him.

They were

the two individuals always close together and

always separated from the

nize.

213

Before breakfast he

several birds: a dark-colored flycatcher, with

in

white forehead and rump and two very long tail-feathers;


a black and slate-blue tanager;

concealed white spot on

and

its

its

dull-colored mate;

lieved to be

new

them save

in

back, at the base of the neck,

and other birds which he be-

to science, but

any of our birds are

a black ant-thrush with a

whose relationships with

so remote that

technical language.

hard to describe

it is

Finally,

among

these

unfamiliar forms was a veery, and the sight of the rufousolive

back and faintly spotted throat of

northern Junes

made

Next day was


be brought
to

this singer of

us almost homesick.

brilliantly clear.

in until quite late in the

The mules could not


morning, and we had

march twenty miles under the burning

right in the hottest part of the day.

we looked back over


rolling stretches of

our

From

tropical sun,

a rise of ground

the vast, sunlit landscape, the endless

low

forest.

Midway on

our journey

we crossed a brook. The dogs minded the heat much.


They continually ran off to one side, lay down in a shady

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

214

place, waited until

and then raced


performance.

we

we were

several

hundred yards ahead,


and repeated the

after us, overtook us,

The

pack-train came in about sunset;

but

ourselves reached the Juruena in the middle of the

afternoon.

The Juruena
along

is

the

upper course.

its

name by which the Tapajos goes


Where we crossed, it was a deep,

stream, flowing in a heavily

rapid

We

rather steep sides.


balsa, a platform

were

on the usual

ferried across

on three dugouts, running by the force


There was a clearing on

of the current on a wire trolley.

each

wooded valley with

with a few palms, and on the farther bank were

side,

This

the buildings of the telegraph station.

by

country, and the station was guarded

is

a wild

a few soldiers

under the command of Lieutenant Marino, a native of Rio

Grande do

man

an

officer,

Sul, a

blond

man who

looked like an English-

agreeable companion, and a good and resolute

as all

must be who do

their

work

in this wilder-

The Juruena was first followed at the end of the


eighteenth century by the Portuguese explorer Franco, and
not again until over a hundred years had elapsed, when

ness.

the Telegraphic Commission not only descended, but for

the

first

time accurately placed and mapped

There were several houses on the


bank,

all

with thatched

roofs,

rise

its

course.

of the farther

some of them with walls of

them daub and wattle. Into


with two rooms, we took our belongings.

upright tree-trunks, some of

one of the

The

latter,

sand-flies

were bothersome at night, coming through

The first
morning, when it

the interstices in the ordinary mosquito-nets.


night they did this

was

cool

enough

for

got no sleep until

me

to

roll

myself in

my

blanket and

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


put on a head-net.

They were

of cheese-cloth.
or almost

all,

Afterward we used

215
kind

fine nets of a

hot, but they kept out

all,

of the sand-flies and other small tormentors.

Here we overtook the rearmost division of Captain

Our own route had

Amilcar's bullock-train.
order to pass the great

falls.

Captain Amilcar had come

direct,

overtaking the pack-oxen, which had

before

we

did, laden

He had brought

diverged, in

left

Tapirapoan

with material for the Duvida

trip.

the oxen through in fine shape, losing

only three beasts with their loads, and had himself

left

we reached there.
His weakest animals left that evening, to make the march
by moonlight; and as it was desirable to give them thirtysix hours' start, we halted for a day on the banks of the

the Juruena the morning of the day

It

river.

was not a wasted day.

and washing our

clothes, the naturalists

ble additions to the collection

black, blue,

veloped

In addition to bathing

and white jay

made some

including a

valua-

boldly marked

and our photographs were de-

and our writing brought abreast of the date.

Travelling through a tropical wilderness in the rainy season,

when

the

amount

of baggage that can be taken

is

not only a good deal of work, but

strictly limited, entails

also the exercise of considerable ingenuity

if

the writing

and photographing, and especially the preservation, of the


specimens are to be done in satisfactory shape.

At the telegraph

office

age of Lauriado and Fiala

with a misadventure.

below the

falls,

their provisions

we received news that the voydown the Papagaio had opened

In some bad rapids, not

many

miles

two of the canoes had been upset, half of


and

all

himself nearly drowned.

of Fiala's baggage lost, and Fiala

The Papagaio

is

known both

at

216

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

the source and the mouth;

to descend

unknown,

sent a plunge into the

did not repre-

it

as in the case of the

Du-

vida or the Ananas; but the actual water work, over the
part that was unexplored, offered the same possibilities of

mischance and

unknown

a swift,

wilderness.

It is a

disaster.

To

river rushing

through an uninhabited

descend or ascend the ordinary great high-

way rivers of South America,


Tapajos, and, in

hazardous thing to descend

its

such as the Amazon, Paraguay,

lower course, the Orinoco,

and easy, whether by steamboat or

is

now

so safe

big, native cargo-boat,

that people are apt to forget the very serious difficulties


offered

by the streams, often themselves great

rivers,

which

run into or form the upper courses of these same water

Few

highways.

and few more

things are easier than the former feat,

than the

difficult

latter;

and experience

ordinary travelling on the lower courses of the rivers

no benefit whatever

in enabling a

man

to form a

is

in

of

judgment

what can be done, and how to do it, on the upper


courses.
Failure to remember this fact is one of the obas to

stacles in the

way

of securing a proper appreciation of the

needs, and the results, of South

American exploration.

At the Juruena we met a party of Nhambiquaras, very


friendly

and

They were

sociable,

and very glad to

see Colonel

originally exceedingly hostile

Rondon.

and suspicious,

but the colonel's unwearied thoughtfulness and good temper, joined

to avoid
aid.

him

He

with his indomitable resolution, enabled him

war and

to secure their friendship and even their

never killed one.

personally.

He

is

Many

are

known

to

on remarkably good terms with

them, and they are very fond of him


not prevent them from

them

of

although

now and then

this does

yielding to tempta-

<

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


tion,

even at his expense, and stealing a dog or something

which

else

217

strikes

them

as offering an irresistible attraction.

They cannot be employed

at steady

work;

but they do

occasional odd jobs, and are excellent at hunting

up strayed

mules or oxen; and a few of the men have begun to wear


clothes, purely for

friendliness

ornament.

Their confidence and bold

showed how well they had been treated.

ably half of our visitors were men;

several were small

woman with a baby;


women and girls.

one was a

boys;

young married

Nowhere

in Africa did

we come

Prob-

the others were

across wilder or

more

absolutely primitive savages, although these Indians were


pleasanter and better-featured than
tribes at the

made and

same stage of

culture.

any of the African

Both

sexes were well-

rather good-looking, with fairly good teeth, al-

though some of them seemed to have skin

diseases.

were a laughing, easy-tempered crew, and the


as well-fed as the

They

women were

men, and were obviously well-treated,

from the savage standpoint; there was no male brutality


like that

which forms such a revolting feature

in the life

of the Australian black fellows and, although to a some-

what

less degree, in

the

life

of so

many

negro and Indian

They were practically absolutely naked. In many


savage tribes the men go absolutely naked, but the women
wear a breech-clout or loin-cloth. In certain tribes we saw
tribes.

near Lake Victoria Nyanza, and on the upper White Nile,

both
these

men and women were practically naked. Among


Nhambiquaras the women were more completely

naked than the men, although the difference was not


sential.

of

The men wore

them wore nothing

a string around the waist.

else,

es-

Most

but a few had loosely hanging

218

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

from

this string in front a scanty tuft of dried grass, or a

small piece of cloth, which, however, was of purely sym-

modesty was con-

bolic use so far as either protection or

cerned.

The women

anywhere on

did not wear a stitch of any kind

They

their bodies.

an ornament

as a string, or a bead, or even

They were
young

girls,

as entirely at ease

friendly animals.

All of

well-grown

and unconscious as so many

them

and talking

much

in their hair.

men and women, boys and

all,

dren, laughing

did not have on so

men,

crowded

women, and
around

chil-

whether

us,

we were on horseback or on foot. They flocked into the


house, and when I sat down to write surrounded me so
closely that I had to push them gently away.
The women
and

girls

their

often stood holding one another's hands, or with

arms over one another's shoulders or around one

another's waists, offering an attractive picture.

The men

had holes pierced through the septum of the nose and


through the upper

lip,

and wore a straw through each

hole.

The women were not marked

seems

like a contradiction in terms,

but

or
it

mutilated.

nevertheless

is

a fact that the behavior of these completely naked

and men was entirely modest.

It

women

There was never an

in-

They had
came simply

decent look or a consciously indecent gesture.

no blankets or hammocks, and when night


lay

down

in the sand.

Colonel

never wore a covering by night


cool slept one

were merely

on each

Rondon stated that they


or by day, and if it was

side of a small

fire.

Their huts

slight shelters against the rain.

The moon was

nearly

full,

and

after nightfall a few of

the Indians suddenly held an improvised dance for us in


front of our house.

There were four men, a small boy,

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


women

and two young

or

had been doing some work

grown

girls.

Two

219

of the

for the commission,

dressed,

one completely and one partially,

clothes.

Two

in

men

and were
ordinary

men and the boy were practically


two young women were absolutely so. All

of the

naked, and the

them danced in a circle, without a touch of embarrassment or impropriety. The two girls kept hold of each
other's hands throughout, dancing among the men as modof

and with the occasional interchange of

estly as possible,

a laugh or jest, in as good taste and temper as in

The dance

dance

in civilization.

round

in a circle, first

cally beating time

told

all

consisted in slowly going

way then

the other, rhythmi-

with the feet to the music of the song

The chants

they were chanting.

them,

one

any

were

there

were three of

measured and rather slowly uttered

melodies, varied with an occasional half-subdued shrill cry.

The women

continually uttered a kind of long-drawn wail-

ing or droning;

whether

it

am

not enough of a musician to say

was an overtone or the sustaining of the burden

of the ballad.

The young boy sang

the others.

was a strange and

It

better than

any of

interesting sight to see

these utterly wild, friendly savages, circling in their slow

dance,

and chanting their immemorial melodies,

brilliant tropical

in

the

moonlight, with the river rushing by in

the background, through the lonely heart of the wilderness.

The Indians stayed with

feasting,

us,

dancing,

singing, until the early hours of the morning.

suddenly and silently disappeared


did not return.

had gone

off

In the morning

we

in

and

They then

the darkness,

and

discovered that they

with one of Colonel Rondon's dogs.

Probably

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

220

the temptation had proved irresistible to one of their

and the others had been afraid to

ber,

interfere,

and

also

We

had

afraid to stay in or return to our neighborhood.

Rondon remarked

not time to go after them; but

num-

that as

soon as he again came to the neighborhood he would take

some
It

soldiers,

hunt up the Indians, and reclaim the dog.

has been his mixture of firmness, good nature, and good

judgment that has enabled him to control these bold,


warlike savages, and even to reduce the warfare between

them and the


laughter,

their

necessary

it

Parecis.

In spite of their good nature and

fearlessness

was not to

let

and familiarity showed how

them

are always required to leave

get the upper hand.

all

their

They

arms a mile or two

come into the encampment. They are


much wilder and more savage, and at a much lower cul-

away

before they

tural level, than the Parecis.

In the afternoon of the day following our arrival there

was a heavy rain-storm which drove into the unglazed


windows, and here and there came through the roof and
The heat was intense
walls of our daub-and-wattle house.
and there was much moisture in this valley. During the

downpour

looked out at the dreary

through the driving


slid

and

the lieutenant and his soldiers


late outpost of civilization.

much

and deadly

It

felt

muddy water

a sincere respect for

who were
is

holding this deso-

an unhealthy spot; there

malarial fever and beriberi

an

obscure

disease.

Next morning we resumed our march.


to rain and we were drenched when, some

we reached

houses, showing

rain, while the sheets of

past their door-sills;

has been

little

the river where

we were

It

soon began

fifteen miles on,

to camp.

After the

Maloca

or beehive hut of the

From

Nhambiquaras

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

A Nhambiquara

shelter hut

and

utensils

Their huts were merely slight shelters against the rain

From

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


we

great heat

quite cold in our wet clothes, and gladly

felt

crowded round a

which was kindled under a thatched

fire

This ferry-boat

shed, beside the cabin of the ferrymen.

was

221

so small that

it

could only take one mule, or at most

The mules and a span of six oxen dragging an ox-cart, which we had overtaken, were ferried
two, at a time.

slowly to the farther side that afternoon, as there was no


feed on the hither bank, where

ferryman was a soldier

Commission.

in the

we

The

ourselves camped.

employ of the Telegraphic

His good-looking, pleasant-mannered wife,

evidently of both Indian and negro blood, was with him,

and was doing


comfortless

all

little

she could do as a housekeeper, in the

cabin, with

its

primitive bareness of fur-

niture and fittings.

Here we saw Captain Amilcar, who had come back to


hurry up his rear-guard.
water,

by the swollen

We

river,

stood ankle-deep in

mud and

while the rain beat on us, and

enjoyed a few minutes' talk with the cool, competent of-

who was doing a difficult job with such workmanlike


efficiency.
He had no poncho, and was wet through, but
was much too busy in getting his laden oxen forward to
think of personal discomfort. He had had a good deal of
ficer

trouble with his mules, but his oxen were

still

in fair shape.

After leaving the Juruena the ground became some-

what more

hilly,

and the scrubby

forest

was

less

open,

but otherwise there was no change in the monotonous, and


yet to

me

rather attractive, landscape.

the ant-houses in the trees

were

as conspicuous

arboreal

as ever.

The

ant-hills,

ant-hills, so to

The

architects of

and

speak

some

were red ants, of others black ants; and others, which were

on the whole the

largest,

had been

built

by the white

ants,

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

222

The

the termites.

latter

were not infrequently

than

taller

a horseman's head.

That evening round the camp-fire Colonel Rondon happened to mention how the brother of one of the
with us
snake.

Parecis Indian

Cherrie told of a

had been

soldiers

by a jararaca
narrow escape he had from one
killed

At night he used to set traps


in camp for small mammals.
One night he heard one of
these traps go off under his hammock.
He reached down
for it, and as he fumbled for the chain he felt a snake
strike at him, just missing him in the darkness, but actually brushing his hand.
He lit a light and saw that a big
jararaca had been caught in the trap; and he preserved it

while collecting in Guiana.

as

Snakes frequently came into

a specimen.

He

after nightfall.

killed

camp

his

one rattlesnake which had swal-

lowed the skinned bodies of four mice he had prepared


as specimens;

ways
he

which shows that rattlesnakes do not

Another rattlesnake which

feed only on living prey.

killed in Central

al-

America had

just swallowed

an opos-

sum which proved to be of a species new to science.


told how once on the Orinoco he saw on the bank

Miller

a small

anaconda, some ten feet long, killing one of the iguanas,


big, active, truculent, carnivorous lizards, equally at

on the land and

in the water.

home

Evidently the iguanas were

digging out holes in the bank in which to lay their eggs;


for there

them.

were several such

holes,

The snake had crushed

and iguanas working

its

at

and

prey to a pulp;

not more than a couple of feet away another iguana was


still

busily,

and with

entire unconcern, engaged in

mak-

At Miller's approach the anaconda


the dead iguana and rushed into the water, and the
ing

its

burrow.

left

live

The

ant-hills

were not infrequently


From

taller

than a horseman's head

a photograph by Miller

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


iguana promptly followed

223

Miller also told of the stone

it.

gods and altars and temples he had seen in the great Co-

lombian

monuments

forests,

and died out ages ago, and of which

flourished

He

ory has vanished.

and

of strange civilizations which

waterfalls,

and of

all

mem-

and Cherrie told of giant rivers

forests never penetrated,

and moun-

man; and

of bloody rev-

olutions that devastated the settled regions.

Listening to

tains never ascended

them

by

civilized

that they could write "Tales of

felt

ralists" that

Two Natu-

would be worth reading.

They were

short of literature,

such as ours always needs books


ing-matter consisted chiefly of

by the way

and

party

as Kermit's read-

Camoens and other Portu-

guese, or else Brazilian, writers, I strove to supply the

At the end of

deficiency with spare volumes of Gibbon.

we were

our march

and the rain was

would
there

sit

usually far ahead of the mule-train,


also

about under

usually falling.

trees, or

Accordingly

we

under a shed or lean-to,

if

was one, each solemnly reading a volume of Gibbon

and

no better reading can be found.

In

my own

case,

had been having rather a steady course of Gibbon,


varied him now and then with a volume of Arsene Lupin

as I
I

lent

me by

Kermit.

There were

many

swollen rivers to cross at this point

Some we waded at fords. Some we


crossed by rude bridges.
The larger ones, such as the
Juina, we crossed by ferry, and when the approaches were
of our

journey.

swampy, and the river broad and swift, many hours might
be consumed in getting the mule-train, the loose bullocks,
and the ox-cart over. We had few accidents, although we
once

lost

a ferry-load of provisions,

which was quite a

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

224

misfortune in a country where they could not be replaced.

The pasturage was

poor, and

it

was impossible to make

long marches with our weakened animals.

At one camp three Nhambiquaras paid us a visit at


breakfast-time. They left their weapons behind them before they appeared,
still

hid

swering

by the

and shouted loudly while they were


and

forest,

calls of

was only

it

after repeated an-

welcome that they approached.

in the wilderness friends proclaim their presence;

Our

advance marks a

foe.

naked, as usual.

One seemed

visitors

Always
a silent

were men, and stark


he was thin, and his

sick;

back was scarred with marks of the grub of the loathsome


berni

fly.

insect

them showed scars, chiefly from


But the other two were in good condition,

Indeed,

wounds.

of

all

and, although they ate greedily of the food offered them,

they had with them a big mandioc cake, some honey,

and a

little

One

fish.

puma-skin, with the

them wore a high helmet of


hanging down his back hand-

of

tail

some head-gear, which he gladly bartered for several strings


of bright coral-red beads. Around the upper arms of two
of

them were bands bound

deform the muscles

so tightly as to cut into

a singular custom, seemingly not only

purposeless but mischievous, which


tribe

and many

is

common among

are a

numerous

tribe,

covering a

But they have no general organization.

group of families acts for

itself.

his

camp and

Each

Half a dozen years pre-

viously they had been very hostile, and Colonel

had to guard

this

others.

The Nhambiquaras
large region.

and

Rondon

exercise every precaution to

guarantee his safety, while at the same time successfully

endeavoring to avoid the necessity of himself shedding

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND

Now

blood.

they

most

are, for the

part, friendly.

there are groups or individuals that are not.


diers

have been

225

But

Several sol-

and

killed at these little lonely stations;

may have

while in some cases the attack

been due to the

having meddled with Nhambiquara women,

soldiers'

in

other cases the killing was entirely wanton and unpro-

Sooner or later these criminals or outlaws

voked.

have to be brought to

justice;

crimes go unpunished.

Twice

fled to

the Nhambiquaras.

work

for

soldiers

will

But pioneering

man and

both

neyed onward, under the

not do to

let their

have deserted and

The runaways were

The country when opened


settlers.

will

and adopted into the

ceived, were given wives,

white

it

beast.

will

well re-

tribe.

be a healthy abode for


is

grim

we

jour-

in the wilderness

Continually, as

pitiless glare of

the sun or through

we passed desolate little graves


by the roadside. They marked the last resting-places of
men who had died by fever, or dysentery, or Nhambiblinding torrents of rain,

We

quara arrows.
slowly

raised our hats as our mules plodded

by through the sand.

wooden

cross,

and

already stained

this

On

each grave was a

frail

and the paling round about were

by the weather

as gray as the tree-trunks

of the stunted forest that stretched endlessly on every side.

The

skeletons of mules and oxen were frequent along

the road.

Now

and then we came across a mule or ox

which had been abandoned by Captain Amilcar's party,

The animal had been left with the hope that


when night came it would follow along the trail to water.
Sometimes it did so. Sometimes we found it dead, or
standing motionless waiting for death. From time to time
we had to leave behind one of our own mules.
ahead of

us.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

226

was not always easy to recognize what pasturage


the mules would accept as good. One afternoon we pitched
It

camp by

by the way, where the piums, the

a camp,

forest;

biting

a tiny rivulet, in the midst of the scrubby upland


small,

were a torment during the hours of daylight,

flies,

by

while after dark their places were more than taken

diminutive gnats which the Brazilians expressively

the

term "polvora," or powder, and which get through the


meshes of a mosquito-net.

smallest

The

was

feed

so

scanty, and the cover so dense, at this spot that I thought

we would have

great difficulty in gathering the mules next

morning.

But we did

afternoon,

we camped by

not.

few hours

a beautiful open

meadow; on

one side ran a rapid brook, with a waterfall eight


high, under

which we bathed and swam.

looked so good that

we

mules did not

and

the

trail,

and

like
it

it,

all

the

in

later,

feet

Here the feed

But the

expressed pleasure.

after nightfall they hiked

back on

was a long and arduous work to gather

them next morning.


I

have touched above on the insect

pests.

Men

un-

used to the South American wilderness speak with awe


of the danger therein from jaguars, crocodiles, and poison-

ous snakes.
trivial,

much

In reality, the danger from these sources


less

than the danger of being run down by

an automobile at home.
sect plagues

But

at times the

can hardly be exaggerated.

different species of mosquitoes,


disease.

is

There are many

torment of

in-

There are many

some of them bearers of

different kinds of small, biting

and gnats, loosely grouped together under various


titles.
The ones more especially called piums by my com-

flies

panions were somewhat like our northern black

flies.

They

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND

227

At the moment

their bites

gorged themselves with blood.


did not hurt, but they

left

an itching

scar.

Head-nets and

gloves are a protection, but are not very comfortable in

hot weather.

stifling

mosquito-biers.

new land they

It

When

impossible to sleep without

is

settlers of the right

type come into

speedily learn to take the measures neces-

by

sary to minimize the annoyance caused

all

Those that are winged have plenty of kinsfolk

these pests.

much

in so

of the northern continent as has not yet been subdued

But the most noxious of the South American

by man.

have, thank Heaven, no

ants

nivorous foraging ants

and

tents,

North

in

At the camp of the piums a column of the

America.

fall,

representatives

we

for a time

for

went

it

made

its

feared

straight

it

appearance before night-

might put us out of our

through camp, between the

and our own sleeping-tents.

kitchen-tent

car-

column turned neither to the

However, the

right nor the left, streaming

uninterruptedly past for several hours, and doing no damage except to the legs of any incautious

near

man who walked

it.

On

the afternoon of February 15

we reached Campos
we had

This place was utterly unlike the country

Novos.

been traversing.
traversed

swampy

by

It

was a

large basin, several miles across,

several brooks.

The brooks ran

in

by a matted growth of tall


Between them the ground rose in bold

valleys, occupied

ical forest.

deep,
trophills,

bare of forest and covered with grass, on which our jaded

On

animals fed eagerly.

one of these rounded

hills

num-

ber of buildings were ranged in a quadrangle, for the pas-

turage at this spot


pied.

is

so

good that

it is

permanently occu-

There were milch cows, and we got delicious fresh

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

228
milk;

Most

and there were goats,

pigs, turkeys,

made

of the buildings were

roofs of

One

palm thatch.

or

and chickens.

of upright poles, with

two were of native

brick,

mud, and before these there was an enclosure with a few ragged palms, and some pineapple plants.
Here we halted. Our attendants made two kitchens: one
was out in the open air, one was under a shelter of ox-hide.
The view over the surrounding grassy hills, riven by deep
wooded valleys, was lovely. The air was cool and fresh.
We were not bothered by insects, although mosquitoes
swarmed in every belt of timber. Yet there has been
plastered with

much

fever at this beautiful and seemingly healthy place.

Doubtless when settlement

edy

will

was

interesting

is

sufficiently

The geology

be developed.

Oliveira found

fossil

advanced a rem-

of this neighborhood
tree-trunks which he

believed to be of cretaceous age.

Here we found Amilcar and Mello, who had waited

for us

with the rear-guard of their pack-train, and we enjoyed our

meeting with the two


service of

fine fellows,

whom

than

any nation could produce more

this kind of difficult

no military

efficient

and responsible work.

men

for

Next morn-

ing they mustered their soldiers, muleteers, and pack-ox

men, and marched


them.

We

Reinisch the taxidermist was with

off.

followed in the late afternoon, camping after

a few miles.

We

thence on the

trail

left

the ox-cart at

was only

Campos Novos; from

for pack-animals.

In this neighborhood the two naturalists found


birds which

we had not

uous was a huge

naked

face,

oriole,

hitherto met.

The most

many

conspic-

the size of a small crow, with a

a black-and-red

bill,

and gaudily variegated

plumage of green, yellow, and chestnut.

Very

interesting

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


was the

false

bell-bird,

There was

notes.

a gray bird with loud, metallic

akin,

woodpecker, no

also a tiny soft-tailed

larger than a kinglet; a queer


flexible bill;

229

humming-bird with a

slightly

and many species of ant-thrush, tanager, man-

Among

and tody.

vireo looking

much

like

unfamiliar forms was a

these

Cherrie collected a dozen perching birds;


ful little rail;

At one camp

our solitary vireo.

Miller a beauti-

and Kermit, with the small Liiger

belt-rifle,

handsome curassow, nearly as big as a turkey out of


which, after it had been skinned, the cook made a delia

cious canja, the thick Brazilian soup of fowl

which there

nothing better of

is

were new to the collection

no

its

and

than

All these birds

kind.

naturalists

had previously

this region

so

that the afternoon's

sented nine species

new

to the collection, six

worked

rice

work reprenew genera,

and a most excellent soup.

Two

days after leaving Campos Novos we reached Vi-

lhena, where there


at a small river

is

a telegraph station.

named by Colonel Rondon

of October," because he reached

discovered America
it

was

march

it

camped once
the "Twelfth

on the day Columbus

had never before known what day

companion

hill

which he had named

in the exploration.

The two

day and part of two others


was through beautiful country, and we enjoyed it thor-

days'

and once at the foot of a

after Lyra, his

We

really

one

full

oughly, although there were occasional driving rain-storms,

when the
every

one

rain

came

in

almost level sheets and drenched

and everything.

The country was

like that

around Campos Novos, and offered a striking contrast to


the level, barren, sandy wastes of the chapadao, which

is

a healthy region, where great industrial centres can arise,

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

230

but not suited for extensive agriculture as are the lowland


flats.

For these forty-eight hours the

trail

climbed into

and out of steep valleys and broad basins and up and

down
in

hills.

In the deep valleys were magnificent woods,

which giant rubber-trees towered, while the huge leaves

of the low-growing pacova, or wild banana, were conspic-

uous

in the

Great azure butterflies

undergrowth.

through the open, sunny glades, and the

flitted

bell-birds, sitting

motionless, uttered their ringing calls from the dark

ness of the columned groves.

The

hillsides

still-

were grassy

pastures or else covered with low, open forest.

brown above, with a light streak down


each side, was found hiding under some sticks in a damp
place in one of the improvised kitchens; and another frog,
with disks on his toes, was caught on one of the tents. A
coral-snake puzzled us.
Some coral-snakes are harmless;
huge

frog,

others are poisonous, although not aggressive.

The

authorities give an infallible recipe for distinguishing

by the pattern
although

it

best

them

of the colors, but this particular specimen,

corresponded exactly in color pattern with the

description of the poisonous snakes, nevertheless had no

poison-fangs that even after the most minute examination

we

could discover.

Miller and one of the dogs caught a

sariema, a big, long-legged, bustard-like bird, in rather a


curious way.

We

were on the march, plodding along

through as heavy a tropic downpour as

The
and uncomfortable as we

tune to encounter.

it

was our

were, was hiding under a bush

The dog

discovered

after the bird valiantly repelled him, Miller


it.

for-

sariema, evidently as drenched

to avoid the pelting rain.

seize

ill

it,

and

was able to

Its stomach contained about half a pint of grass-

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND

At Vilhena there

hoppers and beetles and young leaves.

was a tame sariema, much more familiar and

any of the poultry.

It

The sariema

or dog.

was without the

(like

231

at

home than

least fear of

man

the screamer and the curassow)

ought to be introduced into our barnyards and on our


lawns, at any rate in the Southern States;

and attractive

looking, friendly,

met

some places

bird.

it

a good-

is

Another bird we

more intimate, and domesticates


itself.
This is the pretty little honey-creeper. In Colombia
Miller found the honey-creepers habitually coming inside
in

is

far

the houses and hotels at meal-times, hopping about the

and climbing into the sugar-bowl.

table,

Along

this part of

at a hasty glance

showed

me

that

He

much

of

what

seemed to be volcanic rock; but Oliveira

was a kind of conglomerate, with bub-

it

bles or hollows in

our march there was

it,

made

of sand and iron-bearing earth.

was a superficial quaternary deposit, formed by


erosion from the cretaceous rocks, and that there were
said

it

here no tertiary deposits.

He

described

structure of the lands through which


follows:

The pantanals were

the geological

we had passed

as

Along

of pleistocene age.

the upper Sepotuba, in the region of the rapids, there were


sandstones, shales, and clays of permian age.

country east of this contained eruptive rocks


ritic

diabase, with zeolite, quartz,

age.

With the chapadao of the

to a land of sand

and

The

clay, dotted

porphy-

and agate of

Parecis plateau

rolling

triassic

we came

with lumps of sand-

stone and pieces of petrified wood; this, according to Oliveira,

is

of mesozoic age, possibly cretaceous and similar

to the South African formation.

consider

it

as of

permian age.

There are geologists who

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

232

At Vilhena we were on a watershed which drained


the Gy-Parana, which

midway between

its

itself

runs into the Madeira nearly

sources and

we

ther along and northward

into

its

mouth.

little far-

again came to streams run-

ning ultimately into the Tapajos; and between them, and


close

streamlets which drained

to them, were

into the

Duvida and Ananas, whose courses and outlets were unknown. This point is part of the divide between the basins
of the Madeira and Tapajos. A singular topographical
feature of the Plan Alto, the great interior sandy plateau

of Brazil,

is

that at

its

westernmost end the southward-

flowing streams, instead of running into the Paraguay as

they do farther

east,

form the headwaters of the Guapore,

which may, perhaps, be


the Madeira.

upper main stream of

called the

These westernmost streams from the south-

ern edge of the plateau, therefore, begin

by flowing south;

then for a long stretch they flow southwest; then north,

and

finally northeast into the

Amazon.

According to some

exceptionally good geological observers, this

due to the fact that

is

probably

remote geologic past the ocean

in a

arm from the south, between the Plan Alto and


what is now the Andean chain. These rivers then emptied into the Andean Sea.
The gradual upheaval of the
soil has resulted in substituting dry land for this arm of
the ocean and in reversing the course of what is now the
sent in an

Madeira, just

what

as,

according to these geologists, in some-

familiar fashion the

having once been, at

least for the

course, an affluent of the

From Vilhena we
direction.

Amazon

Andean

has been reversed,

upper two thirds of

it

its

Sea.

travelled in a generally northward

For a few leagues we went across the chapadao,

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND

233

the sands or clays of the nearly level upland plateau, grassy

stunted forest, the same type of

or covered with thin,

country that had been predominant ever since we ascended


the Parens table-land on the morning of the third day after
leaving the Sepotuba.

dipped into a basin containing the headsprings of

trail

the Ananas,

we

left

little

type of country and began to

There was

feed for the animals on the chapadao.

There was

in the forest.

made

this

not very high.

march through thick


less

Then, at about the point where the

forest,

Moreover, the continual heavy rains

the travelling difficult and laborious for them, and

they weakened.

However, a couple of marches before we

reached Tres Burity, where there


dreds of cattle,

were over.

There were piums

in plenty

quitoes nor sand-flies

very pleasant, save for

The

a big ranch with hun-

we were met by ten

difficulties

our serious

is

fresh pack-oxen,

by day, but

and

neither mos-

by night; and for us the trip was


moments of anxiety about the mules.
abundance of fresh

loose bullocks furnished us

beef,

although, as was inevitable under the circumstances, of a

One of the biggest of the bulwas attacked one night by a vampire bat, and next

decidedly tough quality.


locks

morning

his withers

were

literally

bathed in blood.

With the chapadao we said good-by to the curious,


gregarious, and crepuscular or nocturnal spiders which we
found so abundant along the

They have

offered one of the small problems with

Commission has had to


the dry season.
their

line of the telegraph-wire.

deal.

They

They swarm during

are not

which the

common

the rains; and,

in

when

tough webs are wet, those that lead from the wire

to the ground sometimes effectually short-circuit the wire.

234

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

They have on various occasions caused


in this

a good deal of trouble

manner.

The third
moment from

night out from Vilhena

we emerged

for a

the endless close-growing forest in which our

poor animals got such scanty pickings, and came to a beautiful

open country, where grassy

sional trees,

came down on

slopes, dotted

with occa-

either side of a little brook

which was one of the headwaters of the Duvida.

It

was

a pleasure to see the mules greedily bury their muzzles


in the pasturage.

Our

tents were pitched in the open,

near a shady tree, which sent out


side.

At

this

camp

its

low branches on every

Cherrie shot a lark, very characteristic

of the open upland country, and Miller found two bats in

wood of a dead log. He heard them squeaking


and dug them out; he could not tell by what method they

the rotten

had gotten

in.

Here Kermit, while a couple of miles from our

came

across

an encampment of Nhambiquaras.

were twenty or thirty of them


children.

men,

tents,

There

women, and a few

Kermit, after the manner of honest folk in the

wilderness, advanced ostentatiously in the open, calling out

to give warning of his coming.

Like surroundings

may

The early Saxons in England deemed


it legal to kill any man who came through the woods without shouting or blowing a horn; and in Nhambiquara land
cause like manners.

at the present time

it

is

against etiquette, and

may

be

very unhealthy, to come through the woods toward strangers without loudly announcing one's presence.

The Nham-

biquaras received Kermit with the utmost cordiality, and

gave him pineapple-wine to drink.


as usual;

They were

stark naked

they had no hammocks or blankets, and their

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND

Yet they were

huts were flimsy shelters of palm-branches.

Half a dozen of the

in fine condition.

235

men and

a couple

of boys accompanied Kermit back to our camp, paying no

heed to the rain which was

slightest

bold and friendly, good-natured

and very

in their lips did not

and they laughed

least

They were

superficially

In feasting, the long reeds thrust

inquisitive.

through holes

at

falling.

seem to bother them,

at the suggestion of

removing them;

evidently to have done so would have been rather bad

manners

like

using a knife as an aid in eating ice-cream.

They held two or three dances, and we were again struck


by the rhythm and weird, haunting melody of their chantAfter supper they danced beside the camp-fire;

ing.

finally, to their delight,

and

most of the members of our own

and Brazilians, enthusiastically joined

party, Americans

the dance, while the colonel and

furnished an apprecia-

Next morning, when we


were awakened by the chattering and screaming of the
numerous macaws, parrots, and parakeets, we found that
nearly all the Indians, men and women, were gathered
outside the tent. As far as clothing was concerned, they
and applauding audience.

tive

were

One
put

in the condition of

of the
it

when

women

up the big

Adam

and Eve before the

carried a little squirrel

tree

monkey.

some distance from the

tents;

fall.

She

and

came scampering to her across the


grass, ran up her, and clung to her neck.
They would
have liked to pilfer; but as they had no clothes it was
difficult for them to conceal anything.
One of the women
was observed to take a fork; but as she did not possess a
rag of clothing of any kind all she could do was to try to
bury the fork in the sand and then sit on it; and it was
she called,

it

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

236

reclaimed without difficulty.

wore necklaces and bracelets

One or two of the children


made of the polished wood

tucum palm, and of the molars of small rodents.


Next day's march led us across a hilly country of good
pastureland. The valleys were densely wooded, palms of
several kinds being conspicuous among the other trees;
and the brooks at the bottoms we crossed at fords or by

of the

the usual rude pole bridges.

On

the open pastures were

occasional trees, usually slender bacaba palms, with heads

which the winds had dishevelled


mops.

It

was evidently a

we soon began

fine natural cattle country,

and

to see scores, perhaps hundreds, of the

cattle belonging to the

which we reached
situated:

until they looked like

government ranch

in the early afternoon.

the view roundabout

is

lovely,

at Tres Burity,
It

is

beautifully

and certainly the

when settlements have been definitely established.


Here we revelled in abundance of good
fresh milk and eggs; and for dinner we had chicken canja
and fat beef roasted on big wooden spits; and we even
had watermelons. The latter were from seeds brought
down by the American engineers who built the MadeiraMarmore Railroad a work which stands honorably distinguished among the many great and useful works done
land will prove healthy

development of the tropics of recent years.

in the

Amilcar's pack-oxen, which were nearly worn out, had

been

left in

these fertile pastures.

which he took

was a
off;

in their places

Most of the

were unbroken, and there

perfect circus before they were packed

in

fresh oxen

and marched

every direction, said the gleeful narrators, there

were bucking oxen and loads strewed on the ground.


cattle-ranch

is

managed by the

This

colonel's uncle, his mother's

A
From

Nhambiquara women and

Nhambiquara family

a photograph by

Kermit Roosevelt

"Adam

children

From photographs by

Cherrie

and Eve

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


man

brother, a hale old


active

and vigorous

face.

His

name

is

Matto Grosso, of

of seventy, white-haired but as

as ever; with a fine, kindly, intelligent

Miguel Evangalista.

He

is

a native of

and was

practically pure Indian blood,

dressed in the ordinary costume of the caboclo


trousers,

237

and no shoes or stockings.

hat,

Within the

shirt,

last

year

he had killed three jaguars, which had been living on the


mules; as long as they could get mules they did not at this
station molest the cattle.
It

was with

this uncle's father, Colonel

grandfather, that Colonel


first

seven years of his

born, and his mother


lived

on

Rondon

as

Rondon's own

an orphan spent the

His father died before he was

life.

when he was only

his grandfather's

cattle-ranch,

Then he went

He

a year old.

some

miles

fifty

Cuyaba with a
kinsman on his father's side, from whom he took the name
of Rondon; his own father's name was Da Silva.
He
studied in the Cuyaba Government School, and at sixteen
was inscribed as one of the instructors. Then he went to
Rio, served for a year in the army as an enlisted man in

from Cuyaba.

to live in

the ranks, and succeeded finally in getting into the military school.

After five years as pupil he served three years

as professor of

mathematics

in this school;

lieutenant of engineers in the Brazilian

back to

his

home

in

and then,

as a

army, he came

Matto Grosso and began

his life-work

of exploring the wilderness.

Next day we journeyed to the telegraph

station

at

Bonofacio, through alternate spells of glaring sunshine and

heavy

rain.

On

the

of Nhambiquaras.
to hunt, with

way we

We

stopped at an aldea

first

village

met a couple of men going

bows and arrows longer than themselves.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

238

rather comely

young woman, carrying on her back a

wickerwork basket, or

creel,

supported by a forehead band,

and accompanied by a small


the village there were a

child,

number

was with them.

At

women, and

chil-

of men,

Although as completely naked as the others we

dren.

had met, the members of

this

band were more ornamented

with beads, and wore earrings made from the inside of


mussel-shells

They were more


met. The women, but

or very big snail-shells.

hairy than the ones

we had

so far

not the men, completely remove the hair from their bodies

and look more, instead of


The

chief,

fruit,

less,

indecent in consequence.

whose body was painted red with the

had what could

fairly

be styled a mustache and im-

and one old man looked somewhat

perial;

juice of a

like

a hairy

Ainu, or perhaps even more like an Australian black


low.

My

companion told me that

this

fel-

probably repre-

sented an infusion of negro blood, and possibly of mulatto


blood, from

runaway

when some

slaves of the old days,

of

the Matto Grosso mines were worked by slave labor.

They

also

thought

it

possible that this infiltration of Afri-

can negroes might be responsible for the curious shape of


the bigger huts, which were utterly unlike their flimsy,

ordinary shelters, and bore no resemblance in shape to


those of the other Indian tribes of this region; whereas

they were not unlike the ordinary beehive huts of the


agricultural African negroes.

There were

several huts or shelters open at the sides,

These were of

feet high opposite

were

and two of the

woven thatch, circular


with a rounded dome, and two doors a couple

big huts.
outline,

in this village

fifteen or

closely

each other, and no other opening.

twenty people to each hut.

in

of

There

Inside were

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


their

implements and

utensils,

239

such as wicker baskets (some

them filled with pineapples), gourds, fire-sticks, wooden


knives, wooden mortars, and a board for grating mandioc,
made of a thick slab of wood inset with sharp points of a
harder wood. From the Brazilians one or two of them had
obtained blankets, and one a hammock; and they had also

of

obtained knives, which they sorely needed, for they are

One woman

not even in the stone age.

shielded herself

from the rain by holding a green palm-branch down her


Another had on her head what we at

back.

to be a monkey-skin head-dress.

black monkey.

But

It stayed habitually

her forehead, and

its

arms and

it

first

was a

with

its

thought

little, live,

head above

legs spread so that

it

lay

moulded to the shape of her head; but both woman and

monkey showed some

reluctance about having their photo-

graphs taken.
Bonofacio consisted of several thatched one-room cabins,
connected by a stockade which was extended to form an
enclosure behind them.

number

of

tame parrots and

parakeets, of several different species, scrambled over the


roofs

and entered the houses.

by were the

curious, extensive

which ate the roots of


but pulling

In the open pastures near

it

grass, not

into the burrows

burrows of a gopher

rat,

emerging to eat the grass

by the

roots.

These bur-

rows bore a close likeness to those of our pocket gophers.


Miller found the animals difficult to trap.
aid of Colonel

Finally,

by the

Rondon, several Indians, and two or three

of our men, he dug one out.


eral surface galleries radiated,

From

the central shaft sev-

running for

many

rods about

a foot below the surface, with, at intervals of half a dozen

yards,

mounds where the

loose earth

had been

expelled.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

240

The

and then

laterally for

about

The animal dug hard

ber.

down

central shaft ran straight

fifteen feet, to a

It

kind of cham-

when taken and

moved

slowly and awk-

it

showed vicious courage.

resembled our pocket gophers, but

was one of the most

feet,

to escape, but

put on the surface of the ground


wardly.

about eight

for

it

In looks

it

closely

had no pockets.

interesting small

mammals

This

that

we

secured.

After breakfast at Bonafacio a

men, women,

and children

number

of

strolled in.

us an exhibition of not very good archery;

was bent,

it

was at

Nhambiquaras

The men gave


when the bow

held so that the arrow pointed

first

upwards and was then lowered so that the arrow

straight

was aimed

at the target.

taken from other

had been

killed;

Several of the

tribes, after their

husbands or fathers

Nhambiquaras

for the

robbers and murderers.

women had been

Two

are light-hearted

or three miserable dogs ac-

companied them, half-starved and mangy, but each decorated with a collar of beads.
four wives apiece, and the

The headmen had

women were

the burden-bearers,

Most

but apparently were not badly treated.

were

dirty,

them

but some, especially among the

were quite attractive.

From Bonafacio we went about seven


rolling

of

although well-fed looking, and their features

were of a low type;


children,

three or

prairie

miles, across a

dotted with trees and clumps of scrub.

There, on February 24,

we

joined Amilcar,

who was camped

by a brook which flowed into the Duvida. We were only


some six miles from our place of embarkation on the
Duvida, and we divided our party and our belongings.
Amilcar, Miller, Mello, and Oliveira were to march three

ACROSS NHAMBIQUARA LAND


days to the Gy-Parana, and then descend
Cherrie, Kermit,

and

I,

with sixteen paddlers, in seven ca-

and

noes, were to descend the Duvida,


led into the

find out

whether

it

Gy-Parana, into the Madeira, or into the Ta-

If within a

pajos.

and continue

it,

Rondon, Lyra, the doctor,

the Madeira to Manaos.

down

241

few days

led into the

it

Gy-Parana,

our purpose was to return and descend the Ananas, whose


outlet

was

also

Having

unknown.

this in view,

we

left

fortnight's provisions for our party of six at Bonofacio.

We

took with us provisions for about

rations, for
fish,

we hoped

in part to live

fifty

days; not

full

on

on the country

Our personal baggage

game, nuts, and palm-tops.

was already well cut down: Cherrie, Kermit, and

took

the naturalist's fly to sleep under, and a very light

little

tent extra for

any one who might

and the doctor took one of their own


that

we

carried were necessities

Rondon, Lyra,

fall sick.

tents.

The

things

food, medicines, bedding,

instruments for determining the altitude and longitude and


latitude

were

and

in

except a few books, each

compass: Lyra's

German, consisting of two tiny volumes of Goethe


Kermit's were in Portuguese;

Schiller;

English, included the last

of

in small

More's

Sophocles,

Epictetus, the

two

mine,

all

in

two volumes of Gibbon, the plays

Marcus
me by a

"Utopia,"

latter

lent

Aurelius,
friend,

Shipton of the regulars, our military attache at

and

Major
Buenos

Aires.
If our

canoe voyage was prosperous we would gradually

lighten the loads

by eating the

provisions.

accidents, such as losing canoes


losing

men

in

and men

encounters with Indians, or

If

we met with

in the rapids, or
if

we encountered

overmuch fever and dysentery, the loads would lighten

242

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS


We

themselves.
for sport.

were

armed.

all

We

Cherrie had some to be used sparingly for col-

lecting specimens.

The

The food and

procure food.
all

reasonable

the arms

we

precautions against

starvation; but, of course,

very long and

unless
an attackonly to

others were to be used

the unlikely event of having to repel

sented

took no cartridges

difficult, if

if

we

in

carried represuffering

and

the course of the river proved


lost

our boats over

falls

or in

had to make too many and too long portages,


or were brought to a halt by impassable swamps, then
rapids, or

we would have

to reckon with starvation as a possibility.

Anything might happen.

We

were about to go into the

unknown, and no one could say what

it

held.

CHAPTER

VIII

THE RIVER OF DOUBT

On
down

February

27, 1914, shortly after

Doubt

the River of

selves in the

Gy-Parana, or after

or after three

We

unknown.

into the

quite uncertain whether after a

midday, we started

week we should
six

weeks

months we knew not where.

in the

were

find our-

Madeira,

That was why

the river was rightly christened the Duvida.

We

had been camped

close to the river,

that follows the telegraph-line crosses

it

where the

by a rough

trail

bridge.

As our laden dugouts swung into the stream, Amilcar and


Miller and all the others of the Gy-Parana party were on
the banks and the bridge to wave farewell and wish us
good-by and good luck. It was the height of the rainy
season, and the swollen torrent was swift and brown.
Our
camp was at about 12 1/ latitude south and 6o 15' longi-

Our general course was to be


northward toward the equator, by waterway through the

tude west of Greenwich.

vast forest.

We

had seven canoes,

small, one

leaky.

all

of

them dugouts.

was cranky, and two were

The other

three were good.

One was

old, waterlogged,

The two

and

old canoes

were lashed together, and the cranky one was lashed to


one of the others.

Kermit with two paddlers went

smallest of the good canoes;

with three other paddlers


tor, Cherrie,

and

I in

Colonel

Rondon and Lyra

in the next largest;

and the doc-

the largest with three paddlers.


243

in the

The


THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

244

remaining eight camaradas

there

were sixteen

in

all

were equally divided between our two pairs of lashed canoes.

Although our personal baggage was cut down to the

limit

necessary for health and efficiency, yet on such a trip as

where

ours,

work has to be done and where food

scientific

twenty-two men for an unknown period of time has

for

to be carried,

it

impossible not to take a good deal of

is

and the seven dugouts were too heavily laden.

stuff;

The paddlers were

a strapping

set.

They were

expert

men of the forest, skilled veterans in wilderness work. They were lithe as panthers and brawny as
bears.
They swam like water-dogs. They were equally
at home with pole and paddle, with axe and machete; and
one was a good cook and others were good men around
camp. They looked like pirates in the pictures of Howard
river-men and

Pyle or Maxfield Parrish; one or two of them were pirates,

and one worse than a


working,

willing,

rather,

the

colored,

and of

and
of

olive
all

pirate;

but most of them were hard-

They were

cheerful.

Europe,

southern

intermediate shades.

the steersman, the headman, was a


Julio the

blood;

two

my

copper-

canoe Luiz

of pure Portuguese

disks,

He

was done by Colonel


Kermit
their assistant.

river

as

canoe with the sighting-rod, on which

one red and one white, were placed a metre


selected

place which

vistas as possible up-stream


fore

In

or,

and the third man, Antonio, was a Parecis Indian.

first in his little

apart.

black,

Matto Grosso negro;

bowsman was from Bahia and

The actual surveying of the


Rondon and Lyra, with Kermit
went

white,

might be

commanded

as

long

and down, and which there-

at the angle of a

bend; landed;

the branches which obstructed the view;

and

cut
set

away

up the

did

my

writing in headnet and gauntlets

From

"JU>

'

a photograph by

-"

'

Kermit Roosevelt

^-~E'"'>-

jB

~~

'-"His

3l

Colonel Roosevelt's canoe disappears

From

down

a photograph by Miller

fct
the River of

Doubt

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


sighting-pole

incidentally

245

encountering maribundi wasps

and swarms of biting and stinging

Lyra, from his

ants.

station up-stream, with his telemetre established the dis-

Rondon with the compass took the


direction, and made the records.
Then they moved on to
the point Kermit had left, and Kermit established a new
point within their sight. The first half-day's work was
slow.
The general course of the stream was a trifle east

tance, while Colonel

of north, but at short intervals

it

bent and curved

toward every point of the compass.


a hundred times, and

we made but

literally

Kermit landed nearly


nine and a third kilo-

metres.

My

The

canoe ran ahead of the surveying canoes.

height of the water

made

the going easy, for most of the

snags and fallen trees were well beneath the surface.

and then, however, the


ples that

marked ugly

Now

water hurried us toward

swift

rip-

spikes of sunken timber, or toward

uprooted trees that stretched almost across the stream.

Then

the muscles stood out on the backs and arms of the

paddlers as stroke on stroke they urged us


past the obstacle.

away from and

If the leaning or fallen trees

were the

thorny, slender-stemmed boritana palms, which love the


wet, they were often, although plunged beneath the river,
in full

and vigorous growth, their stems curving upward,

and their frond-crowned tops shaken by the rushing water.


It

was

interesting work, for

no

man, had ever gone down or up


try through which

we were

hung from them

like

man, no white

this river or seen the coun-

passing.

forest rose like a green wall

were stately and beautiful.

civilized

The

lofty

on either hand.

The looped and

great ropes.

and matted

The

trees

twisted vines

Masses of epiphytes

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

246

grew both on the dead

trees

and the

Now

leaves like elephants' ears.

some had huge

living;

and then fragrant scents

were blown to us from flowers on the banks.

many birds, and for the most part


rarely we heard strange calls from the

not

or saw a cormorant or

My

the forest was silent;

depths of the woods,

ibis.

canoe ran only a couple of hours.

to wait for the others.

The axemen

for a

hundred yards

Our canoes were moored

cleared a space for the tents;

were pitched, the baggage was brought up, and

The woods were almost

kindled.

them ran

halted

we landed and made camp

where the bank rose sharply

to a level stretch of ground.


trees.

Then we

After a couple of hours more, as

the surveyors had not turned up,


at a spot

There were

fires

was no

they

were

Through

soundless.

old tapir trails, but there

to

fresh sign.

Before nightfall the surveyors arrived.

There were a few

piums and gnats, and a few mosquitoes

after dark, but not

enough to make us uncomfortable.

stingless

bees, of slightly aromatic odor,

daylight

lasted

and crawled over our

such tame, harmless


too

much

little

always tried to

The small
swarmed while

faces

and hands; they were

when they tickled


brush them away without hurtthings that

But they became a great nuisance after a while.


had been raining at intervals, and the weather was over-

ing them.
It

cast;
stars

but after the sun went down the sky cleared.

were

the west.

and we

brilliant
It

overhead, and the

was a pleasant

new moon hung

in

night, the air almost cool,

slept soundly.

Next morning the two surveying canoes


ately

The

after

breakfast.

lashed canoes pushed

An
off.

hour
I

later

left

immedi-

the two pairs of

kept our canoe to

let

Cherrie

THE RIVER OF DOUBT

247

we could hear a number of


The most interesting birds he
birds in the woods near by.
shot were a cotinga, brilliant turquoise-blue with a mahours

collect, for in the early

genta-purple throat, and a big woodpecker, black above

and cinnamon below with an entirely red head and neck.


It

was almost noon before we

We

started.

saw a few more

there were fresh tapir and paca tracks at one point

birds;

where we landed; once we heard howler monkeys from the


depth of the

As we

stream.

brown

and once we saw a big otter

forest,

in

mid-

and paddled down the swirling

drifted

current, through the vivid rain-drenched green of

the tropic forest, the trees leaned over the river from both

When

banks.

those that had fallen in the river at some

narrow point were very

two

fell

the

men

or where

tall,

it

happened that

opposite each other, they formed barriers which

the leading canoes cleared with their axes.

in

There were many palms, both the burity with


like

enormous

close

fronds

and a handsome species of bacaba,

fans,

with very long, gracefully curving fronds.

palms stood

its stiff

together,

In places the

towering and slender, their

stems a stately colonnade, their fronds an arched fretwork


against the sky.

the river.

When

Butterflies of

The day was

many

hues fluttered over

overcast, with showers of rain.

the sun broke through

rifts in

the clouds, his shafts

turned the forest to gold.


In mid-afternoon we came to the mouth of a big and
swift affluent entering

the Bandeira, which

some ten days

from the

we had

before,

It

was undoubtedly

crossed well toward

its

head,

on our road to Bonofacio.

The

Nhambiquaras had then


flowed into the Duvida.

right.

told

After

Colonel
its

Rondon

that

it

junction, with the added


THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

248

volume of water, the


depth.

It

among

was

so high that

On

its

had overflowed and stood

it

Only the higher

the trees on the lower levels.

stretches were dry.

we had

widened without losing

river

we landed

the sheer banks where

to push the canoes for yards or rods through the

branches of the submerged

hacking and hewing.

trees,

There were occasional bays and ox-bows from which the


In these the coarse marsh grass grew

current had shifted.


tall.

This evening we made camp on a

flat

of dry ground,

densely wooded, of course, directly on the edge of the


river

and

five feet

above

was

It

it.

fine to see the

speed

and sinewy ease with which the choppers cleared an open

Next morning, when we bathed before

space for the tents.


sunrise,

we dived

into deep water right

and from the moored canoes.


sixteen

This second day we made

and a half kilometres along the course of the

and nine kilometres

The

from the shore,

in a straight line

following day,

March

I,

river,

almost due north.

there

was much

rain

sometimes showers, sometimes vertical sheets of water.

Our course was somewhat west


twenty and a half kilometres.
habitation.

of north and

We

passed signs of Indian

There were abandoned palm-leaf

On

we made

shelters

on

bank we came to two or three


old Indian fields, grown up with coarse fern and studded
with the burned skeletons of trees. At the mouth of a
brook which entered from the right some sticks stood in
both banks.

the

left

the water, marking the


point

we found

site

of an old fish-trap.

At one

the tough vine hand-rail of an Indian

bridge running right across the river, a couple of feet above


it.

Evidently the bridge had been built at low water.


THE RIVER OF DOUBT

249

Three stout poles had been driven into the stream-bed


line at right angles to the current.

The

in a

bridge had con-

sisted of poles fastened to these supports, leading

between

them and from the support at each end to the banks.


The rope of tough vines had been stretched as a hand-rail,
necessary with such precarious footing. The rise of the
river had swept away the bridge, but the props and the
In the afternoon, from the boat,

rope hand-rail remained.

monkey with

Cherrie shot a large dark-gray


It

tail.

We
and

was very good

eating.

camped on a dry

level space,

close beside, the river

handy.

The

trees

orderly hurry.

a prehensile

but a few feet above,

so that our swimming-bath was

were cleared and camp was made with

One

of the

men

almost stepped on a poison-

ous coral-snake, which would have been a serious thing, as


his feet

But

were bare.

fangs of these serpents

had on stout

unlike

It

foot

on him, and he

bit

my

and the

those of the pit-vipers

are too short to penetrate good leather.

my

shoes,

promptly put

shoe with harmless venom.

has been said that the brilliant hues of the coral-snake

when

in its native

coloration.
less

haunts really confer on

it

a concealing

In the dark and tangled woods, and to an only

extent in the ordinary varied landscape, anything

mo-

tionless, especially if partially hidden, easily eludes the eye.

But against the dark-brown mould of the


which we found
tion

was

this coral-snake its bright

distinctly revealing;

duller mottling of the jararaca

infinitely

forest floor

and varied colora-

more

so than the

and other dangerous snakes

In the same place, however,

of the genus lachecis.

on

we

found a striking example of genuine protective or mimetic


coloration and shape.

rather large insect larva

at least

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

250

we judged

it

entomologists

to be a larval form, but

bore

dry leaf which was

we were none

of us

a resemblance to a partially curled


fairly startling.

The

tail

exactly re-

sembled the stem or continuation of the midrib of the

dead

The

leaf.

flattened

body was curled up

and veined and colored precisely

at the sides,

The head,

like the leaf.

colored like the leaf, projected in front.

We

were

The

in the Brazilian highlands.

still

forest

we
did not hear such a chorus of birds and mammals as we
had occasionally heard even on our overland journey, when
more than once we had been awakened at dawn by the
did not teem with

It

life.

was generally rather

silent;

howling, screaming, yelping, and chattering of monkeys,


toucans,

There were,

macaws, parrots, and parakeets.

however, from time to time, queer sounds from the

and

after nightfall different kinds of frogs

tered strange cries and

calls.

At

dawn everything was

before

this

camp the

insects ut-

In volume and frequency

these seemed to increase until midnight.

away and

and

forest,

Then they

died

silent.

carregadores ants completely devoured

the doctor's undershirt, and ate holes in his mosquito-net;

and they

also ate the strap of Lyra's gun-case.

stingless bees, of

many

little

swarmed in such multitudes,


that we had to wear our head-nets

kinds,

and were so persevering,

when we wrote or skinned specimens.


The following day was almost without
delightful to drift and paddle slowly down
tropical river.

The

rain.

It

was

the beautiful

Until mid-afternoon the current was not

very fast, and the broad, deep, placid stream bent and curved

was northand more of the land was

in every direction, although the general course

west.

The country was

flat,

The Rapids
There were many

From

curls,

of Navai'te

and one or two regular

a photograph by Cherrie

falls

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


under than above water.
travelling

between stretches of marshy

We

passed a hillock.

At

and trogons.
it

we found

Continually

among

miles the water stood or ran

last

saw

forest

where for

the trees.

Once we

colored parakeets

brilliantly

it

began to run

camp two

or three of

We

rapids.

them accompanied us

to ex-

had made twenty kilometres.

soon found that the rapids were a serious obstacle.

There were
haps

pulled to the

moored the canoes, and while most of the men

right bank,

We

Faster

like a mill-race,

We

and we heard the roar of rapids ahead.

amine the

ourselves

the slow current quickened.

went, and faster, until

pitched

251

many

curls,

six feet high.

It

and one or two regular

falls,

per-

would have been impossible to run

them, and they stretched for nearly a mile.

The

carry,

however, which led through woods and over rocks in a


nearly straight

line,

was somewhat

shorter.

It

was not an

easy portage over which to carry heavy loads and drag

heavy dugout canoes.

At the point where the descent was

steepest there were great

and conglomerate.

naked

flats

Over parts of

surface of fine sand, there

of friable sandstone

these,

where there was a

was a growth of coarse

grass.

Other parts were bare and had been worn by the weather
into fantastic shapes

one

projection looked like an old-

fashioned beaver hat upside down.


the naked

flats

of rock showed the projection of the ledge

through which the river had cut


rushed

down

channel.

and

In this place, where

its

course, the torrent

a deep, sheer-sided, and extremely narrow

At one point

it

was

for quite a distance not

less

than two yards across,

more than

five or six yards.

Yet only a mile or two above the rapids the deep, placid
river was at least a hundred yards wide.
It seemed

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

252

extraordinary, almost impossible, that

broad a river

so

could in so short a space of time contract

its

dimensions

to the width of the strangled channel through which

now poured

its

it

entire volume.

This had for long been a station where the Nhambiquaras at intervals built their ephemeral villages and
the

soil

with the rude and destructive cultivation of sav-

There were several abandoned old

ages.

tilled

fields,

where the

dense growth of rank fern hid the tangle of burnt and fallen

Nor had the Nhambiquaras been long absent. In


one trail we found what gypsies would have called a "palogs.

teran,"

a couple of branches

leaves to a branch;

arranged

had some

it

eight

crosswise,

special significance, be-

longing to that class of signals, each with some peculiar

and often complicated meaning, which are commonly used

by many wild

The Indians had thrown

peoples.

a simple

bridge, consisting of four long poles, without a hand-rail,

across one of the narrowest parts of the rock gorge through

which the

river

tribe of Indians

foamed

was

in its rapid descent.

called the Navaite;

rapids after them, Navaite Rapids.

found them to be

(in close

By

This sub-

we named

the

observation Lyra

approximation

to) latitude

44/ south and longitude 6o 18' west from Greenwich.

We

spent

in portaging

March

and 4 and the morning of the 5th

The first night we camped


where we had halted. Next

around the rapids.

in the forest beside the spot

morning we moved the baggage to the foot of the

rapids,

where we intended to launch the canoes, and pitched our


tents on the open sandstone
little

flat.

It rained heavily.

bees were in such swarms as to be a nuisance.

The

Many

small stinging bees were with them, which stung badly.

'a,

^
j

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


We

were bitten by huge

More

serious

shuda

flies

horse-flies,

the size of bumblebees.

annoyance was caused by the pium and boro-

during the hours of daylight, and by the polvora,

There were a few mosquitoes.

the sand-flies, after dark.

The boroshudas were the worst


blood at once, and

my writing

left

marks that lasted

put

up, with the rest of

it

excellent.

did

we had

so

named on the
our medicine, by Doctor

Alexander Lambert; he had tested

and found

for weeks.

Fortunately

head-net and gauntlets.

in

they brought the

pests;

with us several bottles of "fly dope"


label

253

it

north woods

in the

had never before been forced to

use such an ointment, and had been reluctant to take

with me; but


all

of us found

now
it

was glad enough to have

exceedingly useful.

under

an application wears

many

The

it.

half an hour or so,

ef-

and

when one is perspiring freely,


are times when minute mosquitoes

conditions, as

of no use; but there

it is

off after

and we

would never again

go into mosquito or sand-fly country without


fect of

it,

it

and gnats get through head-nets and under mosquito-bars,


and when the ointment occasionally renewed
one to get sleep or
of attainment.
flat,

rest

The

may

permit

which would otherwise be impossible

termites got into our tent on the sand-

ate holes in Cherrie's mosquito-net

and poncho, and

were starting to work at our duffel-bags, when we

dis-

covered them.

Packing the loads across was simple.

heavy dugouts was

labor.

The

logged ones was the heaviest.

Dragging the

biggest of the

two water-

Lyra and Kermit did the

men were employed at it except


and one man who was down with fever. A

job.

All the

chopped through the

forest

the cook,

road was

and a couple of hundred stout

254

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

six-foot poles, or small logs,

were cut as

and placed

rollers

With block and tackle the seven


dugouts were hoisted out of the river up the steep banks,
and up the rise of ground until the level was reached.
Then the men harnessed themselves two by two on the
drag-rope, while one of their number pried behind with a
lever, and the canoe, bumping and sliding, was twitched
through the woods. Over the sandstone flats there were
some ugly ledges, but on the whole the course was downhill and relatively easy.
Looking at the way the work
was done, at the good-will, the endurance, and the bullabout two yards apart.

like strength of the

camaradas, and at the intelligence and

the unwearied efforts of their commanders, one could but

wonder

at the ignorance of those

who do

not realize the

energy and the power that are so often possessed by, and
that

may

be so readily developed

in,

the

Another subject of perpetual wonder

is

men

of the tropics.

the attitude of cer-

men who stay at home, and still more the attitude of


certain men who travel under easy conditions, and who

tain

belittle the

adventurers

achievements of the real explorers


in,

of,

the real

The impostors and

the great wilderness.

romancers among explorers or would-be explorers and wilderness wanderers have been unusually prominent in con-

nection with South America (although the conspicuous ones

by the way); and these are fit


condemnation and derision. But the work of

are not South Americans,

subjects for

the genuine explorer and wilderness wanderer

with fatigue, hardship, and danger.


little

Many

knowledge talk glibly of portaging

and easy.

portage over rough and

as

is

of the

if it

fraught

men

of

were simple

unknown ground

is

always a work of difficulty and of some risk to the canoe;

5
s

.si 4

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


and

255

untrodden, or even in the unfrequented, wilder-

in the

ness risk to the canoe

is

a serious matter.

This particular

portage at Navai'te Rapids was far from being unusually


yet

difficult;

not only cost two and a half days of severe

it

and incessant labor, but

One

the canoes.

something

cost

it

in particular, the

journeying, was split in a

damage

in

one in which

to

had been

manner which caused us

serious

how long, even after being patched, it


Where the canoes were launched, the bank

uneasiness as to

would

was

last.

and one of the water-logged canoes

sheer,

went to the bottom; and there was more work

We
or

were

still

wholly unable to

what lay ahead of

per,

we

Round

us.

tell

The

or go north to the Madeira, or

the Tapajos, or

fall

to the

first,

it.

the camp-fire, after sup-

river

all

kinds of

might bend sharply

bend eastward and enter

Canuma and
Amazon direct.

into the

mouths enter the

its

in raising

and enter the Gy-Parana high up or low down,

to the west

one of

and

where we were going

held endless discussions and hazarded

guesses on both subjects.

filled

finally

through

Lyra inclined

and Colonel Rondon to the second, of these

propositions.

We

did not

know whether we had one hun-

dred or eight hundred kilometres to go, whether the stream

would be
waterfalls,

We

fairly

smooth or whether we would encounter

or rapids,

could not

tell

or

even

some big marsh or

whether or not we would meet

Indians, although no one of us ever

camp without

his

rifle.

the trip would take.

We

We

lake.

hostile

went ten yards from

had no idea how much time

had entered a land of unknown

possibilities.

We
of

started down-stream again early in the afternoon

March

5.

Our hands and

faces were swollen

from the

256

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

hires

and stings of the insect pests

and

it

river,

were

was

once more to be

a pleasure

where they did not come,


in

The

motion.

middle of the

any numbers, while we

in

Twice we

no serious obstructions.

slight riffles,

doubtless rapids;

in the

camp,

current was swift, but the river was

so deep that there were

went down over

at the sand-flat

which

dry season were

in the

and once we struck a spot where many

marked the presence underneath of bowlders


which would have been above water had not the river
whirlpools

been so swollen by the

rains.

The

distance

we covered

day going down-stream would have taken us a week


had been going up.
sometimes

in

The

course

wound

in a

if

we

hither and thither,

sigmoid curves; but the general direction was

As

east of north.

usual,

it

was very

and we

beautiful;

what might appear around any curve. In


the forest that rose on either hand were tall rubber-trees.
The surveying canoes, as usual, went first, while I shepnever could

tell

herded the two pairs of lashed cargo canoes.


always between

me

me and

the surveying canoes

until I passed the surveying canoes,

an hour or

until, after

so, I

ahead

then behind

of

me

had chosen a place to camp.

There was so much overflowed ground that


little

kept them

it

took us some

we found a flat place high


be dry. Just before reaching camp Cherrie shot
handsome bird somewhat akin to, but much

time this afternoon before

enough to
a jacu, a

smaller than, a turkey; after Cherrie had taken

body made an
monkeys; and the
its

excellent canja.
false

bell-birds

We

saw

around

this

and a quarter

long,

skin,

parties

of

uttered their ringing

whistles in the dense timber around our tents.


ants, an inch

its

The

giant

were rather too plentiful

camp; one stung Kermit;

it

was almost

like the

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


sting of a small scorpion,

and pained severely

for a couple

made twelve kilometres.


day we made nineteen kilometres,

This half-day we

of hours.

On

257

the following

river twisting in every direction,

running a

little

tree, to get

west of north.

honey.

The

tree

but in

the

general course

its

Once we stopped at a beewas a towering giant, of the

kind called milk-tree, because a thick milky juice runs freely

Our camaradas eagerly drank the white


I
fluid that flowed from the wounds made by their axes.
The taste was not unpleasant, but it left a sticky
tried it.
The helmsman of my boat, Luiz, a
feeling in the mouth.
from any

cut.

powerful negro, chopped into the tree, balancing himself

with springy ease on a slight scaffolding.


in a hollow,

The honey was

and had been made by medium-sized

At the mouth of the hollow they had

bees.

built a curious

entrance of their own, in the shape of a spout of


a foot long.

the

wax

At the opening the

stingless

wax about

walls of the spout

formation, but elsewhere

it

had become

showed
in color

and texture indistinguishable from the bark of the

tree.

The honey was delicious, sweet and yet with a tart flavor. The comb differed much from that of our honey-bees.
The honey-cells were very large, and the brood-cells, which
were small, were
tree I

came

tion.

upright

in a single instead of a

huge tree-toad, the

not squatted

dark

sides, exactly

flat

mon

its

size of a bullfrog,

was seated

on a big rotten limb.

the yellow brown of

harmonized

and dark patches on the


here in

By this

across an example of genuine concealing colora-

absolutely motionless;
its

double row.

log;

in color

its

It

was

back, and

with the light

the color was as concealing,

natural surroundings, as

is

the color of our com-

wood-frog among the dead leaves of our woods.

When

K,

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

258

I stirred it

up

it

with the disks of

jumped

to a small twig, catching hold

and balancing

its finger-tips,

itself

with

unexpected ease for so big a creature, and then hopped to


the ground and again stood motionless.

sign,

At about three
rent began to run

two decided

and Kermit shot a jacu

o'clock I

more

ripples,

was

We

the cur-

passed over one or

and then heard the roar of rapids

ahead, while the stream began to race.

We

drove the canoe

went down a tapir

into the bank, and then

led alongside the river, to


mile's

trusted

for the pot.

when

in the lead,

quickly.

it

We saw some monkeys

for safety to escaping observation.

and fresh tapir

Evidently

reconnoitre.

trail,

which

quarter of a

walk showed us that there were big

rapids,

down

which the canoes could not go; and we returned to the


landing.

All the canoes

had gathered

and Rondon,

there,

Lyra, and Kermit started down-stream to explore.

They

returned in an hour, with the information that the rapids

continued for a long distance, with

falls

and steep pitches

of broken water, and that the portage would take several

We made camp

days.

just

swarmed, and some of them


clearing
tall

away the

above
bit

the

forest for our tents, left several

straight as an arrow

curved fronds.

and

We

river almost exactly a

is

crowned with

Ants

Our men,

savagely.

and slender accashy palms; the bole of

fully

rapids.

this

palm

in

very
is

as

delicate, grace-

had come along the course of the

hundred kilometres;

it

had twisted

we were only about fifty-five kilometres north of


our starting-point. The rock was porphyritic.
The 7th, 8th, and 9th we spent in carrying the loads
so that

and dragging and

floating the dugouts past the series of

rapids at whose head

we had

stopped.

T3

'a

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


The

first

day we

camp

shifted

259

a kilometre and a half

This was a charming

to the foot of this series of rapids.

and picturesque camp.

It

where there was a

shallow bay with a beach of firm

little,

was

at the edge of the river,

In the water, at the middle point of the beach,

sand.

stood a group of three burity palms, their great trunks

Round

rising like columns.

the clearing in which our tents

stood were several very big trees; two of

Kermit went down-stream

trees.

them were rubber-

five or six kilometres,

and

returned, having shot a jacu and found that at the point

which he had reached there was another


fall,

rapids, almost a

which would necessitate our again dragging the canoes

over a portage.
of this

men

was glad because portaging


on the Diivida,

all

of

hard work, and the

them new

and some probably new to

fresh sign of paca, agouti,

is

So far Cherrie had collected

appreciated the meat.

sixty birds
tion,

Antonio, the Parecis, shot a big monkey;

science.

to the collec-

We

saw the

and the small peccary, and Ker-

mit with the dogs roused a tapir, which crossed the river
right through the rapids; but

no one got a shot

at

it.

Except at one or perhaps two points a very big dugout,


lightly loaded, could probably run all these rapids.

even in such a canoe

it

would be

silly

on an exploring expedition, where the

to

make

loss of a

But

the attempt

canoe or of

its

contents means disaster; and moreover such a canoe could

not be taken, for

it

would be impossible to drag

portages on the occasions


evitable.

when

it

over the

the portages became in-

Our canoes would not have

lived half a

minute

in the wild water.

On
down

the second day the canoes and loads were brought


to the foot of the

first

rapids.

Lyra cleared the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

260

path and laid the logs for

while Kermit dragged

rollers,

the dugouts up the bank from the water with block and
tackle,

with strain of rope and muscle.

forces,

as over the

strength of

their

all

Meanwhile the
distance,
I strolled

also

uneven ground

it

men

heavy dugouts

to get the

joined

needed the united

colonel with one attendant

along.

measured the

and then went on a long hunt, but saw no game.

down

beside the river for a couple of miles, but

saw nothing.

In the dense tropical forest of the

Amazonian basin hunting

men who

Then they

very

is

especially for

difficult,

are trying to pass through the country as rapidly

On

as possible.

game

such a trip as ours getting

largely

is

a matter of chance.

On

the canoes and loads, with hard labor, to the

by the

little

The men used

some of which were twelve

immense

their

feet long

beach

Many

three palms where our tents were pitched.

pacovas grew round about.


leaves,

down

the following day Lyra and Kermit brought

and two and

a half feet broad, to roof the flimsy shelters under which

they hung their hammocks.

went into the woods, but

in the tangle of vegetation

it

would have been a mere

seen any big animal.

hazard had

were

and empty.

silent

many

birds of

tanagers,

Now

kinds passed

flycatchers;

as

Generally the woods

and then

little

wood-hewers,

in

troops of

ant-thrushes,

the spring and

similar

fall

troops of warblers, chickadees, and nuthatches pass through

our northern woods.

by the

river

the rocks and on the great trees

grew beautiful white and

sobralia, of sweet

my own

On

and delicate fragrance.

books seemed a

trifle

have found the day tedious

if

lilac

orchids

the

For the moment

heavy, and perhaps

Kermit had not

lent

would

me

the

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


Oxford Book of French Verse.

261

Eustache Deschamp, Jo-

achim du Bellay, Ronsard, the delightful La Fontaine, the


delightful but appalling Villon, Victor

Madame

Desbordes-Valmore's

her pillow, as dear


written

these

them
an unknown
I

read

On
and a

on the

little girl

in head-net

and gauntlets,

river in the

Amazonian

we

and

verses about a child as ever were

little

and many others comforted

the ioth
half,

lines

Hugo's "Guitare,"

me much,

sitting

as

on a log by

forest.

again embarked and

made

a kilometre

spending most of the time in getting past two

Near the first of these we saw a small cayman, a jacare-tinga. At each set of rapids the canoes were
more

rapids.

unloaded and the loads borne past on the shoulders of the

camaradas; three of the canoes were paddled down by a


couple of naked paddlers apiece; and the two sets of double

canoes were

down by

let

ropes, one of one couple being

swamped but rescued and brought safely to shore on each


occasion.
One of the men was upset while working in the
was cut against the

stones.

Lyra

and Kermit did the actual work with the camaradas.

Ker-

swift water,

and

his face

mit, dressed substantially like the

worked

in the water,

camaradas themselves,

and, as the overhanging branches

were thronged with crowds of biting and stinging ants, he

was marked and

we

all

suffered

blistered over his

more or

swarms of biting

The
of

flies

cot.

Every one

we had come down

from these ants;

Indeed,
while the

grew constantly more numerous.

termites ate holes in

my

less

whole body.

my

else

helmet and also

had a hammock.

in the

At

this

cover

camp

the river about 102 kilometres, accord-

ing to the surveying records, and in height

had descended

nearly 100 metres, as shown

although the

by the aneroid

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

262

figure in this case

is

only an approximation, as an aneroid

cannot be depended on for absolute accuracy of

results.

Next morning we found that during the night we had


met with a serious misfortune. We had halted at the foot

The canoes were moored to trees on the


bank, at the tail of the broken water. The two old canoes,
although one of them was our biggest cargo-carrier, were
water-logged and heavy, and one of them was leaking. In
the night the river rose. The leaky canoe, which at best
of the rapids.

was too low

in the water,

the wash of the waves.

they began to

roll,

must have gradually

It sank,

dragging

down

bursting their moorings;

morning they had disappeared.

filled

from

the other;

and

in the

canoe was launched to

look for them; but, rolling over the bowlders on the rocky

bottom, they had at once been riven asunder, and the big
fragments that were soon found, floating
the shore, showed that
called these rapids
It

it

was

in eddies, or along

useless to look farther.

We

Broken Canoe Rapids.

was not pleasant to have to stop

for

some days;

thanks to the rapids, we had made slow progress, and with


our necessarily limited supply of food, and no knowledge

whatever of what was ahead of

make good

time.

But there was no

to build either one big canoe or


raining heavily as the
directions for

men

good canoe

proved not very good for

camp;

us,

was important to

alternative.

two small

ones.

We

had

It

was

started to explore in different

which ultimately
to
the purpose were found
trees.

Three

splendid-looking trees, one of

diameter three feet from the ground.


diately

it

close

them five feet in


The axemen imme-

attacked this one under the superintendence of

Colonel Rondon.

Lyra and Kermit started

in opposite di-

Dragging the canoes over


From

a portage

a photograph by

by means

of ropes

Kermit Roosevelt

and

logs

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


Lyra

rections to hunt.
killed

two monkeys

gleamed

Toward

men.

the

for

nearly

full,

and the foaming

volunteers," that

enlisted in the service of the Telegraphic

view of the

fitting, in

Two

and health.

life

Rondon during
which time

of

his eight

men were

his

The

hardship, and hazard to

months' exploration
regulars,

from

in 1909, at

own

his

battalion

his

Miranda Ribeiro

naturalist

unknown

also ac-

wilderness, the colo-

party finally reached the Gy-Parana, which

on the maps was then (and on most maps

is

now) placed

an utterly wrong course, and over a degree out of

real

position.

When

weak with

fever that they could hardly crawl.

no baggage.

men were

so

They had

Their clothes were in tatters, and some of


almost naked.

no food except what


wild fruits and nuts;

little
if it

For months they had had

game they

shot,

had not been

dance of the Brazil-nuts they would


first

its

they reached the affluents of the

Gy-Parana a third of the members of the party were

the

es-

them had been with Colonel

foot through an absolutely

in

Commission

This was the year when, marching on

companied him.
and

toil,

they had

is,

were Lieutenants Lyra, Amarante, Alencarliense,

and Pyrineus.

nel

river

His four aides during the closing months of

of engineers.
this trip

it

and were highly paid,

pecially to do this wilderness work,

was

nightfall

like silver.

Our men were "regional

as

and Kermit

killed a jacu for us,

The moon was

cleared.

263

and especially the

for the great

all

have

died.

abun-

At the

big stream they encountered they built a canoe, and

Alencarliense took

command

course of the river.

Tanageira,

who

of

it

and descended to map the

With him went

Ribeiro, the doctor

could no longer walk on account of the

264

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

men whom the fever had rendered unable longer to walk, and six men who were as yet
well enough to handle the canoe.
By the time the reulceration of one foot, three

mainder of the party came to the next navigable river eleven

more

fever-stricken

men had

nearly reached the end of their

Here they ran across a poor

tether.

devil

who had

for

four months been lost in the forest and was dying of slow

He had eaten nothing but Brazil-nuts and the


insects.
He could no longer walk, but could sit

starvation.

grubs of
erect
built,

and totter feebly


and

in

it

for a

few

feet.

Another canoe was

Pyrineus started down-stream with the

eleven fever patients and the starving wanderer.

Rondon kept up

the morale of his

the forms of military discipline.


his bugle.

men by

carrying out

The ragged

Lieutenant Pyrineus had

his clothing except a hat

still

lost

bugler had

every particle of

and a pair of drawers.

naked lieutenant drew up

Colonel

The

half-

his eleven fever patients in line;

the bugle sounded; every one came to attention; and the

haggard colonel read out the orders of the day.

dugout with

its

load of sick

men

Then the

started down-stream,

and

Rondon, Lyra, Amarante, and the twelve remaining men


resumed their weary march.
finally struck a

were

literally

camp

When

a fortnight later they

of rubber-gatherers three of the

and entirely naked.

men

Meanwhile Amilcar had

ascended the Jacyparana a month or two previously with


provisions to meet them; for at that time the

maps

incor-

rectly treated this river as larger, instead of smaller, than

and

the Gy-Parana, which they were in fact descending;

Colonel

Rondon had supposed

the former stream.


ering

much

that they were going

down

Amilcar returned after himself

hardship and danger.

The

suf-

different parties

THE RIVER OF DOUBT

265

mouth of the Gy-Parana, where it enters


the Madeira. The lost man whom they had found seemed
on the road to recovery, and they left him at a ranch, on
met

finally

at the

the Madeira, where he could be cared for; yet after they had

him they heard that he had

left

On

the

2th the

men were

died.

still

hard at work hollowing

wood of the big tree, with axe and adze, while


watch and ward were kept over them to see that the idlers
out the hard

Kermit

did not shirk at the expense of the industrious.

and Lyra again hunted; the former shot a curassow, which

was welcome,

we were endeavoring

as

mize our food supply.


also.

We

in all

ways

to econo-

were using the tops of palms

spent the day hunting in the woods, for the most

by the river, but saw nothing. In the season of the


rains game is away from the river and fish are scarce and
turtles absent.
Yet it was pleasant to be in the great silent
forest.
Here and there grew immense trees, and on some
of them mighty buttresses sprang from the base.
The
lianas and vines were of every size and shape.
Some were
twisted and some were not.
Some came down straight
part

and slender from branches a hundred


curved
like

like long serpents

knotted cables.

The wind

rarely

few flowers or

when
avoid them

dant, and even

always to

around the trunks.

In the shadow there was

moved the

birds.

feet above.

hot,

humid

air.

Others

Others were
little noise.

There were

Insects were altogether too abuntravelling slowly

not to

it

was impossible

speak of our constant com-

panions the bees, mosquitoes, and especially the boroshudas


or bloodsucking
gle I

flies.

Now

while bursting through a tan-

disturbed a nest of wasps, whose

active;

now

heedlessly stepped

among

resentment was
the outliers of a

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

266

small party of the carnivorous foraging ants;


ing a branch
ants;

as I stumbled, I

and among

arrested

by the

all

these

now, grasp-

shook down a shower of

my

was particularly

attention

bite of one of the giant ants,

like a hornet, so that I felt

it

fire-

which stung

The cama-

for three hours.

radas generally went barefoot or only wore sandals;

and

their ankles

and

bites of the

boroshudas and ants, some being actually

feet

were swollen and inflamed from the

capacitated from work.

All of us suffered

more or

in-

less,

our faces and hands swelling slightly from the boroshuda


bites;

and

in spite of our clothes

we were

all

over

ticks.

Be-

bitten

our bodies, chiefly by ants and the small forest

cause of the rain and the heat our clothes were usually wet

when we took them off at night, and


put them on again in the morning.
All

just as

day on the 13th the men worked

ing good progress.

wet when we

at the canoe,

mak-

In rolling and shifting the huge, heavy

tree-trunk every one had to assist

now and

then.

The

work continued until ten in the evening, as the weather


was clear. After nightfall some of the men held candles and
the others plied axe or adze, standing within or beside the
great,

half-hollowed logs, while the flicker of the lights

showed the tropic

forest rising in the darkness

The night air was hot and


The men were stripped to
and ebony,

still

round about.

and heavy with moisture.

the waist.

their skins glistened as

if

Olive and copper


oiled,

and rippled

with the ceaseless play of the thews beneath.

On

work was resumed in


The canoe was finished,

the morning of the 14th the

a torrential tropic downpour.

dragged down to the water, and launched soon after midday, and

another hour or so saw us under way.

The

Manner

of dragging the canoes across a hilly portage

From

Making
The

a photograph by Cherrie

the big canoe which was soon afterward lost

inside of the log has been hollowed out

From

and the men are

rolling

it

over to shape the bottom of the canoe

a photograph by Kermit Roosevelt

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


descent was marked, and

we

Several times
ing,

267

the swollen river raced along.

passed great whirlpools, sometimes shift-

Half a dozen times we ran over

sometimes steady.

were not high enough to have

rapids, and, although they

been obstacles to loaded Canadian canoes, two of them were

Our heavily

serious to us.

clumsy dugouts were

laden,

sunk to within three or four inches of the surface of the


and, although they were buoyed on each side with

river,

bundles of burity-palm branch-stems, they shipped a great

The two biggest rapids we only


each we had hastily to push ashore

deal of water in the rapids.


just

made, and

after

In one set of big ripples or waves

in order to bail.

canoe was nearly swamped.


is

ahead

come
out

out,
it

is

In a wilderness, where what

absolutely unknown, alike in terms of time,

is

and method

space,

we had no

for

how we would

idea where

get out, or

we would

when we would

get

of vital consequence not to lose one's outfit,

especially the provisions;

and yet

it

quence to go as rapidly as possible


be exhausted and the
complished by
therefore ripe

we

hazards,

my

is

of only less conse-

lest all

the provisions

final stages of

the expedition be ac-

men weakened from


for disaster.
On this

semi-starvation, and

felt

for our progress

it

occasion, of the

two

necessary to risk running the rapids;

had been so very slow that unless we made

was probable that we would be short of


food before we got where we could expect to procure any
up the time,

it

more except what


rains

and

that the

floods,

work

little

might

of pitching

the country, in the time of the


yield.

We

camp was

This evening the

five, so

finished in the dark.

had made nearly sixteen kilometres


east of north.

ran until after

air

We

in a direction slightly

was

fresh

and

cool.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

268

The
in

For

good season.

down

dled

saw
est

following morning, the 15th of March,


six

kilometres

we

on the banks;

above the

and back from the

grow to enormous proportions, towering


were great rubber-trees

Then

threes.

started

and pad-

drifted

At times we

the swift river without incident.

lofty Brazil-nut trees rising

we

rest of the for-

river these trees

There

like giants.

also, their leaves

always in

sets of

the ground on either hand rose into bowlder-

strewn, forest-clad

hills

and the roar of broken water an-

nounced that once more our course was checked by dangerous rapids.

Round

a bend

we came on them;

a wide

descent of white water, with an island in the middle, at

Here grave misfortune

the upper edge.

befell

us,

and

graver misfortune was narrowly escaped.

Kermit, as usual, was leading in his canoe.


smallest and least seaworthy of

all.

He had

It

was the

in

it

little

except a week's supply of our boxed provisions and a few


fortunately none of the food for the camaradas.

tools;

His dog Trigueiro was with him.

Besides himself, the

crew consisted of two men: Joao, the helmsman, or


as

he

is

called

in

Brazil,

and Simplicio, the bowsman.

Both were negroes and exceptionally good men


Kermit halted

way.

his

canoe on the

left

ahead.

and Lyra walked down the bank to


Kermit took

his

in

every

bank, above

the rapids, and waited for the colonel's canoe.


colonel

pilot,

see

Then the
what was

canoe across to the island to see

whether the descent could be better accomplished on the


other side.

men

Having made

to return to the

his investigation,

bank he had

was headed up-stream accordingly.

left,

he ordered the

and the dugout

Before they had gone

a dozen yards, the paddlers digging their paddles with

all

THE RIVER OF DOUBT

269

their strength into the swift current, one of the shifting

of which

whirlpools

have spoken came down-stream,

them around, and swept them

whirled
that no

human power

so close to the rapids

As

could avoid going over them.

they were drifting into them broadside on, Kermit yelled


to the steersman to turn her head, so as to take

the only

way

them

in

that offered any chance whatever of safety.

The water came aboard, wave after wave, as they raced


down. They reached the bottom with the canoe upright,
but so

full as

barely to

float,

They had

toward the shore.

when another whirlpool


and hurried them back
filled

and the paddlers urged her

bank

nearly reached the

or whirling eddy tore

them away

to midstream, where the dugout

and turned over.

Joao, seizing the rope, started to

swim ashore; the rope was pulled from his hand, but he
reached the bank. Poor Simplicio must have been pulled
under at once, and

beaten out on the bowlders be-

his life

He

neath the racing torrent.


ever recover his body.

Kermit clutched

in Africa

surface;
his

his

rifle.

head and face

and when he rose at

his

away from the

The water beat his helmet


and drove him beneath the
last

he was almost drowned,

breath and strength almost spent.

but quiet water, and

his fa-

rifle,

In a minute he was swept into

the second series of rapids, and whirled

down over

we

and America, and climbed on the

bottom of the upset boat.


rolling boat, losing his

his

which he had done most of

vorite 405 Winchester with

hunting both

never rose again, nor did

He was

swam toward an overhanging

in swift

branch.

His jacket hindered him, but he knew he was too nearly

gone to be able to get

calm one

feels

it off,

when death

is

and, thinking with the curious

but a

moment away, he

real-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

270

ized that the

utmost

his failing strength could

He

reach the branch.

reached, and clutched

do was to

it,

and then

almost lacked strength to haul himself out on the land.

Good

swum

alongside

Later

we

him through
the rapids, and now himself scrambled ashore.
It was a
very narrow escape. Kermit was a great comfort and help
to me on the trip; but the fear of some fatal accident beHe was to be
falling him was always a nightmare to me.
married as soon as the trip was over; and it did not seem
to me that I could bear to bring bad tidings to his beTrigueiro had faithfully

trothed and to his mother.


Simplicio was unmarried.

the

all

The

money

that would have been his had he lived.

following morning

erected to

mother

sent to his

we put on one

mark our camping-spot

side of the post

the following inscription,

in Portuguese:

"In These Rapids Died Poor Simplicio."

On

an expedition such as ours death

dents that

death are
where.
fere

is

one of the

acci-

may at any time occur, and narrow escapes from


too common to be felt as they would be felt else-

One mourns

with labor.

of the portage.

We

sincerely,

immediately proceeded with the work

From

rapids the distance

but mourning cannot inter-

the head to the

was about

six

tail

of this series of

hundred yards.

path

was cut along the bank, over which the loads were brought.

The empty canoes ran


with two
into a

down

the rapids without mishap, each

skilled paddlers.

swimming

One

of the canoes almost ran

tapir at the head of the rapids;

it

the rapids, and then climbed out of the river.

went
Ker-

THE RIVER OF DOUBT

271

by Joao, went three or four miles down


the river, looking for the body of Simplicio and for the
sunk canoe. He found neither. But he found a box of
mit, accompanied

provisions and a paddle, and salvaged both


into

midstream

after them.

He

also

by swimming

found that a couple of

kilometres below there was another stretch of rapids, and

them on the

following

left-hand

bank

that they were worse than the ones

and impassable

We

camped

There were

for canoes

them

many

shoot

in the tangle

them

a tiny

we had just
it

was extremely
and to

they were shot.

HowOne

if

new

to the collection.

of the species

known

with dainty but not brilliant plumage;

stars,

passed.

in the lofty tree tops,

beneath

hummer, one

just passed,

this left-hand side.

small birds here, but

ever, Cherrie got four species

was

we had

at the foot of the rapids

difficult to see or

find

on

to the foot he found

as

its

woodkind

is

never found except in the deep, dark woods, not coming


out into the sunshine.
shot

it

was feeding

got a very

Its crop

was

as brilliant as a cluster of jewels;

it

with ants; when

at a cluster of long red flowers.

handsome trogon and an

breast turquoise,

filled

its

He

also

exquisite little tanager,


its

throat was

lilac,

its

crown and forehead topaz, while above

was glossy purple-black, the lower part of the back ruby-

red.

This tanager was a female;

the male
a queer

is

more

hawk

can hardly imagine that

brilliantly colored.

The

fourth bird was

of the genus ibycter, black, with a white belly,

naked red cheeks and throat and red legs and feet. Its
crop was filled with the seeds of fruits and a few insect
remains; an extraordinary diet for a hawk.

The morning of the 16th was dark and gloomy.


Through sheets of blinding rain we left our camp of mis-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

272

fortune for another

camp where misfortune

also awaited us.

Less than half an hour took our dugouts to the head of the

hand

side,

As Kermit had already explored the leftColonel Rondon and Lyra went down the right-

hand

side

and found a channel which

rapids below.

part, so

that they deemed

it

The

of the rapids was about a kilometre.

rea,

down

the

left

round the worst

possible to let

canoes by ropes from the bank.

being brought

led

down

distance to the foot

While the loads were

bank, Luiz and Antonio Cor-

down

our two best watermen, started to take a canoe

the right side, and Colonel

Rondon walked ahead

anything he could about the

by one

the

He was accompanied

river.

of our three dogs, Lobo.

to see

After walking about a

kilometre he heard ahead a kind of howling noise, which he

thought was made by spider-monkeys.


direction of the sound

he heard Lobo

yell

He walked

and Lobo ran ahead.

with pain, and then,

still

In a minute
yelping,

toward him, while the creature that was howling


proached, evidently in pursuit.

from Lobo, followed by

silence,

In a

in the

moment

come

also ap-

a second yell

announced that he was dead;

and the sound of the howling, when near, convinced Rondon

by an Indian, doubtless with


two arrows. Probably the Indian was howling to lure the
spider-monkeys toward him. Rondon fired his rifle in the
air, to warn off the Indian or Indians, who in all probability
had never seen a civilized man, and certainly could not imthat the dog had been killed

agine that one was in the neighborhood.

He

then returned

to the foot of the rapids, where the portage was


on, and, in
cis,

still

going

company with Lyra, Kermit, and Antonio

Pare-

the Indian, walked back to where Lobo's body lay.

Sure enough he found him, slain by two arrows.

One

ar-

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


row-head was
in the

273

him, and near by was a strange stick used

in

very primitive method of fishing of

all

these Indians.

who were
apparently two or three in number, had fled. Some beads
and trinkets were left on the spot to show that we were

Antonio recognized

its

The

purpose.

Indians,

not angry and were friendly.

Meanwhile Cherrie stayed

at the

wood

that would not float.

and the canoe was

lost,

new
and heavy, being made of
The next was

safely.

canoe, which was very large

at the

Luiz and Antonio Correa

foot of the portage as guards.

brought down one canoe

head and

the

In the rapids the rope broke,

Luiz being nearly drowned.

was a very bad thing to lose the canoe, but it was


even worse to lose the rope and pulleys. This meant that
it would be physically impossible to hoist big canoes up
It

even small

or rocky hillocks, such as

hills

quent beside the

many

rapids

had been so

we had encountered.

It

not wise to spend the four days necessary to build

fre-

was

new

we were, in danger of attack from the Indians.


Moreover, new rapids might be very near, in which case
the new canoes would hamper us. Yet the four remaincanoes where

ing canoes

would not carry

the loads and

all

all

the men,

no matter how we cut the loads down; and we intended to


cut everything

days.

We

down

We

at once.

had been gone eighteen

had used over a third of our food.

gone only 125 kilometres, and

it

We

had

was probable that we had

at least five times, perhaps six or seven times, this distance


still

to go.

amounting
fall;

when

We

had taken a fortnight to descend rapids

in the aggregate to less

makes a dangerous rapid


swollen and swift and there are obstruc-

a very few yards of

the river

is

than seventy yards of

fall

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

274

tions.

We

titude,

and therefore could make merely a loose approxima-

tion to

it,

had only one aneroid to determine our

al-

but we probably had between two and three

times this descent in the aggregate of rapids ahead of us.

So far the country had offered

We

cept palm-tops.

We

were

all

It

the

way

if

we were

of food ex-

canoes and one man.

who

shot well with

behooved us to go warily, but

speed possible,

The

lost four

country of wild Indians,

in the

their bows.

had

little in

also to

make

to avoid serious trouble.

best plan seemed to be to

march

thirteen

men down

along the bank, while the remaining canoes, lashed two and
two, floated

down

we found no bad

two or three days


and there seemed a reasonable

beside them.
rapids,

If after

chance of going some distance at decent speed, we could


then build the new canoes

preferably two small ones,


We

time, instead of one big one.

We

could.

permit; but

we now
I

struck off

for possible emergencies.


cot,

and

all five

under the big

abandoned.

down

of the comfort.

light tent for

The

last

of the others

swung

Each of us got

to

make

one person, kept

their
left

for

hammocks

two big and

his personal belongings

although there was only a

small diminution thus made; because

way

light fly;

box of surveying instruments was

to one box or duffel-bag

the only

we

Cher-

was given to me

This meant that we

fly.

heavy tents behind.


also

much

had been sleeping under a very

and there was another small

my

the baggage

were already down as far as comfort would

Kermit, and

rie,

left all

this

we had

a serious diminution

so little that

was to

restrict

ourselves to the clothes on our backs.

The

biting

flies

and ants were to us a source of

dis-

comfort and at times of what could fairly be called torment.

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


whom went

But to the camaradas, most of


only wore sandals

the
and

effect

barefoot or

and they never did or would wear shoes

was more

feet in pieces of

them became

275

They wrapped

serious.

their legs

canvas or hide; and the feet of three of

were crippled and could

so swollen that they

The

not walk any distance.

whose courage and

doctor,

cheerfulness never flagged, took excellent care of them.

Thanks to him, there had been among them hitherto but


one or two slight cases of fever. He administered to each

man

daily a half-gram

nearly

eight grains

of

quinine,

and every third or fourth day a double dose.

The

following morning Colonel Rondon, Lyra, Kermit,

Cherrie, and nine of the camaradas started in single

down

the bank, while the doctor and

double canoes, with

went

in the

camaradas, three of them the

six

valids with swollen feet.

went about three times

We

two
in-

we
and we

halted continually, as

as fast as the walkers;

traced the course of the river.


tual going in the boats

file

After forty minutes' ac-

we came

loaded canoes ran them without

to

some rapids; the un-

difficulty,

while the loads

we were again under

were portaged.

In an hour and a half

way, but

in ten

minutes came to other rapids, where the

river ran

among

islands,

and there were several big

curls.

The clumsy, heavily laden dugouts, lashed in couples, were


unwieldy and hard to handle. The rapids came just round
a sharp bend, and we got caught in the upper part of the
swift

water and had to run the

quence.

We

first set

in the leading pair of

of rapids in conse-

dugouts were within an

ace of coming to grief on some big bowlders against which

we were swept by
paddling hard

a cross current at the turn.

All of us

scraping and bumpingwe got through by


THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

276

the skin of our teeth, and

managed

make

to

the bank and

moor our dugouts. It was a narrow escape from grave disaster.


The second pair of lashed dugouts profited by our
experience, made the run with risk, but with less risk
and moored beside us. Then all the loads were taken out,
and the empty canoes were run down through the least
dangerous channels among the islands.
This was a long portage, and we camped at the foot of
the rapids, having made nearly seven kilometres.
Here a
little river, a rapid stream of volume equal to the Duvida
at the point where we first embarked, joined from the
west.
Colonel Rondon and Kermit came to it first, and
the former named it Rio Kermit. There was in it a water-

about

fall

Here we found plenty of


good-sized, deep-bodied

Lyra caught two pacu,

fish.

fish.

They were

Antonio the Parecis said that these

heavy rapids

We

above the junction.

six or eight feet high, just

in

which there were

delicious eating.

fish

falls

never came up

they had to jump.

could only hope that he was correct, as in that case

the rapids

we would encounter

in the future

would rarely

be so serious as to necessitate our dragging the heavy dugouts overland.

Passing the rapids

we had

hitherto en-

countered had meant severe labor and some danger.


the event showed that he was mistaken.

were ahead of

The worst

But
rapids

us.

While our course

as a

whole had been almost due north,

and sometimes east of north, yet where there were rapids


the river had generally, although not always, turned west-

ward.

was

This seemed to indicate that to the east of us there

a low northward

across

projection of the

central

which we had travelled on mule-back.

plateau

This

is

the

THE RIVER OF DOUBT

277

kind of projection that appears on the maps of this region

Probably

as a sierra.

it

farthest points of these spurs


in

our course

were

ward from

its

now and then caused

(for the rapids generally

and

hills)

for the

and the

sent low spurs to the west,

moment

rapids

came where there

deflected the river west-

There

general down-hill trend to the north.

was no longer any question that the Duvida was a big


a river of real importance.

river,

ent of

some other

dark as to where

But we were

affluent.

came

it

was not a minor

It

out.

exceedingly improbable, that

It

was

still

was much more

the Tapajos.

that

it

It

likely,

size,

was probable, although

its

mouth.

it

entered

from

certain,

near

far

entered the Madeira low down, near

In this event

although again far from certain, that


prove to be the Aripuanan.
pear on the
ard

possible, although

but not probable, that

junction with the Amazon.

map

maps

any

of South America which


all,

its

its

it

point of

was

likely,

mouth would

The Aripuanan does not

as a river of

does not appear at

in the

entered the Gy-Parana, as

it

another river of substantially the same


It

wholly

still

afflu-

size;

ap-

on a good stand-

had with

me

its

name

although a dotted indication of a

small river or creek at about the right place probably represents

it.

lieutenants
stories

Nevertheless, from the report of one of his

who had examined

of the rubber-gatherers,

Rondon had come


est affluent of the

its

or

mouth, and from the


seringuerros,

to the conclusion that this

Colonel

was the

larg-

Madeira, with such a body of water that

must have a big drainage basin. He thought that the


Duvida was probably one of its head streams although

it

every existing

map

represented the lay of the land to be

such as to render impossible the existence of such a river

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

278

The

system and drainage basin.


that they had gone

many

was a
them the junction-point
from the west. Beyond
point where there

days' journey

series of

of

two

this

point was no one could say.

On

up the

river, to a

heavy rapids with above

large rivers, one entering

they had

of the hostility of the Indians;

don had directed one of

rubber-gatherers reported

difficulties

because

and where the junctionthe chance Colonel Ron-

his subordinate officers,

Lieutenant

by

Pyrineus, to try to meet us, with boats and provisions,

ascending the Aripuanan to the point of entry of

This was the course followed when Amil-

big affluent.

car had been directed to try to meet the explorers

1909 came

was a

its first

down

failure,

who

At that time the

the Gy-Parana.

in

effort

and the two parties never met; but we might

have better luck, and

in

any event the chance was worth

taking.

On

the morning following our camping

of the Rio Kermit, Colonel

Rondon took

by the mouth
a good deal of

pains in getting a big post set up at the entry of the smaller


river into the

Duvida.

Then he summoned me, and

the others, to attend the ceremony of

found the camaradas drawn up

in line,

its

erection.

"Rio Kermit" on

colonel read the orders reciting that

by the

it;

it

was evidently a great

the Rio Roosevelt.

Both Lauro

Miiller

on the subject, and

river,

To

and the

unknown

he formally christened

This was a complete surprise to me.

and Colonel Rondon had spoken to


I

the

direction of

the Brazilian Government, and inasmuch as the


river

We

and the colonel

preparing to read aloud "the orders of the day."


post was nailed a board with

all

had urged, and Kermit had urged,

strongly as possible that the

name be kept

as

me
as

Rio da Du-

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


We felt

vida.

that the " River of

good name; and


character.

279

But

it

my

is

Doubt " was an unusually


always well to keep a name of this

kind friends insisted otherwise, and

would have been churlish of

much touched by

me

to object longer.

and by the ceremony

their action,

At the conclusion of the reading Colonel Rondon


cheers for the United States and then for

and the camaradas cheered with a

mit;

me and
will.

it

was

itself.

led in

for

Ker-

proposed

three cheers for Brazil and then for Colonel Rondon, and

Lyra, and the doctor, and then for

Lyra

said that

all

Then

the camaradas.

everybody had been cheered except Cherrie;

and so we

all

gave three cheers for Cherrie, and the meet-

ing broke

up

in

high good humor.

Immediately afterward the walkers

march down-stream, looking

for

set

off

on

good canoe-trees.

their

In a

we followed with the canoes. As often


as we overtook them we halted until they had again gone
a good distance ahead.
They soon found fresh Indian sign,
quarter of an hour

and actually heard the Indians;

They came on
abandoned. The three
panic.

had each an entrance


opening.

left,

little

in

Indian fishing village, just

for a

man on
inside,

swarms of biting

but no other

all fours,

doubtless as a protecflies.

On

a pole in this

an axe, a knife, and some strings of red beads were

with the hope that the Indians would return, find the

gifts,

and

realize that

we were

friendly.

Indian sign on both sides of the

saw further

we came on

little

was broad but shallow,


the point of entrance rushed down, green and white,

river entering
at

from the

We

river.

After about two hours and a half

and

fled

low, oblong huts, of palm-leaves,

They were dark

tion against the


village

but the latter

east.

It

280

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

over a sharply inclined sheet of rock.

and we halted to admire

was a lovely

It

Then on we went, until,


when we had covered about eight kilometres, we came on
a stretch of rapids. The canoes ran them with about a
sight

it.

third of the loads, the other loads being carried on the

At the

men's shoulders.

as there were several

good canoe-trees near,

decided to build two rather small canoes.


stars

came out; but

we camped,
and we had

foot of the rapids

After dark the

deep forest the glory of the stars

in the

in the night of the sky, the serene

radiance of the moon,

the splendor of sunrise and sunset, are never seen as they

on the vast open

are seen

The

men began work on


canoe had been made of

following day, the 19th, the

The

the canoes.

wood

plains.

big

ill-fated

so hard that

was

it

difficult to

work, and so heavy

But these

that the chips sank like lead in the water.


trees

were araputangas, with wood which was easier to

work and which

Great buttresses,

floated.

or

flanges,

jutted out from their trunks at the base, and they bore
big hard nuts or fruits which stood erect at the ends of the

The

branches.

over

first

tree felled

was chopped

it

so

that

proved rotten, and moreit

smashed a number of

overthrowing everything, but

lesser trees into the kitchen,

not inflicting serious damage.

Hard-working, willing, and

tough though the camaradas were, they naturally did not

have the

We

skill

of northern lumberjacks.

hoped to

finish the

two canoes

in three days.

Among

the

space was cleared in the forest for our tents.


taller trees

grew huge-leafed pacovas, or wild bananas.

bathed and
piranhas.

swam

in the river,

Carregadores

ants

although in

swarmed

all

it

We

we caught

around

our

THE RIVER OF DOUBT


As many of the nearest of

camp.

we stopped with

fire;

281

we could
them got into

their holes as

but at night some of

our tents and ate things we could

ill

In the early

spare.

morning a column of foraging ants appeared, and we drove

them back, also with fire. When the sky was not overcast
the sun was very hot, and we spread out everything to
There were many wonderful

dry.

Yet

but only a few birds.

butterflies

in the early

round about,

morning and

late

afternoon there was some attractive bird music in the

The two

woods.

false bell-bird,

best performers were our old friend the

with

The

ant-thrush.

attractive

of ringing whistles, and a shy,

its series

latter

walked much on the

ground, with dainty movements, courtesying and raising


its tail;

or time,

and
its

in accent

and sequence, although not

in

tone

song resembled that of our white-throated

sparrow.
It

we had
had come along

was three weeks

River of Doubt.

We

since

started
its

down

winding course

about 140 kilometres, with a descent of somewhere

neighborhood of 124 metres.

We
us,

could not

tell

It

the

in the

had been slow progress.

what physical obstacles were ahead

nor whether the Indians would be actively hostile.

a river normally describes in

its

of

But

course a parabola, the steep

descent being in the upper part;

and we hoped that

in

we should not have to encounter so many and


such difficult rapids as we had already encountered, and
that therefore we would make better time a hope des-

the future

tined to failure.

CHAPTER IX
DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER

INTO THE EQUATORIAL


FOREST

The

mightiest river in the world

the Amazon.

is

It

runs from west to east, from the sunset to the sunrise, from
the Andes to the Atlantic.

The main stream

flows almost

along the equator, while the basin which contains


ents extends

many

degrees north and south of the equator.

This gigantic equatorial river basin

mense
forests

is

forest, the largest in the world,

filled

with an im-

with which no other

can be compared save those of western Africa and

Malaysia.

We

were within the southern boundary of this

was not merely

great equatorial forest, on a river which

unknown but unguessed


suspected

its

existence.

at,

no geographer having ever

This river flowed northward to-

ward the equator, but whither

it

would

go,

whether

would turn one way or another, the length of


where

its afflu-

it

would come

its

it

course,

out, the character of the stream itself,

and the character of the dwellers along

its

banks

all

these

things were yet to be discovered.

One morning while the canoes were being built Kermit


and I walked a few kilometres down the river and surveyed
the next rapids below. The vast still forest was almost
empty of life. We found old Indian signs. There were
very few birds, and these in the tops of the

We

saw a recent tapir-track; and under a


282

tall

trees.

cajazeira-tree

by

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER

283

the bank there were the tracks of capybaras which had

been eating the fallen

This

fruit.

fruit

and

delicious

is

The

would make a valuable addition to our orchards.


tree although tropical

hardy, thrives

is

and propagates rapidly from shoots.


Agriculture should try whether

name was

would not grow

it

in south-

This was the tree from which the

ern California and Florida.


doctor's family

when domesticated,
The Department of

His paternal grandfather,

taken.

although of Portuguese blood, was an intensely patriotic


Brazilian.

He was

young man when the indepen-

a very

dence of Brazil was declared, and did not wish to keep the

Portuguese family name;


Brazilian

fine

names

is

tree

common

in

so he

changed

to that of the

Such change of family

question.

in Brazil.

it

Doctor Vital

Brazil, the stu-

dent of poisonous serpents, was given his

name by his

whose own family name was entirely

different;

brother's

name was

ning.

and

his

again different.

There were tremendous downpours of


a couple of hours

father,

rain, lasting for

and accompanied by thunder and

But on the whole

it

seemed as

if

light-

the rains were less

heavy and continuous than they had been. We all of us


had to help in building the canoes now and then. Kermit, accompanied

by Antonio the

the river and walked back to the

Parecis and Joao, crossed


little river

that had en-

tered from the east, so as to bring back a report of

Colonel Rondon.

by the

stars.

We

it

to

Lyra took observations, by the sun and


were

in

about latitude

21' south,

and due north of where we had started. The river had


wound so that we had gone two miles for every one we
made northward. Our progress had been very slow; and
until we got out of the region of incessant rapids, with their

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

284

attendant labor and hazard,

go much

On

it

was not

likely that

we should

faster.

March 22 we started in our six


canoes.
We made ten kilometres. Twenty minutes after
Here every one walked
starting we came to the first rapids.
except the three best paddlers, who took the canoes down
in succession
an hour's job. Soon after this we struck a
the morning of

bees' nest in the top of a tree overhanging* the river;

steersman climbed out and robbed

honey on the way back.

We

which we did not dare run


cranky dugouts.
low the

falls, fifty

having been

and a

half,

took us

six

in

came

lost the

to a small steep

fall

our overladen, clumsy, and

in

Fortunately,

deep canal which led

but, alas

it,

our

we were

able to follow a

a kilometre, returning just be-

off for

yards from where

it

had

started.

Then,

the boats and in motion only one hour

we came

to a long stretch of rapids which

hours to descend, and

we camped

it

at the foot.

Everything was taken out of the canoes, and they were

down

run

succession.

in

place they were let

most

At one

down by

ropes;

difficult

and even thus we

went down the

was an Indian
dry season.

right bank.

On

the opposite bank

village, evidently inhabited

The marks on

old fields in which maize,

grown.

The

forest

plentiful.

only during the

the stumps of trees showed

that these Indians had axes and knives;

trees

al-

lost one.

We

were

and perilous

beans,

and there were

and cotton had been

dripped and steamed.

Rubber-trees

At one point the tops of a group of

were covered with yellow-white blossoms.

bore red blossoms.

Many

of the big trees,

tall

Others

of different

kinds, were buttressed at the base with great thin walls of

The Upper Duvid;

Cherrie in his canoe


From photographs

by Kermit Roosevelt

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER

285

Others, including both palms and ordinary trees,

wood.

showed an even stranger

The

peculiarity.

trunk, near the

from the ground, was

base, but sometimes six or eight feet

a dozen or twenty branches or small trunks which

split into

sloped outward in tent-like shape, each becoming a root.

The

larger trees of this type looked as

their trunks

if

were

seated on the tops of the pole frames of Indian tepees.

one point

in the stream, to

flying-fish.

It

our great surprise,

skimmed the water

like a

At

we saw a

swallow for over

twenty yards.
Although we made only ten kilometres we worked hard
all

The

day.

bank

to the

last

canoes were brought

at nightfall.

Our

down and moored

tents were pitched in the

darkness.

Next day we made thirteen kilometres.


told, a little over an hour and three-quarters.
were spent

ran,

all

Seven hours

in getting past a series of rapids at

portage, over rocky and difficult ground,

which the

was a kilometre

The canoes were run down empty a hazardous run,


which one of them upset.
Yet while we were actually on the river, paddling and

long.
in

We

down-stream along the reaches of

floating

water,

it

was very

lovely.

When we

swift,

smooth

started in the

morn-

ing the

day was overcast and the

Ahead

of us the shrouded river stretched between

air

walls of forest, half-seen in the mist.

up the

fog,

changed

and loomed through

first

to gold

it

was heavy with vapor.

Then

dim

the sun burned

in a red splendor that

and then to molten white.

In the

dazzling light, under the brilliant blue of the sky, every


detail of the magnificent forest

was vivid to the eye: the

great trees, the network of bush ropes, the caverns of

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

286

greenery, where thick-leaved vines covered

all

things

else.

Wherever there was a hidden bowlder the surface of the


current was broken by waves.
In one place, in midstream,
a pyramidal rock thrust itself six feet above the surface of

On

the river.

At home

we found

the banks

fresh Indian sign.

Vermont Cherrie is a farmer, with a farm


hundred acres, most of it woodland. As we sat at

of six

in

the foot of the rapids, watching for the last dugouts with
their

naked paddlers to swing into

sight

round the bend

through the white water, we talked of the northern spring

He

that was just beginning.

sells

cream, eggs, poultry,

potatoes, honey, occasionally pork and veal;

season

it

was the time

but at this

He

maple-sugar crop.

for the

has

a sugar orchard, where he taps twelve hundred trees and

many more in addition. Said Cherrie:


now for Fred Rice" Fred Rice is the

hopes soon to tap as


"It's a

hired

busy time

man, and

in sugar

time the Cherrie boys help him

with enthusiasm, and, moreover, are paid with exact justice for the

work they

the farm, although

do.
is

it

There

is

much

near Brattleboro.

wild

life

One

about

night in

early spring a bear left his tracks near the sugar-house;

and now and then

in

summer

the garden to keep the deer

Cherrie has had to sleep in

away from the

beans, cab-

in the forest,

but Cherrie

bages, and beets.

There was not much bird

life

kept getting species new to the collection.

he shot an interesting

little

ant-thrush.

At this camp
It was the size

of a warbler, jet-black, with white under-surfaces of the

wings and

tail,

white on the tail-feathers, and a large spot

of white on the back, normally almost concealed, the feathers

on the back being long and

fluffy.

When

he shot the

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


bird, a male,

it

was showing

was

this

white

before a dull-colored

off

little

and the chief feature of the

bird, doubtless the female;

display

287

The white

on the back.

spot

feathers were raised and displayed so that the spot flashed

"chrysanthemum" on

like the

was hard to

see,

feathers revealed
tion.

In the gloom of the forest the bird

been aroused.

ity has

was an

It

a prongbuck whose curios-

but the flashing of this patch of white


it

at once, attracting

immediate atten-

example of a coloration mark

excellent

which served a purely advertising purpose; apparently

was part of a courtship


up

feet

The

display.

bird

it

was about thirty

in the branches.

In the morning, just before leaving this camp, a tapir

swam

across stream a

nately

we

little

way above

could not get a shot at

An ample

it.

tapir beef

would have meant much to

with

days' rations;

fifty

We

us.

We

supply of

had started

but this by no means meant

rations, in the sense of giving every


eat.

but unfortu-

us;

man

all

full

he wanted to

had two meals a day, and were on rather short

commons both our mess and the camaradas' except when


we got plenty of palm-tops. For our mess we had the
boxes chosen by Fiala, each containing a day's rations for
six

men, our number.

a half, or at times

But we made each box

two days, and

when we had

caught some

fish,

we gave some

It

that everybody had enough.

have welcomed that


fruit

killed

tapir.

day and

was only on the rare ocsome monkeys or curassows, or

of the food to the camaradas.


casions

in addition

last a

So far the game,

We

would

fish,

and

had been too scarce to be an element of weight

our food supply.


difficult

in

In an exploring trip like ours, through a

and utterly unknown country, especially

if

densely

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

288

forested, there

counted on.

little

is

It

time to halt, and game cannot be

only in lands like our

is

own West

thirty

years ago, like South Africa in the middle of the last century, like East Africa to-day that

On

chief food supply.

this trip

game can be made the

our only substantial food

supply from the country hitherto had been that furnished

Two men

by the palm-tops.

down palms

cut

were detailed every day to

for food.

kilometre and a half after leaving this

on a stretch of big

The

rapids.

camp we came

river here twists in loops,

and we had heard the roaring of these rapids the previous

Then we passed out

afternoon.

of earshot of them;

Antonio Correa, our best waterman, insisted


the roaring meant rapids worse than any
tered for

know

and

was

right.

it

like a fish,

We

and

all its

along that

we had encoun-

"I was brought up

some days.

all

but

in the water,

He

sounds," said he.

had to carry the loads nearly a kilometre

that afternoon, and the canoes were pulled out on the

bank

so that they might be in readiness to be dragged

overland next day.

Rondon, Lyra, Kermit, and Antonio

Correa explored both sides of the


or left

river.

On

the opposite

bank they found the mouth of a considerable

river,

bigger than the Rio Kermit, flowing in from the west and

making
river

we

its

entrance in the middle of the rapids.

christened the Taunay, in honor of a distinguished

Brazilian,

an explorer, a

a writer of note.

and

soldier,

a senator,

who was

Kermit had with him two of

had read one of

retreat during the

This

his

also

his novels,

books dealing with a disastrous

Paraguayan war.

Next morning, the 25th, the canoes were brought down.


path was chopped for them and rollers laid; and half-

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


way down

who were

oversee-

as well as doing their share of the

pushing

the rapids Lyra and Kermit,

work

ing the

289

and hauling, got them into a canal of smooth water, which

much

saved

As our food supply lowered we

severe labor.

were constantly more desirous of economizing the strength

One day more would complete a month since


we had embarked on the Duvida as we had started in
February, the lunar and calendar months coincided. We
had used up over half our provisions. We had come only
of the men.

over 160 kilometres, thanks to the character and

trifle

number

of the rapids.

We

we had

believed

three or four

times the distance yet to go before coming to a part of

we might hope

the river where

to

meet

assistance, either

from rubber-gatherers, or from Pyrineus,

coming up the

river

food,

aside

the rapids;

been

known

three weeks before

it

we were

could not be
in straits for

from the ever-present danger of accident

and

still

if

our progress were no faster than

it

and

into the

went

it

We

in front.

had
in

could not even hazard a guess

The

river

was now a

seemed impossible that

Gy-Parana or the Tapajos.

into the

in

have several hundreds of kilometres of un-

river before us.

what was

river,

it

had been

If the

and we were straining to do our bestwe would

such event

at

he were really

which we were going down.

rapids continued to be as they

much more than

if

Canuma,

really big

it

could flow either

It

was

possible that

a big affluent of the Madeira low

down, and next to the Tapajos.


it

It was more probable that


was the headwaters of the Aripuanan, a river which, as
have said, was not even named on the excellent English

map

of Brazil

known

to

I carried.

Nothing but the mouth had been

any geographer; but the lower course had long

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

290

been known to rubber-gatherers, and recently a commission

from the government of Amazonas had part-way

not as

as-

cended one branch of

it

had gone, and,

turned out, not the branch we came

as

it

far as the rubber-gatherers

down.

Two

of our

men were down with

Another man,

fever.

was utterly worthless,

Julio, a fellow of powerful frame,

being an inborn, lazy shirk with the heart of a ferocious


cur in the body of a bullock.

The

others were good men,

They were under the


Pedrinho Craveiro, who was first-

some of them very good indeed.


immediate supervision of
class in

every way.

This camp was very lovely.

It

was on the edge of a

bay, into which the river broadened immediately below


the rapids.

There was a beach of white sand, where we

bathed and washed our clothes.

All

around

and across

us,

the bay, and on both sides of the long water-street

made

by the

flocks

river, rose

There were

the splendid forest.

of parakeets colored green, blue, and red.

Big toucans

called overhead, lustrous green-black in color, with white

throats, red gorgets, red-and-yellow tail coverts,

black-and-yellow

be a

Here the

bills.

soil

fine site for a coffee-plantation

open to settlement.

was

fertile;

when

idle,

to

wilderness, while there are such teeming

lie

it

will

this region

Surely such a rich and

cannot be permitted to remain

and huge

fertile

is

land

as a tenantless

swarms of human

beings in the overcrowded, overpeopled countries of the

Old World.

make

The very

rapids and waterfalls which

now

the navigation of the river so difficult and danger-

ous would drive electric trolleys up and

down

its

whole

length and far out on either side, and run mills and fac-

Ked-andYellow Macaw

EgTet

Toco Toucan

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


tories,

291

With the incoming

and lighten the labor on farms.

of settlement and with the steady growth of knowledge

how

to fight and control tropical diseases, fear of danger

to health would vanish.


for the first explorers,

followers,

land like this

and perhaps

In mid-afternoon

a hard land

immediate

for their

who come

but not for the people

is

after

we were once more

them.

in the

canoes;

but we had paddled with the current only a few minutes,

we had gone only

a kilometre,

front again forced us to haul

when

the roar of rapids in

As

up to the bank.

usual,

Rondon, Lyra, and Kermit, with Antonio Correa, explored


both sides while camp was

being pitched.

were longer and of steeper descent than the

The

rapids

last,

but on

the opposite or western side there was a passage

down

which we thought we could get the empty dugouts at the

them only a few yards at one spot. The


loads were to be carried down the hither bank, for a kilometre, to the smooth water. The river foamed between
great rounded masses of rock, and at one point there was
cost of dragging

a sheer

fall

pineapples.

of six or eight feet.

Wild beans were

We

found and ate wild

in flower.

At dinner we had

a toucan and a couple of parrots, which were very good.


All next

three best

day was spent by Lyra

watermen

in superintending

our

down

the

as they took the canoes

west side of the rapids, to the foot, at the spot to which


the

camp had meantime been

shifted.

In the forest some

of the huge sipas, or rope vines, which were as big as cables,

bore clusters of fragrant flowers.

The men found

several

honey-trees, and fruits of various kinds, and small cocoanuts;

they chopped down an ample number of palms, for

the palm-cabbage; and, most important of

all,

they gath-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

292

ered a quantity of big Brazil-nuts, which

when

roasted

tasted like the best of chestnuts and are nutritious;

and

they caught a number of big piranhas, which were good


eating.

So we

to eat and

By

all

had a

feast,

and everybody had enough

was happy.

these rapids, at the

fall,

Cherrie found some strange

They were

carvings on a bare mass of rock.

made by men

Indians thereabouts
in

As

a long time ago.

make no such

far as

is

known, the

They were

now.

figures

evidently

two groups, one on the surface of the rock facing the

land, the other

The former were

nearly obliterated.

flat

were

latter

good preservation,

in

They

the figures sharply cut into the rock.

the upper

The

on that facing the water.

consisted,

upon

part of the rock, of four multiple circles

with a dot in the middle (), very accurately made and


about a foot and a half in diameter; and below them, on
the side of the rock, four multiple m's or inverted w's

What

curious

these

them, we could not, of course, form the

may

(flfc).

symbols represented, or who made


slightest idea.

It

be that in a very remote past some Indian tribes of

comparatively advanced culture had penetrated to this


lovely river, just as

men came

to

we had now come

to

it.

Before white

South America there had already existed

some rude, others

therein various semicivilizations,

advanced, which

rose,

immemorial

and then vanished.

ages,

flourished,

the history of humanity during

fairly

and persisted through

its

The

vicissitudes in

stay on this southern

continent have been as strange, varied, and inexplicable as

paleontology shows to have been the case, on the same continent, in the history of the higher forms of animal

ing the age of

mammals.

Colonel

Rondon

life

dur-

stated that such

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


figures

these

as

are

not found anywhere else in Matto

Grosso where he has been, and therefore

more strange to

known

river,

293

them

find

it

was

the

all

one place on the un-

in this

we

never before visited by white men, which

were descending.

Next morning we went about three kilometres before


coming to some steep
they were
rapids.

hills,

beautiful to look upon, clad as

in dense, tall, tropical forest,

Sure enough, at their foot

prepare for a long portage.

empty.

Even

so,

bend of the

among

rapids,

to haul

up and

The canoes we ran down


ace of losing two, the

In a sharp

ordinarily journeyed.

between two big

they were swept

curls,

the bowlders and under the matted branches which

stretched out from the bank.

current pinned
All of

other.

we had

we were within an

lashed couple in which

but ominous of new

They

filled,

and the racing

them where they were, one partly on the


us had to help get them clear. Their fas-

tenings were chopped asunder with axes.

Kermit and half

a dozen of the men, stripped to the skin,

made

to a small rock island in the

and

let

The

down

a rope which

rest of us,

above the canoes,

tied to the

outermost canoe.

up to our armpits and barely able to keep

our footing as we slipped and stumbled


in the swift current, lifted

men

among

tree.

Each canoe

in succession

rock island, baled, and then taken

two paddlers.

his

It

was hauled up the

down

in safety

by

was nearly four o'clock before we were

again ready to start, having been delayed


so

the bowlders

and shoved while Kermit and

pulled the rope and fastened the slack to a half-sub-

merged
little

way

just

little falls

we

their

heavy that we could not

see

by a rain-storm

across the river.

Ten

minutes' run took us to the head of another series of rapids;

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

294

we had
ahead of us; and we made camp in the
not matter much, as we were already

the exploring party returned with the news that

an

all

rain,

day's job

which did

drenched through.
to

make

fire sufficiently

for the rain

was

complete

it

in

hot to dry

falling.

still

boat, but, as at the


in a

was impossible, with the wet wood,

It

by a

our soggy things,

was seen from our

tapir

moment we were

circle

all

being whisked round

whirlpool, I did not myself see

time to shoot.

Next morning we went down a kilometre, and then


landed on the other side of the

river.

The canoes were

run down, and the loads carried to the other side of a


river

coming

in

from the west, which Colonel Rondon

tened Cherrie River.

Across this

huge tree

sisting of a

felled

we went on

little

chris-

a bridge con-

by Macario, one

of our best

Here we camped, while Rondon, Lyra, Kermit, and

men.

They were

ab-

Then they returned with

the

Antonio Correa explored what was ahead.


sent until mid-afternoon.

news that we were among ranges of low mountains, utterly


different in formation

from the high plateau region to which

the

we had come

first

rapids, those

belonged.

Through the

river ran in a gorge,

ately ahead of us.

that

it

difficult

first

to on the 2d of

March,

range of these mountains the

some three kilometres

The ground was

long,

so rough

immedi-

and steep

would be impossible to drag the canoes over

it

and

enough to carry the loads; and the rapids were so

bad, containing several


height, that

it

one of at least ten metres in

was doubtful how many of the canoes we

down them.
with much experience
who believed we could
could get

falls,

Kermit,

who was

the only

of rope work, was the only


get the canoes

down

at all;

man
man

and

it

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


was, of course, possible that

we should have

295

new

to build

ones at the foot to supply the place of any that were lost
or

left

In view of the length and character of the

behind.

portage, and of

all

the unpleasant possibilities that were

ahead, and of the need of keeping every pound of food,


it

was necessary to reduce weight

and to throw away everything except the barest

We
now we

way

every possible

in

necessities.

thought we had reduced our baggage before;

We

cut to the bone.

kept the

fly for all six

but
of us

to sleep under.

Kermit's shoes had gone, thanks to the

amount

in the

of

work

and he took the pair

my

spare pair.

one

set of

of socks,

water which he had been doing;

had been wearing, while

In addition to the clothes

wore,

kept

pajamas, a spare pair of drawers, a spare pair


half a dozen handkerchiefs,

pocket medicine-case, and a


spectacles, gun-grease,

little

be used at Manaos.

bag containing

my

cot, blanket,

wash-kit,

my

plaster,

my

spare

some needles
went into the

and mosquito-net.

my

my

purse and letter of

All of these

carried a cartridge-bag containing

and gauntlets.

my

bag containing

some adhesive

and thread, the "fly-dope," and


credit, to

put on

I also

cartridges, head-net,

Kermit cut down even

and the

closer;

others about as close.

The

last three

days of March we spent in getting to

the foot of the rapids in this gorge.

Lyra and Kermit,

with four of the best watermen, handled the empty canoes.

The work was not only


treme, but hazardous;

difficult

and laborious

in the ex-

for the walls of the gorge

sheer that at the worst places they

had to

cling to

were so

narrow

shelves on the face of the rock, while letting the canoes

down with

ropes.

Meanwhile Rondon surveyed and cut a

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

296

the burden-bearers, and superintended the portage

trail for

The rocky

of the loads.
for laden

the

trail

men

sides of the gorge

were too steep

to attempt to traverse them.

Accordingly

had to go over the top of the mountain, both the

ascent and the descent of the rock-strewn, forest-clad slopes

being very steep.

such a

trail.

opening

It

From

in the trees

was hard work to carry loads over

the top of the mountain, through an

on the edge of a

beautiful view of the country ahead.

cliff,

there was a

All around

and

in

front of us there were ranges of low mountains about the

height of the lower ridges of the Alleghanies.

Their sides

were steep and they were covered with the matted growth
of the tropical forest.

Our next camping-place,

at the foot

of the gorge, was almost beneath us, and from thence the
river ran in a straight line, flecked with white water, for

about a kilometre.

tween mountain
rapids.

It

Then

ridges,

it

disappeared behind and be-

which we supposed meant further

was a view well worth

seeing;

although the country ahead of us was,


such as to promise further hardships,

its

but, beautiful

character was

difficulty,

hausting labor, and especially further delay;

was a

serious matter to

men whose

and ex-

and delay

food supply was begin-

ning to run short, whose equipment was reduced to the

minimum, who for a month, with the utmost


made very slow progress, and who had no idea

toil,

had

of either

the distance or the difficulties of the route in front of them.

There was not much

life

in the

woods, big or

little.

Small birds were rare, although Cherrie's unwearied efforts

were rewarded from time to time by a species new to the


collection.

and

if

There were tracks of

we had taken two

tapir, deer,

and agouti;

or three days to devote to noth-

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER

297

them we might perchance have killed


something; but the chance was much too uncertain, the
work we were doing was too hard and wearing, and the
ing else than hunting

need of pressing forward altogether too great to permit


us to spend any time in such manner.
to

come

This type of well-nigh impene-

in incidentally.

trable forest

is

The hunting had

the one in which

it

is

most

difficult to get

game exists therein. A couple of curassows and a big monkey were killed by the colonel and
Kermit. On the day the monkey was brought in Lyra,

even what

little

Kermit, and their four associates had spent from sunrise


to sunset in severe

and

moments dangerous

at

toil

among

the rocks and in the swift water, and the fresh meat was
appreciated.

The head,

boiled for the gaunt

feet, tail, skin,

and

and ravenous dogs.

each of us a few mouthfuls; and

The

how good

were

entrails

gave

flesh

those mouth-

fuls tasted

Cherrie, in addition to being out after birds in every

He was

moment, helped in all emergencies.


eran in the work of the tropic wilderness.
spare

gether often, and of

many

We

a vet-

talked to-

things, for our views of

life,

and

of a man's duty to his wife and children, to other men, and


to

women, and

to the state in peace

essentials the same.

and war, were

His father had served

all

in all

through the

War, entering an Iowa cavalry regiment as a private


and coming out as a captain; his breast-bone was shattered
Civil

by a blow from a musket-butt,

in

hand-to-hand fighting at

Shiloh.

During

this portage the

coming toward the

weather favored

us.

close of the rainy season.

day of the month, when we moved camp to the

We

On

were

the last

foot of the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

298

was a thunder-storm; but on the whole we


were not bothered by rain until the last night, when it
gorge, there

rained heavily, driving under the fly so as to wet

However,

and bedding.
in the

damp

been uncomfortable;

On

cot

comfortably enough, rolled

I slept

Without the blanket

blanket.

my

a blanket

should have

a necessity for health.

is

the third day Lyra and Kermit, with their daring and

hard-working watermen, after wearing labor, succeeded

in

getting five canoes through the worst of the rapids to the


chief

fall.

The

sixth,

which was

frail

and weak, had

its

bottom beaten out on the jagged rocks of the broken water.

On

this night,

although

thought

my

had put

clothes

out of reach, both the termites and the carregadores ants

my drawers,

got at them, ate holes in one boot, ate one leg of

and riddled

my

handkerchief;

replace anything that

and

now had nothing

to

was destroyed.

Next day Lyra, Kermit, and


the five canoes that were

left

four days accomplished a

down

work

camaradas brought

their

to camp.

They had

in

of incredible labor and of

the utmost importance; for at the

first

glance

it

had seemed

an absolute impossibility to avoid abandoning the canoes

when we found
torrent at the

mountains.

how soon we

that the river sank into a cataract-broken

bottom of a canyon-like gorge between steep

On

April 2

we once more

started,

wondering

should strike other rapids in the mountains

the aneroid indicated, be so low

we should, as
we should nec-

essarily be in a plain

a journey of at

ahead, and whether in any reasonable time

least a

down that
where we could make

few days without rapids.

We

had been exactly a

month going through an uninterrupted succession of rapids.


During that month we had come only about no kilometres,

DOWN AN UNKNOWN
and had descended nearly 150 metres

we

canoes with which

had

and the

built,

which by

its

life

started,

of one

death had in

Colonel Rondon.

the

We

proximate but fairly accurate.*

RIVER

had

figures are ap-

lost four of the

and one other, which we

man; and the

In a straight

line

some

risk

of a dog
of

made more than


toil for

most

some of the party, and of

risk for

and some hardship

life

northward, toward

mile and a quarter a day; at the cost of bitter

much

life

probability saved the

all

our supposed destination, we had not

of the party, of

299

for all the party.

Most

of

the camaradas were downhearted, naturally enough, and

we really believed that we


and we had to cheer them up

occasionally asked one of us

should ever get out alive;


as best

we

could.

There was no change

We made

if

in

our work for the time being.

but three kilometres that day.

party walked

all

luggage until

we

the time;

Most

of the

but the dugouts carried the

struck the head of the series of rapids

which were to take up the next two or three days.


river rushed

The

through a wild gorge, a chasm or canyon,

between two mountains.

Its sides

were very steep, mere

rock walls, although in most places so covered with the luxuriant growth of the trees and bushes that clung in the
crevices,

and with green moss, that the naked rock was

hardly seen.
front,

sent

Rondon, Lyra, and Kermit, who were

found a small

level spot,

back word to camp

with a beach of sand, and

there, while they spent several

hours in exploring the country ahead.


* The
we made

in

The canoes were

first four days, before we struck the upper rapids, and during which
nearly seventy kilometres, are of course not included when I speak
of our making our way down the rapids.

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

300

run down empty, and the loads carried painfully along the
face of the

cliffs;

so

bad was the

that

trail

found

hard to follow, although carrying nothing but

The

cartridge-bag.

my

We

there were rapids as far as they had gone.

hope that the aneroid was not hopelessly out of

we

and

rifle

and that
could only

and

kilter,

should, therefore, fairly soon find ourselves in com-

The

paratively level country.


ited food supply,

was

telling

the spirits of the men;

severe

toil,

on a rather lim-

on the strength as well as on

Lyra and Kermit,

their other work, performed as

as

rather

explorers returned with the informa-

tion that the mountains stretched ahead of us,

that

it

much

in addition to

actual physical labor

any of them.

Next day, the 3d of April, we began the descent of these


sinister rapids of the

chasm.

Colonel

Rondon had gone

the summit of the mountain in order to find a better


for the burden-bearers, but

to go along the face of the


dition as that in

it

was

cliffs.

hopeless,

trail

and they had

Such an exploring expe-

which we were engaged of necessity

volves hard and dangerous labor, and perils of

To

follow down-stream an

to

unknown

river,

many

in-

kinds.

broken by innu-

merable cataracts and rapids, rushing through mountains


of which the existence has never been even guessed, bears

no resemblance whatever to following even a

fairly danger-

ous river which has been thoroughly explored and has be-

come

in

some

sort a

highway, so that experienced pilots

can be secured as guides, while the portages have been


pioneered and

trails

feature of the rapids

no one could

chopped out, and every dangerous


is

known beforehand.

foretell that the river

In this case

would cleave

through steep mountain chains, cutting narrow

its

way

clefts

in

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


which the

When

walls

cliff

rose

301

almost sheer on either hand.

a rushing river thus "canyons," as

we used

out West, and the mountains are very steep,

to say

becomes

it

down the river itself


portage them along the cliff sides,

almost impossible to bring the canoes

and utterly impossible to

while even to bring the loads over the mountain

how many times the task


when it will end, or whether

or

will

tell

have to be repeated,

the food will hold out;

every hour of work in the rapids


sibility of the

is

fraught with the pos-

gravest disaster, and yet

necessary to attempt

it;

and

a task

Moreover, no one

of extraordinary labor and difficulty.

can

is

this

all

it

imperatively

is

done

is

in

an unin-

habited wilderness, or else a wilderness tenanted only by


unfriendly savages, where failure to get through means

death by disease and starvation.

Wholesale disasters to

The

South American exploring parties have been frequent.


first

the

recent effort to descend one of the

Amazon from

a disaster.

as large as ours

Telles Peres.

thing

in

1889 by a party about

under a Brazilian engineer

officer,

Colonel

In descending some rapids they lost every-

canoes,

food,

medicine,

implements

except one officer

everything.

them died
and two men, who were rescued months

Fever smote them, and then starvation.

later.

rivers to

the Brazilian highlands resulted in such

was undertaken

It

unknown

All of

Recently, in Guiana, a wilderness veteran, Andre,

lost two-thirds of his

ness exploration

of wild nature

is

party by starvation.

Genuine wilder-

as dangerous as warfare.

demands the utmost

The conquest

vigor, hardihood,

daring, and takes from the conquerors a

heavy

toll

of

and
life

and health.
Lyra,

Kermit,

and Cherrie, with four of the men,

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

302

worked the canoes half-way down the canyon.


again

Again and

was touch and go whether they could get by a

it

At one spot the channel of the furious torrent was only fifteen yards across.
One canoe was lost,
so that of the seven with which we had started only two

given point.

were

and

left.

men

Cherrie labored with the other

also stood as

ing, of course

guard over them,

for,

no one could carry a

at times,

while actually work-

Kermit's experi-

rifle.

ence in bridge building was invaluable in enabling him to

do the rope work by which alone


canoes

down

shoes were rotten.

On

was

possible to get the

He and Lyra had now

been in

Their clothes were never dry.

Their

the canyon.

the water for days.

it

The

bruises

become

sores.

become

festering

of us.

Poisonous ants, biting

their bodies

on

legs

had

insect bites

had

their feet

some of the

and

wounds, as indeed was the case with


flies,

ticks,

wasps, bees were

a perpetual torment.

However, no one had yet been

ten by a venomous

serpent, a scorpion, or

although

we had

killed

all

of the

all

three

bit-

centiped,

within

camp

limits.

Under such conditions whatever is evil in men's natures


comes to the front. On this day a strange and terrible
tragedy occurred. One of the camaradas, a man of pure
European blood, was the man named Julio, of whom I
have already spoken. He was a very powerful fellow and
had been importunately eager to come on the expedition;
and he had the reputation of being a good worker.
like so

many men

But,

of higher standing, he had had no idea

what such an expedition really meant, and under the


strain of toil, hardship, and danger his nature showed its
He
true depths of selfishness, cowardice, and ferocity.

of

DOWN AN UNKNOWN
shirked

make him do

always

shamelessly

303

Nothing could

sickness.

and yet unlike

his share;

he was

fellows

He shammed

work.

all

RIVER

his self-respecting

begging for favors.

Kermit was the only one of our party who smoked;


he was continually giving a

who worked

camaradas,

little

but Julio,

it;

was always, and always

labor,

tobacco to some of the

in

The

under him.

especially well

good men did not ask for

and

who

vain,

shirked every

demanding

it.

work
do anything with him had to

Colonel Rondon, Lyra, and Kermit each tried to get

out of him, and in order to

threaten to leave him in the wilderness.


tasks on his comrades;

On

as well as ours.

He threw

all

his

and, moreover, he stole their food

such an expedition the theft of food

comes next to murder as a crime, and should by rights be


punished as such.

We

could not trust

him

to cut

down

palms or gather nuts, because he would stay out and eat

what ought to have gone


nally,

him

the

men on

into

the

common

store.

Fi-

several occasions themselves detected

Alone of the whole party, and

stealing their food.

thanks to the stolen food, he had kept

in full flesh

and

bodily vigor.

One

of our best

men was

a huge negro

Paishona corporal and acting sergeant


corps.

He

had,

pieces, so that

by the way,

named Paixao
in the

engineer

literally torn his trousers to

he wore only the tatters of a pair of old

my

when we lightened loads. He was a stern disciplinarian. One evening


he detected Julio stealing food and smashed him in the
mouth. Julio came crying to us, his face working with
drawers until

fear

gave him

spare trousers

and malignant hatred; but

told that he

had gotten

off

after investigation he

uncommonly

lightly.

was

The men

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

304

had three or four carbines, which were sometimes carried

by those who were not

On

this

their owners.

morning, at the outset of the portage, Pedrinho

discovered Julio stealing some of the men's dried meat.

Shortly afterward Paishon rebuked him

By

ging behind.

where the canoes were

down one

were

sitting

the last loads to be brought along the


still

in the

a load,

camp we had

left it

down
the

We

trail for

his load, picked

trail,

place

down, waiting

for

Pedrinho was

trail.

Paishon had just brought in

left.

on the ground with

returned on the

the

bank and then taken

tied to the

We

at a time.

we had reached

time

this

for, as usual, lag-

his carbine beside

it,

and

came

in,

put

another load.

up the

carbine,

Julio

and walked back on

muttering to himself but showing no excitement.

thought nothing of

it,

for he

was always muttering;

and occasionally one of the men saw a monkey or big


bird and tried to shoot

man

it,

so

it

was never surprising to

see

with a carbine.

In a minute we heard a shot; and in a short time three


or four of the

men came up

the

was dead, having been shot by


woods.

Colonel

trail to tell

Julio,

us that Paishon

who had

fled into the

Rondon and Lyra were ahead;

sent a

messenger for them, directed Cherrie and Kermit to stay

where they were and guard the canoes and provisions, and

an absolutely cool
and a couple
and plucky man, with a revolver but no

started

down

the trail with the doctor

rifle

of the camaradas.

Paishon.

He

where he had

We

soon passed the dead body of poor

lay in a huddle, in a pool of his


fallen,

own

shot through the heart.

blood,

feared

that Julio had run amuck, and intended merely to take

more

lives before

he died, and that he would begin with

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


who was

Pedrinho,

Accordingly

left.

ions, looking

the

camp

"My
I'll

unarmed

alone and
I

in the

pushed on, followed by

sharply right and

camp we had

my

compan-

but when we came to

left;

the doctor quietly walked by me, remarking,

eyes are better than yours, colonel;

point

305

him out

you have the

to you, as

if

he

rifle."

is

in sight

However,

he was not there, and the others soon joined us with the

welcome news that they had found the carbine.

The murderer had stood to one side of the path and


killed his victim, when a dozen paces off, with deliberate
and malignant purpose. Then evidently his murderous hatred had at once given

way

to his innate cowardice;

and,

perhaps hearing some one coming along the path, he

in panic terror into the wilderness.

tree

fled

had knocked

His footsteps showed that after

the carbine from his hand.

going some rods he had started to return, doubtless for the


carbine, but

had

fled

again, probably because the

had then been discovered.

It

body

was questionable whether or

not he would live to reach the Indian villages, which were

probably his goal.


never a

common

He was

feeling;

not a

man

to feel remorse

but surely that murderer was

in

him from
way through the empty deso-

a living hell, as, with fever and famine leering at

the shadows, he

made

lation of the wilderness.

his

Franca, the cook, quoted out of the

melancholy proverbial philosophy of the people the proverb

"No man knows

the heart of any one"; and then expressed

with deep conviction a weird ghostly belief


countered before: "Paishon
follow

him

is

had never en-

following Julio now, and will

until he dies; Paishon

fell

forward on his hands

and knees, and when a murdered man

falls

like that his

ghost will follow the slayer as long as the slayer lives."

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

306

We

We

did not attempt to pursue the murderer.

could

not legally put him to death, although he was a soldier


in cold blood

had

who

just deliberately killed a fellow soldier.

we would have done our


best to bring him in and turn him over to justice.
But we
were in the wilderness, and how many weeks' journey were
ahead of us we could not tell. Our food was running low,
sickness was beginning to appear among the men, and both
If

we had been near

their courage

Our

first

men

and

civilization

their strength

duty was to save the

were gradually ebbing.

and the health of the

lives

who had honestly been performing,


perform, so much perilous labor. If we

of the expedition

and had

still

to

brought the murderer

in

he would have to be guarded

night and day on an expedition where there were always

loaded firearms about, and where there would continually

be opportunity and temptation for him to make an

effort

weapon and escape, perhaps murdersome other good man. He could not be shackled while

to seize food and a

ing

climbing along the

cliff

slopes;

he could not be shackled in

the canoes, where there was always chance of upset and

drowning; and standing guard would be an additional and


severe penalty on the weary, honest

by overwork.

The

men

expedition was in

to take every chance possible that

already exhausted

peril,

and

it

was wise

would help secure

suc-

Whether the murderer lived or died in the wilderness


was of no moment compared with the duty of doing everycess.

thing to secure the safety of the rest of the party.

For the

two days following we were always on the watch against


his return, for he could have readily killed some one else

by
cliff

rolling rocks

down on any

sides or in the

men working on
But we did
gorge.

of the

bottom of the

the

not

DOWN AN UNKNOWN
him

see

until the

RIVER

307

We

had passed

morning of the third day.

the last of the rapids of the chasm, and the four boats

were going down-stream when he appeared behind some


trees

on the bank and

wished to sur-

called out that he

render and be taken aboard; for the murderer was an arrant craven at heart, a strange mixture of ferocity and

Colonel Rondon's boat was far in advance; he

cowardice.

did not stop nor answer.

the rear boats, for

kept on in similar fashion with

had no intention of taking the mur-

derer aboard, to the jeopardy of the other


party, unless Colonel

Rondon

me

told

members

that

it

of the

would have

to be done in pursuance of his duty as an officer of the

Government of Brazil. At the


halt Colonel Rondon came up to me and told me that
was his view of his duty, but that he had not stopped

army and
first

this

a servant of the

because he wished
expedition.

above

first

to consult

answered that for the reasons enumerated

we should

jeopardize their safety

the murderer along, and that


I

all

the other enlisted

dition,

if

and

in return

own governmental

men

of

by taking

the responsibility were

should refuse to take him;

Rondon, was the superior


of

as the chief of the

did not believe that in justice to the good

the expedition

mine

me

officer of

but that he, Colonel

both the murderer and

men and army

was responsible

officers

on the expe-

for his actions to his

superiors and to the laws of Brazil;

and

that in view of this responsibility he must act as his sense


of duty bade him.

Accordingly, at the next

back two men, expert woodsmen, to


bring

him

in.

They

*The above account


was read

to

of

and approved

find the

failed to find him.*


all

camp he

sent

murderer and
fc

the circumstances connected with the murder


by all six members of the expedition.

as correct

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

308

have anticipated

my

narrative because

to recur to the horror more than

turn to

my

After

story.

now

re-

that Julio had

fled,

we

necessary.

is

we found

do not wish

The murdered man

returned to the scene of the tragedy.

We

lay with a handkerchief thrown over his face.

him

buried

With axes and knives


the camaradas dug a shallow grave while we stood by with
bared heads. Then reverently and carefully we lifted the
poor body which but half an hour before had been so full
of vigorous life.
Colonel Rondon and I bore the head and
shoulders.
We laid him in the grave, and heaped a" mound
beside the place where he

fell.

We

over him, and put a rude cross at his head.


volley for a brave and loyal soldier

Then we

duty.

left

him

forever,

who had

fired a

died doing his

under the great trees be-

side the lonely river.

That day we got only half-way down the rapids. There


was no good place to camp. But at the foot of one steep
was a narrow, bowlder-covered slope where

cliff

there

was

possible to sling

spot was found for

time
little

it

hammocks and

my

cot,

cook;

it

and a slanting

which had sagged

until

looked like a broken-backed centiped.

by

this

It rained a

during the night, but not enough to wet us much.

Next day Lyra, Kermit, and Cherrie

finished their job,

and brought the four remaining canoes to camp, one leaking badly from the battering on the rocks.

We

then went

down-stream a few hundred yards, and camped on the opit

was

The men were growing constantly weaker under

the

posite side;

it

was not a good camping-place, but

better than the one

we

left.

endless strain of exhausting labor.

Kermit was having an

attack of fever, and Lyra and Cherrie had touches of dys-

Rapids at the chasm


From

We

bathed and

swam

a photograph by Cherrie

in the river

From

although

a photograph by

in it

we caught piranhas

Kermlt Roosevelt

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


entery, but

all

water trying to help with an upset canoe


clumsiness bruised

my

sulting inflammation

had by

leg against a bowlder;

in the

my own

and the

was somewhat bothersome.

had a sharp attack of


care of the doctor,

While

continued to work.

three

309

now

but thanks to the excellent

fever,

was over

re-

it

in

about forty-eight hours;

but permit's fever grew worse and he too was unable to

work

for a

however.

We

day or two.

good doctor

is

could walk over the portages,

an absolute necessity on an

exploring expedition in such a country as that


in,

under penalty of a

bers;

frightful mortality

and the necessary

risks

among

them by the

the

and hazards are so

the chances of disaster so large, that there


for increasing

we were

is

memgreat,

no warrant

failure to take all feasible pre-

cautions.

The next day we made another long portage round some


rapids, and camped at night still in the hot, wet, sunless
atmosphere of the gorge. The following day, April 6, we
portaged past another set of rapids, which proved to be
the last of the rapids of the chasm.

we kept

passing

hills,

and feared

For some kilometres

lest at

any moment we

might again find ourselves fronting another mountain gorge;


with, in such case, further days of grinding and perilous

labor ahead of us, while our

Most

men were

disheartened, weak,

them had already begun to have fever.


Their condition was inevitable after over a month's uninterrupted work of the hardest kind in getting through the
long series of rapids we had just passed; and a long further delay, accompanied by wearing labor, would have
almost certainly meant that the weakest among our party
would have begun to die. There were already two of the
and

sick.

of

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

310

camaradas who were too weak to help the others, their


condition being such as to cause us serious concern.

However, the

and the

hills

gradually sank into a level plain,

river carried us

through

it

at a rate that enabled

us during the remainder of the day to reel off thirty-six


kilometres, a record that for the

Twice

my

canoe.

killed

swam

tapirs

first

the river while

time held out promise.

we

passed, but not near

However, the previous evening Cherrie had

two monkeys and Kermit one, and we

all

had a few

mouthfuls of fresh meat; we had already had a good soup

made out of a turtle Kermit had caught. We had to portage by one short set of rapids, the unloaded canoes being
brought down without difficulty. At last, at four in the
afternoon, we came to the mouth of a big river running in
from the

We

right.

thought

it

was probably the Ananas,

but, of course, could not be certain.

It

was

less in

volume

than the one we had descended, but nearly as broad;

its

breadth at this point being ninety-five yards as against

one hundred and twenty for the larger

river.

There were

rapids ahead, immediately after the junction, which took


place in latitude io 58' south.

metres

We

started.

two

told,

all

rivers.

We

had come 216

and were nearly north of where we had

camped on the point


It was extraordinary

of land between the


to

realize

unknown

by even a

hint on

any map.

We named
officer of

this big tributary

the commission

beriberi just as our expedition began.

We

a day at this spot, determining our exact position


sun,

river,

to the cartographers and not indicated

Rio Cardozo, after a gallant

had died of

here

that

about the eleventh degree we were on such a big


utterly

kilo-

and afterward by the

stars,

who

spent

by the

and sending on two men to

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


explore the rapids in advance.

311

They returned with

the news

that there were big cataracts in them, and that they would

form an obstacle to our progress.


huge

camp.

in

lovely;

for

This evening at sunset the view across

the broad river, from our

was very

also caught a

which furnished an excellent meal

siluroid fish,

everybody

They had

and

camp where

the two rivers joined,

time we had an open

for the first

space in front of and above us, so that after nightfall the

and the great waxing moon, were glorious overhead,

stars,

and against the rocks


gleamed

in

midstream the broken water

like tossing silver.

The huge

catfish

which the men had caught was over

three feet and a half long, with the usual enormous head,

out of

all

out of

proportion to the body, and the enormous mouth,

all

proportion to the head.

Such

fish,

their teeth are small, swallow very large prey.

although

This one

contained the nearly digested remains of a monkey.


ably the

monkey had been

seized while drinking

end of a branch; and once engulfed


there

was no

in that

We Americans were

escape.

Prob-

from the

yawning cavern

astounded at the

making prey of a monkey; but our Brazilian friends told us that in the lower Madeira and the
part of the Amazon near its mouth there is a still more
idea of a catfish

gigantic catfish

which

prey of man.

This

long,

in similar fashion occasionally

is

makes

a grayish-white fish over nine feet

with the usual disproportionately large head and

gaping mouth, with a

mouth
piraiba

itself is

circle

of small teeth; for the engulfing

the danger, not the teeth.

pronounced

in four syllables.

the small city of Itacoatiara, on the


of the Madeira, the doctor

It

is

called the

While stationed at

Amazon,

at the

mouth

had seen one of these monsters

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

312

which had been

by the two men it had attacked.


a canoe when it rose from the bottom

killed

They were

fishing in

a ground fish

for

it

is

and raising

itself half

out of the

water lunged over the edge of the canoe at them, with open

They

mouth.

killed

called in Brazil.
in

It

it

with their falcons, as machetes are

was taken round the

an ox-cart; the doctor saw

long.

He

said that

and said

it,

swimmers feared

it
it

city in

triumph

was three metres


even more than

the big cayman, because they could see the latter, whereas
the former lay hid at the bottom of the water.

Rondon

said that in

many

villages

Colonel

where he had been on

the lower Madeira the people had built stockaded enclo-

which they bathed, not venturing to

sures in the water in

swim in the open water for fear of the piraiba and the big
cayman.
Next day, April 8, we made five kilometres only, as
there was a succession of rapids.
We had to carry the
loads past two of them, but ran the canoes without difficulty, for

on the west

through the
still

forest.

side

The

were long canals of swift water


river

had been higher, but was

very high, and the current raced round the

islands that at this point divided the channel.

we made camp

at the

many

At four

head of another stretch of rapids,

over which the Canadian canoes would have danced without shipping a teaspoonful of water, but which our dugouts
could only run empty.

Cherrie killed three monkeys and

Lyra caught two big piranhas, so that we were again


of us well provided with dinner and breakfast.

number

of men, doing hard work, are

half-rations,

reasonably

meal that does

arrive.

most of the time on

they grow to take a lively interest

full

When

all

in

any

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


On

the ioth

we repeated

313

the proceedings: a short quick

a few hundred metres' portage, occupying, however,

run;

at least a couple of hours;

other rapids.

We

again

again a few minutes' run; again

made

less

than

five kilometres;

in

we had been descending nearly a metre for


every kilometre we made in advance; and it hardly seemed

the two days

as

if

this state of things could last, for the aneroid

showed

we were getting very low down. How I longed for


a big Maine birch-bark, such as that in which I once went
down the Mattawamkeag at high water! It would have
slipped down these rapids as a girl trips through a country

that

dance.

But our loaded dugouts would have shoved

their

The country was lovely. The


one channel, now in several channels,

noses under every curl.

now in
wound among hills;
wide

river,

in the sunlight;

the

the shower-freshened forest glistened

many

kinds of beautiful palm-fronds

and the huge pacova-leaves stamped the peculiar look of


the tropics on the whole landscape

it

was

like

passing

by water through a gigantic botanical garden. In the


afternoon we got an elderly toucan, a piranha, and a reasonably edible side-necked river-turtle; so we had fresh
meat again. We slept as usual in earshot of rapids. We
had been out six weeks, and almost all the time we had
been engaged in wearily working our way down and past
rapid after rapid.
Rapids are by far the most dangerous
enemies of explorers and travellers

who journey

along these

rivers.

Next day was a repetition of the same work. All the


morning was spent in getting the loads to the foot of the

we were encamped, down which


canoes were run empty. Then for thirty or forty

rapids at the head of which

the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

314

minutes we ran down the

twisting river, the

swift,

two

lashed canoes almost coming to grief at one spot where a

threw them against some trees on a

swirl of the current

Then we came to another set of


baggage down past them, and made

small submerged island.


rapids,

carried the

camp long

after

dark

in the rain

who were

tience for those of us

from

No

fever.

one was

good exercise

still

in really

suffering

in pa-

somewhat

buoyant health.

For

some weeks we had been sharing part of the contents of


our boxes with the camaradas; but our food was not very
satisfying to them.

They needed

quantity, and the main-

stay of each of their meals was a mass of palmitas; but on


this

day they had no time to cut down palms.

We

finally

decided to run these rapids with the empty canoes, and they

came down in safety. On such a trip it is highly undesirable


to take any save necessary risks, for the consequences of
disaster are too serious; and yet if no risks are taken the
progress is so slow that disaster comes anyhow; and it is
necessary perpetually to vary the terms of the perpetual

working compromise between rashness and overcaution.


This night we had a very good
fellow called a pescada,

of a

fish to eat,

kind

a big silvery

we had not caught

before.

One day Trigueiro failed to embark with the rest of us,


and we had to camp where we were next day to find him.
Easter Sunday we spent in the fashion with which we were
altogether too familiar.

ten minutes

all

told,

the loads past rapids


the

balsa

We

only ran in a clear course for

and spent eight hours

down which

was almost swamped.

twenty-eight big

fish,

in portaging

the canoes were run;

This

day we caught

mostly piranhas, and everybody had

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER


all

315

he could eat for dinner, and for breakfast the following

morning.

The forenoon

wearisome work; but

this

began to run

first

We made

The

following

The

day, April

which entered on our

rapids,

We

and usually tranquil

when we

started the view

was

a good

passed a

little

ran two or three light

and portaged the loads by another.

in long

and

we made

14,

We

left.

was soothing and

silence

run of some thirty-two kilometres.


river

fifteen kilo-

time in several weeks camped where

did not hear the rapids.

restful.

repetition of

late in the afternoon the river

in long quiet reaches.

metres, and for the

we

was a

of the following day

river ran

In the morning

stretches.
lovely.

The

There was a mist,

for a couple of miles the great river,

broad and quiet,

ran between the high walls of tropical forest, the tops of


the giant trees showing dim through the haze.

members

of the party caught

and a couple of jacu-tinga


size of

a fowl

so

many

fish,

and shot a monkey

birds kin to a turkey, but the

we again had

camp

of plenty.

dry season was approaching, but there were


drenching rains.

On

this

Different

still

The

heavy,

day the men found some new

nuts of which they liked the taste;

but the nuts proved

unwholesome and half of the men were very

sick

and un-

work the following day. In the balsa only two


were left fit to do anything, and Kermit plied a paddle all
day long.
Accordingly, it was a rather sorry crew that embarked
the following morning, April 15. But it turned out a redThe day before, we had come across cuttings,
letter day.
a year old, which were probably but not certainly made by
But on this day during which we
pioneer rubber-men.
able to

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

316

made

twenty-five kilometres

we found on

a half

the

left

two hours and


bank a board on a post, with
after running

show the farthest-up point which a


rubber-man had reached and claimed as his own. An hour

the

farther

planted
at

A., to

initials J.

down we came on
clearing; and we

No

cheered heartily.

little

one was

home, but the house, of palm thatch, was clean and

cool.

ings

couple of dogs were on watch, and the belong-

showed that a man, a woman, and a

and had only just


lar

a newly built house in a

left.

child lived there,

Another hour brought us to a simi-

house where dwelt an old black man,

who showed

We

innate courtesy of the Brazilian peasant.

the

came on

these rubber-men and their houses in about latitude io 24/.

In mid-afternoon

we stopped

at

another clean, cool,

The

picturesque house of palm thatch.

inhabitants

at our approach, fearing an Indian raid;

for

they were

come from the

absolutely unprepared to have any one

unknown

all fled

They returned and were most


and communicative; and we spent the night

regions up-stream.

hospitable

Said Antonio Correa to Kermit: "It seems like a

there.

dream to be in a house again, and hear the voices of men


and women, instead of being among those mountains and
rapids."
The river was known to them as the Castanho,
and was the main affluent, or rather the left or western
branch, of the Aripuanan;

the Castanho

by the rubber-gatherers only;


raphers.

We

it

is

is

unknown

name used

to the geog-

were, according to our informants, about

fif-

teen days' journey from the confluence of the two rivers;

but there were

whom

many rubber-men

had become permanent

along the banks, some of

settlers.

We

had come over

three hundred kilometres, in forty-eight days, over abso-

DOWN AN UNKNOWN RIVER

317

unknown ground; we had seen no human being, although we had twice heard Indians. Six weeks had been
spent in steadily slogging our way down through the inlutely

terminable series of rapids.

when we were on

realize that

of

But, after

existence.

before,

a river of about the size of the upper

Rhine or Elbe, to
its

was astonishing

It

grade had ever been on

no geographer had any idea


no

all,

civilized

man

of

any

Here, however, was a river

it.

with people dwelling along the banks, some of

whom had

lived in the neighborhood for eight or ten years;

and yet on

no standard map was there a hint of the

We

map

were putting on the

between

five

and eight

anan

is

if,

and

in

it

of which no geographer,

had even admitted the

possibility of the existence;

by

imaginarystreams,

we

started,

in

Europe, or the United States, or

for the place actually occupied

Before

of between seven

as should properly be done, the lower Aripu-

included as part of

by other

a river, running through

six degrees of latitude

any map published


Brazil,

river's existence.

it

was

filled,

on the maps,

by mountain ranges.
the Amazonas Boundary Commission
or

had come up the lower Aripuanan and then the eastern


branch, or upper Aripuanan, to 8 48', following the course

which

for a couple of decades

had been followed by the

rubber-men, but not going as high.


this

An

commission or of one of the big rubber-men, had been

up the Castanho, which


course, to about the

is

same

easy of ascent in

lower

we found out

while

ourselves were descending the lower Castanho.

The

lower main stream, and the lower portion of


ent,

its

latitude, not going nearly as

high as the rubber-men had gone; this

we

employee, either of

the Castanho, had

its

main

afflu-

been commercial highways for

318

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

rubber-men and

settlers for nearly

speedily found, were

easy to traverse as the upper

as

we had

stream, which

two decades, and, as we

just

come down, was

but the governmental and

traverse;

difficult

to

scientific authorities,

native and foreign, remained in complete ignorance;

and

the rubber-men themselves had not the slightest idea of


the

headwaters, which were

by

traversed
in length

civilized

at least,

perior, to the

men.

Evidently the Castanho was,

substantially equal, and probably su-

upper Aripuanan;

likely that the

country never hitherto

in

it

now seemed even more

Ananas was the headwaters of the main

stream than of the Cardozo.*

For the

first

time this

great river, the greatest affluent of the Madeira,

be put on the map; and the understanding of


tion and real relationship, and the clearing

problem of the sources of


ents of the Madeira,

all

its real

absolutely

these lower right-hand afflu-

was rendered

unknown

wilderness.

geography

esteemed

At
it

posi-

up of the complex

possible

by the seven

weeks of hard and dangerous labor we had spent

down an
unknown

was to

river,

in

going

through an absolutely

this stage of the

growth of world

a great piece of good fortune to be

able to take part in such a feat

a feat which represented

the capping of the pyramid which during the previous seven


years had been built

by the labor of the

Brazilian Tele-

graphic Commission.

We

had passed the period when there was a chance of

*I hope that this year the Ananas, or Pineapple, will also be put on the
map. One of Colonel Rondon's subordinates is to attempt the descent of the
We passed the headwaters of the Pineapple on the high plateau, very
river.
possibly we passed its mouth, although it is also possible that it empties into
But it will not be "put on the map" until some one
the Canama or Tapajos.
descends and finds out where, as a matter of fact, it really does go.

DOWN AN UNKNOWN
peril,

of disaster, to the whole expedition.

ahead to individuals, and some

risk

RIVER

ances for

of us; but there

all

now no

There might be

and annoy-

difficulties

was no longer the

hood of any disaster to the expedition

319

least likeli-

as a whole.

We

longer had to face continual anxiety, the need of

constant economy with food, the duty of labor with no

end

in sight,
It

and

bitter uncertainty as to the future.

was time to get

out.

The wearing work, under very

unhealthy conditions, was beginning to

tell

on every one.

Half of the camaradas had been down with fever and

were much weakened;


original physical

only a few of them retained their

and moral strength.

Cherrie and Kermit

had recovered; but both Kermit and Lyra


sores

on their

work.
fever

was

I
still

working

legs,

in

from the bruises received

The

worse shape.

hung on; and the

in the rapids

leg

had cut

of the

after effects

which had been hurt while

with the sunken canoe had taken a

The good
owe much,

open and inserted a drainage tube;

an added

whose unwearied care and kindness

it

water

in the

turn for the bad and developed an abscess.


doctor, to

had bad

still

charm being given the operation, and the subsequent

dress-

by the enthusiasm with which the piums and boroshudas took part therein. I could hardly hobble, and was
But "there aren't no 'stop, conductor,'
pretty well laid up.
while a battery's changing ground." No man has any
ings,

business to go on such a trip as ours unless he will refuse


to jeopardize the welfare of his associates

by any delay

caused by a weakness or ailment of

is

go forward,
tunately,

shape until

if

necessary on

all

It

his.

fours, until

was put to no such


we had passed the

test.

his

duty to

he drops.

remained

in

For-

good

last of the rapids of the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

320

When my

chasms.

canoe-riding ahead of us.

came we had only

trouble

serious
It

man

not ideal for a sick

is

day stretched on the


the bottom of a small open dugout, under the

to spend the hottest hours of the

boxes in

well-nigh intolerable heat of the torrid sun of the midtropics, varied

but

by

blinding, drenching

downpours of

rain;

could not be sufficiently grateful for the chance.

Kermit and Cherrie took care of me

as

if

they had been

Rondon and Lyra were no

trained nurses; and Colonel

less

thoughtful.

The north was calling


north Rocky Dell Farm

and to Kermit the

we

could

side

now

call

see the

strongly to the three


to Cherrie,

was stronger

Sagamore

men

of the

Hill to

Dipper well above the horizon

up-

down, with the two pointers pointing to a north

below the world's rim; but the Dipper, with


In our

home country

now come,

spring had

me;

After nightfall

still.

star

all its stars.

the wonderful

northern spring of long, glorious days, of brooding twilights,


of cool delightful nights.
lark

Robin and bluebird, meadow-

and song-sparrow, were singing

home; the maple-buds were

red;

in the

mornings at

windflowers and blood-

root were blooming while the last patches of


lingered;

snow

the rapture of the hermit-thrush in Vermont,

the serene golden melody of the wood-thrush on


Island,

still

would be heard before we were there to

Each man to

his

home, and to

his true love

Long
listen.

Each was

longing for the homely things that were so dear to him,


for the

home

who was

people

dearest of

who were
all.

dearer

still,

and

for the one

CHAPTER X
TO THE AMAZON AND HOME; ZOOLOGICAL AND
GEOGRAPHICAL RESULTS OF THE EXPEDITION

Our
now

adventures and our troubles were alike over.

We

experienced the incalculable contrast between descend-

known and

ing a

unknown.

After four days

with us as guide.
passable

and one that

travelled river,

He knew

when we came

utterly

is

we hired a rubber-man to go
exactly

what channels were

to the rapids,

when

the canoes

had to unload, and where the carry-trails were.

was

It

all

we had gone through. We


for at night we stopped at

child's

play compared to what

made

long days' journeys,

some palm-thatched house, inhabited or abandoned, and


therefore the

men were

spared the labor of making camp;

and we bought ample food


ther need

palm-tops.

them, so there was no fur-

and chopping down palms

of fishing

The heat

for

of the sun

was blazing; but

for
it

the

looked

we had come back into the rainy season, for there


were many heavy rains, usually in the afternoon, but sometimes in the morning or at night. The mosquitoes were
as

if

sometimes rather troublesome at night.

In the daytime

the piums swarmed, and often bothered us even

were

in

when we

midstream.

For four days there were no rapids we could not run


without unloading.

Then, on the 19th, we got a canoe

from Senhor Barboso.

He was
321

most kind and hospi-

322

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

table

man, who

mandioc and

also

gave us a duck and a chicken and some

pounds of rice, and would take no payment;

six

he lived in a roomy house with his dusky, cigar-smoking

many children. The new canoe was light and


roomy, and we were able to rig up a low shelter under
which I could lie; I was still sick. At noon we passed
wife and his

the

mouth

the

left;

of a big river, the Rio Branco, coming in from

was about

this

ward we came to the

in latitude 9

first

Soon

38'.

after-

We

serious rapids, the Panela.

down the empty canoes, and


roomy house. The doctor bought

carried the boats past, ran

camped at the foot in a


a handsome trumpeter bird, very friendly and confiding,
which was thenceforth my canoe companion.
We had already passed many inhabited and a still
houses.
The dwellers were
larger number of uninhabited

rubber-men, but generally they were permanent settlers


also,

home-makers, with their wives and children.

men and women, were

both of the

Some,

apparently of pure

negro blood, or of pure Indian or south European blood;

but in the great majority

all

three strains were mixed in

They were most friendly,


Often they refused payment

varying degrees.

courteous, and

hospitable.

for

could afford, out of their

little,

to give us.

charge, the prices were very high, as


live

what they

When

was but

they did

just, for

they

back of the beyond, and everything costs them fabu-

what they raise themselves. The cool, bare


houses of poles and palm thatch contained little except
hammocks and a few simple cooking-utensils; and often
lously, save

a clock or sewing-machine, or Winchester

own

country.

fragrant roses.

They

rifle,

from our

often had flowers planted, including

Their only

live stock,

except the dogs, were

TO THE AMAZON AND HOME

323

They planted patches

a few chickens and ducks.

man-

of

dioc, maize, sugar-cane, rice, beans, squashes, pineapples,

bananas, lemons, oranges, melons, peppers;

and various

purely native fruits and vegetables, such as the kniabo

a vegetable-fruit growing on the branches of a high bush

which

is

They

cooked with meat.

get

some game from

the forest, and more fish from the river.

is

to the

and the church has ignored

governmental authorities;

them

no

is

indeed,

among them
barely known

representative of the government

even now their very existence

There

When

as completely as the state.

they wish to get

married they have to spend several months getting down


to and back from

Manaos

ally the first christening

and are always

and usu-

squatter's right

danger of being ousted by

in

men who come

unscrupulous big

city;

and the marriage ceremony are

They have merely

held at the same time.


to the land,

some smaller

or

in late,

but with a

title

The land laws should be shaped

technically straight.

so

as to give each of these pioneer settlers the land he actually takes

up and

cultivates,

and upon which he makes

home.

The

he

with his own hands,

tills

small home-maker,

who owns

is

his

the land which

the greatest element of

strength in any country.

These are

real

pioneer settlers.

No

wilderness-winners.

or thoroughly explored,

continent

by a few

is

They

made by

leaders, or exceptional

The

service.

thorough exploration and settlement,

a nameless multitude of small

most important

the true

ever really conquered,

men, although such men can render great


real conquest, the

are

are,

men

of

whom

of course, the home-makers.

is

the

Each

treads most of the time in the footsteps of his predecessors,

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

324

but for some few miles, at some time or other, he breaks

new ground; and

house

his

is

built

where no house has

Such a man, the

ever stood before.

have no strong desire

for social life

must

real pioneer,

and no need, prob-

ably no knowledge, of any luxury, or of any comfort save


of the most elementary kind.

The

pioneer

who

is

always

longing for the comfort and luxury of civilization, and especially of great cities,

whom we met

settlers

fruitful;

no

real pioneer at

were contented to

They had found

ness.

is

These

live in the wilder-

the climate healthy and the

soil

a visit to a city was a very rare event, nor was

there any overwhelming desire for

it.

In short, these men, and those

on the

all.

frontier

between

civilization

now playing the part


when over a century and
are

them everywhere

like

and savagery

in Brazil,

played by our backwoodsmen


a quarter ago they began the

conquest of the great basin of the Mississippi;

the part

played by the Boer farmers for over a century in South


Africa,

and by the Canadians when

less

than half a century

ago they began to take possession of their Northwest.

Every now and then some one says that the "last frontier"
is

now

to be found in

On

almost vanished.

be found in Brazil

United States

The

and

first settlers

settlers

came

Canada

or Africa, and that

a far larger scale this frontier

it

to Brazil a century before the

to the United States and Canada.

ish.

For the

to

at that time

last half-century

was almost

as

bad

first

For three

Portuguese

government

is

vanishes.

hundred years progress was very slow


lonial

has

country as big as Europe or the

decades will pass before

came

it

as

co-

Span-

and over there has been a

steady increase in the rapidity of the rate of development;

At the rubber-man's house

pdf ww~ *

^^r

_,__

-_-

-**mi

--~

sf ?

T - ^=-.-=

The canoe

T-

.^_^,-~=zr

^r-- 7^

rigged with a cover under which Colonel Roosevelt travelled

From

photographs by Cherrie

when

sick

TO THE AMAZON AND HOME


and

this increase bids fair to

325

be constantly more rapid in

the future.

The

hunting for lands, slaves, and mines,

Paolistas,

were the

first

native Brazilians who, a hundred years ago,

played a great part in opening to settlement vast stretches

The rubber hunters have played a similar


part during the last few decades.
Rubber dazzled them,
as gold and diamonds have dazzled other men and driven
them forth to wander through the wide waste spaces of
Searching for rubber they made highways of
the world.
rivers the very existence of which was unknown to the
governmental authorities, or to any map-makers. Whether
of wilderness.

they succeeded or

them

settlers,

who

failed,

toiled,

Settlement began;

dren.

entered on

On

they everywhere

behind

left

married, and brought up chilthe conquest of the wilderness

its first stage.

the 20th

we stopped

at the first store,

where we

bought, of course at a high price, sugar and tobacco for


the camaradas.
ate,

In this land of plenty the camaradas over-

and sickness was

as

Cherrie's boat he himself

men who paddled

from that brought

boats, or batelaos

up-stream.

We

in

up

as ever.

In

and the steersman were the only

The

was very low, only what he


in nearly a

store-

still

had

year before; for the big

batelonshad

not yet worked as far

expected to meet them somewhere below

the next rapids, the Inferno.


brings

among them

strongly and continuously.

keeper's stock of goods


left

rife

his year's

The

trader or rubber-man

supply of goods in a batelao, starting

February and reaching the upper course of the river

early in
ties

May, when

the rainy season

is

over.

The

par-

of rubber-explorers are then equipped and provisioned;

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

326

and the

purchase certain necessities, and certain

settlers

them

things that strike

as luxuries.

nut crop on the river had


explorers

On

This year the Brazila serious thing for

failed,

all

and wilderness wanderers.

we made

the 20th

fifty-two

kilometres.

camped;

we were

place the great,

we had made,
Lyra took observations where we
the longest run

in latitude

beautiful

hundred metres wide.

marks showed that

were

At

was a

river

We

in the

8 49'.

in

camping-

this

over three

little

The

an empty house.

high water, a couple of months

back, the river had risen until the lower part of the house

was

flooded.

The

difference

between the

during the floods and in the dry season

On

the 2 1 st

level of the river

extraordinary.

is

we made another good

run, getting

down

to the Inferno rapids, which are in latitude 8 19/ south.

Until

we reached

we had run almost due

the Cardozo

north;

since then

north.

Before

we had been running

we reached

we stopped

these rapids

and got a

large,

pleasant thatch house,

roomy

as well as light boat, leaving both our

dugouts behind.

Above the

deirainha, entered from the

for the first time,

fairly

left.

it

The

two smaller

rapids

had a

ing, pioneering,

down.

over

country.

where other men have prepared the way.

we took our baggage down by

fall

would doubtless have taken

But we were no longer

unknown

Ma-

was very wild and rough.

several days to explore a passage and, with danger


labor, get the boats

at a

big and

rapids a small river, the

of over ten metres, and the water

Met with

west of

little

It

is

We

and

explor-

easy to go

had a guide;

a carry three-quarters of a

kilometre long; and the canoes were run through

channels the following morning.

At the

known

foot of the rap-

TO THE AMAZON AND HOME


was a big house and

ids

and camped

store;

327

at the

head

were a number of rubber-workers, waiting for the big

way up from

boats of the head rubber-men to work their

They were a
These men lead hard
below.

brown daredevils.
of labor and peril; they con-

reckless
lives

tinually face death themselves,


in connection

with others.

sometimes have
Indians with
there

is

The

It

difficulties

whom

set

of

and they think


is

little

of

it

small wonder that they

with the tribes of utterly wild

they are brought

in contact,

a strong Indian strain in their

following morning,

after the

although

own blood.
empty canoes had

been run down, we started, and made a rather short after-

We

noon's journey.
rapids.

We

camped

day we ran nearly

way

an empty house,

fifty kilometres,

We

sweep to the west.


their

in

had to take the baggage by one

met

Next

in the rain.

the river making a long

half a dozen batelaos

making

up-stream, each with a crew of six or eight men,

and two of them with women and children

The crew were using very long

poles,

in addition.

with crooks, or rather

the stubs of cut branches which served as crooks, at the

With

upper end.

these they hooked into the branches

and dragged themselves up along the bank,


poling where the depth permitted
big as the Paraguay at

Corumba;

trast to the Paraguay, there

ran some rather


ing,

in the

stiff

morning.

The

it.

in addition to

river

was

as

but, in striking con-

were few water-birds.

We

rapids, the Infernino, without unload-

In the evening

we landed

for the

night at a large, open, shed-like house, where there were

two or three

pigs, the first live stock

than poultry and ducks.

some

eggs.

It

we had

was a dirty

seen other

place, but

we

got

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

328

The

we ran down some fifty


Carupanan rapids, which by observation

following day, the 24th,

kilometres to the

Lyra found to be

We

met several
batelaos, and the houses on the bank showed that the
settlers were somewhat better off than was the case farther up. At the rapids was a big store, the property of
latitude 7

in

47'.

who works on

Senhor Caripe, the wealthiest rubber-man


this river;

He

many

men we met were in his employ.


from the ranks. He was most kind

of the

has himself risen

and hospitable, and gave us another boat to replace the


last of

was

cool, clean,

With
all

The

our shovel-nosed dugouts.

large,

open house

and comfortable.

these began a series of half a dozen sets of rapids,

coming within the next dozen kilometres, and

all offer-

At one we saw the graves of four


men who had perished therein; and many more had died
whose bodies were never recovered; the toll of human
life had been heavy.
Had we been still on an unknown
ing very real obstacles.

own way,

pioneering our

river,

taken us at

would doubtless have

least a fortnight of labor

But

it

nels

were known,

class

waterman,

actually took only a

with us as guide.

all

cool, fearless,

and

peril to pass.

All the chan-

half.

Senhor Caripe, a

and brawny

as a bull,

first-

came

Half a dozen times the loads were taken

dragged

down empty,

day and a

the trails cut.

At one cataract the canoes were

out and carried down.

themselves

it

overland; elsewhere

they were run

shipping a good deal of water.

of the cataract, where

we dragged

At the

foot

the canoes overland,

we

camped for the night. Here Kermit shot a big cayman.


Our camp was alongside the graves of three men who at
this point

had perished

in the swift water.

TO THE AMAZON AND HOME


Senhor Caripe told us

many

strange adventures of rub-

One

ber-workers he had met or employed.

working on the Gy-Parana, got

329

lost

and

of his men,

after twenty-eight

days found himself on the Madeirainha, which he thus

He was

discovered.

to start a

fire,

he had means

and he found abundance of Brazil-nuts and


Senhor Caripe said that the rubber-

big land-tortoises.

men now

in excellent health, for

did not go above the ninth degree, or thereabouts,

on the upper Aripuanan proper, having found the rubber


poor on the reaches above.

year previously

five

rubber-

men, Mundurucu Indians, were working on the Canuma


at about that level.

It

They made

descend.

is

a difficult stream to ascend or

excursions into the forest for days

On

at a time after caoutchouc.

one such

trip, after fifteen

days they, to their surprise, came out on the Aripuanan.

They returned and told


and by his orders took

their

"patron" of

their discovery;

their caoutchouc overland to the

Aripuanan, built a canoe, and ran down with their caout-

They had now returned and were


upper Aripuanan. The Mundurucus and

chouc to Manaos.

working on the

Brazilians are always on the best terms,


are even

and the former

more inveterate enemies of the wild Indians than

are the latter.

By

mid-forenoon on April 26

dangerous rapids.

good

will,

we had passed

The paddles were

plied

the last

with hearty

Cherrie and Kermit, as usual, working like the

camaradas, and the canoes went dancing down the broad,


rapid river.

The

equatorial forest crowded on either

to the water's edge;


it

was

still

hand

and, although the river was falling,

so high that in

many

places

little

completely submerged, and the current raced

islands

were

among

the

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

330

At one

trunks of the green trees.

mouth

o'clock

we came

to the

of the Castanho proper, and in sight of the tent

of Lieutenant Pyrineus, with the flags of the United States

and Brazil

flying before

and, with

it;

rifles firing

from the

we moored at the landing of the


well-kept camp. The upper Aripuanan, a

canoes and the shore,


neat, soldierly,

same volume

river of substantially the

as the Castanho,

but broader at this point, and probably of

less length,

joined the Castanho from the east, and the

here

two together

formed what the rubber-men called the lower Aripuanan.

The mouth

of this

was

on the maps, but only

We

indicated,

and unimportant stream.

as a small

had been two months

and sometimes named,


the canoes; from the

in

27th of February to the 26th of April.

The

750 kilometres.

river

teenth degree, to where


it,

it

from

map

had gone over

source, near the thir-

became navigable and we entered

had a course of some 200 kilometres

perhaps 300 kilometres.

Therefore

probably

more,

we had now put on

the

a river nearly 1,000 kilometres in length of which

the existence was not merely


the standard
It

its

We

maps were

seemed that

unknown but

impossible

if

was not

all.

this river of 1,000 kilometres in length

was

correct.

But

this

really the true

upper course of the Aripuanan proper,

which case the

total length

in

was nearly 1,500 kilometres.

Pyrineus had been waiting for us over a month, at the


junction of what the rubber-men called the Castanho and
of

what they

called the

upper Aripuanan.

(He had no

we would appear upon, or whether


we would appear upon either.) On March 26 he had meaidea as to which stream

sured the volume of the two, and found that the Castanho,

although the narrower, was the deeper and swifter, and

TO THE AMAZON AND HOME


that in volume

331

surpassed the other by 84 cubic metres

it

Since then the Castanho had fallen; our mea-

a second.

surements showed

to be slightly smaller than the other;

it

the volume of the river after the junction was about 4,500

This was

cubic metres a second.

We

34'.

were glad indeed to see Pyrineus and be at his

attractive camp.
river

in 7

We

were only four hours above the

hamlet of Sao Joao, a port of

call for

rubber-steamers,

from which the larger ones go to Manaos

in

two days.

From

These steamers mostly belong to Senhor Caripe.


Pyrineus

we

little

learned that Lauriado and Fiala had reached

Manaos on March

On

26.

the swift water in the gorge

of the Papagaio Fiala's boat had been upset and

be-

all his

longings lost, while he himself had narrowly escaped with


his

life.

was glad indeed that the

were no

less rejoiced to learn

down

of the party that went


right,

and

and gallant fellow

The Canadian canoe had done very

had escaped.

We

fine

well.

that Amilcar, the head

the Gy-Parana, was also

all

although his canoe too had been upset in the rapids,

his instruments

Manaos on

and

notes

lost.

He had

Fiala had gone home.

April 10.

collecting near

all his

Manaos.

He had been

The piranhas were bad

reached

Miller

was

doing capital work.

and no one could bathe.

here,

Cherrie, while standing in the water close to the shore,

was

attacked and bitten; but with one bound he was on the


bank before any damage could be done.

We

spent a last night under canvas, at Pyrineus's en-

campment.
ered at the

It rained heavily.

monument which

Next morning we

Colonel

and he read the orders of the day.

had been accomplished

Rondon had

all

gath-

erected,

These recited just what

set forth the fact that

we had now

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

332

by

actual exploration and investigation discovered that the

whose upper portion had been

river

the

maps

of the Telegraphic

Duvida on

called the

Commission and the unknown

major part of which we had just traversed, and the river

known

to a few rubber-men, but to

no one

as the

else,

Castanho, and the lower part of the river known to the

rubber-men as the Aripuanan (which did not appear on


the

maps save

no hint of

as

its

its size)

mouth was sometimes

were

all

parts of one

indicated, with

and the same

and that by order of the Brazilian Government


the largest affluent of the Madeira, with

its

river;

this river,

source near the

mouth a little south of the 5th degree,


hitherto utterly unknown to cartographers and in large
part utterly unknown to any save the local tribes of Indians, had been named the Rio Roosevelt.
13th degree and

We
tions,

left

its

Rondon, Lyra, and Pyrineus to take observa-

and the

rest of us

embarked

for the last time

on the

we passed
very important rapids and ran down
little hamlet of Sao Joao, which we

canoes, and, borne swiftly on the rapid current,

over one set of not


to Senhor Caripe's

reached about one o'clock on April 27, just before a heavy


afternoon rain set

We

in.

had run nearly eight hundred

kilometres during the sixty days

we had

Here we found and boarded Pyrineus's


seemed

in

spent in the canoes.


river steamer,

our eyes extremely comfortable.

pleasant house

we were

greeted

In the senhor's

by the senhora, and they

were both more than thoughtful and generous


hospitality.

Ahead

steamer to Manaos.
tries

men

as

test;

and

in

which

in

their

of us lay merely thirty-six hours

Such a

trip

as that

by

we had taken

by fire. Cherrie had more than stood every


him Kermit and I had come to recognize a

if

"5,

TO THE AMAZON AND HOME


whom

friend with

grow

333

our friendship would never falter or

less.

Early the following afternoon our whole party, together


with Senhor Caripe, started on the steamer.

took us a

over twelve hours' swift steaming to run

little

the

It

mouth

progress

down

to

of the river on the upper course of which our

had been so slow and

painful;

from source to

mouth, according to our itinerary and to Lyra's calculations, the course of the

stream down which we had thus

come was about 1,500 kilometres


miles, perhaps nearly 1,000 miles

in

from

length
its

about

900

source near the

mouth in the Madeira,


Next morning we were on the broad

13th degree in the highlands to

near the 5th degree.

its

sluggish current of the lower Madeira, a beautiful tropical


river.

There were heavy rain-storms, as usual, although

this

supposed to be the very end of the rainy season.

is

In the afternoon we
itself,

finally entered the

wonderful

Amazon

the mighty river which contains one-tenth of

all

w ater
It was
across,
we
entered
it;
and
indeed
could
not
tell
whether
where
we
farther
bank,
which
saw,
was that of the mainland
the
we
running

the

or an island.

We

of

the globe.

went up

it

miles

about midnight, then

until

steamed up the Rio Negro for a short distance, and


in the

is

a remarkable city.

south of the equator.

It

is

Sixty years ago

collection of hovels, tenanted

only three degrees


it

was a nameless

by a few Indians and

a few of the poorest class of Brazilian peasants.


is

one

morning of April 30 reached Manaos.

Manaos
little

at

a big,

handsome modern

ways, good hotels,

city,

fine squares

attractive private houses.

The

Now

it

with opera-house, tram-

and public buildings, and


brilliant coloring

and odd

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

334

architecture give the place a very foreign and attractive


flavor in northern eyes.

was due to the rubber-trade.

immensely
and

on,

it

will

noteworthy.

remu-

in

fertile

Miller,

He had made good

Manaos;

far less

undoubtedly

the Brazilian highland country

and glad indeed we were to


collections of

on the Gy-Parana, the Madeira, and


of

now

it.

Here we found
him.

It will

made with

lying south of

is

Amazonian valley is sure to go


be immensely quickened when closer conand

rich

nections are

This

some deany event the development of the

nerative than formerly.


gree recover; and in

growth to prosperity

Its rapid

entire collection of

his

Among them was

had seen on the

trip.

of very archaic type.

young have spurs on

birds

neighborhood

mammals was

really

interesting of the birds

This

Its flight

in the

see

the only sloth any of us

The most

he had seen was the hoatzin.

mammals and

is

their wings,

is

a most curious bird

feeble,

and the naked

by the help

of which

they crawl actively among the branches before their feathers grow.

They swim no

Miller got one or

two

less easily, at

nests,

the same early age.

and preserved specimens of

the surroundings of the nests; and he


records of the habits of the birds.

had

killed

for food.

made

exhaustive

Near Megasso

a jaguar

one of the bullocks that were being driven along

The

big cat

had not

seized the ox with

its

claws

by the head, but had torn open its throat and neck.
Every one was most courteous at Manaos, especially
Mr.
the governor of the state and the mayor of the city.
Robiliard,

the

British

consular representative,

and

also

the representative of the Booth line of steamers, was particularly kind.

He

secured for us passages on one of the

TO THE AMAZON AND HOME

335

cargo-boats of the line to Para, and thence on one of the

New
and

The Booth people were most courteous

York.

good-by to the camaradas with

said

Barbadoes and

cargo-and-passenger steamers to

regular

The

regret.

parting gift

sovereigns; and I

to us.

real friendship

gave to each was

was rather touched to learn

in gold

later that

they had agreed among themselves each to keep one sovereign as a medal of honor and token that the

been on the

They were

trip.

a fine

obedient, and enduring.

Now

hard times; they were

from eating,

fat

set,

owner had

brave, patient,

they had forgotten their


at leisure, all

they

wished; they were to see Rio Janeiro, always an object of

men

ambition with

proud of their membership


Later, at Belen,

stamp; and they were very

of their

in the expedition.

said

good-by to Colonel Rondon,

Doctor Cajazeira, and Lieutenant Lyra.

my

Together with

admiration for their hardihood, courage, and resolu-

tion, I

had grown to

ship for them.

was glad

feel

a strong and affectionate friend-

had become very fond of them; and

to feel that I

had been

their

companion

in the

performance of a feat which possessed a certain lasting


importance.

On May

we

Manaos for Belen Para, as until


recently it was called.
The trip was interesting. We
steamed down through tempest and sunshine; and the
towering forest was dwarfed by the giant river it fringed.
i

left

Sunrise and sunset turned the sky to an unearthly flame

of

many

colors

embodiment of
where

man was

majesty to

his

above the vast water.


loneliness

It all

and wild majesty.

seemed the

Yet every-

conquering the loneliness and wresting the

own

uses.

We

passed

many

thriving, grow-

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

336

ing towns; at one

we stopped

to take on cargo.

The change

where there was growth and development.


since the days

when Bates and Wallace came

poor and utterly primitive region

is

there

is

no color

to this then

One

marvellous.

accompaniments has been a large European,

The blood

European, immigration.

is

Every-

of

its

chiefly south

everywhere mixed;

most English-speaking countries,

line, as in

and the negro and Indian

strains are

very strong; but the

dominant blood, the blood already dominant

in quantity,

and that

is

is

steadily increasing

its

dominance,

the olive-

white.

Only
ally

we were

in channels or

of the water was dotted with


Miller said that

tation.

show

rarely did the river

its full

among
little

much

width.

The

islands.

Genersurface

islands of floating vege-

of this

came from the

la-

goons such as those where he had been hunting, beside the


Solimoens

lagoons

toria

and with masses of water hyacinths.

lily,

filled

with the huge and splendid VicMiller,

who

was very fond of animals and always took much care of


them, had a small collection which he was bringing back
for the

An

Bronx Zoo.

agouti was so bad-tempered that

he had to be kept solitary; but three monkeys,


dle-sized,

family.

and

The

little,

big,

mid-

and a young peccary formed a happy

largest

monkey

cried,

shedding real tears,

when taken in the arms and pitied. The middle-sized


monkey was stupid and kindly, and all the rest of the
company imposed on it; the little monkey invariably rode
on its back, and the peccary used it as a head pillow when
it felt

sleepy.

Belen, the capital of the state of Para,

was an admi-

and almost

startling prog-

rable illustration of the genuine

TO THE AMAZON AND HOME


which Brazil has been making of recent years.

ress

nearly under the equator.

beautiful city,

merely beautiful.

The

success in commercial
well policed a city as
ate zone.

The

all

it

not

is

It

life.

is

any of the

tell

all

of energy and

as clean, healthy,

and

the north temper-

size in

public buildings are handsome, the private

dwellings attractive;
cellent

But

It is

docks, the dredging operations, the

warehouses, the stores and shops,

there are a fine opera-house, an ex-

tramway system, and a good museum and botanThere are cavalry

gardens.

ical

337

stables,

where

lights

burn

night long to protect the horses from the vampire bats.

The

parks, the rows of palms and mango-trees, the open-

air restaurants,

give the city

the gay

its

own

under the

life

special quality

lights at night, all

and charm.

Belen

and Manaos are very striking examples of what can be


done

in the mid-tropics.

The governor

of Para and his

charming wife were more than kind.


Cherrie and Miller spent the day at the really capital
zoological gardens, with the curator, Miss Snethlage.

Snethlage, a
naturalist,

German

lady,

is

a first-rate

field

and

closet

and an explorer of note, who has gone on foot

from the Xingu to the Tapajos.

Most wisely she has con-

fined the Belen zoo to the animals of the lower


valley,

Miss

and

in

logical gardens.

consequence

know

Amazon

of no better local zoo-

She has an invaluable collection of birds

and mammals of the region; and

it

was a

privilege to

meet

her and talk with her.

We

met Professor Farrabee, of the University of


Pennsylvania, the ethnologist. He had just finished a very
difficult and important trip, from Manaos by the Rio
also

Branco to the highlands of Guiana, across them on

foot,

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

338

He is an adnow opening

and down to the seacoast of British Guiana.

men who

mirable representative of the

South America to

On May
and

sailed

scientific

knowledge.

we bade good-by

northward

Zoologically

the

are

to our kind Brazilian friends

New

Barbadoes and

for

York.

had been a thorough

trip

success.

Cherrie and Miller had collected over twenty-five hundred

about

birds,

hundred mammals, and a few

five

batrachians, and fishes.

much

for

of

them were new to

science;

of the region traversed had never previously been

worked by any

Of

Many

reptiles,

scientific collector.

course, the

most important work we did was the

geographic work, the exploration of the

unknown

river,

undertaken at the suggestion of the Brazilian Government,

and

in conjunction

work of

this

kind

with
is

its

ever achieved save as

As

long-continued previous work.

we

by Colonel Rondon and

graphic

was

it

is

have before

piece of

based on
said,

what

was to put the cap on the pyramid that had been

did

built

No

representatives.

his associates of the Tele-

Commission during the

six

previous years.

their scientific exploration of the chapadao, their

It

map-

ping the basin of the Juruena, and their descent of the

Gy-Parana that rendered

it

possible for us to solve the

mystery of the River of Doubt. On the map facing page


vii I have given the outline route of my entire South

American

trip.

The

course of the

new

river

is

given sep-

arately.

The work

of the commission,

much

the kind ever done in South America,

many

the greatest
is

work of

one of the many,

achievements which the republican government of

Sketch
This

map

of the unknown river christened Rio Roosevelt, and subsequently


Rio Teodoro, by direction of the Brazilian Government

map was

prepared by Colonel Roosevelt from his journal and the diaries of Cherrie and of Kermit
Roosevelt, the war having prevented the arrival of the map prepared by Lieutenant Lyra
the headwaters of the Cardozo or of the Aripuanan, or it may flow into the Canuma
or Tapajos ; it will not be put on the map until it is actually descended

The Ananas may be


TO THE AMAZON AND HOME
Brazil has to

Brazil has been blessed

its credit.

average of her Spanish-American

sisters

way to republicanism by evolution


They plunged into the extremely

339

beyond the

because she

won her

rather than revolution.


difficult

experiment of

democratic, of popular, self-government, after enduring the

atrophy of every quality of


initiative

self-control, self-reliance,

and

throughout three withering centuries of existence

under the worst and most foolish form of colonial government, both from the
that has ever existed.

them

failed,

but that

and the

civil

standpoint,

The marvel is not that some of


some of them have eventually suc-

ceeded in such striking fashion.

when

religious

Brazil,

she achieved independence,

first

on the contrary,

exercised

it

under

the form of an authoritative empire, then under the form


of a liberal empire.

When

were reasonably ripe for

and

it

The

it.

great progress of Brazil

has been an astonishing progress

under the republic.

and

the republic came, the people

has

been made

could give innumerable examples

The change

illustrations of this.

that has converted

Rio Janeiro from a picturesque pest-hole into a singularly

and

beautiful, healthy, clean,


is

one of these.

Another

is

efficient

modern great

city

the work of the Telegraphic

Commission.

We

put upon the

map

a river some fifteen hundred

kilometres in length, of which the upper course was not

merely utterly unknown

to,

but unguessed at by, anybody;

known for years to


unknown to cartographers.

while the lower course, although

rubber-men, was utterly

the chief affluent of the Madeira, which


affluent of the

The

is

itself

a few
It

is

the chief

Amazon.

source of this river

is

between the 12th and 13th

THROUGH THE BRAZILIAN WILDERNESS

340

parallels of latitude south

and the 59th and 60th degrees

We

of longitude west from Greenwich.


at
15'

about latitude 12
west.

After that

embarked on

it

south, and about longitude 6o

1/

its

course lay between the

entire

60th and 6 1 st degrees of longitude, approaching the latter

most

closely about latitude 8

encountered were in latitude

The

15'.

44',

and

first

rapids

we

in uninterrupted

succession they continued for about a degree, without a

At n

day's complete journey between any two of them.


23' the

Rio Kermit entered from the

Rio Marciano Avila from the

from the
io

24'

left,

at

io 58' the

we encountered

the

right, at

left,

22' the

18' the

Taunay

at

Cardozo from the


first

rubber-men.

right.

In

The Rio

Our camp at 8 49'


was nearly on the boundary between Matto Grosso and
Amazonas. The confluence with the Aripuanan, which
joined from the right, took place at 7 34'.
The entrance
into the Madeira was at about 5 20' (this point we did
not determine by observation, as it is already on the maps).
The stream we had followed down was from the river's
highest sources; we had followed its longest course.
Bran co entered from the

left at

38'.

APPENDICES

APPENDIX A
THE WORK OF THE FIELD ZOOLOGIST AND FIELD
GEOGRAPHER IN SOUTH AMERICA
Portions of South America are now entering on a career of great
social

Much

and industrial development.

as the outside world

is

concerned, of the social and industrial condi-

tions in the long-settled interior regions.

the

way

More remains

to be done, in

of pioneer exploring and of scientific work, in the great stretches

The only two

of virgin wilderness.
of like

remains to be known, so far

other continents where such work,

volume and value, remains to be done are Africa and Asia;


offers a more inviting field for the best kind
worker in geographical exploration and in zoological, geological,

and neither Africa nor Asia


of

field

The

and paleontological investigation.


venturous kind of

worth keeping
field

in

field

mind

geographer and

explorer

is

merely the most ad-

geographer; and there are two or three points


in dealing

with the South American work of the

field zoologist.

who now

Roughly, the travellers

visit (like

those

who

for the past

century have visited) South America come in three categories

al-

though, of course, these categories are not divided by hard-and-fast


lines.

First, there are

the travellers

who

skirt the continent in

comfortable

steamers, going from one great seaport to another, and occasionally taking a short railway journey to

some big

interior city not too far

from

by all intelligent men and


women who can afford it; and it is being taken by such men and women
with increasing frequency. It entails no more difficulty than a similar
trip to the Mediterranean
than such a trip as that which Mark Twain
This

the coast.

is

a trip well worth taking

which to a learned and broad-minded obsame chance for acquiring knowledge and, if he is himwith wisdom, the same chance of imparting his knowledge to

immortalized.

It is a trip

server offers the


self gifted

others that
cities

is

offered

by

a trip of similar length through the larger

of Europe or the United States.


343

Probably the best instance of

APPENDIX A

344

the excellent use to which such an observer can put his experience

is

by the volume of Mr. Bryce. Of course, such a trip represents


same kind as travelling by railroad from
Atlanta to Calgary or from Madrid to Moscow.
Next there are the travellers who visit the long-settled districts and
colonial cities of the interior, travelling over land or river highways
which have been traversed for centuries but which are still primitive
afforded

travelling of essentially the

as regards the inns

and the modes of conveyance.

Such travelling

is

the sense that travelling in parts of Spain or southern Italy

difficult in

or the Balkan states

is

Men

difficult.

travel in out-of-the-way places

and

women who have

a taste for

and who, therefore, do not mind

slight

discomforts and inconveniences have the chance themselves to enjoy,

and to make others

profit by, travels of this kind in

South America.

In economic, social, and political matters the studies and observations


of these travellers are essential in order to supplement, and sometimes
to correct, those of travellers of the

first

category; for

it is

not safe to

overmuch about any country merely from a visit to its capiThese travellers of the second category can
give us most interesting and valuable information about quaint little
belated cities; about backward country folk, kindly or the reverse,
who show a mixture of the ideas of savagery with the ideas of an ancient peasantry; and about rough old highways of travel which in com-

generalize

tal or its chief seaport.

fort

do not

who go up

much from those of mediaeval Europe. The travellers


down the highway rivers that have been travelled for

differ

or

from one to four hundred years

rivers like the

Paraguay and Parana,

the Amazon, the Tapajos, the Madeira, the lower Orinoco


category.

They can add

little

come

they are competent zoologists or archaeologists, especially


or sojourn long in a locality, their
scientific standpoint.

The work

is

of this kind.

and what Hudson did


of the

What

if

they

if

live

work may be invaluable from the

among the imforests and the Andean plafor the fishes of the Amazon

of the archaeologists

measurably ancient ruins of the lowland


teaux

in this

to our geographical knowledge; but

Agassiz did

for the birds of the

work that can thus be done.

Argentine are other instances

Burton's writings on the interior

of Brazil offer an excellent instance of the value of a sojourn or trip of


this type,

Of

even without any especial

scientific object.

course travellers of this kind need to remember that their experi-

ences in themselves do not qualify

them

to speak as wilderness explorers.

APPENDIX A
Exactly as a good archaeologist

may

345

not be competent to speak of cur-

man who

rent social or political problems, so a

as a tourist observer in little-visited cities

has done capital work

and along remote highways

must beware of regarding himself as being thereby rendered fit for


genuine wilderness work or competent to pass judgment on the men
who do such work. To cross the Andes on mule-back along the regular routes

is

a feat comparable to the feats

who by thousands
Switzerland.

An

of the energetic tourists

traverse the mule trails in out-of-the-way nooks of

ordinary trip on the highway portions of the

zon, Paraguay, or Orinoco in itself no

or to take part in exploring

more

unknown South American

on the lower Saint Lawrence

qualifies a

man

qualifies a

man

rivers

Ama-

to speak of

than a

trip

to regard himself as an

expert in a canoe voyage across Labrador or the Barren Grounds west


of

Hudson Bay.

hundred years ago, even seventy or eighty years ago, before the

was more difficult than at present


and the next; and, moreover, in
between
defining these limits I emphatically disclaim any intention of thereby
age of steamboats and railroads,

to define the limits

it

this class

attempting to establish a single standard of value for books of travel.

Darwin's "Voyage of the Beagle"


written;
gories,

it is

one of those

is

me the best book

to

of the kind ever

which decline to go into

artificial cate-

and which stand by themselves; and yet Darwin, with

modesty, spoke of

had

classics

it

a profound effect

as in effect a yachting voyage.

on the thought of the

one of adventure and danger; and yet

it

his usual

Humboldt's work

civilized world;

his trip

tion proper.

He

for centuries

and traversed places which had been travelled by

lized

men

visited places

for years before

which had been

settled

and inhabited

he followed in their footsteps.

places were in Spanish colonies,

was

can hardly be called explora-

civi-

But these

and access to them had been forbidden

by the mischievous and intolerant tyranny ecclesiastical, political, and


economic which then rendered Spain the most backward of European
nations; and Humboldt was the first scientific man of intellectual in-

day many
of his scientific observations are of real value.
Bates came to the
Amazon just before the era of Amazonian steamboats. He never went
off the native routes of ordinary travel.
But he was a devoted and
able naturalist.
He lived an exceedingly isolated, primitive, and laborious life for eleven years. Now, half a century after it was written, his
dependence who had permission to

visit

them.

To

this

APPENDIX A

346
"Naturalist on the

Amazon"

is

as interesting

was, and no book since written has in any

and valuable as

way supplanted

it

ever

it.

Travel of the third category includes the work of the true wilderness
explorers
scientific

who add to our sum of


men who, following their

trodden wilds.

geographical knowledge and of the

several bents, also work in the unRondon and his associates have done much
exploration of unknown country, and Cherrie and

Colonel

in the geographical

Miller have penetrated and lived for

months and years

in the wastes,

on their own resources, as incidents to their mammalogical and ornithological

work.

Professor Farrabee,

man who

example of the

An immense amount

the anthropologist,

a capital

is

does this hard and valuable type of work.


of this true wilderness work, geographical and

zoological, remains to be

done

in

South America.

plished with reasonable thoroughness only


different workers, each in his

here and there a part of the

own

by the

It

special field.

work should be done

can be accom-

efforts of

It

is

very

desirable that

in outline

geographic and zoological reconnoissance as ours;

many

by such a

we would,

for ex-

ample, be very grateful for such work in portions of the interior of the

Guianas, on the headwaters of the Xingu, and here and there along
the eastern base of the Andes.

But as a rule the work must be specialized; and in its final shape it
must be specialized everywhere. The first geographical explorers of the
untrodden wilderness, the first wanderers who penetrate the wastes where
they are confronted with starvation, disease, and danger and death in
every form, cannot take with them the elaborate equipment necessary
in order to do the thorough scientific work demanded by modern scientific requirements.
This is true even of exploration done along the
courses of unknown rivers; it is more true of the exploration, which
must in South America become increasingly necessary, done across
country, away from the rivers.
The scientific work proper of these early explorers must be of a somewhat preliminary nature; in other words the most difficult and therefore ordinarily the most important pieces of first-hand exploration are
precisely those where the scientific work of the accompanying cartographer, geologist, botanist, and zoologist must be furthest removed
from

finality.

The

zoologist

who works

to

most advantage

in the wil-

derness must take his time, and therefore he must normally follow in

the footsteps

of,

and not accompany, the

first

explorers.

The man who

APPENDIX A

347

wishes to do the best scientific work in the wilderness must not try to

combine incompatible types of work nor to cover too much ground

in

too short a time.

There

is

no better example of the kind of zoologist who does

class field-work in the wilderness

than John D. Haseman,

1907 to 1910 in painstaking and thorough


a large extent of South

of fact he studied at
jects, as

lent

scientific investigation

and distribution of South American

may

first

over

known

to study the char-

fishes,

hand many other more or

first-

spent from

territory hitherto only partially

Haseman' s primary object was

or quite unexplored.
acteristics

American

who

but as a matter
less

kindred sub-

be seen in his remarks on the Indians and in his excel-

pamphlet on "Some Factors of Geographical Distribution

in

South

America/'

Haseman made

his long

journey with a very slender equipment, his

extraordinarily successful field-work being due to his bodily health and

vigor and his resourcefulness, self-reliance, and resolution.

His writings

by his accuracy and common sense. The need


of the former of these two attributes will be appreciated by whoever
has studied the really scandalous fictions which have been published as
genuine by some modern "explorers" and adventurers in South America; * and the need of the latter by whoever has studied some of the
wild theories propounded in the name of science concerning the history
are rendered valuable

* It

and

would be well

official

charges

repute, against

if

would investigate the formal


and gentleman of the highest
an official report to the Brazil-

a geographical society of standing

made by Colonel Rondon, an

Mr. Savage Landor.

officer

Colonel Rondon, in

Mr. Landor.
He states that Mr.
Savage Landor did not perform, and did not even attempt to perform, the work he had
contracted to do in exploration for the Brazilian Government. Mr. Landor had asserted
and promised that he would go through unknown country along the line of eleven degrees latitude south, and, as Colonel Rondon states, it was because of this proposal of his
that the Brazilian Government gave him material financial assistance in advance. However, Colonel Rondon sets forth that Mr. Landor did not keep his word or make any serious
effort to fulfil his moral obligation to do as he had said he would do. In a letter to me under
date of May 1, 1914 a letter which has been published in full in France Colonel Rondon
goes at length into the question of what territory Mr. Landor had traversed. Colonel
Rondon states that excepting on one occasion, when Mr. Landor, wandering off a
beaten trail, immediately got lost and shortly returned to his starting-point without
making any discoveries he kept to old, well-travelled routes. One sentence of the colonel's letter to me runs as follows: "I can guarantee to you that in Brazil Mr. Landor
did not cross a hand's breadth of land that had not been explored, the greater part of it
many centuries ago." As regards Mr. Landor's sole and brief experience in leaving a
beaten route, Colonel Rondon states that at Sao Manoel Mr. Landor engaged from
Senhor Jose Sotero Barreto (the revenue officer of Matto Grosso, at Sao Manoel) a guide
to lead him across a well-travelled trail which connects the Tapajos with the Madeira

ian Government, has written a scathing review of

APPENDIX A

348
of

life

ous criticism to be

an

which makes
obscure

difficult to tell

it

Modern

also.

and

scientific

all,

made on Haseman:

however, one

is,

the extreme obscurity of his

and writing

that a simple, clear, and,


tion of the best

work

is

is

would not have been


is

is

if

vital to the

thought

mean

that

it is

is

but ability to give

essential,

robbed of an immense proportion of

or obscure manner.
a pity to

what the thought

make
is.

it

above

and

produc-

Darwin and Huxley


they had not written
if

nothing to write about, entitles him to mere derision.


est

thought

keep in mind that

Ability to write well,

less essential.

his

historians and,

essential to clearness of thought

possible, vivid style

if

The thought

only

modern

in either science or history.

are classics, and they

good Engl