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dfocnell IniuetBitg Hihtarg 

atljaca, Kcni ^nrk 

Elpn H. Hppkar, 

C.U. '94. 

Cornell University Library 
F 2515.R78 1919 

Through the Brazilian wilderness, 

3 1924 019 988 603 


Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
tlie Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 


Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel Rondon at Navaite on the River of Doubt. 
From a photograph by Cherrie. 







(' (' U H I I- I 

i'NI vciu. n Y 
I IhkAhY 


Copyright, 1914, by 

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

Published October, 1914 

Keprinted March, 1919 

Uniform Edition September, 1919 


V 1 1 v. >] :h V I II 















THIS is an account of a zoogeographic reconnois- 
sance through the BraziUan hinterland. 
The official and proper title of the expedi- 
tion is that given it by the Brazilian Government: Ex- 
pedicao Scientifica Roosevelt-Rondon. When I started 
from the United States, it was to make an expedition, 
primarily concerned with mammalogy and ornithology, 
for the American Museum of Natural History of New 
York. This was undertaken under the auspices of 
Messrs. Osborn and Chapman, acting on behalf of the 
Museum. In the body of this work I describe how the 
scope of the expedition was enlarged, and how it was 
given a geographic as well as a zoological character, in 
consequence of the kind proposal of the Brazilian Secre- 
tary of State for Foreign Affairs, General Lauro Miiller. 
In its altered and enlarged form the expedition was ren- 
dered possible only by the generous assistance of the 
Brazilian Government. Throughout the body of the 
work will be found reference after reference to my 
colleagues and companions of the expedition, whose 
services to science I have endeavored to set forth, and 
for whom I shall always feel the most cordial friendship 

and regard. 

Theodore Roosevelt. 

Sagamore Hill, 

September 1, 1914. 



I. The Start i 

II. Up the Paraguay 39 

III. A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary . . 64 

IV. The Headwaters of the Paraguay . 98 

V. Up the River of Tapirs 136 

VI. Through the Highland Wilderness of 

Western Brazil 172 

VII. With a Mule-Train Across Nhambi- 

QUARA Land 208 

Vni. The River of Doubt 249 

IX. Down an Unknown River into the 

Equatorial Forest 290 

X. To the Amazon and Home; Zoological 
AND Geographical Results of the 
Expedition 330 

Appendices — 

A. The Work of the Field Zo- 
ologist AND Field Geographer 

IN South America . . . -353 

B. The Outfit for Travelling in 

THE South American Wilderness 368 

C. My Letter of May i to Gen- 
eral Lauro Muller • • • 393 

Index 397 


Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel Rondon at Navaite, 
on the River of Doubt Frontispiece 


The brown boy on the long-horned trotting steer, 
which he managed by a string through its nostril 
and lip 82 

Colonel Roosevelt and the first jaguar .... 82 

Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel Rondon with bush 
deer 142 

The Falls of Utiarity 202 

At the Juruena we met a party of Nhambiquaras, 
very friendly and sociable, and very glad to see 
Colonel Rondon 222 

Colonel Roosevelt's and Colonel Rondon's canoes 
at the mouth of the Bandeira 254 

Dragging the canoes over a portage by means of 
ropes and logs 268 

The camaradas gathered around the monument 
erected by Colonel Rondon 342 


Map showing the entire South American journey of 
Colonel Roosevelt and members of the expedi- 
tion facing page vii 

Map of the River of Doubt (Durida), christened Rio 
Roosevelt and subsequently Rio Teodoro by di- 
rection of the Brazilian Government facing page 348 

Map of the Roosevelt-Rondon expedition at end of volume 




ONE day in 1908, when my presidential term was 
coming to a close, Father Zahm, a priest whom 
I knew, came in to call on me. Father Zahm 
and I had been cronies for some time, because we were 
both of us fond of Dante and of history and of science 
— I had always commended to theologians his book, 
"Evolution and Dogma." He was an Ohio boy, and his 
early schooling had been obtained in old-time American 
fashion in a little log school ; where, by the way, one of 
the other boys was Januarius Aloysius MacGahan, after- 
ward the famous war correspondent and friend of Sko- 
beloff. Father Zahm told me that MacGahan even at 
that time added an utter fearlessness to chivalric tender- 
ness for the weak, and was the defender of any small 
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. 

On the occasion in question Father Zahm had just 
returned from a trip across the Andes and down the 
Amazon, and came in to propose that after I left the 


2 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

presidency he and I should go up the Paraguay into the 
interior of South America. 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 1913, I accepted invitations con- 
veyed through the governments of Argentina and Brazil 
to address certain learned bodies in these countries. 
Then it occurred to me that, instead of making the con- 
ventional tourist trip purely by sea round South Amer- 
ica, after I had finished my lectures I would come north 
through the middle of the continent into the valley of 
the Amazon; and I decided to write Father Zahm and 
tell him my intentions. Before doing so, however, I 
desired to see the authorities of the American Museum 
of Natural History, in New York City, to find out 
whether they cared to have me take a couple of natural- 
ists with me into Brazil and make a collecting trip for 
the museum. 

Accordingly, I wrote to Frank Chapman, the curator 
of ornithology of the museum, and accepted his invita- 
tion to lunch at the museum one day early in June. At 
the lunch, in addition to various naturalists, to my aston- 
ishment I also found Father Zahm; and as soon as I 
saw him I told him I 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 accompany me. Chapman was 
pleased when he found out that we intended to go up the 
Paraguay and across into the valley of the Amazon, be- 

The Start 3 

cause much of the ground over which we were to pass 
had not been covered by collectors. He saw Henry Fair- 
field Osborn, the president of the museum, who wrote 
me that the museum would be pleased to send imder me 
a couple of naturalists, whom, with my approval, Chap- 
man would choose. 

The men whom Chapman recommended were Messrs. 
George K. Cherrie and Leo E. Miller. I gladly accepted 
both. The former was to attend chiefly to the ornithol- 
ogy and the latter to the mammalogy of the expedition; 
but each was to help out the other. No two better men 
for such a trip could have been found. Both were vet- 
erans of the tropical American forests. Miller was a 
young man, born in Indiana, an enthusiastic naturalist 
with good literary as well as scientific training. He was 
at the time in the Guiana forests, and joined us at Bar- 
bados. Cherrie was an older man, born in Iowa, but 
now a farmer in Vermont. He had a wife and six chil- 
dren. Mrs. Cherrie had accompanied him during two 
or three years of their early married life in his collecting 
trips along the Orinoco. Their second child was born 
when they were in camp a couple of hundred miles from 
any white man or woman. One night a few weeks later 
they were obliged to leave a camping-place, where they 
had intended to spend the night, because the baby was 
fretful, and its cries attracted a jaguar, which prowled 
nearer and nearer in the twilight until they thought it 
safest once more to put out into the open river and seek 
a new resting-place. Cherrie had spent about twenty- 
two years collecting in the American tropics. Like most 
of the field-naturalists I have met, he was an unusually 

4 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

efficient and fearless man; and willy-nilly he had been 
forced at times to vary his career by taking part in m- 
surrections. Twice he had been behind the bars in con- 
sequence, on one occasion spending three months in a 
prison of a certain South American state, expecting each 
day to be taken out and shot. In another state he had, 
as an interlude to his ornithological pursuits, followed 
the career of a gun-runner, acting as such off and on 
for two and a half years. The particular revolutionary 
chief whose fortunes he was following finally came into 
power, and Cherrie immortalized his name by naming a 
new species of ant-thrush after him — a delightful touch, 
in its practical combination of those not normally kin- 
dred pursuits, ornithology and gun-running. 

In Anthony Fiala, a former arctic explorer, we found 
an excellent man for assembling equipment and taking 
charge of its handling and shipment. In addition to his 
four years in the arctic regions, Fiala had served in the 
New York Squadron in Porto Rico during the Spanish 
War, and through his service in the squadron had been 
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 as having a natural taste for adven- 
ture, went as the personal attendant of Father Zahm. In 
southern Brazil my son Kermit joined me. He had been 
bridge building, 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 

The Start 5 

on the rocky bed beneath. He escaped with two broken 
ribs, two teeth knocked out, and a knee partially dislo- 
cated, but was practically all right again when he started 
with us. 

In its composition ours was a typical American ex- 
pedition. Kermit and I were of the old Revolutionary 
stock, and in our veins ran about every strain of blood 
that there was on this side of the water during colonial 
times. Cherrie's father 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 Revolu- 
tionary stock. Father Zahm's father was an Alsacian 
immigrant, and his mother was partly of Irish and partly 
of old American stock, a descendant of a niece of Gen- 
eral 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 Swit- 
zerland. We were as varied in religious creed as in 
ethnic origin. Father Zahm and Miller were Catholics, 
Kermit and Harper Episcopalians, Cherrie a Presby- 
terian, 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. The fire- 
arms for the rest of the party were supplied by Kermit 
and myself, including my Springfield rifle, Kermit's two 
Winchesters, a 405 and 30-40, the Fox 12-gauge shot- 

6 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

gun, and another 16-gauge gun, and a couple of re- 
volvers, a Colt and a Smith & Wesson. We took from 
New York a couple of canvas canoes, tents, mosquito- 
bars, plenty of cheesecloth, including nets for the hats, 
and both light cots and hammocks. We took ropes and 
pulleys which proved invaluable on our canoe trip. Each 
equipped himself with the clothing he fancied. Mine 
consisted of khaki, such as I wore in Africa, with a 
couple of United States Army flannel shirts and a couple 
of silk shirts, one pair of hob-nailed shoes with leggings, 
and one pair of laced leather boots coming nearly to the 
knee. Both the naturalists told me that it was well to 
have either the boots or leggings as a protection against 
snake-bites, and I also had gauntlets because of the mos- 
quitoes and sand-flies. We intended where possible to 
live on what we could get from time to time in the coun- 
try, but we took some United States Army emergency 
rations, and also ninety cans, each containing a day's 
provisions for five men, made up by Fiala. 

The trip I proposed to take can be understood only 
if there is a slight knowledge of South American topog- 
raphy. The 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 any importance enter 
it. The rivers of South America drain into the Atlantic. 
Southernmost South America, including over half of 
the territory of the Argentine Republic, consists chiefly 
of a cool, open plains country. Northward of this coun- 
try, and eastward of the Andes, lies the great bulk of 
the South American continent, which is included in the 
tropical and the subtropical regions. Most of this terri- 

The Start 7 

tory is Brazilian. Aside from certain relatively small 
stretches drained by coast rivers, this 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 Orinoco. At their headwaters the 
Amazon and the Orinoco 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 sundered by a stretch of 
high land, which toward the east broadens out into the 
central plateau of Brazil. Geologically this is a very 
ancient region, having appeared above the waters before 
the dawning of the age of reptiles, or, indeed, of any 
true land vertebrates on the globe. This plateau is a 
region partly of healthy, rather dry and sandy, open 
prairie, partly of forest. The great and low-lying basin 
of the Paraguay, which borders it on the south, is one 
of the largest, and the still greater basin of the Amazon, 
which borders it on the north, is the very largest of all 
the river basins of the earth. 

In these basins, but especially in the basin of the 
Amazon, and thence in most places northward to the 
Caribbean Sea, lie the most extensive stretches of tropi- 
cal forest to be found anywhere. The forests of tropical 
West Africa, and of portions of the Farther-Indian re- 
gion, 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 im- 
penetrable, and the streams difficult of navigation; while 
white men suffer much from the terrible insect scourges 

8 Through the Brazihan Wilderness 

and the deadly diseases which modern science has dis- 
covered to be due very largely to insect bites. The 
fauna and flora, however, are of great interest. The 
American museum was particularly anxious to obtain 
collections from the divide between the headwaters of 
the Paraguay and the Amazon, and from the southern 
affluents of the Amazon. Our purpose was to ascend 
the Paraguay as nearly as possible to the head of naviga- 
tion, thence cross to the sources of one of the affluents of 
the Amazon, and if possible descend it in canoes built on 
the spot. The Paraguay is regularly navigated as high 
as boats can go. The starting-point for our trip was to 
be Asuncion, in the state of Paraguay. 

My exact plan of operations was necessarily a little 
indefinite, but on reaching Rio de Janeiro the minister 
of foreign affairs, Mr. Lauro Muller, who had been kind 
enough to take great personal interest in my trip, in- 
formed me that he had arranged that on the headwaters 
of the Paraguay, at the town of Caceres, I would be met 
by a Brazilian Army colonel, himself chiefly Indian by 
blood. Colonel Rondon. Colonel Rondon has been for 
a quarter of a century the foremost explorer of the Bra- 
zilian hinterland. He was at the time in Manaos, but 
his lieutenants were in Caceres and had been notified 
that we were coming. 

More important still, Mr. Lauro Muller — ^who is not 
only an efficient public servant but a man of wide culti- 
vation, with a quality about him that reminded me of 
John Hay — offered to help me make my trip of much 
more consequence than I had originally intended. He 
has taken a keen interest in the exploration and develop- 

The Start 9 

ment 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. He 
told me that he would co-operate with me in every 
way if I cared to undertake 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 knew whither, but which the best-in- 
formed men believed would prove to be a very big river, 
utterly unknown to geographers. I eagerly and gladly 
accepted, for I felt that with such help the trip could be 
made of much scientific value, and that a substantial ad- 
dition could be made to the geographical knowledge of 
one of the least-known parts of South America. Ac- 
cordingly, it was arranged that Colonel Rondon and 
some assistants and scientists should meet me at or be- 
low Corumba, and that we should attempt the descent 
of the river, of which they had already come across the 

I had to travel through Brazil, Uruguay, the Argen- 
tine, and Chile for six weeks to fulfil my speaking en- 
gagements. Fiala, Cherrie, Miller, and Sigg left me at 
Rio, continuing to Buenos Aires in the boat in which 
we had all 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 possible ; Fiala and Sigg trav- 
elled more leisurely, with the heavy baggage. 

Before I followed them I witnessed an incident 
worthy of note from the standpoint of a naturalist, and 

lo Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

of possible importance to us because of the trip we were 
about to take. South America, even more than Australia 
and Africa, and almost as much as India, is a country 
of poisonous snakes. As in India, although not to the 
same degree, these snakes are responsible for a very 
serious mortality among human beings. One of the most 
interesting evidences of the modern advance in Brazil is 
the establishment near Sao Paulo of an institution espe- 
cially for the study of these poisonous snakes, so as to 
secure antidotes to the poison and to develop enemies 
to the siiakes themselves. We wished to take into the 
interior with us some bottles of the anti-venom serum, 
for on such an expedition there is always a certain danger 
from snakes. On one of his trips Cherrie had lost a 
native follower by snake-bite. The man was bitten while 
out alone in the forest, and, although he reached camp, 
the poison was already working in him, so that he could 
give no 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 families of the colubrine 
snakes and the vipers. Most of the colubrine snakes are 
entirely harmless, and are the common snakes that we 
meet everywhere. But some of them, the cobras for in- 
stance, develop into what are on the whole perhaps the 
most formidable of all snakes. The only poisonous 
colubrine snakes in the New World are the ring-snakes, 
the coral-snakes of the genus elaps, which are found 
from the extreme southern United States southward to 
the Argentine. These coral-snakes are not vicious and 

The Start ii 

have small teeth which cannot penetrate even ordinary 
clothing. They are only dangerous if actually trodden 
on by some one with bare feet or if seized in the hand. 
There are harmless snakes very like them in color which 
are sometimes kept as pets; but it behooves every man 
who keeps such a pet or who handles such a snake to be 
very sure as to the genus to which it belongs. 

The 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 which is 
known as the pit-vipers. In South America these in- 
clude two distinct subfamilies or genera — ^whether they 
are called families, subfamilies, or genera would depend, 
I suppose, largely upon the varying personal views of 
the individual describer on the subject of herpetological 
nomenclature. One genus includes the rattlesnakes, of 
which the big Brazilian species is as dangerous as those 
of the southern United States. But the large majority 
of the species and individuals of dangerous snakes in 
tropical America are included in the genus lachecis. 
These are active, vicious, aggressive snakes without rat- 
tles. They are exceedingly poisonous. Some of them 
grow to a very large size, being indeed among the largest 
poisonous snakes in the world — ^their only rivals in this 
respect being the diamond rattlesnake of Florida, one 
of the African mambas, and the Indian hamadryad, or 
snake-eating cobra. The fer-de-lance, so dreaded in 
Martinique, and the equally dangerous bushmaster of 
Guiana are included in this genus. A dozen species are 
known in Brazil, the biggest one being identical with 
the Guiana bushmaster, and the most common one, the 

12 Through the Brazihan Wilderness 

jararaca, being identical or practically identical with the 
fer-de-lance. The snakes of this genus, like the rattle- 
snakes and the Old World vipers and puff-adders, possess 
long poison-fangs which strike through clothes or any 
other human garment except stout 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 danger to scantily clad men who work in the 
fields and forests, or who for any reason are abroad at 

The poison of venomous serpents is not in the least 
uniform in its quality. On the contrary, the natural 
forces — to use a term which is vague, but which is as 
exact as our present-day knowledge permits — ^that have 
developed in so many different families of snakes these 
poisoned fangs have worked in two or three totally dif- 
ferent fashions. Unlike the vipers, the colubrine poison- 
ous snakes have small fangs, and their poison, though 
on the whole even more deadly, has entirely different 
effects, and owes its deadliness to entirely different quali- 
ties. Even within the same family there are wide differ- 
ences. In the jararaca an extraordinary quantity of 
yellow venom is spurted from the long poison-fangs. 
This poison is secreted in large glands which, among 
vipers, give the head its peculiar ace-of-spades shape. 
The rattlesnake yields a much smaller quantity of white 
venom, but, quantity for quantity, this white venom is 
more deadly. It is the great quantity of venom injected 
by the long fangs of the jararaca, the bushmaster, and 
their fellows that renders their bite so generally fatal. 

The Start 13 

Moreover, even between these two allied genera of pit- 
vipers, the differences in the action of the poison are 
sufficiently marked to be easily recognizable, and to ren- 
der the most effective anti-venomous serum for each 
slightly different from the other. However, they are 
near enough alike to make this difference, in practice, 
of comparatively small consequence. In practice the 
same serum can be used to neutralize the effect of either, 
and, as will be seen later on, the snake that is immune 
to one kind of venom is also immune to the other. 

But the effect of the venom of the poisonous* colu- 
brine snakes is totally different from, although to the 
full as deadly as, the effect of the poison of the rattle- 
snake or jararaca. The serum that is an antidote as 
regards the pit-viper is wholly or well-nigh useless as 
regards the colubrines. The animal that is immune to 
the bite of one may not be immune to the bite of the 
other. The bite of a cobra or other colubrine poisonous 
snake is more painful in its immediate effects than is 
the bite of one of the big vipers. The victim suffers 
more. There is a 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 snake — that is, of one of the 
only poisonous American colubrines — becomes watery 
and incapable of coagulation. 

Snakes are highly specialized in every way, including 
their prey. Some live exclusively on- warm-blooded, ani- 
mals, on mammals, or birds. Some live exclusively on 
batrachians, others only on lizards, a few only on insects. 
A very few species live exclusively on other snakes. 

14 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

These include one very formidable venomous snake, the 
Indian hamadryad, or giant cobra, and several non- 
poisonous snakes. In Africa I killed a small cobra which 
contained w^ithin it 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 their venom to kill their 
victims, and also to kill any possible foe which they 
think menaces them. Some of them are good-tempered, 
and only fight if injured or seriously alarmed. Others 
are excessively irritable, and on rare occasions will even 
attack of their own accord when entirely unprovoked 
and unthreatened. 

On reaching Sao Paulo on our southward journey 
from Rio to Montevideo, we drove out to the "Institute 
Serumtherapico," designed for the study of the effects 
of the venom of poisonous Brazilian snakes. Its direc- 
tor is Doctor Vital Brazil, who has performed a most 
extraordinary work and whose experiments and inves- 
tigations 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. It has a fine modern building, with all 
the best appliances, in which experiments are carried on 
with all kinds of serpents, living and dead, with the ob- 
ject of discovering all the properties of their several 
kinds of venom, and of developing various anti-venom 
serums which nullify the effects of the different venoms. 
Every effort is made to teach the people at large by 
practical demonstration in the open field the lessons thus 
learned in the laboratory. One notable result has been 

The Start 15 

the diminution in the mortality from snake-bites in the 
province of Sao Paulo. 

In connection with his institute, and right by the 
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. He has 
devoted considerable time to the effort to find out if 
there are any natural enemies of the poisonous snakes of 
his country, and he has discovered that the most for- 
midable enemy of the many dangerous Brazilian snakes 
is a non-poisonous, entirely harmless, rather uncommon 
Brazilian snake, the mussurama. Of all the interesting 
things the doctor showed us, by far the most interesting 
was the opportunity of witnessing for ourselves the ac- 
tion of the mussurama toward a dangerous snake. 

The doctor first showed us specimens of the various 
important snakes, poisonous and non-poisonous, in alco- 
hol. 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 to produce two distinct kinds 
of anti-venom serum, one to neutralize the virulent poi- 
son of the rattlesnake's bite, the other to neutralize the 
poison of the different snakes of the lachecis genus. 
These poisons are somewhat different and moreover 
there appear to be some differences between the poisons 
of the different species of lachecis; in some cases the 
poison is nearly colorless, and in others, as in that of 
the jararaca, whose poison I saw, it is yellow. 

But the vital difference is that between all these poi- 
sons of the pit-vipers and the poisons of the colubrine 

i6 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

snakes, such as the cobra and the coral-snake. As yet 
the doctor has not been able to develop an anti-venom 
serum which will neutralize the poison of these colu- 
brine snakes. Practically this is a matter of little con- 
sequence in Brazil, for the Brazilian coral-snakes are 
dangerous only when mishandled by some one whose 
bare skin is exposed to the bite. The numerous 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-handled steel hook. All that is necessary to 
do is to insert this under the snake and lift him off the 
ground. He is not only unable to escape, but he is un- 
able to strike, for he cannot strike unless coiled so as to 
give himself support and leverage. The table on which 
the snakes are laid is fairly large and smooth, differing 
in no way from an ordinary table. 

There were a number of us in the room, including 
two or three photographers. The doctor first put on the 
table a non-poisonous but very vicious and truculent 
colubrine snake. It struck right and left at us. Then 
the doctor picked it up, opened its mouth, and showed 
that it had no fangs, and handed it to me. I also opened 
its mouth and examined its teeth, and then put it down, 
whereupon, its temper having been much ruffled, it struck 

The Start 17 

violently at me two or three times. In its action and 
temper this snake was quite as vicious as the most irrita- 
ble poisonous snakes. Yet it is entirely harmless. One 
of the innumerable mysteries of nature which are at 
present absolutely insoluble is why some snakes should 
be so vicious and others absolutely placid and good- 

After removing the vicious harmless snake, the doc- 
tor warned us to get away from the table, and his attend- 
ant put on it, in succession, a very big lachecis — of the 
kind called bushmaster — ^and a big rattlesnake. Each 
coiled menacingly, a formidable brute ready to attack 
anything that approached. Then the attendant adroitly 
dropped his iron crook on the neck of each in succession, 
seized it right behind the head, and held it toward the 
doctor. The snake's mouth was in each case wide open, 
and the great fangs erect and very evident. It would 
not have 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 in this case, 
and the doctor inserted a shallow glass saucer into the 
mouth of the snake behind the fangs, permitted it to 
eject its poison, and then himself squeezed out the re- 
maining poison from the poison-bags through the fangs. 
From the big lachecis came a large quantity of yellow 
venom, a liquid which speedily crystallized into a number 
of minute crystals. The rattlesnake yielded a much less 
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. 

i8 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

After this the doctor took out of a box and presented 
to me a fine, handsome, nearly black snake, an individual 
of the species called the mussurama. This is in my eyes 
perhaps the most interesting serpent in the world. It is 
a big snake, four or five feet long, sometimes even longer, 
nearly black, lighter below, with a friendly, placid tem- 
per. It lives exclusively on other snakes, and is com- 
pletely immune to the poison of the lachecis and rattle- 
snake groups, which contain all the really dangerous 
snakes of America. Doctor Brazil told me that he had 
conducted many experiments with this interesting snake. 
It is not very common, and prefers wet places in which 
to live. It lays eggs, and the female remains coiled above 
the eggs, the object being apparently not to warm them, 
but to prevent too great evaporation. It will not eat when 
moulting, nor in cold weather. Otherwise it will eat a 
small snake every five or six days, or a big one every 

There is the widest difference, both among poisonous 
and non-poisonous snakes, not alone in nervousness and 
irascibility but also in ability to accustom themselves to 
out-of-the-way surroundings. Many species of non-poi- 
sonous snakes which are entirely harmless, to- man or to 
any other animal except their small prey, are neverthe- 
less very vicious and truculent, striking right and left 
and biting freely on the smallest provocation — this is the 
case with the species of which the doctor had previously 
placed a specimen on the table. Moreover, many snakes, 
some entirely harmless and some vicious ones, are so 
nervous and uneasy that it is with the greatest difficulty 
they can be induced to eat in captivity, and the slightest 

The Start 19 

disturbance or interference will prevent their eating. 
There are other snakes, however, of which the mus- 
surama is perhaps the best example, which are very good 
captives, and at the same time very fearless, showing a 
complete indifference not only to being observed but to 
being handled when they are feeding. 

There is in the United States a beautiful and attrac- 
tive snake, the king-snake, with much the same habits 
as the mussurama. It is friendly toward mankind, and 
not poisonous, so that it can be handled freely. It feeds 
on other serpents, and will kill a rattlesnake as big as 
itself, being immune to the rattlesnake venom. Mr. 
Ditmars, of the Bronx Zoo, has made many interesting 
experiments with these king-snakes. I have had them 
in my own possession. They are good-natured and can 
generally be handled with impunity, but I have known 
them to bite, whereas Doctor Brazil informed me that 
it was almost impossible to make the mussurama bite a 
man. The king-snake will feed greedily on other snakes 
in the presence of man — I knew of one case where it 
partly swallowed another snake while both were in a 
small boy's pocket. It is immune to viper poison but it 
is not immune to colubrine poison. A couple of years 
ago I was informed of a case where one of these king- 
snakes was put into an enclosure with an Indian snake- 
eating cobra or hamadryad of about the same size. It 
killed the cobra but made no efifort to swallow it, and 
very soon showed the effects of the cobra poison. I be- 
lieve it afterward died, but unfortunately I have mislaid 
my notes and cannot now remember the details of the 

20 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

Doctor Brazil informed me that the mussurama, like 
the king-snake, was not immime to the colubrine poison. 
A mussurama in his possession, which had with im- 
punity killed and eaten several rattlesnakes and repre- 
sentatives 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 
puzzles of nature that these American serpents which 
kill poisonous serpents should only have grown immune 
to the poison of the most dangerous American poisonous 
serpents, the pit-vipers, and should not have become im- 
mune to the poison of the coral-snakes which are com- 
monly distributed throughout their range. Yet, judging 
by the one instance mentioned by Doctor Brazil, they 
attack and master these coral-snakes, although the con- 
flict in the end results in their death. It would be inter- 
esting to find out whether this attack was exceptional, 
that is, whether the mussurama has or has not as a species 
learned to avoid the coral-snake. If it was not excep- 
tional, then not only is the instance highly curious in 
itself, but it would also go far to explain the failure of 
the mussurama to become plentiful. 

For the benefit of those who are not acquainted with 
the subject, I may mention that the poison of a poison- 
ous snake is not dangerous to its own species unless in- 
jected in 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 re- 
gards the very few species which themselves eat poison- 
ous snakes. The Indian hamadryad, or giant cobra, is 
exclusively a snake-eater. It evidently draws a sharp 

The Start 21 

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 them eagerly, refused to attack a cop- 
perhead which was thrown into their cage, being evi- 
dently afraid of this pit-viper. It would be interesting 
to find out if the hamadryad is afraid to prey on all pit- 
vipers, and also whether it will prey on its small relative, 
the true cobra — for it may well be that, even if not im- 
mune to the viper poison, it is immune to the poison of 
its close ally, the smaller cobra. 

All these and many other questions would be speedily 
settled by Doctor Brazil if he were given the opportunity 
to test them. It must be remembered, moreover, that not 
only have his researches been of absorbing value from 
the standpoint of pure science but that they also have a 
real utilitarian worth. He is now collecting and breed- 
ing the mussurama. The favorite prey of the mus- 
surama is the most common and therefore the most dan- 
gerous poisonous snake of Brazil, the jararaca, which is 
known in Martinique as the'fer-de-lance. In Martinique 
and elsewhere this snake is such an object of terror as 
to be at times a genuine scourge. Surely it would be 
worth while for the authorities of Martinique to import 
specimens of the mussurama to that island. The mor- 
tality from snake-bite in British India is very great. 
Surely it would be well worth while for the able Indian 
Government to copy Brazil and create such an institute 
as that over which Doctor Vital Brazil is the curator. 

At first sight it seems extraordinary that poisonous 
serpents, so dreaded by and so irresistible to most ani- 

22 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

mals, should be so utterly helpless before the few crea- 
tures that prey on them. But the explanation is easy. 
Any highly specialized creature, the higher its specializa- 
tion, is apt to be proportionately helpless when once its 
peculiar specialized traits* are effectively nullified by an 
opponent. This is eminently the case with the most dan- 
gerous poisonous snakes. In them a highly peculiar 
specialization has been carried to the highest point. They 
rely for attack and defence purely on their poison-fangs. 
All other means and methods of attack and defence have 
atrophied. They 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 wound 
inflicted is of a trivial character. 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 hedge- 
hog, pig, and mongoose — ^the other mammals which kill 
them do so by pouncing on them unawares or by avoid- 
ing their stroke through sheer quickness of movement; 
and probably this is the case with most snake-eating 
birds. The mongoose is very quick, but in some cases 
at least — I have mentioned one in the "African Game 
Trails" — it permits itself to be bitten by poisonous snakes, 
treating the bite with utter indifference. There should 
be extensive experiments made to determine if there are 
species of mongoose immune to both cobra and viper 
poison. Hedgehogs, as determined by actual experi- 
ments, 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 were a radish. Even among animals 

The Start 23 

which are not immune to the poison different species are 
very differently affected by the different kinds of snake 
poisons. Not only are some species more resistant than 
others to all poisons, but there is a wide variation in the 
amount of immunity each displays to any given venom. 
One species will be quickly killed by the poison from 
one species of snake, and be fairly resistant to the poison 
of another; whereas in another species the conditions 
may be directly reversed. 

The mussurama which Doctor Brazil handed me was 
a fine specimen, perhaps four and a half feet long. I 
lifted the smooth, lithe bulk in my hands, and then let 
it twist its coils so that it rested at ease in my arms; it 
glided to and fro, on its own length, with the sinuous 
grace of its kind, and showed not the slightest trace of 
either nervousness or bad temper. Meanwhile the doc- 
tor bade his attendant put on the table a big jararaca, 
or fer-de-lance, which was accordingly done. The jara- 
raca was about three feet and a half, or perhaps nearly 
four feet long — that is, it 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 easily to and fro through my hands, 
and once or twice hiding its head between the sleeve and 
the body of my coat. The doctor was not quite sure 
how the mussurama would behave, for it had recently 
eaten a small snake, and unless hungry it pays no atten- 
tion whatever to venomous snakes, even when they at- 
tack and bite it. However, it fortunately proved still to 
have a good appetite. 

The jararaca was alert and vicious. It partly coiled 

24 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

itself on the table, threatening the bystanders. I put the 
big black serpent down on the table four or five feet 
from the enemy and headed in its direction. As soon as 
I let go with my hands it glided toward where the threat- 
ening, formidable-looking lance-head lay stretched in a 
half coil. The mussurama displayed not the slightest 
sign of excitement. Apparently it trusted little to its 
eyes, for it began to run its head along the body of the 
jararaca, darting out its flickering tongue to feel just 
where it was, as it nosed its way up toward the head of 
its antagonist. So placid were its actions that I did not 
at first suppose that it meant to attack, for there was not 
the slightest exhibition of anger or excitement. 

It was the jararaca that began the fight. It showed 
no fear whatever of its foe, but its irritable temper was 
aroused by the proximity and actions of the other, and 
like a flash it drew back its head and struck, burying its 
fangs in the forward part of the mussurama's body. 
Immediately the latter struck in return, and the counter- 
attack was so instantaneous that it was difficult to see 
just what had happened. There was tremendous writh- 
ing and struggling on the part of the jararaca ; and then, 
leaning over the knot into which the two serpents were 
twisted, I saw that the mussurama had seized the jararaca 
by the lower jaw, putting its own head completely into 
the wide-gaping mouth of the poisonous snake. The 
long fangs were just above the top of the mussurama's 
head; and it appeared, as well as I could see, that they 
were once again driven into the mussurama ; but without 
the slightest effect. Then the fangs were curved back in 

The Start 25 

the jaw, a fact which I 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 little, until it got the 
top of the head of the jararaca in its mouth, the lower 
jaw of the jararaca being spread out to one side. The ven- 
omous serpent was helpless; the fearsome master of the 
wild life of the forest, the deadly foe of humankind, 
was itself held in the grip of death. Its cold, baleful 
serpent's eyes shone, as evil as ever. But it was dying. 
In vain it writhed and struggled. Nothing availed 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 cru^h the head of its 
antagonist, or to hold the latter in place. This crushing 
was done by its teeth; and the repeated bites were made 
with such effort that the muscles stood out on the mus- 
surama's neck. Then it took two coils round the neck 
of the jararaca and proceeded deliberately to try to break 
the backbone of its opponent by twisting the head round. 
With this purpose it twisted its own head and neck round 
so that the lighter-colored surface was uppermost; and 
indeed at one time it looked as if it had made almost a 
complete single spiral revolution of its own body. It 
never for a moment relaxed its grip except to shift 
slightly the jaws. 

In a few minutes the jararaca was dead, its head 
crushed in, although the body continued to move con- 
vulsively. When satisfied that its opponent was dead, 
the mussurama began to try to get the head in its mouth. 

26 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

This was a process of some difficulty on account of the 
angle at which the lower jaw of the jararaca stuck out. 
But finally the head was taken completely inside and then 
swallowed. After this, the mussurama proceeded de- 
liberately, but with unbroken speed, to devour its oppo- 
nent by the simple process of crawling outside it, the 
body and tail of the jararaca writhing and struggling 
until the last. During the early portion of the meal, the 
mussurama put a stop to this writhing and struggling 
by resting its own body on that of its 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 totally indifferent to 
our presence, but it was totally indifferent to being han- 
dled while the meal was going on. Several times I re- 
placed the combatants in the middle of the table when 
they had writhed to the edge, and finally, when the pho- 
tographers found that they could not get good pictures, 
I held the mussurama up against a white background 
with the partially swallowed snake in its mouth ; and the 
feast went on uninterruptedly. I never saw cooler or 
more utterly unconcerned conduct ; and the ease and cer- 
tainty with which the terrible poisonous snake was mas- 
tered gave me the heartiest respect and liking for the 
easy-going, good-natured, and exceedingly efficient ser- 
pent which I had been holding in my arms. 

Our trip was not intended as a hunting-trip but as a 
scientific expedition. Before starting on the trip itself, 
while travelling in the Argentine, I received certain pieces 
of first-hand information concerning the natural history 

The Start 27 

of the jaguar, and of the cougar, or puma, which are 
worth recording. The facts about the jaguar are not 
new in the sense of casting new Hght on its character, 
although they are interesting; but the facts about the 
behavior of the puma in one district of Patagonia are 
of great interest, because they give an entirely new side 
of its life-history. 

There was travelling with me at the time Doctor 
Francisco P. Moreno, of Buenos Aires. Doctor Mo- 
reno is at the present day a member of the National 
Board of Education of the Argentine, a man who has 
worked in every way for the benefit of his country, per- 
haps especially for the benefit of the children, so that 
when he was first introduced to me it was as the "Jacob 
Riis of the Argentine" — for they know my deep and 
affectionate intimacy with Jacob Riis. He is also an 
eminent man of science, who has done admirable work 
as a geologist and a geographer. At one period, in con- 
nection with his duties as a boundary commissioner on 
the survey between Chile and the Argentine, he worked 
for years in Patagonia. It was he who made the ex- 
traordinary discovery in a Patagonian cave of the still 
fresh fragments of skin and other remains of the my- 
lodon, the aberrant horse known as the onohipidium, 
the huge South American tiger, and the macrauchenia, 
all of them extinct animals. This discovery showed 
that some of the strange representatives of the giant 
South American pleistocene fauna had lasted down to 
within a comparatively few thousand years, down to the 
time when man, substantially as the Spaniards found 
him, flourished on the continent. Incidentally the dis- 

28 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

covery tended to show that this fauna had lasted much 
later in South America than was the case with the cor- 
responding faunas in other parts of the world ; and there- 
fore it tended to disprove the claims advanced by Doctor 
Ameghino for the extreme age, geologically, of this 
fauna, and for the extreme antiquity of man on the 
American continent. 

One day Doctor Moreno handed me a copy of The 
Outlook containing my account of a cougar-hunt in Ari- 
zona, saying that he noticed that I had very little faith 
in cougars attacking men, although I had explicitly stated 
that such attacks sometimes occurred. I told him. Yes, 
that I had found that the cougar was practically harmless 
to man, the undoubtedly authentic instances of attacks on 
men being so exceptional that they could in practice be 
wholly disregarded. Thereupon Doctor Moreno showed 
me a scar on his face, and told me that he had himself 
been attacked and badly mauled by a puma which was 
undoubtedly trying to prey on him; that is, which had 
started on a career as a man-eater. This was to 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, but this was the first time that 
I had ever come across a man who had himself been 
attacked. Doctor Moreno, as I have said, is not only 
an eminent citizen, but an eminent scientific man, and his 
account of what occurred is unquestionably a scientifi- 
cally accurate statement of the facts. I give it exactly 
as the doctor told it; paraphrasing a letter he sent me, 
and including one or two answers to questions I put 
to him. The doctor, by the way, stated to me that he 

The Start 29 

had known Mr. Hudson, the author of the "Naturalist 
on the Plata," and that the latter knew nothing what- 
ever of pumas from personal experience and had ac- 
cepted as facts utterly wild fables. 

Undoubtedly, said the doctor, the puma in South 
America, like the puma in North America, is, as a general 
rule, a cowardly animal which not only never attacks 
man, but rarely makes any efficient defence when at- 
tacked. The Indian and white hunters have no fear 
of it in most parts of the country, and its harmlessness 
to man is proverbial. But there is one particular spot 
in southern Patagonia where cougars, to the doctor's own 
personal knowledge, have for years been dangerous foes 
of man. This curious local change in habits, by the 
way, is nothing unprecedented as regards wild animals. 
In portions of its range, as I am informed by Mr. Lord 
Smith, the Asiatic tiger can hardly be forced to fight 
man, and never preys on him, while throughout most 
of its range it is a most dangerous beast, and often turns 
man-eater. 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 — I have myself seen this in 

In March, 1877, Doctor Moreno with a party of men 
working on the boundary commission, and with a num- 
ber of Patagonian horse-Indians, was encamped for some 
weeks beside Lake Viedma, which had not before been 
visited by white men for a century, and which was 
rarely visited even by Indians. One morning, just be- 

30 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

fore sunrise, he left his camp by the south shore of 
the lake, to make a topographical sketch of the lake. 
He was unarmed, but carried a prismatic compass in a 
leather case with a strap. It was cold, and he wrapped 
his poncho of guanaco-hide round his neck and head. 
He had walked a few hundred yards, when a puma, a 
female, sprang on 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 sepa- 
rated before she could bite him. He sprang to his feet, 
and, as he said, was forced to think quickly. She had 
recovered herself, and sat on her haunches like a cat, 
looking at him, and then crouched to spring again; 
whereupon 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 evi- 
dently puzzled by it, for, turning, she slunk off to one 
side, under a bush, and then proceeded to try to get 
round behind him. He faced her, keeping his eyes upon 
her, and backed off. She followed him for three or 
four hundred yards. At least twice she came up to 
attack him, but each time he opened his poncho and 
yelled, and at the last moment she shrank back. She 
continually, however, tried, by taking advantage of cover, 
to sneak up to one side, or behind, to attack him. 
Finally, when he got near camp, she abandoned the pur- 
suit and went into a small patch of bushes. He raised 
the alarm; an Indian rode up and set fire to the bushes 

The Start 31 

from the windward side. When the cougar broke from 
the bushes, the Indian rode after her, and threw his 
boias, which twisted around her hind legs; and while 
she was struggling to free herself, he brained her with 
his second bolas. The doctor's injuries were rather pain- 
ful, but not serious. 

Twenty-one years later, in April, 1898, he was 
camped on the same lake, but on the north shore, at the 
foot of a basaltic cliff. He was in company with four 
soldiers, with whom he had travelled from the Strait 
of Magellan. In the night he was aroused by the shriek 
of a man and the barking of his dogs. 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 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 together. This was because 
on several occasions women who had gone out alone 

32 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

were killed by pumas. Evidently in this one locality the 
habit of at least occasional man-eating has become chronic 
with a species which elsewhere is the most cowardly, 
and. to man the least dangerous, of all the big cats. 

These observations of Doctor Moreno have a peculiar 
value, because, as far as I know, they are the first trust- 
worthy accounts of a cougar's having attacked man save 
under circumstances so exceptional as to make the at- 
tack signify little more than the similar exceptional in- 
stances of attack by various other species of wild ani- 
mals that are not normally dangerous to man. 

The jaguar, however, has long been known not only 
to be a dangerous foe when itself attacked, but also 
now and then to become a man-eater. Therefore the 
instances of such attacks furnished me 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 as a man- 
eater, having killed three persons. They were killed, and 
two of them were eaten; the animal was trapped, in con- 
sequence of the alarm excited by the death of his third 
victim. This jaguar was very savage ; whereas a young 
jaguar, which was in a cage with a young tiger, was 
playful and friendly, as was also the case with the young 
tiger. On my trip to visit La Plata Museum I was 
accompanied by Captain Vicente Montes, of the Argen- 
tine Navy, an accomplished officer of scientific attain- 
ments. He had at one time been engaged on a survey 
of the boundary between the Argentine and Parana and 

The Start 33 

Brazil. They had a quantity of dried beef in camp. 
On several occasions a jaguar came into camp after this 
dried beef. Finally they succeeded in protecting it so 
that he could not reach it. The result, however, was 
disastrous. On the next occasion that he visited camp, 
at midnight, he seized a man. Everybody was asleep 
at the time, and the jaguar came in so noiselessly as to 
elude the vigilance of the dogs. As he seized the man, 
the latter gave one yell, but the next moment was killed, 
the jaguar driving his fangs through the man's skull 
into the brain. There was a scene of uproar and con- 
fusion, and the jaguar was forced to drop his prey and 
flee into the woods. Next morning they followed him 
with the dogs, and finally killed him. He was a large 
male, in first-class condition. The only feature of note 
about these two incidents was that in each case the man- 
eater was a powerful animal in the prime of life ; where- 
as 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 Asun- 
cion, in Paraguay, for our journey into the interior, I 
was kept so busy that I had scant time to think of natu- 
ral history. But in a strange land a man who cares for 
wild birds and wild beasts always sees and hears some- 
thing that is new to him and interests him. In the dense 
tropical woods near Rio Janeiro I heard in late October 
— springtime, near the southern tropic — the songs of 
many birds that I could not identify. But the most 
beautiful music was from a shy woodland thrush, som- 

34 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

bre-colored, which lived near the ground in the thick 
timber, but sang high among the branches. At a great 
distance we could hear the ringing, musical, bell-like note, 
long-drawn and of piercing sweetness, which occurs at 
intervals in the song; at first I thought this was the 
song, but when it was possible to approach the singer 
I found that these far-sounding notes were scattered 
through a continuous song of great melody. I never 
listened to one that impressed me more. In different 
places in Argentina I heard and saw- the Argentine mock- 
ing-bird, which is not very unlike our own, and is also 
a delightful and remarkable singer. But I never heard 
the wonderful white-banded mocking-bird, which is said 
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 pass- 
ing through the country were, of course, the conspicuous 
ones. The spurred lapwings, big, tame, boldly marked 
plover, were everywhere ; they were very noisy and active 
and both inquisitive and daring, and they have a very 
curious dance custom. No man need look for them. 
They will look for him, and when they find him they 
will fairly yell the discovery to the universe. In the 
marshes of the lower Parana I saw flocks of scarlet- 
headed blackbirds on the tops of the reeds ; the females 
are as strikingly colored as the males, and their jet-black 
bodies and brilliant red heads make it impossible for 
them to escape observation among their natural surround- 
ings. On the plains to the west I saw flocks of the 
beautiful rose-breasted starlings; unlike the red-headed 
blackbirds, which seemed fairly to court attention, these 

The Start 35 

starlings sought to escape observation by crouching on 
the ground so that their red breasts were hidden. There 
were yellow-shouldered blackbirds in wet places, and cow- 
buntings abounded. 

But the most conspicuous birds I saw were members 
of the family of tyrant flycatchers, of which our own 
king-bird is the most familiar example. This family is 
very numerously represented in Argentina, both in spe- 
cies and individtials. Some of the species are so striking, 
both in color and habits, and in one case also in shape, 
as to attract the attention of even the unobservant. 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 head, and a yellow crest. It is very 
noisy, is common in the neighborhood of houses, and 
builds a big domed nest. It is really a big, heavy king- 
bird, fiercer and more powerful than any northern king- 
bird. I saw them assail not only the big but the small 
hawks with fearlessness, driving them in headlong flight. 
They not only capture insects, but pounce on mice, small 
frogs, lizards, and little snakes, rob birds' nests of the 
fledgling young, and catch tadpoles and even small fish. 

Two of the tyrants which I observed are like two 
with which I grew fairly familiar in Texas. The scissor- 
tail is common throughout the open country, and the 
long tail feathers, which seem at times to hamper its 
flight, attract attention whether the bird is in flight or 
perched on a tree. It has a habit of occasionally soar- 
ing into the air and descending in loops and spirals. 
The scarlet tyrant I saw in the orchards and gardens. 

36 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

The male is a fascinating little bird, coal-black above, 
while his crested head and the body beneath are brilliant 
scarlet. He utters his rapid, low-voiced musical trill 
in the air, rising with fluttering wings to a height of a 
hundred feet, hovering while he sings, and then falling 
back to earth. The color of the bird and the character 
of his performance attract the attention of every ob- 
server, bird, beast, or man, within reach of vision. 

The red-backed tyrant is utterly unlike any of his 
kind in the United States, and until I looked him up in 
Sclater and Hudson's ornithology I never dreamed that 
he belonged to this family. He — for only the male is 
so brightly colored — is coal-black with a dull-red back. 
I saw these birds on December 1 near Barilloche, out on 
the bare Patagonian plains. 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 flight. But whereas pipits are inconspicu- 
ous, the red-backs at once attracted attention by the con- 
trast between their bold coloring and the grayish or yel- 
lowish tones of the ground along which they ran. The 
silver-bill tyrant, however, is much more conspicuous; I 
saw it in the same neighborhood as the red-back and also 
in many other places. The male is jet-black, with white 
bill and wings. He 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. 
But every few minutes he springs up into the air to the 
height of twenty or thirty feet, the white wings flashing 

The Start 37 

in contrast to the black body, screams and gyrates, and 
then instantly returns to his former post and resumes his 
erect pose of waiting. It is hard to imagine a more 
conspicuous bird than the silver-bill; but the next and 
last tyrant flycatcher of which I shall speak possesses on 
the whole the most advertising coloration of any small 
bird I have ever seen in the open country, and more- 
over this advertising coloration exists in both sexes and 
throughout the year. It is a brilliant white, all over, 
except the long wing-quills and the ends of the tail- 
feathers, which are black. The first one I saw, at a 
very long distance, I thought must be an albino. It 
perches on the top of a bush or tree watching for its 
prey, and it shines in the sun like a silver mirror. Every 
hawk, cat, or man must see it ; no one can help seeing it. 
These common Argentine birds, most of them of the 
open country, and all of 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 con- 
cealing coloration, but possess a coloration which is in 
the highest degree revealing. The coloration and the 
habits of most of these birds are such that every hawk 
or other foe that can see at all must have its attention 
attracted to them. Evidently in their cases neither the 
coloration nor any habit of concealment based on the 
coloration is a survival factor, and this although they 
live in a land teeming with bird-eating hawks. Among 
the higher vertebrates there are many known factors 
which have influence, some in one set of cases, some in 

38 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

another set of cases, in the development and preservation 
of species. Courage, intelligence, adaptability, prowess, 
bodily vigor, speed, alertness, ability to hide, ability to 
build structures which will protect the young while they 
are helpless, fecundity — all, and many more like them, 
have their several places; and behind all these visible 
causes there are at work other and often more potent 
causes of which as yet science can say nothing. Some 
species owe much to a given attribute which may be 
wholly lacking in influence on other species; and every 
one of the attributes above enumerated is a survival 
factor in some species, while in others it has no sur- 
vival value whatever, and in yet others, although of 
benefit, it is not of sufficient benefit to offset the benefit 
conferred on foes or rivals by totally different attri- 
butes. Intelligence, for instance, is of course a survival 
factor ; but to-day there exist multitudes of animals with 
very little intelligence which have persisted through im- 
mense periods of geologic time either unchanged or else 
without any change in the direction of increased intelli- 
gence; and during their species-life they have witnessed 
the death of countless other species of far greater in- 
telligence but in other ways less adapted to succeed in 
the environmental complex. The same statement can be 
made of all the many, many other known factors in de- 
velopment, 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 convenient but far from satisfactory term as 



ON the afternoon of December 9 we left the at- 
tractive and picturesque city of Asuncion to 
ascend the Paraguay. With generous courtesy 
the Paraguayan Government had put at my disposal the 
gunboat-yacht of the President himself, a most comfort- 
able river steamer, and so the opening days of our trip 
were pleasant in every way. The food was good, our 
quarters were clean, we slept well, below or on deck, 
usually without our mosquito-nettings, and in daytime 
the deck was pleasant under the awnings. It was hot, 
of course, but we were dressed suitably in our exploring 
and hunting clothes and did not mind the heat. The river 
was low, for there had been dry weather for some weeks 
— ^judging from the vague and contradictory informa- 
tion I received there is much elasticity to the terms wet 
season and dry season at this part of the Paraguay. 
Under the brilliant sky we steamed steadily up the 
mighty river; the sunset was glorious as we leaned on 
the port railing; and after nightfall the moon, nearly 
full and hanging high in the heavens, turned the water 
to shimmering radiance. On the mud-flats and sand- 
bars, and among 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 


40 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

wings. Darters, with snakelike necks and pointed bills, 
perched in the trees on the brink of the river. Snowy 
egrets flapped across the marshes. Caymans were com- 
mon, 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 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 it, we were within 
the Republic of Paraguay. On our right, to the east, 
there was a fairly well-settled country, where bananas 
and oranges were cultivated and other crops of hot coun- 
tries raised. On the banks we passed an occasional small 
town, or saw a ranch-house close to the river's brink, or 
stopped for wood at some little settlement. Across the 
river to the west lay the level, swampy, fertile wastes 
known as the Chaco, still given over either to the wild 
Indians or to cattle-ranching on a gigantic scale. The 
broad river ran in curves between mud-banks where ter- 
races marked successive periods of flood. A belt of for- 
est stood on each bank, but it 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. The Chaco is an ideal cattle country, and not 
really unhealthy. It will be covered with ranches at a 
not distant day. But mosquitoes and many other winged 
insect pests swarm over it. Cherrie and Miller had spent 
a week there collecting mammals and birds prior to my 
arrival at Asuncion. They were veterans of the tropics. 

up the Paraguay 41 

hardened to the insect plagues of Guiana and the Orinoco. 
But they reported that never had they been so tortured 
as in the Chaco. The sand-flies crawled through the 
meshes in the mosquito-nets, and forbade them to sleep ; 
if in their sleep a knee touched the net the mosquitoes 
fell on it so that it looked as if riddled 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 men- 
aces to the cattlemen. With me on the gunboat was an 
old Western friend, Tex Rickard, of the Panhandle and 
Alaska and various places in between. He now has a 
large tract of land and some thirty-five thousand head of 
cattle in the Chaco, opposite Concepcion, at which city 
he was to stop. He told me that horses did not do well 
in the Chaco but that cattle throve, and that while ticks 
swarmed on the east bank of the great river, they would 
not live on the west bank. Again and again he had 
crossed 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 man, 
indeed the only dangerous foes, are insects; and this is 
especially true in the tropics. Fortunately, exactly as 
certain differences too minute for us as yet to explain 
render some insects deadly to man 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 strictly limited by 
geographical and other considerations. The war against 

42 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

what Sir Harry Johnston calls 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 England, 
France, Germany, Italy — the men like Doctor Cruz in 
Rio Janeiro and Doctor Vital Brazil in Sao Paulo — 
who work experimentally within and without the labora- 
tory in their warfare against the disease and death bear- 
ing insects and microbes, are the true leaders in- the fight 
to make the tropics the home of civilized man. 

Late on the evening of the second day of our trip, 
just before midnight, we reached Concepcion. On this 
day, when we stopped for wood or to get provisions — 
at picturesque places, where the women from rough 
mud and thatched cabins were washing clothes in the 
river, or where ragged horsemen stood gazing at us 
from the bank, or where dark, well-dressed ranchmen 
stood in front of red-roofed houses — ^we caught many 
fish. They belonged to one of the most formidable 
genera of fish in the world, the piranha or cannibal fish, 
the fish that eats men when it can get the chance. Far- 
ther north there are species of small piranha that go in 
schools. At this point on the Paraguay the piranha 
do not seem to go in regular schools, but they swarm 
in all the waters and attain a length of eighteen inches 
or over. They are the most ferocious fish in the world. 
Even the most formidable fish, the sharks or the barra- 
cudas, usually attack things smaller than themselves. But 
the piranhas habitually attack things much larger than 
themselves. They will snap a finger off a hand incau- 
tiously trailed in the water; they mutilate swimmers — 

Up the Paraguay 43 

in every river town In Paraguay there are men who have 
been thus mutilated; they will rend and devour alive 
any wounded man or beast; for blood in the water ex- 
cites them to madness. They will tear wounded wild 
fowl to pieces; and bite off the tails of big fish as they 
grow exhausted when fighting after being hooked. Mil- 
ler, before I reached Asuncion, had been badly bitten by 
one. Those that we caught sometimes bit through the 
hooks, or the double strands of copper wire that served 
as leaders, and got away. Those that we hauled on deck 
lived for many minutes. Most predatory fish are long 
and slim, like the alligator-gar and pickerel. But the 
piranha is a short, deep-bodied fish, with a blunt face 
and a heavily undershot or projecting lower jaw which 
gapes widely. The razor-edged teeth are wedge-shaped 
like a shark's, and the jaw muscles possess great power. 
The rabid, furious snaps drive the teeth through flesh 
and bone. The head with Its short muzzle, staring malig- 
nant eyes, and gaping, cruelly armed jaws. Is the em- 
bodiment of evil ferocity; and the actions of the fish 
exactly match Its looks. I never witnessed 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 bit with vicious eagerness at whatever presented 
Itself. One of them flapped Into a cloth and seized it 
with a bulldog grip. Another grasped one of Its fellows ; 
another snapped at a piece of wood, and left the teeth- 
marks deep therein. They are the pests of the waters, 
and It Is necessary to be exceedingly cautious about either 

44 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

swimming or wading where they are found. If cattle 
are driven into, or of their own accord enter, the water, 
they are commonly not molested ; but if by chance some 
unusually big or ferocious specimen of these fearsome 
fishes does bite an animal — ^taking off part of an ear, 
or perhaps of a teat from the udder of a cow — the 
blood brings up every member of the ravenous throng 
which is anywhere near, and unless the attacked animal 
can immediately make its escape from the water it is 
devoured alive. Here on the Paraguay the natives hold 
them in much respect, whereas the caymans are not feared 
at all. The only redeeming feature about them is that 
they are themselves fairly good to eat, although with 
too many bones. 

At daybreak of the third day, finding we were still 
moored off Concepcion, we were rowed ashore and 
strolled off through the streets of the quaint, picturesque 
old town ; a town which, like Asuncion, was founded by 
the conquistadores three-quarters of a century before our 
own English and Dutch forefathers landed in what is 
now the United States. The Jesuits then took practically 
complete possession of what is now Paraguay, control- 
ling and Christianizing the Indians, and raising their 
flourishing missions to a pitch of prosperity they never 
elsewhere achieved. They were expelled by the civil 
authorities (backed by the other representatives of eccle- 
siastical authority) some fifty years before Spanish 
South America became independent. But they had al- 
ready made the language of the Indians, Guarany, a cul- 
ture-tongue, reducing it to writing, and printing religious 
books in it. Guarany is one of the most wide-spread of 

Up the Paraguay 45 

the Indian tongues, being originally found in various 
closely allied forms not only in Paraguay but in Uru- 
guay and over the major part 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, it has left its traces in place-names, but has been 
completely superseded as a language by Portuguese. In 
Paraguay it still exists side by side with Spanish as the 
common language of the lower people and as a familiar 
tongue among the upper classes. The blood of the peo- 
ple is mixed, their language dual; the lower classes are 
chiefly of Indian blood but with a white admixture; 
while the upper classes are predominantly white, with a 
strong infusion of Indian. There is no other case quite 
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 Indian blood is dominant and the 
majority of the population speak an Indian tongue, per- 
haps itself, as with the Quichuas, once a culture-tongue 
of the archaic type. Whether in Paraguay one tongue 
will ultimately drive out the other, and, if so, which will 
be the victor, it is yet too early to prophesy. The Eng- 
lish missionaries and the Bible Society have recently pub- 
lished parts of the Scriptures in Guarany; and in Asun- 
cion a daily paper is published with the text in parallel 
columns, Spanish and Guarany — ^just as in Oklahoma 
there is a similar paper published in English and in the 
tongue which the extraordinary Cherokee chief Sequoia, 
a veritable Cadmus, made a literary language. 

46 Through the Brazilian ^Wilderness 

The Guarany-speaking Paraguayan is a Christian, and 
as much an inheritor of our common culture as most of 
the peasant populations of Europe. He has no kinship 
with the wild Indian, who hates and fears him. The 
Indian of the Chaco, a pure savage, a bow-bearing sav- 
age, will never come east of the Paraguay, and the Para- 
guayan is only begiiming to venture into the western in- 
terior, away from the banks of the river — ^under the lead 
of pioneer settlers like Rickard, whom, by the way, the 
wild Indians thoroughly trust, and for whom they work 
eagerly and faithfully. There is a great development 
ahead for Paraguay, as soon as they can definitely shake 
off the revolutionary habit and establish an orderly per- 
manence of government. The people are a fine people; 
the strains of blood — ^white and Indian — ^are good. 

We walked up the streets of Concepcion, and inter- 
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 and flow- 
ers ; at the two-wheel carts, drawn by mules or oxen ; at 
an occasional rider, with spurs on his bare feet, and his 
big toes thrust into the small stirrup-rings; at the little 
stores, and the warehouses for matte and hides. Then 
we came to a pleasant little inn, kept by a Frenchman 
and his wife, of old Spanish style, with its patio, or inner 
court, but as neat as an inn in Normandy or Brittany. 
We were sitting at coffee, around a little table, when in 
came the colonel of the garrison — for Concepcion is the 
second city in Paraguay. He told me that they had pre- 
pared a reception for me ! I was in my rough hunting- 

up the Paraguay 47 

clothes, but there was nothing to do but to accompany 
my kind hosts and trust to their good nature to pardon 
my shortcomings in the matter of dress. The colonel 
drove me about in a smart open carriage, with two good 
horses and a liveried driver. It was a much more fash- 
ionable turnout than would be seen in any of our cities 
save the largest, and even in them probably not in the 
service of a public official. In all the South American 
countries there is more pomp and ceremony in connection 
with public functions than with us, and at these func- 
tions the liveried servants, often with knee-breeches and 
powdered hair, are like those' seen at similar 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 us, not merely 
in pomp and ceremony but in what is of real importance, 
courtesy; in civility and courtesy we can 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, 
the equipment. There was a German lieutenant with the 
Paraguayan officers ; one of several German officers who 
are now engaged in helping the Paraguayans with their 
army. The equipments and arms were in good condi- 
tion; the enlisted men evidently offered fine material; 
and the officers were doing hard work. It is worth while 
for anti-militarists to ponder the fact that in every South 
American country where a really efficient army is de- 
veloped, the increase in military efficiency goes hand in 
hand with a decrease in lawlessness and disorder, and a 
growing reluctance to settle internal disagreements by 

48 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

violence. They are introducing universal military serv- 
ice in Paraguay; the officers, many of whom have studied 
abroad, are growing 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. 
If these feelings grow strong enough they will be power- 
ful factors in giving Paraguay what she most needs, 
freedom from revolutionary disturbance and therefore 
the chance to achieve the material prosperity without 
which as a basis there can be no advance in other and 
even more important matters. 

Then I was driven to the City Hall, accompanied by 
the intendente, or mayor, a German long settled in the 
country and one of the leading men of the city. There 
was a breakfast. When I had to speak I impressed into 
my service as interpreter a young Paraguayan who was 
a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He was 
able to render into Spanish my ideas — on such subjects 
as orderly liberty and the far-reaching mischief done by 
the revolutionary habit — ^with clearness and vigor, be- 
cause he thoroughly understood not only how I felt but 
also the American way of looking at such things. My 
hosts were hospitality itself, and I enjoyed the unex- 
pected greeting. 

We steamed on up the river. Now and then we 
passed another boat — a steamer, or, to my surprise, per- 
haps a barkentine or schooner. The Paraguay is a high- 
way of traffic. Once we passed a big beef-canning fac- 
tory. Ranches stood on either bank a few leagues apart, 
and we stopped at wood-yards on the west bank. Indians 

Up the Paraguay 49 

worked around them. At one such yard the Indians 
were evidently part of the regular force. Their squaws 
were with them, cooking at queer open-air ovens. One 
small child had as pets a parrot and a young coati — a 
kind of long-nosed raccoon. Loading wood, the Indians 
stood in a line, tossing the logs from one to the other. 
These Indians wore clothes. 

On this day we got into the tropics. Even in the heat 
of the day the deck was pleasant under the awnings; 
the sun rose and set in crimson splendor ; and the nights, 
with the moon at the full, were wonderful. At night 
Orion blazed overhead; and the Southern Cross hung 
in the star-brilliant heavens behind us. But after the 
moon rose the constellations paled; and clear in her 
light the tree-clad banks stood on either hand as we 
steamed steadily against the swirling current of the great 

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 herders ; or a handsome ranch-house, under a clus- 
ter, 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 close to the brink, with the horses 
in it and a barefooted man in shirt and trousers leaning 
against the fence; or a herd of cattle among the palms; 
or a big tannery or factory or a little native hamlet came 
in sight. We stopped at one tannery. The owner was a 

50 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

Spaniard, the manager an "Oriental," as he called him- 
self, a Uruguayan, of German parentage. The peons, 
or workers, who lived in a long line of wooden cabins 
back of the main building, were mostly Paraguayans, 
with a few Brazilians, and a dozen German and Argen- 
tine foremen. There were also some wild Indians, who 
were camped in the usual squalid fashion of Indians 
who are hangers-on round the white 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 both sexes were 
naked to the waist. One little girl had a young ostrich 
as a pet. 

Water-fowl were plentiful. We saw large flocks of 
wild muscovy ducks. Our tame birds come from this wild 
species and its absurd misnaming dates back to the period 
when the turkey and guinea-pig were misnamed in similar 
fashion — our European forefathers taking a large and 
hazy view of geography, and including Turkey, Guinea, 
India, and Muscovy as places which, in their capacity of 
being outlandish, could be comprehensively used as in- 
cluding America. The muscovy ducks were very good 
eating. Darters and cormorants swarmed. They wad- 
dled on the sand-bars in big flocks and crowded the trees 
by the water's edge. Beautiful snow-white egrets also 
lit in the trees, often well back from the river. A fuU- 
foliaged tree of vivid green, its round surface crowded 
with these birds, as if it had suddenly blossomed with 
huge white flowers, is a sight worth seeing. Here and 
there on the sand-bars we saw huge jabiru storks, and 

Up the Paraguay 51 

once a flock of white wood-ibis among the trees on the 

On the Brazilian boundary we met a shallow river 
steamer carrying Colonel Candido Mariano da Silva Ron- 
don and several other Brazilian members of the expe- 
dition. Colonel Rondon immediately showed that he was 
all, and more than all, that could be desired. It was 
evident that he knew his business thoroughly, and it 
was equally evident that he would be a pleasant com- 
panion. He was a classmate of Mr. Lauro Muller at 
the Brazilian Military Academy. He is of almost pure 
Indian blood, and is a Positivist — the Positivists are a 
really strong body in Brazil, as they are in France and 
indeed in Chile. The colonel's seven children have all 
been formally made members of the Positivist Church 
in Rio Janeiro. Brazil possesses the same complete lib- 
erty in matters religious, spiritual, and intellectual as 
we, for our great good fortune, do in the United States, 
and my Brazilian companions included Catholics and 
equally sincere men who described themselves as "libres 
penseurs." Colonel Rondon has spent the last twenty- 
four years in exploring the western highlands of Brazil, 
pioneering the way for telegraph-lines and railroads. 
During that time he has travelled some fourteen thou- 
sand miles, on territory most of which had not previously 
been traversed by civilized man, and has built three thou- 
sand miles of telegraph. He has an exceptional knowl- 
edge of the Indian tribes and has always zealously en- 
deavored to serve them and indeed to serve the cause 
of humanity wherever and whenever he was able. Thanks 
mainly to his efforts, four of the wild tribes of the 

52 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

region he has explored have begun to tread the road of 
civilization. They have taken the first steps toward be- 
coming Christians. It may seem strange that among the 
first-fruits of the efforts of a Positivist should be the 
conversion of those he seeks to benefit to Christianity. 
But in South America Christianity is at least as much a 
status as a theology. It represents the indispensable first 
step upward from savagery. In the wilder and poorer 
districts men are divided into the two great classes of 
"Christians" and "Indians." When an Indian becomes 
a Christian he is accepted into and becomes wholly ab- 
sorbed or partly assimilated by the crude and simple 
neighboring civilization, and then he moves up or down 
like any one else among his fellows. 

Among Colonel Rondon's companions were Captain 
Amilcar de Magalhaes, Lieutenant Joao Lyra, Lieutenant 
Joaquin de Mello Filho, and Doctor Euzebio de Oliveira, 
a geologist. 

The steamers halted; Colonel Rondon and several of 
his officers, spick and span in their white uniforms, came 
aboard ; and in the afternoon I visited him on his steamer 
to talk over our plans. When these had been fully dis- 
cussed and agreed on we took tea. I 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. Curiously enough, one of the 
Brazilian taxidermists had also just been severely bitten 
by a piranha. My new companions had story after story 
to tell of them. Only three weeks previously a twelve- 
year-old boy who had gone in swimming near Corumba 
was attacked, and literally devoured alive by them. Colo- 

Up the Paraguay 53 

nel Rondon during his exploring trips had met with 
more than one unpleasant experience in connection with 
them. He had lost one of his toes by the bite of a 
piranha. He was about to bathe and had chosen a shal- 
low pool at the edge of the river, which he carefully- 
inspected until he was satisfied that none of the man- 
eating fish were in it; 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 was attacked; the fish bit him 
on the thighs and buttocks, and when he put down his 
hands tore them also; he was near the bank and 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 in- 
cident occurred on another trip. The party were with- 
out food and very hungry. On reaching a stream they 
dynamited it, and waded in to seize the stunned fish as 
they floated on the surface. One man, Lieutenant Pyri- 
neus, having his hands full, tried to hold one fish by put- 
ting its head into his mouth; it was a piranha and seem- 
ingly stunned, but in a moment it recovered and bit a 
big section out of his tongue. Such a hemorrhage fol- 
lowed that his life was saved with the utmost difficulty. 
On another occasion a member of the party was off by 
himself on a mule. The mule came into camp alone. 
Following his track back they came to a ford, where in 
the water they found the skeleton of the dead man, his 
clothes uninjured but every particle of flesh stripped 
from his bones. Whether he had drowned, and the 

54 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

fishes had then eaten his body, or whether they had killed 
him it was impossible to say. They had not hurt the 
clothes, getting in under them, which made it seem likely 
that there had been no struggle. These man-eating fish 
are a veritable scourge in the waters they frequent. But 
it must not be understood by this that the piranhas— or, 
for the matter of that, the New-World caymans and 
crocodiles — ever become such dreaded foes of man as 
for instance the man-eating crocodiles of Africa. Acci- 
dents occur, and there are certain places where swim- 
ming 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. 

During his trips Colonel Rondon had met with vari- 
ous experiences with wild creatures. The Paraguayan 
caymans are not ordinarily dangerous to man; but they 
do sometimes become man-eaters and should be destroyed 
whenever the opportunity offers. The huge caymans and 
crocodiles of the Amazon are far more dangerous, and 
the colonel knew of repeated instances where men, women 
and children had become their victims. Once while dyna- 
miting a stream for fish for his starving party he par- 
tially stunned a giant anaconda, which he killed as it 
crept slowly off. He said that it was of a size that no 
other anaconda he had ever seen even approached, and 
that in his opinion such a brute if hungry would readily 
attack a full-grown man. Twice smaller anacondas had 
attacked his dogs ; one was carried under water — for the 
anaconda is a water-loving serpent — ^but he rescued it. 
One of his men was bitten by a jararaca; he killed the 

up the Paraguay 55 

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 it, but the jaguar was a formidable 
beast, which occasionally turned man-eater, and often 
charged savagely when brought to bay. He had known 
a hunter to be killed by a jaguar he was following in 
thick grass cover. 

All such enemies, however, he regarded as utterly 
trivial compared to the real dangers of the wilderness — 
the torment and menace of attacks by the swarming in- 
sects, by mosquitoes and the even more intolerable tiny 
gnats, by the ticks, and by the vicious poisonous ants 
which occasionally cause villages and even whole districts 
to be deserted by human beings. These insects, and the 
fevers they cause, and dysentery and starvation and 
wearing hardship and accidents in rapids are what the 
pioneer explorers have to fear. The conversation was 
to me most interesting. The colonel spoke French about 
to the extent I did; but of course he and the others 
preferred Portuguese; and then Kermit was the inter- 

In the evening, soon after moonrise, we stopped for 
wood at the little Brazilian town of Porto Martinho. 
There are about twelve hundred inhabitants. Some of 
the buildings were of stone ; a large private house with a 
castellated tower was of stone; there were shops, and a 
post-office, stores, a restaurant and billiard-hall, and 
warehouses for matte, of which much is grown in the 
region roundabout. Most of the houses were low, with 
overhanging, sloping eaves ; and there were gardens with 

56 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

high walls, inside of which trees rose, many of them 
fragrant. We wandered through the wide, dusty streets, 
and along the narrow sidewalks. It was a hot, still 
evening; the smell of the tropics was on the heavy De- 
cember air. Through the open doors and windows we 
caught dim glimpses of the half-clad inmates of the 
poorer houses; women and young girls sat outside their 
thresholds in the moonlight. All whom we met were 
most friendly: the captain of the little Brazilian garrison; 
the intendente, a local trader ; another trader and ranch- 
man, a Uruguayan, who had just received his newspaper 
containing my speech in Montevideo, and who, as I gath- 
ered from what I understood of his rather voluble Span- 
ish, was much impressed by my views on democracy, 
honesty, liberty, and order (rather well-worn topics) ; 
and a Catalan who spoke French, and who was accom- 
panied by his pretty daughter, a dear little girl of eight 
or ten, who said with much pride that she spoke three 
languages — ^Brazilian, Spanish, and Catalan ! Her father 
expressed strongly his desire for a church and for a 
school in the little city. 

When at last the wood was aboard we resumed our 
journey. The river was like glass. In the white moon- 
light the palms on the edge of the banks stood mirrored 
in the still water. We 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 hills 
rose in the distance. Here and there prairie fires burned, 
and the red glow warred with the moon's radiance. 

Next morning was overcast. Occasionally we passed 
a wood-yard, or factory, or cabin, now on the eastern, 

up the Paraguay 57 

the Brazilian, now on the western, the Paraguayan, bank. 
The Paraguay was known to men of European birth, 
bore soldiers and priests and merchants as they sailed 
and rowed up and down the current of its stream, and 
beheld little towns and forts rise on its banks, long before 
the Mississippi had become the white man's highway. 
Now, along its upper course, the settlements are much 
like those on the Mississippi at the end of the first quar- 
ter of the last century; and in the not distant future it 
will witness a burst of growth and prosperity 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 Para- 
guayan hamlet, nestling in the green growth under a 
group of low hills by the river-brink. On one of these 
hills stood a picturesque old stone fort, known as Fort 
Bourbon in the Spanish, the colonial, days. Now the 
Paraguayan flag floats over it, and it is garrisoned by a 
handful of Paraguayan soldiers. Here Father Zahm 
baptized two children, the youngest of a large family 
of fair-skinned, light-haired small people, whose father 
was a Paraguayan and the mother an "Oriental," or 
Uruguayan. No priest had visited the village for three 
years, and the children were respectively one and two 
years of age. The sponsors included the local comman- 
dante and a married couple from Austria. In answer to 
what was supposed to be the perfunctory question 
whether they were Catholics, the parents returned the 
unexpected answer that they were not. Further ques- 
tioning elicited the fact that the father called himself a 
"free-thinking Catholic," and the mother said she was 

58 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

a "Protestant Catholic," her mother having been a Prot- 
estant, 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 
ceremony. They were good people; and, although they 
wished liberty to think exactly as they individually 
pleased, they also wished to be connected and to have 
their children connected with some church, by preference 
the church of the majority of their people. A very short 
experience of communities where there is no church 
ought to convince the most heterodox of the absolute 
need of a church. I 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 es- 
tablishment of one good and earnest priest in every vil- 
lage or little community in the far interior. Nor is 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 I saw estab- 
lished here and there in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argen- 
tina, and of the Y. M. C. Associations. The bulk of 
these good people who profess religion will continue to 
be Catholics, but the spiritual needs of a more or less 
considerable minority will best be met by the establish- 
ment of Protestant churches, or in places even of a Posi- 
tivist Church or Ethical Culture Society. Not only is 
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 

up the Paraguay 59 

reflection on sloth and moral laxity. The government 
in each of these commonwealths is doing everything pos- 
sible to further the cause of education, and the tendency 
is to treat education as peculiarly a function of govern- 
ment and to make it, where the government acts, non- 
sectarian, obligatory, and free — a. cardinal doctrine of 
our own great democracy, to which we are committed 
by every principle of sound Americanism. There must 
be absolute religious liberty, for tyranny and intolerance 
are as abhorrent in matters intellectual and spiritual as 
in matters political and material; and more and more 
we must all realize that conduct is of infinitely greater 
importance than dogma. But no democracy can afford 
to overlook the vital importance of the ethical and spir- 
itual, the truly religious, element in life ; and in practice 
the average good man grows clearly to understand this, 
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 
breakfast — on Colonel Rondon's boat. Caymans were 
becoming more plentiful. The ugly brutes lay on the 
sand-flats and mud-banks like logs, always with the head 
raised, sometimes with the jaws open. They are often 
dangerous to domestic animals, and are always destruc- 
tive to fish, and it is good to shoot them. I killed half 
a dozen, and missed nearly as many more — a throbbing 
boat does not improve one's aim. We passed forests 
of palms that extended for leagues, and vast marshy 
meadows, where storks, herons, and ibis were gathered, 
with flocks of cormorants and darters on the sand-bars. 

6o Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

and stilts, skimmers, and clouds of beautiful swaying 
terns in the foreground. About 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 first half of the 
sixteenth century — ^at a time when there was not a set- 
tlement in what is now the United States, and when 
hardly a single English sea captain had ventured so 
much as to cross the Atlantic. 

By the following day the country on the east bank 
had become a vast marshy plain dotted here and there 
by tree-clad patches of higher land. The morning was 
rainy; a contrast to the fine weather we had hitherto 
encountered. We passed wood-yards and cattle-ranches. 
At one of the latter the owner, an Argentine of Irish 
parentage, who still spoke English with the accent of 
the land of his parents' nativity, remarked that this was 
the first time the American flag had been seen on the 
upper Paraguay ; for our gunboat carried it at the mast- 
head. Early in the afternoon, having reached the part 
where both banks of the river were Brazilian territory, 
we came to the old colonial Portuguese fort of Coimbra. 
It stands where two steep hills rise, one on either side 
of the river, and it guards the water-gorge between them. 
It was captured by the Paraguayans in the war of nearly 
half a century ago. Some modem 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 para- 
pet and crenellated wall. At the foot of the hill, on the 
riverine plain, stretches the old-time village with its roofs 

Up the Paraguay 6i 

of palm. In the village dwell several hundred souls, 
almost entirely the officers and soldiers and their families. 
There is one long street. The one-story, daub-and-wattle 
houses have low eaves and steep sloping roofs of palm- 
leaves or of split palm-trunks. Under one 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 side- 
walk. A little graveyard, some of the tombs very old, 
stands at one end. As we passed down the street the 
wives and the swarming children of the garrison were at 
the doors and windows; there were women and girls 
with skins as fair as any in the northland, and others 
that were predominantly negro. Most were of interven- 
ing shades. All this was paralleled among the men ; and 
the fusion of the colors was going on steadily. 

Around the village black vultures were gathered. Not 
long before reaching it we passed some rounded green 
trees, their tops covered with the showy wood-ibis ; at the 
same time we saw behind them, farther inland, other trees 
crowded with the more delicate forms of the shining 
white egrets. 

The river now widened so that in places it looked 
like a long lake ; it wound in every direction through the 
endless marshy plain, whose surface was broken here 
and there by low mountains. The splendor of the sun- 
set I never saw surpassed. We were steaming east 
toward clouds of storm. The river ran, a broad highway 
of molten gold, into the flaming sky; the far-off moun- 
tains 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; in front, as we 

62 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

forged steadily onward, hung the tropic night, dim and 

On December 15 we reached Corumba. For three 
or four miles before it is reached the west bank, on 
which it stands, becomes high rocky ground, falling away 
into cliffs. The country roundabout was evidently well 
peopled. We saw gauchos, cattle-herders — the equiva- 
lent of our own cowboys — riding along the bank. 
Women were washing clothes, and their naked children 
bathing, on the shore; we were told that caymans and 
piranhas rarely ventured near a place where so much 
was going on, and that accidents generally occurred in 
ponds or lonely stretches of the river. Several steamers 
came out to meet us, and accompanied us for a dozen 
miles, with bands playing and the passengers cheering, 
just as if we were nearing some town on the Hudson. 

Corumba is on a steep hillside, with wide, roughly 
paved streets, some of them lined with beautiful trees 
that bear scarlet flowers, and with well-built houses, 
most of them of one story, some of two or three stories. 
We were greeted with a reception by the municipal coun- 
cil, and were given a state dinner. The hotel, kept by 
an Italian, was as comfortable as possible — stone floors, 
high ceilings, big windows and doors, a cool, open court- 
yard, and a shower-bath. Of course Corumba is still a 
frontier town. The vehicles are ox-carts and mule-carts; 
there are no carriages; and oxen as well as mules are 
used for riding. The water comes from a big central 
well; around it the water-carts gather, and their con- 
tents are then peddled around at the different houses. 
The families showed the mixture of races characteristic 

up the Paraguay 63 

of Brazil; one mother, after the children had been pho- 
tographed in their ordinary costume, begged that we re- 
turn and take them in their Sunday clothes, which- was 
accordingly done. In a year the railway from Rio will 
reach Corumba; and then this city, and the country 
roundabout, will see much development. 

At this point we rejoined the rest of the party, and 
very glad we were to see them. Cherrie and Miller had 
already collected some eight hundred specimens of mam- 
mals and birds. 



THE morning after our arrival at Corumba I 
asked Colonel Rondon to inspect our outfit; for 
his experience of what is necessary in tropical 
travelling has been gained through a quarter of a cen- 
tury of arduous exploration in the wilderness. It was 
Fiala who had assembled our food-tents, cooking-uten- 
sils, and supplies of all kinds, and he and Sigg, during 
their stay in Corumba, had been putting everything in 
shape for our start. Colonel Rondon at the end of his 
inspection said he had nothing whatever to suggest ; that 
it was extraordinary that Fiala, without personal knowl- 
edge of the tropics, could have gathered the things most 
necessary, with the minimum of bulk and maximum of 

Miller had made a special study of the piranhas, 
which swarmed at one of the camps he and Cherrie had 
made in the Chaco. So numerous were they that the 
members of the party had to be exceedingly careful in 
dipping up water. Miller did not find that they were 
cannibals toward their 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 flowing, were thrown among the ravenous liv- 
ing, they were left unmolested. Moreover, it was Miller's 


A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 65 

experience, the direct contrary of which we had been 
told, that splashing and a commotion in the water at- 
tracted the piranhas, whereas they rarely attacked any- 
thing that was motionless unless it was bloody. Dead 
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 water, and completely devoured 
by the blood-crazy fish. A man who had dropped some- 
thing of value waded in after it to above the knees, but 
went very slowly and quietly, avoiding every possibility 
of disturbance, and not venturing to put his hands into 
the water. But nobody could bathe, and even the slight- 
est disturbance in the water, such as that made by scrub- 
bing the hands vigorously with soap, immediately at- 
tracted the attention of the savage little creatures, who 
darted to the place, evidently hoping to find some ani- 
mal in difficulties. Once, while Miller and some Indians 
were attempting to launch a boat, and were making a 
great commotion in the water, a piranha attacked a naked 
Indian who belonged to the party and mutilated him as 
he struggled and splashed, waist-deep in the stream. 
Men not making a splashing and struggling are rarely 
attacked ; but if one is attacked by any chance, the blood 
in the water maddens the piranhas, and they assail the 
man with frightful ferocity. 

At Corumba the weather was hot. In the patio of 
the comfortable little hotel we heard the cicadas; but I 
did not hear the extraordinary screaming whistle of the 
locomotive cicada, which I had heard in the gardens of 
the house in which I stayed at Asuncion. This was as 

66 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

remarkable a sound as any animal sound to which I have 
listened, except only the batrachian-like wailing of the 
tree hyrax in East Africa; and like the East African 
mammal this South American insect has a voice, or 
rather utters a sound which, so far as it resembles any 
other animal sound, at the beginning remotely suggests 
batrachian afifinities. The locomotive-whistle part of the 
utterance, however, resembles nothing so much as a small 
steam siren ; when first heard it seems impossible that it 
can be produced by an insect. 

On December 17 Colonel Rondon and several mem- 
bers of our party started on a shallow river steamer for 
the ranch .of Senhor de Barros, "Las Palmeiras," on the 
Rio Taquary. We went down the Paraguay for a few 
miles, and then up the Taquary. It was a beautiful trip. 
The shallow river — ^we were aground several times — 
wound through a vast, marshy plain, with occasional 
spots of higher land on which trees grew. There were 
many water-birds. Darters swarmed. But the conspicu- 
ous and attractive bird was the stately jabiru stork. 
Flocks of these storks whitened the marshes and lined 
the river banks. They were not shy, for such big birds; 
before flying they had to run a few paces and then 
launch themselves on the air. Once, at noon, a couple 
soared round overhead in wide rings, rising higher and 
higher. On another occasion, late in the day, a flock 
passed by, gleaming white with black points in the long 
afternoon lights, and with them were spoonbills, show- 
ing rosy amid their snowy companions. Caymans, al- 
ways called jacares, swarmed; and we killed scores of 
the noxious creatures. They were singularly indifferent 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 67 

to our approach and to the sound of the shots. Some- 
times 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 shot pains 
or affects these dull-nerved, cold-blooded creatures. As 
it lay on a sand-bank, it was hit with a long 22 bullet. 
It slid into the water but found itself in the midst of a 
school of fish. It at once forgot everything except its 
greedy appetite, and began catching the fish. It seized 
fish after fish, holding its head above water as soon as 
its jaws had closed on a fish; and a second bullet killed 
it. Some of the crocodiles when shot performed most 
extraordinary antics. Our weapons, by the way, were 
good, except Miller's shotgun. The 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 
creature than the jacares. Kermit had charge of two 
hounds which we owed to the courtesy of one of our 
Argentine friends. They were biggish, nondescript ani- 
mals, obviously good fighters, and they speedily devel- 
oped the utmost affection for all the members of the 
expedition, but especially for Kermit, who took care of 
them. One we named "Shenzi," the name given the wild 
bush natives by the Swahili, the semicivllized African 
porters. He 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 

68 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

black object, very conspicuous against the vivid green. 
It was a giant ant-eater, or tamandua bandeira, one of 
the most extraordinary creatures of the latter-day world. 
It is about the size of a rather small black bear. It has 
a very long, narrow, toothless snout, with a tongue it 
can project a couple of feet; it is covered with coarse, 
black hair, save for a couple of white stripes; it has a 
long, bushy tail and very powerful claws on its fore feet. 
It walks on the sides of its fore feet with these claws 
curved in under the foot. The claws are used in digging 
out ant-hills ; but the beast has courage, and in a grapple 
is a rather unpleasant enemy, in spite of its toothless 
mouth, for it can strike a formidable blow with these 
claws. It sometimes hugs a foe, gripping him tight ; but 
its ordinary method of defending itself is to strike with 
its long, stout, curved claws, which, driven by its mus- 
cular forearm, can rip open man or beast. Several of 
our companions had had dogs killed by these ant-eaters; 
and we came across one man with a very ugly scar down 
his back, where he had been hit by one, which charged 
him when he came up to kill it at close quarters. 

As soon as we saw the giant tamandua we pushed off 
in a rowboat, and landed only a couple of hundred yards 
distant from our clumsy quarry. The tamandua through- 
out most of its habitat rarely leaves the forest, and it is 
a helpless animal in the open plain. The two dogs ran 
ahead, followed by Colonel Rondon and Kermit, with 
me behind carrying the rifle. In a minute or two the 
hounds overtook the cantering, shuffling creature, and 
promptly began a fight with it ; the combatants were so 
mixed up that I had to wait another minute or so before 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 69 

I could fire without risk of hitting a dog. We carried 
our prize back to the bank and hoisted it aboard the 
steamer. The sun was just about to set, behind dim 
mountains, many miles distant across the marsh. 

Soon afterward we reached one of the outstations of 
the huge ranch we were about to visit, and hauled up 
alongside the bank for the night. There was a landing- 
place, and sheds and corrals. Several of the peons or 
gauchos had come to meet us. After dark they kindled 
fires, and sat beside them singing songs in a strange 
minor key and strumming guitars. The red firelight 
flickered over their wild figures as they squatted away 
from the blaze, where the light and the shadow met. It 
was still and hot. There were mosquitoes, of course, 
and other insects of all kinds 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 ground ; and, although these stretches rose only 
three or four feet above the marsh, they were covered 
with thick jungle, largely palmetto scrub, or else with 
open palm forest. For three or four miles we splashed 
through the marsh, now and then crossing boggy pools 
where the little horses labored hard not to mire down. 
Our dusky guide was clad in a shirt, trousers, and 
fringed leather apron, and wore spurs on his bare feet ; 

70 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

he had a rope for a bridle, and two or three toes of each 
foot were thrust into Httle iron stirrups. 

The pools in the marsh were drying. They were 
filled with fish, 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 the marsh. But ibis and herons abound- 
ed ; the former uttered queer, querulous cries when they 
discovered our presence. The spurred lapwings were as 
noisy as they always are. The ibis and plover did not 
pay any heed to the fish; but the black carrion vultures 
feasted on them in the mud ; and in the pools that were 
not dry small alligators, the jacare-tinga, were feasting 
also. In many places the stench from the dead fish was 

Then for miles we rode through a beautiful open 
forest of tall, slender caranda palms, with other trees 
scattered among them. Green parakeets with black 
heads chattered as they flew ; noisy green and red parrots 
climbed among the palms; and huge macaws, some en- 
tirely blue, others almost entirely red, screamed loudly 
as they perched in the trees or took wing at our approach. 
If one was wounded its cries kept its companions circling 
around overhead. The naturalists found the bird fauna 
totally different from that which they had been collecting 
in the hill 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 the other hand, its 
mammalian fauna, although very interesting, is rather 
poor in number of species and individuals and in the 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 71 

size of the beasts. It possesses more mammals that are 
unique and distinctive in type than does any other con- 
tinent save Australia; and they are of higher and much 
more varied types than in Australia. But there is noth- 
ing approaching the majesty, beauty, and swarming mass 
of the great mammalian life of Africa and, in a less 
degree, of tropical Asia; indeed, it does not even ap- 
proach the similar mammalian life of North America 
and northern Eurasia, poor though this is compared 
with the seething vitality of tropical life in the Old 
World. During a geologically recent period, a period 
extending into that which saw man spread over the world 
in substantially the physical and cultural stage of many 
existing savages. South America possessed a varied and 
striking fauna of enormous beasts — sabre-tooth tigers, 
huge lions, mastodons, horses of many kinds, camel-like 
pachyderms, giant ground-sloths, mylodons the size of 
the rhinoceros, and many, many other strange and won- 
derful creatures. From some cause, concerning the 
nature of which we cannot at present even hazard a 
guess, this vast and giant fauna vanished completely, the 
tremendous catastrophe (the duration of which is un- 
known) not being consummated until within a few thou- 
sand or a few score thousand years. When the white 
man reached South America he found the same weak 
and impoverished mammalian fauna that exists practi- 
cally unchanged to-day. Elsewhere civilized man has 
been even more destructive than his very destructive un- 
civilized brothers of the magnificent mammalian life of 
the wilderness; for ages he has been rooting out the 
higher forms of beast life in Europe, Asia, and North 

72 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

Africa; and in our own day he has repeated the feat, 
on a very large scale, in the rest of Africa and in North 
America. But in South America, although he is in places 
responsible for the wanton slaughter of the most inter- 
esting and the largest, or the most beautiful, birds, his 
advent has meant a positive enrichment of the wild mam- 
malian fauna. None of the native grass-eating mammals, 
the graminivores, approach in size and beauty the herds 
of wild or half-wild cattle and horses, or so add to the 
interest of the landscape. There is every reason 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 — not 
southern Europe — have already partially wakened, to 
the duty of preserving from impoverishment and ex- 
tinction the wild life which is an asset of such interest 
and value in our several lands ; but the case against civil- 
ized man in this matter is grewsomely heavy anyhow, 
when the plain truth is told, and it is harmed by ex- 

After five or six hours' travelling through this coun- 
try of marsh and of palm forest we reached the ranch 
for which we were heading. In the neighborhood stood 
giant fig-trees, singly or in groups, with dense, dark- 
green foliage. Ponds, overgrown with water-plants, lay 
about; wet meadow, and drier pastureland, open or 
dotted with palms and varied with tree jungle, stretched 
for many miles on every hand. There are some thirty 
thousand head of cattle on the ranch, besides herds of 
horses and droves of swine, and a few flocks of sheep 
and goats. The home buildings of the ranch stood in a 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 73 

quadrangle, surrounded by a fence or low stockade. One 
end of the quadrangle was formed by the ranch-house 
itself, one story high, with whitewashed walls and red- 
tiled roof. Inside, the rooms were bare, with clean, 
whitewashed walls and palm-trunk rafters. There were 
solid wooden shutters on the unglazed windows. We 
slept in hammocks or on cots, and we feasted royally on 
delicious native Brazilian dishes. On another side of 
the quadrangle stood another long, low white building 
with a red-tiled roof ; this held the kitchen and the living- 
rooms of the upper-grade peons, the headmen, the cook, 
and jaguar-hunters, with their families: dark-skinned 
men, their wives showing varied strains of white, In- 
dian, and negro blood. The children tumbled merrily 
in the dust, and were fondly tended by their mothers. 
Opposite the kitchen stood a row of buildings, some 
whitewashed daub and wattle, with tin roofs, others of 
erect palm-logs with palm-leaf thatch. These were the 
saddle-room, storehouse, chicken-house, and stable. The 
chicken-house was allotted to Kermit and Miller for the 
preparation of the specimens; and there they worked in- 
dustriously. With a big skin, like that of the giant ant- 
eater, they had to squat on the ground ; while the duck- 
lings and wee chickens scuffled not only round the skin 
but all over it, grabbing the shreds and scraps of meat 
and catching flies. The fourth end of the quadrangle 
was formed by a corral and a big wooden scaffolding on 
which hung hides and strips of drying meat. Extraor- 
dinary to relate, there were no mosquitoes at the ranch ; 
why I cannot say, as they ought to swarm in these vast 
"pantanals," or swamps. Therefore, in spite of the heat. 

74 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

it was very pleasant. Near by stood other buildings: 
sheds, and thatched huts of palm-logs in which the or- 
dinary peons lived, and big corrals. In the quadrangle 
were flamboyant trees, with their masses of brilliant red 
flowers and delicately cut, vivid-green foliage. Noisy 
oven-birds haunted these trees. In a high palm in the 
garden a family of green parakeets had taken up their 
abode and were preparing to build nests. They chat- 
tered incessantly both when they flew juid when they sat 
or crawled among the branches. Ibis and plover, crying 
and wailing, passed immediately overhead. Jacanas fre- 
quented 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. There 
was a wealth of strange bird life in the neighborhood. 
There were large papyrus-marshes, the papyrus not be- 
ing a fifth, perhaps not a tenth, as high as in Africa. 
In these swamps were many blackbirds. Some uttered 
notes that reminded me of our own redwings. Others, 
with crimson heads and necks and thighs, fairly blazed; 
often a dozen sat together on a swaying papyrus-stem 
which their weight bent over. There were all kinds of 
extraordinary bird's-nests in the trees. There is still 
need for the work of the collector in South America. 
But I believe that already, so far as birds are concerned, 
there is infinitely more need for the work of the careful 
observer, who to the power of appreciation and observa- 
tion adds the power of vivid, truthful, and interesting 
narration — which means, as scientists no less than his- 
torians should note, that training in the writing of good 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 75 

English is indispensable to any learned man who expects 
to make his learning count for what it ought to <;ount 
in the effect on his fellow men. The outdoor naturalist, 
the faunal naturalist, who devotes himself primarily to 
a study of the habits and of the life-histories of birds, 
beasts, fish, and reptiles, and who can portray truthfully 
and vividly what he has seen, could do work of more 
usefulness than any mere collector, in this upper Para- 
guay country. The work of the collector is indispensa- 
ble ; 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 of the field observer with the gift for recording 
what he has seen becomes of far more importance. 

The long days spent riding through the swamp, the 
"pantanal," were pleasant and interesting. Several times 
we saw the tamandua bandeira, the giant ant-bear. Ker- 
mit shot one, because the naturalists eagerly wished for 
a second specimen; afterward we were relieved of all 
necessity to molest the strange, out-of-date creatures. It 
was a surprise to us to find them habitually frequenting 
the open marsh. 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 termites, together with plenty of 
black mould and fragments of leaves, both green and 
dry. Doubtless the earth and the vegetable matter had 
merely been taken incidentally, adhering to the viscid 
tongue when it was thrust into the ant masses. Out in 
the open marsh the tamandua could neither avoid obser- 
vation, nor fight effectively, nor make good its escape 

•yd Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

by flight. It was curious to see one lumbering off at a 
rocking canter, the big bushy tail held aloft. One, while 
fighting the dogs, suddenly threw itself on its back, evi- 
dently hoping to grasp a dog with its paws; and it now 
and then reared, in order to strike at its assailants. In 
one patch of thick jungle we saw a black howler monkey 
sitting motionless in a tree top. We also saw the swamp- 
deer, about the size of our blacktail. It is a real swamp 
animal, for we found it often in the papyrus-swamps, 
and out in the open marsh, knee-deep in the water, among 
the aquatic plants. 

The tough little horses bore us well through the 
marsh. Often in crossing bayous and ponds the water 
rose almost to their backs; but they splashed and waded 
and if necessary swam through. The dogs were a wild- 
looking set. Some were of distinctly wolfish appearance. 
These, we were assured, were descended in part from 
the big red wolf of the neighborhood, a tall, lank animal, 
with much smaller teeth than a big northern wolf. The 
domestic dog is undoubtedly descended from at least a 
dozen different species of wild dogs, wolves, and jackals, 
some of them probably belonging to what we style 
different genera. The degree of fecundity or lack of 
fecundity between different species varies in extraordi- 
nary and inexplicable fashion in different families of 
mammals. In the horse family, for instance, the species 
are not fertile inter se; whereas among the oxen, species 
seemingly at least as widely separated as the horse, ass, 
and zebra — species such as the domestic ox, bison, yak, 
and gaur — ^breed freely together and their offspring are 
fertile; the lion and tiger also breed together, and pro- 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary "jy 

duce offspring which will breed with either parent stock; 
and tame dogs in difJerent quarters of the world, al- 
though 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 pos- 
sibly even generically, distinct from one another. The 
big red wolf of the South American plains is not closely 
related to the northern wolves; and it was to me unex- 
pected to find it interbreeding with ordinary domestic 

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 and with our Brazilian friends. Colonel Rondon 
is not simply "an officer and a gentleman" in the sense 
that is honorably true of the best army officers in every 
good military service. He is also a peculiarly hardy and 
competent explorer, a good field naturalist and scientific 
man, a student and a philosopher. With him the con- 
versation ranged from jaguar-hunting and the perils of 
exploration in the "matto grosso," the great wilderness, 
to Indian anthropology, to the dangers of a purely ma- 
terialistic industrial civilization, and to Positivist moral- 
ity. The colonel's Positivism was in very fact to him a 
religion of humanity, a creed which bade him be just and 
kindly and useful to his fellow men, to live his life 
bravely, and no less bravely to face death, without refer- 
ence to what he believed, or did not believe, or to what 
the unknown hereafter might hold for him. 

The native hunters who accompanied us were swarthy 

'^8 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

men of mixed blood. They were barefooted and scantily 
clad, and each carried a long, clumsy spear and a keen 
machete, in the use of which he was an expert. Now 
and then, in thick jungle, we had to cut out a path, and 
it was interesting to see one of them, although cumbered 
by his unwieldy spear, handling his half-broken litde 
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 Rob- 
inson," mention is made of a tame monkey called Nips, 
which was used to test all edible-looking things as to the 
healthfulness of which the adventurers felt doubtful; 
and because of the obvious resemblance of function we 
christened this younger hunter Nips. 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 and then one of 
the men, as he rode ahead of us, without leaving the 
saddle, would drop a lighted match into a tussock of tall 
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 started. 

Kermit took Nips off with him for a solitary hunt 
one day. He shot two of the big marsh-deer, a buck 
and a doe, and preserved them as museum specimens. 
They were in the papyrus growth, but their stomachs 
contained only the fine marsh-grass which grows in the 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 79 

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 rudimentary. 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 on foot and followed them for an hour, 
but never was able to catch sight of them. 

In the afternoon of this same day one of the jaguar- 
hunters — ^merely ranch hands, who knew something of 
the chase of the jaguar — ^who had been searching for 
tracks, rode in with the information that he had found 
fresh sign at a spot in the swamp about nine miles dis- 
tant. Next morning we rose at two, and had started on 
our jaguar-hunt at three. Colonel Rondon, Kermit, and 
I, with the two trailers or jaguar-hunters, made up the 
party, each on a weedy, undersized marsh pony, accus- 
tomed to traversing the vast stretches of morass ; and we 
were accompanied by a brown boy, with saddle-bags 
holding our lunch, who rode a long-horned trotting steer 
which he managed by a string through its nostril and 
lip. The two trailers carried each a long, clumsy spear. 
We had a rather poor pack. Besides our own two dogs, 
neither of which was used to jaguar-hunting, there were 
the ranch dogs, which were well-nigh worthless, and 
then two jaguar hounds borrowed for the occasion from 
a ranch six or eight leagues distant. These were the 
only hounds on which we could place any trust, and they 

8o Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

were led in leashes by the two trailers. One was a white 
bitch, the other, the best one we had, was a gelded black 
dog. They were lean, half-starved creatures with prick 
ears and a look of furtive wildness. 

As our shabby little horses shuffled away from the 
ranch-house the stars were brilliant and the Southern 
Cross hung well up in the heavens, tilted to the right. 
The landscape was spectral in the light of the waning 
moon. At the first shallow ford, as horses and dogs 
splashed across, an alligator, the jacare-tinga, some five 
feet long, floated unconcernedly among the splashing 
hoofs and paws; evidently at night it did not fear us. 
Hour after hour we shogged along. Then the night grew 
ghostly with the first dim gray of the dawn. The sky 
had become overcast. The sun rose red and angry 
through broken clouds; his disk flamed behind the tall, 
slender columns of the palms, and lit the waste fields of 
papyrus. The black monkeys howled mournfully. The 
birds awoke. Macaws, parrots, parakeets screamed at us 
and chattered at us as we rode by. Ibis called with wail- 
ing voices, and the plovers shrieked as they wheeled in 
the air. We waded across bayous and ponds, where 
white lilies floated on the water and thronging 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 un- 
leashed and galloped along the trail, while the other dogs 
noisily accompanied them. The hunt led right through 
the marsh. Evidently the jaguar had not the least dis- 
taste for water. Probably it had been hunting for capy- 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 8i 

baras or tapirs, and it had gone straight through ponds 
and long, winding, narrow ditches or bayous, where it 
must now and then have had to swim for a stroke or 
two. It had also wandered through the island-like 
stretches of tree-covered land, the trees at this point be- 
ing mostly palms and tarumans; the taruman is almost 
as big as a live-oak, with glossy foliage and a fruit like 
an olive. The pace quickened, the motley pack burst into 
yelling and howling; and then a sudden quickening of 
the note showed that the game had either climbed a tree 
or turned to bay in a thicket. The former proved to be 
the case. 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 taru- 
man tree. It was a beautiful picture — ^the spotted coat 
of the big, lithe, formidable cat fairly shone as it snarled 
defiance at the pack below. I did not trust the pack; 
the dogs were not stanch, and if the jaguar came down 
and started I feared we might lose it. So I fired at once, 
from a distance of seventy yards. I was using my favor- 
ite rifle, the little Springfield with which I have killed 
most kinds of 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 fell like a sack 
of sand through the branches, and although it staggered 
to its feet it went but a score of yards before it sank 
down, and when I came up it was dead under the palms, 
with three or four of the bolder dogs riving at it. 

The jaguar is the king of South American game, 
ranking on an equality with the noblest beasts of the 
chase of North America, and behind only the huge and 

82 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

fierce creatures 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. It was a big, 
powerfully built creature, giving the same effect of 
strength that a tiger or lion does, and that the lithe leop- 
ards and pumas do not. Its flesh, by the way, proved 
good eating, when we had it for supper, although it was 
not cooked in the way it ought to have been. I tried it 
because I had found cougars such good eating; I have 
always regretted that in Africa I did not try lion's flesh, 
which I am sure must be excellent. 

Next day came Kermit's turn. We had the miscel- 
laneous pack with us, all much 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 their clamor, they were not suffi- 
ciently stanch to be of use if there was any difficulty in 
the hunt. The only two dogs we could trust were the 
two borrowed jaguar hounds. This was the black dog's 
day. About ten in the morning we came to a long, deep, 
winding bayou. On the opposite bank stood a capybaira, 
looking like a blunt-nosed pig, its wet hide shining black. 
I killed it, and it slid into the water. Then I 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 fear of the piranhas. Just at this moment we 
came across fresh jaguar tracks. It was hot, we had 
been travelling for five hours, and the dogs were much 
exhausted. The black hound in particular was nearly 
done up, for he had been led in a leash by one of the 






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The brown boy on the long-horned trotting steer, which he managed by a 
string through its nostril and lip. 

From a pJiotograph by Kermil Roosevelt. 

Colonel Roosevelt and the first jaguar. 
From a pJwtograph by Kermit Roosevelt. 

A Jag-uar-Hunt on the Taquary 83 

horsemen. He lay flat on the ground, panting, unable 
to catch the scent. Kermit threw water over him, and 
when he was thoroughly drenched and freshened, thrust 
his nose into the jaguar's footprints. The game old 
hound at once and eagerly responded. As he snuffed 
the scent he challenged loudly, while still lying down. 
Then he staggered to his feet and started on the trail, 
going stronger with every leap. Evidently the big cat 
was not far distant. Soon we found where it had swum 
across the bayou. Piranhas or no piranhas, we now in- 
tended to get across; and we tried to force our horses 
in at what seemed a likely spot. The matted growth of 
water-plants, with their leathery, slippery stems, formed 
an unpleasant barrier, as the water was swimming-deep 
for the horses. The latter were very unwilling to at- 
tempt the passage. Kermit finally forced his horse 
through the tangled mass, swimming, plunging, and 
struggling. He left a lane of clear water, through which 
we swam after him. The dogs splashed and swam be- 
hind us. On the other bank they struck the fresh trail 
and followed it at a run. It led into a long belt of tim- 
ber, chiefly composed of low-growing nacury palms, with 
long, drooping, many-fronded branches. In silhouette 
they suggest coarse bamboos ; the nuts hang in big clus- 
ters and look like bunches of small, unripe bananas. 
Among the lower palms were scattered some big ordi- 
nary trees. We cantered along outside the timber belt, 
listening to the dogs within; and in a moment a burst 
of yelling clamor from the pack told that the jaguar was 
afoot. These few minutes are the really exciting mo- 
ments in the chase, with hounds, of any big cat that will 

84 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

tree. The furious baying of the pack, the shouts and 
cheers of encouragement from the galloping horsemen, 
the wilderness surroundings, the knowledge of what the 
quarry is — all combine to make the moment one of fierce 
and thrilling excitement. Besides, in this case there was 
the possibility the jaguar might come to bay on the 
ground, in which event there would be a slight element 
of risk, as it might need straight shooting to stop a 
charge. 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. A bullet behind the shoul- 
der, from Kermit's 405 Winchester, brought him dead 
to the ground. He was heavier than the very big male 
horse-killing cougar I shot in Colorado, whose skull Hart 
Merriam reported as the biggest he had ever seen; 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. He had the big bones, the 
stout frame, and the heavy muscular build of a small 
lion; he was not lithe and slender and long like a cougar 
or leopard ; the tail, as with all jaguars, was short, while 
the girth of the 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 black of the equally well-marked spots against his 
white belly. 

This was a well-known jaguar. He had occasionally 
indulged in cattle-killing; on one occasion during the 
floods he had taken up his abode near the ranch-house 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 85 

and had killed a couple of cows and a young steer. The 
hunters had followed him, but he had made his escape, 
and for the time being had abandoned the neighborhood. 
In these marshes each jaguar had a wide irregular range 
and travelled a good deal, perhaps only passing a day or 
two in a given locality, perhaps spending a week where 
game was plentiful. Jaguars love the water. They 
drink greedily and swim freely. In this country they 
rambled through the night across the marshes and 
prowled along the edges of the ponds and bayous, catch- 
ing 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 will attack and kill 
large caymans and crocodiles if he can get them a few 
yards from the water. On these marshes the jaguars 
also followed the peccary herds; it is said that they al- 
ways strike the hindmost of a band of the fierce little 
wild pigs. Elsewhere they often prey on the tapir. If 
in timber, however, the jaguar must kill it at once, for 
the squat, thick-skinned, wedge-shaped tapir has no re- 
spect for timber, as Colonel Rondon phrased it, and 
rushes with such blind, headlong speed through and 
among branches and trunks that if not immediately 
killed it brushes the jaguar off, the claws leaving long 
raking scars in the tough hide. Cattle are often killed. 
The jaguar will not meddle with a big bull ; and is cau- 
tious about attacking a herd accompanied by a bull ; but 
it will at times, where wild game is scarce, kill every 
other domestic animal. It is a thirsty brute, and if it 
kills far from water will often drag its victim a long 
distance toward a pond or stream ; Colonel Rondon had 

86 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

once come across a horse which a jaguar had thus killed 
and dragged for over a mile. Jaguars also stalk and kill 
the deer; in this neighborhood they seemed to be less 
habitual deer-hunters than the cougars; whether this is 
generally the case I cannot say. They 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 all except now 
and then to kill calves. It was only occasionally that 
under special circumstances some old male took to cattle- 
killing. There were plenty of capybaras and deer, and 
evidently the big spotted cats preferred the easier prey 
when it was available; exactly as in East Africa we 
found the lions living almost exclusively on zebra and 
antelope, and not molesting the buffalo and domestic cat- 
tle, 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 ex- 
clusively 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 as- 
tonished me, as in the Rockies they are the worst enemies 
of foals. It was interesting to find that my hosts, and 
the mixed-blood hunters and ranch workers, combined 
special knowledge of many of the habits of these big cats 
with a curious ignorance of other matters concerning 
them and a readiness to believe fables about them. This 
was precisely what I 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 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 87 

of Africa when they spoke of the lion and rhinoceros. 
Until the habit of scientific accuracy in observation and 
record is achieved and until specimens are preserved and 
carefully compared, entirely truthful men, at home in 
the wilderness, will whole-heartedly accept, and repeat as 
matters of gospel faith, theories which split the grizzly 
and black bears of each locality in the United States, and 
the lions and black rhinos of South Africa, or the jaguars 
and pumas of any portion of South America, into sev- 
eral different species, all with widely different habits. 
They will, moreover, describe these imaginary habits 
with such sincerity and minuteness that they deceive 
most listeners ; and the result sometimes is that an other- 
wise good naturalist will perpetuate these fables, as 
Hudson did when he wrote of the puma. Hudson was 
a capital observer and writer when he dealt with the 
ordinary birds and mammals of the well-settled districts 
near Buenos Aires and at the mouth of the Rio Negro ; 
but he knew nothing of the wilderness. This is no re- 
flection on him; his books are great favorites of mine, 
and are to a large degree models of 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. But it is a mistake to accept 
him as an authority on that concerning which he was 

An interesting incident occurred on the day we killed 
our first jaguar. We took our lunch beside a small but 
deep and obviously permanent pond. I went to the edge 
to dip up some water, and something growled or bellowed 
at me only a few feet away. It was a jacare-tinga or 

88 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

small 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 distant from us and threatened us; we threw 
cakes of mud at it, whereupon it clashed its jaws and 
made short rushes at us, and when we threw sticks it 
seized them and crunched them. We could not drive it 
away. Why it should have shown such truculence and 
heedlessness I cannot imagine, unless perhaps it was a 
female, with eggs near by. In another little pond a 
jacare-tinga showed no less anger when another of my 
companions approached. It bellowed, opened its jaws, 
and lashed its tail. Yet these pond jacares never actu- 
ally molested even our dogs in the ponds, far less us on 
our horses. 

This same day others of our party had an interest- 
ing experience with the creatures in another pond. One 
of them was Commander da Cunha (of the Brazilian 
Navy), a capital sportsman and delightful companion. 
They found a deepish pond a hundred yards or so long 
and thirty or forty across. It was tenanted by the small 
ca)nTians and by capybaras — the largest known rodent, 
a huge aquatic guinea-pig, the size of a small sheep. It 
also swarmed with piranhas, the ravenous fish of which 
I have so often spoken. Undoubtedly the caymans were 
subsisting largely on these piranhas. But the tables were 
readily turned if any caymans were injured. When a 
capybara was shot and sank in the water, the piranhas 
at once attacked it, and had eaten half the carcass ten 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 89 

minutes later. But much more extraordinary was the 
fact that when a cayman about five feet long was wounded 
the piranhas attacked and tore it, and actually drove it 
out on the bank to face its human foes. The fish first 
attacked the wound; then, as the blood maddened them, 
they attacked all the soft parts, their terrible teeth cut- 
ting out chunks of tough hide and flesh. Evidently they 
did not molest either cayman or capybara while it was 
unwounded; but blood excited them to frenzy. Their 
habits are in some ways inexplicable. We saw men fre- 
quently bathing unmolested; but there are places where 
this is never safe, and in any place if a school of the 
fish appear swimmers are in danger; and a wounded 
man or beast is in deadly peril if piranhas are in the 
neighborhood. Ordinarily it appears that an unwounded 
man is attacked only by accident. Such accidents are 
rare ; but they happen with sufficient frequency to justify 
much caution in entering water where piranhas abound. 
We frequently came across ponds tenanted by num- 
bers of capybaras. The huge, pig-like rodents are said 
to be shy elsewhere. Here they were tame. The water 
was their home and refuge. They usually went ashore 
to feed 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 few feet 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 beast, which would wait until they were only 
a few yards off and then dash into and under the water. 
The dogs would also run full tilt into the water, and it 

90 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

was then really funny to see their surprise and disap- 
pointment at the sudden and complete disappearance of 
their quarry. Often a capybara would stand or sit on 
its haunches in the water, with only its blunt, short-eared 
head above the surface, quite heedless of our presence. 
But if alarmed it would dive, for capybaras swim with 
equal facility on or below the surface ; and if they wish 
to hide they rise gently among the rushes or water-lily 
leaves with only their nostrils exposed. In these waters 
the capybaras and small caymans paid no attention to 
one another, swimming and resting in close proximity. 
They both had the same enemy, the jaguar. The capy- 
bara is a game animal only in the sense that a hare or 
rabbit is. The flesh is good to eat,' and its amphibious 
habits and queer nature and surroundings make it in- 
teresting. In some of the ponds the water had about 
gone, and the capybaras had become for the time being 
beasts of the marsh and the mud; although they could 
always find little slimy pools, imder a mass of water- 
lilies, in which to lie 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 armadillo. We were riding with the pack 
through a dry, sandy pasture country, dotted with clumps 
of palms, round the trunks of which grew a dense jungle 
of thorns and Spanish bayonets. The armadillos were 
feeding in an open space between two of these jungle 
clumps, which were about a hundred yards apart. One 
was on all fours; the other was in a squatting position, 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 91 

with its fore legs off the ground. Their long ears were 
very prominent. The dogs raced at them. I had always 
supposed that armadillos merely shuffled along, and 
curled up for protection when menaced; and I was al- 
most as surprised as if I had seen a turtle gallop when 
these two armadillos bounded off at a run, going as fast 
as rabbits. One headed back for the nearest patch of 
jungle, which it reached. The other ran at full speed — 
and ran rejdly fast, too — until it nearly reached the other 
patch, a hundred yards distant, the dogs in full cry im- 
mediately behind it. Then it suddenly changed its mind, 
wheeled in its tracks, and came back like a bullet right 
.through the pack. Dog after dog tried to seize it or 
stop it and turned to pursue it; but its wedge-shaped 
snout and armored body, joined to the speed at which it 
was galloping, enabled it to drive straight ahead through 
its pursuers, not one of which could halt it or grasp it, 
and it reached in safety its thorny haven of refuge. It 
had run at speed about a hundred and fifty yards. I was 
much impressed by this unexpected exhibition ; evidently 
this species of armadillo only curls up as a last resort, 
and ordinarily trusts to its speed, and to the protection 
its build and its armor give it while running, in order to 
reach its burrow or other place of safety. Twice, while 
laying railway tracks near Sao Paulo, Kermit had acci- 
dentally dug up armadillos with a steam-shovel. 

There were big ant-hills, some of them of huge di- 
mensions, scattered through the country. Sometimes 
they were built against the stems of trees. We did not 
here come across any of the poisonous or biting ants 
which, when sufficiently numerous, render certain dis- 

92 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

tricts uninhabitable. They are ordinarily not very nu- 
merous. Those of them that march in large bodies kill 
nestling birds, and at once destroy any big animal un- 
able 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 ants. The experiments of our natu- 
ralists tended to show that this was not the case. They 
plundered any nest they came across and could get at. 

Once we saw a small herd of peccaries, one a sow 
followed by three little pigs — they are said to have only 
two young, but we saw three, although of course it is 
possible one belonged to another sow. The herd gal- 
loped 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 

On one ride we passed a clump of palms which were 
fairly ablaze with bird color. There were magnificent 
hyacinth macaws; 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 its presence ; but we could find no snake. The 
assembly dispersed as we rode up ; the huge blue macaws 
departed in pairs, uttering their hoarse "ar-rah-h, ar- 
rah-h." It has been said that parrots in the wilderness 
are only noisy on the wing. They are certainly noisy on 
the wing; and those that we saw were quiet while they 
were feeding; but ordinarily when they were perched 
^mong the branches, and especially when, as in the case 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 93 

of the little parakeets near the house, they were gather- 
ing materials for nest-building, they were just as noisy 
as while flying. 

The water-birds were always a delight. We shot 
merely the two or three specimens the naturalists needed 
for the museum. I killed a wood-ibis on the wing with 
the handy little Springfield, and then lost all the credit 
I had thus gained by a series of inexcusable misses, at 
long range, before I finally killed a jabiru. Kermit shot 
a jabiru with the Liiger automatic. The great, splendid 
birds, standing about as tall as a man, show fight when 
wounded, and advance against their assailants, clattering 
their formidable bills. One day we found the nest of a 
jabiru in a mighty fig-tree, on the edge of a patch of 
jungle. It was a big platform of sticks, placed on a 
horizontal branch. There were four half-grown young 
standing on it. We passed it in the morning, when both 
parents were also perched alongside; the sky was then 
overcast, and it was not possible to photograph it with 
the small camera. In the early afternoon when we again 
passed it the sun was out, and we tried to get photo- 
graphs. Only one parent bird was present at this time. 
It showed no fear. I noticed that, as it stood on a branch 
near the nest, its bill was slightly open. It was very hot, 
and I suppose it had opened its bill just as a hen opens 
her bill in hot weather. As we rode away the old bird 
and the four young birds were standing motionless, and 
with gliding flight the other old bird was returning to 
the nest. It is hard to give an adequate idea of the 
wealth of bird life in these marshes. A naturalist could 
with the utmost advantage spend six months on such a 

94 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

ranch as that we visited. He would have to do some 
collecting, but only a little. Exhaustive observation in 
the field is what is now most needed. Most of this won- 
derful and harmless bird life should be protected by law ; 
and the mammals should receive reasonable protection. 
The books now most needed are those dealing with the 
life-histories of wild creatures. 

Near the ranch-house, walking familiarly among the 
cattle, we saw the big, deep-billed Ani blackbirds. They 
feed on the insects disturbed by the hoofs of the cattle, 
and often cling to them and pick ofi 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 their eggs indiscriminately. The common ibises in 
the ponds near by — which usually went in pairs, instead 
of in flocks like the wood ibis — were very tame, and so 
were the night herons and all the small herons. In fly- 
ing, the ibises and storks stretch the neck straight in 
front of them. The jabiru — a splendid bird on the wing 
— also stretches his neck out in front, but there appears 
to be a slight downward curve at the base of the neck, 
which may be due merely to the craw. The big slender 
herons, on the contrary, bend the long neck back in a 
beautiful curve, so that the head is nearly between the 
shoulders. One day I saw what I at first thought was 
a small yellow-bellied kingfisher hovering over a pond, 
and finally plunging down to the surface of the water 
after a school of tiny young fish ; but it proved to be a 
bien-te-vi king-bird. Curved-bill wood-hewers, birds the 
size and somewhat the coloration of veeries, but with 
long, slender sickle-bills, were common in the little gar- 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 95 

den back of the house ; their habits were those of creep- 
ers, 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 insects. The 
oven-birds, which had the carriage and somewhat the 
look of wood-thrushes, I am sure would prove delight- 
ful friends on a close acquaintance; they are very indi- 
vidual, not only in the extraordinary domed mud nests 
they build, but in all their ways, in their bright alertness, 
their interest in and curiosity about whatever goes on, 
their rather jerky quickness of movement, and their loud 
and varied calls. With a little encouragement they be- 
come tame and familiar. The parakeets were too noisy, 
but otherwise were most attractive little birds, as they 
flew to and fro and scrambled about in the top of the 
palm behind the house. There was one showy kind of 
king-bird or tyrant flycatcher, lustrous black with a white 

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. A 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 workmen, the herders or gauchos, 
were noteworthy. The dark-skinned men were obvi- 
ously mainly of Indian and negro descent, although some 
of them also showed a strong strain of white blood. 
They wore the usual shirt, trousers, and fringed leather 
apron, with jim-crow hats. Their bare feet must have 
been literally as tough as horn; for when one of them 

g6 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

roped a big bull he would brace himself, bending back 
until he was almost sitting down and digging his heels 
into the ground, and the galloping beast would be stopped 
short and whirled completely round when the rope taut- 
ened. The maddened bulls, and an occasional steer or 
cow, charged again and again with furious wrath; but 
two or three ropes would settle on the doomed beast, 
and down it would go; and when it was released 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. The 
night before we left there was a torrential tropic down- 
pour. It was not unexpected, for we had been told that 
the rainy season was overdue. The following forenoon 
the baggage started, in a couple of two-wheeled ox-carts, 
for the landing where the steamboat awaited us. Each 
cart was drawn by eight oxen. The huge wheels were 
over seven feet high. Early in the afternoon we fol- 
lowed on horseback, and overtook the carts as darkness 
fell, just before we reached the landing on the river's 
bank. The last few miles, after the final reaches of 
higher, tree-clad ground had been passed, were across a 
level plain of low ground on which the water stood, 
sometimes only up to the ankles of a man on foot, some- 
times as high as his waist. Directly in front of us, 
many leagues distant, rose the bold mountains that lie 
west of Corumba. Behind them the sun was setting 
and kindled the overcast heavens with lurid splendor. 
Then the last rose tints faded from the sky; the horses 

A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary 97 

plodded wearily through the water; on every side 
stretched the marsh, vast, lonely, desolate in the gray 
of the half-light. We overtook the ox-carts. The cattle 
strained in the yokes; the drivers wading alongside 
cracked their whips and uttered strange cries; the carts 
rocked and swayed as the huge wheels churned through 
the mud and water. As the last light faded we reached 
the small patches of dry land at the landing, where the 
flat-bottomed side-wheel steamboat was moored to the 
bank. 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 the half-clad, wild-looking 
ox-drivers and horse-herders slung their hammocks ; and 
close by they lit a fire and roasted, or scorched, slabs and 
legs of mutton, spitted on sticks 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, a coun- 
tr)mian from a small ranch, asked for a tow to Corumba, 
which we gave. He had with him in the boat his comely 
brown wife — who was smoking a very large cigar — their 
two 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 ex- 



AT Corumba our entire party, and all their be- 
longings, 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 shallow little steamer was jammed with 
men, dogs, rifles, partially cured skins, boxes of pro- 
visions, ammunition, tools, and photographic supplies, 
bags containing tents, cots, bedding, and clothes, saddles, 
hammocks, and the other necessaries for a trip through 
the "great wilderness," the "matto grosso" of western 

It was a brilliantly clear day, and, although of course 
in that latitude and at that season the heat was intense 
later on, it was cool and pleasant in the early morning. 
We sat 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 water-birds. The two pilots, one 
black and one white, stood at the wheel. Colonel Ron- 
don read Thomas a Kempis. Kermit, Cherrie, and Mil- 
ler squatted outside the railing on the deck over one 
paddle-wheel and put the final touches on the jaguar- 
skins. Fiala satisfied himself that the boxes and bags 
were in place. It was probable that hardship lay in the 


The Headwaters of the Paraguay 99 

■future ; but the day was our own, and the day was pleas- 
ant. In the evening the after-deck, open all around, 
where we dined, was decorated with green boughs and 
rushes, and we drank the health of the President of the 
United States and of the President of Brazil. 

Now and then we passed little ranches on the river's 
edge. This is a fertile land, pleasant to live in, and any 
settler who is willing to work can earn his living. There 
are mines; there is water-power; there is abundance of 
rich soil. The country will soon be opened by rail. It 
offers a fine field for immigration and for agricultural, 
mining, and business development; and it has a great 

Cherrie and Miller had secured a little owl a month 
before in the Chaco, and it was travelling with them in 
a basket. It was a dear little bird, very tame and affec- 
tionate. It liked to be handled and petted; and when 
Miller, its especial protector, came into the cabin, it would 
make queer little noises as a signal that it wished to be 
taken up and perched on his hand. Cherrie and Miller 
had trapped many mammals. Among them was a tayra 
weasel, whitish above and black below, as big and blood- 
thirsty 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 Carib- 
bean Sea. This opossum, which is black and white, 
swims in the streams like a muskrat or otter, catching 
fish and living in burrows whicTi open under water. 
Miller and Cherrie were puzzled to know why the young 
throve, leading such an existence of constant immer- 

lOO Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

sion; one of them once found a female swimming and 
diving freely with four quite well-grown young in her 

We saw on the banks screamers — ^big, crested waders 
of archaic type, with spurred wings, rather short bills, 
and no especial affinities with other modern birds. In 
one meadow by a pond we saw three marsh-deer, a buck 
and two does. They stared at us, with their thickly 
haired tails raised on end. These tails are black under- 
neath, instead of white as in our whitetail 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 harmonize with the sky and thereby mislead the cougar 
or wolf at the critical moment when it makes its spring; 
but this marsh-deer shows a black instead of a white 
flag, and yet has just as much need of protection from 
its enemies, the jaguar and the cougar. In South Amer- 
ica concealing coloration plays no more part in the lives 
of the adult deer, the tamandua, the tapir, the peccary, 
the jaguar, and the puma than it plays in Africa in the 
lives of such animals as the zebra, the sable antelope, 
the wildebeeste, the lion, and the hunting hyena. 

Next day we spent ascending the Sao Lourengo. It 
was narrower than the Paraguay, naturally, and the swirl- 
ing brown current was, if anything, more rapid. The 
strange tropical trees, standing densely on the banks, 
were matted together by long bush ropes — lianas, or 
vines, some very slender and very long. Sometimes we 
saw brilliant red or blue flowers, or masses of scarlet 
berries on a queer palmlike tree, or an array of great 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay loi 

white blossoms on a much larger tree. In a lagoon 
bordered by the taquara bamboo a school of big otters 
were playing ; when they came to the surface, they opened 
their mouths like seals, and made a loud hissing noise. 
The crested screamers, dark gray and as large as tur- 
keys, perched on the very topmost branches of the tallest 
trees. Hyacinth macaws screamed 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 any northern 
game-bird. The windpipe of the male is very long, ex- 
tending down to the end of the breast-bone, and the 
bird utters queer guttural screams. A dead cayman 
floated down-stream, with a black vulture devouring it. 
Capybaras stood or squatted on the banks; sometimes 
they stared stupidly at us; sometimes they plunged into 
the river at our approach. At long intervals we passed 
little clearings. 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 
perhaps his family, came out on the bank to watch us 
as we passed. It was a hot day — the thermometer on 
the deck in the shade stood at nearly 100 degrees Fahren- 
heit. Biting flies came aboard even when we were in 

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 were various houses, sheds, and corrals near the 
river's edge, and fifty or sixty milch cows were gathered 

I02 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

in one corral. Spurred plover, or lapwings, strolled 
familiarly among the hens. Parakeets and red-headed 
tanagers lit in the trees over our heads. A kind of 
primitive houseboat was moored at the bank. A woman 
was cooking breakfast over a little stove at one end. 
The crew were ashore. The boat was one of those which 
are really stores, and which travel up and down these 
rivers, laden with what the natives most need, and stop- 
ping wherever there is a ranch. They are the only stores 
which many of the country-dwellers see from year's end 
to year's end. They float down-stream, and up-stream 
are poled by their crew, or now and then get a tow from 
a steamer. This one had a house with a tin roof ; others 
bear houses with thatched roofs, or with roofs made 
of hides. The river wound through vast marshes broken 
by belts of woodland. 

Always the two naturalists had something of interest 
to tell of their past experience, suggested by some bird 
or beast we came across. Black and golden orioles, 
slightly crested, of two different species 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. Cher- 
rie told us of finding such a colony built round a big 
wasp-nest, several feet in diameter. These wasps are 
venomous and irritable, and few foes would dare ven- 
ture near bird's-nests that were under such formidable 
shelter; but the birds themselves were entirely unafraid, 
and obviously were not in any danger of disagreement 
with their dangerous protectors. We saw a dark ibis 
flying across the bow of the boat, uttering his deep, 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 103 

two-syllabled note. Miller told how on the Orinoco these 
ibises plunder the nests of the big river-turtles. They 
are very skilful in finding where the female turtle has 
laid her eggs, scratch them out of the sand, break the 
shells, and suck the contents. 

It was astonishing to find so few mosquitoes on these 
marshes. They did not in any way compare as pests 
with the mosquitoes on the lower Mississippi, the New 
Jersey coast, the Red River of the North, or the Koo- 
tenay. Back in the forest near Corumba the naturalists 
had found them 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 harbored them (they often swarm 
in long grass and bush, even where there is no water), 
and at night they were such a torment that as soon as 
the sun set he had to go to bed under his' mosquito- 
netting. Yet on the vast marshes they were not seri- 
ously troublesome in most places. I was informed that 
they were not in any way a bother on the grassy up- 
lands, the high country north of Cuyaba, which from 
thence stretches eastward to the coastal region. It is 
at any rate certain that this inland region of Brazil, in- 
cluding the state of Matto Grosso, which we were trav- 
ersing, is 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 we reached the home 
buildings of the great Sao Joao fazenda, the ranch of 
Senhor Joao da Costa Marques. Our host himself, and 
his son, Dom Joao the younger, who was state secretary 

I04 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

of agriculture, and the 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, several hundred miles farther up- 
stream. As usual, we 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 dotted with those noble 
trees, the royal palms. Other trees, buildings of all 
kinds, flower-gardens, vegetable-gardens, fields, corrals, 
and enclosures with high white walls stood near the 
house. A detachment of soldiers or state police, with 
a band, were in front of the house, and two flagpoles, 
one with the Brazilian flag already hoisted. The Amer- 
ican flag was run up on the other as I stepped ashore, 
while the band played the national anthems of the two 
countries. The house held much comfort ; and the com- 
fort was all the more appreciated because even indoors 
the thermometer stood at 97° F. In the late afternoon 
heavy rain fell, and cooled the air. We were riding at 
the time. Around the house 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 called loudly in the swamps 
a little distance 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 patch of sugar-cane, corn, and mandioc, 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 105 

stood very many miles apart. One of these little houses 
stood on an old Indian mound, exactly like the mounds 
which form the only hillocks along the lower Mississippi, 
and which are also of Indian origin. These occasional 
Indian mounds, made ages ago, are the highest bits of 
ground in the immense swamps of the upper Paraguay 
region. There are still Indian tribes in this neighbor- 
hood. We passed an Indian fishing village on the edge 
of the river, with huts, scaffoldings for drying the fish, 
hammocks, and rude tables. They cultivated patches of 
bananas and sugar-cane. Out in a shallow place in the 
river was a scaffolding on which the Indians stood to 
spear fish. The Indians were 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 still several kinds of beasts of the chase, 
notably tapirs and peccaries, of which the naturalists 
desired specimens. Dom Joao, our host, and his son 
accompanied us. Theirs is a noteworthy family. Born 
in Matto Grosso, in the tropics, 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 possess. All of his 
sons are doing well. The son who was 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 rifle, for in Matto Grosso 
it is the custom in hunting the jaguar for riflemen and 
spearmen to go in at him together when he turns at 

io6 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

bay, the spearman holding him off if the first shot fails 
to stop him, so that another shot can be put in. Alto- 
gether, our host and his son reminded one of the best 
type of American ranchmen and planters, of those plant- 
ers and ranchmen who are adepts in bold and manly 
field sports, who are capital men 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 super- 
vision over the feast. Our charming hostess, however, 
sat at the head of the table. 

At six in the morning we started, all of us on fine 
horses. The day was lowering and overcast. A dozen 
dogs were with us, but only one or two were worth 
anything. Three or four ordinary countr)mien, the ranch 
hands, or vaqtieiros, accompanied us; they were mainly 
of Indian blood, and would have been called peons, or 
cabodos, in other parts of Brazil, but here were always 
spoken to and of as "camaradas." They were, of course, 
chosen from among the men who were hunters, and each 
carried his long, rather heavy and clumsy jaguar-spear. 
In front rode our vigorous host and his strapping son, 
the latter also carrying a jaguar-spear. The bridles and 
saddles of the big ranchmen and of the gentlefolk gen- 
erally were handsome and were elaborately ornamented 
with silver. The stirrups, for instance, were not only 
of silver, but contained so much extra metal in orna- 
mented bars and rings that they would have been awk- 
ward for less-practised riders. Indeed, as it was, they 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 107 

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 
bridles, and rusty little iron stirrups into which they 
thrust their naked toes. But all, gentry and commonalty 
alike, rode equally well and with the same skill and fear- 
lessness. To see our hosts gallop at headlong speed over 
any kind of country toward the sound of the dogs with 
their quarry at bay, or to see 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 machete to cut his way 
through the tangled vine-ropes of a jungle, all at the 
same time and all without the slightest reference to the 
plunges, and the odd and exceedingly jerky behavior, 
of his wild, half-broken horse — for on such a ranch most 
of the horses are apt to come in the categories of half- 
broken or else of broken-down. One dusky tatterdema- 
lion 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 little devil of a stallion, which 
he rode blindfold for a couple of miles, and there was a 
regular circus when he removed the bandage; but evi- 
dently it never occurred to him that the animal was 
hardly a comfortable riding-horse for a man going out 
hunting and encumbered with a spear, a machete, and 
other belongings. 

The eight hours that we were out we spent chiefly in , 
splashing across the marshes, with excursions now and 
then into vine-tangled belts and clumps of timber. Some 

io8 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

of the bayous we had to cross were uncomfortably boggy. 
We had to lead the horses through one, wading ahead 
of them ; and even so two of them mired down, and their 
saddles had to be taken off before they could be gotten 
out. Among the marsh plants were fields and strips of 
the great caete rush. These caete flags towered above 
the other and lesser marsh plants. They were higher 
than the heads of the horsemen. Their two or three 
huge banana-like leaves stood straight up on end. The 
large brilliant flowers — orange, red, and yellow — ^were 
joined into a singularly shaped and solid string or clus- 
ter. Humming-birds buzzed round these flowers; one 
species, the sickle-billed hummer, has its bill especially 
adapted for use in these queerly shaped blossoms and 
gets its food only from them, never appearing around 
any other plant. 

The birds were tame, even those striking and beau- 
tiful birds which under man's persecution are so apt to 
become scarce and shy. The huge 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 over our heads at a distance of thirty or forty 
yards. The screamers, crying curu-curu, and the ibises, 
wailing dolefully, came even closer. The wonderful hya- 
cinth macaws, in twos and threes, accompanied us at 
times for several hundred yards, hovering over our heads 
and uttering their rasping screams. In one wood we 
came on the black howler monkey. The place smelt 
almost like a menagerie. Not watching with sufficient 
care I brushed against a sapling on which the venomous 
fire-ants swarmed. They burnt the skin like red-hot cin- 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 109 

ders, and left little sores. More than once in the drier 
parts of the marsh we met small caymans making their 
way from one pool to another. My horse stepped over 
one before I saw it. The dead carcasses of others 
showed that on their wanderings they had encountered 
jaguars or human foes. 

We had been out about three hours when one of the 
dogs gave tongue in a large belt of woodland and jungle 
to the left of our line of 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, doubt- 
less a boar and sow. However, just at this moment the 
peccaries bolted from an unsuspected opening at the other 
end of the log, dove into the tangle, and instantly dis- 
appeared with the hounds in full cry after them. It was 
twenty minutes later before we again heard the pack 
baying. With much difficulty, and by the incessant swing- 
ing of the machetes, we opened a trail through the net- 
work of vines and branches. This time there was only 
one peccary, the boar. He was at bay in a half-hollow 
stump. The dogs were about his head, raving with 
excitement, and it was not possible to use the rifle; so 
I borrowed the spear of Dom Joao the younger, and 
killed the fierce little boar therewith. 

This was an animal akin to our collared peccary, 
smaller and less fierce than its white-jawed kinsfolk. It 
is a valiant and truculent little beast, nevertheless, and 

no Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

if given the chance will bite a piece the size of a teacup 
out of either man or dog. It is found singly or in small 
parties, feeds on roots, fruits, grass, and delights to 
make its home in hollow logs. If taken young it makes 
an affectionate and entertaining pet. When the two were 
in the hollow log we heard them utter a kind of moan- 
ing, or menacing, grunt, long drawn. 

An hour or two afterward we unexpectedly struck the 
fresh tracks of two jaguars and at once loosed the dogs, 
who tore ofi yelling, on the line of the scent. Unfortu- 
nately, just at this moment the clouds burst and a deluge 
of rain drove in our faces. So heavy was the downpour 
that the dogs lost the trail and we lost the dogs. We 
found them again only owing to one of our cdboclos; an 
Indian with a queer Mongolian face, and no brain at all 
that I could discover, apart from his special dealings 
with wild creatures, cattle, and horses. He rode in a 
huddle of rags; but nothing escaped his eyes, and he 
rode anything anywhere. The downpour continued so 
heavily that we knew the rodeo had been abandoned, and 
we turned our faces for the long, dripping, splashing ride 
homeward. 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 rift in the 
leaden cloud-mass. Suddenly in this rift of shimmering 
brightness there appeared a flock of beautiful white 
egrets. With strong, graceful wing-beats the birds urged 
their flight, their plumage flashing in the sun. They 
then crossed the rift and were swallowed in the gray 
gloom of the day. 

On the marsh the dogs several times roused capy- 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay iii 

baras. Where there were no ponds of sufficient size the 
capybaras sought refuge in flight through the tangled 
marsh. They ran well. Kermit and Fiala went after 
one on foot, full-speed, for a mile and a half, with two 
hounds which then bayed it — ^literally bayed it, for the 
capybara fought with the courage of a gigantic wood- 
chuck. If the pack overtook a capybara, they of course 
speedily finished it; but a single dog of our not very 
valorous outfit was not able to overmatch its shrill- 
squeaking opponent. 

Near the ranch-house, about forty feet up in a big 
tree, was a jabiru's nest containing young jabirus. The 
young birds exercised themselves 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. Fiala 
wished to take a moving-picture of them while thus 
engaged, and so, after arranging his machine, he asked 
Harper to rouse the young birds 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! It dropped it 
at once, with an air of comic disappointment, when it 
found that the stick was not edible. 

There were many strange, birds round about. Tou- 
cans were not uncommon. I have never seen any other 
bird take such grotesque and comic attitudes as the tou- 
can. This day I saw one standing in the top of a tree 
with the big bill pointing straight into the air and the 
tail also cocked perpendicularly. The toucan is a born 
comedian. On the river and in the ponds we saw the 

112 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

finfoot, a bird with feet like a grebe and bill and tail 
like those of a darter, but, like so many South American 
birds, with no close affiliations among other species. The 
exceedingly rich bird fauna of South America contains 
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 
many, like the hoatzin and screamer, their like is not 
known elsewhere. Herons of many species swarmed in 
this neighborhood. The handsomest, was the richly col- 
ored tiger bittern. Two other species were so unlike 
ordinary herons that I did not recognize 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 on the head. 
When perched on a tree it stood like an ibis; and in- 
stead of the measured wing-beats characteristic of a her- 
on's flight, it flew with a quick, vigorous flapping of 
the wings. There were queer mammals, too, as well as 
birds. In the fields Miller trapped mice of a kind en- 
tirely new. 

Next morning the sky was leaden, and a drenching 
rain fell as we began our descent of the river. The rainy 
season had fairly begun. For our good fortune we werfe 
still where we had the cabins aboard the boat, and the 
ranch-house, in which to dry our clothes and soggy shoes; 
but in the intensely humid atmosphere, hot and steam- 
ing, they stayed wet a long time, and were still moist 
when we put them on again. Before we left the house 
where we had been treated with such courteous hospital- 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 113 

ity — the finest ranch-house in Matto Grosso, on a huge 
ranch where there are some sixty thousand head of 
homed cattle — the son of our host, Dom Joao the young- 
er, the jaguar-hunter, presented me with two magnificent 
volumes on the palms of Brazil, the work of Doctor Bar- 
boso Rodriguez, one-time director of the Botanical Gar- 
dens at Rio Janeiro. The two folios were in a box of 
native cedar. No gift more appropriate, none that I 
would in the future value more as a reminder of my 
stay in Matto Grosso, could have been given me. 

All that afternoon the rain continued. It was still 
pouring in torrents when we left the Cuyaba for the 
Sao Lourenqo and steamed up the latter a few miles 
before anchoring; Dom Joao the younger had accom- 
panied us in his launch. The little river steamer was of 
very open build, as is necessary in such a hot climate; 
and to keep things dry necessitated also keeping the 
atmosphere stifling. The German taxidermist who was 
with Colonel Rondon's party, Reinisch, a very good fel- 
low from Vienna, sat on a stool, alternately drenched 
with rain and sweltering with heat, and muttered to him- 
self: "Ach, Schweinerei !" 

Two small ca)mians, of the common species, with 
prominent eyes, were at the bank where we moored, and 
betrayed an astonishing and stupid tameness. Neither 
the size of the boat nor the commotion caused by the 
paddles in any way affected them. They lay inshore, not 
twenty feet from us, half out of water; they paid not 
the slightest heed to our presence, and only reluctantly 
left when repeatedly poked at, and after having been 
repeatedly hit with clods of mud and sticks; and even 

114 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

then one first crawled up on shore, to find out if thereby 
he could not rid himself of the annoyance we caused 

Next morning it was still raining, but we set off on 
a hunt, anyway, going afoot. A couple of brown cama- 
radas led the way, and Colonel Rondon, Dom Joao, Ker- 
mit, and I followed. The incessant downpour speedily 
wet us to the skin. We made our way slowly through 
the forest, the machetes playing right and left, up and 
down, at every step, for the trees were tangled in a net- 
work of vines and creepers. Some of the vines were 
as thick as a man's leg. Mosquitoes 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 off 
among the upper branches of the trees. Then we came 
on a party of coatis, which look like reddish, long-snout- 
ed, long-tailed, lanky raccoons. They were in the top 
of a big tree. One, when shot at and missed, bounced 
down to the ground, and ran off through the bushes; 
Kermit ran after it and secured it. He came back, to 
find us peering hopelessly up into the tree top, trying 
to place where the other coatis were. Kermit solved the 
difficulty by going up along some huge twisted lianas for 
forty or fifty feet and exploring the upper branches; 
whereupon down came three other coatis through the 
branches, one being caught by the dogs and the other 
two escaping. Coatis fight savagely with both teeth and 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 115 

claws. Miller told us that he once saw one of them 
kill a dog. They feed on all small mammals, birds, and 
reptiles, and even on some large ones; they kill iguanas; 
Cherrie saw a rattling chase through the trees, a coati 
following an iguana at full speed. We heard the rush 
of a couple of tapirs, as they broke away in the jungle 
in front of the dogs, and headed, according to their 
custom, for the river ; but we never saw them. One of 
the party shot a bush deer — a very pretty, graceful crea- 
ture, smaller than our whitetail deer, but kin to it and 
doubtless the southernmost representative of the white- 
tail group. 

The whitetail deer — ^using the word to designate a 
group of deer which can neither be called a subgenus 
with many species, nor a widely spread species diverging 
into many varieties — is the only North American species 
which has spread down into and has outlying representa- 
tives in South America. It has been contended that the 
species has spread from South America northward. I 
do not think so ; and the specimen thus obtained furnished 
a probable refutation of the theory. It was a buck, and 
had just shed its small antlers. The antlers are, there- 
fore, shed at the same time as in the north, and it appears 
that they are grown at the same time as in the north. 
Yet this variety now dwells in the tropics south of the 
equator, where the spring, and the breeding season for 
most birds, comes at the time of the northern fall in 
September, October, and November. That the deer is 
an intrusive immigrant, and that it has not yet been in 
South America long enough to change its mating season 
in accordance with the climate, as the birds — geologically 

ii6 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

doubtless very old residents — have changed their breed- 
ing season, is rendered probable by the fact that it con- 
forms so exactly in the time of its antler growth to the 
universal rule which obtains in the great arctogeal realm, 
where deer of many species abound and where the fossil 
forms show that they have long existed. The marsh- 
deer, which has diverged much further from the northern 
type than this bush deer (its horns show a likeness to 
those of a blacktail), often keeps its antlers until June 
or July, although it begins to grow them again in Au- 
gust ; however, too much stress must not be laid on this 
fact, inasmuch as the wapiti and the cow caribou both 
keep their antlers until spring. The specialization of the 
marsh-deer, by the way, is further shown in its hoofs, 
which, thanks to its semiaquatic mode of life, have grown 
long, like those of such African swamp antelopes as the 
lechwe and situtunga. 

Miller, when we presented the monkeys to him, told 
us that the females both of these monkeys and of the 
howlers themselves took care of the young, the males not 
assisting them, and moreover that when the young one 
was a male he had always found the mother keeping by 
herself, away from the old males. On the other hand, 
among the marmosets he found the fathers taking as 
much care of the young as the mothers; if the mother 
had twins, the father would usually carry one, and some- 
times both, around with him. 

After we had been out four hours our camaradas got 
lost; three several times they travelled round in a com- 
plete circle ; and we had to set them right with the com- 
pass. About noon the rain, which had been falling almost 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 117 

without interruption for forty-eight hours, let up, and in 
an hour or two the sun came out. We went back to the 
river, and found our rowboat. In it the hounds — a motley 
and rather worthless lot — and the rest of the party were 
ferried across to the opposite bank, while Colonel Ron- 
don and I stayed in the boat, on the chance that a tapir 
might be roused and take to the river. However, no 
tapir was found; Kermit killed a collared peccary, and 
I shot a capybara representing a color-phase the natu- 
ralists wished. 

Next morning, January 1, 1914, we were up at five 
and had a good New Year's Day breakfast of hardtack, 
ham, sardines, and coffee before setting out on an all- 
day's hunt on foot. I much feared that the pack was al- 
most or quite worthless for jaguars, but there were two 
or three of the great spotted cats in the neighborhood 
and it seemed worth while to make a try for them any- 
how. After an hour or two we found the fresh tracks 
of two, and after them we went. Our party consisted 
of Colonel Rondon, Lieutenant Rogaciano — an excellent 
man, himself a native of Matto Grosso, of old Matto 
Grosso stock — ^two 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 ; nor would the camaradas, although they 
carried spears. Kermit was the one of our party who 
possessed the requisite speed, endurance, and eyesight, 
and accordingly he led. Two of the dogs would follow 
the track half a dozen yards ahead of him, but no far- 
ther; and two of the camaradas could just about keep up 

ii8 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

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 like needles. We were bit- 
ten 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 of our drenched clothes while our soggy 
boots squelched as we walked. There was no breeze. 
In the undimmed sky the sun stood almost overhead. 
The heat beat on us in waves. By noon I could only 
go forward at a slow walk, and two of the party were 
worse off than I was. Kermit, with the dogs and two 
camaradas close behind him, disappeared across the 
marshes at a trot. At last, when he was out of sight, 
and it was obviously useless to follow him, the rest of us 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 119 

turned back toward the boat. The two exhausted mem- 
bers of the party gave out, and we left them under a 
tree. Colonel Rondon and Lieutenant Rogaciano were 
not much tired ; I was somewhat tired, but was perfectly 
able to go for several hours more if I did not try to go 
too fast; and we three walked on to the river, reaching 
it about half past four, after eleven hours' stiff walking 
with nothing to eat. We were soon on the boat. A re- 
lief party went back for the two men under the tree, 
and soon after it reached them Kermit also turned up 
with his hounds and his camaradas trailing wearily be- 
hind him. He had followed, the jaguar trail until 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. A hunter of scientific 
tastes, a hunter-naturalist, or even an outdoors naturalist, 
or faunal naturalist interested in big mammals, with a 
pack of hounds such as those with which Paul Rainey 
hunted lion and leopard in Africa, or such a pack as the 
packs of Johnny Goff and Jake Borah with which I 
hunted cougar, lynx, and bear in the Rockies, or such 
packs as those of the Mississippi and Louisiana planters 
with whom I have hunted bear, wild-cat, and deer in the 
cane-brakes of the lower Mississippi, would not only en- 
joy fine hunting in these vast marshes of the upper 
Paraguay, but would also do work of real scientific value 
as regards all the big cats. 

Only a limited number of the naturalists who have 
worked in the tropics have had any experience with the 
big beasts whose life-histories possess such peculiar in- 
terest. Of all the biologists who have seriously studied 

120 TKrough the Brazilian Wilderness 

the South American fauna on the ground, Bates probably 
rendered most service ; but he hardly seems even to have 
seen the animals with which the hunter is fairly familiar. 
His interests, and those of the other biologists of his 
kind, lay in other directions. In consequence, in treat- 
ing of the life-histories of the very interesting big game, 
we have been largely forced to rely either on native 
report, in which acutely accurate observation is invariably 
mixed with wild fable, or else on the chance remarks 
of travellers or mere sportsmen, who had not the train- 
ing to make them understand even what it was desirable 
to observe. Nowadays there is a growing proportion of 
big-game hunters, of sportsmen, who are of the Schilling, 
Selous, and Shiras type. These men do work of capital 
value for science. The mere big-game butcher is tending 
to disappear as a type. On the other hand, the big-game 
hunter who is a good observer, a good field naturalist, 
occupies at present a more important position than ever 
before, and it is now recognized that he can do work 
which the closest naturalist cannot do. The big-game 
hunter of this type and the outdoors, faunal naturalist, 
the student of the life-histories of big mammals, have 
open to them in South America a wonderful field in 
which to work. 

The fire-ants, of which I have above spoken, are gen- 
erally found on a species of small tree or sapling, with a 
greenish trunk. They bend the whole body as they bite, 
the tail and head being thrust downward. A few sec- 
onds after the bite the poison causes considerable pain; 
later it may make a tiny festering sore. There is cer- 
tainly the most extraordinary diversity in the traits by 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 121 

which nature achieves the perpetuation of species. 
Among the warrior and predaceous insects the prowess 
is in some cases of such type as to render the possessor 
practically immune from danger. In other cases the 
condition of its exercise may normally be the sacrifice 
of the life of the possessor. There are wasps that prey 
on formidable fighting spiders, which yet instinctively 
so handle themselves that the prey practically never suc- 
ceeds in either defending itself or retaliating, being cap- 
tured and paralyzed with unerring efficiency and with 
entire security to the wasp. The wasp's safety is abso- 
lute. On the other hand, these fighting ants, including 
the soldiers even among the termites, are frantically eager 
for a success which generally means their annihilation; 
the condition of their efficiency is absolute indifference to 
their own security. Probably the majority of the ants 
that actually lay hold on a foe suffer death in conse- 
quence; certainly they not merely run the risk of but 
eagerly invite death. 

The following day we descended the Sao Lourengo 
to its junction with the Paraguay, and once more began 
the ascent of the latter. 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 primitive little ranch-house. The birds were 
breeding; the old ones were feeding the young. In this 
neighborhood the naturalists found many birds that were 
new to them, including a tiny woodpecker no bigger than 
a ruby-crowned kinglet. They had collected two night 
monkeys — nocturnal monkeys, not as agile as the ordi- 

122 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

nary monkey; these two were found at dawn, having 
stayed out too late. i 

The early morning was always lovely on these rivers, 
and at that hour many birds and beasts were to be seen. 
One morning we saw a fine marsh buck, holding his head 
aloft as 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 not. As always with these marsh- 
deer — ^and as with so many other deer — I was struck 
by the revealing or advertising quality of its red colora- 
tion ; there was nothing in its normal surroundings with 
which this coloration harmonized; so far as it had any 
effect whatever it was always a revealing and not a 
concealing effect. When the animal fled the black of 
the erect tail was an additional revealing mark, although 
not of such startlingly advertising quality as the flag of 
the whitetail. The whitetail, in one of its forms, and 
with the ordinary whitetail custom of displaying the 
white flag as it runs, is found in the immediate neigh- 
borhood of the swamp-deer. It has the same foes. 
Evidently it is of no survival consequence whether the 
running deer displays a white or a black flag. Any com- 
petent observer of big game must be struck by the fact 
that in the great majority of the species the coloration is 
not concealing, and that in many it has a highly reveal- 
ing quality. Moreover, if the spotted or striped young 
represent the ancestral coloration, and if, as seems proba- 
ble, the spots and stripes have, on the whole, some slight 
concealing value, it is evident that in the life history of 
most of these large mammals, both among those that 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 123 

prey and those that are preyed on, concealing coloration 
has not been a survival factor; throughout the ages dur- 
ing which they have survived they have gradually lost 
whatever of concealing coloration they may once have 
had — if any — ^and have developed a coloration which 
under present conditions has no concealing and perhaps 
even has a revealing quality, and which in all probability 
never would have had a concealing value in any "envi- 
ronmental complex" in which the species as a whole lived 
during its ancestral development. Indeed, it seems as- 
tonishing, when one observes these big beasts — ^and big 
waders and other water-birds — in their native surround- 
ings, to find how utterly non-harmful their often strik- 
ingly revealing 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 is generally of no consequence whatever, 
one way or the other, and is only very rarely a factor of 
any serious weight. 

The junction of the Sao Louren^o and the Paraguay 
is a day's journey above Corumba. From Corumba 
there is a regular service by shallow steamers to Cuyaba, 
at the head of one fork, and to Sao Luis de Caceres, at 
the head of the other. The steamers are not powerful 
and the voyage to each little city takes a week. There 
are other forks that are navigable. Above Cuyaba and 
Caceres launches go up-stream for several days' journey, 
except during the dryest parts of the season. North of 
this marshy plain lies the highland, the Plan Alto, where 
the nights are cool and the climate healthy. But I wish 
emphatically to record my view that these marshy plains, 

124 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

although hot, are also healthy; and, moreover, the mos- 
quitoes, in most places, are not in sufficient numbers to 
be a serious pest, although of course there must be nets 
for protection against them at night. The country is 
excellently suited for settlement, and offers a remarkable 
field for cattle-growing. Moreover, it is a paradise for 
water-birds and for many other kinds of birds, and for 
many mammals. It is literally an ideal place in which a 
field naturalist could spend six months or a year. It is 
readily accessible, it offers an almost virgin field for 
work, and the life would be healthy as well as delight- 
fully attractive. The man should have a steam-launch, 
In it he could with comfort cover all parts of the coun- 
try from south of Coimbra to north of Cuyaba and 
Caceres. There would have to be a good deal of collect- 
ing (although nothing in the nature of butchery should 
be tolerated), for the region has only been superficially 
worked, especially as regards mammals. But if the man 
were only a collector he would leave undone the part of 
the work best worth doing. The region offers extraor- 
dinary opportunities for the study of the life-histories of 
birds which, because of their size, their beauty, or their 
habits, are of exceptional interest. All kinds of prob- 
lems would be worked out. For example, on the morn- 
ing of the 3d, as we were ascending the Paraguay, we 
again and again saw in the trees on the bank big nests 
of sticks, into and out of which parakeets were flying by 
the dozen. Some of them had straws or twigs in their 
bills. In some of the big globular nests we could make 
out several holes of exit or entrance. Apparently these 
parakeets were building or remodelling communal nests; 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 125 

but whether they had themselves built these nests, or had 
taken old nests and added to or modified them, we could 
not tell. There was so much of interest all along the 
banks that we were continually longing to stop and spend 
days where we were. Mixed flocks of scores of cor- 
morants and darters covered certain trees, both at sunset 
and after sunrise. Although there was no deep forest, 
merely belts or fringes of trees along the river, or in 
patches back of it, we frequently saw monkeys in this 
riverine tree-fringe — ^active common monkeys and black 
howlers of more leisurely gait. We saw caymans and 
capybaras sitting socially near one another on the sand- 
banks. At night we heard the calling of large flights of 
tree-ducks. These were now the most common of all 
the ducks, although there were many muscovy ducks also. 
The evenings were pleasant and not hot, as we sat on the 
forward deck; there was a waxing moon. The scream- 
ers were among the most noticeable birds. They were 
noisy; they perched on the very tops of the trees, not 
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 
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 
Brazil Land and Cattle Company, the Farquahar syndi- 
cate, under the management of Murdo Mackenzie — ^than 
whom we have 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 

126 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

greeted by McLean, the head of the ranch, and his as- 
sistant Ramsey, an old Texan friend. Among the other 
assistants, all equally cordial, were several Belgians and 
Frenchmen. The hands were Paraguayans and Brazil- 
ians, and a few Indians — a hard-bit set, each of whom 
always goes armed and knows how 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, vaqtieiros, were of the type with 
which we were now familiar: dark-skinned, lean, hard- 
faced men, in slouch-hats, worn shirts and trousers, and 
fringed leather aprons, with heavy spurs on their bare 
feet. They are wonderful riders and ropers, and fear 
neither man nor beast. I noticed 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 possi- 
bilities of cattle-raising. 

At this ranch there was a tannery ; a slaughter-house; 
a cannery ; a church ; buildings of various kinds and all 
degrees of comfort for the thirty or forty families who 
made the place their headquarters; and the handsome, 
white, two-story big house, standing among lemon-trees 
and flamboyants on the river-brink. There were all kinds 
of pets around the house. The most fascinating was a 
wee, spotted fawn which loved being petted. Half a 
dozen curassows of different species strolled through the 
rooms; there were also parrots of several different spe- 
cies, and immediately outside the house four or five 
herons, with undipped wings, which would let us come 
within a few feet and then fly gracefully off, shortly 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 127 

afterward returning to the same spot. They included big 
and little white egrets and also the mauve and pearl- 
colored heron, with a partially black head and many- 
colored bill, which flies with quick, repeated wing-flap- 
pings, 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 big, 
small-toothed red wolf. These were all brought in by the 
cowhands and by friendly Indians, a price being put on 
each, as they destroyed the stock. The jaguars occasion- 
ally killed horses and full-grown cows, but not bulls. 
The pumas killed the calves. The others killed an oc- 
casional 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 varia- 
tion, no two being alike. The pumas were for the most 
part bright red, but some were reddish gray, there being 
much the same dichromatism that I found among their 
Colorado kinsfolk. The jaguarundis were dark brown- 
ish gray. All these animals, the spotted jaguars and 
ocelots, the monochrome black jaguars, red pumas, and 
dark-gray jaguarundis, were killed in the same locality, 
with the same environment. A glance at the skins and a 
moment's serious thought would have been enough to 
show any sincere thinker that in these cats the coloration 
pattern, whether concealing or revealing, is of no conse- 
quence one way or the other as a survival factor. The 
spotted patterns conferred no benefit as compared with 

128 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

the nearly or quite monochrome blacks, reds, and dark 
grays. The bodily condition of the various beasts was 
equally good, showing that their success in life, that is, 
their ability to catch their prey, was unaffected by their 
several color schemes. Except white, there is no color 
so conspicuously advertising as black; yet the black jag- 
uar had been a fine, well-fed, 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 monochrome 
red and gray, but the puma and jaguarundi are just as 
hard to see, and evidently find it just as easy to catch 
prey, as the jaguar and ocelot. The little fawn which we 
saw was spotted; the grown deer had lost the spots; if 
the spots do really help to conceal the wearer, it is evi- 
dent that the deer has found the original concealing 
coloration of so little value that it has actually been lost 
in the course of the development of the species. When 
these big cats and the deer are considered, together with 
the dogs, tapirs, peccaries, capybaras, and big ant-eaters 
which live in the same environment, and when we also 
consider the difference between the young and the adult 
deer and tapirs (both of which when adult have substi- 
tuted a complete or partial monochrome for the ances- 
tral spots and streaks), it is evident that in the present 
life and 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 may accom- 
pany the persistence and development of the qualities and 
attributes which are survival factors. Indeed, it seems 
hard to believe that in their ordinary environments such 

Jhe Headwaters of the Paraguay 129 

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. Yet such is evidently not the case. Evi- 
dently 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 to the ground 
as they crouch or crawl. They take advantage of the 
tiniest scrap of cover. They move with extraordinary 
stealth and patience. The other animals which try to 
sneak off in such manner as to escape observation ap- 
proach more or less closely to the ideal which the cats 
most nearly realize. Wariness, sharp senses, the habit 
of being rigidly motionless when there is the least sus- 
picion of danger, and ability to take advantage of cover, 
all count. On the bare, open, treeless plain, whether 
marsh, meadow, or upland, anything above the level of 
the grass is seen at once. A marsh-deer out in the open 
makes no effort to avoid observation; its concern is 
purely to see its foes in time to leave a dangerous neigh- 
borhood. The deer of the neighboring forest skulk and 
hide and lie still in dense cover to avoid being seen. The 
white-lipped peccaries make no effort to escape observa- 
tion by being either noiseless or motionless; they trust 
for defence to their gregariousness and truculence. The 
collared peccary also trusts to its truculence, but seeks 
refuge in a hole where it can face any opponent with its 
formidable biting apparatus. As for the giant tamandua, 
in spite of its fighting prowess I am wholly unable to 
understand how such a slow and clumsy beast has been 

130 Through the Brazihan Wilderness 

able through the ages to exist and thrive surrounded by 
jaguars and pumas. Speaking generally, the animals 
that seek to escape observation trust primarily to smell 
to discover their foes or their prey, and see whatever 
moves and do not see whatever is motionless. 

By the morning of January 5 we had left the marsh 
region. There were low hills here and there, and the 
land was covered with dense forest. From time to time 
we passed little clearings with palm-thatched houses. 
We were approaching Caceres, where the easiest part of 
our trip would end. We had lived in much comfort on 
the little steamer. The food was plentiful and the cook- 
ing good. At night we slept on deck in cots or ham- 
mocks. The mosquitoes were rarely troublesome, al- 
though in the daytime we were sometimes bothered by 
numbers of biting horse-flies. The bird life was won- 
derful. One of the characteristic sights we were always 
seeing was that of a number of heads and necks of cor- 
morants and snake-birds, without any bodies, projecting 
above water, and disappearing as the steamer approached. 
Skimmers and thick-billed tern were plentiful here right 
in the heart of the continent. In addition to the spurred 
lapwing, characteristic and most interesting resident of 
most of South America, we found tiny red-legged plover 
which also breed and are at home in the tropics. The 
contrasts in habits between closely allied species are 
wonderful. Among the plovers and bay snipe there are 
species that live all the year round in almost the same 
places, in tropical and subtropical lands; and other re- 
lated forms which wander over the whole earth, and 
spend nearly all their time, now in the arctic and cold 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 131 

temperate regions of the far north, now in the cold tem- 
perate regions of the south. These latter wide-wander- 
ing birds of the seashore and the river bank pass most of 
their lives in regions of almost perpetual sunlight. They 
spend the breeding season, the northern summer, in the 
land of the midnight sun, during the long arctic day. 
They then fly for endless distances down 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, is shrouded beneath the iron 
desolation of the polar night. 

In the late afternoon of the 5th we reached the quaint 
old-fashioned little town of Sao Luis de Caceres, on the 
outermost fringe of the settled region of the state of 
Matto Grosso, the last town we should see before reach- 
ing the villages of the Amazon. As we approached we 
passed half-clad black washerwomen on the river's edge. 
The men, with the local band, were gathered at the 
steeply sloping foot of the main street, where the steamer 
came to her moorings. Groups of women and girls, 
white and brown, watched us from the low bluff; their 
skirts and bodices were red, blue, green, of all colors, 
Sigg had gone ahead with much of the baggage ; he met 
us in an improvised motor-boat, consisting of a dugout 
to the side of which he had clamped our Evinrude mo- 
tor ; he was giving several of the local citizens of promi- 
nence a ride, to their huge enjo5mient. The streets of 
the little town were unpaved, with narrow brick side- 

132 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

walks. The one-story houses were white or blue, with 
roofs of red tiles and window-shutters of latticed wood- 
work, come down from colonial days and tracing back 
through Christian and Moorish Portugal to a remote 
Arab ancestry. Pretty faces, some dark, some light, 
looked out from these windows ; their mothers' mothers, 
for generations past, must thus have looked out of simi- 
lar windows in the vanished colonial days. But now 
even here in Caceres the spirit of the new Brazil is mov- 
ing; a fine new government school has been started, and 
we met its principal, an earnest man doing excellent 
work, one of the many teachers who, during the last few 
years, have been brought to Matto Grosso from Sao 
Paulo, a centre of the new educational movement which 
will do so much for Brazil. 

Father Zahm went to spend the night with some 
French Franciscan friars, capital fellows. I spent the 
night at the comfortable house of Lieutenant Lyra; a 
hot-weather house with thick walls, big doors, and an 
open patio bordered by a gallery. Lieutenant Lyra was 
to accompany us; he was an old companion of Colonel 
Rondon's explorations. We visited one or two of the 
stores to make some final purchases, and in the evening 
strolled through the dusky streets and under the trees of 
the plaza ; the women and girls sat in groups in the door- 
ways or at the windows, and here and there a stringed 
instrument tinkled in the darkness. 

From Caceres onward we were entering the scene of 
Colonel Rondon's explorations. For some eighteen years 
he was occupied in exploring and in opening telegraph- 
lines through the eastern or north-middle part of the 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 133 

great forest state, the wilderness state of the "matto 
grosso" — the "great wilderness," or, as Australians 
would call it, "the bush." Then, in 1907, he began to 
penetrate the unknown region lying to the north and 
west. He was the head of the exploring expeditions sent 
out by the Brazilian Government to traverse for the first 
time this unknown land; to map 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, 
two of the mighty affluents of the Amazon, and to build 
telegraph-lines across to the Madeira, where a line of 
Brazilian settlements, connected by steamboat lines and 
a railroad, again occurs. Three times he penetrated into 
this absolutely unknown, Indian-haunted wilderness, be- 
ing absent for a year or two at a time and suffering 
every imaginable hardship, before he made his way 
through to the Madeira and completed the telegraph-line 
across. The officers and men of the Brazilian Army and 
the civilian scientists who followed him shared the toil 
and the credit of the task. Some of his men died of 
beriberi; some were killed or wounded by the Indians; 
he himself almost died of fever; again and again his 
whole party was reduced almost to the last extremity by 
starvation, disease, hardship, and the overexhaustion due 
to wearing fatigues. In dealing with the wild, naked 
savages he showed a combination of fearlessness, wari- 
ness, good judgment, and resolute patience and kindli- 
ness. The result was that they ultimately became his 
firm friends, guarded the telegraph-lines, and helped the 
few soldiers left at the isolated, widely separated little 
posts. He and his assistants explored, and mapped for 

134 Through the Brazihan Wilderness 

the first time, the Juruena and the Gy-Parana, two im- 
portant affluents of the Tapajos and the Madeira re- 
spectively. The Tapajos and the Madeira, like the Ori- 
noco and Rio Negro, have been highways of travel for 
a couple of centuries. The Madeira (as later the Tapa- 
jos) was the chief means of ingress, a century and a half 
ago, to the little Portuguese settlements of this far in- 
terior region of Brazil ; one of these little towns, named 
Matto Grosso, being the original capital of the province. 
It has long been abandoned by the government, and prac- 
tically so by its inhabitants, the ruins of palace, fortress, 
and church now rising amid the rank tropical luxuriance 
of the wild forest. The mouths of the main affluents of 
these highway rivers were as a rule well known. But in 
many cases nothing but the mouth was known. The 
river itself was not known, and it was placed on the map 
by guesswork. Colonel Rondon found, for example, 
that the course of the Gy-Parana was put down on the 
map two degrees out of its proper place. He, with his 
party, was the first to find out its sources, the first to 
traverse its upper course, the first to map its length. He 
and his assistants performed a similar service for the 
Juruena, discovering the sources, discovering and de- 
scending 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 be- 
tween the Juruena and the Gy-Parana he established his 
farthest station to the westward, named Jose Bonofacio, 
after one of the chief republican patriots of Brazil. A 
couple of days' march northwestward from this station, 
he in 1909 came across a part of the stream of a river 

The Headwaters of the Paraguay 135 

running northward between the Gy-Parana and the Ju- 
ruena; he could only guess where it debouched, believing 
it to be into the Madeira, although it was possible that 
it entered the Gy-Parana or Tapajos. The region 
through which it flows was unknown, no civilized man 
having ever penetrated it; and as all conjecture as to 
what the river was, as to its length, and as to its place 
of entering into some highway river, was mere guess- 
work, he had entered it on his sketch maps as the Rio 
da Diivida, the River of Doubt. Among the officers of 
the Brazilian Army and the scientific civilians who have 
accompanied him there have been not only expert cartog- 
raphers, photographers, and telegraphists, but astrono- 
mers, geologists, botanists, and zoologists. Their reports, 
published in excellent shape by the Brazilian Govern- 
ment, make an invaluable series of volumes, reflecting 
the highest credit on the explorers, and on the govern- 
ment itself. Colonel Rondon's own accounts of his ex- 
plorations, of the Indian tribes he has visited, and of the 
beautiful and wonderful things he has seen, possess a 
peculiar interest. 



AFTER leaving Caceres we went up the Sepotuba, 
which in the local Indian dialect means River 
of Tapirs. This river is only navigable for 
boats of size when the water is high. It is a swift, fairly 
clear stream, rushing down from the Plan Alto, the high 
uplands, through the tropical lowland forest. On the 
right hand, or western bank, and here and there on the 
left bank, the forest is broken by natural pastures and 
meadows, and at one of these places, known as Porto 
Campo, sixty or seventy miles above the mouth, there 
is a good-sized cattle-ranch. Here we halted, because 
the launch, and the two pranchas — ^native trading-boats 
with houses on their decks — which it towed, could not 
carry our entire party and outfit. Accordingly most of 
the baggage and some of the party were sent ahead to 
where we were to meet our pack-train, at Tapirapoan. 
Meanwhile the rest of us made our first camp under tents 
at Porto Campo, to wait the return of the boats. The 
tents were placed in a line, with the tent of Colonel Ron- 
don and the tent in which Kermit and I slept, in the 
middle, beside one another. In front of these two, on 
tall poles, stood the Brazilian and American flags; and 
at sunrise and sunset the flags were hoisted and hauled 


up the River of Tapirs 137 

down while the trumpet sounded and all of us stood at 
attention. Camp was pitched beside the ranch buildings. 
In the trees near the tents grew wonderful violet orchids. 
Many birds were around us; I saw some of them, 
and Cherrie and Miller many, many more. They ranged 
from party-colored macaws, green parrots, and big 
gregarious cuckoos down to a brilliant green-and-chest- 
nut kingfisher, five and a quarter inches long, and a tiny 
orange-and-green manakin, smaller than any bird I have 
ever seen except a hummer. We also saw a bird that 
really was protectively colored; a kind of whippoorwill 
which even the sharp-eyed naturalists could only make 
out because it moved its head. We saw orange-bellied 
squirrels with showy orange tails. Lizards were com- 
mon. 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-and-orange 
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, 
hoping that the dogs might drive a tapir to us, they 
drove into the water a couple of small bush deer instead. 
There was no point in shooting them; we caught them 
with ropes thrown over their heads; for the naturalists 
needed them as specimens, and all of us needed the meat. 
One of the men was 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 tails bitten off by piranhas as they 
swam, and the ranch hands told us that in this lagoon 
one of their hounds had been torn to pieces and com- 

138 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

pletely devoured by the ravenous fish. It was a further 
illustration of the uncertainty of temper and behavior of 
these ferocious little monsters. In other lagoons they 
had again and again left us and our dogs immolested. 
They vary locally in aggressiveness just as sharks and 
crocodiles in different seas and rivers vary. 

On the morning of January 9th we started out for a 
tapir-hunt. Tapirs are hunted with canoes, as they dwell 
in thick jungle and take to the water when hounds follow 
them. In this region there were extensive papyrus- 
swamps and big lagoons, back from the river, and often 
the tapirs fled to these for refuge, throwing off the 
hounds. In these places it was exceedingly diflBcult to 
get them; our best chance was to keep to the river in 
canoes, and paddle toward the spot in the direction of 
which the hounds, by the noise, seemed to be heading. 
We started in four canoes. Three of them were Indian 
dugouts, very low in the water. The fourth was our 
Canadian canoe, a beauty; light, safe, roomy, made of 
thin slats of wood and cement-covered canvas. Colonel 
Rondon, Fiala with his camera, and I went in this canoe, 
together with two paddlers. The paddlers were natives 
of the poorer class. They were good men. The bows- 
man was of nearly pure white blood ; the steersman was 
of nearly pure negro blood, and was evidently the 
stronger character and better man of the two. The other 
canoes carried a couple of fazendeiros, ranchmen, who 
had come up from Caceres with their dogs. These dug- 
outs 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 

up the River of Tapirs 139 

in substantially similar clothes, the difference being that 
those of the camaradas, the poorer men or laborers, were 
in tatters. In the canoes no man wore anything save a 
shirt, trousers, and hat, the feet being bare. On horse- 
back they wore long leather leggings which were really 
simply high, rather flexible boots with the soles off; their 
spurs were on their tough bare feet. There was every 
gradation between and among the nearly pure whites, 
negroes, and Indians. On the whole, there was most 
white blood in the upper ranks, and most Indian and 
negro blood among the camaradas; but there were ex- 
ceptions in both classes, and there was no discrimination 
on account of color. All alike were courteous and 

The hounds were at first carried in two of the dug- 
outs, and then let loose on the banks. We 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 mud to 
keep the low dugout against the bank. The tropical 
forest came down almost like a wall, the tall trees laced 
together with vines, and the spaces between their trunks 
filled with a low, dense jungle. In most places it could 
only be penetrated by a man with a machete. 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 ce- 
cropias, growing by preference on new-formed alluvial 
soil bare of other trees, whose rather scanty leaf bunches 
were, as I was informed, the favorite food of sloths. 

140 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

We saw one or two squirrels among the trees, and a 
family of monkeys. There were few sand-banks in the 
river, and no water-fowl save an occasional cormorant. 
But as we pushed along near the shore, where the 
branches overhung and dipped in the swirling water, we 
continually roused little flocks of bats. ■ They were hang- 
ing from the boughs right over the river, and when our 
approach roused them they zigzagged rapidly in front of 
us for a few rods, and then again dove in among the 

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 espe- 
cially along the borders of the swamp; and, although 
their principal makers had evidently been cattle, yet there 
were in them footprints of both tapir and deer. The 
tapir makes a footprint much like that of a small rhi- 
nocerous, being one of the odd-toed ungulates. We 
could hear the dogs now and then, evidently scattered 
and running on various trails. They were a worthless 
lot of cur-hounds. They would chase tapir or deer or 
anything else that ran away from them as long as the 
trail was easy to follow ; but they were not stanch, even 
after animals that fled, 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 

Up the River of Tapirs 141 

buck of the bigger species of bush deer appeared, a very 
pretty and graceful creature. It stopped and darted back 
as soon as it saw us, giving us 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 open- 
ing between two tree-trunks. By good luck the buck 
appeared in the right place, giving me just time to hold 
well ahead of him and fire. At the report he went down 
in a heap, the "umbrella-pointed" bullet going in at one 
shoulder, and ranging forward, breaking the neck. The 
leaden portion of the bullet, in the proper mushroom or 
umbrella shape, stopped under the neck skin on the far- 
ther side. It is a very effective bullet. 

Miller particularly wished specimens of these various 
species of bush deer, because their mutual relationships 
have not yet been satisfactorily worked out. This was 
an old buck. The 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; the 
buck was both a browser and grazer. There were also 
seeds, but no berries or nuts such as I have sometimes 
found in deers' stomachs. This species, which is abun- 
dant in this neighborhood, is solitary in its habits, not 
going in herds. At this time the rut was past, the bucks 
no longer sought the does, the fawns had not been born, 
and the yearlings had left their mothers; so that each ani- 
mal usually went by itself. When chased they were very 
apt to take to the water. This instinct of taking to the 
water, by the way, is quite explicable as regards both deer 
and tapir, for it affords them refuge against their present- 

142 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

day natural foes, but it is a little puzzling to see the 
jaguar readily climbing trees to escape dogs; for ages 
have passed since there were in its habitat any natural 
foes from which it needed to seek safety in trees. But 
it is possible that the habit has been kept alive by its 
seeking refuge in them on occasion from the big pec- 
caries, which are among the beasts on which it ordinarily 

We hung the buck in a tree. The colonel returned, 
and not long afterward one of the paddlers who had been 
watching the river called out to us that there was a tapir 
in the water, a good distance up-stream, and that two of 
the other boats were after it. We jumped into the canoe 
and the two paddlers dug their blades in the water as 
they drove her against the strong current, edging over 
for the opposite bank. The tapir was coming down- 
stream at a great rate, only its queer head above water, 
while the dugouts were closing rapidly on it, the paddlers 
uttering loud cries. As the tapir turned slightly to one 
side or the other the long, slightly upturned snout and 1M 
strongly pronounced arch of the crest along the head and 
upper neck gave it a marked and unusual aspect. I could 
not shoot, for it was directly in line with one of the pur- 
suing dugouts. Suddenly it dived, the snout being 
slightly curved downward as it did so. There was no 
trace of it; we gazed eagerly in all directions; the dugout 
in front came alongside our canoe and the paddlers rested, 
their paddles ready. Then we made out the tapir clam- 
bering up the bank. It had dived 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- 

Colonel Roosevelt and Colonel Rondon with bush deer. 

"We hung the buck in a tree." 

From a photograph by Fiala. 

Up the River of Tapirs 143 

branches at a point where a drinking-trail for game led 
down a break in the bank. The branches partially hid it, 
and it was in deep shadow, so that it 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 un- 
hurt, although the bullet really secured it, by making it 
unwilling to trust to its speed and leave the neighborhood 
of the water. Three or four of the hounds were by this 
time swimming the river, leaving the others yelling on the 
opposite side; and as soon as the swimmers reached the 
shore they were put on the tapir's trail and galloped after 
it, giving tongue. In a couple of minutes we saw the tapir 
take to the water far up-stream, and after it we went as 
fast as the paddles could urge us through the water. We 
were not in time to head it, but fortunately some of the 
dogs had come down to the river's edge at the very point 
where the tapir was about to land, and turned it back. 
Two or three of the dogs were swimming. We were more 
than half the breadth of the river away from the tapir, 
and somewhat down-stream, when it dived. It made an 
astonishingly long swim beneath the water this time, 
almost as if it had been a hippopotamus, for it passed 
completely under our canoe and rose between us and 
the hither bank. I shot it, the bullet going into its brain, 
while it was thirty or forty yards from shore. It sank 
at once. 

There was now nothing to do but wait until the body 
floated. I feared that the strong current would roll it 
down-stream over the river bed, but my companions as- 
sured me that this was not so, and that the body would 
remain where it was until it rose, which would be in an 

144 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

hour or two. 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 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 when it suddenly floated only a few rods 
from where it had sunk. With no little difficulty the big, 
round black body was hoisted into the canoe, and we all 
turned our prows down-stream. The skies had been low- 
ering for some time, and now — too late to interfere with 
the hunt or cause us any annoyance — a. heavy downpour 
of rain came on and beat upon us. 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 us. 

When we reached camp, and Father Zahm saw the 
tapir, he reminded me of something I had completely for- 
gotten. When, some six years previously, he had spoken 
to me in the White House about taking this South Ameri- 
can trip, I had answered that I could not, as I intended 
to go to Africa, but added that I hoped some day to go to 
South America and that if I did so I should try to shoot 
both a jaguar and a tapir, as they were the characteristic 
big-game animals of the country. "Well," said Father 
Zahm, "now you've shot them both!" The storm con- 
tinued heavy until after sunset. Then the rain stopped and 
the full moon broke through the cloud-rack. Father 
Zahm and I walked up and down in the moonlight, talk- 
ing of many things, from Dante, and our own plans for 

up the River of Tapirs 145 

the future, to 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 di- 
vided with them the mastery of the oceans and of the 
unknown continents beyond. 

This was an attractive and interesting camp in more 
ways than one. The vaqueiros with their wives and fami- 
lies were housed on the two sides of the field in which our 
tents were pitched. On one side was a big, whitewashed, 
tile-roofed house in which the foreman dwelt — ^an olive- 
skinned, slightly built, wiry man, with an olive-skinned 
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- 
buildings were near this big house. On the opposite side 
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 ances- 
try near by in point of time and otherwise immeasurably 
remote ; for through the still, hot air, under the brilliant 
moonlight, we heard the monotonous throbbing of a tom- 
tom drum, and the twanging of some old stringed instru- 
ment. 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 

146 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

venison of the bush deer, which was excellent; and as 
much ordinary beef as we wished, and fresh milk, too — 
a rarity in this country. There were very few mosquitoes, 
and everything was as comfortable as possible. 

The tapir I killed 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 col- 
lection of the big mammals of the Brazilian forests almost 
complete. The remaining members of the party killed 
two or three more tapirs. One was a bull, full grown but 
very much smaller than the animal I had killed. The 
hunters said that this was a distinct kind. The skull and 
skin were sent back with the other specimens to the Am- 
erican Museum, where after due examination and com- 
parison its specific identity will be established. Tapirs are 
solitary beasts. Two are rarely found together, except in 
the case of a cow and its spotted and streaked calf. They 
live in dense cover, usually lying down in the 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 almost ran over a tapir that was swimming. 
But in unfrequented places tapirs both feed and bathe 
during the day. The stomach of the one I shot contained 
big palm-nuts; 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 

Up the River of Tapirs 147 

and wedge shape enable them to go at speed through very 
dense cover. They try to stamp on, and even to bite, a 
foe, but are only clumsy fighters. 

The tapir is 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 con- 
tinued substantially unchanged. Originally the tapirs 
dwelt in the northern hemisphere, but there they grad- 
ually died out, the more specialized horse, and even for 
long ages the rhinoceros, persisting after they had van- 
ished; and nowadays the surviving tapirs are found in 
Malaysia and South America, far from their original 
home. The relations of the horse and tapir in the pale- 
ontological history of South America are very curious. 
Both were, geologically speaking, comparatively recent 
immigrants, and if they came at different dates it is al- 
most certain that the horse came later. The horse for an 
age or two, certainly for many hundreds of thousands of 
years, throve greatly and developed not only several dif- 
ferent species but even different genera. It was much the 
most highly specialized of the two, and in the other conti- 
nental regions where both were found the horse outlasted 
the tapir. But in South America the tapir outlasted the 
horse. From unknown causes the various genera and 
species of horses died out, while the tapir has persisted. 
The highly specialized, highly developed beasts, which 
represented such a full evolutionary development, died 
out, while their less specialized remote kinsfolk, which 
had not developed, clung to life and throve; and this 

148 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

although the direct reverse was occurring in North Amer- 
ica and in the Old World. It is one of the innumerable 
and at present insoluble problems in the history of life 
on our planet. 

I spent a couple of days of hard work in getting the 
big white-lipped peccaries — white-lipped being rather a 
misnomer, as the entire under jaw and lower cheek are 
white. They were said to be found on the other side of, 
and some distance back from, the river. Colonel Rondon 
had sent out one of our attendants, an old follower of his, 
a full-blood Parecis Indian, to look for tracks. This was 
an excellent man, who dressed and behaved just like the 
other good men we had, and was called Antonio Parecis, 
He found the tracks of a herd of thirty or forty cashadas, 
and the following morning we started after them. 

On the first day we killed nothing. We were rather 
too large a party, for one or two of the visiting fazen- 
deiros came along with their dogs. I doubt whether these 
men very much wished to overtake our game, for the big 
peccary is a murderous foe of dogs (and is sometimes 
dangerous to men). One of their number frankly refused 
to come or to let his dogs come, explaining that the fierce 
wild swine were "very badly brought up" (a literal trans- 
lation of his words) and that respectable dogs and men 
ought not to go near them. The other f azendeiros merely 
feared for their dogs ; a groundless fear, I believe, as I do 
not think that the dogs could by any exertion have been 
dragged into dangerous proximity with such foes. The 
ranch foreman, Benedetto, came with us, and two or three 
other camaradas, including Antonio, the Parecis Indian. 
The horses were swum across the river, each being led 

Up the River of Tapirs 149 

beside a dugout. Then we crossed with the dogs; our 
horses were saddled, and we started. 

It was a picturesque cavalcade. The native hunters, 
of every shade from white to dark copper, all wore leather 
leggings that left the soles of their feet bare, and on their 
bare heels wore spurs with wheels four inches across. 
They went in single file, for 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 in the forest. The hunters rode little stallions, 
and their hounds were gelded. 

Most of the time we were in forest or swampy jungle. 
Part of the time we crossed or skirted marshy plains. In 
one of them a herd of half-wild cattle was feeding. 
Herons, storks, ducks, and ibises were in these marshes, 
and we saw one flock of lovely roseate spoonbills. 

In one grove the fig-trees were killing the palms, just 
as in Africa they kill the sandalwood-trees. In the gloom 
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 fig-trees were in every stage of growth. 
The youngest ones merely ran up the palms as vines. In 
the next stage the vine had thickened and was sending 
out shoots, wrapping the palm stem in a deadly hold. 
Some of the shoots were thrown round the stem like the 
tentacles of an immense cuttlefish. Others looked like 
claws, that were hooked into every crevice, and round 
every projection. In the stage beyond this the palm had 
been killed, and its dead carcass appeared between the big, 
winding vine-trunks ; and later the palm had disappeared 

150 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

and the vines had united into a great fig-tree. Wate 
stood in black pools at the foot of. the murdered trees, an( 
of the trees that had murdered them. There was some 
thing sinister and evil in the dark stillness of the grove 
it seemed as if sentient beings had writhed themselvei 
round and were strangling other sentient beings. 

We passed through wonderfully beautiful woods ol 
tall palms, the ouaoua^a palm — wawasa palm, as it shoulc 
be spelled in English. The trunks rose tall and strong and 
slender, and the fronds were branches twenty or thirtj 
feet long, with the many long, narrow green blades start- 
ing from the midrib at right angles in pairs. Round the 
ponds stood stately burity palms, rising like huge col- 
umns, with great branches that looked like fans, as the 
long, stiff blades radiated from the end of the midrib. 
One tree was gorgeous with the brilliant hues of a flock 
of party-colored macaws. Green parrots flew shrieking 

Now and then we were bitten and stung by the ven- 
omous fire-ants, and ticks crawled upon us. Once we 
were assailed by more serious foes, in the shape of a nest 
of maribundi wasps, not the biggest kind, but about the 
size of our hornets. We were at the time passing through 
dense jungle, under tall trees, in a spot where the down 
timber, holes, tangled creepers, and thorns made the 
going difficult. The leading men were not assailed, al- 
though 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, and hands, the colonel even more severely than 
I was. He wheeled and rode to the rear and I to the 

up the River of Tapirs 151 

front; oui* horses were stung too; and we went at a rate 
that a moment previously I would have deemed impossi- 
ble over such ground. 

At the close of the day, when we were almost back at 
the river, the dogs killed a jaguar kitten. There was no 
trace of the mother. Some accident must have befallen 
her, and the kitten was trying to shift for herself. She 
was very emaciated. In her stomach were the remains of 
a pigeon and some tendons from the skeleton or dried 
carcass of some big animal. The loathsome berni flies, 
which deposit eggs in living beings — cattle, dogs, mon- 
keys, rodents, men — ^had been at it. There were seven 
huge, white grubs making big abscess-like swellings over 
its eyes. These flies deposit their grubs in men. In 1909, 
on Colonel Rondon's hardest trip, every man of the party 
had from one to five grubs deposited in him, the fly acting 
with great speed, and driving its ovipositor through cloth- 
ing. The grubs cause torture; but a couple of cross 
cuts with 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 
accompaniments of atrocious suffering, passes belief. The 
very pathetic myth of "beneficent nature" could not de- 
ceive even the least wise being if he once saw for himself 
the iron cruelty of life in the tropics. Of course "nature" 
— in common parlance a wholly inaccurate term, by the 
way, especially when used as if to express a single entity 
— is entirely ruthless, no less so as regards types than as 
regards individuals, and entirely indifferent to good or 

152 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

evil, and works out her ends or no ends with utter dis- 
regard of pain and woe. 

The following morning at sunrise we started again. 
This time only Colonel Rondon and I went with Bene- 
detto and Antonio the Indian. We brought along four 
dogs which it was fondly hoped might chase the cashadas. 
Two of 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 man ahead of him. However, Colonel Ron- 
don, 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 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 to right. There were appar- 
ently thirty or forty in the herd. The small peccaries go 
singly or in small parties, and when chased take refuge 
in holes or hollow logs, where they show valiant fight; 
but the big peccaries go in herds of considerable size, and 
are so truculent that they are reluctant to run, and prefer 
either to move slowly off chattering their tusks and 
grunting, or else actually to charge. Where much perse- 
cuted the survivors gradually grow more willing to run, 
but their instinct is not to run but to trust to their trucu- 
lence and their mass-action for safety. They inflict a fear- 
ful bite and frequently kill dogs. They often charge the 

Up the River of Tapirs 153 

hunters and I have heard of men being badly wounded by 
them, while almost every man who hunts them often is 
occasionally forced to scramble up a tree to avoid a 
charge. But I have never heard of a man being killed by 
them. They sometimes surround the tree in which the 
man has taken refuge and keep him up it. Cherrie, on 
one occasion in Costa Rica, was thus kept up a tree for 
several hours by a great herd of three or four hundred 
of these peccaries ; and this although he killed several of 
them. Ordinarily, however, after making their charge 
they do not turn, but pass on out of sight. Their great 
foe is the jaguar, but unless he exercises much caution 
they will turn the tables on him. 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. The grotmd was trampled up 
by their hoofs, and the carcass was rent and slit into 

Benedetto, as soon as we discovered the tracks, slipped 
off his horse, changed his leggings for sandals, threw his 
rifle over his arm, and took the trail of the herd, followed 
by the only dog which would accompany him. The pec- 
caries had gone into a broad belt of forest, with a marsh 
on the farther side. At first Antonio led the colonel and 
me, all of us on horseback, at a canter round this belt to 
the marsh side, thinking the peccaries had gone almost 
through it. But we could hear nothing. The dog only 
occasionally barked, and then not loudly. Finally we 
heard a Shot. Benedetto had found the -herd, which 
showed no fear of him; he had backed out and fired a 
signal shot, We all three went into the forest on foot 

154 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

toward where the shot had been fired. It was dense jun- 
gle and stiflingly hot. We could not see clearly for more 
than a few feet, or move easily without free use of the 
machetes. Soon we heard the ominous groaning of the 
herd, in front of us, and almost on each side. Then 
Benedetto joined us, and the dog appeared in the rear. 
We moved slowly forward, toward the sound of the fierce 
moaning grunts which were varied at times by a Castanet 
chattering of the tusks. Then we dimly made out the 
dark forms of the peccaries moving very slowly to the 
left. My companions each chose a tree to climb at need 
and pointed out one for me. I fired at the half-seen form 
of a hog, through the vines, leaves, and branches; the 
colonel fired ; I fired three more shots at other hogs ; and 
the Indian also fired. The peccaries did not charge; 
walking and trotting, with bristles erect, groaning and 
clacking their tusks, they disappeared into the jungle. We 
could not see one of them clearly; and not one was left 
dead. But a few paces on we came across one of my 
wounded ones, standing at bay by a palm trunk; and I 
killed it forthwith. The dog would not even trail the 
wounded ones ; but here Antonio came to the front. With 
eyes almost as quick and sure as those of a wild beast he 
had watched after every shot, and was able to tell the re- 
sults in each case. He said that in addition to the one I 
had just killed I had wounded two others so seriously that 
he did not think they would go far, and that Colonel Ron- 
don and he 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. 

up the River of Tapirs 155 

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. We found where the herd had wallowed 
in the mud. The stomachs of the peccaries we killed con- 
tained wild figs, palm nuts, and bundles of root fibres. 
The dead beasts were covered with ticks. They were at 
least twice the weight of the smaller peccaries. 

On the ride home we saw a buck of the small species 
of bush deer, not half the size of the kind I had already 
shot. It was only a patch of red in the bush, a good dis- 
tance 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 
not yet obtained. The antlers had recently been shed, and 
the new antler growth had just begun. A great jabiru 
stork let us ride by him a hundred and fifty yards off 
without thinking it worth while to take flight. This day 
we saw many of the beautiful violet orchids ; and in the 
swamps were multitudes of flowers, red, yellow, lilac, of 
which I did not know the names. 

I alluded above to the queer custom these people in 
the interior of Brazil have of gelding their hunting-dogs. 
This absurd habit is doubtless the chief reason why there 
are so few hounds worth their salt in the more serious 
kinds of hunting, where the quarry is the jaguar or big 

156 Through the Brazihan Wilderness 

peccary. Thus far we had seen but one dog as good as 
the ordinary cougar hound or bear hound in such packs 
as those with which I had hunted in' the Rockies and in 
the cane-brakes of the lower Mississippi. It can hardly 
be otherwise when every dog that shows himself worth 
anything is promptly put out of the category of breeders 
— the theory apparently being that the dog will then last 
longer. AH the breeding is from worthless dogs, and no 
dog of proved worth leaves descendants. 

The country along this river is a fine natural cattle 
country, and some day it will surely see a great develop- 
ment. It was opened to development by Colonel Rondon 
only five or six years ago. Already an occasional cattle- 
ranch is to be found along the banks. When railroads are 
built into these interior portions of Matto Grosso the 
whole region will grow and thrive amazingly — and so will 
the railroads. The growth will not be merely material. 
An immense amount will be done in education ; using the 
word education in its broadest and most accurate sense, as 
applying to both mind and spirit, to both the child and the 
man. Colonel Rondon is not merely an explorer. He has 
been and is now a leader in the movement 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 of debt. In prac- 
tice these laws have resulted in establishing a system of 
peonage, such as has grown up here and there in our own 
nation. A radical change is needed in this matter; and 
the colonel is fighting for the change. In school matters 
the colonel has precisely the ideas of our wisest and most 
advanced men and women in the United States. Cherrie 

up the River of Tapirs 157 

—who is not only an exceedingly efficient naturalist and 
explorer in the tropics, but is also a thoroughly good 
citizen at home — is the chairman of the school board of 
the town of Newfane, in Vermont. He and the colonel, 
and Kermit and I, talked over school matters at length, 
and were in hearty accord as to the vital educational needs 
of both Brazil and the United States: the need of com- 
bining industrial with purely mental training, and the 
need of having the wide-spread popular education, which 
is and must be supported and paid for by the government, 
made a purely governmental and absolutely nonsectarian 
function, administered by the state alone, without inter- 
ference with, nor furtherance of, the beliefs of any 
reputable church. The colonel is also head of the Indian 
service of Brazil, being what corresponds roughly with 
our commissioner of Indian affairs. Here also he is tak- 
ing the exact view that is taken in the United States by 
the stanchest and wisest friends of the Indians. The 
Indians must be treated with intelligent and sympathetic 
understanding, no less than with justice and firmness; 
and until they become citizens, absorbed into the general 
body politic, 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 
head of the Brazilian Telegraphic Commission. This was 
during the second year of his exploration and opening of 
the 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 

158 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

maps made and much other scientific work accomplished, 
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. His longest and 
most important exploring trip, and the one fraught with 
most danger and hardship, was begun by him in 1909, on 
May 3d, the anniversary of the discovery of Brazil. He 
left Tapirapoan on that day, and he reached the Madeira 
River on Christmas, December 25, of the same year, hav- 
ing descended the Gy-Parana. The mouth of this river 
had long been known, but its upper course for half its 
length was absolutely unknown when Rondon descended 
it. Among those who took part under him in this piece of 
exploration were the present Captain Amilcar and Lieu- 
tenant Lyra; and two better or more efficient men for 
such wilderness work it would be impossible to find. They 
acted as his two chief assistants on our trip. In 1909 the 
party exhausted all their food, including even the salt, by 
August. For the last four months they lived exclusively 
on the game they killed, on fruits, and on wild honey. 
Their equipage was what the men could carry on their 
backs. By 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 re- 
markable as, and in its results even more important than, 
any similar work undertaken elsewhere on the globe at or 
about the same time. Its value was recognized in Brazil. 

up the River of Tapirs 159 

It received no recognition by the geographical societies of 
Europe or the United 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 suc- 
cessors, have a relatively easy time. Soon the road be- 
comes so well beaten that it 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 predecessors endured. The wilderness explored by 
Colonel Rondon is not yet wholly subdued, and still holds 
menace to human life. At Caceres he received notice of 
the death of one of his gallant subordinates, Captain Car- 
dozo. 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 lost, 
and three men drowned. The risk and hardship are such 
that the ordinary men, the camaradas, do not like to go 
into the wilderness. The men who go with the Tele- 
graphic Commission on the rougher and wilder work are 
paid seven times as much as they earn in civilization. On 
this trip of ours Colonel Rondon met with much difficulty 
in securing some one who could cook. He asked the cook 
on the little steamer Nyoac to go with us ; but the cook 
with unaffected horror responded: "Senhor, / have never 
done anything to deserve punishment !" 

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

i6o Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

13th we broke camp, loaded ourselves and all our belong- 
ings on the launch and the house-boat, and started up- 
stream for Tapirapoan. All told there were about thirty- 
men, with five dogs and tents, bedding and provisions; 
fresh beef, growing rapidly less fresh; skins — ^all and 
everything jammed together. 

It rained most of the first day and part of the first 
night. After that the weather was generally overcast and 
pleasant for travelling; but sometimes rain and torrid 
sunshine alternated. The cooking — ^and it was good 
cooking — ^was done at a funny little open-air fireplace, 
with two or three cooking-pots placed at the stern of the 

The fireplace was a platform of earth, taken from ant- 
hills, and heaped and spread on the boards of the boat. 
Around it the dusky cook worked with philosophic solem- 
nity in rain and shine. Our attendants, friendly souls 
with skins of every shade and hue, slept most of the time, 
curled up among boxes, bundles, and slabs of beef. An 
enormous land turtle was tethered toward the bow of the 
house-boat. When the men slept too near it, it made 
futile efforts to scramble over them; and in return now 
and then one of them gravely used it for a seat. 

Slowly the throbbing engine drove the launch and its 
unwieldy side-partner against the swift current. The 
river had risen. We made about a mile and a half an 
hour. Ahead of us the brown water street stretched in 
curves between endless walls of dense tropical forest. It 
was like passing through a gigantic greenhouse. Wawasa 
and burity palms, cecropias, huge figs, feathery bamboos, 
strange yellow-stemmed trees, low trees with enormous 

up the River of Tapirs i6i 

leaves, tall trees with foliage as delicate as lace, trees with 
buttressed trunks, trees with boles rising smooth and 
straight to lofty heights, all woven together by a tangle 
of vines, crowded down to the edge of the river. Their 
drooping branches hung down to the water, forming a 
screen through which it was impossible to see the bank, 
and exceedingly difficult to penetrate to the bank. Rarely 
one of them showed flowers — ^large white blossoms, or 
small red or yellow blossoms. More often the lilac flow- 
ers of the begonia-vine made large patches of color. In- 
numerable epiph)rtes covered the limbs, and even grew on 
the roughened trunks. We saw little bird life — a darter 
now and then, and kingfishers flitting from perch to perch. 
At long intervals we passed a ranch. At one the large, 
red-tiled, whitewashed house stood on a grassy slope be- 
hind mango-trees. The wooden shutters were thrown 
back from the imglazed windows, and the big rooms were 
utterly bare — ^not a book, not an ornament. A palm, 
loaded with scores of the pendulous nests of the trou- 
pials, stood near the door. Behind were orange-trees and 
coffee-plants, and near by fields of bananas, rice, and 
tobacco. The sallow foreman was courteous and hospi- 
table. His dark-skinned women-folk kept in the furtive 
background. Like most of the ranches, 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 
the scenery; we talked — in English, Portuguese, bad 
French, and broken German. Some of us wrote. Fiala 
made sketches of improved tents, hammocks, and other 

i62 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

field equipment, suggested by what he had already seen. 
Some of us read books. Colonel Rondon, neat, trim, 
alert, and soldierly, studied a standard work on applied 
geographical astronomy. Father Zahm read a novel by 
Fogazzaro. Kermit read Camoens and a couple of Bra- 
zilian novels, "O Guarani" and "Innocencia." My own 
reading varied from "Quentin Durward" and Gibbon to 
the "Chanson de Roland." Miller took out his little pet 
owl Moses, from the basket in which Moses dwelt, and 
gave him food and water. Moses crooned and chuckled 
gratefully when he was stroked and tickled. 

Late the first evening we moored to the bank by a 
little fazenda of the poorer type. The houses were of 
palm-leaves. Even the walls were made of the huge 
fronds or leafy branches of the wawasa palm, stuck up- 
right in the grotmd 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 drunk a cup of delicious Brazilian coffee, and 
the boats were under way. 

All day we steamed slowly up-stream. We passed two 
or three fazendas. At one, where we halted to get milk, 
the trees were overgrown with pretty little yellow orchids. 
At dark we moored at a spot where there were no 
branches to prevent our placing the boats directly along- 
side the bank. There were hardly any mosquitoes. 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 tall trunks, some with the fronds — seemingly longer 

up the River of Tapirs 163 

— rising almost from the ground. The fronds were of 
great length ; some could not have been less than fifty feet 
long. Bushes and tall grass, dew-drenched and glittering 
with the green of emeralds, grew in the open spaces be- 
tween. We left at sunrise the following morning. One 
of the sailors had strayed inland. He got turned round 
and could not find the river ; and we started before discov- 
ering his absence. We stopped at once, and with much 
difficulty he forced his way through the vine-laced and 
thorn-guarded jungle toward the sound of the launch's 
engines and of the bugle which was blown. In this dense 
jungle, when the sun is behind clouds, a man without a 
compass who strays a hundred yards from the river may 
readily become hopelessly lost. 

As we ascended the river the wawasa palms became 
constantly more numerous. At this point, for many 
miles, they gave their own character to the forest on the 
river banks. Everywhere their long, curving fronds rose 
among the other trees, and in places their lofty trunks 
made them hold their heads higher than the other trees. 
But they were never as tall as the giants among the ordi- 
nary trees. On one towering palm we noticed a mass of 
beautiful violet orchids growing from the side of the 
trunk, half-way to the top. On another big tree, not a 
palm, which stood in a little opening, there hung well over 
a hundred troupials' nests. Besides two or three small 
ranches we this day passed a large ranch. 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 from the unglazed windows 

164 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

of the houses ; men stood in front of them. The biggest 
house was enclosed by a stockade of palm-logs, thrust 
end-on into the ground. Cows and oxen grazed round 
about ; and carts with solid wheels, each wheel made of a 
single disk of wood, were tilted on their poles. 

We made our noonday halt on an island where very 
tall trees grew, bearing fruits that were pleasant to the 
taste. Other trees on the island were covered with rich 
red and yellow blossoms; and masses of delicate blue 
flowers 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 
bodies, borne by dark wings. The current of the river 
grew swifter; there were stretches of broken water that 
were almost rapids; the laboring engine strained and 
sobbed as with increasing difficulty it urged forward the 
launch and her clumsy consort. At nightfall we moored 
beside the bank, where the forest was open enough to 
permit a comfortable camp. That night the ants ate large 
holes in Miller's mosquito-netting, and almost devoured 
his socks and shoe-laces. 

At sunrise we again started. There were occasional 
stretches of swift, broken water, almost rapids, in the 
river ; everywhere the current was swift, and our progress 
was slow. The prancha was towed at the end of a haw- 
ser, and her crew poled. Even thus we only just made 
the riffle in more than one case. Two or three times 
cormorants and snake-birds, perched on snags in the river 
or on trees alongside it, permitted the boat to come within 
a few yards. In one piece of high forest we saw a party 

up the River of Tapirs 165 

of toucans, conspicuous even among the tree tops because 
of their huge bills and the leisurely expertness with which 
they crawled, climbed, and hopped among the branches. 
We went by several f azendas. 

Shortly before noon — January 16 — we reached 
Tapirapoan, the headquarters of the Telegraphic Com- 
mission. It was an attractive place, on the river-front, 
and it was gayly bedecked with flags, not only those of 
Brazil and the United States, but of all the other Ameri- 
can republics, in our honor. There was a large, green 
square, with trees standing in the middle of It. On 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 
fields near by. Milch cows, beef-cattle, oxen, and mules 
wandered almost at will. There were two or three 
wagons and carts, and a traction automobile, used in the 
construction of the telegraph-line, but not available in the 
rainy season, at the time of our trip. 

Here we were to begin our trip overland, on pack- 
mules and pack-oxen, scores of which had been gathered 
to meet us. Several days were needed to apportion the 
loads and 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 
much food for man or beast, and where it was always 
possible to run into a district in which fatal cattle or 
horse diseases were prevalent. Fiala, with his usual effi- 
ciency, took charge of handling the outfit of the Ameri- 
can portion of the expedition, with Sigg as an active and 

1 66 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

useful assistant. Harper, who like the others worked with 
whole-hearted zeal and cheerfulness, also helped him, ex- 
cept when he was engaged in helping the naturalists. The 
two latter, Cherrie and Miller, had so far done the hardest 
and the best work of the expedition. They had collected 
about a thousand birds and two hundred and fifty mam- 
mals. It was not probable that they would do as well 
during the remainder of our trip, for we intended thence- 
forth to halt as little, and march as steadily, as the coun- 
try, the weather, and the condition of our means of trans- 
portation permitted. I kept continually wishing that they 
had more time in which to study the absorbingly inter- 
esting life-histories of the beautiful and wonderful beasts 
and birds we were all the time seeing. Every first-rate 
museum must still employ competent collectors; but I 
think that a museum could now confer most lasting bene- 
fit, and could do work of most permanent good, by send- 
ing out into the immense wildernesses, where wild nature 
is at her best, trained observers with the gift of recording 
what they have observed. Such men should be collectors, 
for collecting is still necessary ; but they should also, and 
indeed primarily, be able themselves to see, and to set 
vividly before the eyes of others, the full life-histories of 
the creatures that dwell in the waste spaces of the world. 
At this point both Cherrie and Miller collected a 
number of mammals and birds which they had not pre- 
viously obtained ; whether any were new to science could 
only be determined after the specimens reached the 
American Museum. While making the round of his small 
mammal traps one morning, Miller encountered an army 
of the formidable foraging ants. The species was a large 

Up the River of Tapirs 167 

black one, moving with a well-extended front. These 
ants, sometimes called army-ants, like the driver-ants of 
Africa, move in big bodies and destroy or make prey of 
every living thing that is unable or unwilling to get out 
of their path in time. They run fast, and everything 
runs away from their advance. Insects form theii chief 
prey; and the most dangerous and aggressive lower-life 
creatures make astonishingly little resistance to them. 
Miller's attention was first attracted to this army of ants 
by noticing a big centiped, nine or ten inches long, trying 
to flee before them. A number of ants were biting it, 
and it writhed at each bite, but did not try to use its 
long curved jaws against its assailants. On other occa- 
sions he saw big scorpions and big hairy spiders trying 
to escape in the same way, and showing the same help- 
less inability to injure their ravenous foes, or to defend 
themselves. The ants climb trees to a great height, much 
higher than most birds' nests, and at once kill and tear 
to pieces any fledglings in the nests they reach. But they 
are not as common as some writers seem to imagine ; days 
may elapse before their armies are encountered, and 
doubtless most nests are never visited or threatened by 
them. In some instances it seems likely that the birds 
save themselves and their young in other ways. Some 
nests are inaccessible. From others it is probable that 
the parents remove the young. Miller once, in Guiana, 
had been watching for some days a nest of ant-wrens 
which contained young. Going thither one morning, he 
found the tree, and the nest itself, swarming with forag- 
ing ants. He at first thought that the fledglings had 
been devoured, but he soon saw the parents, only about 

1 68 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

thirty yards off, with food in their beaks. They were 
engaged in entering a dense part of the jungle, coming 
out again without food in their beaks, and soon reap- 
pearing once more with food. Miller never found their 
new nests, but their actions left him certain that they 
were feeding their young, which they must have them- 
selves removed from the old nest. These ant-wrens hover 
in front of and over the columns of foraging ants, feed- 
ing not only on the other insects aroused by the ants, but 
on the ants themselves. This fact -has been doubted ; but 
Miller has shot them with the ants in their bills and in 
their stomachs. Dragon-flies, in numbers, often hover 
over the columns, darting down at them; Miller could 
not be certain he had seen them actually seizing the ants, 
but this was his belief. I have myself seen these ants 
plunder a nest of the dangerous and highly aggressive 
wasps, while the wasps buzzed about in great excitement, 
but seemed unable effectively to retaliate. I have also 
seen them clear a sapling tenanted by their kinsmen, the 
poisonous red ants, or fire-ants ; the fire-ants fought and 
I have no doubt injured or killed some of their swarming 
and active black foes; but the latter quickly did away 
with them. I have only come across black foraging ants ; 
but there are red species. They attack human beings 
precisely as they attack all animals, and precipitate flight 
is the only resort. 

Around our camp here butterflies of gorgeous color- 
ing swarmed, and there were many fungi as delicately 
shaped and tinted as flowers. The scents in the woods 
were wonderful. There were many whippoorwills, or 
rather Brazilian birds related to them; they uttered at 

up the River of Tapirs 169 

intervals through the night a succession of notes sug- 
gesting both those of our whippoorwill and those of our 
big chuck-will's-widow of the Gulf States, but not identi- 
cal 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 be- 
longing to the same genus as our common song-sparrow 
and sweetheart sparrow; Miller had heard this sparrow 
singing by day and night, fourteen thousand feet up on 
the Andes, and its song suggested the songs of both of 
our sparrows. There were doves and wood-peckers of 
various species. Other birds bore no resemblance to 
any of ours. One honey-creeper was a perfect little 
gem, with plumage that was black, purple, and turquoise, 
and brilliant scarlet feet. Two of the birds which 
Cherrie and Miller procured were of extraordinary nest- 
ing habits. One, a nunlet, in shape resembles a short- 
tailed bluebird. It is plumbeous, with a fulvous belly 
and white tail coverts. It is a stupid little bird, and does 
not like to fly away even when shot at. It catches its 
prey and ordinarily acts like a rather dull flycatcher, 
perching on some dead tree, swooping on insects and 
then returning to its 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 near by. Sometimes these 
burrows are in the side of a sand-bank, the sand being 
so loose that it is a marvel that it does not cave in. Some- 
times the burrows are in the level plain, running down 
about three feet, and then rising at an angle. The nest 
consists of a, few leaves and grasses, and the eggs are 

I/O Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

white. The other bird, called a nun or waxbill, is about 
the size of a thrush, grayish in color, with a waxy red 
bill. It also burrows in the level soil, the burrow being 
five feet long; and over the mouth of the burrow it heaps 
a pile of sticks and leaves. 

At this camp the heat was great — from 91° to 104° 
Fahrenheit — ^and the air very heavy,, being saturated with 
moisture; and there were many rain-storms. But there 
were no mosquitoes, and we were very comfortable. 
Thanks to the neighborhood of the ranch. We fared sump- 
tuously, with plenty of beef, chickens, and fresh milk. 
Two of the Brazilian dishes were delicious: canja, a thick 
soup of chicken and rice, the best soup a hungry man 
ever tasted ; and beef chopped in rather small pieces and 
served with a well-flavored but simple gravy. The mule 
allotted me as a riding-beast was a powerful animal, with 
easy gaits. The BraziliEin Government had waiting for 
me a very handsome silver-mounted saddle and bridle; 
I was much pleased with both. However, my exceeding- 
ly rough and shabby clothing made an incongruous 

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 direction of Fiala, for use when we got where we 
wished to take good and varied food in small compass. 
All the skins, skulls, and alcoholic specimens, and all the 
baggage not absolutely necessary, were sent back down 

up the River of Tapirs 171 

the Paraguay and to New York, in charge of Harper. 
The separate baggage-trains, under the charge of Cap- 
tain 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 pro- 
visions, formed another detachment. 



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 the bat's thirst has been 
satiated. 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, for- 
ward 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 only the mules 
and cattle but the chickens have to be housed behind bat- 
proof protection at night or their lives may pay the 
penalty. The chief 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 sporadi- 
cally and locally, affected by the evil example and occa- 
sionally vary their customary diet by draughts of living 
blood. One of the Brazilian members of our party, 
Hoehne, the botanist, was a zoologist also. He informed 
me that he had known even the big fruit-eating bats to 


The Highland Wilderness 173 

take to bloodsucking. They did not, according to his 
observations, themselves make the original wound; but 
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 its lack, relatively to Africa 
and India, of large man-eating carnivores by the extraor- 
dinary ferocity or bloodthirstiness of certain small crea- 
tures of which the kinsfolk elsewhere are harmless. It is 
only here that fish no bigger than trout kill 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 large mammalian life in the 
neighborhood. Kermit hunted Industriously and brought 
in an occasional armadillo, coati, or agouti for the natur- 
alists. Miller trapped rats and a queer opossum new to 
the collection. Cherrie got many birds. Cherrie and 
Miller skinned their specimens in a little open hut or shed. 
Moses, the small pet owl, sat on a cross-bar overhead, an 
interested spectator, and chuckled whenever he was pet- 
ted. Two wrens, who bred just outside the hut, were 
much excited 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, with just a hint of our northern white- 
throat'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- 

174 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

lark; and of the far northland woods in June, fragrant 
with the breath of pine and balsam-fir, where sweetheart 
sparrows sing from wet spruce thickets and rapid brooks 
rush under the drenched and swaying alder-boughs. 

From Tapirapoan our course lay northward up to and 
across the Plan Alto, the highland wilderness of Brazil. 
From the edges of this highland coimtry, which is geolog- 
ically very ancient, the affluents of the Amazon to the 
north, and of the Plate to the south, flow, with immense 
and devious loops and windings. 

Two days before we ourselves started with our mule- 
train, a train of pack-oxen left, loaded with provisions, 
tools, and other things, which we would not need until, 
after a month or six weeks, we began our descent into 
the valley of the Amazon. There were about seventy 
oxen. Most of them were well broken, but there were 
about a score which were either not broken at all or else 
very badly broken. These were loaded with much diffi- 
culty, and bucked like wild broncos. Again and again 
they scattered their loads over the corral and over the 
first part of the road. The pack-men, however — copper- 
colored, black, and dusky-white — ^were not only masters 
of their art, but possessed tempers that could not be 
ruffled ; when they showed severity it was because severity 
was needed, and not because they were angry. They 
finally got all their longhomed beasts loaded and started 
on the trail with them. 

On January 21 we ourselves started, with the mule- 
train. Of 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. 

The Highland Wilderness 175 

In addition to the pack-animals we all had riding-mules. 
The first day we journeyed about twelve miles, then cross- 
ing the Sepotuba and camping beside it, below a series of 
falls, or rather rapids. The country was level. It was a 
great natural pasture, covered with a very open forest of 
low, twisted trees, bearing a superficial likeness to the 
cross-timbers of Texas and Oklahoma. It is as well fitted 
for stock-raising as Oklahoma; and there is also much 
fine agricultural land, while the river will ultimately yield 
electric power. It is a fine country for settlement. The 
heat is great at noon; but the nights are not uncom- 
fortable. We were supposed to be in the middle of the 
rainy season, but hitherto most of the days had been fine, 
varied with showers. The astonishing thing was the 
absence of mosquitoes. Insect pests that work by day 
can be stood, and especially by settlers, because they are 
far less serious foes in the clearings than in the woods. 
The mosquitoes and other night foes offer the really 
serious and unpleasant problem, because they break one's 
rest. Hitherto, during our travels up the Paraguay and 
its tributaries, in this level, marshy tropical region of 
western Brazil, we had practically not been bothered 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 expeditions; but there were prac- 
tically none on the ranches and in our camps in the open 
fields by the river, even when marshes were close by. I 
was puzzled — ^and delighted — ^by their absence. Settlers 
need not be deterred from coming to this region by the 
fear of insect foes. 

1/6 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

This does not mean that there are not such foes. Out- 
side of the clearings, and of the beaten tracks of travel, 
they teem. There are ticks, poisonous ants, wasps — of 
which some species are really serious menaces — ^biting 
flies and gnats. I merely mean that, unlike so many other 
tropical regions, this particular region is, from the stand- 
point of the settler and the ordinary traveller, relatively 
free from insect pests, and a pleasant place of residence. 
The original explorer, and to an only less degree the hard- 
working field naturalist or big-game hunter, have to face 
these pests, just as they have to face countless risks, hard- 
ships, and difficulties. This is inherent in their several 
professions or avocations. Many regions in the United 
States where life is now absolutely comfortable and easy- 
going offered most formidable problems to the first ex- 
plorers a century or two ago. We must not fall into the 
foolish error of thinking that the first explorers need not 
suffer terrible hardships, merely because the ordinary 
travellers, and even the settlers who come after 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. The 
early explorers and adventurers make fairly well-beaten 
trails at heavy cost to themselves. Ordinary travellers, 
with little discomfort and no danger, can then traverse 
these trails ; but it is incumbent on them neither to boast 
of their own experiences nor to misjudge the efforts of 
the pioneers because, thanks to these very efforts, their 
own lines fall in pleasant places. The ordinary traveller, 
who never goes off the beaten route and who on this 
beaten route is carried by others, without himself doing 

The Highland Wilderness 177 

anything or risking anything, does not need to show much 
more initiative and intelligence than an express package. 
He does nothing; others do all the work, show all the 
forethought, take all the risk — and are entitled to all the 
credit. He and his valise are carried in practically the 
same fashion ; and for each the achievement stands about 
on the same plane. If this kind of traveller is a writer, 
he can of course do admirable work, work of the highest 
value; but the value comes because he is a writer and 
observer, not because of any particular credit that at- 
taches to him as a traveller. We all recognize this truth 
as far as highly civilized regions are concerned: when 
Bryce writes of the American commonwealth, or Lowell 
of European legislative assemblies, our admiration is for 
the insight and thought of the observer, and we are not 
concerned with his travels. When a man travels across 
Arizona in a Pullman car, we do not think of him as 
havmg performed a feat bearing even the most remote 
resemblance to the feats of the first explorers of those 
waterless wastes; whatever admiration we feel in con- 
nection with his trip is reserved for the traffic-superin- 
tendent, engineer, fireman, and brakeman. But as re- 
gards the less-known continents, such as South America, 
we sometimes fail to remember these obvious truths. 
There yet remains plenty of exploring work to be done 
in South America, as hard, as dangerous, and almost as 
important as any that has already been done ; work such 
as has recently been done, or is now being done, by men 
and women such as Haseman, Farrabee, and Miss Sneth- 
lage. The collecting naturalists who go into the wilds 
and do first-class work encounter every kind of risk and 

178 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

undergo every kind of hardship and exertion. Explorers 
and naturalists of the right type have open to them in 
South America a field of extraordinary attraction and 
difficulty. But to excavate ruins that have already long 
been known, to visit out-of-the-way towns that date from 
colonial days, to traverse old, even if uncomfortable, 
routes of travel, or to ascend or descend highway rivers 
like the Amazon, the Paraguay, and the lower Orinoco — 
all of these exploits are well worth performing, but they 
in no sense represent exploration or adventure, and they 
do not entitle the performer, no matter how well he 
writes and no matter how much of real value he con- 
tributes to human knowledge, to compare himself in any 
way with the real wilderness wanderer, or to criticise the 
latter. Such a performance entails no hardship or diffi- 
culty worth heeding. Its value depends purely on ob- 
servation, not on action. The man does little ; he merely 
records what he sees. He is only the man of the beaten 
routes. The true wilderness wanderer, on the contrary, 
must be a man of action as well as of observation. He 
must have the heart and the body to do and to endure, 
no less than the eye to see and the brain to note and 

Let me make it clear that I am not depreciating the 
excellent work of so many of the men who have not gone 
off the beaten trails. I merely wish to make it plain that 
this excellent work must not be put in the class with that 
of the wilderness explorer. It is excellent work, never- 
theless, and has its place, just as the work of the true 
explorer has its place. Both stand in sharpest con- 
trast with the actions of those alleged explorers, among 

The Highland Wilderness 179 

whom Mr. Savage Landor stands in unpleasant prom- 

From the Sepotuba rapids our course at the outset lay 
westward. The first day's march away from the river 
lay through dense tropical forest. Away from the broad, 
beaten route every step of a man's progress represented 
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 tall, slender, 
straight, and graceful, with rather short; and few fronds. 
The wild plantains, or pacovas, thronged the spaces 
among the trunks of the tall trees ; their boles were short, 
and their broad, erect leaves gigantic ; they bore brilliant 
red-and-orange flowers. There were trees whose trunks 
bellied into huge swellings. There were towering trees 
with buttressed trunks, whose leaves made a fretwork 
against the sky far overhead. Gorgeous red-and-green 
trogons, with long tails, perched motionless on the lower 
branches and uttered a loud, thrice-repeated whistle. We 
heard the calling of the false bell-bird, which is gray in- 
stead of white like the true bell-birds; it keeps among 
the very topmost branches. Heavy rain fell shortly after 
we reached our camping-place. 

Next morning at sunrise we climbed a 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. The 
sun was directly behind us when we topped the rise. 
Remmg in, we looked back over the vast Paraguayan 
marshes, shimmering in the long morning lights. Then, 

i8o Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

turning again, we rode forward, casting shadows far be- 
fore us. It was twenty miles to the next water, and in 
hot 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 covered with grass and with a sparse 
growth of stunted, twisted trees, never more than a few 
feet high. There were rheas — ostriches — and small 
pampas-deer on this plain; the coloration of the rheas 
made it difficult to see them at a distance, whereas the 
bright red coats of the little deer, and their uplifted flags 
as they ran, advertised them afar off. We also saw the 
footprints of cougars and of the small-toothed, big, red 
wolf. Cougars are the most inveterate enemies of these 
small South American deer, both those of the open grassy 
plain and those of the forest. 

It is not nearly as easy to get lost on these open 
plains as in the dense forest ; and where there is a long, 
reasonably straight road or river to come back to, a man 
even without a compass is safe. But in these thick 
South American forests, especially on cloudy days, a 
compass is an absolute necessity. We were struck by 
the fact that the native hunters and ranchmen on such 
days continually lost themselves and, if permitted, trav- 
elled for miles through the forest either in circles or in 
exactly the wrong direction. They had no such sense 
of direction as the forest-dwelling 'Ndorobo hunters in 
Africa had, or as the true forest-dwelling Indians of 
South America are said to have. On certainly half a 

The Highland Wilderness i8i 

dozen occasions our guides went completely astray, and 
we had to take command, to disregard their assertions, 
and to lead the way aright by sole reliance on our 

On this cool day we travelled well. The air was won- 
derful; the vast open spaces gave a sense of abounding 
vigor and freedom. Early in the afternoon we reached 
a station made by Colonel Rondon in the course of his 
first explorations. There were several houses with white- 
washed walls, stone floors, and tiled or thatched roofs. 
They stood in a wide, gently sloping valley. Through 
it ran a rapid brook of cool water, in which we enjoyed 
delightful baths. The heavy, intensely 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 landscape that seemed limitless; the breeze that 
blew in our faces might have come from our own north- 
ern 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. Surely in the future this region will be the home 
of a healthy highly civilized population. It is good for 
cattle-raising, and the valleys are fitted for agriculture. 
From June to September the nights are often really cold. 
Any sound northern race could live here ; and in such a 
land, with such a climate, there would be much joy of 

On these plains the Telegraphic Commission uses 
motor-trucks; and these now served to relieve the mules 

i82 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

and oxen ; for some of them, especially among the oxen, 
already showed the effects of the strain. Travelling in 
a wild country with a pack-train is not easy on the pack- 
animals. It was strange to see these big motor-vans out 
in the wilderness where there was not a settler, not a 
civilized man except the employees of the Telegraphic 
Commission. They were handled by Lieutenant Lauriado, 
who, with Lieutenant Mello, had taken special charge of 
our transport service ; both were exceptionally good and 
competent men. 

The following day we again rode on across the Plan 
Alto. In the early afternoon, in the midst of a downpour 
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 fell throughout the afternoon, now lightly, now 
heavily, and the mule-train did not get. up until dark. 
But enough tents and flies were pitched to shelter all of 
us. Fires were lit, and — ^after a fourteen hours' fast — 
we feasted royally on beans and rice and pork and beef, 
seated around oxskins spread upon the ground. The sky 
cleared; the stars blazed down through the cool night; 
and wrapped in our blankets we slept soundly, warm and 

Next morning the trail had turned, and our course led 
northward and at times east of north. We traversed the 
same high, rolling plains of coarse grass and stunted 
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 

The Highland Wilderness 183 

very pretty and graceful, with a tail like that of the 
Colombian blacktail. Standing motionless facing one, 
in the sparse scrub, they are hard to make out; if seen 
sideways the reddish of their coats, contrasted with the 
greens and grays of the landscape, betrays them; and 
when they bound off the upraised white tail is very con- 
spicuous. They carefully avoid the woods in which 
their cousins the little bush deer are found, and go singly 
or in couples. Their odor can be made out at quite a 
distance, but it is not rank. They still carried their 
antlers. Their venison was delicious. 

We came across many queer insects. One red grass- 
hopper 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 yards apart from one another by the water. When 
we reached the camping-place, early in the afternoon — 
the pack-train did not get in until nearly sunset, just 
ahead of the rain — ^no spiders were out. They were 
under the leaves of the trees. Their .webs were tenant- 
less, and indeed for the most part were broken down. 
But at dusk they came out from their hiding-places, two 
or three hundred of them in all, and at once began to 
repair the old and spin new webs. Each spun its own 
circular web, and sat in the middle; and each web was 
connected on several sides 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 

184 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

proprietor sat; and there were half a dozen such sheets, 
each extending between two trees. The webs could hard- 
ly 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 fell they were' still out, fixing their webs, and pounc- 
ing on the occasional insects that blundered into the webs, 
I have no question that they are nocturnal ; 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 
tell by what title the exceedingly movable evening meal 
should be called — the members of the party sometimes 
told stories of incidents in their past lives. Most of them 
were men of varied experiences. Rondon and Lyra told 
of the hardship and suffering of the first trips through the 
wilderness across which we were going with such com- 
fort. On this very plateau they had once lived for weeks 
on the fruits of the various fruit-bearing trees. Naturally 
they became emaciated and feeble. In the forests of the 
Amazonian basin they did better because they often shot 
birds and plundered the hives of the wild honey-bees. 
In cutting 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. Those 
men pay dear who build the first 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. 
Of all the party Cherrie's experiences had covered the 
widest range. This was partly owing to the fact that 

The Highland Wilderness 185 

the latter-day naturalist of the most vigorous type who 
goes into the untrodden wastes of the world must see 
and do many strange things ; and still more owing to the 
character of the man himself. The things he had seen 
and done and undergone often enabled him to cast the 
light of his own past experience on unexpected subjects. 
Once we were talking about the proper weapons for 
cavalry, and some one mentioned the theory that the 
lance is especially formidable because of the moral effect 
it produces on the enemy. Cherrie nodded emphatically ; 
and a little cross-examination elicited the fact that he 
was speaking from lively personal recollection of his 
own feelings when charged by lancers. It was while he 
was fighting with the Venezuelan insurgents in an un- 
successful uprising against the tyranny of Castro. He 
was on foot, with five Venezuelans, all cool men and 
good shots. In an open plain they were charged by 
twenty of Castro's lancers, who galloped out from be- 
hmd cover two or three hundred yards off. It was a war 
in which neither side gave quarter and in which the 
wounded and the prisoners were butchered — ^just as 
President 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 the horsemen 
running in at full speed, with their long lances in rest 
and the blades glittering, left an indelible impression on 
his mind. But he and his companions shot deliberately 
and accurately; ten of the lancers were killed, the nearest 
falling within fifty yards; and the others rode off in 
headlong haste. A cool man with a rifle, if he has mas- 
tered his weapon, need fear no foe. 

i86 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

At this camp the auto-vans again joined us. They 
were to go direct to the first telegraph station, at the 
great falls of the Utiarity, on the Rio Papagaio. Of 
course they travelled faster than the mule-train. Father 
Zahm, attended by Sigg, started for the falls in them. 
Cherrie and Miller also went in them, because they had 
found that it was very difficult to collect birds, and 
especially mammals, when we were moving every day, 
packing up early each morning and the mule-train arriv- 
ing late in the afternoon or not until nightfall. More- 
over, there was much rain, which made it difficult to work 
except under the tents. Accordingly, the two naturalists 
desired to get to a place where they could spend several 
days and collect steadily, thereby doing more effective 
work. The rest of us continued with the mule-train, as 
was necessary. 

It was always a picturesque sight when camp was 
broken, and again at nightfall when the laden mules 
came stringing in and their burdens were thrown down, 
while the tents were pitched and the fires lit. We break- 
fasted before leaving camp, the aluminum cups and plates 
being placed on ox-hides, round which we sat, on the 
ground or on camp-stools. We fared well, on rice, beans, 
and crackers, with canned corned beef, and salmon or 
any game that had been shot, and coffee, tea, and matte. 
I then usually sat down somewhere to write, and when 
the mules were nearly ready I popped my writing- 
materials into my duffel-bag — war-sack, as we would 
have called it in the old days on the plains. I found 
that the mules usually arrived so late in the afternoon 
or evening that I could not depend upon being able to 

The Highland Wilderness 187 

write at that time. Of course, if we made a very early 
start I could not write at all. At night there were no 
mosquitoes. In the daytime gnats and sand-flies and 
horse-flies sometimes bothered us a little, but not much. 
Small stingless bees lit on us in numbers and crawled 
over the skin, making a slight tickling; but we did not 
mind them tmtil they became very numerous. There was 
a good deal of rain, but not enough to cause any serious 

Colonel Rondon and Lieutenant Lyra held many dis- 
cussions as to whither the Rio da Duvida flowed, and 
.where its mouth might be. Its provisional name — "River 
of Doubt" — was given it precisely because of this igno- 
rance concerning it; an ignorance which it was one of 
the purposes of our trip to dispel. It might go into the 
Gy-Parana, in which case its course must be very short ; 
it might flow into the Madeira low down, in which case 
its course would be very long ; or, which was unlikely, it 
might flow into the Tapajos. There was another river, 
of which Colonel Rondon had come across the head- 
waters, whose course was equally doubtful, although in 
its case there was rather more probability of its flowing 
into the Juruena, by which name the Tapajos is known 
for its upper half. To this unknown river Colonel Ron- 
don had given the name Ananas, because when he came 
across it he found a deserted Indian field with pineapples, 
which the hungry explorers ate greedily. Among the 
things the colonel and I hoped to accomplish on the trip 
was to do a little work in clearing up one or the other of 
these two doubtful geographical points, and thereby to 
push a little forward the knowledge of this region. Orig- 

i88 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

inally, as described in the first chapter, my trip was under- 
taken primarily in the interest of the American Museum 
of Natural History of New York, to add to our knowl- 
edge of the birds and mammals of the far interior of the 
western Brazilian wilderness ; and the labels of our bag- 
gage and scientific equipment, printed by the museum, 
were entitled "Colonel Roosevelt's South American Ex- 
pedition for the American Museum of Natural History." 
But, as I have already mentioned, at Rio the Brazilian 
Government, through the secretary of foreign affairs. 
Doctor Lauro Miiller, suggested that I should combine 
the expedition with one by Colonel Rondon, which they 
contemplated making, and thereby make both expeditions 
of broader scientific interest. I accepted the proposal 
with much pleasure ; and we found, when we joined Col- 
onel Rondon and his associates, that their baggage and 
equipment had been labelled by the Brazilian Govern- 
ment "Expedi^ao Scientifica Roosevelt-Rondon." This 
thenceforth became the proper and official title of the 
expedition. Cherrie and Miller did the chief zoological 
work. The geological work was done by a Brazilian 
member of the expedition, Euzebio Oliveira. The astro- 
nomical work necessary for obtaining the exact geo- 
graphical location of the rivers and points of note was to 
be done by Lieutenant Lyra, under the supervision of 
Colonel Rondon; and at the telegraph stations this 
astronomical work would be checked by wire communi- 
cations with one of Colonel Rondon's assistants at Cu- 
yaba. Lieutenant Caetano, thereby securing a minutely 
accurate comparison of time. The sketch-maps and sur- 
veying and cartographical work generally were to be 

The Highland Wilderness 189 

made under the supervision of Colonel Rondon by Lyra, 
with assistance from Fiala and Kermit. Captain Amil- 
car handled the worst problem — transportation; the 
medical member was Doctor 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 — men whose very names are now 
hardly known, but who did each his part in opening the 
country which will some day see such growth and devel- 
opment. Among the most notable of them was a Portu- 
guese, Ricardo Franco, who spent forty years at the 
work, during the last quarter of the eighteenth and the 
opening years of the nineteenth centuries. He ascended 
for long distances the Xingu and the Tapajos, and went 
up the Madeira and Guapore, crossing to the head-waters 
of the Paraguay and partially exploring there also. He 
worked 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 modem explorers are provided. He 
was one of the men who established the beginnings of 
the province of Matto Grosso. For many years the sole 
method of communication between this remote interior 
province and civilization was by the long, difficult, and 
perilous route which led up the Amazon and Madeira; 
and its then capital, the town of Matto Grosso, the seat 
of the captain-general, with its palace, cathedral, and 
fortress, was accordingly placed far to the west, near 
the Guapore. When less circuitous lines of communica- 
tion were established farther eastward the old capital was 
abandoned, and the tropic wilderness surged over the 

I90 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

lonely little town. The tomb of the old colonial explorer 
still stands in the ruined cathedral, where the forest has 
once more come to its own. But civilization is again ad- 
vancing to reclaim the lost town and to revive the memory 
of the wilderness wanderer who helped to found it. 
Colonel Rondon has named a river after Franco ; a range 
of mountains has also been named after him; and the 
colonel, acting for the Brazilian Government, has es- 
tablished 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 I occu- 
pied one tent. In the daytime the "pium" flies, vicious 
little sand-flies, became bad enough to make us finally use 
gloves and head-nets. There were many heavy rains, 
which made the travelling hard for the mules. The soil 
was more often clay than sand, and it was slippery when 
wet. The weather was overcast, and there was usually 
no oppressive heat even at noon. At intervals along the 
trail we came on the staring skull and bleached skeleton 
of a mule or ox. Day after day we rode forward across 
endless flats of grass and of low open scrubby forest, the 
trees standing far apart and in most places being but 
little higher than the head of a horseman. Some of 
them carried blossoms, white, orange, yellow, pink ; and 
there were many flowers, the most beautiful being the 
morning-glories. Among the trees were bastard rubber- 
trees, and dwarf palmetto ; if the latter grew more than 
a few feet high their tops were torn and dishevelled by 

The Highland Wilderness 191 

the wind. There was very little bird or mammal life; 
there were few long vistas, for in most places it was not 
possible to see far among the gray, gnarled trunks of the 
wind-beaten little trees. Yet the desolate landscape had 
a certain charm of its own, although not a charm that 
would be felt by any man who does not take pleasure in 
mere space, and freedom and wildness, and in plains 
standing empty to the sun, the wind, and the rain. The 
country bore some resemblance to the country west of 
Redjaf on the White Nile, the home 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 the African landscape 
was the abundance of ant-hills, some as high as a man. 
They were red in the clay country, gray where it was 
sandy ; and the dirt houses were also in trees, while their 
raised tunnels traversed trees and ground alike. At some 
of the camping-places we had to be on our watch against 
the swarms of leaf-carrying ants. These are so called 
m the books — the Brazilians call them "carregadores," or 
porters — ^because they are always carrying bits of leaves 
and blades of grass to their underground homes. They 
are inveterate burden-bearers, and they industriously cut 
into pieces and carry off any garment they can get at; 
and we had to guard our shoes and clothes from them, 
just as we had often had to guard all our belongings 
against the termites. These ants did not bite us ; but we 

192 Through the Brazihan Wilderness 

encountered huge black ants, an inch and a quarter long, 
which were very vicious, and their bite was not only pain- 
ful but quite poisonous. Praying-mantes were common, 
and one evening at supper one had a comical encounter 
with a young dog, a jovial near-puppy, of Colonel Ron- 
don's, named Cartucho. He had been christened the 
jolly-cum-pup, from a character in one of Frank Stock- 
ton's stories, which I suppose are now remembered 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 dis- 
sembled impatience for his share of the banquet. The 
mantis flew down on the ox-hide and proceeded to crawl 
over it, taking little flights from one corner to another; 
and whenever it thought itself menaced it assumed an 
attitude of seeming devotion and real defiance. Soon it 
lit in front of Cartucho's nose. Cartucho cocked his big 
ears forward, stretched his neck, and cautiously sniffed 
at the new arrival, not with any hostile design, but merely 
to find out whether it would prove to be a playmate. The 
mantis promptly assumed an attitude of prayer. This 
struck Cartucho as both novel and interesting, and he 
thrust his sniffing black nose still nearer. The mantis 
dexterously thrust forward first one and then the other 
armed fore leg, touching the intrusive nose, which was 
instantly jerked back and again slowly and inquiringly 
brought forward. Then the mantis suddenly flew in 
Cartucho's face, whereupon Cartucho, with a smothered 
yelp of dismay, almost turned a back somersault; and 
the triumphant mantis flew back to the middle of the ox- 

The Highland Wilderness 193 

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

On the morning of the 29th we were rather late in 
starting, because the rain had continued through the 
night into the morning, drenching everything. After 
nightfall there had been 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. 
In the slippery mud one of the pack-mules fell and in- 
jured itself so that it had to be abandoned. Soon 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. They 
were dressed in hat, shirt, trousers, and sandals, precisely 
like the ordinary Brazilian caboclos, as the poor back- 
woods peasants, usually with little white blood in them, 
are colloquially and half -derisively styled — caboclo being 
originally a Guarany word meaning "naked savage." 
These two Indians were in the employ of the Telegraphic 
Commission, and had been patrolling the telegraph-line. 
The bullock carried their personal belongings and the 
tools with which they could repair a break. The com- 
mission pays the ordinary Indian worker 66 cents a day; 
a very good worker gets $1, and the chief $1.66. No man 
gets anything unless he works. Colonel Rondon, by just, 
kindly, and understanding treatment of these Indians, 
who previously had often been exploited and maltreated 
by rubber-gatherers, has made them the loyal friends of 
the government. He has gathered them at the telegraph 
stations, where they cultivate fields of mandioc, beans, 
potatoes, maize, and other vegetables, and where he is 

194 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

introducing them to stock-raising ; and the entire work of 
guarding and patrolling the line is theirs. 

After six hours' march we came to the crossing of 
the Rio Sacre at the beautiful waterfall appropriately 
called the Salto Bello. This is the end of the automobile 
road. Here there is a small Parecis village. The men 
of the village work the ferry by which ever}rthing is taken 
across the deep and rapid river. The ferry-boat is made 
of planking placed on three dugout canoes, and runs on 
a trolley. Before crossing we enjoyed a good swim in 
the swift, clear, cool water. The Indian village, where 
we camped, is placed on a jutting tongue of land round 
which the river sweeps just before it leaps from the over- 
hanging precipice. The falls themselves are very lovely. 
Just above them is a wooded island, but the river joins 
again before it races forward for the final plunge. There 
is a sheer drop of forty or fifty yards, with a breadth 
two or three times as great ; and the volume of water is 
large. On the left or hither bank a cliff extends for sev- 
eral hundred yards below the falls. Green vines have 
flung themselves down over its face, and they are met by 
other vines thrusting upward from the mass of vegeta- 
tion at its foot, glistening in the perpetual mist from the 
cataract, and clothing even the rock surfaces in vivid 
green. The river, after throwing itself over the rock 
wall, rushes off in long curves at the bottom of a thickly 
wooded ravine, the white water churning among the black 
bowlders. There is a perpetual rainbow at the foot of 
the falls. The masses of green water that are hurling 
themselves over the brink dissolve into shifting, foaming 
columns of snowy lace. 

The Highland Wilderness 195 

On the edge of the cliff below the falls Colonel Ron- 
don had placed benches, giving a curious touch of rather 
conventional tourist-civilization to this cataract far out in 
the lonely wilderness. It is well worth visiting for its 
beauty. It is also of extreme interest because of the 
promise it holds for the future. Lieutenant Lyra in- 
formed me that they had calculated that this fall would 
furnish thirty-six thousand horse-power. Eight miles off 
we were to see another fall of much greater height and 
power. There are many rivers in this region which 
would furnish almost unlimited motive force to populous 
manufacturing communities. 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 the Paraguay could readily — ^and 
with immense advantage to both sides — ^be made tributary 
to an industrial civilization seated on these highlands. A 
telegraph-line has been built to and across them. A rail- 
road should follow. Such a line could be easily built, for 
there are no serious natural obstacles. In advance of its 
construction a trolley-line could be run from Cuyaba to 
the falls, using the power furnished by the latter. Once 
this is done the land will offer extraordinary opportuni- 
ties to settlers of the right kind: to home-makers and to 
enterprising business men of foresight, coolness, and 
sagacity who are willing to work with the settlers, the 
immigrants, the home-makers, for an advantage which 
shall be mutual. 

196 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

The Parecis Indians, whom we met here, were ex- 
ceedingly interesting. They were to all appearance an 
unusually cheerful, good-humored, pleasant - natured 
people. Their teeth were bad ; otherwise they appeared 
strong and vigorous, and there were plenty of children. 
The colonel was received as a valued friend and as a 
leader who was to be followed and obeyed. He is rais- 
ing them by degrees — the only way by which to make the 
rise permanent. In this village he has got them to sub- 
stitute for the flimsy Indian cabins houses of the type 
usual among the poorer 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 framework of timbers, with 
a wall at the back ; but some have the ordinary four walls, 
of erect palm-logs. The hammocks are slung in the 
houses, and the cooking is also done in them, with pots 
placed on small open fires, or occasionally in a kind of 
clay oven. The 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 
clothing. A few wore print dresses, but obviously only 
for ornament. 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 — and almost all the mothers were nursing — 
sometimes 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. The women seemed to 
be well treated, although polygamy is practised. The 

The Highland Wilderness 197 

children were loved by every one; they were petted by 
both men and women, and they behaved well to one 
another, the boys not seeming to bully the girls or the 
smaller boys. Most of the children were naked, but the 
girls early wore the loin-cloth; and s'ome, both of the 
little boys and the little girls, wore colored print garments, 
to the evident pride of themselves and their parents. In 
each house there were several families, and life went on 
with no privacy but with good humor, consideration, and 
fundamentally good manners. The man or woman who 
had nothing to do lay in a hammock or squatted on the 
ground leaning against a post or wall. The children 
played together, or lay in little hammocks, or tagged 
round after their mothers; and when called they came 
trustfully up to us to be petted or given some small 
trinket; they were friendly little souls, and accustomed 
to good treatment. 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 themselves, 
or played with the children ; one cut a small boy's hair, 
and then had his own hair cut by a friend. But the 
absorbing amusement of the men was an extraordinary 
game of ball. 

In our family we have always relished Oliver 
Harford's nonsense rhymes, including the account of 
Willie's displeasure 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." 

198 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

Well, these Parecis Indians enthusiastically play foot- 
ball with their heads. The game is not only native to 
them, but I have never heard or read of its being played 
by any other tribe or people. They use a light hollow 
rubber ball, of their own manufacture. It is circular and 
about eight inches in diameter. The players are divided 
into two sides, and stationed much as in association foot- 
ball, and the ball is placed on the ground to be put in play 
as in football. Then a player runs forward, throws him- 
self flat on the ground, and butts the ball toward the 
opposite side. This first butt, when the ball is on the 
ground, never lifts it much and it rolls and boimds to- 
ward the opponents. One or two of the latter run toward 
it ; one throws himself flat on his face and butts the ball 
back. Usually this butt lifts it, and it flies back in a 
curve well up in the air ; and an opposite player, rushing 
toward it, catches it on his head with such a swing of his 
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 
it is brought back, and again put in play. Often it will be 
sent to and fro a dozen times, from head to head, until 
finally it rises with such a sweep that it passes far over 
the heads of the opposite players and descends behind 
them. Then shrill, rolling cries of good-humored tri- 
umph arise from the victors; and the game instantly 
begins again with fresh zest. There are, of course, no 
such rules as in a specialized ball-game of civilization; 
and I saw no disputes. There may be eight or ten, or 
many more, players on each side. The ball is never 
touched with the hands or feet, or with anything except 

The Highland Wilderness 199 

the top of the head. It is hard to decide whether to 
wonder most at the dexterity and strength with which 
it is hit or butted with the head, as it conies down through 
the air, or at the reckless speed and skill with which the 
players throw themselves headlong on the ground to re- 
turn the ball if it comes low down. Why they do not 
grind off their noses I 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 vigorous 
toss of the head that it often flew in a great curve for a 
really astonishing distance. 

That night a pack-ox got into the tent in which Ker- 
mit and I were sleeping, entering first at one end and then 
at the other. It is extraordinary that he did not waken 
us; but we slept undisturbed while the ox deliberately ate 
our shirts, socks, and underclothes ! It chewed them into 
rags. One of my socks escaped, and my undershirt, al- 
though chewed full of holes, was still good for some 
weeks' wear ; but the other things were in fragments. 

In the morning Colonel Rondon arranged for us to 
have breakfast over on the benches under the trees by the 
waterfall, whose roar, lulled to a thunderous murmur, 
had been in our ears before we slept and when we waked. 
There could have been no more picturesque place for the 
breakfast of such a party as ours. All travellers who 
really care to see what is most beautiful and most char- 
acteristic of the far interior o-f South America should in 
their journey visit this region, and see the two great 
waterfalls. They are even now easy of access; and as 
soon as the traffic warrants it they will be made still more 
so; then, from Sao Luis de Caceres, they will be speedily 

200 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

reached by light steamboat up the Sepotuba and by a day 
or two's automobile ride, with a couple of days on horse- 
back in between. 

The 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 it appeared 
that he had really 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 in other ways making themselves 
bad neighbors. The colonel tried hard to get at the 
truth of the matter ; he went to the biggest Indian house, 
where he sat in a hammock — ^an Indian child cuddling 
solemnly up to him, by the way — ^while the Indians sat 
in other hammocks, and stood round about; but it was 
impossible to get an absolutely frank statement. 

It appeared, however, that the Nhambiquaras had 
made a descent on the Parecis village in the momentary 
absence of the men 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 course, in the right, but the colonel could not 
afford to have his men take sides in a tribal quarrel. 

It was only a two hours' march across to the Papa- 
gaio at the Falls of Utiarity, so named by their dis- 
coverer, Colonel Rondon, after the sacred falcon of the 
Parecis. On the way we passed our Indian friends, 
themselves bound thither; both the men and the women 
bore burdens — the burdens of some of the women, poor 

The Highland Wilderness 201 

things, were heavy — and even the small naked children 
carried the live hens. At Utiarity there is a big Parecis 
settlement and a telegraph station kept by one of the 
employees of the commission. His pretty brown wife is 
acting as schoolmistress to a group of little Parecis girls. 
The Parecis chief has been made a major and wears a 
uniform accordingly. The commission has erected good 
buildings for its own employees and, has superintended 
the erection of good houses for the Indians. Most of 
the latter still 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 regular match game of headball, 
with a scorer or umpire to- keep count, they soon dis- 
carded most of their clothes, coming down to nothing but 
trousers or a loin-cloth. Two or three of them had their 
faces stained with red ochre. Among the women and 
children looking on were a couple of little girls who 
paraded about on stilts. 

The great waterfall was half a mile below us. Love- 
ly though we had found Salto Bello, these falls were far 
superior in beauty and majesty. They are twice as high 
and twice as broad ; and the lay of the land is such that 
the various landscapes in which the waterfall is a feature 
are more striking. A few hundred yards above the falls 
the river turns at an angle and widens. The broad, rapid 
shallows are crested with whitecaps. Beyond this wide 
expanse of flecked and hurrying water rise the mist col- 
umns of the cataract ; and as these columns are swayed 
and broken by the wind the forest appears through and 
between them. From below the view is one of singular 

202 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

grandeur. The fall is 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. I doubt whether, excepting, of course, 
Niagara, there is a waterfall in North America which 
outranks this if both volume and beauty are considered. 
Above the fall the river flows through a wide valley with 
gently sloping 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 entire propriety. It was raining heavily — it rained 
most 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 carried a nursing child. They wore loin-cloths or 
short skirts. Each carried on her back a wickerwork 
basket supported by a head-strap which went around her 
forehead. Each carried a belt slung diagonally across 
her body, over her right shoulder ; in this the child was 
carried, against and perhaps astride of her left hip. They 
were comely women, who did not look jaded or cowed; 
and they laughed cheerfully and nodded to us as they 
passed through the rain, on their way to the fields. But 
the contrast between them and the chief in his soldier's 
uniform seated at breakfast was rather too striking; and 

The Falls of Utiarity. 

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

From a photograph by Cherrie. 

204 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

Arizona and Sonora, and along the Guaso Nyiro north 
and west of Mount Kenia, when the barren mountains 
were changed into flaming "ramparts of slaughter and 
peril" standing above "the wine-dark flats below." 

It rained during most of the day after our arrival at 
Utiarity. Whenever there was any let-up the men 
promptly came forth from their houses and played head- 
ball with the utmost vigor ; and we would listen to their 
shrill undulating cries of applause and triumph until we 
also grew interested and strolled over to look on. They 
are more infatuated with the game than an American 
boy is with baseball or football. It is an extraordinary 
thing that this strange and exciting game should be played 
by, and only by, one little tribe of Indians in what is 
almost the very centre of South America. If any travel- 
ler 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 in vigorous health; yet the Parecis have 
decreased in numbers, for measles and smallpox have 
been fatal to them. 

By the evening the rain was coming down more heav- 
ily than ever. It was not possible to keep the moisture 
out of our belongings ; everything became mouldy except 
what became rusty. It rained all that night; and day- 
light saw the downpour continuing with no prospect of 
cessation. The pack-mules could not have gone on with 
the march; they were already rather done up by their 
previous ten days' labor through rain and mud, and it 

The Highland Wilderness 205 

seemed advisable to wait until the weather became better 
before attempting to go forward. Moreover, there had 
been no chance to take the desired astronomical observa- 
tions. There was very little grass for the mules; but 
there was abundance of a small-leaved plant eight or ten 
inches high — unfortunately, not very nourishing — on 
which they fed greedily. In such weather and over such 
muddy trails oxen travel better than mules. 

In spite of the weather Cherrie and Miller, whom, to- 
gether with Father Zahm and Sigg, we had found await- 
ing 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 
black-and-white woodpecker, the white predominating in 
the plumage. Several of these woodpeckers were usually 
found together. They were showy, noisy, and restless, 
and perched on twigs, in ordinary bird fashion, at least 
as often as they clung to the trunks in orthodox wood- 
pecker style. The prettiest bird 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. I 
walked off with my rifle for a couple of leagues ; at that 
distance, from a slight hillock, the mist columns of the 
falls were conspicuous in the landscape. The only mam- 
mal I 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 jaguar-hunt. Judging by its 

2o6 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

actions, as it trotted about before it saw me, it must be 
diurnal in habits. It was new to the collection. 

I spent much of the afternoon by the waterfall. Un- 
der the overcast sky the great cataract lost the deep green 
and fleecy-white of the sunlit falling waters. Instead it 
showed opaline hues and tints of topaz and amethyst. 
At all times, and under all lights, it was majestic and 

Colonel Rondon had given the Indians various pres- 
ents, those for the women including calico prints, and, 
what they especially prized, bottles of scented oil, from 
Paris, for their hair. The men held a dance in the late 
afternoon. For this occasion most, but not all, of them 
cast aside their civilized clothing, and appeared as doubt- 
less they would all have appeared had none but themselves 
been present. They were* absolutely naked except for a 
beaded string round the waist. Most of them were spot- 
ted and dashed with red paint, and on one leg wore 
anklets which rattled. A number carried pipes through 
which they blew a kind of deep stifled whistle in time to 
the dancing. One of them had his pipe leading into a 
huge gourd, which gave out a hollow, moaning boom. 
Many wore two red or green or yellow macaw feathers 
in their hair, and one had a macaw feather stuck trans- 
versely through the septum of his nose. They circled 
slowly round and round, chanting and stamping their 
feet, while the anklet rattles clattered and the pipes 
droned. They advanced to the wall of one of the houses, 
again and again chanting and bowing before it; I was 
told this was a demand for drink. They entered one 
house and danced in a ring around the cooking-fire in 

The Highland Wilderness 207 

the middle of the earth floor ; I was told that they were 
then reciting the deeds of mighty hunters and describing 
how they brought in the game. They drank freely from 
gourds and pannikins of a fermented drink made from 
mandioc which were brought out to them. During the 
first part of the dance the women remained in the houses, 
and all the doors and windows were shut and blankets 
hung to prevent the possibility of seeing out. But during 
the second part all the women and girls came out and 
looked on. They were themselves to have danced when 
the men had finished, but were overcome with shyness 
at the thought of dancing with so many strangers looking 
on. The children played about with unconcern through- 
out 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 moon shone through the 
cloud-rack. Anything approaching fair weather always 
put our men in good spirits; and the muleteers squatted 
in a circle, by a fire 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 worked 
busily with our photographs and our writing. There was 
so much humidity in the air that everything grew damp 
and stayed damp, and mould gathered quickly. At this 
season it is a country in which writing, taking photo- 
graphs, and preparing specimens are all works of diffi- 
culty, at least so far as concerns preserving and sending 
home the results of the labor; and a man's clothing is 
never really dry. From here Father Zahm returned to 
Tapirapoan, accompanied by Sigg. 



FROM this point we were to enter a still wilder 
region, the land of the naked Nhambiquaras. On 
February 3 the weather cleared and we started 
with the mule-train and two ox-carts. Fiala and Lieu- 
tenant Lauriado stayed at Utiarity to take canoes and 
go down the Papagaio, which had not been descended 
by any scientific party, and perhaps by no one. They 
were then to descend the Juruena and Tapajos, thereby 
performing a necessary part of the work of the expedi- 
tion. Our remaining party consisted of Colonel Rondon, 
Lieutenant Lyra, the doctor, Oliveira, Cherrie, Miller, 
Kermit, and myself. On the Juruena we expected to 
meet the pack ox-train with Captain Amilcar and Lieu- 
tenant Mello; the other Brazilian members of the party 
had returned. We had now begun the difficult part of the 
expedition. The pium flies were becoming a pest. There 
was much fever and beriberi in the country we were 
entering. The feed for the animals was poor ; the rains 
had made 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 Ama- 


Across Nhambiquara Land 209 

zonian rivers, but we were obliged to cut down every- 
thing that was not absolutely indispensable. 

Before leaving we prepared for shipment back to the 
museum some of the bigger skins, and also some of the 
weapons and utensils of the Indians, which Kermit had 
collected. These included woven fillets, and fillets made 
of macaw feathers, for use in the dances ; woven belts ; 
a gourd in which the sacred drink is offered to the god 
Enoerey ; wickerwork baskets ; flutes or pipes ; anklet rat- 
tles; hammocks; a belt of the kind used by the women in 
carrying the babies, with the weaving-frame. All these 
were Parecis articles. He also secured from the Nham- 
biquaras wickerwork baskets of a different type and 
bows and arrows. The bows were seven feet long and 
the arrows five feet. There were blunt-headed arrows 
for birds, arrows with long, sharp wooden blades for 
tapir, deer, and other 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 people talk glibly of "idle" savages they 
ignore the immense labor entailed by many of their in- 
dustries, and the really extraordinary amount of work 
they accomplish by the skilful use of their primitive and 
ineffective tools. 

It was not until early in the afternoon that we started 
into the "sertao," * as Brazilians call the wilderness. We 
drove with us a herd of oxen for food. After going 
about fifteen miles we camped beside the swampy head- 

* Pronounced "sairtown," as nearly as, with our preposterous 
methods of spelling and pronunciation, I can render it. 

2IO Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

waters of a little brook. It was at the spot where nearly 
seven years previously Rondon and Lyra had camped on 
the trip when they discovered Utiarity Falls and pene- 
trated to the Juruena. When they reached this place 
they had been thirty-six hours without food. They killed 
a bush deer — a small deer — ^and ate literally every particle. 
The dogs devoured the entire skin. For much of the 
time on this trip they lived on wild 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 
bothered; and although there were some mosquitoes we 
slept well under our mosquito-nets. The frogs in the 
swamp uttered a peculiar, loud shout. Miller told of a 
little tree-frog in Colombia which swelled itself out with 
air until it looked like the frog in ^sop's fables, and then 
brayed like a mule; and Cherrie told of a huge frog in 
Guiana that uttered a short, loud roar. 

Next day the weather was still fair. Our march lay 
through country like that which we had been traversing 
for ten days. Skeletons of mules and oxen were more 
frequent; and once or twice 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 em- 
ployees of the Telegraphic Commission, imder the colonel. 
Each had a thatched house, and each had two wives — ^all 
these Indians are pagans. All were dressed much like 
the poorer peasants of the Brazilian back country, and 

Across Nhambiquara Land 21 1 

all were pleasant and well-behaved. 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 ; and they hailed with joy our advent and the 
quantities of beans and rice which, together with some 
beef, the colonel left with them. They feasted most of 
the night. Their houses contained their 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 are wild Nhambiquaras in the neigh- 
borhood, and recently several of these had menaced the 
two ferrymen with an attack, even shooting arrows at 
them. The ferr)mien had driven them off by firing their 
rifles in the air ; and they expected and received the colo- 
nel's praise for their self-restraint; for the colonel is 
doing all he can to persuade the Indians to stop their 
blood feuds. The rifles were short and light Winchester 
carbines, of the kind so universally used by the rubber- 
gatherers and other adventurous wanderers in the forest 
wilderness of Brazil. There were a number of rubber- 
trees in the neighborhood, by the way. 

We enjoyed a good bath in the Burity, although it 
was impossible to make headway by swimming against 
the racing current. There were few mosquitoes. On the 
other hand, various kinds of piums were a little too 
abundant; they vary from things like small gnats to 
things like black flies. The small stingless bees have no 
fear and can hardly be frightened away when they light 
on the hands or face; but they never bite, and merely 
cause a slight tickling as they crawl over the skin. There 

212 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

were some big bees, however, which, although they 
crawled about harmlessly after lighting if they were un- 
disturbed, yet stung fiercely if they were molested. The 
insects were not ordinarily a serious bother, but there 
were occasional hours when they were too numerous for 
comfort, and now and then I had to do my writing in 
a head-net and gauntlets. 

The night we reached the Burity it rained heavily, and 
next day the rain continued. In the morning the mules 
were ferried over, while the oxen were swum across. 
Half a dozen of our men — whites, Indians, and negroes, 
all stark naked and uttering wild cries, drove the oxen 
into the river and then, with powerful overhand strokes, 
swam behind and alongside them as they crossed, half- 
breasting the swift current. It was a fine sight to see 
the big, long-horned, staring beasts swimming strongly, 
while the sinewy 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 grass, the mules had to 
be driven off nearly three miles from our line of march, 
in order to get them feed. We camped at the headwaters 
of a little brook called Huatsui, which is Parecis for 

Accompanying us on this march was a soldier bound 
for one of the remoter posts. With him trudged his wife. 
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 belongings on the march, and when camp was reached 

Across Nhambiquara Land 213 

sometimes himself put up the family shelter. They were 
mainly of negro blood. Struck by the woman's uncom- 
plaining endurance of fatigue, we offered to take her and 
the baby in the automobile, while it accompanied us. But, 
alas! this proved to be one of those melancholy cases 
where the effort to relieve hardship well endured results 
only in showing that those who endure the adversity 
cannot stand even a slight prosperity. The woman proved 
a querulous traveller in the auto, complaining that she 
was not made as comfortable as, apparently, she 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 before mentioned. On arriving in camp, at about 
four in the afternoon, I 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. I then strolled 
a couple of miles up the road ahead of us under the line 
of telegraph-poles. It was still bright sunlight and no 
spiders were out ; in fact, I did not suspect their presence 
along the line of telegraph-poles, although I ought to 
have done so, for I continually ran into long strings of 
tough, fine web, which got across my face or hands or 
rifle barrel. I returned just at sunset and the spiders 
were out in force. I saw dozens of colonies, each of 
scores or hundreds of individuals. Many were among the 
small trees alongside the broad, cleared trail. But most 
were dependent from the wire itself. Their webs had all 
been made or repaired since I had passed. Each was 

214 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

sitting in the middle of his own wheel, and all 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 feet off to 
little trees alongside. I watched them until nightfall, and 
evidently, to them, after their day's rest, their day's work 
had just begun. Next morning — owing to a desire to 
find out what the facts were as regards the ox-carts, 
which were in difficulties — Cherrie, Miller, Kermit, and 
I walked back to the Burity River, where Colonel Ron- 
don 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 insulators 
on the telegraph-poles. Hundreds of spiders were al- 
ready 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 light tent 
and two light flies. One fly they gave for the kitchen 
use, one fly was allotted to Kermit and me, and they kept 
only the tent for themselves. Colonel Rondon and Lyra 
went in 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-animals. The oxen were so weak that the 
effort to bring on the carts had to be abandoned. 
Nine of the pack-mules had already been left on the 
road during the three days* march from Utiarity. In 

Across Nhambiquara Land 215 

the first expeditions into this country all the baggage- 
animals had died ; and even In our case the loss was be- 
coming very heavy. This state of aflfairs is due to the 
scarcity of forage and the type of country. Good grass 
is scanty, and the endless leagues of sparse, scrubby 
forest render it exceedingly difficult to find the animals 
when they wander. They must be turned absolutely 
loose to roam about and pick up their scanty subsistence, 
and must be given as long a time as possible to feed and 
rest; even under these conditions most of them grow 
weak when, as in our case, it is impossible to carry com. 
They cannot be found again until after daylight, and then 
hours must be spent 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 ani- 
mals would not be brought in until so late that it was well 
on in the forenoon, perhaps midday, before the bulk of 
the pack-train started; and they reached the camping- 
place as often after nightful as before it. Under such 
conditions many of the mules and oxen grew constantly 
weaker and ultimately gave out ; and it was imperative to 
load them as lightly as possible, and discard all luxuries, 
especially heavy or bulky luxuries. Travelling through a 
wild country where there is little food for man or beast 
is beset with difficulties almost inconceivable to the man 
who does not himself know this kind of wilderness, and 
especially to the man who only knows the ease of civiliza- 
tion. A scientific party of some size, with the equipment 
necessary in order to do scientific work, can only go at 
all if the men who actually handle the problems of food 
and transportation do their work thoroughly. 

2i6 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

Our march continued through the same type of high, 
nearly level upland, covered with scanty, scrubby forest. 
It is the kind of country known to the Brazilians as cha- 
padao— pronounced almost as if it were a French word 
and spelled shapadon. Our camp on the fourth night 
was in a beautiful spot, an open grassy space, beside a 
clear, cool, rushing little river. We ourselves reached 
this, and waded our beasts across the deep, narrow stream 
in the late afternoon; and we then enjoyed a bath and 
swim. The loose bullocks arrived at sunset, and with 
shrill cries the mounted herdsmen urged them into and 
across the swift water. The mule-train arrived long 
after nightful, and it was not deemed wise to try to cross 
the laden animals. Accordingly the loads were taken off 
and brought over on the heads of the men; it was fine 
to see the sinewy, naked figures bearing their burdens 
through the broken moonlit water to the hither bank. 
The night was cool and pleasant. We kindled a fire and 
sat beside the blaze. Then, healthily hungry, we gath- 
ered around the ox-hides to a delicious dinner of soup, 
beef, beans, rice, and coffee. 

Next day we made a short march, crossed a brook, and 
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 ; for the Tapajos is a mighty 
river, and the basin which holds its headwaters covers an 
immense extent of country. This country and the adja- 
cent regions, forming the high interior of western Brazil, 
will surely some day support a large industrial popula- 
tion; of which the advent would be hastened, although 

Across Nhambiquara Land 217 

not necessarily in permanently better fashion, if Colonel 
Rondon's anticipations about the development of mining, 
especially gold mining, are realized. In any event the re- 
gion will be a healthy home for a considerable agricul- 
tural and pastoral population. Above all, the many swift 
streams with their numerous waterfalls, some of great 
height and volume, offer the chance for the upgrowth of a 
number of big manufacturing communities, knit by rail- 
roads to one another and to the Atlantic coast and the 
valleys of the Paraguay, Madeira, and Amazon, and feed- 
ing and being fed by the dwellers in the rich, hot, alluvial 
lowlands that surround this elevated territory. The work 
of Colonel Rondon and 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 
Brazilian school of exploration. Before their day almost 
all the scientific and regular exploration of Brazil was 
done by foreigners. But, of course, there was much ex- 
ploration and settlement by nameless Brazilians, who were 
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 ad- 
venturers, partly of Portuguese and partly of Indian 
blood, the Paolistas, from one of whom Colonel Rondon 
is himself descended on his father's side. 

The camp by this river was in some old and grown-up 
fields, once the seat of a rather extensive maize and man- 
dice cultivation 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 

2iS Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

found the birds for the most part in worn plumage, for 
the breeding season, the southern spring and northern 
fall, was over. But some birds were still breeding. In 
the tropics the breeding season is more irregular than in 
the north. Some birds breed at very different times 
from that chosen by the majority of their fellows; some 
can hardly be said to have any regular season; Cherrie 
had found one species of honey-creeper breeding in every 
month of the year. Just before sunset and just after sun- 
rise big, noisy, blue-and-yellow macaws flew over this 
camp. They were plentiful enough to form a loose flock, 
but each pair kept to itself, the two individuals always 
close together and always separated from the rest. Al- 
though not an abundant, it was an interesting, fauna 
which the two naturalists found in this upland country, 
where hitherto no collections of birds and mammals had 
been made. Miller trapped several species of opossums, 
mice, and rats which were new to him. Cherrie got many 
birds which he did not recognize. At this camp, among 
totally strange forms, he found an old and familiar ac- 
quaintance. Before breakfast he brought in several birds ; 
a dark colored flycatcher, with white forehead and rump 
and two very long tail-feathers; a black and slate-blue 
tanager; a black ant-thrush with a concealed white spot 
on its back, at the base of the neck, and its dull-colored 
mate; and other birds which he believed to be new to 
science, but whose relationships with any of our birds are 
so remote that it is hard to describe them save in tech- 
nical language. Finally, among these unfamiliar forms 
was a veery, and the sight of the rufous-olive back and 

Across Nhambiquara Land 219 

faintly spotted throat of this singer of our northern Junes 
made us almost homesick. 

Next day was brilliantly clear. The mules could not 
be brought in until quite late in the morning, and we had 
to march twenty miles under the burning tropical sun, 
right in the hottest part of the day. From a rise of 
ground we looked back over the vast, sunlit landscape, the 
endless rolling stretches of 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 place, waited until we were several hundred yards 
ahead, and then raced after us, overtook us, and repeated 
the performance. The pack-train came in about sunset ; 
but we ourselves reached the Juruena in the middle of the 

The Juruena is the name by which the Tapajos goes 
along its upper course. Where we crossed, it was a deep, 
rapid stream, flowing in a heavily wooded valley with 
rather steep sides. We were ferried across on the usual 
balsa, a platform on three dugouts, running by the force 
of the current on a wire trolley. There was a clearing 
on each side with a few palms, and on the farther bank 
were the buildings of the telegraph station. This is a 
wild country, and the station was guarded by a few sol- 
diers under the command of Lieutenant Marino, a native 
of Rio Grande do Sul, a blond man who looked like an 
Englishman — ^an agreeable companion, and a good and 
resolute officer, as all must be who do their work in this 
wilderness. 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 

220 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

elapsed, when the Telegraphic Commission not only de- 
scended, but for the first time accurately placed and 
mapped its course. 

There were several houses on the rise of the farther 
bank, all with thatched roofs, some of them with walls of 
upright tree-trunks, some of them daub and wattle. Into 
one of the latter, with two rooms, we took our belongings. 
The sand-flies were bothersome at night, coming through 
the interstices in the ordinary mosquito-nets. The first 
night they did this I got no sleep until morning, when it 
was cool enough for me to roll myself in my blanket and 
put on a head-net. Afterward we used fine nets of a kind 
of cheese-cloth. They were hot, but they kept out all, 
or almost all, of the sand-flies and other small tormentors. 

Here we overtook the rearmost division of Captain 
Amilcar's bullock-train. Our own route had diverged, in 
order to pass the great falls. Captain Amilcar had come 
direct, overtaking the pack-oxen, which had left Tapira- 
poan before we did, laden with material for the Diivida 
trip. He had brought the oxen through in fine shape, 
losing only three beasts with their loads, and had himself 
left the Juruena the morning of the day we reached 
there. His weakest animals left that evening, to make the 
march by moonlight; and as it was desirable to give 
them thirty-six hours' start, we halted for a day on the 
banks of the river. It was not a wasted day. In addition 
to bathing and washing our clothes, the naturalists made 
some valuable additions to the collection — including a 
boldly marked black, blue, and white jay — ^and our photo- 
graphs were developed and our writing brought abreast 
of the date. Travelling through a tropical wilderness in 

Across Nhambiquara Land 221 

the rainy season, when the amount of baggage that can be 
taken is strictly limited, entails not only a good deal of 
work, but also the exercise of considerable ingenuity if 
the writing and photographing, and especially the preser- 
vation, of the specimens are to be done in satisfactory 

At the telegraph office we received news that the voy- 
age of Lauriado and Fiala down the Papagaio had opened 
with a misadventure. In some bad rapids, not many 
miles below the falls, two of the canoes had been upset, 
half of their provisions and all of Fiala's baggage lost, 
and Fiala himself nearly drowned. The Papagaio is 
known both at the source and the mouth; to descend it 
did not represent a plunge into the unknown, as in the case 
of the Diivida or the Ananas ; but the actual water work, 
over the part that was unexplored, offered the same pos- 
sibilities of mischance and disaster. It is a hazardous 
thing to descend a swift, unknown river rushing through 
an uninhabited wilderness. To descend or ascend the or- 
dinary great highway rivers of South America, such as 
the Amazon, Paraguay, Tapajos, and, in its lower course, 
the Orinoco, is now so safe and easy, whether by steam- 
boat or big, native cargo-boat, that people are apt to for- 
get the very serious difficulties offered by the streams, 
often themselves great rivers, which run into or form the 
upper courses of these same water highways. Few 
things are easier than the former feat, and few more diffi- 
cult than the latter ; and experience in ordinary travelling 
on the lower courses of the rivers is of no benefit what- 
ever in enabling a man to form a judgment as to what can 
be done, and how to do it, on the upper courses. Failure 

222 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

to remember this fact is one of the obstacles 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 sociable, and very glad to see Colonel 
Rondon. They were originally exceedingly hostile and 
suspicious, but the colonel's unwearied thoughtfulness 
and good temper, joined with his indomitable resolution, 
enabled him to avoid war and to secure their friend- 
ship and even their aid. He never killed one. Many of 
them are known to him personally. He is on remarkably ' 
good terms with them, and they are very fond of him — 
although this does not prevent them from now and then 
yielding to temptation, even at his expense, and stealing a 
dog or something else which 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 ornament. 
Their confidence and bold friendliness showed how well 
they had been treated. Probably half of our visitors 
were men; several were small boys; one was a woman 
with a baby ; the others were young married women and 

Nowhere in Africa did we come across wilder or more 
absolutely primitive savages, although these Indians were 
pleasanter and better-featured than any of the African 
tribes at the same stage of culture. Both sexes were 
well-made and rather good-looking, with fairly good 
teeth, although some of them seemed to have skin dis- 
eases. They were a laughing, easy-tempered crew, and 

Across Nhambiquara Land 223 

the women were as well-fed as the men, and were obvi- 
ously 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 somewhat less degree, in the life of so 
many negro and Indian tribes. They were practically 
absolutely naked. In many savage tribes the men go abso- 
lutely naked, but the women wear a breech-clout or loin- 
cloth. In certain tribes we saw near Lake Victoria Ny- 
anza, and on the upper White Nile, both men and women 
were practically naked. Among these Nhambiquaras 
the women were more completely naked than the men, 
although the difference was not essential. The men 
wore a string around the waist. Most of them wore 
nothing else, but a few had loosely hanging from this 
string in front a scanty tuft of dried grass, or a small 
piece of cloth, which, however, was of purely symbolic 
use so far as either protection or modesty was concerned. 
The women did not wear a stitch of any kind anywhere 
on their bodies. They did not have on so much as a string, 
or a bead, or even an ornament in their hair. They were 
all, men and women, boys and well-grown young girls, 
as entirely at ease and unconscious as so many friendly 
animals. All of them — men, women, and children, 
laughing and talking — crowded around us, whether 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 often stood holding one another's hands, 
or with their arms over one another's shoulders or around 
one another's waists, offering an attractive picture. 

224 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

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 or mutilated. 
It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is neverthe- 
less a fact that the behavior of these completely naked 
women and men was entirely modest. There was never 
an indecent look or a consciously indecent gesture. They 
had no blankets or hammocks, and when night came sim- 
ply lay down in the sand. Colonel Rondon stated that 
they never wore a covering by night or by day, and if 
it was cool slept one on each side of a small fire. Their 
huts were merely 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, and two young women or grown girls. Two of the 
men had been doing some work for the commission, and 
were dressed, one completely and one partially, in ordi- 
nary clothes. Two of the men and the boy were practi- 
cally naked, and the two young women were absolutely so. 
All of them danced in a circle, without a touch of embar- 
rassment or impropriety. The two girls kept hold of 
each other's hands throughout, dancing among the men 
as modestly as possible, and with the occasional inter- 
change of a laugh or jest, in as good taste and temper as 
in any dance in civilization. The dance consisted in 
slowly going round in a circle, first one way then the 
other, rhythmically beating time with the feet to the music 
of the song they were chanting. The chants — ^there 
were three of them, all told — ^were measured and rather 
slowly uttered melodies, varied with an occasional half- 

Across Nhambiquara Land 225 

subdued shrill cry. The women continually uttered a 
kind of long-drawn wailing or droning ; I am not enough 
of a musician to say whether it was an overtone or the 
sustaining of the burden of the ballad. The young boy 
sang better than any of the others. It was a strange and 
interesting sight to see these utterly wild, friendly savages 
circling in their slow dance, and chanting their imme- 
morial melodies, in the brilliant tropical moonlight, with 
the river rushing by in the background, through the lonely 
heart of the wilderness. 

The Indians stayed with us, feasting, dancing, and 
singing until the early hours of the morning. They then 
suddenly and silently disappeared in the darkness, and 
did not return. In the morning we discovered that they 
had gone off with one of Colonel Rondon's dogs. Prob- 
ably the temptation had proved irresistible to one of their 
number, and the others had been afraid to interfere, and 
also afraid to stay in or return to our neighborhood. We 
had not time to go after them ; but Rondon remarked that 
as soon as he again came to the neighborhood he would 
iakt some soldiers, himt up the Indians, and reclaim the 
dog. It 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 be- 
tween them and the Parecis. In spite of their good nature 
and laughter, their fearlessness and familiarity showed 
how necessary it was not to let them get the upper hand. 
They are always required to leave all their arms a mile or 
two away before they come into the encampment. They 
are much wilder and more savage, and at a much lower 
cultural level, than the Parecis 

226 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

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 
walls of our daub-and-wattle house. The heat was in- 
tense and there was much moisture in this valley. Dur- 
ing the downpour I looked out at the dreary little houses, 
showing through the driving rain, while the sheets of 
muddy water slid past their door-sills ; and I felt a sincere 
respect for the lieutenant and his soldiers who were hold- 
ing this desolate outpost of civilization. It is an unhealthy 
spot ; there has been much malarial fever and beriberi — 
an obscure and deadly disease. 

Next morning we resumed our march. It soon began 
to rain and we were drenched when, some fifteen miles 
on, we reached the river where we were to camp. After 
the great heat we felt quite cold in our wet clothes, and 
gladly crowded round a fire which was kindled under a 
thatched shed, beside the cabin of the ferryman. This 
ferry-boat was so small that it could only take one mule, 
or at most two, at a time. The mules and a span of six 
oxen dragging an ox-cart, which we had overtaken, were 
ferried slowly to the farther side that afternoon, as there 
was no feed on the hither bank, where we ourselves 
camped. The ferryman was a soldier in the employ of 
the Telegraphic Commission. His good-looking, pleas- 
ant-mannered wife, evidently of both Indian and negro 
blood, was with him, and was doing all she could do as 
a housekeeper, in the comfortless little cabin, with its 
primitive bareness of furniture and fittings. 

Here we saw Captain Amilcar, who had come back to 
hurry up his rear-guard. We stood ankle-deep in mud 

Across Nhambiquara Land 227 

and water, by the swollen river, while the rain beat on us, 
and enjoyed a few minutes' talk with the cool, competent 
officer who was doing a difficult job with such workman- 
like 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 trouble with his mules, but his oxen were still in fair 

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-hills, 
and the ant-houses in the trees — ^arboreal ant-hills, so to 
speak — ^were as conspicuous as ever. The architects of 
some were red ants, of others black ants; and others, 
which were on the whole the largest, had been built by the 
white ants, the termites. The latter were not infrequently 
taller than a horseman's head. 

That evening round the camp-fire Colonel Rondon 
happened to mention how the brother of one of the 
soldiers with us — a. Parecis Indian — had been killed by a 
jararaca snake. Cherrie told of a narrow escape he had 
from one while collecting in Guiana. 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 pre- 
served it as a specimen. Snakes frequently came into his 
camp after nightfall. He killed one rattlesnake which 

228 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

had swallowed the skinned bodies of four mice he had 
prepared as specimens ; which shows that rattlesnakes do 
not always feed only on living prey. Another rattlesnake 
which he killed in Central America had just swallowed 
an opossum which proved to be of a species new to 
science. Miller told how once on the Orinoco he saw on 
the bank a small anaconda, some ten feet long, killing one 
of the iguanas, big, active, truculent, carnivorous lizards, 
equally at home on the land and in the water. Evidently 
the iguanas were digging out holes in the bank in which to 
lay their eggs ; for there were several such holes, and 
iguanas working at them. The snake had crushed its 
prey to a pulp ; and not more than a couple of feet away 
another iguana was still busily, and with entire unconcern, 
engaged in making its burrow. At Miller's approach the 
anaconda left the dead iguana and rushed into the water, 
and the live iguana promptly followed it. Miller also told 
of the stone gods and altars and temples he had seen in the 
great Colombian forests, monuments of strange civiliza- 
tions which flourished and died out ages ago, and of 
which all memory has vanished. He and Cherrie told of 
giant rivers and waterfalls, and of forests never pene- 
trated, and mountains never ascended by civilized man; 
and of bloody revolutions that devastated the settled re- 
gions. Listening to them I felt that they could write 
"Tales of Two Naturalists" that would be worth reading. 
They were short of literature, by the way — a. party 
such as ours always needs books — and as Kermit's read- 
ing-matter consisted chiefly of Camoens and other Portu- 
guese, or else Brazilian, writers, I strove to supply the 
deficiency with spare volumes of Gibbon. At the end of 

Across Nhambiquara Land 229 

our march we were usually far ahead of the mule-train, 
and the rain was also usually falling. Accordingly we 
would sit about under trees, or under a shed or lean-to, if 
there was one, each solemnly reading a volume of Gibbon 
— and no better reading can be found. In my own case, 
as I had been having rather a steady course of Gibbon, 
I varied him now and then with a volume of Arsene 
Lupin lent me by Kermit. 

There were many swollen rivers to cross at this point 
of our journey. 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 
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 misfortune in a country where they could not be re- 
placed. 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 be- 
fore they appeared, and shouted loudly while they were 
still hid by the forest, and it was only after repeated an- 
swering calls of welcome that they approached. Always 
in the wilderness friends proclaim their presence ; a silent 
advance marks a foe. Our visitors were men, and stark 
naked, as usual. One seemed sick; he was thin, and his 
back was scarred with marks of the grub of the loath- 
some bemi fly. Indeed, all of them showed scars, chiefly 
from insect wounds. But the other two were in good 
condition, and, although they ate greedily of the food of- 

230 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

f ered them, they had with them a big mandioc cake, some 
honey, and a little fish. One of them wore a high helmet 
of puma-skin, with the tail hanging down his back — 
handsome 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 so tightly as to cut 
into and deform the muscles — a. singular custom, seem- 
ingly not only purposeless but mischievous, which is 
common among this tribe and many others. 

The Nhambiquaras are a numerous tribe, covering a 
large region. But they have no general organization. 
Each group of families acts for itself. Half a dozen 
years previously they had been very hostile, and Colonel 
Rondon had to guard his camp and exercise every pre- 
caution to guarantee his safety, while at the same time 
successfully endeavoring to avoid the necessity of himself 
shedding blood. Now they are, for the most part, 
friendly. But there are groups or individuals that are not. 
Several soldiers have been killed at these little lonely 
stations; and while in some cases the attack may have 
been due to the soldiers having meddled with Nhambi- 
quara women, in other cases the killing was entirely 
wanton and unprovoked. Sooner or later these criminals 
or outlaws will have to be brought to justice ; it will not 
do to let their crimes go unpunished. Twice soldiers 
have deserted and fled to the Nhambiquaras. The runa- 
ways were well received, were given wives, and adopted 
into the tribe. 

The country when opened will be a healthy abode for 
white settlers. But pioneering in the wilderness is grim 
work for both man and beast. Continually, as we jour- 

Across Nhambiquara Land 231 

neyed onward, under the pitiless glare of the sun or 
through blinding torrents of rain, we passed desolate little 
graves by the roadside. They marked the last resting 
places of men who had died by fever, or dysentery, or 
Nhambiquara arrows. We raised our hats as our mules 
plodded slowly by through the sand. On each grave was 
a frail wooden cross, and this and the paling round about 
were already stained 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, 
ahead of us. 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 

It was not always easy to recognize what pasturage 
the mules would accept as good. One afternoon we 
pitched camp by a tiny rivulet, in the midst of the scrubby 
upland forest; a camp, by the way, where the piums, the 
small, biting flies, were a torment during the hours of 
daylight, while after dark their places were more than 
taken by the diminutive gnats which the Brazilians ex- 
pressively term "polvora," or powder, and which get 
through the smallest meshes of a mosquito-net. The feed 
was 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 not. A few hours 


2-^2. Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

later, in the afternoon, we camped by a beautipl open 
meadow; on one side ran a rapid brook, with /a water- 
fall eight feet high, under which we bathed a/id swam. 
Here the feed looked so good that we all exprj^sed pleas- 
ure. But the mules did not like it, and after nightfall 
they hiked back on the trail, and it was a long and ardu- 
ous 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 
poisonous snakes. In reality, the danger from these 
sources is trivial, much less than the danger of being run 
down by an automobile at home. But at times the tor- 
ment of insect plagues can hardly be exaggerated. There 
are many different species of mosquitoes, some of them 
bearers of disease. There are many different kinds 
of small, biting flies and gnats, loosely grouped together 
under various titles. The ones more especially called 
piums by my companions were somewhat like our north- 
ern black flies. They gorged themselves with blood. At 
the moment their bites did not hurt, but they left an itch- 
ing scar. Head-nets and gloves are a protection, but are 
not very comfortable in stifling hot weather. It is im- 
possible to sleep without mosquito-biers. When settlers 
of the right type come into a new land they speedily learn 
to take the measures necessary to minimize the annoyance 
caused by all these pests. Those that are winged have 
plenty of kinsfolk in so much of the northern continent as 
has not yet been subdued by man. But the most noxious 
of the South American ants have, thank Heaven, no rep- 
resentatives in North America. At the camp of the 

Across Nhambiquara Land 233 

plums a column of the carnivorous foraging ants made its 
appearance before nightfall, and for a time we feared it 
might put us out of our tents, for it went straight through 
camp, between the kitchen-tent and our own sleeping- 
tents. However, the column turned neither to the right 
nor the left, streaming uninterruptedly past for several 
hours, and doing no damage except to the legs of any in- 
cautious man who walked near it. 

On the afternoon of February 15 we reached Campos 
Novos. This place was utterly unlike the country we 
had been traversing. It was a large basin, several miles 
across, traversed by several brooks. The brooks ran in 
deep swampy valleys, occupied by a matted growth of tall 
tropical forest. Between them the ground rose in bold 
hills, bare of forest and covered with grass, on which our 
jaded animals fed eagerly. On one of these rounded 
hills a number of buildings were ranged in a quadrangle, 
for the pasturage at this spot is so good that it is perma- 
nently occupied. There were milch cows, and we got 
delicious fresh milk ; and there were goats, pigs, turkeys, 
and chickens. Most of the buildings were made of 
upright poles with roofs of palm thatch. One or two 
were of native brick, plastered with mud, and before these 
there was an enclosure with a few ragged patms, 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 surround- 
ing 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 much fever at this beautiful 

234 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

and seemingly healthy place. Doubtless when settlement 
is sufficiently advanced a remedy will be developed. The 
geology of this neighborhood was interesting — Oliveira 
found fossil tree-trunks which he believed to be of cre- 
taceous 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 fine fellows, than whom 
no military service of any nation could produce more 
efficient men for this kind of difficult and responsible 
work. Next morning they mustered their soldiers, mule- 
teers, and pack-ox men and marched off. Reinisch the 
taxidermist was with them. We followed in the late 
afternoon, camping after a few miles. We left the ox- 
cart at Campos Novos ; from thence on the trail was only 
for pack-animals. 

In this neighborhood the two naturalists found many 
birds which we had not hitherto met. The most conspic- 
uous was a huge oriole, the size of a small crow, with a 
naked face, a black-and-red bill, and gaudily variegated 
plumage of green, yellow, and chestnut. Very interest- 
ing was the false bell-bird, a gray bird with loud, metallic 
notes. There was also a tiny soft-tailed woodpecker, no 
larger than a kinglet ; a queer humming-bird with a slight- 
ly flexible bill ; and many species of ant-thrush, tanager, 
manakin, and tody. Among these unfamiliar forms was 
a vireo looking much like our solitary vireo. At one 
camp Cherrie collected a dozen perching birds ; Miller a 
beautiful little rail; and Kermit, with the small Liiger 
belt-rifle, a handsome curassow, nearly as big as a turkey 
— out of which, after it had been skinned, the cook made 

Across Nhambiquara Land 235 

a delicious canja, the thick Brazilian soup of fowl and rice 
than which there is nothing better of its kind. All these 
birds were new to the collection — no naturalists had pre- 
viously worked this region — so that the afternoon's 
work represented nine species new to the collection, six 
new genera, and a most excellent soup. 

Two days after leaving Campos Novos we reached 
Vilhena, where there is a telegraph station. We camped 
once at a small river named by Colonel Rondon the 
"Twelfth of October," because he reached it on the day 
Columbus discovered America — I had never before 
known what day it was ! — and once at the foot of a hill 
which he had named after Lyra, his companion in the ex- 
ploration. The two days' march — really one full day and 
part of two others — ^was through beautiful country, and 
we enjoyed it thoroughly, although there were occasional 
driving rain-storms, when the rain came in almost level 
sheets and drenched every one 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 in- 
dustrial centres can arise, 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 hills. In the deep val- 
leys were magnificent woods, in which giant rubber-trees 
towered, while the huge leaves of the low-growing paco- 
va, or wild banana, were conspicuous in the undergrowth. 
Great azure butterflies flitted through the open, sunny 
glades, and the bell-birds, sitting motionless, uttered their 
ringing calls from the dark stillness of the columned 

236 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

groves. The hillsides were grassy pastures or else cov- 
ered with low, open forest. 

A huge frog, 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 harm- 
less ; others are poisonous, although not aggressive. The 
best authorities give an infallible recipe for distinguishing 
them by the pattern of the colors, but this particular 
specimen, although it corresponded exactly in color pat- 
tern with the description of the poisonous snakes, never- 
theless had no poison-fangs that even after the most mi- 
nute 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 down- 
pour as it was our ill fortune to encounter. The sariema, 
evidently as drenched and uncomfortable as we were, was 
hiding under a bush to avoid the pelting rain. The dog 
discovered it, and after the bird valiantly repelled him, 
Miller was able to seize it. Its stomach contained about 
half a pint of grass-hoppers and beetles and young leaves. 
At Vilhena there was a tame sariema, much more famil- 
iar and at home than any of the poultry. It was with- 
out the least fear of man or dog. The sariema (like the 
screamer and the curassow) ought to be introduced into 
our barnyards and on our lawns, at any rate in the South- 
ern States; it is a good-looking, friendly, and attractive 
bird. Another bird we met is in some places far more 
intimate, and domesticates itself. This is the pretty little 

Across Nhambiquara Land 237 

honey-creeper. In Colombia Miller found the honey- 
creepers habitually coming inside the houses and hotels at 
meal-times, hopping about the table, and climbing into 
the sugar-bowl. 

Along this part of our march there was much of what 
at a hasty glance seemed to be volcanic rock ; but Oliveira 
showed me that it was a kind of conglomerate, with bub- 
bles or hollows in it, made of sand and iron-bearing earth. 
He said it was a superficial quaternary deposit formed by 
erosion from the cretaceous rocks, and that there were 
here no tertiary deposits. He described the geological 
structure of the lands through which we had passed as 
follows: The pantanals were of pleistocene age. Along 
the upper Sepotuba, in the region of the rapids, there 
were sandstones, shales, and clays of permian age. The 
rolling country east of this contained eruptive rocks — 
a porphyritic diabase, with zeolite, quartz, and agate of 
triassic age. With the chapadao of the Parecis plateau 
we came to a land of sand and clay, dotted with lumps of 
sandstone and pieces of petrified wood ; this, according to 
Oliveira, is of mesozoic age, possibly cretaceous and sim- 
iliar to the South African formation. There are geolo- 
gists who consider it as of permian age. 

At Vilhena we were on a watershed which drained 
into the Gy-Parana, which itself runs into the Madeira 
nearly midway between its sources and its mouth. A 
little farther along and northward we again came to 
streams running ultimately into the Tapajos ; and between 
them, and close to them, were streamlets which drained 
into the Diivida and Ananas, whose courses and outlets 
were unknown. This point is part of the divide between 

238 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

the basins of the Madeira and Tapajos. A singular topo- 
graphical 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 called the upper 
main stream of the Madeira. These westernmost streams 
from the southern edge of the plateau, therefore, begin 
by flowing south ; then for a long stretch they flow south- 
west ; then north, and finally northeast into the Amazon. 
According to some exceptionally good geological observ- 
ers, this is probably due to the fact that in a remote geo- 
logic past the ocean sent in an arm from the south, be- 
tween 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 Madeira, just as, according to 
these geologists, in somewhat familiar fashion the Am- 
azon has been reversed, it having once been, at least for 
the upper two thirds of its course, an affluent of the 
Andean Sea. 

From Vilhena we travelled in a generally northward 
direction. For a few leagues we went across the chap- 
adao, the sands or clays of the nearly level upland plateau, 
grassy or covered with thin, stunted forest, the same 
type of country that had been predominant ever since we 
ascended the Parecis table-land on the morning of the 
third day after leaving the Sepotuba. Then, at about 
the point where the trail dipped into a basin containing 
the headsprings of the Ananas, we left this type of coun- 

Across Nhambiquara Land 239 

try and began to march through thick forest, not very- 
high. There was Httle feed for the animals on the Chap- 
adao. There was less in the forest. Moreover, the con- 
tinual heavy rains made the travelling difficult and 
laborious for them, and they weakened. However, a 
couple of marches before we reached Tres Burity, where 
there is a big ranch with hundreds of cattle, we were 
met by ten fresh pack-oxen, and our serious difficulties 
were over. 

There were piums in plenty by day, but neither mos- 
quitoes nor sand-flies by night ; and for us the trip was 
very pleasant, save for moments of anxiety about the 
mules. The loose bullocks furnished us abundance of 
fresh beef, although, as was inevitable under the circum- 
stances, of a decidedly tough quality. One of the biggest 
of the bullocks was attacked one night by a vampire bat, 
and next morning his withers were literally bathed in 

With the chapadao we said good-by to the curious, 
gregarious, and crepuscular or nocturnal spiders which 
we found so abundant along the line of the telegraph- 
wire. They have offered one of the small problems with 
which the commission has had to deal. They are not 
common in the dry season. They swarm during the 
rains ; and, when their tough webs are wet, those that lead 
from the wire to the ground sometimes effectually short- 
circuit the wire. They have on various occasions caused 
a good deal of trouble in this manner. 

The third night out from Vilhena we emerged for a 
moment from the endless close-growing forest in which 
our poor animals got such scanty pickings, and came to 

240 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

a beautiful open country, where grassy slopes, dotted 
with occasional trees, came down on either side of a little 
brook which was one of the headwaters of the Diivida. 
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 its low branches 
on every side. At this camp Cherrie shot a lark, very 
characteristic of the open upland country, and Miller 
found two bats in the rotten wood of a dead log. He 
heard them squeaking and dug them out; he could not 
tell by what method they had gotten in. 

Here Kermit, while a couple of miles from our tents, 
came across an encampment of Nhambiquaras. There 
were twenty or thirty of them — ^men, women, and a few 
children. Kermit, after the manner of honest folk in 
the wilderness, advanced ostentatiously in the open, call- 
ing out to give warning of his coming. Like surround- 
ings may cause like manners. 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 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 Nhambiquaras received Kermit 
with the utmost cordiality, and gave him pineapple-wine 
to drink. They were stark naked as usual ; they had no 
hammocks or blankets, and their huts were flimsy shelters 
of palm-branches. Yet they were in fine condition. 
Half a dozen of the men and a couple of boys accom- 
panied Kermit back to our camp, paying no slightest heed 
to the rain which was falling. They were bold and 

Across Nhambiquara Land 241 

friendly, good-natured — ^at least superficially — ^and very 
inquisitive. In feasting, the long reeds thrust through 
holes in their lips did not seem to bother them, and they 
laughed 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 chant- 
ing. After supper they danced beside the camp-fire ; and 
finally, to their delight, most of the members of our own 
party, Americans and Brazilians, enthusiastically joined 
the dance, while the colonel and I furnished an apprecia- 
tive and applauding audience. 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 
were in the condition of Adam and Eve before the fall. 
One of the women carried a little squirrel monkey. She 
put it up the big tree some distance from the tents ; and 
when she called, it 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 anj^hing. 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 
reclaimed without difficulty. One or two of the children 
wore necklaces and bracelets made of the polished wood 
of the tucum palm, and of the molars of small rodents. 
Next day's march led us across a hilly country of good 

242 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

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 
the usual rude pole bridges. On the open pastures were 
occasional trees, usually slender bacaba palms, with heads 
which the winds had dishevelled until they looked like 
mops. It was evidently a fine natural cattle country, and 
we soon began to see scores, perhaps hundreds, of the 
cattle belonging to the government ranch at Tres Burity, 
which we reached in the early afternoon. It is beautifully 
situated : the view roundabout is lovely, and certainly the 
land will prove healthy when settlements have been defi- 
nitely 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 Madeira- 
Marmore Railroad — a work which stands honorably dis- 
tinguished among the many great and useful works done 
in the development of the tropics of recent years. 

Amilcar's pack-oxen, which were nearly worn out, 
had been left in these fertile pastures. Most of the fresh 
oxen which he took in their places were unbroken, and 
there was a perfect circus before they were packed and 
marched off; in every direction, said the gleeful nar- 
rators, there were bucking oxen and loads strewed on 
the ground. This cattle-ranch is managed by the colonel's 
uncle, his mother's brother, a hale old man of seventy, 
white-haired but as active and vigorous as ever ; with a 
fine, kindly, intelligent face. His name is Miguel Evanr 
galista. He is a native of Matto Grosso, of practically 

Across Nhambiquara Land 243 

pure Indian blood, and was dressed in the ordinary cos- 
tume of the Cabocio — hat, shirt, trousers, and no shoes 
or stockings. Within the 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 Rondon's own 
grandfather, that Colonel Rondon as an orphan spent the 
first seven years of his life. His father died before he 
was born, and his mother when he was only a year old. 
He lived on his grandfather's cattle-ranch, some fifty 
miles from Cuyaba. Then he went to live in 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 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; and then, as a lieutenant of engineers in 
the Brazilian army, he came back to his home in Matto 
Grosso and began his life-work of exploring the wilder- 

Next day we journeyed to the telegraph station at 
Bonofacio, through alternate spells of glaring sunshine 
and heavy rain. On the way we stopped at an aldea — 
village — of Nhambiquaras. We first met a couple of men 
going to hunt, with bows and arrows longer than them- 
selves. A rather comely young woman, carrying on her 
back a wickerwork basket, or creel, supported by a fore- 

244 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

head band, and accompanied by a small child, was with 
them. At the village there were a number of men, 
women, and children. Although as completely naked 
as the others we had met, the members of this band were 
more ornamented with beads, and wore earrings made 
from the inside of mussel-shells or very big snail-shells. 
They were more hairy than the ones we had so far met. 
The women, but not the men, completely remove the 
hair from their bodies — and look more, instead of less, 
indecent in consequence. The chief, whose body was 
painted red with the juice of a fruit, had what could 
fairly be styled a mustache and imperial; and one old 
man looked somewhat like a hairy Ainu, or perhaps even 
more like an Australian black fellow. My companion 
told me that this probably represented an infusion of 
negro blood, and possibly of mulatto blood, from run- 
away slaves of the old days, when some of the Matto 
Grosso mines were worked by slave labor. They also 
thought it possible that this infiltration of African 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 in this village several huts 
or shelters open at the sides, and two of the big huts. 
These were of closely woven thatch, circular in outline, 
with a rounded dome, and two doors a couple of feet 
high opposite each other, and no other opening. There 
were fifteen or twenty people to each hut. Inside were 
their implements and utensils, such as wicker baskets 

Across Nhambiquara Land 245 

(some of 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 obtained knives, which they sorely 
needed, for they are not even in the stone age. One 
woman shielded herself from the rain by holding a green 
palm-branch down her back. Another had on her head 
what we at first thought to be a monkey-skin head-dress. 
But it was a little, live, black monkey. It stayed habitu- 
ally with its head above her forehead, and its arms and 
legs spread so that it lay moulded to the shape of her 
head ; but both woman and monkey showed some reluc- 
tance about having their photographs taken. 

Bonofacio consisted of several thatched one-room 
cabins, connected by a stockade which was extended to 
form an enclosure behind them. A number of tame 
parrots and parakeets, of several dififerent species, scram- 
bled over the roofs and entered the houses. In the open 
pastures near by were the curious, extensive burrows of 
a gopher rat, which ate the roots of grass, not emerging 
to eat the grass but pulling it into the burrows by the 
roots. These burrows bore a close likeness to those of 
our pocket gophers. Miller found the animals difficult 
to trap. Finally, by the aid of Colonel Rondon, several 
Indians, and two or three of our men, he dug one out. 
From the central shaft several surface galleries radiated, 
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. The central shaft ran 

246 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

straight down for about eight, feet, and then laterally for 
about fifteen feet, to a kind of chamber. The animal 
dug hard to escape, but when taken and put on the sur- 
face of the ground it moved slowly and awkwardly. It 
showed vicious courage. In looks it closely resembled 
our pocket gophers, but it had no pockets. This was 
one of the most interesting small mammals that we 

After breakfast at Bonofacio a number of Nhambi- 
quaras — ^men, women, and children — strolled in. The 
men gave us an exhibition of not very good archery; 
when the bow was bent, it was at first held so that the 
arrow pointed straight upwards and was then lowered 
so that the arrow was aimed at the target. Several of the 
women had been taken from other tribes, after their hus- 
bands or fathers had been killed ; for the Nhambiquaras 
are light-hearted robbers and murderers. Two or three 
miserable dogs accompanied them, half-starved and 
mangy, but each decorated with a collar of beads. The 
headmen had three or four wives apiece, and the women 
were the burden-bearers, but apparently were not badly 
treated. Most of them were dirty, although well-fed 
looking, and their features were of a low type ; but some, 
especially among the children, were quite attractive. 

From Bonofacio we went about seven miles, across a 
rolling prairie dotted with trees and clumps of shrub. 
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 be- 
longings, Amilcar, Miller, Mello, and Oliveira were to 

Across Nhambiquara Land 247 

march three days to the Gy-Parana, and then descend it, 
and continue down the Madeira to Manaos. Rondon, 
Lyra, the doctor, Cherrie, Kermit, and I, with sixteen 
paddlers, in seven canoes, were to descend the Duvida, 
and find out whether it led into the Gy-Parana, into the 
Madeira, or into the Tapajos. If within a few days it 
led into the Gy-Parana, our purpose was to return and 
descend the Ananas, whose outlet was also unknown. 
Having this in view, we left a fortnight's provisions for 
our party of six at Bonofacio. We took with us pro- 
visions for about fifty days ; not full rations, for we hoped 
in part to live on the country — on fish, game, nuts, and 
palm-tops. Our personal baggage was already well cut 
down: Cherrie, Kermit, and I took the naturalist's fly to 
sleep under, and a very light little tent extra for any one 
who might fall sick. Rondon, Lyra, and the doctor took 
one of their own tents. The things that we carried were 
necessities — food, medicines, bedding, instruments for 
determining the altitude and longitude and latitude — 
except a few books, each in small compass: Lyra's were 
in German, consisting of two tiny volumes of Goethe and 
Schiller ; Kermit's were in Portuguese ; mine, all in En- 
glish, included the last two volumes of Gibbon, the plays 
of Sophocles, More's "Utopia," Marcus Aurelius, and 
Epictetus, the two latter lent me by a friend. Major Ship- 
ton of the regulars, our military attache at Buenos Aires. 
If our canoe voyage was prosperous we would gradu- 
ally lighten the loads by eating the provisions. If we 
met with accidents, such as losing canoes and men in the 
rapids, or losing men in encounters with Indians, or if 
we encountered overmuch fever and dysentery, the loads 

248 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

would lighten themselves. We were all armed. We 
took no cartridges for sport. Cherrie had some to be 
used sparingly for collecting specimens. The others 
were to be used — ^unless in the unlikely event of having 
to repel an attack — only to procure food. The food and 
the arms we carried represented all reasonable precau- 
tions against suffering and starvation ; but, of course, if 
the course of the river proved very long and difficult, if 
we lost our boats over falls or in rapids, or had to make 
too many and too long portages, or were brought to a 
halt by impassable swamps, then 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. 



ON February 27, 1914, shortly after midday, we 
started down the River of Doubt into the un- 
known. We were quite uncertain whether after 
a week we should find ourselves in the Gy-Parana, or 
after six weeks in the Madeira, or after three months we 
knew not where. That was why the river was rightly 
christened the Diivida. 

We had been camped close to the river, where the 
trail that follows the telegraph-line crosses it by a rough 
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 60° 15' longitude west of Greenwich. Our general 
course was to be northward toward the equator, by 
waterway through the vast forest. 

We had seven canoes, all of them dugouts. One was 
small, one was cranky, and two were old, waterlogged, 
and leaky. The other three were good. The two old 
canoes were lashed together, and the cranky one was 
lashed to one of the others. Kermit with two paddlers 


250 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

went in the smallest of the good canoes ; Colonel Rondon 
and Lyra with three other paddlers in the next largest; 
and the doctor, Cherrie, and I in the largest with three 
paddlers. The 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 effi- 
ciency, yet on such a trip as ours, where scientific work 
has to be done and where food for twenty-two men for 
an unknown period of time has to be carried, it is impos- 
sible not to take a good deal of stuff ; and the seven dug- 
outs were too heavily laden. 

The paddlers were a strapping set. They were ex- 
pert river-men and 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 pic- 
tures of Howard Pyle or Maxfield Parrish; one or fwo 
of them were pirates, and one worse than a pirate; but 
most of them were hard-working, willing, and cheerful. 
They were white, — or, rather, the olive of southern 
Europe, — ^black, copper-colored, and of all intermediate 
shades. In my canoe Luiz the steersman, the headman, 
was a Matto Grosso negro ; Julio the bowsman was from 
Bahia and of pure Portuguese blood ; and the third man, 
Antonio, was a Parecis Indian. 

The actual surveying of the river was done by Colonel 
Rondon and Lyra, with Kermit as their assistant. Kermit 
went first in his little canoe with the sighting-rod, on 

The River of Doubt 251 

which two disks, one red and one white, were placed a 
metre apart. He selected a place which commanded as 
long vistas as possible up-stream and down, and which 
therefore might be at the angle of a bend; landed; cut 
away the branches which obstructed the view; and set 
up the sighting - pole — incidentally encountering mari- 
bundi wasps and swarms of biting and singing ants. 
Lyra, from his station up-stream, with his teleraetre 
established the distance, while Colonel 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 of north, but at short intervals it 
bent and curved literally toward every point of the com- 
pass. Kermit landed nearly a hundred times, and we 
made but nine and a third kilometres. 

My canoe ran ahead of the surveying canoes. The 
height of the water made the going easy, for most of the 
snags and fallen trees were well beneath the surface. 
Now and then, however, the swift water hurried us 
toward ripples that marked ugly 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 
away from and past the obstacle. 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 

252 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

work, for no civilized man, no white man, had ever gone 
down or up this river or seen the country through which 
we were passing. 'The lofty and matted forest rose like 
a green wall on either hand. The trees were stately and 
beautiful. The looped and twisted vines hung from 
them like great ropes. Masses of epiphytes grew both 
on the dead trees and the living; some had huge leaves 
like elephants' ears. Now and then fragrant scents were 
blown to us from flowers on the banks. There were not 
many birds, and for the most part the forest was silent; 
rarely we heard strange calls from the depths of the 
woods, or saw a cormorant or ibis. 

My canoe ran only a couple of hours. Then we halted 
to wait for the others. After a couple of hours more, as 
the surveyors had not turned up, we landed and made 
camp at a spot where the bank rose sharply for a hundred 
yards to a level stretch of ground. Our canoes were 
moored to trees. The axemen cleared a space for the 
tents; they were pitched, the baggage was brought up, 
and fires were kindled. The woods were almost sound- 
less. Through them ran old tapir trails, but there was 
no 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. 
The small stingless bees, of slightly aromatic odor, 
swarmed while daylight lasted and crawled over our faces 
and hands; they were such tame, harmless little things 
that when they tickled too much I always tried to brush 
them away without hurting them. But they became a 
great nuisance after a while. It had been raining at 
intervals, and the weather was overcast ; but after the sun 

The River of Doubt 253 

went down the sky cleared. The stars were brilliant 
overhead, and the new moon hung in the west. It was 
a pleasant night, the air almost cool, and we slept soundly. 
Next morning the two surveying canoes left imme- 
diately after breakfast. An hour later the two pairs of 
lashed canoes pushed off. I kept our canoe to let Cherrie 
collect, for in the early hours we could hear a number of 
birds in the woods near by. The most interesting birds 
he shot were a cotinga, brilliant turquoise-blue with a 
magenta-purple throat, and a big woodpecker, black above 
and cinnamon below with an entirely red head and neck. 
It was almost noon before we started. We saw a few 
more birds ; there were fresh tapir and paca tracks at one 
point where we landed; once we heard howler monkeys 
from the depth of the forest, and once we saw a big otter 
in midstream. As we drifted and paddled down the 
swirling brown current, through the vivid rain-drenched 
green of the tropic forest, the trees leaned over the river 
from both banks. When those that had fallen in the 
river at some narrow point were very tall, or where it 
happened that two fell opposite each other, they formed 
barriers which the men in the leading canoes cleared with 
their axes. There were many palms, both the burity 
with its stiff fronds like enormous fans, and a handsome 
species of bacaba, with very long, gracefully curving 
fronds. In places the palms stood close together, tower- 
ing and slender, their stems a stately colonnade, their 
fronds an arched fretwork against the sky. Butterflies 
of many hues fluttered over the river. The day was over- 
cast, with showers of rain. When the sun broke through 
rifts in the clouds, his shafts turned the forest to gold. 

254 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

In mid-afternoon we came to the mouth of a big and 
swift affluent entering from the right. It was undoubt- 
edly the Bandeira, which we had crossed well toward 
its head, some ten days before, on our road to Bono- 
facio. The Nharabiquaras had then told Colonel Rondon 
that it flowed into the Diivida. After its junction, with 
the added volume of water, the river widened without 
losing its depth. It was so high that It had overflowed 
and stood among the trees on the lower levels. Only the 
higher stretches were dry. On the sheer banks where 
we landed we had to push the canoes for yards or rods 
through the branches of the submerged trees, hacking 
and hewing. There were occasional bays and ox-bows 
from which the current had shifted. In these the coarse 
marsh grass grew 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 it. It was fine to see the speed 
and sinewy ease with which the choppers cleared an open 
space for the tents. Next morning, when we bathed 
before sunrise, we dived into deep water right from the 
shore, and from the moored canoes. This second day 
we made sixteen and a half kilometres along the course 
of the river, and nine kilometres in a straight line almost 
due north. 

The following day, March 1, there was much rain- 
sometimes showers, sometimes vertical sheets of water. 
Our course was somewhat west of north and we made 
twenty and a half kilometres. We passed signs of Indian 
habitation. There were abandoned palm-leaf shelters on 
both banks. On the left bank we came to two or three 

-S ■£ 

(U c 

The River of Doubt 255 

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 
the water, marking the site of an old fish-trap. At one 
point we found 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. Three stout poles had been driven into the 
stream-bed in a line at right angles to the current. The 
bridge had consisted 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 rope hand-rail remained. In the afternoon, 
from the boat, Cherrie shot a large dark-gray monkey 
with a prehensile tail. It was very good eating. 

We camped on a dry level space, but a few feet above, 
and close beside, the river — so that our swimming-bath 
was handy. The trees were cleared and camp was made 
with orderly hurry. One of the men almost stepped on 
a poisonous coral-snake, which would have been a serious 
thing, as his feet were bare. But I had on stout shoes, 
and the fangs of these serpents — ^unlike those of the 
pit-vipers — are too short to penetrate good leather. I 
promptly put my foot on him, and he bit my shoe with 
harmless venom. It has been said that the brilliant hues 
of the coral-snake when in its native haunts really confer 
on it a concealing coloration. In the dark and tangled 
woods, and to an only less extent in the ordinary varied 
landscape, anything motionless, especially if partially 

256 Through the BraziUan Wilderness 

hidden, easily eludes the eye. But against the dark- 
brown mould of the forest floor on which we found this 
coral-snake its bright and varied coloration was dis- 
tinctly revealing; infinitely more so than the duller 
mottling of the jararaca and other dangerous snakes of 
the genus lachecis. In the same place, however, we 
found a striking example of genuine protective or 
mimetic coloration and shape. A rather large insect 
larva — at least we judged it to be a larval form, but we 
were none of us entomologists — ^bore a resemblance to 
a partially curled dry leaf which was fairly startling. 
The tail exactly resembled the stem or continuation of 
the midrib of the dead leaf. The flattened body was 
curled up at the sides, and veined and colored precisely 
like the leaf. The head, colored like the leaf, projected 
in front. 

We were still in the Brazilian highlands. The forest 
did not teem with life. It was generally rather silent; 
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 howling, screaming, yelping, and chattering of mon- 
keys, toucans, macaws, parrots, and parakeets. There 
were, however, from time to time, queer sounds from 
the forest, and after nightfall different kinds of frogs 
and insects uttered strange cries and calls. In volume 
and frequency these seemed to increase until midnight. 
Then they died away and before dawn everything was 

At this camp the carregadores ants completely de- 
voured the doctor's undershirt, and ate holes in his mos- 

The River of Doubt 257 

quito-net ; and they also ate the strap of Lyra's gun-case. 
The little stingless bees, of many kinds, swarmed in such 
multitudes, and were so persevering, that we had to wear 
our head-nets when we wrote or skinned specimens. 

The following day was almost without rain. It was 
delightful to drift and paddle slowly down the beautiful 
tropical river. Until mid-afternoon the current was not 
very fast, and the broad, deep, placid stream bent and 
curved in every direction, although the general course 
was northwest. The country was flat, and more of the 
land was imder than above water. Continually we found 
ourselves travelling between stretches of marshy forest 
where for miles the water stood or ran among the trees. 
Once we passed a hillock. We saw brilliantly colored 
parakeets and trogons. At last the slow current quick- 
ened. Faster it went, and faster, until it began to run 
like a mill-race, and we heard the roar of rapids ahead. 
We pulled to the right bank, moored the canoes, and 
while most of the men pitched camp two or three of them 
accompanied us to examine the rapids. We had made 
twenty kilometres. 

We soon f oimd that the rapids were a serious obstacle. 
There were many curls, and one or two regular falls, 
perhaps six feet high. It 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 de- 
scent was steepest there were great naked flat of friable 
sandstone and conglomerate. Over parts of these, where 

258 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

there was a surface of fine sand, there 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. In 
this place, where the naked flats of rock showed the pro- 
jection of the ledge through which the river had cut its 
course, the torrent rushed down a deep, sheer-sided, and 
extremely narrow channel. At one point it was less 
than two yards across, and for quite a distance not 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 extraordinary, almost impossible, that 
so broad a river could in so short a space of time contract 
its dimensions to the width of the strangled channel 
through which it now poured its entire volume. 

This has for long been a station where the Nhambi- 
quaras at intervals built their ephemeral villages and tilled 
the soil with the rude and destructive cultivation of sav- 
ages. There were several abandoned old fields, where 
the dense growth of rank fern hid the tangle of burnt 
and fallen logs. Nor had the Nhambiquaras been long 
absent. In one trail we found* what gypsies would have 
called a "pateran," a couple of branches arranged cross- 
wise, eight leaves to a branch; it had some special sig- 
nificance, belonging to that class of signals, each with 
some peculiar and often complicated meaning, which are 
commonly used by many wild peoples. The Indians had 
thrown 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 foamed in its 
rapid descent. This sub-tribe of Indians was called the 

The River of Doubt 259 

Navaite; we named the rapids after them, Navaite 
Rapids. By observation Lyra found them to be (in close 
approximation to) latitude 11° 44' south and longitude 
60° 18' west from Greenwich. 

We spent March 3 and 4 and the morning of the Sth 
in portaging around the rapids. The first night we 
camped in the forest beside the spot where we had halted. 
Next 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 flat. It rained 
heavily. The little bees were in such swarms as to be a 
nuisance. Many small stinging bees were with them, 
which stimg badly. We were bitten by huge horse-flies, 
the size of bumblebees. More serious annoyance was 
caused by the pium and boroshuda flies during the hours 
of daylight, and by the polvora, the sand-flies, after dark. 
There were a few mosquitoes. The boroshudas were the 
worst pests; they brought the blood at once, and left 
marks that lasted for weeks. I did my writing in head- 
net and gauntlets. Fortunately we had with us several 
bottles of "fly dope" — so named on the label — put up, 
with the rest of our medicine, by Doctor Alexander 
Lambert ; he had tested it in the north woods and found 
it excellent. I had never before been forced to use such 
an ointment, and had been reluctant to take it with me ; 
but now I was glad enough to have it, and we all of us 
found it exceedingly useful. I would never again go into 
mosquito or sand-fly country without it. The effect of 
an application wears off after half an hour or so, and 
under many conditions, as when one is perspiring freely, 
it is of no use; but there are times when minute mos- 

26o Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

quitoes and gnats get through head-nets and under mos- 
quito-bars, and when the ointments occasionally renewed 
may permit one to get sleep or rest which would otherwise 
be impossible of attainment. The termites got into our 
tent on the sand-flat, ate holes in Cherrie's mosquito-net 
and poncho, and were starting to work at our duffel- 
bags, when we discovered them. 

Packing" the loads across was simple. Dragging the 
heavy dugouts was labor. The biggest of the two water- 
logged ones was the heaviest. Lyra and Kermit did the 
job. All the men were employed at it except the cook, 
and one man who was down with fever. A road was 
chopped through the forest and a couple of hundred stout 
six-foot poles, or small logs, were cut as rollers and placed 
about two yards apart. 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 down- 
hill and relatively easy. Looking at the way the work 
was done, at the good-will, the endurance, and the bull- 
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 men of the trop- 
ics. Another subject of perpetual wonder is the attitude 
of certain men who stay at home, and still more the 

The River of Doubt 261 

attitude of certain men who travel under easy conditions, 
and who belittle the achievements of the real explorers 
of, the real adventures in, the great wilderness. The 
impostors and romancers among explorers or would-be 
explorers and wilderness wanderers have been unusually 
prominent in connection with South America (although 
the conspicuous ones are not South Americans, by the 
way) ; and these are fit subjects for condemnation and 
derision. But the work of the genuine explorer and 
wilderness wanderer is fraught with fatigue, hardship, 
and danger. Many of the men of little knowledge talk 
glibly of portaging as if it were simple and easy. A 
portage over rough and unknown ground is always a 
work of difficulty and of some risk to the canoe ; and in 
the untrodden, or even in the unfrequented, wilderness 
risk to the canoe is a serious matter. This particular 
portage at Navaite Rapids was far from being unusually 
difficult ; yet it not only cost two and a half days of severe 
and incessant labor, but it cost something in damage to 
the canoes. One in particular, the one in which I had 
been journeying, was split in a manner which caused us 
serious uneasiness as to how long, even after being 
patched, it would last. Where the canoes were launched, 
the bank was sheer, and one of the water-logged canoes 
filled and went to the bottom ; and there was more work 
in raising it. 

We were still wholly unable to tell where we were 
going or what lay ahead of us. Round the camp-fire, 
after supper, we held endless discussions and hazarded all 
kinds of guesses on both subjects. The river might bend 
sharply to the west and enter the Gy-Parana high up or 

262 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

low down, or go north to the Madeira, or bend eastward 
and enter the Tapajos, or fall into the Canuma and finally 
through one of its mouths enter the Amazon direct. Lyra 
inclined to the first, and Colonel Rondon to the second, 
of these propositions. We did not know whether we had 
one hundred or eight hundred kilometres to go, whether 
the stream would be fairly smooth or whether we would 
encounter waterfalls, or rapids, or even some big marsh 
or lake. We could not tell whether or not we would 
meet hostile Indians, although no one of us ever went 
ten yards from camp without his rifle. We had no idea 
how much time the trip would take. We had entered a 
land of unknown possibilities. 

We started down-stream again early in the afternoon 
of March 5. Our hands and faces were swollen from 
the bites and stings of the insect pests at the sand-flat 
camp, and it was a pleasure once more to be in the middle 
of the river, where they did not come, in any numbers, 
while we were in motion. The current was swift, but 
the river was so deep that there were no serious obstruc- 
tions. Twice we went down over slight rifiies, which in 
the dry season were doubtless rapids ; and once we struck 
a spot where many whirlpools marked the presence under- 
neath of bowlders which would have been above water 
had not the river been so swollen by the rains. The dis- 
tance we covered in a day going down-stream would have 
taken us a week if we had been going up. The course 
wound hither and thither, sometimes in sigmoid curves; 
but the general direction was east of north. As usual, 
it was very beautiful ; and we never could tell what might 
appear around any curve. In the forest that rose on 

The River of Doubt 263 

either hand were tall rubber-trees. The surveying canoes, 
as usual, went first, while I shepherded the two pairs of 
lashed cargo canoes. I kept them always between me 
and the surveying canoes — ahead of me until I passed 
the surveying canoes, then behind me until, after an hour 
or so, I had chosen a place to camp. There was so much 
overflowed ground that it took us some little time this 
afternoon before we found a flat place high enough to 
be dry. Just before reaching camp Cherrie shot a jacu, 
a handsome bird somewhat akin to, but much smaller 
than, a turkey ; after Cherrie had taken its skin, its body 
made an excellent canja. We saw parties of monkeys ; 
and the false bell-birds uttered their ringing whistles in 
the dense timber around our tents. The giant ants, an 
inch and a quarter long, were rather too plentiful around 
this camp ; one stung Kermit ; it was almost like the sting 
of a small scorpion, and pained severely for a couple of 
hours. This half-day we made twelve kilometres. 

On the following day we made nineteen kilometres, 
the river twisting in every direction, but in its general 
course running a little west of north. Once we stopped 
at a bee-tree, to get honey. The tree was a towering 
giant, of the kind called milk-tree, because a thick milky 
juice runs freely from any cut. Our camaradas eagerly 
drank the white fluid that flowed from the wounds made 
by their axes. I tried it. The taste was not unpleasant, 
but it left a sticky feeling in the mouth. The helmsman 
of my boat, Luiz, a powerful negro, chopped into the tree, 
balancing himself with springy ease on a slight scaffold- 
ing. The honey was in a hollow, and had been made by 
medium-sized stingless bees. At the mouth of the hollow 

264 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

they had built a curious entrance of their own, in the 
shape of a spout of wax about a foot long. At the open- 
ing the walls of the spout showed the wax formation, but 
elsewhere it had become in color and texture indistin- 
guishable 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 in a single instead of a double row. By this 
tree I came across an example of genuine concealing col- 
oration. A huge tree-toad, the size of a bullfrog, was 
seated upright — ^not squatted flat— on a big rotten limb. 
It was absolutely motionless; the yellow brown of its 
back, and its dark sides, exactly harmonized in color with 
the light and dark patches on the log; the color was as 
concealing, here in its natural surroundings, as is the 
color of our common wood-frog among the dead leaves 
of our woods. When I stirred it up it jumped to a small 
twig, catching hold with the disks of its finger-tips, and 
balancing itself with unexpected ease for so big a crea- 
ture, and then hopped to the ground and again stood mo- 
tionless. Evidently it trusted for safety to escaping ob- 
servation. We saw some monkeys and fresh tapir sign, 
and Kermit shot a jacu for the pot. 

At about three o'clock I was in the lead, when the 
current began to run more quickly. We passed over one 
or two decided ripples, and then heard the roar of rapids 
ahead, while the stream began to race. We drove the 
canoe into the bank, and then went down a tapir trail, 
which led alongside the river, to reconnoitre. A quarter 
of a mile's walk showed us that there were big rapids. 

The River of Doubt 265 

down which the canoes could not go ; and we returned to 
the landing. All the canoes had gathered there, and 
Rondon, Lyra, and Kermit started down-stream to ex- 
plore. 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 days. We made camp just above the 
rapids. Ants swarmed, and some of them' bit savagely. 
Our men, in clearing away the forest for our tents, left 
several very tall and slender accashy palms ; the bole of 
this palm is as straight as an arrow and is crowned with 
delicate, gracefully curved fronds. We had come along 
the course of the river almost exactly a hundred kilo- 
metres ; it had twisted so that 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 
and dragging and floating the dugouts past the series of 
rapids at whose head we had stopped. 

The first day we shifted camp a kilometre and a half 
to the foot of this series of rapids. This' was a charming 
and picturesque camp. It was at the edge of the river, 
where there was a little, shallow bay with a beach of firm 
sand. In the water, at the middle point of the* beach, 
stood a group of three burity palms, their great trunks 
rising like columns. Round the clearing in which our 
tents stood were several very big trees ; two of them were 
rubber-trees. Kermit went down-stream five or six kilo- 
metres, and returned, having shot a jacu'and found that 
at the point which- he had reached there was another 
rapids, almost a fall, which would necessitate our again 

266 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

dragging the canoes over a portage. Antonio, the Pare- 
cis, shot a big monkey; of this I was glad because port- 
aging is hard work, and the men appreciated the meat. 
So far Cherrie had collected sixty birds on the Diivida, all 
of them new to the collection, and some probably new to 
science. We saw the fresh sign of paca, agouti, and the 
small peccary, and Kermit 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 dug- 
out, lightly loaded, could probably run all these rapids. 
But even in such a canoe it would be silly to make the 
attempt on an exploring expedition, where the loss of a 
canoe or of its contents means disaster; and moreover 
such a canoe could not be taken, for it would be impos- 
sible to drag it over the portages on the occasions when 
the portages became inevitable. Our canoes would not 
have lived half a minute in the wild water. 

On the second day the canoes and loads were brought 
down to the foot of the first rapids. Lyra cleared the 
path and laid the logs for rollers, while Kermit dragged 
the dugouts up the bank from the water with block and 
tackle, with strain of rope and muscle. Then they joined 
forces, as over the uneven ground it needed the united 
strength of all their men to get the heavy dugouts along. 
Meanwhile' the colonel with one attendant measured the 
distance, and then went on a long hunt, but saw no game. 
I strolled down beside the river for a couple of miles, but 
also saw nothing. In the dense tropical forest of the 
Amazonian basin hunting is very difficult, especially for 
men who are trying to pass through the country as rap- 

The River of Doubt 267 

idly as possible. On such a trip as ours getting game is 
largely a matter of chance. 

On the following day Lyra and Kermit brought down 
the canoes and loads, with hard labor, to the little beach 
by the three palms where our tents were pitched. Many 
pacovas grew round about. 'The men used their immense 
leaves, some of which were twelve feet long and two and 
a half feet broad, to roof the flimsy shelters under which 
they hung their hammocks. I went into the woods, but 
in the tangle of vegetation it would have been a mere 
hazard had I seen any big animal. Generally the woods 
were silent and empty. Now and then little troops of 
birds of many kinds passed — wood-hewers, ant-thrushes, 
tanagers, flycatchers; as in the spring and fall similar 
troops of warblers, chickadees, and nuthatches pass 
through our northern woods. On the rocks and on the 
great trees by the river grew beautiful white and lilac 
orchids — ^the sobralia, of sweet and delicate fragrance. 
For the moment my own books seemed a trifle heavy, 
and perhaps I would have found the day tedious if Kermit 
had not lent me the Oxford Book of French Verse. Eus- 
tache Deschamp, Joachim du Bellay, Ronsard, the de- 
lightful La Fontaine, the delightful but appalling Villon, 
Victor Hugo's "Guitare," Madame Desbordes-Valmore's 
lines on the little girl and her pillow, as dear little verses 
about a child as ever were written — ^these and many 
others comforted me much, as I read them in head-net 
and gauntlets, sitting on a log by an unknown river in 
the Amazonian forest. 

On the 10th we again embarked and made a kilo- 
metre and a half, spending most of the time in getting 

268 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

past two more rapids. Near the first of these we saw a 
small cayman, a jacare-tinga. At each set of rapids the 
canoes were 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 let down by 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 swift water, and his face was 
cut against the stones. Lyra and Kermit did the actual 
work with the camaradas. Kermit, dressed substantially 
like the camaradas themselves, worked in the water, and, 
as the overhanging branches were thronged with crowds 
of biting and stinging ants, he was marked and blistered 
over his whole body. Indeed, we all suffered more or 
less from these ants; while the swarms of biting flies 
grew constantly more numerous. The termites ate holes 
in my helmet and also in the cover of my cot. Every 
one else had a hammock. At this camp we had come 
down the river about 102 kilometres, according to the 
surveying records, and in height had descended nearly 
100 metres, as shown by the aneroid — although the figure 
in this case is only an approximation, as an aneroid can- 
not 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 of the rapids. 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 

Bragging the canoes over a portage by means of ropes and logs. 
Prom a photograph by Kermil RooseveU. 

The River of Doubt 269 

canoe, which at best was too low in the water, must have 
gradually filled from the wash of the waves. It sank, 
dragging down the other; they began to roll, bursting 
their moorings ; and in the morning they had disappeared. 
A 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 in eddies, or along the shore, showed that 
it was useless to look farther. We called these rapids 
Broken Canoe Rapids. 

It 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 us, it was im- 
portant to make good time. But there was: no alternative. 
We had to build either one big canoe or two small ones. 
It was raining heavily as the men started to explore 
in different directions for good canoe trees. Three — 
which ultimately proved not very good for the purpose — 
were found close to camp; splendid-looking trees, one 
of them five feet in diameter three feet from the ground. 
The axemen immediately attacked this one under the 
superintendence of Colonel Rondon. Lyra and Kermit 
started in opposite directions to hunt. Lyra killed a jacu 
for us, and Kermit killed two monkey? for the men. 
Toward nightfull it cleared. The moon was nearly full, 
and the foaming river gleamed like silver. 

Our men were "regional volunteers," that is, they had 
enlisted in the service of the Telegraphic Commission 
especially to do this wilderness work, and were highly 
paid, as was fitting, in view of the toil, hardship, and 

270 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

hazard to life and health. Two of them had been with 
Colonel Rondon during his eight months' exploration in 
1909, at which time his men were regulars, from his own 
battalion of engineers. His four aides during the closing 
months of this trip were Lieutenants Lyra, Amarante, 
Alencarliense, and Pyrineus. The naturalist Miranda 
Ribeiro also accompanied him. 'This was the year when, 
marching on foot through an absolutely unknown wilder- 
ness, the colonel and his party finally reached the Gy- 
Parana, which on the maps was then (and on most maps 
is now) placed in an utterly wrong course, and over a 
degree out of its real position. When they reached the 
affluents of the Gy-Parana a third of the members of the 
party were so weak with fever that they could hardly 
crawl. They had no baggage. Their clothes were in 
tatters, and some of the men were almost naked. For 
months they had had na food except what little game they 
shot, and especially the wild fruits and nuts; if it had not 
been for the great abundance of the Brazil-nuts they 
would all have died. At the first big stream they encoun- 
tered they built a canoe, and Alencarliense took command 
of it and descended to map the course of the river. With 
him went Ribeiro, the doctor Tanageira, who could no 
longer walk on account of the ulceration of one foot, 
three 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 remainder of the party came 
to the next navigable river eleven more fever-stricken 
men had nearly reached the end of their tether. Here 
they ran across a poor devil who had for four months' 
been lost in the forest and was dying of slow starvation. 

The River of Doubt 271 

He had eaten nothing but Brazil-nuts and the grubs of 
insects. He could no longer walk, but could sit erect 
and totter feebly for a few feet. Another canoe was 
built, and in it Pyrineus started down-stream with the 
eleven fever patients and the starving wanderer. Colonel 
Rondon kept up the morale of his men by still carrying 
out the forms of military discipline. The ragged bugler 
had his bugle. Lieutenant Pyrineus had lost every par^ 
tide of his clothing except a hat and a pair of drawers. 
The half-naked lieutenant drew up his eleven fever pa- 
tients in line ; the bugle sounded ; every one came to atten- 
tion ; and the haggard colonel read out the orders of the 
day. Then the dugout with its load of sick men started 
down-stream, and Rondon, Lyra, Amarante, and the 
twelve remaining men resumed their weary march. When 
a fortnight later they finally struck a camp of rubber- 
gatherers three of the men were literally and entirely 
naked. Meanwhile Amilcar had ascended the Jacyparana 
a month or two previously with provisions to meet them; 
for at that time the maps incorrectly treated this river as 
larger, instead of smaller, than the Gy-Parana, which 
they were in fact descending; and Colonel Rondon had 
supposed that they were going down the former stream. 
Amilcar returned after himself suffering much hardship 
and danger. The different parties finally met at the 
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 the Madeira, 
where he could be cared for ; yet after they had left him 
they heard that he had died. 

On the 12th the men were still hard at work hollow- 

2J2 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

ing out the hard wood of the big tree, with axe and adze, 
while watch and ward were kept over them to see that the 
idlers did not shirk at the expense of the industrious. 
Kermit and Lyra again hunted ; the former shot a curas- 
sow, which was welcome, as we were endeavoring in all 
ways to economize our food supply. We were using 
the tops of palms also. I spent the day hunting in the 
woods, for the most part 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 pleas- 
ant 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 and slender from 
branches a hundred feet above. Others curved like long 
serpents around the trunks. Others were like knotted 
cables. In the shadow there was little noise. The wind 
rarely moved the hot, humid" air. There were few flowers 
or birds. Insects were altogether too abundant, and even 
when travelling slowly it was impossible always to avoid 
them — ^not to speak of our constant companions the bees, 
mosquitoes, and especially the boroshudas or bloodsuck- 
ing flies. Now while bursting through a tangle I dis- 
turbed a nest of wasps, whose resentment was active; 
now I heedlessly stepped among the outliers of a small 
party of the carnivorous foraging ants ; now, grasping a 
branch as I stumbled, I shook down a shower of fire- 
ants ; and among all these my attention was particularly 
arrested by the bite of one of the giant ants, which stung 
like a hornet, so that I felt it for three hours. The cama- 

The River of Doubt 273 

radas generally went barefoot or only wore sandals ; and 
their ankles and feet were swollen and inflamed from the 
bites of the boroshudas and ants, some being actually in- 
capacitated from work. AH of us suffered more or less, 
our faces and hands swelling slightly from the boroshuda 
bites; and in spite of our clothes we were bitten all over 
our bodies, chiefly by ants and the small forest ticks. Be- 
cause of the rain and the heat our clothes were usually 
wet when we took them off at night, and just as wet when 
we put them on again in the morning. 

All day on the 13th the men worked at the canoe, 
making good progress. In rolling and shifting the huge, 
heavy tree-trunk every one had to assist now and then. 
The work continued imtil 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 dark- 
ness round about. The night air was hot and still and 
heavy with moisture. The men were stripped to the 
waist. Olive and copper and ebony, their skins glistened 
as if oiled, and rippled with the ceaseless play of the thews 

On the morning of the 14th the work was resumed in 
a torrential tropic downpour. The canoe was finished, 
dragged down to the water, and launched soon after mid- 
day, and another hour or so saw us under way. The 
descent was marked, and the swollen river raced along. 
Several times we passed great whirlpools, sometimes 
shifting, sometimes steady. Half a dozen times we ran 
over rapids, and, although they were not high enough to 

274 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

have been obstacles to loaded Canadian canoes, two of 
them were serious to tis. Our heavily laden, clumsy 
dugouts were sunk to within three or four inches of the 
surface of the river, and, although they were buoyed on 
each side with bundles of burity-palm branch-stems, they 
shipped a great deal of water in the rapids. The two 
biggest rapids we only just made, and after each we had 
hastily to push ashore in order to bail. In one set of big 
ripples or waves my canoe was nearly swamped. In a 
wilderness, where what is ahead is absolutely unknown, 
alike in terms of time, space, and method — for we had 
no idea where we would come out, how we would get out, 
or when we would get out — it is of vital consequence not 
to lose one's outfit, especially the provisions ; and yet it is 
of only less consequence to go as rapidly as possible lest 
all the provisions be exhausted and the final stages of the 
expedition be accomplished by men weakened from semi- 
starvation, and therefore ripe for disaster. On this occa- 
sion, of the two hazards, we felt it necessary to risk run- 
ning the rapids ; for our progress had been so very slow 
that tmless we made up the time, it was probable that 
we would be short of food before we got where we could 
expect to procure any more except what little the country 
in the time of the rains and floods, might yield. We ran 
until after five, so that the work of pitching camp was 
finished in the dark. We had made nearly sixteen kilo- 
metres in a direction slightly east of north. This even- 
ing the air was fresh and cool. 

The following morning, the ISth of March, we 
started in good season. For six kilometres we drifted 
and paddled down the swift river without incident. At 

The River of Doubt 275 

times we saw lofty Brazil-nut trees rising above the rest 
of the forest on the banks; and back from the river 
these trees grow to enormous proportions, towering like 
giants. There were great rubber-trees also, their leaves 
always in sets of threes. Then the ground on either 
hand rose into bowlder-strewn, forest-clad hills and the 
roar of broken water announced 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 the upper edge. Here grave 
misfortune befell us, and graver misfortune was nar- 
rowly escaped. 

Kermit, as usual, was leading in his canoe. It was 
the smallest and least seaworthy of all. He had in it 
little except a week's supply of our boxed provisions 
and a few tools; fortunately none of the food for the 
camaradas. His dog Trigueiro was with him. Besides 
himself, the crew consisted of two men: Joao, the helms- 
man, or pilot, as he is called in Brazil, and Simplicio, the 
bowsman. Both were negroes and exceptionally good 
men in every way. Kermit halted his canoe on the left 
bank, above the rapids, and waited for the colonel's 
canoe. Then the colonel and Lyra walked down the bank 
to see what was ahead. Kermit took his canoe across 
to the island to see whether the descent could be better 
accomplished on the other side. Having made his in- 
vestigation, he ordered the men to return to the bank he 
had left, and the dugout was headed up-stream accord- 
ingly. Before they had gone a dozen yards, the paddlers 
digging their paddles with all their strength into the 
swift current, one of the shifting whirlpools of which 

2y6 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

I have spoken came down-stream, whirled them around, 
and swept them so close to the rapids that no human 
power could avoid going over them. As they were drift- 
ing into them broadside on, Kermit yelled to the steers- 
man to turn her head, so as to take them in the only 
way 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, and the paddlers urged her 
toward the shore. They had nearly reached the bank 
when another whirlpool or whirling eddy tore them away 
and hurried them back to midstream, where the dugout 
filled 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 his life beaten out on the bowlders be- 
neath the racing torrent. He never rose again, nor did 
we ever recover his body. Kermit clutched his rifle, his 
favorite 405 Winchester with which he had done most of 
his hunting both in Africa and America, and climbed on 
the bottom of the upset boat. In a minute he was swept 
into the second series of rapids, and whirled away from 
the rolling boat, losing his rifle. The water beat his hel- 
met down over his head and face and drove him beneath 
the surface; and when he rose at last he was almost 
drowned, his breath and strength almost spent. He was 
in swift but quiet water, and swam toward an overhang- 
ing branch. His jacket hindered him, but he knew he 
was too nearly gone to be able ta get it off, and, thinking 
with the curious calm one feels when death is but a mo- 
ment away, he realized that the utmost his failing strength 

The River of Doubt 277 

could do was to reach the branch. He reached, and 
clutched it, and then almost lacked strength to haul him- 
self out on the land. Good Trigueiro had faithfully 
swum alongside him through the rapids, and now himself 
scrambled ashore. It was a very narrow escape. Ker- 
mit was a great comfort and help to me on the trip; but 
the fear of some fatal accident befalling him was always 
a nightmare to me. He was to be 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 betrothed and to his mother. 
Simplicio was tmmarried. Later we sent to his mother 
all the money that would have been his had he lived. 
The following morning we put on one side of the post 
erected to mark our camping-spot the following inscrip- 
tion, in Portuguese: 

"In These Rapids Died Poor Simplicio." 

On an expedition such as ours death is one of the acci- 
dents that may at any time occur, and narrow escapes 
from death are too common to be felt as they would be 
felt elsewhere. One mourns sincerely, but mourning can- 
not interfere with labor. We immediately proceeded 
with the work of the portage. From the head to the tail 
of this series of rapids the distance was about six hundred 
yards. A path was cut along the bank, over which the 
loads were brought. The empty canoes ran the rapids 
without mishap, each with two skilled paddlers. One 
of the canoes almost ran intb a swimming tapir at the 
head of the rapids; it went down the rapids, and then 
climbed out of the river. Kermit accompanied by Joao, 
went three or four miles down the river, looking for the 

278 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

body of Simplicio and for the sunk canoe. He found 
neither. But he found a box of provisions and a paddle, 
and salvaged both by swimming into midstream after 
them. He also found that a couple of kilometres below 
there was another stretch of rapids, and following them 
on the left-hand bank to the foot he found that they 
were worse than the ones we had just passed, and im- 
passable for canoes on this left-hand side. 

We camped at the foot of the rapids we had just 
passed. There were many small birds here, but it was ex- 
tremely difficult to see or shoot them in the lofty tree tops, 
and to find them in the tangle beneath if they were shot. 
However, Cherrie got four species new to the collection. 
One was a tiny hummer, one of the species known as 
woodstars, with dainty but not brilliant plumage ; its kind 
is never found except in the deep, dark woods, not coming 
out into the sunshine. Its crop was filled with ants; 
when shot it was feeding at a cluster of long red flowers. 
He also got a very handsome trogon and an exquisite 
little tanager, as brilliant as a cluster of jewls ; its throat 
was lilac, its breast turquoise, its crown and forehead 
topaz, while above it was glossy purple-black, the lower 
part of the back ruby-red. This tanager was a female; 
I can hardly imagine that the male is more brilliantly 
colored. The fourth bird was a queer hawk 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 extraordi- 
nary diet for a hawk. 

The morning of the 16th was dark and gloomy. 
Through sheets of blinding rain we left our camp of 

The River of Doubt 279 

misfortune for another camp where misfortune also 
awaited us. Less than half an hour took our dugouts 
to the head of the rapids below. As Kermit had already 
explored the left-hand side. Colonel Rondon and Lyra 
went down the right-hand side and found a channel 
which led round the worst part, so that they deemed it 
possible to let down the canoes by ropes from the bank. 
The distance to the foot of the rapids was about a kilo- 
metre. While the loads were being brought down the 
left bank, Luiz and Antonio Correa, our two best water- 
men, started to take a canoe down the right side, and 
Colonel Rondon walked ahead to see anything he could 
about the river. He was accompanied by one of our 
three dogs, Lobo. After walking about a kilometre he 
heard ahead a kind of howling noise, which he thought 
was made by spider-monkeys. He walked in the direc- 
tion of the sound and Lobo ran ahead. In a minute he 
heard Lobo yell with pain, and then, still yelping, come 
toward him, while the creature that was howling also 
approached, evidently in pursuit. In a moment a second 
yell from Lobo, followed by silence, announced that he 
was dead ; and the sound of the howling when near con- 
vinced Rondon that the dog had been killed by an Indian, 
doubtless with two arrows. Probably the Indian was 
howling to lure the spider-monkeys toward him. Ron- 
don 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 imagine that one was in 
the neighborhood. He then returned to the foot of the 
rapids, where the portage was still going on, and, in com- 
pany with Lyra, Kermit, and Antonio Parecis, the Indian, 

28o Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

walked back to where Lobo's body lay. Sure enough he 
found him, slain by two arrows. One arrow-head was in 
him, and near by was a strange stick used in the very 
primitive method of fishing of all these Indians. An- 
tonio recognized its purpose. The Indians, who were ap- 
parently two or three in number, had fled. Some beads 
and trinkets were left on the spot to show that we were 
not angry and were friendly. 

Meanwhile Cherrie stayed at the head and I at the 
foot of the portage as guards. Luiz and Antonio Cor- 
rea brought down one canoe safely. The next was the 
new canoe, which was very large and heavy, being made 
of wood that would not float. In the rapids the rope 
broke, and the canoe was lost, Luiz being nearly drowned. 

It 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 even small hills or rocky hillocks, such as had been 
so frequent beside the many rapids we had encountered. 
It was not wise to spend the four days necessary to build 
new canoes where 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 remaining canoes would not carry all the loads 
and all the men, no matter how we cut the loads down ; 
and we intended to cut ever3^hing down at once. We 
had been gone eighteen days. We had used over a third 
of our food. We had gone only 125 kilometres, and it 
was probable that we had at least five times, perhaps six 
or seven times, this distance still to go. We had taken 
a fortnight to descend rapids amounting in the aggre- 

The River of Doubt 281 

gate to less than seventy yards of fall ; a very few yards 
of fall makes a dangerous rapid when the river is swollen 
and swift and there are obstructions. We had only one 
aneroid to determine our altitude, and therefore could 
make merely a loose approximation to it, but we prob- 
ably had between two and three times this descent in the 
aggregate of rapids ahead of us. So far the country had 
offered little In the way of food except palm-tops. We 
had lost four canoes and one man. We were in the 
country of wild Indians, who shot well with their bows. 
It behooved us to go warily, but also to make all speed 
possible, if we were to avoid serious trouble. 

The best plan seemed to be to march thirteen men 
down along the bank, while the remaining canoes, lashed 
two and two, floated down beside them. If after two 
or three days we found no bad rapids, and there seemed 
a reasonable chance of going some distance at decent 
speed, we could then build the new canoes — ^preferably 
two small ones, this time, instead of one big one. We 
left all the baggage we could. We were already down 
as far as comfort would permit ; but we now struck off 
much of the comfort. Cherrie, Kermit, and I had been 
sleeping under a very light fly; and there was another 
small light tent for one person, kept for possible emer- 
gencies. The last was given to me for my cot, and all 
five of the others swung their hammocks under the big 
fly. This meant that we left two big and heavy tents 
behind. A box of surveying instruments was also aban- 
doned. Each of us got his personal belongings down to 
one box or duffel-bag — although there was only a small 
diminution thus made; because we had so little that the 

282 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

only way to make a serious diminution 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 tor- 
ment. But to the camaradas, most of whom went bare- 
foot or only wore sandals — and they never did or would 
wear shoes — the effect was more serious. They wrapped 
their legs and feet in pieces of canvas or hide; and the 
feet of three of them became so swollen that they were 
crippled and could not walk any distance. The doctor, 
whose courage and cheerfulness never flagged, took ex- 
cellent 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, Ker- 
mit, Cherrie, and nine of the camaradas started in single 
file down the bank, while the doctor and I went in the 
two double canoes, with six camaradas, three of them 
the invalids with swollen feet. We halted continually, 
as we went about three times as fast as the walkers ; and 
we traced the course of the river. After forty minutes' 
actual going in the boats we came to some rapids; the 
unloaded canoes ran them without difficulty, while the 
loads were portaged. In an hour and a half we were 
again under 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 

The River of Doubt 283 

in the upper part of the swift water and had to run the 
first set of rapids in consequence. We in the leading pair 
of dugouts were within an ace of coming to grief on 
some big bowlders against which we were swept by a 
cross current at the turn. All of us paddling hard — 
scraping and bumping — we got through by the skin of our 
teeth, and managed to make the bank and moor our 
dugouts. It was a narrow escape from grave disaster. 
The second pair of lashed dugouts profited by our experi- 
ence, and 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 Du- 
vida 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 waterfall about six or eight feet high, just above the 
junction. Here we found plenty of fish. Lyra caught 
two pacu, good-sized, deep-bodied fish. They were de- 
licious eating. Antonio the Parecis said that these fish 
never came up heavy rapids in which there were falls 
they had to jump. We 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 encountered had meant severe 
labor and some danger. But the event showed that he 
was mistaken. The worst rapids were ahead of us. 

284 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

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 westward. This seemed to indicate that to the 
east of us there was a low northward projection of the 
central plateau across which we had travelled on mule- 
back. This is the kind of projection that appears on 
the maps of this region as a sierra. Probably it sent low 
spurs to the west, and the farthest points of these spurs 
now and then caused rapids in our course ( for the rapids 
generally came where there were hills) and for the mo- 
ment deflected the river westward from its general down- 
hill trend to the north. There was no longer any ques- 
tion that the Diivida was a big river, a river of real 
importance. It was not a minor affluent of some other 
affluent. But we were still wholly in the dark as to 
where it came out. It was still possible, although ex- 
ceedingly improbable, that it entered the Gy-Parana, as 
another river of substantially the same size, near its 
mouth. It was much more likely, but not probable, that 
it entered the Tapajos. It was probable, although far 
from certain, that it entered the Madeira low down, near 
its point of junction with the Amazon. In this event it 
was likely, although again far from certain, that its mouth 
would prove to be the Aripuanan. The Aripuanan does 
not appear on the maps as a river of any size ; on a good 
standard map of South America which I had with me its 
name does not appear at all, although a dotted indication 
of a small river or creek at about the right place prob- 
ably represents it. Nevertheless, from the report of one 
of his lieutenants who had examined its mouth, and from 

The River of Doubt 285 

the stories of the rubber-gatherers, or seringuerros. 
Colonel Rondoti had come to the conclusion that this was 
the largest affluent of the Madeira, with such a body of 
water that it must have a big drainage basin. He thought 
that the Diivida was probably one of its head streams — 
although every existing map represented the lay of the 
land to be such as to render impossible the existence of 
such a river system and drainage basin. The rubber- 
gatherers reported that they had gone many days' journey 
up the river, to a point where there was a series of heavy 
rapids with above them the junction-point of two large 
rivers, one entering from the west. Beyond this they had 
difficulties because of the hostility of the Indians; and 
where the junction-point was no one could say. On the 
chance Colonel Rondon had directed one of his subordi- 
nate officers. Lieutenant Pyrineus, to try to meet us, with 
boats and provisions, by ascending the Aripuanan to the 
point of entry of its first big affluent. This was the course 
followed when Amilcar had been directed to try to meet 
the explorers who in 1909 came down the Gy-Parana. 
At that time the effort was a failure, 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 by the mouth 
of the Rio Kermit, Colonel Rondon took a good deal of 
pains in getting a big post set up at the entry of the 
smaller river into the Diivida. Then he summoned me, 
and all the others, to attend the ceremony of its erection. 
We found the camaradas drawn up in line, and the colonel 
preparing to read aloud "the orders of the day." To the 
post was nailed a board with "Rio Kermit" on it; and 

286 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

the colonel read the orders reciting that by the direction 
of the Brazilian Government, and inasmuch as the un- 
known river was evidently a great river, he formally 
christened it the Rio Roosevelt. This was a complete 
surprise to me. Both Lauro Miiller and Colonel Rondon 
had spoken to me on the subject, and I had urged, and 
Kermit had urged, as strongly as possible, that the name 
be kept as Rio da Duvida. We felt that the "River of 
Doubt" was an unusually good name; and it is always 
well to keep a name of this character. But my kind 
friends insisted otherwise, and it would have been churl- 
ish of me to object longer. I was much touched by their 
action, and by the ceremony itself. At the conclusion of 
the reading Colonel Rondon led in cheers for the United 
States and then for me and for Kermit; and the cama- 
radas cheered with a will. I proposed three cheers for 
Brazil and then for Colonel Rondon, and Lyra, and the 
doctor, and then for all the camaradas. Then Lyra said 
that everybody had been cheered except Cherrie ; and so 
we all gave three cheers for Cherrie, and the meeting 
broke up in high good humor. 

Immediately afterward the walkers set off on their 
march down-stream, looking for good canoe-trees. In 
a quarter of an hour 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, and actually heard the Indians ; but the latter 
fled in panic. They came on a little Indian fishing vil- 
lage, just abandoned. The three low, oblong huts, of 
palm-leaves, had each an entrance for a man on all fours, 
but no other opening. They were dark inside, doubtless 

The River of Doubt 287 

as a protection against the swarms of biting flies. On 
a pole in this village an axe, a knife, and some strings of 
red beads were left, with the hope that the Indians would 
return, find the gifts, and realize that we were friendly. 
We saw further Indian sign on both sides of the river. 

After about two hours and a half we came on a little 
river entering from the east. It was broad but shallow, 
and at the point of entrance rushed down, green and 
white, over a sharply inclined sheet of rock. It was a 
lovely sight and we halted to admire 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 third of the loads, the other loads being 
carried on the men's shoulders. At the foot of the rapids 
we camped, as there were several good canoe-trees near, 
and we had decided to build two rather small canoes. 
After dark the stars came out ; but in the deep forest the 
glory of the stars in the night of the sky, the serene radi- 
ance of the moon, the splendor of sunrise and sunset, are 
never seen as they are seen on the vast open plains. 

The following day, the 19th, the men began work on 
the canoes. The ill-fated big canoe had been made of 
wood so hard that it was difficult to work, and so heavy 
that the chips sank like lead in the water. But these 
trees were araputangas, with wood which was easier to 
work, and which floated. Great buttresses, 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 branches. The first tree felled proved rotten, and 
moreover it was chopped so that it smashed a number 
of lesser trees into the kitchen, overthrowing everything, 

288 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

but not inflicting serious damage. Hard-working, will- 
ing, and tough though the camaradas were, they naturally 
did not have the skill of northern lumberjacks. 

We hoped to finish the two canoes in three days, A 
space was cleared in the forest for our tents. Among 
the taller trees grew hugeJeafed pacovas, or wild ban- 
anas. We bathed and swam in the river, although in it 
we caught piranhas. Carregadores ants swarmed all 
around our camp. As many of the nearest of their holes 
as we could we stopped with fire; but at night some of 
them got into our tents and ate things we could ill spare. 
In the early 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 dry. There were many wonderful 
butterflies round about, but only a few birds. Yet in the 
early morning and late afternoon there was some attrac- 
tive bird music in the woods. The two best performers 
were our old friend the false bell-bird, with its series of 
ringing whistles, and a shy, attractive ant-thrush. The 
latter walked much on the ground, with dainty move- 
ments, courtesying and raising its tail ; and in accent and 
sequence, although not in tone or time, its song resem- 
bled that of our white-throated sparrow. 

It was three weeks since we had started down the 
River of Doubt. We had come along its winding course 
about 140 kilometres, with a descent of somewhere in the 
neighborhood of 124 metres. It had been slow progress. 
We could not tell what physical obstacles were ahead of 
us, nor whether the Indians would be actively hostile. 
But a river normally describes in its course a parabola, 

The River of Doubt 289 

the steep descent being in the upper part ; and we hoped 
that in the future we should not have to encounter so 
many and such difficult rapids as we had already encoun- 
tered, and that therefore we would make better time — a. 
hope destined to failure. 



THE mightiest river in the world is the Amazon. 
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 its affluents extends many degrees 
north and south of the equator. The gigantic equatorial 
river basin is filled with an immense forest, the largest in 
the world, with which no other forest can be compared 
save those of western Africa and Malaysia. We were 
within the southern boundary of this great equatorial 
forest, on a river which was not merely unknown but 
unguessed at, no geographer having ever suspected its 
existence. This river flowed northward toward the equa- 
tor, but whither it would go, whether it would turn one 
way or another, the length of its course, where it would 
come 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 Ker- 
mit 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. 


Down an Unknown River 291 

There were very few birds, and these in the tops of the 
tall trees. We saw a recent tapir-track; and under a 
cajazeira-tree by the bank there were the tracks of capy- 
baras which had been eating the fallen fruit. This fruit 
is delicious and would make a valuable addition to our 
orchards. The tree although tropical is hardy, thrives 
when, domesticated, and propagates rapidly from shoots. 
The Department of Agriculture' should try whether it 
would not grow in southern California and Florida. This 
was the tree from which the doctor's family name was 
taken. His parental grandfather, although of Portu- 
guese blood, was an intensely patriotic Brazilian. He 
was a very young man when the independence of Brazil 
was declared, and did not wish to keep the Portuguese 
family name ; so he changed it to that of the fine Brazilian 
tree in question. Such change of family names is common 
in Brazil. Doctor Vital Brazil, the student of poisonous 
serpents, was given his name by his father, whose own 
family name was entirely different; and his brother's 
name was again different! 

There were tremendous downpours of rain, lasting 
for a couple of hours and accompanied by thunder and 
lightning. But on the whole it seemed as if 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 Parecis and Joao, 
crossed the river and walked back to the little river that 
had entered from the east, so as to bring back a report 
of it to Colonel Rondon. Lyra. took observations, by 
the sun and by the stars. We were in about latitude 11° 
21' south, and due north of where we had started. The 

292 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

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 attendant labor and hazard, it was not 
likely that we should go much faster. 

On the morning of March 22 we started in our six 
canoes. We made ten kilometres. Twenty minutes 
after starting we came to the first rapids. Here every 
one walked except the three best paddlers, who took the 
canoes down in succession — ^an hour's job. Soon after 
this we struck a bees' nest in the top of a tree overhang- 
ing the river; our steersman climbed out and robbed it, 
but, alas ! lost the honey on the way back. We came to 
a small steep fall which we did not dare run in our over- 
laden, clumsy, and cranky dugouts. Fortunately, we 
were able to follow a deep canal which led off for a kilo- 
metre, returning just below the falls, fifty yards from 
where it had started. Then, having been in the boats and 
in motion only one hour and a half, we came to a long 
stretch of rapids which it took us six hours to descend, 
and we camped at the foot. Everything was taken out 
of the canoes, and they were run down in succession. At 
one difificult and perilous place they were let down by 
ropes ; and even thus we almost lost one. 

We went down the right bank. On the opposite bank 
was an Indian village, evidently inhabited only during the 
dry season. The marks on the stumps of trees showed 
that these Indians had axes and knives; and there were 
old fields in which maize, beans, and cotton had been 
grown. The forest dripped and steamed. Rubber-trees 
were plentiful. At one point the tops of a group of tall 

Down an Unknown River 293 

trees were covered with yellow-white blossoms. Others 
bore red blossoms. Many of the big trees, of different 
kinds, were buttressed at the base with great thin walls of 
wood. Others, including both palms and ordinary trees, 
showed an even stranger peculiarity. The trunk, near 
the base, but sometimes six or eight feet from the ground, 
was split into a dozen or twenty branches or small trunks 
which sloped outward in tent-like shape, each becoming 
a root. The larger trees of this type looked as if their 
trunks were seated on the tops of the pole frames of 
Indian tepees. At one point in the stream, to our great 
surprise, we saw a flying-fish. It skimmed the water like 
a swallow for over twenty yards. 

Although we made only ten kilometres we worked 
hard all day. The last canoes were brought down and 
moored to the bank at nightfall. Our tents were pitched 
in the darkness. 

Next day we made thirteen kilometres. We ran, all 
told, a little over an hour and three-quarters. Seven 
hours were spent in getting past a series of rapids at 
which the portage, over rocky and difficult ground, was 
a kilometre long. The canoes were run down empty — 
a hazardous run, in which one of them upset. 

Yet while we were actually on the river, paddling and 
floating down-stream along the reaches of swift, smooth 
water, it was very lovely. When we started in the morn- 
ing the day was overcast and the air was heavy with 
vapor. Ahead of us the shrouded river stretched be- 
tween dim walls of forest, half-seen in the mist. Then 
the sun burned up the fog, and loomed through it in a 
red splendor that changed first to gold and then to molten 

294 Through the BraziUan Wilderness 

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 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 the river. On the banks we 
found fresh Indian sign. 

At home in Vermont Cherrie is a farmer, with a farm 
of six hundred acres, most of it woodland. As we sat at 
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 
that was just beginning. He sells cream, eggs, poultry, 
potatoes, honey, occasionally pork and veal; but at this 
season it was the time for the maple-sugar crop. He has 
a sugar orchard, where he taps twelve hundred trees and 
hopes soon to tap as many more in addition. Said Cher- 
rie: "It's a busy time now for Fred Rice" — ^Fred Rice is 
the hired man, and in sugar time the Cherrie boys help 
him with enthusiasm, and, moreover, are paid with exact 
justice for the work they do. There is much wild life 
about the farm, although it is near Brattleboro. One 
night in early spring a bear left his tracks near the sugar- 
house ; and now and then in summer Cherrie has had to 
sleep in the garden to keep the deer away from the beans, 
cabbages, and beets. 

There was not much bird life in the forest, but Cherrie 
kept getting species new to the collection. At this camp 
he shot an interesting little ant-thrush. It was the size 

Down an Unknown River 295 

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 bird, a male, it was showing off before a dull- 
colored little bird, doubtless the female; and the chief 
feature of the display was this white spot on the back. 
The white feathers were raised and displayed so that 
the spot flashed like the "chrysanthemum" on a prong- 
buck whose curiosity has been aroused. In the gloom of 
the forest the bird was hard to see, but the flashing of 
this patch of white feathers revealed it at once, attract- 
ing immediate attention. It was an excellent example 
of a coloration mark' which served a purely advertising 
purpose; apparently it was part of a courtship display. 
The bird was about thirty feet up in the branches. 

In the morning, just before leaving this camp, a tapir 
swam across stream a little way above us ; but unfortu- 
nately we could not get a shot at it. An ample supply of 
tapir beef would have meant much to us. We had started 
with fifty days' rations ; but this by no means meant full 
rations, in the sense of giving every man all he wanted 
to eat. We 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. But we made each box 
last a day and a half, or at times two days, and in addi- 
tion we gave some of the food to the camaradas. It was 
only on the rare occasions when we had killed some 
monkeys or curassows, or caught some fish, that every- 

296 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

body had enough. We would have welcomed that tapir. 
So far the game, fish, and fruit had been too scarce to 
be an element of weight in our food supply. In an 
exploring trip like ours, through a difficult and utterly 
unknown country, especially if densely forested, there is 
little time to halt, and game cannot be counted on. It is 
only in lands like our own West thirty years ago, like 
South Africa in the middle of the last century, like East 
Africa to-day that game can be made the chief food sup- 
ply. On this trip our only substantial food supply from 
the country hitherto had been that furnished'by the palm- 
tops. Two men were detailed every day to cut down 
palms for food. 

A kilometre and a half after leaving this camp we 
came on a stretch of big rapids. The river here twists 
in loops, and we had heard the roaring of these rapids 
the previous afternoon. Then we passed out of earshot 
of them ; but Antonio Correa, our best waterman, insisted 
all along that the roaring meant rapids worse than any 
we had encountered for some days. "I was brought up 
in the water, and I know it like a fish, and all its sounds," 
said he. He was right. We 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, Ker- 
mit, and Antonio Correa explored both sides of the river. 
On the opposite or left bank they found the mouth of a 
considerable river, bigger than the Rio Kermit, flowing in 
from the west and making its entrance in the middle of 
the rapids. This river we christened the Taunay, in 
honor of a distinguished Brazilian, an explorer, a soldier. 

Down an Unknown River 297 

a senator, who was also a writer of note. Kermit had 
with him two of his novels, and I had read one of his 
books dealing with a disastrous retreat during the Para- 
guayan war. 

Next morning, the 25 th, the canoes were brought 
down. A path was chopped for them and rollers laid; 
and half-way down the rapids Lyra and Kermit, who 
were overseeing the work as well as doing their share 
of the pushing and hauling, got them into a canal of 
smooth water, which saved much severe labor. As our 
food supply lowered we were constantly more desirous 
of economizing the strength of the men. 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 a trifle over 160 kilo- 
metres, thanks to the character and number of the rapids. 
We believed we had three or four times the distance yet 
to go before coming to a part of the river where we 
might hope to meet assistance, either from rubber-gather- 
ers, or from Pyrineus, if he were really coming up the 
river which we were going down. If the rapids contin- 
ued to be as they had been it could not be much more 
than three weeks before we were in straits for food, aside 
from the ever-present danger of accident in the rapids; 
and if our progress were no faster than it had been — and 
we were straining to do our best — we would in such event 
still have several hundreds of kilometres of unknown 
river before us. We could not even hazard a guess at 
what was in front. The river was now a really big river, 
and it seemed impossible that it could flow either into the 

298 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

Gy-Parana or the Tapajos. It was possible that it went 
into the Canuma, a big affluent of the Madeira low down, 
and next to the Tapajos. It was more probable that it 
was the headwaters of the Aripuanan, a river which, as 
I have said, was not even named on the excellent English 
map of Brazil I carried. Nothing but the mouth had 
been known to any geographer; but the lower course had 
long been known to rubber-gatherers, and recently a com- 
mission from the government of Amazonas had part- 
way ascended one branch of it — ^not as far as the rubber- 
gatherers had gone, and, as it turned out, not the branch 
we came down. 

Two of our men were down with fever. Another 
man, Julio, a fellow of powerful frame, was utterly 
worthless, being an inborn, lazy shirk with the heart of 
a ferocious cur in the body of a bullock. The others were 
good men, some of them very good indeed. They were 
under the immediate supervision of Pedrinho Craveiro, 
who was first-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 us, and 
across the bay, and on both sides of the long water-street 
made by the river, rose the splendid forest. There were 
flocks 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 co- 
verts, and huge black-and-yellow bills. Here the soil was 
fertile ; it will be a fine site for a coffee-plantation when 
this region is open to settlement. Surely such a rich and 

Down an Unknown River 299 

fertile land cannot be permitted to remain idle, to He as 
a tenantless wilderness, while there are such teeming 
swarms of human beings in the overcrowded, overpeopled 
countries of the Old World. The very rapids and water- 
falls which now make the navigation of the river so diffi- 
cult and dangerous would drive electric trolleys up and 
down its whole length and far out on either side, and run 
mills and factories, and lighten the labor on farms. With 
the incoming of settlement and with the steady growth of 
knowledge how to fight and control tropical diseases, fear 
of danger to health would vanish. A land like this is a 
hard land for the first explorers, and perhaps for their 
immediate followers, but not for the people who come 
after them. 

In mid-afternoon we were once more in the canoes; 
but we had paddled with the current only a few minutes, 
we had gone only a kilometre, when the roar of rapids 
in front again forced us to haul up to the bank. As 
usual, Rondon, Lyra, and Kermit, with Antonio Correa, 
explored both sides while camp was being pitched. The 
rapids were longer and of steeper descent than the last, 
but on the opposite or western side there was a passage 
down which we thought we could get the empty dugouts 
at the cost of dragging 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 a sheer fall of six or eight feet. We 
found and ate wild pineapples. Wild beans were in 
flower. At dinner we had a toucan and a couple of par- 
rots, which were very good. 

300 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

All next day was spent by Lyra in superintending our 
three best watermen as they took the canoes down the 
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 gathered a quantity of big Brazil-nuts, which when 
roasted tasted like the best of chestnuts and are nutri- 
tious ; and they caught a number of big piranhas, which 
were good eating. So we all had a feast, and everybody 
had enough to eat and was happy. 

By these rapids, at the fall, Cherrie found some 
strange carvings on a bare mass of rock. They were 
evidently made by men a long time ago. As far as is 
known, the Indians thereabouts make no such figures now. 
They were in two groups, one on the surface of the rock 
facing the land, the other on that facing the water. The 
latter were nearly obliterated. The former were in good 
preservation, the figures sharply cut into the rock. They 
consisted, upon the upper flat part of the rock, of four 
multiple circles with a dot in the middle (|^) . very accu- 
rately 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 (fjl^). What these curious symbols rep- 
resented, or who made them, we could not, of course, 
form the slightest idea. It may be that in a very remote 
past some Indian tribes of comparatively advanced cul- 
ture had penetrated to this lovely river, just as we had 

Down an Unknown River 301 

now come to it. Before white men came to South Amer- 
ica there had already existed therein various semiciviliza- 
tions, some rude, others fairly advanced, which rose, 
flourished, and persisted through immemorial ages, and 
then vanished. The vicissitudes in the history of hu- 
manity during its 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 life during the 
age of mammals. Colonel Rondon stated that such fig- 
ures as these are not found anywhere else in Matto 
Grosso where he has been, and therefore it was all the 
more strange to find them in this one place on the un- 
known river, never before visited by white men, which 
we were descending. 

Next morning we went about three kilometers before 
coming to some steep hills, beautiful to look upon, clad 
as they were in dense, tall, tropical forest, but ominous 
of new rapids. Sure enough, at their foot we had to 
haul up and prepare for a long portage. The canoes we 
ran down empty. Even so, we were within an ace of 
losing two, the lashed couple in which I ordinarily jour- 
neyed. In a sharp bend of the rapids, between two big 
curls, they were swept among the bowlders and under 
the matted branches which stretched out from the bank. 
They filled, and the racing current pinned them where 
they were, one partly on the other. All of us had to help 
get them clear. Their fastenings were chopped asunder 
with axes. Kermit and half a dozen of the men, stripped 
to the skin, made their way to a small rock island in the 
little falls just above the canoes, and let down a rope 

302 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

which we tied to the outermost canoe. The rest of us, 
up to our armpits and barely able to keep our footing as 
we slipped and stumbled among the bowlders in the swift 
current, lifted and shoved while Kermit and his men 
pulled the rope and fastened the slack to a half-submerged 
tree. Each canoe in succession was hauled up the little 
rock island, baled, and then taken down in safety by two 
paddlers. It was nearly four o'clock before we were 
again ready to start, having been delayed by a rain-storm 
so heavy that we could not see across the river. Ten 
minutes' run took us to the head of another series of 
rapids; the exploring party returned with the news that 
we had an all day's job ahead of us ; and we made camp 
in the rain, which did not matter much, as we were al- 
ready drenched through. It was impossible, with the 
wet wood, to make a fire sufficiently hot to dry all our 
soggy things, for the rain was still falling. A tapir was 
seen from our boat, but, as at the moment we were being 
whisked round in a complete circle by a whirlpool, I did 
not myself see it in 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 
little river coming in from the west, which Colonel Ron- 
don christened Cherrie River. Across this we went on 
a bridge consisting of a huge tree felled by Macario, one 
of our best men. Here we camped, while Rondon, Lyra, 
Kermit, and Antonio Correa explored what was ahead. 
They were absent until mid-afternoon. Then they re- 
turned with the news that we were among ranges of low 
mountains, utterly different in formation from the high 

Down an Unknown River 303 

plateau region to which the first rapids, those we had 
come to on the 2d of March, belonged. Through the 
first range of these mountains the river ran in a gorge, 
some three kilometres long, immediately ahead of us. 
The ground was so rough and steep that it would be im- 
possible to drag the canoes over it and difficult enough 
to carry the loads ; and the rapids were so bad, containing 
several falls, one of at least ten metres in height, that it 
was doubtful how many of the canoes we could get down 
them. Kermit, who was the only man with much experi- 
ence of rope work, was the only man who believed we 
could get the canoes down at all ; and it was, of course, 
possible that we should have to build new ones at the foot 
to supply the place of any that were lost or left behind. 
In view of the length and character of the portage, and 
of all the unpleasant possibilities that were ahead, and 
of the need of keeping every pound of food, it was neces- 
sary to reduce weight in every possible way and to throw 
away everything except the barest necessities. 

We thought we had reduced our baggage before ; but 
now we cut to the bone. We kept the fly for all six of 
us to sleep under. Kermit's shoes had gone, thanks to 
the amount of work in the water which he had been do- 
ing; and he took the pair I had been wearing, while I put 
on my spare pair. In addition to the clothes I wore, I 
kept one set of pajamas, a spare pair of drawers, a spare 
pair of socks, half a dozen handkerchiefs, my wash-kit, 
my pocket medicine-case, and a little bag containing my 
spare spectacles, gun-grease, some adhesive plaster, some 
needles and thread, the "fly-dope," and my purse and 
letter of credit, to be used at Manaos. All of these went 

304 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

into the bag containing my cot, blanket, and mosquito- 
net. I also carried a cartridge-bag containing my cart- 
ridges, head-net, and gauntlets. Kermit cut down even 
closer ; and the 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 difficult and laborious 
in the extreme, but hazardous ; for the walls of the gorge 
were so sheer that at the worst places they had to cling 
to narrow shelves on the face of the rock, while letting 
the canoes down with ropes. Meanwhile Rondon sur- 
veyed and cut a trail for the burden-bearers, and super- 
intended the portage of the loads. The rocky sides of 
the gorge were too steep for laden men to attempt to 
traverse them. Accordingly the trail 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. It 
was hard work to carry loads over such a trail. From 
the top of the mountain, through an opening in the trees 
on the edge of a cliflf, there was a beautiful view of the 
country ahead. All around and in front of us there were 
ranges of low mountains about the height of the lower 
ridges of the AUeghanies. 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. Then it disappeared behind and between 
mountain ridges, which we supposed meant further 
rapids. It was a view well worth seeing ; but, beautiful 

Down an Unknown River 305 

although the country ahead of us was, its character was 
such as to promise further hardships, difficulty, and ex- 
hausting labor, and especially further delay; and delay 
was a serious matter to men whose food supply was be- 
ginning to run short, whose equipment was reduced to the 
minimum, who for a month, with the utmost toil, had 
made very slow progress, and who had no idea of either 
the distance or the difficulties of the route in front of 

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. There were tracks of tapir, deer, and 
agouti ; and if we had taken two or three days to devote 
to nothing else than hunting them we might perchance 
have killed something ; but the chance was much too un- 
certain, the work we were doing was too hard and wear- 
ing, and the need of pressing forward altogether too great 
to permit us to spend any time in such manner. The 
hunting had to come in incidentally. This type of well- 
nigh impenetrable forest is the one in which it is most 
difficult to get even what little 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, Kermit, and their four associates had spent from 
sunrise to sunset in severe and at moments dangerous toil 
among the rocks and in the swift water, and the fresh 
meat was appreciated. The head, feet, tail, skin, and en- 
trails were boiled for the gaunt and ravenous dogs. The 
flesh gave each of us a few mouthfuls; and how good 
those mouthfuls tasted ! 

3o6 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

Cherrie, in addition to being out after birds in every 
spare moment, helped in all emergencies. He was a vet- 
eran in the work of the tropic wilderness. We talked 
together often, and of many 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 and war, 
were in all essentials the same. His father had served 
all through the Civil War, entering an Iowa cavalry 
regiment as a private and coming out as a captain; his 
breast-bone was shattered by a blow from a musket-butt, 
in hand-to-hand fighting at Shiloh. 

During this portage the weather favored us. We 
were coming toward the close of the rainy season. On 
the last day of the month, when we moved camp to the 
foot of the gorge, there was a thunder-storm ; but on the 
whole we were not bothered by rain until the last night, 
when it rained heavily, driving under the fly so as to wet 
my cot and bedding. However, I slept comfortably 
enough, rolled in the damp blanket. Without the blanket 
I should have been uncomfortable; a blanket is a neces- 
sity for health. On 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 I thought I had put my clothes out of reach, 
both the termites and the carregadores ants got at them, 
ate holes in one boot, ate one leg of my drawers, and 
riddled my handkerchief ; and I now had nothing to re- 
place anything that was destroyed. 

Down an Unknown River 307 

Next day Lyra, Kermit, and their camaradas brought 
the five canoes that were left down to camp. They had 
in four days accomplished a work 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 that the river sank into a cataract- 
broken torrent at the bottom of a canyon-like gorge 
between steep mountains. On April 2 we once more 
started, wondering how soon we should strike other rap- 
ids in the mountains ahead, and whether in any reason- 
able time we should, as the aneroid indicated, be so low 
down that we should necessarily be in a plain where we 
could make a journey of at least a 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 1 10 kilometres, and had 
descended nearly 150 metres — the figures are approxi- 
mate but fairly accurate.* We had lost four of the 
canoes with which we started, and one other, which we 
had built, and the life of one man ; and the life of a dog 
which by its death had in all probability saved the life of 
Colonel Rondon. In a straight line northward, toward 
our supposed destination, we had not made more than a 
mile and a quarter a day; at the cost of bitter toil for 
most of the party, of much risk for some of the party, 
and of some risk and some hardship for all the party. 
Most of the camaradas were downhearted, naturally 
enough, and occasionally asked one of us if we really be- 

*The first four days, before we struck the upper rapids, and 
during which we made nearly seventy kilometres, are of course not 
included when I speak of our making our way down the rapids. 

3o8 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

lieved that we should ever get out alive ; and we had to 
cheer them up as best we could. 

There was no change in our work for the time being. 
We made but three kilometres that day. Most of the 
party walked all the time; but the dugouts carried the 
luggage until we struck the head of the series of rapids 
which were to take up the next two or three days. The 
river rushed 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. Rondon, Lyra, and Kermit, who were 
in front, found a small level spot, with a beach of sand, 
and sent back word to camp there, while they spent sev- 
eral hours in exploring the country ahead. The canoes 
were run down empty, and the loads carried painfully 
along the face of the cliffs; so bad was the trail that I 
found it rather hard to follow, although carrying nothing 
but my rifle and cartridge-bag. The explorers returned 
with the information that the mountains stretched ahead 
of us, and that there were rapids as far as they had gone. 
We could only hope that the aneroid was not hopelessly 
out of kilter, and that we should, therefore, fairly soon 
find ourselves in comparatively level country. The 
severe toil, on a rather limited food supply, was telling 
on the strength as well as on the spirits of the men; 
Lyra and Kermit, in addition to their other work, per- 
formed as much actual physical labor as any of them. 

Next day, the 3d of April, we began the descent of 
these sinister rapids of the chasm. Colonel Rondon had 

Down an Unknown River 309 

gone to the summit of the mountain in order to find a 
better trail for the burden-bearers, but it was hopeless, 
and they had to go along the face of the cliffs. Such 
an exploring expedition as that in which we were en- 
gaged of necessity involves hard and dangerous labor, and 
perils of many kinds. To follow down-stream an un- 
known river, broken by innumerable cataracts and rapids, 
rushing through mountains of which the existence has 
never been even guessed, bears no resemblance whatever 
to following even a fairly dangerous river which has 
been thoroughly explored and has become in some sort 
a highway, so that experienced pilots can be secured as 
guides, while the portages have been pioneered and trails 
chopped out, and every dangerous feature of the rapids 
is known beforehand. In this case no one could foretell 
that the river would cleave its way through steep moun- 
tain chains, cutting narrow clefts in which the cliff walls 
rose almost sheer on either hand. When a rushing river 
thus "canyons," as we used to say out West, and the 
mountains are very steep, it becomes almost impossible 
to bring the canoes down the river itself and utterly im- 
possible to portage them along the cliff sides, while even 
to bring the loads over the mountain is a task of extraor- 
dinary labor and difficulty. Moreover, no one can tell 
how many times the task will have to be repeated, or when 
it will end, or whether the food will hold out ; every hour 
of work in the rapids is fraught with the possibility of 
the gravest disaster, and yet it is imperatively necessary 
to attempt it; and all this is done in an uninhabited wil- 
derness, or else a wilderness tenanted only by unfriendly 
savages, where failure to get through means death by 

3IO Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

disease and starvation. Wholesale disasters to South 
American exploring parties have been frequent. The 
first recent effort to descend one of the unknown rivers 
to the Amazon from the Brazilian highlands resulted in 
such a disaster. It was undertaken in 1889 by a party 
about as large as ours under a Brazilian engineer officer, 
Colonel Telles Peres. In descending some rapids they 
lost everything — canoes, food, medicine, implements — 
everything. Fever smote them, and then starvation. All 
of them died except one officer and two men, who were 
rescued months later. Recently, in Guiana, a wilder- 
ness veteran, Andre, lost two-thirds of his party by star- 
vation. Genuine wilderness exploration is as dangerous 
as warfare. The conquest of wild nature demands the 
utmost vigor, hardihood, and daring, and takes from the 
conquerors a heavy toll of life and health. 

Lyra, Kermit, and Cherrie, with four of the men, 
worked the canoes half-way down the canyon. Again 
and again it was touch and go whether they could get by 
a given point. 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 were left. Cherrie labored with the other men at 
times, and also stood as guard over them, for, while actu- 
ally working, of course no one could carry a rifle. Ker- 
mit's experience in bridge building was invaluable in 
enabling him to do the rope work by which alone it was 
possible to get the canoes down the canyon. He and 
Lyra had now been in the water for days. Their clothes 
were never dry. Their shoes were rotten. The bruises 
on their feet and legs had become sores. On their bodies 

Down an Unknown River 311 

some of the insect bites had become festering wounds, as 
indeed was the case with all of us. Poisonous ants, 
biting flies, ticks, wasps, bees were a perpetual torment. 
However, no one had yet been bitten by a venomous ser- 
pent, a scorpion, or a centiped, although we had killed all 
of the three 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 expedi- 
tion ; and he had the reputation of being a good worker. 
But, like so many men of higher standing, he had had no 
idea of what such an expedition really meant, and under 
the strain of toil, hardship, and danger his nature showed 
its true depths of selfishness, cowardice, and ferocity. 
He shirkfed all work. He shammed sickness. Nothing 
could make him do his share; and yet unlike his self- 
respecting fellows he was always shamelessly begging for 
favors. Kermit was the only one of our party who 
smoked; and he was continually giving a little tobacco 
to some of the camaradas, who worked especially well 
under him. The good men did not ask for it ; but Julio, 
who shirked every labor, was always, and always in vain, 
demanding it. Colonel Rondon, Lyra, and Kermit each 
tried to get work out of him, and in order to do anything 
with him had to threaten to leave him in the wilderness. 
He threw all his tasks on his comrades; and, moreover, 
he stole their food as well as ours. On such an expedi- 
tion the theft of food comes next to murder as a crime, 

312 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

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 into the 
common store. Finally, the men on several occasions 
themselves detected him stealing their food. Alone of 
the whole party, and thanks to the stolen food, he had 
kept in full flesh and bodily vigor. 

One of our best men was a huge negro named Paixao 
— Paishon — a corporal and acting sergeant in the engi- 
neer corps. He had, by the way, literally torn his trou- 
sers to pieces, so that he wore only the tatters of a pair of 
old drawers until I gave him my spare trousers 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 fear and malignant hatred; but after investigation 
he was told that he had gotten off uncommonly lightly. 
The men had three or four carbines, which were some- 
times carried by those who were not their owners. 

On this morning, at the outset of the portage, Pedrin- 
ho discovered Julio stealing some of the men's dried meat. 
Shortly afterward Paishon rebuked him for, as usual, 
lagging behind. By this time we had reached the place 
where the canoes were tied to the bank and then taken 
down one at a time. We were sitting down, waiting for 
the last loads to be brought along the trail. Pedrinho was 
still in the camp we had left. Paishon had just brought 
in a load, left it on the ground with his carbine beside it, 
and returned on the trail for another load. Julio came 
in, put down his load, picked up the carbine, and walked 
back on the trail, muttering to himself but showing no 

Down an Unknown River 313 

excitement. We thought nothing of it, for he was al- 
ways muttering; and occasionally one of the men saw a 
monkey or big bird and tried to shoot it, so it was never 
surprising to see a man with a carbine. 

In a minute we heard a shot ; and in a short time three 
or four of the men came up the trail to tell us that Paishon 
was dead, having been shot by Julio, who had fled into 
the woods. Colonel Rondon and Lyra were ahead; I 
sent a messenger for them, directed Cherrie and Kermit 
to stay where they were and guard the canoes and pro- 
visions, and started down the trail with the doctor — an 
absolutely cool and plucky man, with a revolver but no 
rifle — and a couple of the camaradas. We soon passed 
the dead body of poor Paishon. He lay in a huddle, in 
a pool of his own blood, where he had fallen, shot through 
the heart. I feared that Julio had run amuck, and intend- 
ed merely to take more lives before he died, and that he 
would begin with Pedrinho, who was alone and unarmed 
in the camp we had left. Accordingly I pushed on, fol- 
lowed by my companions, looking sharply right and left ; 
but when we came to the camp the doctor quietly walked 
by me, remarking, "My eyes are better than yours, 
colonel; if he is in sight I'll point him out to you, as 
you have the rifle." 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. 

314 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

he fled in panic terror into the wilderness. A tree had 
knocked the carbine from his hand. His footsteps 
showed that after going some rods he had started to 
return, doubtless for the carbine, but had fled again, 
probably because the body had then been discovered. It 
was questionable whether or not he would live to reach 
the Indian villages, which were probably his goal. He 
was not a man to feel remorse — ^never a common feeling; 
but surely that murderer was in a living hell, as, with 
fever and famine leering at him from the shadows, he 
made his way through the empty desolation of the wilder- 
ness. Fran9a, 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 I had never 
encountered before: "Paishon is following Julio now, 
and will follow him 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." 

We did not attempt to pursue the murderer. We 
could not legally put him to death, although he was a 
soldier who in cold blood had just deliberately killed a 
fellow soldier. If we had been near civilization 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 their courage and their strength 
were gradually ebbing. Our first duty was to save the 
lives and the health of the men of the expedition who had 

Down an Unknown River 315 

honestly been performing, and had still to perform, so 
much perilous labor. If we 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 temp- 
tation for him to make an effort to seize food and a 
weapon and escape, perhaps murdering some other good 
man. He could not be shackled while 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 men already exhausted by over- 
work. The expedition was in peril, and it was wise to 
take every chance possible that would help secure success. 
Whether the murderer lived or died in the wilderness 
was of no moment compared with the duty of doing 
everything 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 rolling rocks down on any of the men work- 
ing on the cliff sides or in the bottom of the gorge. But 
we did not see him until the morning of the third day. 
We had passed 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 called out that he 
wished to surrender and be taken aboard; for the mur- 
derer was an arrant craven at heart, a strange mixture 
of ferocity and cowardice. Colonel Rondon's boat was 
far in advance ; he did not stop nor answer. I kept on 
in similar fashion with the rear boats, for I had no in- 
tention of taking the murderer aboard, to the jeopardy 

3i6 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

of the other members of the party, unless Colonel Ron- 
don told me that it would have to be done in pursuance 
of his duty as an officer of the army and a servant of the 
Government of Brazil. At the first halt Colonel Rondon 
came up to me and told me that this was his view of his 
duty, but that he had not stopped because he wished 
first to consult me as the chief of the expedition. I 
answered that for the reasons enumerated above I did 
not believe that in justice to the good men of the ex- 
pedition we should jeopardize their safety by taking 
the murderer along, and that if the responsibility were 
mine I should refuse to take him; but that he. Colonel 
Rondon, was the superior officer of both the murderer 
and of all the other enlisted men and army officers on the 
expedition, and in return was responsible for his actions 
to his own governmental 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 
camp he sent back two men, expert woodsmen, to find the 
murderer and bring him in. They failed to find him.* 
I have anticipated my narrative because I do not wish 
to recur to the horror more than is necessary. I now re- 
turn to my story. After we found that Julio had fled, we 
returned to the scene of the tragedy. The murdered man 
lay with a handkerchief thrown over his face. We buried 
him beside the place where he fell. With axes and knives 
the camaradas dug a shallow grave while we stood by 
with bared heads. Then reverently and carefully we 

* The above account of all the circumstances connected with the 
murder was read to and approved as correct by all six members 
of the expedition. 

Down an Unknown River 317 

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 over him, and put a rude cross at his 
head. We fired a volley for a brave and loyal soldier 
who had died doing his duty. Then we left him forever, 
under the great trees beside 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 cliff there was a narrow, bowlder-covered slope 
where it was possible to sling hammocks and cook ; and a 
slanting spot was found for my cot, which had sagged 
until by this time it looked like a broken-backed centiped. 
It rained a little 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 opposite side ; it was not a good camping-place, but 
it was better than the one we left. 

The men were growing constantly weaker under the 
endless strain of exhausting labor. Kermit was having 
an attack of fever, and Lyra and Cherrie had touches of 
dysentery, but all three continued to work. While in the 
water trying to help with an upset canoe I had by my own 
clumsiness bruised my leg against a bowlder ; and the re- 
sulting inflammation was somewhat bothersome. I now 
had a sharp attack of fever, but thanks to the excellent 
care of the doctor, was over it in about forty-eight hours; 
but Kermit's fever grew worse and he too was unable to 
work for a day or two. We could walk over the port- 

3i8 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

ages, however. A good doctor is an absolute necessity 
on an exploring expedition in such a country as that we 
were in, under penalty of a frightful mortality among 
the members ; and the necessary risks and hazards are so 
great, the chances of disaster so large, that there is no 
warrant for increasing them by the failure to take all 
feasible precautions. 

The next day we made another long portage round 
some rapids, and camped at night still in the hot, wet, sun- 
less 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. For some kilo- 
metres we kept passing hills, and feared lest at any mo- 
ment 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 men 
were disheartened, weak, and sick. Most of them had 
already begun to have fever. Their condition was in- 
evitable 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, accompa- 
nied 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 camaradas who 
were too weak to help the others, their condition being 
such as to cause us serious concern. 

However, the hills gradually sank into a level plain, 
and the 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 first time held out prom- 
ise. Twice tapirs swam the river while we passed, but 

Down an Unknown River 319 

not near my canoe. However, the previous evening 
Cherrie had killed 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 un- 
loaded 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 right We thought it 
was probably the Ananas, but, of course, could not be 
certain. It was less in volume than the one we had de- 
scended, 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, immedi- 
ately after the junction, which took place in latitude 10° 
58' south. We had come 216 kilometres all told, and were 
nearly north of where we had started. We camped on 
the point of land between the two rivers. It was extraor- 
dinary to realize that here about the eleventh degree we 
were on such a big river, utterly unknown to the cartog- 
raphers and not indicated by even a hint on any map. 
We named this big tributary Rio Cardozo, after a gallant 
officer of the commission who had died of beriberi just 
as our expedition began. We spent a day at this spot, 
determining our exact position by the sun, and afterward 
by the stars, and sending on two men to explore the rapids 
in advance. They returned with the news that there were 
big cataracts in them, and that they would form an ob- 
stacle to our progress. They had also caught a huge 
siluroid fish, which furnished an excellent meal for every- 
body in camp. This evening at sunset the view across 
the broad river, from our camp where the two rivers 

320 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

joined, was very lovely ; and for the first time we had an 
open space in front of and above us, so that after nightfall 
the stars, and the great waxing moon, were glorious over- 
head, and against the rocks in midstream the broken water 
gleamed 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 proportions to the body, and the enormous 
mouth, out of all proportion to the head. Such fish, al- 
though their teeth are small, swallow very large prey. 
This one contained the nearly digested remains of a mon- 
key. Probably the monkey had been seized while drink- 
ing from the end of a branch ; and once engulfed in that 
yawning cavern there was no escape. We Americans 
were astounded at the idea of a catfish 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 gigantic catfish which in similar fash- 
ion occasionally makes prey of man. This is a grayish- 
white fish over nine feet long, with the usual dispropor- 
tionately large head and gaping mouth, with a circle of 
small teeth ; for the engulfing mouth itself is the danger, 
not the teeth. It is called the piraiba — ^pronounced in 
four syllables. While stationed at the small city of Itacoa- 
tiara, on the Amazon, at the mouth of the Madeira, the 
doctor had seen one of these monsters which had been 
killed by the two men it had attacked. They were fishing 
in a canoe when it rose from the bottom — for it is a 
ground fish — and raising itself half out of the water 
lunged over the edge of the canoe at them, with open 
mouth. They killed it with their falcons, as machetes are 

Down an Unknown River 321 

called in Brazil. It was taken round the city in triumph 
in an ox-cart; the doctor saw it, and said it was three 
metres long. He said that swimmers feared it even more 
than the big cayman, because they could see the latter, 
whereas the former lay hid at the bottom of the water. 
Colonel Rondon said that in many villages where he had 
been on the lower Madeira the people had built stockaded 
enclosures in the water in which they bathed, not ventur- 
ing to 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 diffi- 
culty, for on the west side were long canals of swift water 
through the forest. The river had been higher, but was 
still very high, and the current raced round the many 
islands that at this point divided the channel. At four 
we made camp at the head of another stretch of rapids, 
over which the Canadian canoes would have danced with- 
out shipping a teaspoonful of water, but which our dug- 
outs could only run empty. Cherrie killed three monkeys 
and Lyra caught two big piranhas, so that we were again 
all of us well provided with dinner and breakfast. When 
a number of men, doing hard work, are most of the time 
on half-rations, they grow to take a lively interest in any 
reasonably full meal that^ does arrive. 

On the 10th we repeated the proceedings: a short 
quick run; a few hundred metres' portage, occupying, 
however, at least a couple of hours ; again a few minutes' 
run; again other rapids. iWe again made less than five 
kilometres; in the two days we had been descending 

2p.2 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

nearly a metre for every kilometre we made in advance ; 
and it hardly seemed as if this state of things could last, 
for the aneroid showed that 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 dance. But our loaded 
dugouts would have shoved their noses under every curl. 
The country was lovely. The wide river, now in one 
channel, now in several channels, wound among hills; the 
shower-freshened forest glistened in the sunlight; the 
many kinds of beautiful palm-fronds and the huge paco- 
va-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 own 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 
rapids at the head of which we were encamped, down 
which the canoes were run empty. Then for thirty or 
forty minutes we ran down the swift, twisting river, the 
two lashed canoes almost coming to grief at one spot 
where a swirl of the current threw them against some 
trees on a small submerged islaid. Then we came to an- 
other set of rapids, carried the baggage down past them, 

Down an Unknown River 323 

and made camp long after dark in the rain — a. good ex- 
ercise in patience for those of us who were still suffer- 
ing somewhat from fever. No one was in really 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 mainstay 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 fish to eat, a big silvery fellow called a pes- 
cada, of a kind 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. We only ran in a clear 
course for ten minutes all told, and spent eight hours in 
portaging the loads past rapids down which the canoes 
were run ; the balsa was almost swamped. This day we 
caught twenty-eight big fish, mostly piranhas, and every- 
body had all he could eat for dinner, and for breakfast 
the following morning. 

The forenoon of the following day was a repetition of 
this wearisome work ; but late in the afternoon the river 
began to run in long quiet reaches. We made fifteen kil- 

324 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

ometres, and for the first time in several weeks camped 
where we did not hear the rapids. The silence was sooth- 
ing and restful. The following day, April 14, we made 
a good run of some thirty-two kilometres. We passed a 
little river which entered on our left. We ran two or 
three light rapids, and portaged the loads by another. 
The river ran in long and usually tranquil stretches. 
In the morning when we started the view was lovely. 
There was a mist, and 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. Different members of the party caught 
many fish, and shot a monkey and a couple of jacii-tinga 
— ^birds kin to a turkey, but the size of a fowl — so we 
again had a camp of plenty. The dry season was ap- 
proaching, but there were still heavy, drenching rains. 
On this 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 unable to 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 
red-letter day. The day before, we had come across 
cuttings, a year old, which were probably but not cer- 
tainly made by pioneer rubber-men. But on this day — 
during which we made twenty-five kilometres — ^after 
running two hours and a half we found on the left bank 
a board on a post, with the initials J. A., to show the 
farthest-up point which a rubber-man had reached and 
claimed as his own. An hour farther down we came on 

Down an Unknown River 325 

a newly built house in a little planted clearing; and we 
cheered heartily. No one was at home, but the house, 
of palm thatch, was clean and cool. A couple of dogs 
were on watch, and the belongings showed that a man, a 
woman, and a child lived there, and had only just left. 
Another hour brought us to a similar house where dwelt 
an old black man, who showed the innate courtesy of the 
Brazilian peasant. We came on these rubber-men and 
their houses in about latitude 10° 24'. 

In mid-afternoon we stopped at another clean, cool, 
picturesque house of palm thatch. The inhabitants all 
fled at our approach, fearing an Indian raid; for they 
were absolutely unprepared to have any one come from 
the unknown regions up-stream. They returned and 
were most hospitable and communicative ; and we spent 
the night there. Said Antonio Correa to Kermit: "It 
seems like a 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 
is a name used by the rubber-gatherers only; it is un- 
known to the geographers. We were, according to our 
informants, about fifteen days' journey from the conflu- 
ence of the two rivers ; but there were many rubber-men 
along the banks, some of whom had become permanent 
settlers. We had come over three hundred kilometres, 
in forty-eight days, over absolutely 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 interminable series of rapids. 

326 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

It was astonishing before, when we were on a river of 
about the size of the upper Rhine or Elbe, to realize that 
no geographer had any idea of its existence. But, after 
all, no civilized man of any grade had ever been on it. 
Here, however, was a river 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 river's existence. We were putting on 
the map a river, running through between five and six 
degrees of latitude — of between seven and eight if, as 
should properly be done, the lower Aripuanan is included 
as part of it — of which no geographer, in any map 
published in Europe, or the United States, or Brazil had 
even admitted the possibility of the existence; for the 
place actually occupied by it was filled, on the maps, by 
other — imaginary — streams, or by mountain ranges. 
Before we started, the Amazonas Boundary Commis- 
sion had come up the lower Aripuanan and then the 
eastern branch, or upper Aripuanan, to 8° 48', follow- 
ing the course which for a couple of decades had 
been followed by the rubber-men, but not going as 
high. An employee, either of this commission or of 
one of the big rubber-men, had been up the Castanho, 
which is easy of ascent in its lower course, to 
about the same latitude, not going nearly as high as 
the rubber-men had gone; this we found out while we 
ourselves were descending the lower Castanho. The 
lower main stream, and the lower portion of its main 
affluent, the Castanho, had been commercial highways for 
rubber-men and settlers for nearly two decades, and, as 
we speedily found, were as easy to traverse as the upper 

Down an Unknown River 327 

stream, which we had just come down, was difficult to 
traverse; but the governmental and scientific authorities, 
native and foreign, remained in complete ignorance ; and 
the rubber-men themselves had not the slightest idea of 
the headwaters, which were in country never hitherto 
traversed by civilized men. Evidently the Castanho was, 
in length at least, substantially equal, and probably supe- 
rior, to the upper Aripuanan ; it now seemed even more 
likely that the Ananas was the headwaters of the main 
stream than of the Cardozo.* For the first time this 
great river, the greatest affluent of the Madiera, was to be 
put on the map ; and the understanding of its real position 
and real relationship, and the clearing up of the complex 
problem of the sources of all these lower right-hand afflu- 
ents of the Madiera, was rendered possible by the seven 
weeks of hard and dangerous labor we had spent in going 
down an absolutely unknown river, through an absolutely 
unknown wilderness. At this stage of the growth of 
world geography I esteemed it 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 dur- 
ing the previous seven years had been built by the labor 
of the Brazilian Telegraphic Commission. 

We had passed the period when there was a chance of 
peril, of disaster, to the whole expedition. There might 
be risk ahead to individuals, and some difficulties and 

* 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 river. We passed the headwaters of the Pine- 
apple on the high plateau, very possibly we passed its mouth, al- 
though it is also possible that it empties into the Canama or Tapa- 
jos. But it will not be "put on the map" until some one descends 
and finds out where, as a matter of fact, it really does go. 

328 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

annoyances for all of us; but there was no longer the 
least likelihood of any disaster to the expedition as a 
whole. We now no longer had to face continual anxiety, 
the need of constant economy with food, the duty of 
labor with no end in sight, and bitter uncertainty as to 
the future. 

It 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; only a few of them retained 
their original physical and moral strength. Cherrie and 
Kermit had recovered; but both Kermit and Lyra still 
had bad sores on their legs, from the bruises received in 
the water work. I was in worse shape. The after effects 
of the fever still hung on ; and the leg which had been hurt 
while working in the rapids with the sunken canoe had 
taken a turn for the bad and developed an abscess. The 
good doctor, to whose unwearied care and kindness I 
owe much, had cut it open and inserted a drainage tube ; 
an added charm being given the operation, and the sub- 
sequent dressings, by the enthusiasm with which the 
piums and boroshudas took part therein. I could hardly 
hobble, and was pretty well laid up. But "there aren't no 
'stop, conductor,' while a battery's changing ground." 
No man has any business to go on such a trip as ours un- 
less he will refuse to jeopardize the welfare of his asso- 
ciates by any delay caused by a weakness or ailment of 
his. It is his duty to go forward, if necessary on all 
fours, until he drops. Fortunately, I was put to no such 
test. I remained in good shape until we had passed the 
last of the rapids of the chasms. When my serious 

Down an Unknown River 329 

trouble came we had only canoe-riding ahead of us. It 
is not ideal for a sick man to spend the hottest hours of 
the day stretched on the boxes in the bottom of a small 
open dugout, under the well-nigh intolerable heat of the 
torrid sun of the mid-tropics, varied by blinding, drench- 
ing downpours of rain; but I could not be sufficiently 
grateful for the chance. Kermit and Cherrie took care 
of me as if they had been trained nurses; and Colonel 
Rondon and Lyra were no less thoughtful. 

The north was calling strongly to the three men of 
the north — Rocky Dell Farm to Cherrie, Sagamore Hill 
to me; and to Kermit the call was stronger still. After 
nightfall we could now see the Dipper well above the hor- 
izon — ^upside down, with the two pointers pointing to a 
north star below the world's rim; but the Dipper, with 
all its stars. In our home country spring had now come, 
the wonderful northern spring of long glorious days, of 
brooding twilights, of cool delightful nights. Robin and 
bluebird, meadow-lark and song sparrow, were singing 
in the mornings at home ; the maple-buds were red ; wind- 
flowers and bloodroot were blooming while the last 
patches of snow still lingered ; the rapture of the hermit- 
thrush in Vermont, the serene golden melody of the 
wood-thrush on Long Island, would be heard before we 
were there to listen. Each man to his home, and to his 
true love ! Each was longing for the homely things that 
were so dear to him, for the home people who were 
dearer still, and for the one who was dearest of all. 





OUR adventures and our troubles were alike over. 
We now? experienced the incalculable contrast 
between descending a known and travelled river, 
and one that is utterly unknown. After four days we 
hired a rubber-man to go with us as guide. We knew 
exactly what channels were passable when we came to 
the rapids, when the canoes had to unload, and where the 
carry-trails were. It was all child's play compared to 
what we had gone through. We made long days' jour- 
neys, for at night we stopped at some palm-thatched 
house, inhabited or abandoned, and therefore the men 
were spared the labor of making camp; and we bought 
ample food for them, so there was no further need of 
fishing and chopping down palms for the palm-tops. The 
heat of the sun was blazing; but it looked as if 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 some- 
times rather troublesome at night. In the daytime the 
piums swarmed, and often bothered us even when we 
were in midstream. 

To the Amazon and Home 331 

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 a most kind and hos- 
pitable man, who also gave us a duck and a chicken and 
some mandioc and six pounds of rice, and would take no 
payment ; he lived in a roomy house with his dusky, cigar- 
smoking wife and his 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 the mouth of a big river, the Rio Branco, com- 
ing in from the left; this was about in latitude 9° 38'. 
Soon afterward we came to the first serious rapids, the 
Panela. We carried the boats past, ran down the empty 
canoes, and camped at the foot in a roomy house. The 
doctor bought a handsome trumpeter bird, very friendly 
and confiding, which was thenceforth my canoe com- 

We had already passed many inhabited — ^and a still 
larger number of uninhabited — houses. The dwellers 
were rubber-men, but generally they were permanent set- 
tlers also, home-makers, with their wives and children. 
Some, both of the men and women, were apparently of 
pure negro blood, or of pure Indian or south European 
blood; but in the great majority all three strains were 
mixed in varying degrees. They were most friendly, 
courteous, and hospitable. Often they refused payment 
for what they could afford, out of their little, to give us. 
When they did charge, the prices were very high, as was 
but Just, for they live back of the beyond, and everything 
costs them fabulously, save what they raise themselves. 
The cool, bare houses of poles and palm thatch contained 

332 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

little except hammocks and a few simple cooking uten- 
sils; and often a clock or sewing-machine, or Winchester 
rifle, from our own country. They often had flowers 
planted, including fragrant roses. Their only live stock, 
except the dogs, were a few chickens and ducks. They 
planted patches of mandioc, 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 growmg 
on the branches of a high bush — ^which is cooked with 
meat. They get some game from the forest, and more 
fish from the river. There is no representative of the 
government among them — indeed, even now their very 
existence is barely known to the governmental authori- 
ties; and the church has ignored them as completely as 
the state. When they wish to get married they have to 
spend several months getting down to and back from 
Manaos or some smaller city ; and usually the first chris- 
tening and the marriage ceremony are held at the same 
time. They have merely squatter's right to the land, 
and are always in danger of being ousted by unscrupulous 
big men who come in late, but with a title technically 
straight. The land laws should be shaped so as to give 
each of these pioneer settlers the land he actually takes 
up and cultivates, and upon which he makes his home. 
The small home-maker, who owns the land which he tills 
with his own hands, is the greatest element of strength in 
any country. 

These are real pioneer settlers. They are the true 
wilderness-winners. No continent is ever really con- 
quered, or thoroughly explored, by a few leaders, or 

To the Amazon and Home 333 

exceptional men, although such men can render great 
service. The real conquest, the thorough exploration and 
settlement, is made by a nameless multitude of small men 
of whom the most important are, of course, the home- 
makers. Each treads most of the time in the footsteps 
of his predecessors, but for some f 6w miles, at some time 
or other, he breaks new ground; and his house is built 
where no house has ever stood before. Such a man, the 
real pioneer, must have no strong desire for social life 
and no need, probably 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, is no real 
pioneer at all. These settlers whom we met were con- 
tented to live in the wilderness. They had found the 
climate healthy and the soil fruitful ; a visit to a city was 
a very rare event, nor was there any overwhelming de- 
sire for it. 

In short, these men, and those like them everywhere 
on the frontier between civilization and savagery in 
Brazil, are now playing the part played by our back- 
woodsmen when over a century and 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 Canada or 
Africa, and that it has almost vanished. On a far larger 
scale this frontier is to be found in Brazil — a country as 
big as Europe or the United States — ^and decades will 

334 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

pass befoi-e it vanishes. The first settlers came to Brazil 
a century before the first settlers came to the United 
States and Canada. For three hundred years progress 
was very slow — Portuguese colonial government at that 
time was almost as bad as Spanish. For the last half- 
century and over there has been a steady increase in the 
rapidity of the rate of development ; and this increase bids 
fair to be constantly more rapid in the future. 

The Paolistas, hunting for lands, slaves, and mines, 
were the first native Brazilians who, a hundred years ago, 
played a great part in opening to settlement vast stretches 
of wilderness. 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 
the world. Searching for rubber they made highways 
of rivers the very existence of which was unknown to 
the governmental authorities, or to any map-makers. 
Whether they succeeded or failed, they everywhere left 
behind them settlers, who toiled, married, and brought up 
children. Settlement began ; the conquest of the wilder- 
ness entered on its first stage. 

On the 20th we stopped at the first store, where we 
bought, of course at a high price, sugar and tobacco for 
the camaradas. In this land of plenty the camaradas 
over-ate, and sickness was as rife among them as ever. 
In Cherrie's boat he himself and the steersman were the 
only men who paddled strongly and continuously. The 
storekeeper's stock of goods was very low, only what he 
still had left from that brought in nearly a year before; 
for the big boats, or batelaos — ^batelons — had not yet 

To the Amazon and Home 335 

worked as far up-stream. We expected to meet them 
somewhere below the next rapids, the Inferno. The 
trader or rubber-man brings up his year's supply of goods 
in a batelao, starting in February and reaching the upper 
course of the river early in May, when the rainy season 
is over. The parties of rubber-explorers are then 
equipped and provisioned ; and the settlers purchase cer- 
tain necessities, and certain things that strike them as 
luxuries. This year the Brazil-nut crop on the river had 
failed, a serious thing for all explorers and wilderness 

On the 20th we made the longest run we had made, 
fifty-two kilometres. Lyra took observations where we 
camped; we were in latitude 8° 49'. At this camping- 
place the great, beautiful river was a little over three 
hundred metres wide. We were in an empty house. The 
marks showed that in the high water, a couple of months 
back, the river had risen until the lower part of the house 
was flooded. The difference between the level of the 
river during the floods and in the dry season is extraor- 

On the 21st we made another good run, getting down 
to the Inferno rapids, which are in latitude 8° 19* south. 
Until we reached the Cardozo we had run almost due 
north; since then we had been running a little west of 
north. Before we reached these rapids we stopped at a 
large, pleasant thatch house, and got a fairly big and 
roomy as well as light boat, leaving both our two smaller 
dugouts behind. Above the rapids a small river, the Ma- 
deirainha, entered from the left. The rapids had a fall 
of over ten metres, and the water was very wild and 

^^6 Through the BraziHan Wilderness 

rough. Met with for the first time, it would doubtless 
have taken several days to explore a passage and, with 
danger and labor, get the boats down. But we were no 
longer exploring, pioneering, over unknown country. It 
is easy to go where other men have prepared the way. 
We had a guide ; we took our baggage down by a carry 
three-quarters of a kilometre long ; and the canoes were 
run through known channels the following morning. At 
the foot of the rapids was a big house and store; and 
camped at the head were a number of rubber-workers, 
waiting for the big boats of the head rubber-men to work 
their way up from below. They were a reckless set of 
brown daredevils. These men lead hard lives of labor 
and peril; they continually face death themselves, and 
they think little of it in connection with others. It is 
small wonder that they sometimes have difficulties with 
the tribes of utterly wild Indians with whom they are 
brought in contact, although there is a strong Indian 
strain in their own blood. 

The following morning, after the empty canoes had 
been run down, we started, and made a rather short after- 
noon's journey. We had to take the baggage by one 
rapids. We camped in an empty house, in the rain. 
Next day we ran nearly fifty kilometres, the river making 
a long sweep to the west. We met half a dozen batelaos 
making their way up-stream, each with a crew of six or 
eight men, and two of them with women and children in 
addition. The crew were using very long poles, with 
crooks, or rather the stubs of cut branches which served 
as crooks, at the upper end. With these they hooked 
into the branches and dragged themselves up along the 

To the Amazon and Home 337 

bank, in addition to poling where the depth permitted it. 
The river was as big as the Paraguay at Corumba; but, 
in striking contrast to the Paraguay, there were few 
water-birds. We ran some rather stiff rapids, the In- 
fernino, without unloading, in the morning. 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 we had seen other than poultry and ducks. It 
was a dirty place, but we got some eggs. 

The following day, the 24th, we ran down some fifty 
kilometres to the Carupanan rapids, which by observation 
Lyra found to be in latitude 7° 47'. We met several 
batelaos, and the houses on the bank showed that the set- 
tlers were somewhat better off than was the case farther 
up. At the rapids was a big store, the property of Senhor 
Caripe, the wealthiest rubber-man wTio works on this 
river ; many of the men we met were in his employ. He 
has himself risen from the ranks. He was most kind and 
hospitable, and gave us another boat to replace the last 
of our shovel-nosed dugouts. The large, open house was 
cool, clean, and comfortable. 

With these began a series of half a dozen sets of 
rapids, all coming within the next dozen kilometres, and 
all offering very real obstacles. 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 un- 
known river, pioneering our own way, it would doubtless 
have taken us at least a fortnight of labor and peril to 
pass. But it actually took only a day and a half. All 
the channels were known, all the trails cut. Senhor 

338 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

Caripe, a first-class waterman, cool, fearless, and brawny 
as a bull, came with us as guide. Half a dozen times the 
loads were taken out and carried down. At one cataract 
the canoes were themselves dragged overland ; elsewhere 
they were run down empty, shipping a good deal of water. 
At the foot of the cataract, where we dragged 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 

Senhor Caripe told us many strange adventures of 
rubber-workers he had met or employed. One of his 
men, working on the Gy-Parana, got lost and after 
twenty-eight days found himself on the Madeirainha, 
which he thus discovered. He was in excellent health, 
for he had means to start a fire, and he found abundance 
of Brazil-nuts and big land-tortoises. Senhor Caripe 
said that the rubber-men now did not go above the ninth 
degree, or thereabouts, on the upper Aripuanan proper, 
having found the rubber poor on the reaches above. A 
year previously five rubber-men, Mundurucu Indians, 
were working on the Canuma at about that level. It is 
a difficult stream to ascend or descend. They made ex- 
cursions into the forest for days at a time after caout- 
chouc. On one such trip, after fifteen days they, to their 
surprise, came out on the Aripuanan. They returned and 
told their "patron" of their discovery ; and by his orders 
took their caoutchouc overland to the Aripuanan, built a 
canoe, and ran down with their caoutchouc to Manaos. 
They had now returned and were working on the upper 
Aripuanan. The Mundurucus and Brazilians are always 

To the Amazon arid Home 339 

on the best terms, and the former are even more invet- 
erate enemies of the wild Indians than are the latter. 

By mid-forenoon on April 26 we had passed the last 
dangerous rapids. The paddles were plied with hearty- 
good will, 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 
hand to the water's edge ; and, although the river was fall- 
ing, it was still so high that in many places little islands 
were completely submerged, and the current raced among 
the trunks of the green trees. At one o'clock we came to 
the mouth of the Castanho proper, and in sight of the tent 
of Lieutenant Pyrineus, with the flags of the United 
States and Brazil flying before it ; and, with rifles firing 
from the canoes and the shore, we moored at the landing 
of the neat, soldierly, well-kept camp. The upper Ari- 
puanan, a river of substantially the same volume as the 
Castanho, but broader at this point, and probably of less 
length, here joined the Castanho from the east, and the 
two together formed what the rubber-men called the 
lower Aripuanan. The mouth of this was indicated, and 
sometimes named, on the maps, but only as a small and 
unimportant stream. 

We had been two months in the canoes; from the 
27th of February to the 26th of April. We had gone 
over 750 kilometres. The river from its source, near 
the thirteenth degree, to where it became navigable and 
we entered it, had a course of some 200 kilometres — prob- 
ably more, perhaps 300 kilometres. Therefore we had 
now put on the map a river nearly 1,000 kilometres in 
length of which the existence was not merely unknown 

340 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

but impossible if the standard maps were correct. But 
this was not all. It seemed that this river of 1,000 kilo- 
metres in length was really the true upper course of the 
Aripuanan proper, in which case the total length 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 idea as to which stream we 
would appear upon, or whether we would appear upon 
either.) On March 26 he had measured the volume of 
the two, and found that the Castanho, although the nar- 
rower, was the deeper and swifter, and that in volume it 
surpassed the other by 84 cubic metres a second. Since 
then the Castanho had fallen ; our measurements showed 
it to be slightly smaller than the other ; the volume of the 
river after the junction was about 4,500 cubic metres a 
second. This was in 7° 34'. 

We were glad indeed to see Pyrineus and be at his 
attractive camp. We were only four hours above the 
little river hamlet of Sao Joao, a port of call for rubber- 
steamers, from which the larger ones go to Manaos in 
two days. These steamers mostly belong to Senhor 
Caripe. From Pyrineus we learned that Lauriado and 
Fiala had reached Manaos on March 26. On the swift 
water in the gorge of the Papagaio Fiala's boat had been 
upset and all his belongings lost, while he himself had 
narrowly escaped with his life. I was glad indeed that 
the fine and gallant fellow had escaped. The Canadian 
canoe had done very well. We were no less rejoiced to 
learn that Amilcar, the head of the party that went down 
the Gy-Parana, was also all right, although his canoe too 

To the Amazon and Home 341 

had been upset in the rapids, and his instruments and all 
his notes lost. He had reached Manaos on April 10. 
Fiala had gone home. Miller was collecting near Manaos. 
He had been doing capital work. 

The piranhas were bad here, and no one could bathe. 
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' 
encampment. It rained heavily. Next morning we all 
gathered at the monument which Colonel Rondon had 
erected, and he read the orders of the day. These recited 
just what had been accomplished: set forth the fact that 
we had now by actual exploration and investigation dis- 
covered that the river whose upper portion had been 
called the Diivida on the maps of the Telegraphic Com- 
mission and the unknown major part of which we had 
just traversed, and the river known to a few rubber-men, 
but to no one else, as the Castanho, and the lower part of 
the river known to the rubber-men as the Aripuanan 
(which did not appear on the maps save as its mouth was 
sometimes indicated, with no hint of its size) were all 
parts of one and the same river; and that by order of the 
Brazilian Government this river, the largest affluent of 
the Madeira, with its source near the 13th degree and its 
mouth a little south of the Sth degree, hitherto utterly 
unknown to cartographers and in large part utterly un- 
known to any save the local tribes of Indians, had been 
named the Rio Roosevelt. 

We left Rondon, Lyra, and Pyrineus to take observa- 
tions, and the rest of us embarked for the last time on the 

342 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

canoes, and, borne swiftly on the rapid current, we passed 
over one set of not very important rapids and ran down 
to Senhor Caripe's little hamlet of Sao Joao, whith we 
reached about one o'clock on April 27, just before a heavy 
afternoon rain set in. We had run nearly eight hundred 
kilometres during the sixty days we had spent in the 
canoes. Here we found and boarded Pyrineus's river 
steamer, which seemed in our eyes extremely comfortable. 
In the senhor's pleasant house we were greeted by the 
senhora, and they were both more than thoughtful and 
generous in their hospitality. Ahead of us lay merely 
thirty-six hours by steamer to Manaos. Such a trip as 
that we had taken tries men as if by fire. Cherrie had 
more than stood every test ; and in him Kermit and I had 
come to recognize a friend with whom our friendship 
would never falter or grow less. 

Early the following afternoon our whole party, to- 
gether with Senhor Caripe, started on the steamer. It 
took us a little over twelve hours' swift steaming to run 
down to the mouth of the river on the upper course of 
which our progress 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 in length — about 
900 miles, perhaps nearly 1,000 miles — from its source 
near the 13th degree in the highlands to its mouth in the 
Madeira, near the Sth degree. Next morning we were 
on the broad sluggish current of the lower Madeira, a 
beautiful tropical river. There were heavy rain-storms, 
as usual, although this is supposed to be the very end of 
the rainy season. In the afternoon we finally entered the 




To the Amazon and Home 343 

wonderful Amazon itself, the mighty river which con- 
tains one tenth of all the running water of the globe. It 
was miles across, where we entered it; and indeed we 
could not tell whether the farther bank, which we saw, 
was that of the mainland or an island. We went up it 
until about midnight, then steamed up the Rio Negro for 
a short distance, and at one in the morning of April 30 
reached Manaos. 

Manaos is a remarkable city. It is only three degrees 
south of the equator. Sixty years ago it was a nameless 
little collection of hovels, tenanted by a few Indians and 
a few of the poorest class of Brazilian peasants. Now it 
is a big, handsome modern city, with opera-house, tram- 
ways, good hotels, fine squares and public buildings, and 
attractive private houses. The brilliant coloring and odd 
architecture give the place a very foreign and attractive 
flavor in northern eyes. Its rapid growth to prosperity 
was due to the rubber-trade. This is now far less remu- 
nerative than formerly. It will undoubtedly in some de- 
gree recover; and in any event the development of the 
immensely rich and fertile Amazonian valley is sure to 
go on, and it will be immensely quickened when closer 
connections are made with the Brazilian highland country 
lying south of it. 

Here we found Miller, and glad indeed we were to see 
him. He had made good collections of mammals and 
birds on the Gy-Parana, the Madeira, and in the neigh- 
borhood of Manaos ; his entire collection of mammals was 
really noteworthy. Among them was the only sloth any 
of us had seen on the trip. The most interesting of the 
birds he had seen was the hoatzin. This is a most curious 

344 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

bird of very archaic type. Its flight is feeble, and the 
naked young have spurs on their wings, by the help of 
which they crawl actively among the branches before their 
feathers grow. They swim no less easily, at the same 
early age. Miller got one or two nests, and preserved 
specimens of the surroundings of the nests ; and he made 
exhaustive records of the habits of the birds. Near Me- 
gasso a jaguar had killed one of the bullocks that were 
being driven along for food. 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 
the governor of the state and the mayor of the city. Mr. 
Robiliard, the British consular representative, and also 
the representative of the Booth line of steamers, was par- 
ticularly kind. He secured for us passages on one of the 
cargo-boats of the line to Para, and thence on one of the 
regular cargo-and-passenger steamers to Barbadoes and 
New York. The Booth people were most courteous to us. 

I said good-by to the camaradas with real friendship 
and regret. The parting gift I gave to each was in gold 
sovereigns ; and I was rather touched to learn later that 
they had agreed among themselves each to keep one sov- 
ereign as a medal of honor and token that the owner had 
been on the trip. They were a fine set, brave, patient, 
obedient, and enduring. Now they had forgotten their 
hard times ; they were fat from eating, at leisure, all they 
wished; they were to see Rio Janeiro, always an object 
of ambition with men of their stamp ; and they were very 
proud of their membership in the expedition. 

Later, at Belen, I said good-by to Colonel Rondon, 

To the Amazon and Home 345 

Doctor Cajazeira, and Lieutenant Lyra. Together with 
my admiration for their hardihood, courage, and resolu- 
tion, I had grown to feel a strong and affectionate friend- 
ship for them. I had become very fond of them ; and I 
was glad to feel that I had been their companion in the 
performance of a feat which possessed a certain lasting 

On May 1 we left 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. 
Sunrise and sunset turned the sky to an unearthly flame 
of many colors above the vast water. It all seemed the 
embodiment of loneliness and wild majesty. Yet every- 
where man was conquering the loneliness and wresting 
the majesty to his own uses. We passed many thriving, 
growing towns; at one we stopped to take on cargo. 
Ever)rwhere there was growth and development. The 
change since the days when Bates and Wallace came to 
this then poor and utterly primitive region is marvellous. 
One of its accompaniments has been a large European, 
chiefly south European, immigration. The blood is 
everywhere mixed ; there is no color line, as in most Eng- 
lish-speaking countries, and the negro and Indian strains 
are very strong; but the dominant blood, the blood al- 
ready dominant in quantity, and that is steadily increasing 
its dominance, is the olive-white. 

Only rarely did the river show its full width. Gen- 
erally we were in channels or among islands. The sur- 
face of the water was dotted with little islands of floating 
vegetation. Miller said that much of this came from the 

346 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

lagoons such as those where he had been hunting, beside 
the Solimoens — ^lagoons filled with the huge and splendid 
Victoria lily, and with masses of water hyacinths. Miller, 
who was very fond of animals and always took much 
care of them, had a small collection which he was bring- 
ing back for the Bronx Zoo. An agouti was so bad-tem- 
pered that he had to be kept solitary; but three monkeys, 
big, middle-sized, and little, and a young peccary formed 
a happy family. The 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 ad- 
mirable illustration of the genuine and almost startling 
progress which Brazil has been making of recent years. 
It is a beautiful city, nearly under the equator. But it 
is not merely beautiful. The docks, the dredging opera- 
tions, the warehouses, the stores and shops, all tell of 
energy and success in commercial life. It is as clean, 
healthy, and well policed a city as any of the size in the 
north temperate zone. The public buildings are hand- 
some, the private dwellings attractive; there are a fine 
opera-house, an excellent tramway system, and a good 
museum and botanical gardens. There are cavalry 
stables, where lights bum all night long to protect the 
horses from the vampire bats. The parks, the rows of 
palms and mango-trees, the open-air restaurants, the gay 
life under the lights at night, all give the city its own 
special quality and charm. Belen and Manaos are very 

To the Amazon and Home 347 

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. 
Miss Snethlage, a German lady, is a first-rate field and 
closet naturalist, and an explorer of note, who has gone 
on foot from the Xingu to the Tapajos. Most wisely she 
has confined the Belen zoo to the animals of the lower 
Amazon valley, and in consequence I know of no better 
local zoological gardens. She has an invaluable collec- 
tion of birds and mammals of the region; and it was a 
privilege to meet her and talk with her. 

We also 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 
Branco to the highlands of Guiana, across them on foot, 
and down to the seacoast of British Guiana. He is an 
admirable representative of the men who are now open- 
ing South America to scientific knowledge. 

On May 7 we bade good-by to our kind Brazilian 
friends and sailed northward for Barbadoes and New 

Zoologically the trip had been a thorough success. 
Qierrie and Miller had collected over twenty-five hun- 
dred birds, about five hundred mammals, and a few rep- 
tiles, batrachians, and fishes. Many of them were new 
to science; for much of the region traversed had never 
previously been worked by any scientific collector. 

Of course, the most important work we did was the 

348 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

geographic work, the exploration of the unknown river, 
undertaken at the suggestion of the Brazilian Govern- 
ment, and in conjunction with its representatives. No 
piece of work of this kind is ever achieved save as it is 
based on long-continued previous work. As I have 
before said, what we did was to put the cap on the pyra- 
mid that had been built by Colonel Rondon and his asso- 
ciates of the Telegraphic Commission during the six pre- 
vious years. It was their scientific exploration of the 
chapadao, their mapping 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 separately. 

The work of the commission, much the greatest work 
of the kind ever done in South America, is one of the 
many, many achievements which the republican govern- 
ment of Brazil has to its credit. Brazil has been blessed 
beyond the average of her Spanish-American sisters 
because she won her way to republicanism by evolution 
rather than revolution. They plunged into the extremely 
difficult experiment of democratic, of popular, self-gov- 
ernment, after enduring the atrophy of every quality of 
self-control, self-reliance, and initiative throughout three 
withering centuries of existence under the worst and most 
foolish form of colonial government, both from the civil 
and the religious standpoint, that has ever existed. The 
marvel is not that some of them failed, but that some of 
them have eventually succeeded in such striking fashion. 
Brazil, on the contrary, when she achieved independence, 

Sketch map of the unknown river christened Rio Roosevelt, and subsequently 
Rio Teodoro, by direction of the Brazilian Government 

Thii map was prepared by Colonel Roisevelt from his journal and the diaries of Cherrie and of Kermit 

Roosevelt, the war having prevented the arrival of the map prepared by Lientenarit Lyra 

The Ananas may be the headwaters of the Cardozo or of the Aripuanan, or .t may flow mto the Canuma 

or Tapajos ; it will not be put on the map until it is actually descended 

To the Amazon and Home 349 

first exercised it under the form of an authoritative em- 
pire, then under the form of a Uberal empire. When the 
republic came, the people were reasonably ripe for it. 
The great progress of Brazil — ^and it has been an aston- 
ishing progress — ^has been made under the republic. I 
could give innumerable examples and illustrations of this. 
The change that has converted Rio Janeiro from a pic- 
turesque pest-hole into a singularly beautiful, healthy, 
clean, and efficient modern great city is one of these. 
Another is 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, any- 
body ; while the lower course, although known for years 
to a few rubber-men, was utterly unknown to cartograph- 
ers. It is the chief affluent of the Madeira, which is 
itself the chief affluent of the Amazon. 

The source of this river is between the 12th and 13th 
parallels of latitude south and the 59th and 60th degrees 
of longitude west from Greenwich. We embarked on it 
at about latitude 12° 1' south, and about longitude 60° 
IS' west. After that its entire course lay between the 
60th and 61st degrees of longitude, approaching the latter 
most closely about latitude 8° 15'. The first rapids we 
encountered were in latitude 11° 44', and in uninterrupted 
succession they continued for about a degree, without a 
day's complete journey between any two of them. At 
11° 23' the Rio Kermit entered from the left, at 11° 
22' the Rio Marciano Avila from the right, at 11° 
18' the Taunay from the left, at 10° 58' the Cardozo 
from the right. In 10° 24' we encountered the first 

350 Through the Brazilian Wilderness 

rubber-men. The Rio Branco entered from the left at 
9° 38'. 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 S° 20' (this point we did not determine by obser- 
vation, 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. 






Portions of South America are now entering on a 
career of great social and industrial development. Much 
remains to be known, so far as the outside world is con- 
cerned, of the social and industrial condition in the long- 
settled interior regions. More remains to be done, in 
the way of pioneer exploring and of scientific work, in 
the great stretches of virgin wilderness. The only two 
other continents where such work, of like volume cind 
value, remains to be done are Africa and Asia; and 
neither Africa nor Asia offers a more inviting field for 
the best kind of field worker in geographical exploration 
and in zoological, geological, and paleontological investi- 
gation. The explorer is merely the most adventurous 
kind of field geographer; and there are two or three 
points worth keeping in mind in dealing with the South 
American work of the field geographer and field zoologist. 

Roughly, the travellers who now visit (like those who 
for the past century have visited) South America come 
in three categories — although, of course, these categories 
are not divided by hard-and-fast lines. 

First, there are the travellers who skirt the continent 

354 Appendix A 

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 the coast. This 
is a trip well worth taking 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 immortal- 
ized. It is a trip which to a learned and broad-minded 
observer offers the same chance for acquiring knowledge 
and, if he is himself gifted with wisdom, the same chance 
of imparting his knowledge to others that is offered by a 
trip of similar length through the larger cities of Europe 
or the United States. Probably the best instance of the 
excellent use to which such an observer can put his experi- 
ence is afforded by the volume of Mr. Bryce. Of course, 
such a trip represents travelling of essentially the 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 as regards the inns 
and the modes of conveyance. Such travelling is difficult 
in the sense that travelling in parts of Spain or. southern 
Italy or the Balkan states is difficult. Men and women 
who have a taste for travel in out-of-the-way places and 
who, therefore, do not mind slight discomforts and in- 
conveniences 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 

Appendix A 355 

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 
generalize overmuch about any country merely from a 
visit to its capital or its chief seaport. These 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 comfort do not differ much from those 
of mediaeval Europe. The travellers who go up or down 
the highway rivers that have been travelled for from one 
to four hundred years — ^rivers like the Paraguay and 
Parana, the Amazon, the Tapajos, the Madeira, the lower 
Orinoco — come in this category. They can add little to 
our geographical knowledge; but if they are competent 
zoologists or archaeologists, especially if they live or so- 
journ long in a locality, their work may be invaluable 
from the scientific standpoint. The work of the archae- 
ologists among the immeasurably ancient ruins of the low- 
land forests and the Andean plateaux is of this kind. 
What Agassiz did for the fishes of the Amazon and what 
Hudson did for the birds of the Argentine are other in- 
stances of the work that can thus be done. Burton's 
writings on the interior of Brazil offer an excellent in- 
stance of the value of a sojourn or trip of this type, even 
without any especial scientific object. 

Of course travellers of this kind need to remember 
that their experiences in themselves do not qualify them 
to speak as wilderness explorers. Exactly as a good arch- 

356 Appendix A 

aeologist may not be competent to speak of current social 
or political problems, so a man who has done capital work 
as a tourist observer in little-visited cities and along re- 
mote 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 reg- 
ular routes is a feat comparable to the feats of the ener- 
getic tourists who by thousands traverse the mule trails 
in out-of-the-way nooks of Switzerland. An ordinary 
trip on the highway portions of the Amazon, Paraguay, 
or Orinoco in itself no more qualifies a man to speak of 
or to take part in exploring unknown South American 
rivers than a trip on the lower Saint Lawrence qualifies 
a man to regard himself as an expert in a canoe voyage 
across Labrador or the Barren Grounds west of Hudson 

A hundred years ago, even seventy or eighty years ago, 
before the age of steamboats and railroads, it was more 
difficult than at present to define the limits between this 
class and the next ; and, moreover, in defining these limits 
I emphatically disclaim any intention of thereby attempt- 
ing to establish a single standard of value for books of 
travel. Darwin's "Voyage of the Beagle" is to me the 
best book of the kind ever written ; it is one of those clas- 
sics which decline to go into artificial categories, and 
which stand by themselves; and yet Darwin, with his 
usual modesty, spoke of it as in effect a yachting voyage. 
Humboldt's work had a profound effect on the thought 
of the civilized world ; his trip was one of adventure and 
danger ; and yet it can hardly be called exploration proper. 

Appendix A 357 

He visited places which had been settled and inhabited for 
centuries and traversed places which had been travelled 
by civilized men for years before he followed in their 
footsteps. But these places were in Spanish colonies, 
and access to them had been forbidden by the mischievous 
and intolerant tyranny — ecclesiastical, political, and eco- 
nomic — ^which then rendered Spain the most backward of 
European nations ; and Humboldt was the first scientific 
man of intellectual independence who had permission to 
visit them. To this day many of his scientific observa- 
tions 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 exceed- 
ingly isolated, primitive, and laborious life for eleven 
years. Now, half a century after it was written, his 
"Naturalist on the Amazon" is as interesting and valuable 
as it ever was, and no book since written has in any way 
supplanted it. 

Travel of the third category includes the work of the 
true wilderness explorers who add to our sum of geo- 
graphical knowledge and of the scientific men who, fol- 
lowing their several bents, also work in the untrodden 
wilds. Colonel Rondon and his associates have done 
much in the geographical exploration of unknown coun- 
try, and Cherrie and 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, the anthropologist, is a cap- 
ital example of the man who does this hard and valuable 
type of work. 

358 Appendix A 

An immense amount of this true wilderness work, 
geographical and zoological, remains to be done in South 
America. It can be accomplished with reasonable thor- 
oughness only by the efiforts of very many different work- 
ers, each in his own special field. It is desirable that 
here and there a part of the work should be done in out- 
line by such a geographic and zoological reconnaissance 
as ours; we would, for example, 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 equip- 
ment necessary in order to do the thorough scientific 
work demanded by modem scientific requirements. This 
is true even of exploration done along the courses of un- 
known 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 ordinary the most impor- 
tant pieces of first-hand exploration are precisely those 
where the scientific work of the accompanying cartog- 
rapher, geologist, botanist, and zoologist must be furthest 
removed from finality. The zoologist who works to most 
advantage in the wilderness must take his time, and there- 

Appendix A 359 

fore he must normally follow in the footsteps of, and not 
accompany, the first explorers. The man who 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 first-class field-work in the wilderness than John 
D. Haseman, who spent from 1907 to 1910 in painstak- 
ing and thorough scientific investigation over a large ex- 
tent of South American territory hitherto only partially 
known or quite unexplored. Haseman's primary object 
was to study the characteristics and distribution of South 
American fishes, but as a matter of fact he studied at first 
hand many other more or less kindred subjects, as may 
be seen in his remarks on the Indians and in his excellent 
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 are rendered 
valuable 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 

* It would be well if a geographical society of standing would 
investigate the formal and official charges made by Colonel Rondon, 
an officer and gentleman of the highest repute, against Mr. Savage 
Landor. Colonel Rondon, in an official report to the Brazilian 
Government, has written a scathing review of 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 explora- 

360 Appendix A 

need of the latter by whoever has studied some of the 
wild theories propounded in the name of science concern- 
ing the history of life on the South American continent. 
There is, however, one serious criticism to be made on 
Haseman: the extreme obscurity of his style — ^an obscur- 
ity mixed with occasional bits of scientific pedantry, 
which makes it difficult to tell whether or not on some 
points his thought is obscure also. Modern scientists, 
like modem historians and, above all, scientific and his- 
torical educators, should ever keep in mind that clearness 
of speech and writing is essential to clearness of thought 
and that a simple, clear, and, if possible, vivid style is vital 
to the production of the best work in either science or his- 
tory. Darwin and Huxley are classics, and they would 

tion 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 
via the Canama. The guide, however, got lost, and after a few 
days they all returned to the point of departure instead of going 
through to the Canama. 

Senhor Barreto, a gentleman of high standing, related this last 
incident to Fiala when piala descended the Tapajos (and, by the 

Appendix A 361 

not have been if they had not written good English. The 
thought is essential, but ability to give it clear expression 
is only less essential. Ability to write well, if the writer 
has nothing to write about, entitles him to mere derision. 
But the greatest thought is robbed of an immense pro- 
portion of its value if expressed in a mean or obscure 
manner. Mr. Haseman has such' excellent thought that 
it is a pity to make it a work of irritating labor to find 
out just what the thought is. Surely, if he will take as 
much pains with his writing as he has with the far more 
difficult business of exploring and collecting, he will be- 
come able to express his thought clearly and forcefully. 
At least he can, if he chooses, go over his sentences until 
he is reasonably sure that they can be parsed. He can 

way, Fiala's tri^ down the Papagaio, Juruena, and Tapajos was 
infinitely more important than all the work Mr. Lander did in 
South America put together). Lieutenants Pyrineus and Mello, 
mentioned in the body of this work, informed me that they accom- 
panied Mr. Landor on most of his overland trip before he embarked 
on the Arinos, and that he simply followed the highroad or else 
tbe telegraph-line, and furthermore. Colonel Rondon states that the 
Indians whom Mr. Landor encountered and photographed were 
those educated at the missions. 

Colonel Rondon's official report to the Brazilian Government and 
his letter to me are of interest to all geographers and other scientific 
men who have any concern with the alleged discoveries of Mr. 
Landor. They contain very grave_ charges, with which it is not 
necessary for me to deal. Suffice it to say that Mr. Landor's ac- 
counts of his alleged exploration cannot be considered as entitled 
to the slightest serious consideration until he has satisfactorily and 
in' detail answered Colonel Rondon ; and this he has thus far signally 
failed to do. 

Fortunately, there are numerous examples of exactly the opposite 
type of work. From the days of Humboldt and Spix and Martius 
to the present time, German explorers have borne a conspicuous 
part in the exploration of South America. As representatives of 
the men and women who have done such capital work, who have 
fronted every hazard and hardship and labored in the scientific 
spirit, and who have added greatly to our fund of geographic, 
biologic, and ethnographic knowledge, I may mention Miss Snethlaf e 
and Herr Karl von den Steinen, 

362 Appendix A 

take pains to see that his whole thought is expressed, in- 
stead of leaving vacancies which must be filled by the 
puzzled and groping reader. His own views and his quo- 
tations from the views of others about the static and 
dynamic theories of distribution are examples of an im- 
portant principle so imperfectly expressed as to make us 
doubtful whether it is perfectly apprehended by the 
writer. He can avoid the use of those pedantic terms 
which are really nothing but offensive and, fortunately, 
ephemeral scientific slang. There has been, for instance, 
a recent vogue for the extensive misuse, usually tauto- 
logical misuse, of the word "complexus" — ^an excellent 
word if used rarely and for definite purposes. Mr. Hase- 
man drags it in continually when its use is either point- 
less and redundant or else serves purely to darken wis- 
dom. He speaks of the "Antillean complex" when he 
means the Antilles, of the "organic complex" instead of 
the characteristic or bodily characteristics of an animal 
or species, and of the "environmental complex" when he 
means nothing whatever but the environment. In short, 
Mr. Haseman and those whose bad example he in this 
instance follows use "complexus" in much the same 
spirit as that displayed by the famous old lady who de- 
rived religious — instead of scientific — consolation from 
the use of "the blessed word Mesopotamia." 

The reason that it is worth while to enter this protest 
against Mr. Haseman's style is because his work is of 
such real and marked value. The pamphlet on the dis- 
tribution of South American species shows that to excep- 
tional ability as a field worker he adds a rare power to 
draw, with both caution and originality, the necessary 

Appendix A 363 

general conclusions from the results of his own obser- 
vations and from the recorded studies of other men ; and 
there is nothing more needed at the present moment 
among our scientific men than the development of a school 
.of men who, while industrious and minute observers and 
collectors and cautious generalizers, yet do not permit 
the faculty of wise generalization to be atrophied by ex- 
cessive devotion to labyrinthine detail. 

Haseman upholds with strong reasoning the theory 
that since the appearance of all but the lowest forms of 
life on this globe there have always been three great con- 
tinental masses, sometimes solid sometimes broken, ex- 
tending southward from the northern hemisphere, and 
from time to time connected in the north, but not in the 
middle regions or the south since the carboniferous epoch. 
He holds that life has been intermittently distributed 
southward along these continentEil masses when there 
were no breaks in their southward connection, and inter- 
mittently exchanged between them when they were con- 
nected in the north; and he also upholds the view that 
from a common ancestral form the same species has 
been often developed in entirely disconnected localities 
when in these localities the conditions of environment 
were the same. 

The opposite view is that there have been frequent 
connections between the great land masses, alike in the 
tropics, in the south temperate zone, and in the antarctic 
region. The upholders of this theory base it almost ex- 
clusively on the distribution of living and fossil forms 
of life ; that is, it is based almost exclusively on biological 
and not geological considerations. Unquestionably, the 

364 Appendix A 

distribution of many forms of life, past and present, 
offers problems which with our present paleontological 
knowledge we are wholly unable to solve. If we consider 
only the biological facts concerning some one group of 
animals it is not only easy but inevitable to conclude that 
its distribution must be accounted for by the existence 
of some former direct land bridge extending, for in- 
stance, between Patagonia and Australia, or between 
Brazil and South Africa, or between the West Indies and 
the Mediterranean, or between a part of the Andean 
region and northeastern Asia. The trouble is that as 
more groups of animals are studied from the standpoint 
of this hypothesis the number of such land bridges de- 
manded to account for the existing facts of animal dis- 
tribution is constantly and indefinitely extended. A 
recent book by one of the most learned advocates of this 
hypothesis calls for at least ten such land bridges between 
South America and all the other continents, present and 
past, of the world since a period geologically not very 
remote. These land bridges, moreover, must, many of 
them, have been literally bridges; long, narrow tongues 
of land thrust in every direction across the broad oceans. 
According to this view the continental land masses have 
been in a fairly fluid condition of instability. By parity 
of reasoning, the land bridges could be made a hundred 
instead of merely ten in number. The facts of distribu- 
tion are in many cases inexplicable with our present 
knowledge; yet if the existence of widely separated but 
closely allied forms is habitually to be explained in ac- 
cordance with the views of the extremists of this school 
we could, from the exclusive study of certain groups of 

Appendix A 365 

animals, conclude that at different periods the United 
States and almost every other portion of the earth were 
connected by land and severed from all other regions by 
water — ^and, from the study of certain other groups of 
animals, arrive at directly opposite and incompatible 

The most brilliant and unsafe exponent of this school 
was Ameghino, who possessed and abused two gifts, 
both essential to the highest type of scientist, and both 
mischievous unless this scientist possess a rare and ac- 
curate habit of thought joined to industry and mastery 
of detail: — ^namely, the gift of clear and interesting 
writing, and the gift of generalization. Ameghino 
rendered marked services to paleontology. But he gen- 
eralized with complete recklessness from the slenderest 
data ; and even these data he often completely misunder- 
stood or misinterpreted. His favorite thesis included the 
origin of mammalian life and of man himself in south- 
ernmost South America, with, as incidents, the belief that 
the mammalian-bearing strata of South America were of 
much greater age than the strata with corresponding re- 
mains elsewhere; that in South America various species 
and genera of men existed in tertiary times, some of them 
at least as advanced as fairly well advanced modern 
savages ; that there existed various land bridges between 
South America and other southern continents, including 
Africa; and that the ancestral types of modern mammals 
and of man himself wandered across one of these bridges 
to the old world, and that thence their remote descen- 
dants, after ages of time, returned to the new. In addi- 
tion to valuable investigations of fossil-bearing beds in 

366 Appendix A 

the Argentine, he made some excellent general sugges- 
tions, such as that the pithecoid apes, like the baboons, 
do not stand in the line of man's ancestral stem but 
represent a divergence from it away from hiunanity and 
toward a retrogressive bestialization. But of his main 
theses he proves none, and what evidence we have tells 
against them. At the Museum of La Plata I found that 
the authorities were practically a unit in regarding his 
remains of tertiary men and proto-men as being either 
the remains of tertiary American monkeys or of Ameri- 
can Indians from strata that were long post-tertiary. 
The extraordinary discovery, due to that eminent scientist 
and public servant Doctor Moreno, of the remains of 
man associated with the remains of the great extinct 
South American fauna, of the mylodon, of a giant ungu- 
late, of a huge cat like the lion, and of an extraordinary 
aberrant horse (of a wholly different genus from the 
modern horse) conclusively shows that in its later stages 
the South American fauna consisted largely of types 
that elsewhere had already disappeared and that these 
types persisted into what was geologically a very recent 
period only some tens of thousands of years ago, when 
savage man of practically a modern type had already 
appeared in South America. The evidence we have, so 
far as it goes, tends to show that the South American 
fauna always has been more archaic in type than the 
arctogeal fauna of the same chronological level. 

To loose generalizations, and to elaborate misinterpre- 
tations of paleontological records, the kind of work done 
by Mr. Haseman furnishes an invaluable antiscorbutic. 
To my mind, he has established a stronger presumption 

Appendix A 367 

in favor of the theory he champions than has been es- 
tablished in favor of the theories of any of the learned 
and able scientific men from whose conclusions he dis- 
sents. Further research, careful, accurate, and long ex- 
tended, can alone enable us to decide definitely in the 
matter; and this research, to be effective, must be un- 
dertaken by many men, each of whom shall in large 
measure possess Mr. Haseman's exceptional power of 
laborious work both in the field and in the study, his in- 
sight and accuracy of observation, and his determina- 
tion to follow truth with inflexible rectitude wherever it 
may lead — one of the greatest among the many great 
qualities which lifted Huxley and Darwin above their 



South America includes so many different kinds of 
country that it is impossible to devise a scheme of equip- 
ment which shall suit all. A hunting-trip in the panta- 
nals, in the swamp country of the upper Paraguay, offers 
a simple problem. An exploring trip through an un- 
known tropical forest region, even if the work is chiefly 
done by river, offers a very difficult problem. All that 
I can pretend to do is to give a few hints as the results 
of our own experience. 

For bedding there should be a hammock, mosquito- 
net, and light blanket. These can be obtained in Brazil. 
For tent a light fly is ample ; ours were brought with us 
from New York. In exploring only the open fly should 
be taken ; but on trips where weight of luggage is no ob- 
jection, there can be walls to the tent and even a canvas 
floor-cloth. Camp-chairs and a camp table should be 
brought — any good outfitter in the United States will 
supply them — ^and not thrown away until it becomes 
imperative to cut everything down. On a river trip, 
first-class pulleys and ropes — preferably steel, and at any 
rate very strong — should be taken. Unless the difficulties 
of transportation are insuperable, canvas-and-cement 
canoes, such as can be obtained from various firms in 
Canada and the United States, should by all means be 


Appendix B 369 

taken. They are incomparably superior to the dugouts. 
But on different rivers wholly different canoes, of wholly 
different sizes, will be needed ; on some steam or electric 
launches may be used; it is not possible to lay down a 
general rule. 

As regards arms, a good plain 12-bore shotgun with 
a 30-30 rifle-barrel tmderneath the others is the best 
weapon to have constantly in one's hand in the South 
American forests, where big game is rare and yet may at 
any time come in one's path. When specially hunting 
the jaguar, marsh-deer, tapir, or big peccary, an ordinary 
light repeating rifle— the 30-30, 30-40, or 256— is pref- 
erable. No heavy rifle is necessary for South America. 
Tin boxes or trimks are the best in which to carry one's 
spare things. A good medicine-chest is indispensable. 
Nowadays doctors know so much of tropical diseases 
that there is no difficulty in fitting one out. It is better 
not to make the trip at all than to fail to take an ample 
supply of quinine pills. Cholera pills and cathartic pills 
come next in importance. In liquid shape there should 
be serum to inject for the stoppage of amoebic dysentery, 
and anti-snake-venom serum. Fly-dope should be taken 
in quantities. 

For clothing Kermit and I used what was left over 
from our African trip. Sun helmets are best in the 
open ; slouch-hats are infinitely preferable in the woods. 
There should be hobnailed shoes — the nails many and 
small, not few and large ; and also moccasins or rubber- 
soled shoes ; and light, flexible leggins. Tastes differ in 
socks; I like mine of thick wool. A khaki-colored shirt 
should be worn, or, as a better substitute, a khaki jacket 

370 Appendix B 

with many pockets. Very light underclothes are good. 
If one's knees and legs are unfortunately tender, knicker- 
bockers with long stockings and leggins should be worn ; 
ordinary trousers tend to bind the knee. Better still, 
if one's legs will stand the exposure, are shorts, not 
coming down to the knee. A kilt would probably be best 
of all. Kermit wore shorts in the Brazilian forest, as he 
had already worn them in Africa, in Mexico, and in the 
New Brunswick woods. Some of the best modern 
hunters always wear shorts; as for example, that first- 
class sportsman the Duke of Alva. 

Mr. Flala, after the experience of his trip down the 
Papagaio, the Juruena, and the Tapajos, gives his judg- 
ment about equipment and provisions as follows: 

The history of South American exploration has been 
full of the losses of canoes and cargoes and lives. The 
native canoe made from the single trunk of a forest giant 
is the craft that has been used. It is durable and if lost 
can be readily replaced from the forest by good men 
with axes and adzes. But, because of its great weight 
and low free-board, it is unsuitable as a freight carrier 
and by reason of the limitations of its construction is not 
of the correct form to successfully run the rapid and bad 
waters of many of the South American rivers. The 
North American Indian has undoubtedly developed a 
vastly superior craft in the birch-bark canoe and with it 
will run rapids that a South American Indian with his 
log canoe would not think of attempting, though, as a 
general thing, the South American Indian is a wonderful 
waterman, the equal and, in some ways, the superior of 

Appendix B 371 

his northern contemporary. At the many carries or 
portages the light birch-bark canoe or its modern repre- 
sentative, the canvas-covered canoe, can be picked up 
bodily and carried by from two to four men for several 
miles, if necessary, while the log canoe has to be hauled 
by ropes and back-breaking labor over rollers that have 
first to be cut from trees in the forest, or at great risk 
led along the edge of the rapids with ropes and hooks 
and poles, the men often up to their shoulders in the 
rushing waters, guiding the craft to a place of safety. 

The native canoe is so long and heavy that it is diffi- 
cult to navigate without some bumps on the rocks. In 
fact, it is usually dragged over the rocks in the shallow 
water near shore in preferance to taking the risk of a 
plunge through the rushing volume of deeper water, for 
reasons stated above. The North American canoe can 
be turned with greater facility in critical moments in 
bad water. Many a time I heard my steersman exclaim 
with delight as we took a difficult passage between two 
rocks with our loaded Canadian canoe. In making the 
same passage the dugout would go sideways toward the 
rapid until by a supreme effort her three powerful pad- 
dlers and steersman would right her just in time. The 
native canoe would ship great quantities of water in 
places the Canadian canoe came through without taking 
any water on board. We did bump a few rocks under 
water, but the canoe was so elastic that no damage was 

Our nineteen-foot canvas-covered freight canoe, a 
type especially built for the purpose on deep, full lines 
with high free-board, weighed about one hundred and 

372 Appendix B 

sixty pounds and would carry a ton of cargo with ease — 
and also take it safely where the same cargo distributed 
among two or three native thirty or thirty-five foot 
canoes would be lost. The native canoes weigh from 
about nine hundred to two thousand five hundred pounds 
and more. 

In view of the above facts the explorer-traveller is 
advised to take with him the North American canoe if 
he intends serious work. Two canoes would be a good 
arrangement for from five to seven men, with at least one 
steersman and two paddlers to each canoe. The canoes 
can be purchased in two sizes and nested for transporta- 
tion, an arrangement which would have considerable 
expense in freight bills. At least six paddles should be 
packed with each boat, in length four and one half, four 
and three fourths, and five feet. Other paddles from six 
and one half feet to eight and one half feet should be 
provided for steering oars. The native paddler, after he 
has used the light Canadian paddle, prefers it to the best 
native make. My own paddlers lost or broke all of their 
own paddles so as to get the North American ones, which 
they marked with their initials and used most carefully. 

To each canoe it would be well to have two copper 
air tanks, one fore, one aft, a hand-hole in each with a 
water-tight screw cover on hatch. In these tanks could 
be kept a small supply of matches, the chronometer or 
watch which is used for position, and the scientific 
records and diary. Of course, the fact should be kept in 
mind that these are air tanks, not to be used so as to 
appreciably diminish their buoyancy. Each canoe should 
also carry a small repair kit attached to one of the 

Appendix B 373 

thwarts, containing cement, a piece of canvas same as 
cover of canoe, copper tacks, rivets, and some galvanized 
nails ; a good hatchet and a hammer ; a small can of canoe 
paint, spar varnish, and copper paint for worn places 
would be a protection against termites and torrential 
downpours. In concluding the subject of canoes I can 
state that the traveller in South America will find no 
difficulty in disposing of his craft at the end of his trip. 

Motors. — ^We had with us a three and one half 
horse-power motor which could be attached to stern or 
gunwale of canoe or boat. It was made by the Evinrude 
Motor Company, who had a magneto placed in the fly- 
wheel of the engine so that we never had to resort to the 
battery to run the motor. Though the motor was left out 
in the rain and sun, often without a cover, by careless 
native help, it never failed us. We found it particularly 
valuable in going against the strong current of the Se- 
potuba River where several all-night trips were made 
up-stream, the motor attached to a heavy boat. For 
exploration up-stream it would be valuable, particularly 
as it is easily portable, weighing for the two horse-power 
motor fifty pounds, for three and one half horse-power 
one hundred pounds. If a carbureter could be attached 
so that kerosene could be used it would add to its value 
many times, for kerosene can be purchased almost any- 
where in South America. 

Tents. — ^There is nothing better for material than 
the light waterproof Sea Island cotton of American 
manufacture, made under the trade name of waterproof 
silk. It keeps out the heaviest rain and is very light. 
Canvas becomes water-soaked, and cravenetted material 

374 Appendix B 

lets the water through. A waterproof canvas floor is a 
luxury, and, though it adds to the weight, it may with 
advantage be taken on ordinary trips. The tent should 
be eight by eight or eight by nine feet, large enough to 
swing a comfortable hammock. A waterproof canvas 
bag, a loose-fitting envelope for the tent should be pro- 
vided. Native help is, as a rule, careless, and the bag 
would save wear and tear. 

Hammocks. — ^The hammock is the South American 
bed, and the traveller will find it exceedingly comfortable. 
After leaving the larger cities and settlements a bed is a 
rare object. All the houses are provided with extra ham- 
mock hooks. The traveller will be entertained hospitably 
and after dinner will be given two hooks upon which to 
hang his hammock, for he will be expected to have his 
hammock and, in insect time, his net, if he has nothing 
else. As a rule, a native hammock and net can be pro- 
cured in the field. But it is best to take a comfortable 
one along, arranged with a fine-meshed net. 

In regard to the folding cot: It is heavy and its 
numerous legs form a sort of highway system over which 
all sorts of insects can crawl up to the sleeper. The 
ants are special pests and some of them can bite with the 
enthusiastic vigor of beasts many times their size. The 
canvas floor in a tent obviates to a degree the insect 

The headwaters of the rivers are usually reached by 
pack-trains of mules and oxen. The primitive ox-cart 
also comes in where the trail is not too bad. One hun- 
dred and sixty to one one hundred and eighty pounds is 

Appendix B 375 

a good load for the pack-animals, and none of the cases 
should weigh more than fifty or sixty pounds. Each case 
should be marked with its contents and gross and net 
weight in kilos. 

For personal baggage the light fibre sample case used 
by travelling men in the United States does admirably. 
The regulation fibre case with its metal binding sold for 
the purpose is too heavy and has the bad feature of 
swelling up under the influence of rain and dampness, 
often necessitating the use of an axe or heavy hammer 
to remove cover. 

The ordinary fibre trunk is good for rail and steamer 
travel, but it is absolutely unpractical for mule-back or 
canoe. The fibre sample case could be developed into a 
container particularly fitted for exploration. The fibre 
should be soaked in hot paraffine and then hot-calendered 
or hot-pressed. This case could then be covered with 
waterproof canvas with throat opening like a duffel-bag. 

The waterproof duflfel-bdgs usually sold are too light 
in texture and wear through. A heavier grade should be 
used. The small duffel-bag is very convenient for ham- 
mock and clothing, but generally the thing wanted will 
be at the bottom of the bag! We took with us a number 
of small cotton bags. As cotton is very absorbent, I had 
them paraffined. Each bag was tagged and all were 
placed in the large duffel-bag. The light fibre case de- 
scribed above, made just the right size for mule pack, 
divided by partitions, and covered with a duffel-bag, 
would prove a great convenience. 

The light steel boxes made in England for travellers 
in India and Africa would prove of value in South 

3/6 Appendix B 

American exploration. They have the advantage of be- 
ing insect and water proof and the disadvantage of being 

It would be well if the traveller measured each case 
for personal equipment and computed the limit of weight 
that it could carry and still float. By careful distribution 
of light and heavy articles in the different containers, he 
could be sure of his belongings floating if accidentally 
thrown into the water. 

It is not always possible to get comfortable native 
saddles. They are all constructed on heavy lines with 
thick padding which becomes water-soaked in the rainy 
season. A United States military saddle, with Whitman 
or McClellan tree, would be a positive luxury. Neither 
of them is padded, so would be the correct thing for all 
kinds of weather. The regulation army saddle-blanket 
is also advised as a protection for the mule's back. The 
muleteer should wash the saddle-blanket often. For a 
long mule-back trip through a game country, it would be 
well to have a carbine boot on the saddle (United States 
Army) and saddle-bags with canteen and cup. In a 
large pack-train much time and labor are lost every 
morning collecting the mules which strayed while graz- 
ing. It would pay in the long run to feed a little corn 
at a certain hour every morning in camp, always ringing 
a bell or blowing a horn at the time. The mules would 
get accustomed to receiving the feed and would come 
to camp for it at the signal. 

All the rope that came to my attention in South 
America was three-strand hemp, a hard material, good 
for standing rigging but not good for tackle or for use 

Appendix B 377 

aboard canoes. A four-ply bolt rope of best manilla, 
made in New Bedford, Mass., should be taken. It is the 
finest and most pliable line in the world, as any old 
whaler will tell you. Get a sailor of the old school to 
relay the coils before you go into the field so that the 
rope will be ready for use. Five eighths to seven eighths 
inch diameter is large enough. A few balls of marline 
come in conveniently as also does heavy linen fish-line. 

A small-sized duflfel-bag should be provided for each 
of the men as a container for hammock and net, spare 
clothing, and mess-kit. A very small waterproof pouch 
or bag should be furnished also for matches, tobacco, etc. 

The men should be limited to one duffel-bag each. 
These bags should be numbered consecutively. In fact, 
every piece in the entire equipment should be thus num- 
bered and a list kept in detail in a book. 

The explorer should personally see that each of his 
men has a hammock, net, and poncho ; for the native, if 
left unsupervised, will go into the field with only the 
clothing he has on. 

Food. — Though South America is rich in food and 
food possibilities, she has not solved the problem of 
living economically on her frontiers. The prices asked 
for food in the rubber districts we passed through were 
amazing. Five milreis (one dollar and fifty cents) was 
cheap for a chicken, and eggs at five hundred reis (fifteen 
cents) apiece were a rarity. Sugar was bought at the 
rate of one to two milreis a kilo — in a country where 
sugar-cane grows luxuriantly. The main dependence is 
the mandioc, or farina, as it is called. It is the bread of 
the country and is served at every meal. The native puts 

378 Appendix B 

it on his meat and in his soup and mixes it with his rice 
and beans. When he has nothing else he eats the farina, 
as it is called, by the handful. It is seldom cooked. 
The small mandioc tubers when boiled are very good and 
are used instead of potatoes. Native beans are nutritious 
and form one of the chief foods. 

In the field the native cook wastes much time. Gen- 
erally provided with an inadequate cooking equipment, 
hours are spent cooking beans after the day's work, and 
then, of course, they are often only partially cooked. A 
kettle or aluminum Dutch oven should be taken along, 
large enough to cook enough beans for both breakfast 
and dinner. The beans should be cooked all night, a fire 
kept burning for the purpose. It would only be neces- 
sary then to warm the beans for breakfast and dinner, 
the two South American meals. 

For meat the rubber hunter and explorer depends 
upon his rifle and fish-hook. The rivers are full of fish 
which can readily be caught, and, in Brazil, the tapir, 
capybara, paca, agouti, two or three varieties of deer, 
and two varieties of wild pig can occasionally be shot; 
and most of the monkeys are used for food. Turtles and 
turtle eggs can be had in season and a great variety of 
birds, some of them delicious in flavor and heavy in 
meat. In the hot, moist climate fresh meat will not keep 
and even salted meat has been known to spoil. For use 
on the Roosevelt expedition I arranged a ration for five 
men for one day packed in a tin box; the party which 
went down the Diivida made each ration do for six men 
for a day and a half, and in addition gave over half the 
bread or hardtack to the camaradas. By placing the 

Appendix B 


Daily Ration for 
Five Men 










Bread... ._ 



Dehydrated potatoes. . 
Dehydrated onions . . . 


Evaporated soups .... 

Baked beans.. 

Condensed milk 


Roast beef 

Braised beef 

Corned beef 

Ox tongue 

Curry and chicken 

Boned chicken 

Fruits: evaporated 








Sweet chocolate 















44 ^ 












































32 , 



Each box also contained 

Muslin, one yard. 
Matches, boxes. . . 
Soap, one cake. . . 

Above weights of food are net in avoirdupois ounces. Each complete 
ration with its tin container weighed nearly twenty-seven pounds. Ihe 
five pounds over net weight of daily ration was taken up in tm neces- 
sary for protection of food. The weight of component parts of daily 
ration had to be governed to some extent by the size of the. commercial 
MckLe^n which the food could be purchased on short notice. Austin, 
Nkhofs & Co. of New York, who supplied the food stores for my 
polar expedjt°on, worked day and night to complete the packing of the 
rations on time. 

380 Appendix B 

day's allowance of bread in this same box, it was light- 
ened sufficiently to float if dropped into water. There 
were seven variations in the arrangement of food in 
these boxes and they were numbered from 1 to 7, so that 
a different box could be used every day of the week. 
In addition to the food, each box contained a cake of 
soap, a piece of cheese-cloth, two boxes of matches, and 
a box of table salt. These tin boxes were lacquered to 
protect from rust and enclosed in wooden cases for trans- 
portation. A number in large type was printed on each. 
No. 1 was cased separately; Nos. 2 and 3, 4 and 5, 6 and 
7 were cased together. For canoe travel the idea was to 
take these wooden cases off. I did not have an opportu- 
nity personally to experience the management of these 
food cases. We had sent them all ahead by pack-train 
for the explorers of the Diivida River. The exploration 
of the Papagaio was decided upon during the march 
over the plateau of Matto Grosso and was accomplished 
with dependence upon native food only. 

The food cases described above were used on Colonel 
Roosevelt's descent of the Rio da Diivida and also by the 
party who journeyed down the Gy-Parana and Madeira 
Rivers. Leo Miller, the naturalist, who was a member 
of the last-named party, arrived in Manaos, Brazil, while 
I was there and, in answer to my question, told me that 
the food served admirably and was good, but that the 
native cooks had a habit of opening a number of cases 
at a time to satisfy their personal desire for special deli- 
cacies. Bacon was the article most sought for. Speak- 
ing critically, for a strenuous piece of work like the 
exploration of the Diivida, the food was somewhat bulky. 

Appendix B 


A ration arrangement such as I used on my sledge trips 
North would have contained more nutritious elements 
in a smaller space. We could have done without many 
of the luxuries. But the exploration of the Diivida had 
not been contemplated and had no place in the itinerary 
mapped out in New York. The change of plan and the 
decision to explore the Diivida River came about in Rio 
Janeiro, long after our rations had been made out and 

"Matte," the tea of Brazil and Paraguay, used in 
most of the states of South America, should not be 
forgotten. It is a valuable beverage. With it a native 
can do a wonderful amount of work on little food. Upon 
the tired traveller it has a very refreshing effect. 

Doctor Peckolt, celebrated chemist of Rio de Janeiro, 
has compared the analysis of matte with those of green 
tea, black tea, and coffee and obtained the following 
result : 

In 1,000 PARTS OF 

































Mateina T 

Coffeina j 

Extractive substances. 
Cellulose and fibres . . . 



Manner of preparation: The matt6 tea is prepared in the same 
manner as the Indian tea, that is to say, by pouring upon k boiling 
water during ten to fifteen minutes before using. To obtain a good 
infusion five spoonfuls of matt6 are sufficient for a litre of water. 

382 Appendix B 

Some experiments have been made lately with the 
use of matte in the German army, and probably it would 
be a valuable beverage for the use of our own troops. 
Two plates and a cup, knife, fork, and spoon should be 
provided for each member of the party. The United 
States Army mess-kit would serve admirably. Each 
man's mess-kit should be numbered to correspond with 
the number on his duffel-bag. 

An aluminum (for lightness) cooking outfit, or the 
Dutch oven mentioned, with three or four kettles nested 
within, a cofifee pot or a teapot would suffice. The 
necessary large spoons and forks for the cook, a small 
meat grinder, and a half dozen skinning knives could all 
be included in the fibre case. These outfits are usually 
sold with the cups, plates, etc., for the table. As before 
suggested, each member of the party should have his 
own mess-kit. It should not be carried with the general 
cooking outfit. By separating the eating equipments 
thus, one of the problems of hygiene and cleanliness is 

Rifles. — ^Ammunition. — A heavy rifle is not ad- 
vised. The only animals that can be classed as dangerous 
are the jaguar and white-jawed peccary, and a 30-30 or 
44 calibre is heavy enough for such game. The 44-calibre 
Winchester or Remington carbine is the arm generally 
used throughout South America, and 44 calibre is the 
only ammimition that one can depend upon securing in 
the field. Every man has his own preference for an 
arm. However, there is no need of carrying a nine or 
ten pound weapon when a rifle weighing only from six 
and three fourths to seven and one half pounds will do 

Appendix B 383 

all that is necessary. I, personally, prefer the small-calibre 
rifle, as it can be used for birds also. The three-barrelled 
gun, combining a double shotgun and a rifle, is an ex- 
cellent weapon, and it is particularly valuable for the 
collector of natural-history specimens. A new gun has 
just come on the market which may prove valuable in 
South America where there is such a variety of game, 
a four-barrel gun, weighing only eight and one fourth 
pounds. It has two shotgun barrels, one 30 to 44 calibre 
rifle and the rib separating the shotgun barrels is bored 
for a 22-calibre rifle cartridge. The latter is particularly 
adapted for the large food birds, which a heavy rifle- 
bullet might tear. Twenty-two-calibre ammunition is 
also very light and the long 22 calibre exceedingly powe^r- 
f ul. Unless in practice it proves too complicated, it would 
seem to be a good arm for all-rotmd use — sixteen to 
twenty gauge is large enough for the shotgun barrels. 
Too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the need of 
being provided with good weapons. After the loss of all 
our arms in the rapids we secured four poor, rusty rifles 
which proved of no value. We lost three deer, a tapir, 
and other game, and finally gave up the use of the rifles, 
depending upon hook and line. A 25 or 30 calibre high- 
power automatic pistol with six or seven inch barrel 
would prove a valuable arm to carry always on the per- 
son. It could be used for large game and yet would not 
be too large for food birds. It is to be regretted that 
there is nothing in the market of this character. 

We had our rifle ammunition packed by the U. M. C. 
Co. in zinc cases of one hundred rounds each, a metallic 
strip with pull ring closing the two halves of the box. 

384 Appendix B 

Shot-cartridge, sixteen gauge, were packed the same way, 
twenty-five to the box. 

The explorer would do well always to have on his 
person a compass, a light waterproof bag containing 
matches, a waterproof box of salt, and a strong, light, 
linen or silk fish-line with several hooks, a knife, and an 
automatic at his belt, with several loaded magazines for 
the latter in his pocket. Thus provided, if accidentally 
lost for several days in the forest (which often happens 
to the rubber hunters in Brazil), he will be provided with 
the possibility of getting game and making himself shelter 
and fire at night. 

Fish. — For small fish like the pacu and piranha an 
ordinary bass hook will do. For the latter, because of 
its sharp teeth, a hook with a long shank and phosphor- 
bronze leader is the best ; the same character of leader is 
best on the hook to be used for the big fish. A tarpon 
hook will hold most of the great fish of the rivers. A 
light rod and reel would be a convenience in catching 
the pacu. We used to fish for the latter variety in the 
quiet pools while allowing the canoe to drift, and always 
saved some of the fish as bait for the big fellows. We 
fished for the pacu as the native does, kneading a ball 
of mandioc farina with water and placing it on the hook 
as bait. I should not be surprised, though, if it were 
possible, with carefully chosen flies, to catch some of the 
fish that every once in a while we saw rise to the surface 
and drag some luckless insect under. 

Clothing. — Even the experienced traveller when go- 
ing into a new field will commit the crime of carrying too 
much luggage. Articles which he thought to be camp 

Appendix B 385 

necessities become camp nuisances which worry his men 
and kill his mules. The lighter one can travel the better. 
In the matter of clothing, before the actual wilderness is 
reached the costume one would wear to business in New 
York in summer is practical for most of South America, 
except, of course, the high mountain regions, where a 
warm wrap is necessary. A white or natural linen suit 
is a very comfortable garment. A light blue unlined 
serge is desirable as a change and for wear in rainy 

Strange to relate, the South American seems to have 
a fondness for stiff collars. Even in Corumba, the hot- 
test place I have ever been in, the native does not think 
he is dressed unless he wears one of these stiff abomina- 
tions around his throat. A light negligee shirt with 
interchangeable or attached soft collars is vastly pre- 
ferable. In the frontier regions and along the rivers the 
pa jama seems to be the conventional garment for day as 
well as night wear. Several such suits of light material 
should be carried — the more ornamented and beautifully 
colored the greater favor will they find along the way. A 
light cravenetted mackintosh is necessary for occasional 
cool evenings and as a protection against the rain. It 
should have no cemented rubber seams to open up in the 
warm, moist climate. Yachting oxfords and a light pair 
of leather slippers complete the outfit for steamer travel. 
For the field, two or three light woollen khaki-colored 
shirts, made with two breast pockets with buttoned flaps, 
two pairs of long khaki trousers, two pairs of riding 
breeches, a khaki coat cut military fashion with four 
pockets with buttoned flaps, two suits of pajamas, hand- 

386 Appendix B 

kerchiefs, socks, etc., would be necessary. The poncho 
should extend to below the knees and should be provided 
with a hood large enough to cover the helmet. It should 
have no cemented seams; the material recently adopted 
by the United States Army for ponchos seems to be the 
best. For footgear the traveller needs two pairs of stout, 
high hunting shoes, built on the moccasin form with soles. 
Hobnails should be taken along to insert if the going is 
over rocky places. It is also advisable to provide a pair 
of very light leather slipper boots to reach to just under 
the knee for wear in camp. They protect the legs and 
ankles from insect stings and bites. The traveller who 
enters tropical South America should protect his head 
with a wide-brimmed soft felt hat with ventilated head- 
band, or the best and lightest pith helmet that can be 
secured, one large enough to shade the face and back 
of neck. There should be a ventilating space all around 
the head-band; the wider the space the better. These 
helmets can be secured in Rio and Buenos Aires. Head- 
nets with face plates of horsehair are the best protection 
against small insect pests. They are generally made too 
small and the purchaser should be careful to get one 
large enough to go over his helmet and come down to 
the breast. Several pairs of loose gloves rather long in 
the wrist will be needed as protection against the flies, 
plums and boroshudas which draw blood with every bite 
and are numerous in many parts of South America. A 
waterproof sun umbrella, with a jointed handle about six 
feet long terminating in a point, would be a decided help 
to the scientist at work in the field. A fine-meshed net 
fitting around the edge of the umbrella would make it 

Appendix B 387 

Insect proof. When folded it would not be bulky and its 
weight would be negligible. Such an umbrella could also 
be attached, with a special clamp, to the thwart of a 
canoe and so prove a protection from both sun and rain. 
There are little personal conveniences which some- 
times grow into necessities. One of these in my own case 
was a little electric flash-light taken for the purpose of 
reading the verniers of a theodolite or sextant in star 
observations. It was used every night and for many 
purposes. As a matter of necessity, where insects are 
numerous one turns to the protection of his hammock 
and net immediately after the evening meal. It was at 
such times that I found the electric lamp so helpful. 
Reclining in the hammock, I held the stock of the light 
under my left arm and with diary in my lap wrote up 
my records for the day. I sometimes read by its soft, 
steady light. One charge of battery, to my surprise, 
lasted nearly a month. When forced to pick out a camp- 
ing spot after dark, an experience which comes to every 
traveller in the tropics in the rainy season, we found its 
light very helpful. Neither rain nor wind could put it 
out and the light could be directed wherever needed. The 
charges should be calculated on the plan of one for every 
three weeks. The acetylene lamp for camp illumination 
is an advance over the kerosene lantern. It has been 
found that for equal weight the carbide will give more 
light than kerosene or candle. The carbide should be 
put in small containers, for each time a box is opened 
some of the contents turns into gas from contact with 
the moist air. 

Tools. — Three or four good axes, several bill-hooks, 

388 Appendix B 

a good hatchet with hammer head and nail-puller should 
be in the tool kit. In addition, each man should be pro- 
vided with a belt knife and a machete with sheath. 
Collins makes the best machetes. His axes, too, are 
excellent. The bill-hook, called foice in Brazil, is a most 
valuable tool for clearing away small trees, vines, and 
undergrowths. It is marvellous how quickly an experi- 
enced hand can clear the ground in a forest with one of 
these instruments. All of these tools should have handles 
of second-growth American hickory of first quality; and 
several extra handles should be taken along. The list 
of tools should be completed with a small outfit of pliers, 
tweezers, files, etc. — the character, of course, depending 
upon the mechanical ability of the traveller and the 
scientific instruments he has with him that might need 

Survey Instruments. — ^The choice of instruments 
will depend largely upon the character of the work in- 
tended. If a compass survey will suffice, there is nothing 
better than the cavalry sketching board used in the United 
States Army for reconnoissance. With a careful hand it 
approaches the high degree of perfection attained by the 
plane-table method. It is particularly adapted for river 
survey and, after one gets accustomed to its use, it is 
very simple. If the prismatic compass is preferred, 
nothing smaller than two and one half inches in diameter 
should be used. In the smaller sizes the magnet is not 
powerful enough to move the dial quickly or accurately. 

Several good pocket compasses must be provided. 
They should all have good-sized needles with the north 
end well marked and degrees engraved in metal. If the 

Appendix B 389 

floating dial is preferred it should be of aluminum and 
nothing smaller than two and one half inches, for the 
same reason as mentioned above regarding the prismatic 

Expense should not be spared if it is necessary to 
secure good compasses. Avoid paper dials and leather 
cases which absorb moisture. The compass case should 
allow taking apart for cleaning and drying. 

The regular chronometer movement, because of its 
delicacy, is out of the question for rough land or water 
travel. We had with us a small-sized half-chronometer 
movement recently brought out by the Waltham Com- 
pany as a yacht chronometer. It gave a surprisingly even 
rate under the most adverse conditions. I was sorry to 
lose it in the rapids of the Papagaio when our canoes 
went down. 

The watches should be waterproof with strong cases, 
and several should be taken. It would be well to have 
a dozen cheap but good watches and the same number of 
compasses for use around camp and for gifts or trade 
along the line of travel. Money is of no value after one 
leaves the settlements. I was surprised to find that many 
of the rubber hunters were not provided with compasses, 
and I listened to an American who told of having been 
lost in the depths of the great forest where for days he 
lived on monkey meat secured with his rifle until he found 
his way to the river. He had no compass and could not 
get one. I was sorry I had none to give ; I had lost mine 
in the rapids. 

For the determination of latitude and longitude there 
is nothing better than a small four or five inch theodolite 

390 Appendix B 

not over fifteen pounds in weight. It should have a good 
prism eyepiece with an angle tube attached so it would 
not be necessary to break one's neck in reading high 
altitudes. For days we travelled in the direction the sun 
was going, with altitudes varying from 88° to 90°. Be- 
cause of these high altitudes of the sun the sextant with 
artificial horizon could not be used unless one depended 
upon star observations altogether, an uncertain depend- 
ence because of the many cloudy nights. 

Barometers. — The Goldsmith form of direct-read- 
ing aneroid is the most accurate portable instrument and, 
of course, should be compared with a standard mercurial 
at the last weather-bureau station. 

Thermometers. — A swing thermometer, with wet 
and dry bulbs for determination of the amount of mois- 
ture in the air, and the maximum and minimum ther- 
mometer of the signal-service or weather-bureau type 
should be provided, with a case to protect them from 

A tape measure with metric scale of measurements 
on one side and feet and inches on the other is most 
important. Two small, light waterproof cases could be 
constructed and packed with scientific instruments, data, 
and spare clothing and yet not exceed the weight limit 
of flotation. In transit by pack-train these two cases 
would form but one mule load. 

Photographic. — From the experience gained in sev- 
eral fields of exploration it seems to me that the voyager 
should limit himself to one small-sized camera, which he 
can always have with him, and then carry a duplicate of 
it, soldered in tin, in the baggage. The duplicate need 

Appendix B 391 

not be equipped with as expensive a lens and shutter as 
the camera carried for work; 3j4 x4j4 is a good size. 
Nothing larger than 3>^ x 5}4 is advised. We carried 
the 3A special Kodak and found it a light, strong, and 
effective instrument. It seems to me that the ideal form 
of instrument would be one with a front board large 
enough to contain an adapter fitted for three lenses. For 
the 3>^x4j4: 

One lens 4 or AYz focus 

One lens 6 or 7 focus 

One lens telephoto or telecentric . . 9 to 12 focus 

The camera should be made of metal and fitted with 
focal-plane shutter and direct view-finder, 

A sole-leather case with shoulder-strap should con- 
tain the camera and lenses, with an extra roll of films, all 
within instant reach, so that a lens could be changed 
without any loss of time. 

Plates, of course, are the best, but their weight and 
frailty, with difficulty of handling, rule them out of the 
question. The roll film is the best, as the film pack sticks 
together and the stubs pull off in the moist, hot climate. 
The films should be purchased in rolls of six exposures, 
each roll in a tin, the cover sealed with surgical tape. 
Twelve of these tubes should be soldered in a tin box. In 
places where the air is charged with moisture a roll of 
films should not be left in a camera over twenty-four 

Tank development is best for the field. The tanks 
provided for developing by the Kodak Company are best 

392 Appendix B 

for fixing also. A nest of tanks would be a convenience; 
one tank should be kept separate for the fixing-bath. As 
suggested in the Kodak circular, for tropical develop- 
ment a large-size tank can be used for holding the freez- 
ing mixture of hypo. This same tank would become the 
fixing tank after development. In the rainy season it is 
a difficult matter to dry films. Development in the field, 
with washing water at 80° F., is a patience-trying opera- 
tion. It has occurred to me that a small air-pump with a 
supply of chloride of calcium in small tubes might solve 
the problem of preserving films in the tropics. The air- 
pump and supply of chloride of calcium would not be as 
heavy or bulky as the tanks and powders needed for de- 
velopment. By means of the air-pump the films could be 
sealed in tin tubes free from moisture and kept thus until 
arrival at home or at a city where the air was fairly dry 
and cold water for washing could be had. 

While I cordially agree with most of the views ex- 
pressed by Mr. Fiala, there are some as to which I dis- 
agree; for instance, we came very strongly to the 
conclusion, in descending the Duvida, where bulk was of 
great consequence, that the films should be in rolls of 
ten or twelve exposures. I doubt whether the four-barrel 
gun would be practical ; but this is a matter of personal 



The first report on the expedition, made by me im- 
mediately after my arrival at Manaos, and published in 
Rio Janeiro upon its receipt, is as follows: 

May 1st, 1914. 
To His Excellency The Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, 
Rio-de- Janeiro. 
My dear General Lauro Muller: 

I wish first to express my profound acknowledgments 
to you personally and to the other members of the 
Brazilian Government whose generous courtesy alone 
rendered possible the "Expedicao Scientifica Roosevelt- 
Rondon. I wish also to express my high admiration and 
regard for Colonel Rondon and his associates who have 
been my colleagues in this work of exploration. In* the 
third place I wish to point out that what we have just 
done was rendered possible only by the hard and perilous 
labor of the Brazilian Telegraphic Commission in the 
unexplored western wilderness of Matto Grosso during 
the last seven years. We have had a hard and somewhat 
dangerous but very successful trip. No less than six 


394 Appendix C 

weeks were spenr in slowly and with peril and exhausting 
labor forcing our way down through what seemed a 
literally endless succession of rapids and cataracts. For 
forty-eight days we saw no human being. In pa ing 
these rapids we lost five of the seven canoes with which 
we started and had to build others. One of our best men 
lost his life in the rapids. Under the strain one of the 
men went completely bad, shirked all his work, stole his 
comrades' food and when punished by the sergeant he 
with cold-blooded deliberation murdered the sergeant and 
fled into the wilderness. Colonel Rondon's dog running 
ahead of him while hunting, was shot by two Indians; 
by his death he in all probability saved the life of his 
master. We have put on the map a river about 1500 
kilometres in length running from just south of the 13th 
degree to north of the 5th degree and the biggest affluent 
of the Madeira. Until now its upper course has been 
utterly unknown to every one, and its lower course al- 
though known for years to the rubber men utterly un- 
known to all cartographers. Its source is between the 
12th and 13th parallels of latitude south, and between 
longitude 59 degrees and longitude 60 degrees west from 
Greenwich. We embarked on it about at latitude 12 
degrees 1 minute south and longitude 60 degrees 18 west. 
After that its entire course was between the 60th and 
61st degrees of longitude approaching the latter most 
closely about in latitude 8 degrees 15 minutes. The first 
rapids were at Navaite in 1 1 degrees 44 minutes and after 
that they were continuous and very difficult and danger- 
ous until the rapids named after the murdered sergeant 
Paishon in 11 degrees 12 minutes. At 11 degrees 23 

Appendix C 395 

minutes the river received the Rio Kermit from the left. 
At 1 1 degrees 22 minutes the Marciano Avila entered it 
from the right. At 11 degrees 18 minutes the Taunay 
I .ered from the left. At 10 degrees 58 minutes the 
Cardozo entered from the right. At 10 degrees 24 min- 
utes we encountered the first rubber man. The Rio 
Branco entered from the left at 9 degrees 38 minutes. 
We camped at 8 degrees 49 minutes or approximately 
the boundary line between Matto Grosso and Amazonas. 
The confluence with- the upper Aripuanan, which entered 
from the right, was in 7 degrees 34 minutes. The mouth 
where it entered the Madeira was in about 5 degrees 30 
minutes. The stream we have followed down is that 
which rises farthest away from the mouth and its general 
course is almost due north; 

My dear Sir, I thank you from my heart for the 
chance to take part in this great work of exploration. 

With high regard and respect, believe me 
Very sincerely yours, 

Theodore Roosevelt. 



"African Game Trails," 22 

Agassiz, 355 

Agouti, 173, 346 

Alencarliense, Lieutenant, 270 

Alligator, 80 

Alva, Duke of. Appendix B, 370 

Amarante, Lieutenant, 270, 271 

Amazon, 7, 290, 343, 349 

Amazonas, Boundary Commis- 
sion of, 326; 350 

Ameghino, Doctor, 28 : Appendix 
A, 365 

American Museum of Natural 
History, 2, 8, 67, 146, 188 

Amilcar, Captain, 158, 171, 189, 
208, 220, 226, 234, 246, 271; 
loss of his notes and instru- 
ments, 341 ; arrives at Manaos, 

Ammunition, Appendix B, 382, 

Anaconda, 54, 228 

Ananas River, 187, 238, 247, 319; 
note, 327 

Andes, 6 

Andre, 310 

Aneroid, 268, 281, 322 

Animals, wild, curious local 
change in habits of, 29; igno- 
rance of some hunters con- 
cerning, 87 

Ant-eater, giant, tamandua ban- 
deira, 68, 75 

Ant-hills, giant, 91, 191, 227 

Ants, 164, 251, 306; poisonous, 
55, 91, 192; fire-ants, 108, 114, 
118, 120, 121, ISO; foraging, 
166-168, 233, 288; leaf -carry- 
ing, 191, 256, 288, 306; giant, 
263, 272 

Ants, socks and mosquito-net- 
ting eaten by, 164, 256, 306 

Argentina, 2 

Argentine, 9, 26, 32 

Aripuanan, the, 284, 285, 298, 
325-327, 338-341, 350 

Armadillos, 90, 91, 173, 205 

Arms, 5, 67, 248; Fox, 67; 
Springfield rifle, 81, 93 ; Liiger, 
93, 234; Winchester, 84, 211, 
332; Appendix B, 369, 382, 383 

Arneberg, Mr., 31 

Arrovirs, 279 

Asuncion, 8; leave, 39; 44, 65 

Automobile, a querulous travel- 
ler in the, 213 

Ayolas, the Spanish explorer, 60 

Baggage, rearrangement of, 214; 
cutting down of, 247; further 
reduction of, 281; final reduc- 
tion of, 303; personal, Appen- 
dix B, 375, 376 

Balsa, or ferry, 210, 219 

Bandeira, the, 254 

Barbados, sail for, 347 

Barboso, Senhor, 331 

Barilloche, 36 

Barometers, Appendix B, 390 

Barros, Senhor de, (A, 69 

Bates, H. W., 120, 345; Appen- 
dix A, 357 

Bats, 140; blood-sucking, 172, 
173, 239, 240 

Bedding, Appendix B, 368 

Bees, 211, 252, 257, 259, 263, 

Belen (formerly Para), 344-347; 
zoological gardens at, 347 

Benedetto, 148, 152, 153 




Beriberi, 1S9, 203, 226, 319 

Birds, songs of, 33, 34, 288; bien- 
tevido, 35; tyrant flycatchers, 
35-37 ; advertising coloration 
of, 37; habits of, 37; survival 
factors in species of, 38; wa- 
ter-fowl, 39, SO, 59, 66, 70, 
322; difference in bird fauna, 
70; "Jesus Christ," 74; wealth 
of bird life, 74; nests of, 74, 
344; need for work of careful 
observer of, 74, 112; ants at- 
tack nestling, 92; extraordi- 
nary collection of, 92-94; 
oven-birds, 95; owl, 99, 162, 
173; Guan, 101; sickle-billed 
humming, 108; egrets, 110; 
toucans. 111, 165, 298; finfoots, 
112, herons, 112; troupials, 
121; opportunity for study of, 
124; parakeets, 124; screamers, 
125; curassows, 126, 305; 
snake, 130; cormorants, 130; 
spurred lapwing, 130; con- 
trasts in habits between closely 
allied species of, 130, 131 
manakin, 137; 149; whippoor- 
will, 168; honey-creeper, 169 
nunlets, 169; waxbill, 170 
trogons, 179; false bell-bird 
179; woodpecker, 205, 253. 
some new, 217; breeding sea- 
son of, 218; macaws, 218; old 
and new kinds of, 218; valu- 
able addition to collection of, 
220; unfamiliar, 234, 235; sa- 
riema, 236; cotinga, 253; sixty 
new, 266; four new species of, 
278; ant-thrush, 294, 295; 298, 
322; jacii-tinga, 324; trum- 
peter, 331; few water, 337; 
hoatzin, archaic type of, 343 

Boats, house, 102; their use as 
stores, 102 

Bonofacio, Jose, station of, 134, 
243-246 ; provisions left at, 247 

Books, 162, 228, 229, 247, 267; 
of travel. Appendix A, 356, 

Booth Line, 344 

Borah, Jake, 119 

Brazil, invitation of Government 
of, 2; arrival at boundary of, 
49, 50; intellectual and spirit- 
ual liberty of, 51; healthiness 
of inland region of, 103; in- 
valuable reports of explora- 
tions published by Govern- 
ment of, 135; educational 
needs of, 157; silver-mounted 
saddle and bridle presented 
to Colonel Roosevelt by Gov- 
ernment of, 170; suggestion to 
combine the two expeditions 
made by Government of, 188; 
first explorers of, 189; houses 
of laborers in, 196; healthy 
region for settlement offered 
by high interior of western, 
216; change of family names 
in, 291 ; courtesy of peasants 
of, 325 ; "last frontier" still ex- 
ists in, 333; development of, 
334; Government of, orders 
Duvida River to be named 
Rio Roosevelt, 341 ; achieve- 
ments of Government of, 348, 
349; Colonel Rondon's report 
of Savage Landor to Govern- 
ment of. Appendix A, note, 

Brazil, Doctor Vital, 14-23, 42, 

Brazil Land and Cattle Com- 
pany, headquarters of, 125-127 

Bridge, an Indian, 255 

Bronx Zoo, 346 

Bryce, James, 177; Appendix A, 

Buenos Aires, 9, 32 

Bullets, umbrella-pointed, 141 

Bullock-train, 220 

Butterflies, 168, 235 

BuTity River, camp at, 210-212 

Burton, 355 

Cahoclos, 106, 193, 243 
Caetano, Lieutenant, 188 
Caete flags, 108 



Cajazeira, Doctor, 171, 189, 208, 
282, 291, 313, 317, 321, 328; 
good-by to, 345 

Camaradas, 106; skilful riding 
of, 107; 117-119, 139; wilder- 
ness work disliked by, 159; 
250, 260, 268, 282; discourage- 
ment of, 307; tragedy among 
the, 311-317; fever among, 
318; share food with, 323; lose 
strength, 328; ill from over- 
eating, 334; parting gift to, 

Camp chairs and table, Appen- 
dix B, 368 

Campos Novos, 233-235 

Canja, 170, 235 

Canoes, 138; Canadian, 138, 170; 
247, 249; portaging the, 260, 
261, 267, 268; loss of two, 269; 
building new, 270-273; 274; 
lose another, 280; 281; build 
two more, 287; 301-304; rocks 
break, 306; 307-310, 321-323, 
331 ; obtain boat to replace, 
337; 338; two months in, 339; 
last trip in, 342; Appendix B, 
368, 370-373 

Canuma River, 262, 298, 338 

Capricorn, Tropic of, 40 

Capybaras, or tapirs, 80-82, 85, 
86, 88-90, 111, 117 

Cardozo, Captain, 159 

Caripe, Senhor, 337; his stories 
of rubber-workers, 338; 340, 

"Carregadores," 191, 256, 288 

Cartucho, the puppy, 192 

Carvings, rock, 300 

"Cashada," the Brazilian name 
for peccary, 146, 148 

Castanho, the, 325-327, 340 

Cataracts, 319 

Catfish, 320 

Cattle, 72; jaguars attack, 86; 
branding of, 95, 96; regions 
of extraordinary possibilities 
for raising, 124, 126, 156 

Caymans, 40, 44, 54, 59; jacares, 
usual name for, 66, 67; 85; in- 

teresting incident of trucu- 
lence of, 88, 89; astonishing 
tameness of, 113, 321 

Centiped, 311 

Chaco, the, 32, 40, 41 

Chapadao, 216, 235, 237, 239, 348 

Chapman, Frank, 2, 3 

Chasm, a, 308 

Cherrie, George K., 3-5, 10, 40, 
63, 99, 102, 103, 153; good citi- 
zenship of, 156, 157; good 
work done l5y, 166 ; 173 ; widely 
varied experiences of, 184, 
185; 186, 205, 208, 210, 214, 
217, 218; interesting tales told 
by, 227, 228; 234, 240, 237, 248, 
253, 255, 263, 266, 278, 280- 
282; home life of, 294; helpful- 
ness of, 305, 306 ; 310, 313, 317, 
319, 321, 328, 329, 334, 339; 
piranha attacks, 341 ; friend- 
ship inspired by, 342; 347, 357 

Cherrie River, 302 

Chile, 9 

Cicadas, 65, 66 

Climate, difficulties of working 
in a damp, 207 

Clothing, Appendix B, 369, 370, 
377, 384-386 

Coati, 49, 114, 173 

Coimbra, 60, 61 

Coloration, advertising, of birds, 
36, Zl, 295; theories concern- 
ing concealing, 100; conceal- 
ing, not universal among big 
game, 122, 123, 127-129; cor- 
al-snake possesses revealing, 
255; examples of protective, 
256, 264 

Compass, necessity for a, 163, 
180; Appendix B, 388, 389 

Concepcion, 41, 42, 44, 46; visit 
to barracks at, 47; breakfast 
at City Hall at, 48 

Cooking, 160; equipment for. 
Appendix B, 378, 382 

Correa, Antonio, 279, W^, 296, 
299, 302, 325 

Corumba, 9, 62-65; arrival at, 
91; 123, 337 



Cougar, or puma, 27-29; man 
attacked by, 30-32, 55; 127, 
128; deer preyed on by, 180 

Craveiro, Pedrinho, 298, 313 

Crops, 40, 335 

Cruz, Doctor, 42 

Cuyaba, River, 101 ; party leaves 
the, 113; 123 

Da Cunha, Commander, 88 

Dance, an Indian, 206, 207; 
Nhambiquara, 224, 241 

Darwin, his "Voyage of the 
Beagle," 356; 360, 367 

Deer, bush, 115, 141, 155; marsh, 
78, 100; revealing coloration 
of, 122; pampas, 180, 182; 
whitetail, 115, 116, 122 

Dipper, the, 329 

Diseases, 203, 204 

Ditmars, R. L., 19, 21 

Dogs, 67, 16, 79-83, 109, 110, 117, 
118; jaguar hunt exhausts, 
119; need for good, 119; 
worthlessness of the, 140; cus- 
tom of gelding hunting, ISS, 
156; heat tries, 219 

Ducks, muscovy, 50; tree, 125 

Duffel-bags, Appendix B, ill 

Easter Sunday, 323 
Education, need of, 156, 157 
Egan, Maurice Francis, 1 
Electric flashlight, Appendix B, 

Enoerey, the god, 209 
Equipment, 5, 6, 214, 215; com- 
pass a necessary part of, 163, 
180; for trip down unknown 
river, 247; blankets a necessity 
of, 306; Colonel Roosevelt's 
suggestion for. Appendix B, 
368-370 ; Fiala's suggestion for. 
Appendix B, 370-392 
Evangalista, Miguel, 242, 243 
Expedition, the origin of, 1 ; 
members of, 3-5 ; ground to be 
covered by, 6-9; scientific 
character of, 26; arrival of 
Brazilian members of, 51-53; 
division of the, 170, 171 ; pri- 

mary purpose of, 188; official 
title of, 188; individual work 
done by members of, 189; be- 
gin difficult part of, 208; final 
division of belongings and 
members of, 246, 247 ; perilous 
state of, 315; a good doctor 
essential on, 318; ill health of 
members of, 323; a red-letter 
day for, 324; no longer fear 
of disaster to, 328; complete 
zoological success of, 347; 
most important work done by, 
Explorers, dangers to pioneer, 
55, 159, 176-178; work of Bra- 
zilian, 217; disasters to parties 
of, 309; much work in South 
America for, Appendix A, 353- 
358; need for accuracy and 
common sense in writings of, 
359-362 ; note, 361 ; useful ar- 
ticles which should always be 
carried by, 384 

Farrabee, Professor, 177, 347, 
Appendix A, 357 

Fauna, 8; pleistocene, 27; bird, 
70; mammalian, 70; South 
America rich in bird, 112; an 
interesting, 218; extinct South 
American, Appendix A, 366 

Fazendas, 162 

Fazendeiros, 138, 148 

Ferry, the, 194 

Fiala, Anthony, 4, 5, 9; outfit as- 
sembled by, 64; takes moving 
picture, 111; efficiency of, 165; 
170, 184, 189, 208; loses bag- 
gage and provisions, 221 ; ra- 
tions chosen by, 295; goes 
home, 341 ; his suggestions for 
equipment and provisions. Ap- 
pendix B, 369-392 

Fish, best hooks and rods for. 
Appendix B, 384 

Fishing stick, 280 

FHes, horse, 130, 259; pium, 190, 
259; polvora, 259; boroshuda, 
259;berni, 151,229 



Floating islands, 345 

"Fly-dope," 259, Appendix B, 

Flying-fish, 293 

Food, 186; oxen for, 209, 239; 
248; monkeys as, 255; econo- 
mizing, 272; palm-tops used 
for, 281, 295, 296; shortage of, 
295; country furnishes scant 
supply of, 295, 296 ; toucan and 
parrots as, 299; high prices 
for, 331 ; vegetables and fruits 
raised by settles for, 332; Ap- 
pendix B, 377; itemized list 
of, 379-381 

Football, extraordinary game of, 

Forage, scarcity of, 215, 229, 231 

Forests, 7, 59, 70, 136 ; multitudes 
of insects inhabit, 151 ; 179, 
180; absolute necessity for a 
compass in, 163, 180 ; 216, 252 ; 
difficulty of hunting in, 266; 
272, 305 

Fort Bourbon, 57 

Franga, the cook, ghostly belief 
of, 314 

Franco, Ricardo, 189, 190, 219 

Frogs, peculiar cries of, 210, 236 

Fungi, 168 

Game, big, inadequate knowledge 
of life histories of, 119, 120 

Gauchos, 95, 96 

Geographer, work of field, in 
South America, Appendix A, 
353, 354 

Geological structure of land, 237 

Goff, Johnny, 119 

Gopher rat, 245, 246 

Graves, forlorn, 203, 210, 231 

Guapore, the, 189 

Guarany, 44-46 

Guiana, 347 

Gy-Parana, the, 134, 135 ; descent 
of the, 158; boat, men, and 
provisions lost ascending the, 
159; 247, 270, 271, 348 

Hammocks, Appendix B, 368, 

Harper, Frank, 4, S, 166; speci- 
mens and unnecessary bag- 
gage returned to New York 
in care of, 171 

Haseman, John D., 177, Appen- 
dix A, 359-362; theories of, 

Headball, 198, 199, 204 

Head-nets, 212, 220, 232 

Herford, Oliver, nonsense 
rhymes of, 197 

Hoehne, the botanist, 172 

Honey, 263 

Honey-creeper, 237 

Horses, 69, 76, curious relations 
of tapirs and, 147 

Houses, native, 101, 132, 220, 
233, 244 

Huatsui, camp at, 212 

Hudson, Mr., author of "Natu- 
ralist on the Plata," 29, 34, 87; 
Appendix A, 355 

Humboldt, 356 

Hunters, native, 78; one chris- 
tened "Nips," 78; curious ig- 
norance regarding habits of 
animals of native and other, 
86; riding costume of, 149; 
lack of sense of direction of, 

Huquen, Marcelino, 31 

Huxley, 360, 367 

Ibis, turtles' nests plundered by, 

Iguanas, 228 

Indian mounds, 105 

Indians, 49; civilization of tribes 
of, 52; fishing village of, 105; 
governmental treatment of the, 
157; wages paid the, 193; 
Colonel Rondon's treatment of 
the, 193; telegraph-line pa- 
trolled by, 194; huts of, 244; 
dog killed by, 279, 280; 286, 

Insects, 40, 41 ; man's worst ani- 
mal foes, 41, 42; a menace to 
wilderness travel, 55; 69, 101; 
perpetuation of species of, 



121 ; atrocious suffering caused 
by, 151; 175, 176; many queer, 
183; 193, 211, 212; torments 
from, 232; danger from wild 
animals less than from, 232, 
233 ; 259, 260, 262, 268, 272, 282, 
306; festering wounds caused 
by bites of. 311; 330. See 
Mosquitoes, Flies, Wasps, 
"Instituto serum-therapico, 14 
Irala, the Spanish explorer, 60 
Itacoatiara, 320 

Jabiru storks, SO, 66, 70, 93, 94; 
Fiala takes a moving picture 
of, 111; 155 

Jacanas, 74 

Jacare-tinga. See Caymans. 

Jacu, 263, 265, 269 

Jacyparana, the, 271 

Jaguar, 27, 32, 33, 55; hunt for, 
79-85; cattle preyed on by, 85, 
86; spears and rifles used in 
hunting, 105 ; unsuccessful 
hunt for, 117-119; melanism 
common among, 127; trees 
refuge of, 142; kills bullock, 

Jaguarundi, 127 

Jararaca, 12, 13, 21, 23; mus- 
surama fights, 24-26; man bit- 
ten by, 54; 137; stories of, 227 

Jesuits, missions of the, 44 

Jdao, Kermit's helmsman, 275- 
277, 291 

Johnston, Sir Harry, 42 

Juina,.the, 229 

Julio, 250, 298; story of tragedy 
caused by, 311-317 

Jungle, man strayed in, 163 

Juruena, the, 134, 135, 187, 208, 
216; arrival at, 219; 348 

Kipling, poems of, 203 

Lambert', Doctor Alexander, 259 
Lamps, Appendix B, 387 
Landor, Savage, 179; Colonel 
Rondon's scathing review of, 
note, Appendix A, 359-361 

Languages, Guarany, 44-46; 56, 

La Plata Museum, 32; Appendix 
A, 366 

"Las Palmeiras," visit to ranch 
of, 66, 69; cattle at, 72; de- 
lightful stay at, 90; leave, 112 

"Last Frontier," in Brazil, 333 

Lauriado, Lieutenant, 182, 208, 
221, 340 

Lecture engagements, 2, 9 

Lobo, 279 

Long Island, spring on, 173, 329 

Lowell, 177 

Luiz, steersman, 250, 263, 279, 

Lyra, Lieutenant Joao, 52, 132, 
158, 171, 184, 187, 189, 208, 210, 
235, 247, 250, 259, 260, 262, 
266-272, 275, 279, 282, 283, 291, 
296, 297, 300, 302, 304-308, 310, 
311, 313, 317, 321, 328, 329, 335, 
341, 345 

Macario, 302 

MacGahan, Januarius Aloysius, 

Machetes, 118, 149, 179; falcons, 
Brazilian name for, 320 

Mackenzie, Murdo, 125 

Madeira, the, 133-135, 189, 238, 
247, 271, 327, 342, 343, 350 

Madeira-Marmore Railroad, 242 

Madeirainha River, 335-338 

Magalhaes, Captain Amilcar de, 

Mammals, 70 ; variety in fecun- 
dity of different families of, 
76; 99, 112, 166; noteworthy 
collection of, 343 

Manaos, 247, 338, 341-346 

Mandioc, 193 

Mantes, Praying, 192 

Marino, Lieutenant, 219 

Marques, Dom Joao, the young- 
er, 103, 105; his gift to Colonel 
Roosevelt, 113 

Marques, Senhor Joao da Costa, 
103 ; noteworthy family of, 105 

Marsh, difficult swim across, 118 



Marsh plants, 108, 118 

Matte, 46, 55, 186; Appendix B, 

Matto Grosso, 9, 104; largest 
ranch-house in, 113; 132, 134; 
future possibilities of interior 
of, 156, 157; beginnings of 
province of, 189; 350 

McLean, , 126 

Meat, Appendix B, 378, 379 

Medicines, Appendix B, 369 

Mello Filho, Lieutenant Joaquin, 
52, 182, 208, 234, 246 

Merriam, Hart, 84 

Mess-kit, Appendix B, 382 

Mice, new varieties of, 112 

Miller, Leo E., 3, 5, 9, 40, 43, 
63-65, 73, 98, 99, 103; good 
work done by, 166; 167-169, 
173, 175, 186, 188, 205, 208, 210, 
214, 218; interesting tales told 
by, 228; 234, 236, 240, 245, 246, 
249, 341; rejoins party, 343; 
345-347; Appendix A, 357, 380 

Monkeys, black howler, 76, 108; 
114, 116; nocturnal, 121; 125, 
245, 253 ; flesh of, good eating, 
255, 305; fish eats, 320; 346 

Montes, Captain Vicente, 32 

Montevideo, 14 

Moreno, Doctor Francisco P., 
extraordinary discoveries of, 
27, 28; puma attacks, 29-32; 
Appendix A, 366 

Mosquito-biers, 232 

Mosquitoes, 103, 114, 118, 124; 
few, 162; absence of, 187; 233, 

Motors, Appendix B, 373 

Motor-trucks, 182, 186 

Mountains, 302, 304 

Mules, pack, 165, 174; 175, 186; 
weather exhausts, 204; loads 
for the, 214; weakness of, 214, 
215; abandoned, 214, 231; pas- 
turage for, 232, 233 ; loads for, 
Appendix B, 374 

Miiller, General Lauro, 8, 51, 
188, 286; Colonel Roosevelt's 
letter to. Appendix B, 393-395 

Mundurucu Indians, 338 
Museums, trained observers 

should be sent into wilderness 

by, 166 
Music, 145, 206, 224, 225, 241 
Mussurama, 15, 18-21; jararaca 

fights, 24-26 

Natives, 138 

Naturalists, outdoor, possibilities 
for useful work of, 74, 75, 93, 
94; slight experience of big 
game possessed by most, 119, 
120; ideal place for work of 
field, 124; museums should 
send into the wilderness 
trained, 166 

Navaite Rapids, 259-261 

Nests, communal, 124; troupials', 

Nhambiquara Indians, 200; land 
of the, 208; 211; Colonel Ron- 
don's just treatment of the, 
222 ; no wilder savages than 
the, 222; life and habits of, 
222-224; improvised dance of 
the, 224; dog stolen by, 225; a 
visit from three, 229; former 
hostility of, 230; an encamp- 
ment of, 240; their lack of 
clothing, 241 ; ornaments of, 
244; probable strain of negro 
blood in, 244; archery of, 246; 
258; the Navaite, a sub-tribe 
of the, 259 

"Nips," a native hunter, 78 

North, the call of the, 329 

Nunlet, 169 

Nuts, Brazil, 270, 300; crop of, 
fails, 335 

Nuts, unwholesome, 324 

Nyoac, the river boat, 98 

Ocelot, 127, 128 

Oliveira, Doctor Euzebio de, the 

geologist, 52, 188, 208, 234, 237 
Onelli, Doctor, 32 
' Opossum, 99, 173 
Orchids, 137, 155, 163; sobralia, 




Orioles, wasps surround nests 
of, 102 

Ornithology, Sclater and Hud- 
son's, 36 

Osborn, Henry Fairfield, 3 

Otter, 253 

Outfit for South American wil- 
derness. Appendix B, 368-392 

Outlook, The, 28 

Overland trip begun, 165 

Owl, Moses, the tame, 99, 162, 

Ox-carts, 96, 97 

Oxen, pack, 165; difficulty in 
loading, 174; clothes eaten by, 
199; 205, 220; secure some 
fresh, 239; loads for. Appen- 
dix B, 374 

Paca, 253, 266 

Pacu, 283 

Paddlers, 247, 2S6 

Paixao (Paishon), 312; Julio 
kills, 313; burial of, 316; 394 

Paleontological knowledge, our 
present, 301, 365 

Palms, nacury, 83; Dr. Rod- 
riguez's book on, 113; fig-trees 
kill, 149; wawasa, 150, 163; 
burity, 150, 253, 265; 179; baca- 
ba, 242, 253; boritana, 251; 
accashy, 265 

"Pantanals," or swamps, 73 

Paolistas, the, 217, 334 

Papyrus swamps, 138, 140 

Para, 344-347 

Paraguay, 40; language and 
people of, 44-46; development 
ahead of, 46; military service 
introduced in, 47, 48 

Paraguay, the, 7-9, 39 et seq.; 
early knowledge of, 57 ; Amer- 
ican flag first seen on the 
upper, 60; 98; renewed ascent 
of, 121 ; junction of Sao Lou- 
rengo and, 123; 189, 337 

Parana, 32, 34 

Parecis, Antonio, 148, 152-154, 
250, 266, 279, 283 

Parecis Indians, 193, 196, 197.; 
extraordinary game of football 
played by, 197-199; Colonel 
Rondon holds a council with 
the, 200; settlement of, 201- 
203; presents for the, 206; 
dance of the, 206, 207; ferry 
run by, 210 

Parecis plateau, 179 

Park, Mungo, 189 

Patagonia, 27 

"Pateran," 258 

Peccary, white-lipped, 79, 92, 109, 
117, 146, 148, 152-155, 346 

Peckolt, Doctor, Appendix B, 

Peonage, 156 

Peons, SO, 69, 74 

Peres, Colonel Telles, 310 

Pescada, 323 

Photographic supplies, Appendix 
B, 390-392 

Pineapples, 187; wild, 299 

Pioneers, 332-334 

Pipes, natives dance to, 206 

Piraiba, 320, 321 

Piranha, or cannibal fish, 42-44; 
stories of attacks by, 52-54; 
Miller's study of, 64, 65; 88; 
dogs' tails bitten off by, 137; 
288; flesh of, good eating, 300; 
321-323; attack Cherrie, 341 

Plan Alto, the, 123, 174; healthy 
region of, 179-181 ; 182 ; singu- 
lar topographical feature of, 

Plantains, or pacovas, 179, 267 

Portages, 257, 260, 261, 282, 301, 
303, 304, 318, 319, 321, 323 

Porto Campo, 136, 144, 145 

Porto Martinho, 55 

Positivists, the, 51 

Pranchas, native trading-boats, 
136, 164 

Provisions, 6, 42, 160; tin cases 
of, 170; loss of ferry-load of, 
229; 247, 248; half supply of, 
consumed, 297 ; Fiala's sugges- 
tions for. Appendix B, 377- 



Puma. See Cougar 
Puma-skin helmet, 230 
Pyrineus, Lieutenant, 53, 270, 
271, 28S, 297, 339-341 

"Queixa," the, 146 
Quinine, 282 

Rain, severe storm of, 110; be- 
ginning of rainy season, 112, 
113; forty-eight hour fall of, 
116, 117; 179, 190, 203, 205; 
difficulties of travelling in 
rainy season, 221 ; 226, 227, 
235, 236, 254, 291; end of 
rainy season, 306; 330 
Rainey, Paul, hounds used by, 

Ramsey, 126 

Ranches, 125, 161-166 _ 
Rapids, 164 ; a mishap in the, 221 ; 
form serious obstacle, 257; 
258, 262, 282, 331, 264-266, 268; 
Broken Canoe, 269; 273-284, 
292-297, 299-304; time spent in 
going through, 306; note on, 
307; 308-310, 318, 319, 321-324; 
Panela, 331; Inferno, 335; In- 
fernino, 337; Carupanan, 337; 
last of the, 339 

"Regional Volunteers," 269 

Regions, healthy, 195, 203; enter 
wilder, 208; rich and fertile, 
298, 299; beautiful, 322 

Reinisch, Colonel Rondon's taxi- 
dermist, 113, 234 

Rehgions, 5, 57-59; need for 
churches of all, 58, 59; liberty 
for all, 59 

Rheas, ostriches, 180 

Ribeiro, Miranda, 270 

Rickard, Tex, 41, 46 

Rifles, 5, 211, 234, 276; Appendix 
B, 369, 382 

Riis, Jacob, 27 

Rio Branco, 331, 350 

Rio Cardozo, 319, 327, 335 

Rio de Janeiro, 8, 349 

Rio Grande do Sul, 219 

Rio Kermit, 283, 285, 349 

Rio Marciano Avila, 349 

Rio Negro, 343 

Rio Papagaio, 186, 200, 208; Fi- 
ala's loss on, 221, 340 

Rio Sacre, 190, 194 

River of Doubt (Rio da Dii- 
vida), 9, 135, 187; preparations 
for descent of the, 246-248; 
start down, 249; probable di- 
rection of, 262; importance of 
the, 284; possible course of, 
284; formally christened Rio 
Roosevelt, 286; conjectures as 
to, 297; losses in rapids of, 
307; junction of Rio Cardozo 
and, 319; is put upon the map, 
326, 327; length of the, 339, 
342, 349; source of, 349 

Rivers, 6, 7, 216; hazards of de- 
scending unknown, 221, 309; 
methods of crossing, 229; 235; 
courses and outlets of, 237, 238 

Robiliard, Mr., 344 

Rodeo, or round-up, 105 

Rodriguez, Doctor Barboso, 113 

Rogaciano, Lieutenant, 117, 119 

Rondon, Colonel Candido Mari- 
ano da Silva, 8, 9, 51-55; out- 
fit inspected by, 64; 66, 68; 
characteristics of, 77; 79, 98, 
114, 117, 119; explorations of, 
132-135; 151-154; people of 
Matto Grosso befriended by, 
156; Indian service of Brazil 
headed by, 157; Sepotuba 
River explored and north- 
western wilderness of Matto 
Grosso opened by, 157; most 
important exploring trip of, 
158; 171, 181; his stories of 
past experiences, 184, 187 ; 188- 
190, 199 holds a council with 
the Indians, 200; Utiarity Falls 
discovered by, 200 ; gives pres- 
ents to the Indians, 206; 208, 
214; work of, 217; friendship 
of Nhambiquaras for, 222; 
224, 225, 227, 230; early life 
and education of, 243; 247, 
250, 251, 262, 269; his eight 



months' exploration, 270; 279, 
282, 283, 285; formally chris- 
tens Rio Roosevelt, 286; 296, 
299, 301, 302; trail cut by, 304; 
305, 307, 308, 311, 313, 315; 
his decision as to murderer, 
316; 317, 321, 329; reads record 
of party's accomplishments, 
341; good-by to, 344; 348; Ap- 
pendix A, 357; charges made 
against Mr. Savage Landor 
by, 359-361 

Roosevelt, Kermit, 4, 5, 55, 67, 
68, 73, 75, 78, 79, 82-84, 93, 114, 
117; speed and endurance of, 
117-119; 157, 162, 173, 182, 
189, 203, 208, 234, 240, 247, 
249-251, 260, 263-269, 272, 275; 
accident befalls, 276; 277, 279, 
281-283; river called after, 
285; 286, 290, 291, 296, 297, 299, 
301, 302; his experience of 
rope work, 303, 304; 305-308, 
his bridge-building experience, 
310; 311, 313; fever attacks, 
317; 319, 324, 328, 329, 338, 
339, Appendix B, 369 

Roosevelt, Theodore, is invited 
to attempt descent of unknown 
river, 8; reception to, 46, 48; 
Dom Joao's gift to, 113; re- 
ceives silver-mounted saddle 
and bridle, 170; unknown river 
formally christened for, 286; 
injures his leg, 317; has an 
attack of fever, 317 ; his illness 
increases, 328, 329; quotation 
from Colonel Rondon's letter 
to, Appendix A, note, 360; his 
suggestions for outfits in 
South American wilderness, 
368-370, 392; his report to 
General Lauro Miiller, 393-395 

Rope, Appendix B, 376, 377 

Rubber-gatherers, 217, 325-327; 
act as guide, 330; homes of, 
331-333 ; work of, in opening 
wilderness, 334; 335; hard 
lives of, 336; adventures of, 
.338; 350 

Saddles, Appendix B, 2>76 

Salto, Belle waterfall, 194; fu- 
ture value of, 195; splendid 
opportunities for settlement in 
region of, 195; breakfast at 
the, 199 

Sao Joao fazenda, arrival at, 
103; near hamlet of, 340, 342 

Sao Lourengo, 113, 121 ; junc- 
tion of Paraguay and, 123 

Sao Luis de Caceres, 8, 123; ar- 
rival at, 131 ; fine government 
school at, 132; 199 

Sao Paulo, 10, 14, IS, 132 

Scents, 168, 252 

Scorpion, 311 

Sepotuba, the, or River of Ta- 
pirs, 136; fine cattle country 
along, 156; exploration and 
first maps of, 157; camp be- 
side, 175; 200 

Sequoia, 45 

Serpents, 311 

"Sertao," or wilderness, 209 

Serums, anti-venom, 10, 13-15, 
Appendix B, 369 

"Shenzi," one of the dogs, 67 

Shipton, Major, 247 

Sigg, Jacob, 4, 5, 9; motor-boat 
improvised by, 131; 165, 186, 
205 ; return to Tapirapoan, 207 

Simplicio, 275; death of, 276, 

Skobeloff, 1 

Sloth, 343 

Smith, Mr. Lord, 29 

Snakes, 10-12; poison of, 13-21; 
some mammals immune to 
bites of, 22, 23 ; 137 ; stories of, 
228;236, 255, 256 

Snethlage, Miss, 177, 347 

Solimoens, 346 

South America, topography of, 
6, 7; ceremony of public func- 
tions in, 47; Christianity in, 
51, 52, 58; education in, 59; 
mammalia and avifauna of, 
70-72; need for work of col- 
lector in, 74; rich bird fauna 
of, 112; field for work of big- 



game hunter and faunal nat- 
uralist in, 120; ferocity of cer- 
tain small animals in, 173; 
much exploring work to be 
done in, 177 ; two great water- 
falls of, 199; impostors among 
explorers of, 261 ; early semi- 
civilizations in, 301 ; social and 
industrial development of, Ap- 
pendix A, 353; travellers in, 
353, 357; wilderness work to 
be done in, 358 

Southern Cross, the, 49, 80 

Sparrows, 173 

Spear, jaguar, 106 

Spiders, a colony of, 183, 213, 
214, 239 

Squirrels, 137 

Stilts, 201 

Stirrups, ornamental, 106 

Stockton, Frank R., stories by, 

Store, the first, 334 

Sunsets, contrasted, 203 

Surveying, method of, 250, 251; 
instruments for. Appendix B, 

Swallows, 164 

"Swiss Family Robinson," 78 

Tamandua bandeira. See Ant- 

Tanageira, Doctor, 270 

Tapajos, the, 134, 135, 187, 189, 
216, 247, 347 

Tapirapoan, 136, 158; start up- 
stream for, 160; arrival at, 
165; party divides at, 170; 172 

Tapirs, 138, 140, 142-144, 146; 
curious relation of horse and, 

Tapirs, River of. See Sepotuba. 

Taquary, the, 66 

Taunay River, 296, 349 

Telegraph, establishment of, 158; 
wages paid for work on wil- 
derness lines of, 159, 193; 
spiders swarm on, 239 

Telegraphic Commission, 157, 
J65, 181, 210; work gf, 217; 

Juruena first mapped by, 220; 
labor of, 327; solution of 
River of Doubt mystery made 
possible by previous work of. 

Tents, 214, 247; Appendix B, 

Thermometers, Appendix B, 390 

Tools, Appendix B, 387, 388 

Tragedy, a terrible, 311-317 

Transportation, 189 

Travellers, status of the ordi- 
nary, 176-178; ignorance of 
certain, 261; three categories 
of. Appendix A, 353-357 

Trees, 49, 50, 74; taruman, 81; 
flowers on, 100; 139; fig, 149; 
160-164, 179, 190; fossil trunk 
of, 234; 235, 251; barriers 
formed by, 253; bee, 263; 
rubber, 235, 275, 292; arapu- 
tanga, 287; fruit of cajazeira, 
291; peculiarity of, 293; 300. 
See Palm. 

Tree-toad, 264 

Tres Burity, government ranch 
at, 239, 242 

"Trigueiro," one of the dogs, 67, 
275, 277, 323 

Tropics, entered the, 49; iron 
cruelty of life in the, 151 

Turtle, land, 160; river, 322 

"Twelfth of October," 235 

University of Pennsylvania, a 

Paraguayan graduate of the, 

Uruguay, 9 

Utensils, Indian, 209, 244, 245 
Utiarity Falls, 186; arrival at, 

200; telegraph station at, 201; 

beauty of, 201, 202, 206 

Vaqueiros, 106, 126, 145 
Viedma, Lake, 29 
Vilhena, 235-239 
Vines, 100, 114 
Vireo, 234 

Wallace, 345 



Wasp, orioles' nests surrounded 
by, 102; dangerous sting of 
red, 118; spiders preyed on by, 
121; maribundi, 137, ISO, 251; 
ants plunder nests of, 168 

Weapons, Indian, 209, 245 

Weasel, tayra, 99 

Weather, 60, 65, 96, 112, 160, 
170, 306 

Wilderness, party enters the, 
209; difficulties of travel in, 
215; etiquette of the, 240; first 
stage of conquest of the, 334; 
geographical and zoological 
work still to be done in the. 
Appendix A, 358 

Wolf, red, 11, 127 
Woods, 235 
Wrens, ant, 167, 168 

Xingu, 189, 347 

Zahm, Father, 1, 2, 5; children 
baptized by, 57; 132; Colonel 
Roosevelt reminded of his 
wish to shoot tapir and jaguar 
by, 144; 162, 186, 205; returns 
to Tapirapoan, 207 

Zoologist, work of field, in 
South America, Appendix A, 
353, 358 

Map forwarded by Lieutenant Lyra, and received Just after the completion of this book 
Showing the route of the expedition, and the positions of the new river and of the Gy-Parana and of the upper tributaries of the Jurueoa 


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ist after the 

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and of the upper tributaries of the Juruena