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Across Unknown South America by Landor

On the summit of this rocky stratum lay a deposit


To

the north-west another lovely sight was before us--another huge plateau in dim greyish blue--barring the horizon. In front of it was one more table-land, more broken up, and sloping on the south side.

When we reached the north-east edge of the plateau we were travelling upon, we were treated to a fresh marvellous scene. Straight in front of us, on the opposite side of a deep depression--at 30 deg. bearings magnetic--there stood one of the characteristic two-tiered table-lands stretching from east to west. Below us in the depression was an undulating line from north to south of great bosses or domes of exquisite grassy land, resting upon a kind of spur or peninsula jutting out from our plateau--but at a lower elevation--of which it formed part.

A formidable crack in the earth's surface extended from north to south on the east of the chain of domes, whereas to the east again of the giant crack was another row of domed hills, forming--when taken as a mass--an undulating terrace; then a vertical wall, above which rested the sloping side of the plateau on which we stood. It may be observed that the strata in the split vertical wall on our side was absolutely horizontal. On the summit of this rocky stratum lay a deposit, 30 ft. thick, composed of red earth and sand over yellow sandstone and ashes, and, lower, grey ashes compressed and consolidated. The lowest stratum visible on the face of the wall was of bright red-baked

rock.

The great depression, taken in its entirety, extended from south-east to north-west. The huge crater was to the south-east. To the south-west there was an immense basin.

CHAPTER XXIII

The Jangada River--Demented Descendants of Slaves--Appalling Degeneration--Giant Monoliths--The River Roncador--Gigantic Natural Gateways--The Discovery of Fossils

WE had reached the end of the comparatively flat plateau, which varied in elevation on its summit from 2,530 ft. to 2,570 ft. above the sea level. We were next faced by a most precipitous descent in order to go down to the Jangada River--which eventually flowed into the distant Rio Cuyaba. There was, of course, no trail of any kind, and the course of the descent before us was not unlike trying to take our animals down the almost vertical wall of a fortress. With picks and spades we cut a narrow path for a short distance in order to start the reluctant beasts down. I recommended the greatest care to my men, but instead of following my instructions they drove the rebellious quadrupeds with their whips in a heap along the path--only a few inches wide--which we had cut. Result: Collisions among the animals and against the wall, and, next, five mules and baggage rolled down the mountain-side at a vertiginous speed until they had reached the bottom, some hundreds of feet below. Antonio, the strong man of the party, who tried to go to the rescue of one of the animals, was also dragged down, and came within an ace of losing his life. He was able to embrace a shrub with all his might just before rolling over the precipice, and we rescued him. We had to waste a great deal of time cutting an improvised way in the mountain side. Then we had to unload all the animals and convey the loads down on men's heads. Each animal was then with great difficulty and danger led by hand down to the stream.


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