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Across Unknown South America by Landor

The canoe gave a leap on one side


When

once we had begun pushing the canoe up that hill we could not leave her for a moment, as she would at once proceed to slide back on the rollers.

Fourteen hours' incessant hard work saw us and the canoe on the top of the hill. From there we had before us a very steep descent of some 400 ft., the first 150 ft. almost vertical.

My men all looked at me in a most inquisitive way in order to find out how I should manage to hold the canoe when we let her down that steep incline.

I had fastened some pieces of wood vertically at her stern, which, by scraping on the ground, would hold her to a certain extent. Then, with all the ropes we possessed we made her fast to the trees as we went along, and let her slide gently, the weight of the canoe being such that deep grooves were actually cut into the trees as the ropes unwound themselves.

[Illustration: Photograph showing the Road cut by Author across the Forest in order to take the Heavy Canoe Overland.]

We were only half-way down that incline when one tree broke. The canoe gave a leap on one side, knocking down Antonio and the man X, the jerk immediately after breaking another tree on the opposite side. Off went the canoe down the hill in her mad career, knocking some of us down, dragging the others, who were holding on to her. Two or three men were badly thrown about,

but fortunately no broken bones were recorded. The canoe by that time had, in great leaps, reached nearly the bottom of the hill, but had got so jammed between a rock and a big tree that it required several hours' hard work with our axes and knives in order to disentangle her.

The shock, however, had been too great for the rickety canoe. I became anxious, for I feared she might split in two at any time, and I had no way of repairing her properly. When we got to the water again I patched her up as best I could with improvised nails which I made from pieces of hard wood. With great yells of excitement from my men we launched her once more in the river.

My men boasted how clever they had been to take the heavy canoe over the hill. There was really nothing Brazilians could not do when they wished!

Those forty hours of steady hard work out of the forty-eight hours we had stopped at the falls had seen us over that obstacle, and we were now ready to proceed once more by water.

We had suffered a great deal during those terrible hours from the bees, mosquitoes, hornets, _piums_, ants, and all kinds of other insects which stung us all over. A glance at the photographs which illustrate this volume, of the canoe being taken across the forest, will show all my men--I, naturally, not appearing, as I was taking the photographs--with their heads wrapped up in towels, notwithstanding the great heat, in order to avoid the unbearable torture as much as possible.


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