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Across Unknown South America by Landor

But Alcides was furious with the other men


[Illustration:

Pushing the Canoe Uphill through the Forest.

(Notice men with heads wrapped owing to torturing insects.)]

Another basin was met, 700 m. wide, quite shallow, and with rapids over a barrier of rock extending across it from south-west to north-east. That barrier was most interesting, because in many places great lava-flows were visible; in other places masses of ferruginous rock could be observed, with most extraordinary patterns upon them--triangles, rectangles, trapeziums, and all kinds of other angular geometrical patterns, such as we had met before on the high plateau of Matto Grosso.

We stopped in the middle of the day on an island 1,200 m. long, from which we obtained a fine view of the hill range looming before us from W.S.W. to E.N.E. on the right bank.

I was having great trouble with my chronometer, which the many jerks, falls, and baths did not seem to improve. I checked it whenever I could by observations of local time and by other watches which I carried. But all my instruments were beginning to feel the effects of that journey very much. The wonder to me was that they had got so far in as good condition as they were, considering all we had gone through.

Our lunch was speedy, as we had nothing to eat. The moment I had finished my observations for latitude and longitude we started off once more, my

men keeping their eyes all the time on the forest on the look-out for nut-trees, the river that day giving us no fish at all.

Within ten minutes we had shot two powerful rapids, and in one place went over a dangerous submerged wall of rock extending across the river from E.S.E. to W.N.W.

The men--very hungry--were extremely quarrelsome that day and insulting to one another. The canoe went broadside down a rapid we met, the men gesticulating instead of paddling along as they should have done. With a great bump we stuck with a heavy list to starboard on a rock in the middle of the rapid, and presently the canoe was filled with water. Had we not stuck fast on that rock we certainly should have capsized. The water was baled out in due course, the canoe was floated once more. Soon afterwards another strong rapid, with a _pedraria_ extending right across the stream from S.S.W. to N.N.E., gave us endless trouble.

I warned Alcides to get us alongside some rocks in order that we might let the canoe down with ropes, as the rapid, with a sheer drop of over 6 ft., looked too dangerous for us to shoot it. But Alcides was furious with the other men, and in order to punish them steered the canoe into the most dangerous part of the rapid. A second later the canoe, at an angle of 45 deg., was swept away down the foaming current along the slant of the rapid, which extended there for about 15 m. The channel was a most intricate one, with rocks scattered all over it, so that it was absolutely impossible for the canoe, with her great length, to go through without having an accident.


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