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Across Unknown South America by Landor

Barring a few boxes of sardines


WE all slept soundly that night, I taking good care to fasten the canoe well, so that we should not find her gone next morning.

We had a minimum temperature of 63 deg. F. on the night of August 8th.

In the morning my men killed another big monkey, with the most human face I have ever seen on a quadruman--just like a negro's countenance. It came very near us in its curiosity to see what we were doing, and, though shot at several times, remained there watching us, as it had never heard the report of a rifle before. When it fell down it put its hand on the wound across its chest and cried just like a child. I moved away while my men banged it on the head to finish it off.

[Illustration: Author's Canoe being made to travel across the Forest.]

After a hearty breakfast on the part of my men--my own being limited to a small box of sardines, some twenty or thirty boxes still remaining in my supply of provisions--we resumed our journey down the troublesome rapid. We had to do that with ropes, Alcides, with his extraordinary way of thinking, actually going to the trouble of shifting a big rock out of the water, which took him the best part of an hour, rather than let the canoe go round it--in absolutely placid waters in that particular spot. I let him do it rather than have a quarrel, as I firmly believed that in consequence of the great hardships his

brain had slightly lost its balance.

After that, strong eddies were again experienced at first, but, for some 3,000 m. beyond, the water looked beautiful and as placid as possible. The river was now flowing mostly in a northerly direction or with slight deviations, chiefly to the east. We came to a most wonderful island with a spur of lava on its southern side, in the shape of a dome, and highly glazed. On each side of that island was a waterfall of some beauty. The eastern channel was only 20 m. wide, and the water fell over a wall of rock some 12 ft. high. Where this wall projected above the foaming water the shiny black carbonized rock showed a number of small grottoes in its horizontal strata, and a number of funnels like volcanic vents. The north-westerly and broader channel had three successive rapids, the central one some 101/2 ft. high, with a terrific current rushing over it, and awe-inspiring whirlpools between the successive rapids.

We took the canoe down by the central channel, and when we got to the higher step, shoved her along until she overhung the fall--as we had done the previous day--and then let her drop down with a bump. It was a difficult job to hold her when once she had dropped down, as the waves below were very high and tossed her about in a merciless manner.

My men had by this time become a little more amenable to reason, and in moments of suspense or danger always awaited my orders.

Once more did we eventually pack in the canoe what remained of the baggage; once more did we start--that time across a large basin 1,200 m. broad, with hills on the east side of us on the right bank. On the right of us, on leaving the basin, we had a beautiful island, 300 m. long--Ariadne Island--with a fine sand-spit at its southern end, and gorgeous vegetation upon it. Barring a few boxes of sardines, we had no more provisions of any kind, as all the food had been wasted, or lost in our various accidents.

When I look back upon that journey, I am amazed to think how Providence did help us all along. That day my men were clamouring for food, and were most unpleasant, putting the entire blame upon me and not upon their own lack of common-sense. They refused to go on. We pulled up along some rocks, baking hot from the sun, which simply roasted our naked feet when we trod upon them.


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