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Across Unknown South America by Landor

We are all millionaires in Brazil


pulled up at the hotel door, where another crowd of loafers had assembled. I was literally dragged into the hotel--for I had become somewhat reluctant, first on seeing the appearance of the place, then on being met by waves of a nauseating odour which suggested the non-existence of sanitary arrangements and worse.

"Come in, come in!... wait here!" shouted they in a most excited manner, when I expressed a wish to inspect the palatial quarters which they had been good enough to reserve for me.

"Wait a moment!" shouted the landlord, a slumbering, disjointed, murderous-looking creature, whose violent gestures and waving of hands in front of my face were somewhat irritating. He dashed into a room on the ground floor--and we outside could hear an altercation between the loud-voiced proprietor and the plaintive moans of a half-dying man.

A moment later the half-dying man, skeleton-like, with livid eyes, a complexion the colour of a lemon gone bad, and quivering bare legs, was literally dragged out of the bed and roughly thrown out of the door.

"Here is your room!" cried the landlord triumphantly to me, as he flung out of that apartment some cheap canvas bags, clothes--which from birth had been innocent of washing and pressing--and the socks, shoes, and day shirt of the guest who had been ejected.

The odour alone,

as I peeped into the room, was enough to stifle any one with the sense of scent even less delicate than my own. As for the vacant bed--any pariah dog of any other country would have been offended to be offered such filthy accommodation.

In Brazil--as elsewhere--it does not do to lose one's calm. I also wished to avoid an unpleasant quarrel, as I have a belief that quarrels are bad for one's health. I spoke gently and kindly to the hotel-keeper, and said that, although I had ordered nothing, still, as he had kindly reserved that charming apartment for me, I should be very pleased to pay for it, which I would do at once. If he would excuse me, I preferred to go back to sleep in my private car. Upon hearing these words a nasty tragi-comic scene occurred, which, had I not remained cool and collected, might have ended badly.

"Do you know, sir," shouted the landlord, with livid features and eyes shooting out of their orbits, so enraged was he--"do you know that I am the Chief of Police here, and that everybody is afraid of me? I have only to give orders and every one will kill any one I like." Here he discontinued shaking his somewhat grimy hands under my nose and, drawing himself up, stood upon the doorstep of the hotel in order to harangue the great crowd which had collected.

"We are all millionaires in Brazil," shouted the landlord, with an effort which seriously impaired the safety of his fully-congested jugular vein. "We are all atheists and anarchists in Brazil. Down with the infamous oppression and slavery of Europe! Down with kings and emperors! Down with Europe, the land of oppression and cruelty!" And again: "We in Brazil are the richest people on earth. We are all millionaires in Brazil. We do not need foreign charity!"

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