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Across Unknown South America by Landor

And roused poor Filippe and Benedicto


Just

then a big black monkey appeared upon a tree, inquisitively watching our doings. The man X shot it. A moment later a big _jaho_ was brought down, also by the man X, who was the best shot of the party. My men were never too ill to eat. They immediately proceeded to skin the poor monkey and pluck the feathers from the bird, in order to prepare a hearty meal. But they complained that they had no _feijao_, and no coffee after their dinner. When we started a few days before we had a supply of 40 lb. of coffee.

Feasting on the meat did not seem to be a good remedy for internal inflammation and fever. The next morning my men were really in a precarious condition. I saw that it was out of the question for them to continue. Personally, I would certainly not go back. I came to an understanding with them that I would leave sufficient ammunition for them to shoot with, as there seemed to be plenty of game in that particular part of the forest. We would divide equally what provisions we had--that is to say, three tins of sardines for each party. I would also give them sufficient money for one of them, or two, to fall back on the river and purchase provisions for the entire party. I made them promise that they should remain in charge of my baggage, most of which I would leave with them at that spot, while I, with two men, would go right across the forest as far as the Madeira River, where I would endeavour to get fresh men and new provisions.

justify;">The men agreed to this. As I could not trust any of them, I took the precaution to take along with me all my notebooks and the maps I had made of the entire region we had crossed, four hundred glass negatives which I had taken and developed, a number of unexposed plates, a small camera, my chronometer, one aneroid, a sextant, a prismatic compass, one other compass, and a number of other things which were absolutely necessary. The rest of the baggage I left at that spot. I begged the men to take special care of the packages. All I asked of them was to prop them up on stones so that the termites and ants should not destroy my possessions, and to make a shed with palm leaves so as to protect the packages as much as possible from the rain. The men promised to do all this faithfully. We drew lots as to who were to be the two to accompany me on the difficult errand across the virgin forest. Fate selected Filippe the negro and Benedicto, both terribly ill.

We had no idea whatever what the distance would be between that point and the Madeira River. It might take us a few days to get there; it might take us some months. All the provisions we of the advance party should have to depend upon were the three tins of sardines and the tin of anchovies--the latter had remained in our possession when we tossed up as to which of the two parties should have it. The Indian Miguel was induced at the last moment to come also, and with him came the carrier his friend.

Early on September 2nd I was ready to start, and roused poor Filippe and Benedicto, who were in a shocking state. Without a word of farewell from the men we left behind, and for whom we were about to sacrifice our lives perhaps, we started on our dangerous mission. The Indian Miguel and myself walked in front, cutting the way all the time, while I held my compass in hand so as to keep the correct direction west. Considering all, we marched fairly well.


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