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´╗┐Title: Martin Rattler
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Martin Rattler" ***

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MARTIN RATTLER, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.



CHAPTER ONE.

THE HERO AND HIS ONLY RELATIVE.

Martin Rattler was a very bad boy.  At least his aunt, Mrs Dorothy
Grumbit, said so; and certainly she ought to have known, if anybody
should, for Martin lived with her, and was, as she herself expressed it,
"the bane of her existence; the very torment of her life."  No doubt of
it whatever, according to Aunt Dorothy Grumbit's showing, Martin Rattler
was "a remarkably bad boy."

It is a curious fact, however, that, although most of the people in the
village of Ashford seemed to agree with Mrs Grumbit in her opinion of
Martin, there were very few of them who did not smile cheerfully on the
child when they met him, and say, "Good day, lad!" as heartily as if
they thought him the best boy in the place.  No one seemed to bear
Martin Rattler ill-will, notwithstanding his alleged badness.  Men
laughed when they said he was a bad boy, as if they did not quite
believe their own assertion.  The vicar, an old whiteheaded man, with a
kind, hearty countenance, said that the child was full of mischief, full
of mischief; but he would improve as he grew older, he was quite certain
of that.  And the vicar was a good judge; for he had five boys of his
own, besides three other boys, the sons of a distant relative, who
boarded with him; and he had lived forty years in a parish overflowing
with boys, and he was particularly fond of boys in general.  Not so the
doctor, a pursy little man with a terrific frown, who hated boys,
especially little ones, with a very powerful hatred.  The doctor said
that Martin was a scamp.

And yet Martin had not the appearance of a scamp.  He had fat rosy
cheeks, a round rosy mouth, a straight delicately-formed nose, a firm
massive chin, and a broad forehead.  But the latter was seldom visible,
owing to the thickly-clustering fair curls that overhung it.  When
asleep Martin's face was the perfection of gentle innocence.  But the
instant he opened his dark-brown eyes, a thousand dimples and wrinkles
played over his visage, chiefly at the corners of his mouth and round
his eyes; as if the spirit of fun and the spirit of mischief had got
entire possession of the boy, and were determined to make the most of
him.  When deeply interested in anything, Martin was as grave and
serious as a philosopher.

Aunt Dorothy Grumbit had a turned-up nose,--a very much turned-up nose;
so much so, indeed, that it presented a front view of the nostrils!  It
was an aggravating nose, too, for the old lady's spectacles refused to
rest on any part of it except the extreme point.  Mrs Grumbit
invariably placed them on the right part of her nose, and they as
invariably slid down the curved slope until they were brought up by the
little hillock at the end.  There they condescended to repose in peace.

Mrs Grumbit was mild, and gentle, and little, and thin, and old,--
perhaps seventy-five; but no one knew her age for certain, not even
herself.  She wore an old-fashioned, high-crowned cap, and a gown of
bed-curtain chintz, with flowers on it the size of a saucer.  It was a
curious gown, and very cheap, for Mrs Grumbit was poor.  No one knew
the extent of her poverty, any more than they did her age; but she
herself knew it, and felt it deeply,--never so deeply, perhaps, as when
her orphan nephew Martin grew old enough to be put to school, and she
had not wherewithal to send him.  But love is quick-witted and resolute.
A residence of six years in Germany had taught her to knit stockings at
a rate that cannot be described, neither conceived unless seen.  She
knitted two dozen pairs.  The vicar took one dozen, the doctor took the
other.  The fact soon became known.  Shops were not numerous in the
village in those days; and the wares they supplied were only second
rate.  Orders came pouring in, Mrs Grumbit's knitting wires clicked,
and her little old hands wagged with incomprehensible rapidity and
unflagging regularity,--and Martin Rattler was sent to school.

While occupied with her knitting, she sat in a high-backed chair in a
very small deep window, through which the sun streamed nearly the whole
day; and out of which there was the most charming imaginable view of the
gardens and orchards of the villagers, with a little dancing brook in
the midst, and the green fields of the farmers beyond, studded with
sheep and cattle and knolls of woodland, and bounded in the far distance
by the bright blue sea.  It was a lovely scene, such an one as causes
the eye to brighten and the heart to melt as we gaze upon it, and think,
perchance, of its Creator.

Yes, it was a scene worth looking at; but Mrs Grumbit never looked at
it, for the simple reason that she could not have seen it if she had.
Half way across her own little parlour was the extent of her natural
vision.  By the aid of spectacles and a steady concentrated effort, she
could see the fire-place at the other end of the room; and the portrait
of her deceased husband, who had been a sea-captain; and the white
kitten that usually sat on the rug before the fire.  To be sure, she saw
them very indistinctly.  The picture was a hazy blue patch, which was
the captain's coat; with a white patch down the middle of it, which was
his waistcoat; and a yellow ball on the top of it, which was his head.
It was rather an indistinct and generalised view, no doubt; but she
_saw_ it, and that was a great comfort.



CHAPTER TWO.

IN DISGRACE.

Fire was the cause of Martin's getting into disgrace at school for the
first time; and this is how it happened.

"Go and poke the fire, Martin Rattler," said the schoolmaster, "and put
on a bit of coal, and see that you don't send the sparks flying about
the floor."

Martin sprang with alacrity to obey; for he was standing up with the
class at the time, and was glad of the temporary relaxation.  He stirred
the fire with great care, and put on several pieces of coal very slowly,
and rearranged them two or three times; after which he stirred the fire
a little more, and examined it carefully to see that it was all right;
but he did not seem quite satisfied, and was proceeding to re-adjust the
coals when Bob Croaker, one of the big boys, who was a bullying,
ill-tempered fellow, and had a spite against Martin, called out--

"Please, sir, Rattler's playin' at the fire."

"Come back to your place, sir!" cried the master, sternly.

Martin returned in haste, and resumed his position in the class.  As he
did so he observed that his fore-finger was covered with soot.
Immediately a smile of glee overspread his features; and, while the
master was busy with one of the boys, he drew his black finger gently
down the forehead and nose of the boy next to him.

"What part of the earth was peopled by the descendants of Adam?" cried
the master, pointing to the dux.

"Shem!" shrieked a small boy near the foot of the class.

"Silence!" thundered the master, with a frown that caused the small boy
to quake down to the points of his toes.

"Asia!" answered dux.

"Next?"

"Turkey!"

"Next, next, next?  Hallo!  John Ward," cried the master, starting up in
anger from his seat, "what do you mean by that, sir?"

"What, sir?" said John Ward, tremulously, while a suppressed titter ran
round the class.

"Your face, sir!  Who blacked your face, eh?"

"I--I--don't know," said the boy, drawing his sleeve across his face,
which had the effect of covering it with sooty streaks.

An uncontrollable shout of laughter burst from the whole school, which
was instantly followed by a silence so awful and profound that a pin
might have been heard to fall.

"Martin Rattler, you did that!  I know you did,--I see the marks on your
fingers.  Come here, sir!  Now tell me; did you do it?"

Martin Rattler never told falsehoods.  His old aunt had laboured to
impress upon him from infancy that to lie was to commit a sin which is
abhorred by God and scorned by man; and her teaching had not been in
vain.  The child would have suffered any punishment rather than have
told a deliberate lie.  He looked straight in the master's face and
said, "Yes, sir, I did it."

"Very well, go to your seat, and remain in school during the play-hour."

With a heavy heart Martin obeyed; and soon after the school was
dismissed.

"I say, Rattler," whispered Bob Croaker as he passed, "I'm going to
teach your white kitten to swim just now.  Won't you come and see it?"

The malicious laugh with which the boy accompanied this remark convinced
Martin that he intended to put his threat in execution.  For a moment he
thought of rushing out after him to protect his pet kitten; but a glance
at the stern brow of the master, as he sat at his desk reading,
restrained him; so, crushing down his feelings of mingled fear and
anger, he endeavoured to while away the time by watching the boys as
they played in the fields before the windows of the school.



CHAPTER THREE.

THE GREAT FIGHT.

"Martin!" said the schoolmaster, in a severe tone, looking up from the
book with which he was engaged, "don't look out at the window, sir; turn
your back to it."

"Please, sir, I can't help it," replied the boy, trembling with
eagerness as he stared across the fields.

"Turn your back on it, I say!" reiterated the master in a loud tone, at
the same time striking the desk violently with his cane.

"Oh, sir, let me out!  There's Bob Croaker with my kitten.  He's going
to drown it.  I know he is; he said he would; and if he does aunty will
die, for she loves it next to me; and I must save it, and--and, if you
_don't_ let me out--you'll be a murderer!"

At this concluding burst, Martin sprang forward and stood before his
master with clenched fists and a face blazing with excitement.  The
schoolmaster's gaze of astonishment gradually gave place to a dark frown
strangely mingled with a smile, and, when the boy concluded, he said
quietly--

"You may go."

No second bidding was needed.  The door flew open with a bang; and the
gravel of the play-ground, spurned right and left, dashed against the
window panes as Martin flew across it.  The paling that fenced it off
from the fields beyond was low, but too high for a jump.  Never a boy in
all the school had crossed that paling at a spring, without laying his
hands upon it; but Martin did.  We do not mean to say that he did
anything superhuman; but he rushed at it like a charge of cavalry,
sprang from the ground like a deer, kicked away the top bar, tumbled
completely over, landed on his head, and rolled down the slope on the
other side as fast as he could have run down,--perhaps faster.

It would have required sharper eyes than yours or mine to have observed
how Martin got on his legs again, but he did it in a twinkling, and was
half across the field almost before you could wink, and panting on the
heels of Bob Croaker.  Bob saw him coming and instantly started off at a
hard run, followed by the whole school.  A few minutes brought them to
the banks of the stream, where Bob Croaker halted, and, turning round,
held the white kitten up by the nape of the neck.

"O spare it! spare it, Bob!--don't do it--please don't, don't do it!"
gasped Martin, as he strove in vain to run faster.

"There you go!" shouted Bob, with a coarse laugh, sending the kitten
high into the air, whence it fell with a loud splash into the water.

It was a dreadful shock to feline nerves, no doubt, but that white
kitten was no ordinary animal.  Its little heart beat bravely when it
rose to the surface, and, before its young master came up, it had
regained the bank.  But, alas! what a change!  It went into the stream a
fat, round, comfortable ball of eider-down.  It came out a scraggy
blotch of white paint, with its black eyes glaring like two great glass
beads!  No sooner did it crawl out of the water than Bob Croaker seized
it, and whirled it round his head, amid suppressed cries of "Shame!"
intending to throw it in again; but at that instant Martin Rattler
seized Bob by the collar of his coat with both hands, and, letting
himself drop suddenly, dragged the cruel boy to the ground, while the
kitten crept humbly away and hid itself in a thick tuft of grass.

A moment sufficed to enable Bob Croaker, who was nearly twice Martin's
weight, to free himself from the grasp of his panting antagonist, whom
he threw on his back, and doubled his fist, intending to strike Martin
on the face; but a general rush of the boys prevented this.

"Shame, shame, fair-play!" cried several; "don't hit him when he's
down!"

"Then let him rise up and come on!" cried Bob, fiercely, as he sprang up
and released Martin.

"Ay, that's fair.  Now then, Martin, remember the kitten!"

"Strike men of your own size!" cried several of the bigger boys, as they
interposed to prevent Martin from rushing into the unequal contest.

"So I will," cried Bob Croaker, glaring round with passion.  "Come on
any of you that likes.  I don't care a button for the biggest of you."

No one accepted this challenge, for Bob was the oldest and the strongest
boy in the school, although, as is usually the case with bullies, by no
means the bravest.

Seeing that no one intended to fight with him, and that a crowd of boys
strove to hold Martin Rattler back, while they assured him that he had
not the smallest chance in the world, Bob turned towards the kitten,
which was quietly and busily employed in licking itself dry and said,
"Now Martin, you coward, I'll give it another swim for your impudence."

"Stop, stop!" cried Martin, earnestly.  "Bob Croaker, I would rather do
anything than fight.  I would give you everything I have to save my
kitten; but if you won't spare it unless I fight, I'll do it.  If you
throw it in before you fight me, you're the greatest coward that ever
walked.  Just give me five minutes to breathe and a drink of water, and
I'll fight you as long as I can stand."

Bob looked at his little foe in surprise.  "Well, that's fair.  I'm
you're man; but if you don't lick me I'll drown the kitten, that's all."
Having said this, he quietly divested himself of his jacket and
neckcloth, while several boys assisted Martin to do the same, and
brought him a draught of water in the crown of one of their caps.  In
five minutes all was ready, and the two boys stood face to face and foot
to foot, with their fists doubled and revolving, and a ring of boys
around them.

Just at this critical moment the kitten, having found the process of
licking itself dry more fatiguing than it had expected, gave vent to a
faint mew of distress.  It was all that was wanting to set Martin's
indignant heart into a blaze of inexpressible fury.  Bob Croaker's
visage instantly received a shower of sharp, stinging blows, that had
the double effect of taking that youth by surprise and throwing him down
upon the green sward.  But Martin could not hope to do this a second
time.  Bob now knew the vigour of his assailant, and braced himself
warily to the combat, commencing operations by giving Martin a
tremendous blow on the point of his nose, and another on the chest.
These had the effect of tempering Martin's rage with a salutary degree
of caution, and of eliciting from the spectators sundry cries of warning
on the one hand, and admiration on the other, while the young champions
revolved warily round each other, and panted vehemently.

The battle that was fought that day was one of a thousand.  It created
as great a sensation in the village school as did the battle of Waterloo
in England.  It was a notable fight; such as had not taken place within
the memory of the oldest boy in the village, and from which, in after
years, events of juvenile history were dated,--especially pugilistic
events, of which, when a good one came off it used to be said that,
"such a battle had not taken place since the year of the Great Fight."
Bob Croaker was a noted fighter, Martin Rattler was, up to this date, an
untried hero.  Although fond of rough play and boisterous mischief, he
had an unconquerable aversion to _earnest_ fighting, and very rarely
indeed returned home with a black eye,--much to the satisfaction of Aunt
Dorothy Grumbit, who objected to all fighting from principle, and
frequently asserted, in gentle tones, that there should be no soldiers
or sailors (fighting sailors, she meant) at all, but that people ought
all to settle everything the best way they could without fighting, and
live peaceably with one another, as the Bible told them to do.  They
would be far happier and better off, she was sure of that; and if
everybody was of her way of thinking, there would be neither swords, nor
guns, nor pistols, nor squibs, nor anything else at all!  Dear old lady.
It would indeed be a blessing if her principles could be carried out in
this warring and jarring world.  But as this is rather difficult, what
we ought to be careful about is, that we never fight except in a good
cause and with a clear conscience.

It was well for Martin Rattler, on that great day, that the formation of
the ground favoured him.  The spot on which the fight took place was
uneven, and covered with little hillocks and hollows, over which Bob
Croaker stumbled, and into which he fell,--being a clumsy boy on his
legs--and did himself considerable damage; while Martin, who was firmly
knit and active as a kitten, scarcely ever fell, or, if he did, sprang
up again like an India-rubber ball.  Fair-play was embedded deep in the
centre of Martin's heart, so that he scorned to hit his adversary when
he was down or in the act of rising; but the thought of the fate that
awaited the white kitten if he were conquered, acted like lightning in
his veins, and scarcely had Bob time to double his fists after a fall,
when he was knocked back again into the hollow, out of which he had
risen.  There were no _rounds_ in this fight; no pausing to recover
breath.  Martin's anger rose with every blow, whether given or received;
and although he was knocked down flat four or five times, he rose again,
and without a second's delay rushed headlong at his enemy.  Feeling that
he was too little and light to make much impression on Bob Croaker by
means of mere blows, he endeavoured as much as possible to throw his
weight against him at each assault; but Bob stood his ground well, and
after a time seemed even to be recovering strength a little.

Suddenly he made a rush at Martin, and, dealing him a successful blow on
the forehead, knocked him down; at the same time he himself tripped over
a molehill and fell upon his face.  Both were on their legs in an
instant.  Martin grew desperate.  The white, kitten swimming for its
life seemed to rise before him, and new energy was infused into his
frame.  He retreated a step or two, and then darted forward like an
arrow from a bow.  Uttering a loud cry, he sprang completely in the air
and plunged--head and fists together, as if he were taking a dive--into
Bob Croaker's bosom!  The effect was tremendous.  Bob went down like a
shock of grain before the sickle; and having, in their prolonged
movements, approached close to the brink of the stream, both he and
Martin went with a sounding splash into the deep pool and disappeared.
It was but for a moment, however.  Martin's head emerged first, with
eyes and mouth distended to the utmost.  Instantly, on finding bottom,
he turned to deal his opponent another blow; but it was not needed.
When Bob Croaker's head rose to the surface there was no motion in the
features, and the eyes were closed.  The intended blow was changed into
a friendly grasp; and, exerting himself to the utmost, Martin dragged
his insensible school fellow to the bank, where, in a few minutes, he
recovered sufficiently to declare in a sulky tone that he would fight no
more!

"Bob Croaker," said Martin, holding out his hand, "I'm sorry we've had
to fight.  I wouldn't have done it, but to save my kitten.  You
compelled me to do it, you know that.  Come, let's be friends again."

Bob made no reply, but slowly and with some difficulty put on his vest
and jacket.

"I'm sure," continued Martin, "there's no reason in bearing me ill-will.
I've done nothing unfair, and I'm very sorry we've had to fight.  Won't
you shake hands?"

Bob was silent.

"Come, some, Bob!" cried several of the bigger boys, "don't be sulky,
man; shake hands and be friends.  Martin has licked you this time, and
you'll lick him next time, no doubt, and that's all about it."

"Arrah, then, ye're out there, intirely.  Bob Croaker'll niver lick
Martin Rattler though he wos to live to the age of the great
M'Thuselah!" said a deep-toned voice close to the spot where the fight
had taken place.

All eyes were instantly turned in the direction whence it proceeded, and
the boys now became aware, for the first time, that the combat had been
witnessed by a sailor, who, with a smile of approval beaming on his
good-humoured countenance, sat under the shade of a neighbouring tree
smoking a pipe of that excessive shortness and blackness that seems to
be peculiarly beloved by Irishmen in the humbler ranks of life.  The man
was very, tall and broad-shouldered, and carried himself with a
free-and-easy swagger, as he rose and approached the group of boys.

"He'll niver bate ye, Martin, avic, as long as there's two timbers of ye
houldin' togither."  The seaman patted Martin on the head as he spoke;
and, turning to Bob Croaker, continued:

"Ye ought to be proud, ye spalpeen, o' bein' wopped by sich a young hero
as this.  Come here and shake hands with him: d'ye hear?  Troth an' it's
besmearin' ye with too much honour that same.  There, that'll do.  Don't
say ye're sorry now, for it's lies ye'd be tellin' if ye did.  Come
along, Martin, an I'll convarse with ye as ye go home.  Ye'll be a man
yet, as sure as my name is Barney O'Flannagan."

Martin took the white kitten in his arms and thrust its wet little body
into his equally wet bosom, where the warmth began soon to exercise a
soothing influence on the kitten's depressed spirits, so that, ere long,
it began to purr.  He then walked with the sailor towards the village,
with his face black and blue, and swelled, and covered with blood, while
Bob Croaker and his companions returned to the school.

The distance to Martin's residence was not great, but it was sufficient
to enable the voluble Irishman to recount a series of the most wonderful
adventures and stories of foreign lands; that set Martin's heart on fire
with desire to go to sea; a desire which was by no means new to him, and
which recurred violently every time he paid a visit to the small
sea-port of Bilton, which lay about five miles to the southward of his
native village.  Moreover, Barney suggested that it was time Martin
should be doing for himself (he was now ten years old), and said that if
he would join his ship, he could get him a berth, for he was much in
want of an active lad to help him with the coppers.  But Martin Rattler
sighed deeply, and said that, although his heart was set upon going to
sea, he did not see how it was to be managed, for his aunt would not let
him go.

Before they separated, however, it was arranged that Martin should pay
the sailor's ship a visit, when he would hear a good deal more about
foreign lands; and that, in the meantime, he should make another attempt
to induce Aunt Dorothy Grumbit to give her consent to his going to sea.



CHAPTER FOUR.

A LESSON TO ALL STOCKING-KNITTERS--MARTIN'S PROSPECTS BEGIN TO OPEN UP.

In the small sea-port of Bilton, before mentioned, there dwelt an old
and wealthy merchant and ship-owner, who devoted a small portion of his
time to business, and a very large portion of it to what is usually
termed "doing good."  This old gentleman was short, and stout, and rosy,
and bald, and active, and sharp as a needle.

In the short time that Mr Arthur Jollyboy devoted to business, he
accomplished as much as most men do in the course of a long day.  There
was not a benevolent society in the town, of which Arthur Jollyboy,
Esquire, of the Old Hulk (as he styled his cottage), was not a member,
director, secretary, and treasurer, all in one, and all at once!  If it
had been possible for man be ubiquitous, Mr Jollyboy would have been so
naturally; or, if not naturally, he would have made himself so by force
of will.  Yet he made no talk about it.  His step was quiet, though
quick; and his voice was gentle, though rapid; and he was chiefly famous
for _talking_ little and _doing_ much.

Some time after the opening of our tale, Mr Jollyboy had received
information of Mrs Grumbit's stocking movement.  That same afternoon he
put on his broad-brimmed white hat and, walking out to the village in
which she lived, called upon the vicar, who was a particular and
intimate friend of his.  Having ascertained from the vicar that Mrs
Grumbit would not accept of charity, he said abruptly,--"And why not--is
she too proud?"

"By no means," replied the vicar.  "She says that she would think shame
to take money from friends as long as she can work, because every penny
that she would thus get would be so much less to go to the helpless
poor; of whom, she says, with much truth, there are enough and to spare.
And I quite agree with her as regards her principle; but it does not
apply fully to her, for she cannot work so as to procure a sufficient
livelihood without injury to her health."

"Is she clever?" inquired Mr Jollyboy.

"Why, no, not particularly.  In fact, she does not often exert her
reasoning faculties, except in the common-place matters of ordinary and
every-day routine."

"Then she's cleverer than most people," said Mr Jollyboy, shortly.  "Is
she obstinate?"

"No, not in the least," returned the vicar with a puzzled smile.

"Ah, well, good-bye, good-bye; that's all I want to know."

Mr Jollyboy rose, and, hurrying through the village, tapped at the
cottage door, and was soon closeted with Mrs Dorothy Grumbit.  In the
course of half an hour, Mr Jollyboy drew from Mrs Grumbit as much
about her private affairs as he could, without appearing rude.  But he
found the old lady very close and sensitive on that point.  Not so,
however, when he got her upon the subject of her nephew.  She had
enough, and more than enough, to say about him.  It is true she began by
remarking, sadly, that he was a very bad boy; but, as she continued to
talk about him, she somehow or other gave her visitor the impression
that he was a very _good_ boy!  They had a wonderfully long and
confidential talk about Martin, during which Mr Jollyboy struck Mrs
Grumbit nearly dumb with horror by stating positively that he would do
for the boy,--he would send him to sea!  Then, seeing that he had hit
the wrongest possible nail on the head, he said that he would make the
lad a clerk in his office, where he would be sure to rise to a place of
trust; whereat Mrs Grumbit danced, if we may so speak, into herself for
joy.

"And now, ma'am, about these stockings.  I want two thousand pairs as
soon as I can get them!"

"Sir?" said Mrs Grumbit.

"Of course, not for my own use, ma'am; nor for the use of my family, for
I have no family; and if I had, that would be an unnecessarily large
supply.  The fact is, Mrs Grumbit, I am a merchant and I send very
large supplies of home-made articles to foreign lands, and two thousand
pairs of socks are a mere driblet.  Of course I do not expect you to
make them all for me, but I wish you to make as many pairs as you can."

"I shall be very happy--" began Mrs Grumbit.

"But, Mrs Grumbit, there is a peculiar formation which I require in my
socks that will give you extra trouble, I fear; but I must have it,
whatever the additional expense may be.  What is your charge for the
pair you are now making?"

"Three shillings," said Mrs Grumbit.

"Ah! very good.  Now, take up the wires if you please, ma'am, and do
what I tell you.  Now, drop that stitch,--good; and take up this one,--
capital; and pull this one across that way,--so; and that one across
this way,--exactly.  Now, what is the result?"

The result was a complicated knot; and Mrs Grumbit, after staring a few
seconds at the old gentleman in surprise, said so, and begged to know
what use it was of.

"Oh, never mind, never mind.  We merchants have strange fancies, and
foreigners have curious tastes now and then.  Please to make all my
socks with a hitch like that in them all round, just above the ankle.
It will form an ornamental ring.  I'm sorry to put you to the trouble,
but of course I pay extra for fancy-work.  Will six shillings a-pair do
for these?"

"My dear sir," said Mrs Grumbit, "it is no additional--"

"Well, well, never mind," said Mr Jollyboy.  "Two thousand pairs,
remember, as soon as possible,--close knitted, plain stitch, rather
coarse worsted; and don't forget the hitch, Mrs Grumbit, don't forget
the hitch."

Ah! reader, there are many Mrs Grumbits in this world, requiring
_hitches_ to be made in their stockings!

At this moment the door burst open.  Mrs Dorothy Grumbit uttered a
piercing scream, Mr Jollyboy dropped his spectacles and sat down on his
hat and Martin Rattler stood before them with the white kitten in his
arms.

For a few seconds there was a dead silence, while an expression of
puzzled disappointment passed over Mr Jollyboy's ruddy countenance.  At
last he said--

"Is this, madam, the nephew who, you told me a little ago, is not
addicted to fighting?"

"Yes," answered the old lady faintly, and covering her eyes with her
hands, "that is Martin."

"If my aunt told you that, sir, she told you the truth," said Martin,
setting down the blood-stained white kitten, which forthwith began to
stretch its limbs and lick itself dry.  "I don't ever fight if I can
help it but I couldn't help it to-day."

With a great deal of energy, and a revival of much of his former
indignation, when he spoke of the kitten's sufferings, Martin recounted
all the circumstances of the fight; during the recital of which Mrs
Dorothy Grumbit took his hand in hers and patted it, gazing the while
into his swelled visage, and weeping plentifully, but very silently.
When he had finished, Mr Jollyboy shook hands with him, and said he was
a trump, at the same time recommending him to go and wash his face.
Then he whispered a few words in Mrs Grumbit's ear, which seemed to
give that excellent lady much pleasure; after which he endeavoured to
straighten his crushed hat; in which attempt he failed, took his leave,
promised to call again very soon, and went back to the Old Hulk--
chuckling.



CHAPTER FIVE.

MARTIN, BEING WILLING TO GO TO SEA, GOES TO SEA AGAINST HIS WILL.

Four years rolled away, casting chequered light and shadow over the
little village of Ashford in their silent passage,--whitening the
forelocks of the aged, and strengthening the muscles of the young.
Death, too, touched a hearth here and there, and carried desolation to a
home; for four years cannot wing their flight without enforcing on us
the lesson--which we are so often taught and yet take so long to learn--
that this is not our rest,--that here we have no abiding city.  Did we
but ponder this lesson more frequently and earnestly, instead of making
us sad, it would nerve our hearts and hands to fight and work more
diligently,--to work in the cause of our Redeemer,--the only cause that
is worth the life-long energy of immortal beings,--the great cause that
includes all others; and it would teach us to remember that our little
day of opportunity will soon be spent and that the night is at hand in
which no man can work.

Four years rolled away, and during this time Martin, having failed to
obtain his aunt's consent to his going to sea, continued at school,
doing his best to curb the roving spirit that strove within him.  Martin
was not particularly bright at the dead languages; to the rules of
grammar he entertained a rooted aversion; and at history he was inclined
to yawn, except when it happened to touch upon the names and deeds of
such men as Vasco di Gama and Columbus.  But in geography he was
perfect; and in arithmetic and book-keeping he was quite a proficient,
to the delight of Mrs Dorothy Grumbit whose household books he summed
up; and to the satisfaction of his fast friend, Mr Arthur Jollyboy,
whose ledgers he was--in that old gentleman's secret resolves--destined
to keep.

Martin was now fourteen, broad and strong, and tall for his age.  He was
the idol of the school,--dashing, daring, reckless, and good-natured.
There was almost nothing that he would not attempt and there were very
few things that he could not do.  He never fought however--from
principle; and his strength and size often saved him from the necessity.
But he often prevented other boys from fighting, except when he thought
there was good reason for it; then he stood by and saw fair-play.  There
was a strange mixture of philosophical gravity, too, in Martin.  As he
grew older he became more enthusiastic and less boisterous.

Bob Croaker was still at the school, and was, from prudential motives, a
fast friend of Martin.  But he bore him a secret grudge, for he could
not forget the great fight.

One day Bob took Martin by the arm, and said, "I say, Rattler, come with
me to Bilton, and have some fun among the shipping."

"Well, I don't mind if I do," said Martin.  "I'm just in the mood for a
ramble, and I'm not expected home till bed-time."

In little more than an hour the two boys were wandering about the
dock-yards of the sea-port town, and deeply engaged in examining the
complicated rigging of the ships.  While thus occupied, the clanking of
a windlass and the merry, "Yo heave O! and away she goes," of the
sailors, attracted their attention.

"Hallo! there goes the Firefly, bound for the South Seas," cried Bob
Croaker; "come, let's see her start.  I say, Martin, isn't your friend,
Barney O'Flannagan, on board?"

"Yes, he is.  He tries to get me to go out every voyage, and I wish I
could.  Come quickly; I want to say good-bye to him before he starts."

"Why don't you run away, Rattler?" inquired Bob, as they hurried round
the docks to where the vessel was warping out.

"Because I don't need to.  My aunt has given me leave to go if I like;
but she says it would break her heart if I do; and I would rather be
screwed down to a desk for ever than do that, Bob Croaker."

The vessel, upon the deck of which the two boys now leaped, was a large,
heavy-built barque.  Her sails were hanging loose, and the captain was
giving orders to the men, who had their attention divided between their
duties on board and their mothers, wives, and sisters, who still
lingered to take a last farewell.

"Now, then, those who don't want to go to sea had better go ashore,"
roared the captain.

There was an immediate rush to the side.

"I say, Martin," whispered Barney, as he hurried past, "jump down below
for'ard; you can go out o' the harbour mouth with us and get ashore in
one o' the shore-boats alongside.  They'll not cast off till we're well
out.  I want to speak to you--"

"Man the fore-top-sail halyards," shouted the first mate.

"Ay ay, sir-r-r," and the men sprang to obey.  Just then the ship
touched on the bar at the mouth of the harbour, and in another moment
she was aground.

"There, now, she's hard and fast!" roared the captain, as he stormed
about the deck in a paroxysm of rage.  But man's rage could avail
nothing.  They had missed the passage by a few feet, and now they had to
wait the fall and rise again of the tide ere they could hope to get off.

In the confusion that followed, Bob Croaker suggested that Martin and he
should take one of the punts, or small boats which hovered round the
vessel, and put out to sea, where they might spend the day pleasantly in
rowing and fishing.

"Capital!" exclaimed Martin.  "Let's go at once.  Yonder's a little
fellow who will let us have his punt for a few pence.  I know him.
Hallo, Tom!"

"Ay, ay," squeaked a boy who was so small that he could scarcely lift
the oar, light though it was, with which he sculled his punt cleverly
along.

"Shove alongside, like a good fellow; we want your boat for a little to
row out a bit."

"It's a-blowin' too hard," squeaked the small boy, as he ranged
alongside.  "I'm afeared you'll be blowed out."

"Nonsense!" cried Bob Croaker, grasping the rope which the boy threw to
him.  "Jump on board, younker; we don't want you to help us, and you're
too heavy for ballast.  Slip down the side, Martin, and get in while I
hold on to the rope.  All right? now I'll follow.  Here, shrimp, hold
the rope till I'm in, and then cast off.  Look alive!"

As Bob spoke, he handed the rope to the little boy; but, in doing so,
let it accidentally slip out of his hand.

"Catch hold o' the main chains, Martin,--quick!"

But Martin was too late.  The current that swept out of the harbour
whirled the light punt away from the ship's side, and carried it out
seaward.  Martin instantly sprang to the oar, and turned the boat's head
round.  He was a stout and expert rower, and would soon have regained
the ship; but the wind increased at the moment, and blew in a squall off
shore, which carried him further out despite his utmost efforts.  Seeing
that all further attempts were useless, Martin stood up and waved his
hand to Bob Croaker, shouting as he did so, "Never mind, Bob, I'll make
for the South Point.  Run round and meet me, and we'll row back
together."

The South Point was a low cape of land which stretched a considerable
distance out to sea, about three miles to the southward of Bilton
harbour.  It formed a large bay, across which, in ordinary weather, a
small boat might be rowed in safety.  Martin Rattler was well-known at
the sea-port as a strong and fearless boy, so that no apprehension was
entertained for his safety by those who saw him blown away.  Bob Croaker
immediately started for the Point on foot a distance of about four miles
by land; and the crew of the Firefly were so busied with their stranded
vessel that they took no notice of the doings of the boys.

But the weather now became more and more stormy.  Thick clouds gathered
on the horizon.  The wind began to blow with steady violence, and
shifted a couple of points to the southward; so that Martin found it
impossible to keep straight for the Point.  Still he worked
perseveringly at his single oar, and sculled rapidly over the sea; but,
as he approached the Point he soon perceived that no effort of which he
was capable could enable him to gain it.  But Martin's heart was stout.
He strove with all the energy of hope, until the Point was passed; and
then, turning the head of his little boat towards it, he strove with all
the energy of despair, until he fell down exhausted.  The wind and tide
swept him rapidly out to sea; and when his terrified comrade reached the
Point the little boat was but a speck on the seaward horizon.

Well was it then for Martin Rattler that a friendly heart beat for him
on board the Firefly.  Bob Croaker carried the news to the town; but no
one was found daring enough to risk his life out in a boat on that
stormy evening.  The little punt had been long out of sight ere the news
reached them, and the wind had increased to a gale.  But Barney
O'Flannagan questioned Bob Croaker closely, and took particular note of
the point of the compass at which Martin had disappeared; and when the
Firefly at length got under weigh, he climbed to the fore-top
cross-trees, and stood there scanning the horizon with an anxious eye.

It was getting dark, and a feeling of despair began to creep over the
seaman's heart as he gazed round the wide expanse of water, on which
nothing was to be seen except the white foam that crested the rising
billows.

"Starboard, hard!" he shouted suddenly.

"Starboard it is!" replied the man at the wheel, with prompt obedience.

In another moment Barney slid down the back-stay and stood on the deck,
while the ship rounded to and narrowly missed striking a small boat that
floated keel up on the water.  There was no cry from the boat; and it
might have been passed as a mere wreck, had not the lynx eye of Barney
noticed a dark object clinging to it.

"Lower away a boat, lads," cried the Irishman, springing overboard; and
the words had scarcely passed his lips when the water closed over his
head.

The Firefly was hove to, a boat was lowered and rowed towards Barney,
whose strong voice guided his shipmates towards him.  In less than a
quarter of an hour the bold sailor and his young friend Martin Rattler
were safe on board, and the ship's head was again turned out to sea.

It was full half an hour before Martin was restored to consciousness in
the forecastle, to which his deliverer had conveyed him.

"Musha, lad, but ye're booked for the blue wather now, an' no mistake!"
said Barney, looking with an expression of deep sympathy at the poor
boy, who sat staring before him quite speechless.  "The capting 'll not
let ye out o' this ship till ye git to the gould coast, or some sich
place.  He couldn't turn back av he wanted iver so much; but he doesn't
want to, for he needs a smart lad like you, an' he'll keep you now, for
sartin."

Barney sat down by Martin's side and stroked his fair curls, as he
sought in his own quaint fashion to console him.  But in vain.

Martin grew quite desperate as he thought of the misery into which poor
Aunt Dorothy Grumbit would be plunged, on learning that he had been
swept out to sea in a little boat, and drowned, as she would naturally
suppose.  In his frenzy he entreated and implored the captain to send
him back in the boat and even threatened to knock out his brains with a
handspike if he did not; but the captain smiled and told him that it was
his own fault.  He had no business to be putting to sea in a small boat
in rough weather, and he might be thankful he wasn't drowned.  He
wouldn't turn back now for fifty pounds twice told.

At length Martin became convinced that all hope of returning home was
gone.  He went quietly below, threw himself into one of the sailor's
berths, turned his face to the wall, and wept long and bitterly.



CHAPTER SIX.

THE VOYAGE, A PIRATE, CHASE, WRECK, AND ESCAPE.

Time reconciles a man to almost anything.  In the course of time Martin
Rattler became reconciled to his fate, and went about the ordinary
duties of a cabin-boy on board the Firefly just as if he had been
appointed to that office in the ordinary way,--with the consent of the
owners and by the advice of his friends.  The captain, Skinflint by
name, and as surly an old fellow as ever walked a quarter-deck, agreed
to pay him wages, "if he behaved well."  The steward, under whose
immediate authority he was placed, turned out to be a hearty,
good-natured young fellow, and was very kind to him.  But Martin's great
friend was Barney O'Flannagan, the cook, with whom he spent many an hour
in the night watches, talking over plans, and prospects, and
retrospects, and foreign lands.

As Martin had no clothes except those on his back, which fortunately
happened to be new and good, Barney gave him a couple of blue-striped
shirts, and made him a jacket, pantaloons, and slippers of canvass; and,
what was of much greater importance, taught him how to make and mend the
same for himself.

"Ye see, Martin, lad," he said, while thus employed one day, many weeks
after leaving port, "it's a great thing, intirely, to be able to help
yerself.  For my part I niver travel without my work-box in my pocket."

"Your work-box!" said Martin, laughing.

"Jist so.  An' it consists of wan sailmaker's needle, a ball o' twine,
and a clasp-knife.  Set me down with these before a roll o' canvass and
I'll make ye a'most anything."

"You seem to have a turn for everything, Barney," said Martin.  "How
came you to be a cook?"

"That's more nor I can tell ye, lad.  As far as I remimber, I began with
murphies, when I was two foot high, in my father's cabin in ould
Ireland.  But that was on my own account intirely, and not as a
purfession; and a sorrowful time I had of it too, for I was for iver
burnin' my fingers promiskiously, and fallin' into the fire ivery day
more or less--"

"Stand by to hoist top-gallant-sails," shouted the captain.  "How's her
head?"

"South and by east sir," answered the man at the wheel.

"Keep her away two points.  Look alive lads.  Hand me the glass,
Martin."

The ship was close hauled when these abrupt orders were given, battling
in the teeth of a stiff breeze, off the coast of South America.  About
this time, several piratical vessels had succeeded in cutting off a
number of merchantmen near the coast of Brazil.  They had not only taken
the valuable parts of their cargoes, but had murdered the crews under
circumstances of great cruelty; and ships trading to these regions were,
consequently, exceedingly careful to avoid all suspicious craft as much
as possible.  It was, therefore, with some anxiety that the men watched
the captain's face as he examined the strange sail through the
telescope.

"A Spanish schooner," muttered the captain, as he shut up the glass with
a bang.  "I won't trust her.  Up with the royals and rig out
stun'-sails, Mr Wilson, (to the mate).  Let her fall away, keep her
head nor'-west, d'you hear?"

"Ay, ay, sir."

"Let go the lee braces and square the yards.  Look sharp, now, lads.  If
that blackguard gets hold of us ye'll have to walk the plank, every man
of ye."

In a few minutes the ship's course was completely altered; a cloud of
canvass spread out from the yards, and the Firefly bounded on her course
like a fresh race-horse.  But it soon became evident that the heavy
barque was no match for the schooner, which crowded sail and bore down
at a rate that bade fair to overhaul them in a few hours.  The chase
continued till evening, when suddenly the look-out at the mast-head
shouted, "Land, ho!"

"Where away?" cried the captain.

"Right ahead," sang out the man.

"I'll run her ashore sooner than be taken," muttered the captain, with
an angry scowl at the schooner, which was now almost within range on the
weather quarter, with the dreaded black flag flying at her peak.  In a
few minutes breakers were descried ahead.

"D'ye see anything like a passage?" shouted the captain.

"Yes, sir; two points on the weather bow."

At this moment a white cloud burst from the schooner's bow, and a shot,
evidently from a heavy gun, came ricochetting over the sea.  It was well
aimed, for it cut right through the barque's main-mast, just below the
yard, and brought the main-top-mast, with all the yards, sails, and
gearing above it, down upon the deck.  The weight of the wreck, also,
carried away the fore-top-mast and, in a single instant, the Firefly was
completely disabled.

"Lower away the boats," cried the captain; "look alive, now; we'll give
them the slip yet.  It'll be dark in two minutes."

The captain was right.  In tropical regions there is little or no
twilight.  Night succeeds day almost instantaneously.  Before the boats
were lowered, and the men embarked, it was becoming quite dark.  The
schooner observed the movement however, and, as she did not dare to
venture through the reef in the dark, her boats were also lowered and
the chase was recommenced.

The reef was passed in safety, and now a hard struggle took place, for
the shore was still far-distant.  As it chanced to be cloudy weather the
darkness became intense, and progress could only be guessed at by the
sound of the oars; but these soon told too plainly that the boats of the
schooner were overtaking those of the barque.

"Pull with a will, lads," cried the captain; "we can't be more than half
a mile from shore; give way, my hearties."

"Surely, captain, we can fight them, we've most of us got pistols and
cutlasses," said one of the men in a sulky tone.

"Fight them!" cried the captain, "they're four times our number, and
every man armed to the teeth.  If ye don't fancy walking the plank or
dancing on nothing at the yardarm, ye'd better pull away and hold your
jaw."

By this time they could just see the schooner's boats in the dim light,
about half-musket range astern.

"Back you' oars," shouted a stern voice in broken English, "or I blow
you out de watter in one oder moment--black-yards!"

This order was enforced by a musket shot which whizzed over the boat
within an inch of the captain's head.  The men ceased rowing and the
boats of the pirate ranged close up.

"Now then, Martin," whispered Barney O'Flannagan, who sat at the bow
oar, "I'm goin' to swim ashore; jist you slip arter me as quiet as ye
can."

"But the sharks!" suggested Martin.

"Bad luck to them," said Barney as he slipped over the side, "they're
welcome to me.  I'll take my chance.  They'll find me mortial tough,
anyhow.  Come along, lad, look sharp!"

Without a moment's hesitation Martin slid over the gunwale into the sea,
and, just as the pirate boats grappled with those of the barque, he and
Barney found themselves gliding as silently as otters towards the shore.
So quietly had the manoeuvre been accomplished, that the men in their
own boat were ignorant of their absence.  In a few minutes they were
beyond the chance of detection.

"Keep close to me, lad," whispered the Irishman.  "If we separate in the
darkness we'll niver foregather again.  Catch hould o' my shoulder if ye
get blowed, and splutter as much as ye like.  They can't hear us now,
and it'll help to frighten the sharks."

"All right," replied Martin; "I can swim like a cork in such warm water
as this.  Just go a little slower and I'll do famously."

Thus encouraging each other, and keeping close together, lest they
should get separated in the thick darkness of the night, the two friends
struck out bravely for the shore.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

MARTIN AND BARNEY GET LOST IN A GREAT FOREST, WHERE THEY SEE STRANGE AND
TERRIBLE THINGS.

On gaining the beach, the first thing that Barney did, after shaking
himself like a huge Newfoundland dog, was to ascertain that his pistol
and cutlass were safe; for, although the former could be of no use in
its present condition, still, as he sagaciously remarked, "it was a good
thing to have, for they might chance to git powder wan day or other, and
the flint would make fire, anyhow."  Fortunately the weather was
extremely warm; so they were enabled to take off and wring their clothes
without much inconvenience, except that in a short time a few
adventurous mosquitoes--probably sea-faring ones--came down out of the
woods and attacked their bare bodies so vigorously that they were fain
to hurry on their clothes again before they were quite dry.

The clouds began to clear away soon after they landed, and the brilliant
light of the southern constellations revealed to them dimly the
appearance of the coast.  It was a low sandy beach skirting the sea and
extending back for about a quarter of a mile in the form of a grassy
plain, dotted here and there with scrubby under-wood.  Beyond this was a
dark line of forest.  The light was not sufficient to enable them to
ascertain the appearance of the interior.  Barney and Martin now cast
about in their minds how they were to spend the night.

"Ye see," said the Irishman, "it's of no use goin' to look for houses,
because there's maybe none at all on this coast; an' there's no sayin'
but we may fall in with savages--for them parts swarms with them; so
we'd better go into the woods an'--"

Barney was interrupted here by a low howl, which proceeded from the
woods referred to, and was most unlike any cry they had ever heard
before.

"Och but I'll think better of it.  P'raps it'll be as well _not_ to go
into the woods, but to camp where we are."

"I think so too," said Martin, searching about for small twigs and
drift-wood with which to make a fire.  "There is no saying what sort of
wild beasts may be in the forest, so we had better wait till daylight."

A fire was quickly lighted by means of the pistol-flint and a little dry
grass, which, when well bruised and put into the pan, caught a spark
after one or two attempts, and was soon blown into a flame.  But no wood
large enough to keep the fire burning for any length of time could be
found; so Barney said he would go up to the forest and fetch some.
"I'll lave my shoes and socks, Martin, to dry at the fire.  See ye don't
let them burn."

Traversing the meadow with hasty strides, the bold sailor quickly
reached the edge of the forest where he began to lop off several dead
branches from the trees with his cutlass.  While thus engaged, the howl
which had formerly startled him was repeated.  "Av I only knowed what ye
was," muttered Barney in a serious tone, "it would be some sort o'
comfort."

A loud cry of a different kind here interrupted his soliloquy, and soon
after the first cry was repeated louder than before.

Clenching his teeth and knitting his brows the perplexed Irishman
resumed his work with a desperate resolve not to be again interrupted.
But he had miscalculated the strength of his nerves.  Albeit as brave a
man as ever stepped, when his enemy was before him, Barney was,
nevertheless, strongly imbued with superstitious feelings; and the
conflict between his physical courage and his mental cowardice produced
a species of wild exasperation, which, he often asserted, was very hard
to bear.  Scarcely had he resumed his work when a bat of enormous size
brushed past his nose so noiselessly that it seemed more like a phantom
than a reality.  Barney had never seen anything of the sort before, and
a cold perspiration broke out upon him, when he fancied it might be a
ghost.  Again the bat swept past close to his eyes.

"Musha, but I'll kill ye, ghost or no ghost," he ejaculated, gazing all
round into the gloomy depths of the woods with his cutlass uplifted.
Instead of flying again in front of him, as he had expected, the bat
flew with a whirring noise past his ear.  Down came the cutlass with a
sudden thwack, cutting deep into the trunk of a small tree, which
trembled under the shock and sent a shower of nuts of a large size down
upon the sailor's head.  Startled as he was, he sprang backward with a
wild cry; then, half ashamed of his groundless fears, he collected the
wood he had cut, threw it hastily on his shoulder and went with a quick
step out of the woods.  In doing so he put his foot upon the head of a
small snake, which wriggled up round his ankle and leg.  If there was
anything on earth that Barney abhorred and dreaded it was a snake.  No
sooner did he feel its cold form writhing under his foot, than he
uttered a tremendous yell of terror, dropped his bundle of sticks, and
fled precipitately to the beach, where he did not halt till he found
himself knee-deep in the sea.

"Och, Martin, boy," gasped the affrighted sailor, "it's my belafe that
all the evil spirits on arth live in yonder wood; indeed I do."

"Nonsense, Barney," said Martin, laughing; "there are no such things as
ghosts; at any rate, I'm resolved to face them, for if we don't get some
sticks the fire will go out and leave us very comfortless.  Come, I'll
go up with you."

"Put on yer shoes then, avic, for the sarpints are no ghosts, anyhow,
and I'm tould they're pisonous sometimes."

They soon found the bundle of dry sticks that Barney had thrown down,
and returning with it to the beach, they speedily kindled a roaring
fire, which made them feel quite cheerful.  True, they had nothing to
eat; but having had a good dinner on board the barque late that
afternoon, they were not much in want of food.  While they sat thus on
the sand of the sea-shore, spreading their hands before the blaze and
talking over their strange position, a low rumbling of distant thunder
was heard.  Barney's countenance instantly fell.

"What's the matter, Barney?" inquired Martin, as he observed his
companion gaze anxiously up at the sky.

"Och, it's comin', sure enough."

"And what though it does come?" returned Martin; "we can creep under one
of these thick bushes till the shower is past."

"Did ye iver see a thunder-storm in the tropics?" inquired Barney.

"No, never," replied Martin.

"Then if ye don't want to feel and see it both at wance, come with me as
quick as iver ye can."

Barney started up as he spoke, stuck his cutlass and pistol into his
belt and set off towards the woods at a sharp run, followed closely by
his wondering companion.

Their haste was by no means unnecessary.  Great black clouds rushed up
towards the zenith from all points of the compass, and, just as they
reached the woods, darkness so thick that it might almost be felt
overspread the scene.  Then there was a flash of lightning so vivid that
it seemed as if a bright day had been created and extinguished in a
moment leaving the darkness ten times more oppressive.  It was followed
instantaneously by a crash and a prolonged rattle, that sounded as if a
universe of solid worlds were rushing into contact overhead and bursting
into atoms.

The flash was so far useful to the fugitives, that it enabled them to
observe a many-stemmed tree with dense and heavy foliage, under which
they darted.  They were just in time, and had scarcely seated themselves
among its branches when the rain came down in a way, not only that
Martin had never seen, but that he had never conceived of before.  It
fell, as it were, in broad heavy sheets, and its sound was a loud,
continuous roar.

The wind soon after burst upon the forest and added to the hideous
shriek of elements.  The trees bent before it; the rain was whirled and
dashed about in water-spouts; and huge limbs were rent from some of the
larger trees with a crash like thunder, and swept far away into the
forest.  The very earth trembled and seemed terrified at the dreadful
conflict going on above.  It seemed to the two friends as if the end of
the world were come; and they could do nothing but cower among the
branches of the tree and watch the storm in silence; while they felt, in
a way they had never before experienced, how utterly helpless they were,
and unable to foresee, or avert, the many dangers by which they were
surrounded, and how absolutely dependent they were on God for
protection.

For several hours the storm continued.  Then it ceased as suddenly as it
had begun, and the bright stars again shone down upon a peaceful scene.

When it was over, Martin and his comrade descended the tree and
endeavoured to find their way back to the beach.  But this was no easy
matter.  The haste with which they had run into the woods, and the
confusion of the storm, had made them uncertain in which direction it
lay; and the more they tried to get out, the deeper they penetrated into
the forest.  At length, wearied with fruitless wandering and stumbling
about in the dark, they resolved to spend the night where they were.
Coming to a place which was more open than usual, and where they could
see a portion of the starry sky overhead, they sat down on a dry spot
under the shelter of a spreading tree, and, leaning their backs against
the trunk, very soon fell sound asleep.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

AN ENCHANTING LAND--AN UNCOMFORTABLE BED AND A QUEER BREAKFAST--MANY
SURPRISES AND A FEW FRIGHTS, TOGETHER WITH A NOTABLE DISCOVERY.

"I've woked in paradise!"

Such was the exclamation that aroused Martin Rattler on the morning
after his landing on the coast of South America.  It was uttered by
Barney O'Flannagan, who lay at full length on his back, his head propped
up by a root of the tree, under which they had slept, and his eyes
staring right before him with an expression of concentrated amazement.
When Martin opened his eyes, he too was struck dumb with surprise.  And
well might they gaze with astonishment; for the last ray of departing
daylight on the night before had flickered over the open sea, and now
the first gleam of returning sunshine revealed to them the magnificent
forests of Brazil.

Yes, well might they gaze and gaze again in boundless admiration; for
the tropical sun shone down on a scene of dazzling and luxuriant
vegetation, so resplendent that it seemed to them the realisation of a
fairy tale.  Plants and shrubs and flowers were there, of the most
curious and brilliant description, and of which they neither knew the
uses nor the names.  Majestic trees were there, with foliage of every
shape and size and hue; some with stems twenty feet in circumference;
others more slender in form, straight and tall; and some twisted in a
bunch together and rising upwards like fluted pillars: a few had
buttresses, or natural planks, several feet broad, ranged all round
their trunks, as if to support them; while many bent gracefully beneath
the load of their clustering fruit and heavy foliage.  Orange-trees with
their ripe fruit shone in the sunbeams like gold.  Stately palms rose
above the surrounding trees and waved their feathery plumes in the air,
and bananas with broad enormous leaves rustled in the breeze and cast a
cool shadow on the ground.

Well might they gaze in great surprise; for all these curious and
beautiful trees were surrounded by, and entwined in, the embrace of
luxuriant and remarkable climbing-plants.  The parasitic vanilla with
its star-like blossoms crept up their trunks and along their branches,
where it hung in graceful festoons, or drooped back again almost to the
ground.  So rich and numerous were these creepers, that in many cases
they killed the strong giants whom they embraced so lovingly.  Some of
them hung from the tree-tops like stays from the masts of a ship, and
many of them mingled their brilliant flowers so closely with the leaves,
that the climbing-plants and their supporters could not be distinguished
from each other, and it seemed as though the trees themselves had become
gigantic flowering shrubs.

Birds, too, were there in myriads,--and such birds!  Their feathers were
green and gold and scarlet and yellow and blue--fresh and bright and
brilliant as the sky beneath which they were nurtured.  The great
toucan, with a beak nearly as big as his body, flew clumsily from stem
to stem.  The tiny, delicate humming-birds, scarce larger than bees,
fluttered from flower to flower and spray to spray, like points of
brilliant green.  But they were irritable, passionate little creatures,
these lovely things, and quarrelled with each other and fought like very
wasps!  Enormous butterflies, with wings of deep metallic blue, shot
past or hovered in the air like gleams of light; and green paroquets
swooped from tree to tree and chattered joyfully over their morning
meal.

Well might they gaze with wonder, and smile too with extreme merriment,
for monkeys stared at them from between the leaves with expressions of
undisguised amazement, and bounded away shrieking and chattering in
consternation, swinging from branch to branch with incredible speed, and
not scrupling to use each other's tails to swing by when occasion
offered.  Some were big and red and ugly,--as ugly as you can possibly
imagine, with blue faces and fiercely grinning teeth; others were
delicately-formed and sad of countenance, as if they were for ever
bewailing the loss of near and dear relations, and could by no means
come at consolation; and some were small and pretty, with faces no
bigger than a halfpenny.  As a general rule, it seemed to Barney, the
smaller the monkey the longer the tail.

Yes, well might they gaze and gaze again in surprise and in excessive
admiration; and well might Barney O'Flannagan--under the circumstances,
with such sights and sounds around him, and the delightful odours of
myrtle trees and orange blossoms and the Cape jessamine stealing up his
nostrils--deem himself the tenant of another world, and evince his
conviction of the fact in that memorable expression--"I've woked in
paradise!"

But Barney began to find "paradise" not quite so comfortable as it ought
to be; for when he tried to get up he found his bones pained and stiff
from sleeping in damp clothes; and moreover, his face was very much
swelled, owing to the myriads of mosquitoes which had supped of it
during the night.

"Arrah, then, _won't_ ye be done!" he cried, angrily, giving his face a
slap that killed at least two or three hundred of his tormentors.  But
thousands more attacked him instantly, and he soon found out,--what
every one finds out sooner or later in hot climates,--that _patience_ is
one of the best remedies for mosquito bites.  He also discovered shortly
afterwards that smoke is not a bad remedy, in connection with patience.

"What are we to have for breakfast, Barney!" inquired Martin as he rose
and yawned and stretched his limbs.

"Help yersilf to what ye plase," said Barney, with a polite bow, waving
his hand round him, as if the forest were his private property and
Martin Rattler his honoured guest.

"Well, I vote for oranges," said Martin, going towards a tree which was
laden with ripe fruit.

"An' I'll try plums, by way of variety," added his companion.

In a few minutes several kinds of fruit and nuts were gathered and
spread at the foot of the tree under which they had reposed.  Then
Barney proceeded to kindle a fire,--not that he had anything to cook,
but he said it looked sociable-like, and the smoke would keep off the
flies.  The operation, however, was by no means easy.  Everything had
been soaked by the rain of the previous night, and a bit of dry grass
could scarcely be found.  At length he procured a little; and by rubbing
it in the damp gunpowder which he had extracted from his pistol, and
drying it in the sun, he formed a sort of tinder that caught fire after
much persevering effort.

Some of the fruits they found to be good,--others bad.  The good they
ate,--the bad they threw away.  After their frugal fare they felt much
refreshed, and then began to talk of what they should do.

"We can't live here with parrots and monkeys, you know," said Martin;
"we must try to find a village or town of some sort; or get to the coast
and then we shall perhaps meet with a ship."

"True, lad," replied Barney, knitting his brows and looking extremely
sagacious; "the fact is, since neither of us knows nothing about
anything, or the way to any place, my advice is to walk straight for'ard
till we come to something."

"So think I," replied Martin; "therefore the sooner we set off the
better."

Having no luggage to pack and no arrangements of any kind to make, the
two friends rose from their primitive breakfast-table, and walked away
straight before them into the forest.

All that day they travelled patiently forward, conversing pleasantly
about the various and wonderful trees, and flowers, and animals they met
with by the way; but no signs were discovered that indicated the
presence of man.  Towards evening, however, they fell upon a track or
foot-path,--which discovery rejoiced them much; and here, before
proceeding further, they sat down to eat a little more fruit which,
indeed, they had done several times during the day.  They walked nearly
thirty miles that day without seeing a human being; but they met with
many strange and beautiful birds and beasts,--some of which were of so
fierce an aspect that they would have been very glad to have had guns to
defend themselves with.  Fortunately, however, all the animals seemed to
be much more afraid of them than they were of the animals; so they
travelled in safety.  Several times during the course of the day they
saw snakes and serpents, which glided away into the jungle on their
approach, and could not be overtaken, although Barney made repeated
darts at them, intending to attack them with his cutlass; which assaults
always proved fruitless.

Once they were charged by a herd of peccaries,--a species of pig or wild
hog,--from which they escaped by jumping actively to one side; but the
peccaries turned and rushed at them again, and it was only by springing
up the branches of a neighbouring tree that they escaped their fury.
These peccaries are the fiercest and most dauntless animals in the
forests of Brazil.  They do of know what fear is,--they will rush in the
face of anything; and, unlike all other animals, are quite indifferent
to the report of fire-arms.  Their bodies are covered with long
bristles, resembling very much the quills of the porcupine.

As the evening drew on, the birds and beasts and the innumerable
insects, that had kept up a perpetual noise during the day, retired to
rest; and then the nocturnal animals began to creep out of their holes
and go about.  Huge vampire-bats, one of which had given Barney such a
fright the night before, flew silently past them; and the wild howlings
commenced again.  They now discovered that one of the most dismal of the
howls proceeded from a species of monkey: at which discovery Martin
laughed very much, and rallied his companion on being so easily
frightened; but Barney gladly joined in the laugh against himself, for,
to say truth, he felt quite relieved and light-hearted at discovering
that his ghosts were converted into bats and monkeys!

There was one roar, however, which, when they heard it ever and anon,
gave them considerable uneasiness.

"D'ye think there's lions in them parts?" inquired Barney, glancing with
an expression of regret at his empty pistol, and laying his hand on the
hilt of his cutlass.

"I think not," replied Martin, in a low tone of voice.  "I have read in
my school geography that there are tigers of some sort--jaguars, or
ounces, I think they are called,--but there are no--"

Martin's speech was cut short by a terrific roar, which rang through the
woods, and the next instant a magnificent jaguar, or South American
tiger, bounded on to the track a few yards in advance, and, wheeling
round, glared fiercely at the travellers.  It seemed, in the uncertain
light as if his eyes were two balls of living fire.  Though not so large
as the royal Bengal tiger of India, this animal was nevertheless of
immense size, and had a very ferocious aspect.  His roar was so sudden
and awful, and his appearance so unexpected, that the blood was sent
thrilling back into the hearts of the travellers, who stood rooted to
the spot, absolutely unable to move.  This was the first large animal of
the cat kind that either of them had seen in all the terrible majesty of
its wild condition; and, for the first time, Martin and his friend felt
that awful sensation of dread that will assail even the bravest heart
when a new species of imminent danger is suddenly presented.  It is said
that no animal can withstand the steady gaze of a human eye; and many
travellers in wild countries have proved this to be a fact.  On the
present occasion our adventurers stared long and steadily at the wild
creature before them, from a mingled feeling of surprise and horror.  In
a few seconds the jaguar showed signs of being disconcerted.  It turned
its head from side to side slightly, and dropped its eyes, as if to
avoid their gaze.  Then turning slowly and stealthily round, it sprang
with a magnificent bound into the jungle, and disappeared.

Both Martin and Barney heaved a deep sigh of relief.

"What a mercy it did not attack us!" said the former, wiping the cold
perspiration from his forehead.  "We should have had no chance against
such a terrible beast with a cutlass, I fear."

"True, boy, true," replied his friend, gravely; "it would have been
little better than a penknife in the ribs o' sich a cratur.  I niver
thought that it was in the power o' man or baste to put me in sich a
fright; but the longer we live we learn, boy."

Barney's disposition to make light of everything was thoroughly subdued
by this incident, and he felt none of his usual inclination to regard
all that he saw in the Brazilian forests with a comical eye.  The danger
they had escaped was too real and terrible, and their almost unarmed
condition too serious, to be lightly esteemed.  For the next hour or two
he continued to walk by Martin's side either in total silence, or in
earnest, grave conversation; but by degrees these feelings wore off, and
his buoyant spirits gradually returned.

The country over which they had passed during the day was of a mingled
character.  At one time they traversed a portion of dark forest heavy
and choked up with the dense and gigantic foliage peculiar to those
countries that lie near to the equator; then they emerged from this upon
what to their eyes seemed most beautiful scenery,--mingled plain and
woodland,--where the excessive brilliancy and beauty of the tropical
vegetation was brought to perfection by exposure to the light of the
blue sky and the warm rays of the sun.  In such lovely spots they
travelled more slowly and rested more frequently, enjoying to the full
the sight of the gaily-coloured birds and insects that fluttered busily
around them, and the delicious perfume of the flowers that decked the
ground and clambered up the trees.  At other times they came to plains,
or _campos_, as they are termed, where there were no trees at all, and
few shrubs, and where the grass was burned brown and dry by the sun.
Over such they hurried as quickly as they could; and fortunately, where
they chanced to travel, such places were neither numerous nor extensive,
although in some districts of Brazil there are campos hundreds of miles
in extent.

A small stream meandered through the forest and enabled them to refresh
themselves frequently; which was very fortunate, for the heat,
especially towards noon, became extremely intense, and they could not
have existed without water.  So great, indeed, was the heat about
mid-day, that, by mutual consent, they resolved to seek the cool shade
of a spreading tree, and try to sleep if possible.  At this time they
learned, to their surprise, that all animated nature did likewise, and
sought repose at noon.  God had implanted in the breast of every bird
and insect in that mighty forest an instinct which taught it to rest and
find refreshment during the excessive heat of mid-day; so that during
the space of two or three hours, not a thing with life was seen, and not
a sound was heard.  Even the troublesome mosquitoes, so active at all
other times, day and night were silent now.  The change was very great
and striking, and difficult for those who have not observed it to
comprehend.  All the forenoon, screams, and cries, and croaks, and
grunts, and whistles, ring out through the woods incessantly; while, if
you listen attentively, you hear the low, deep, and never-ending buzz
and hum of millions upon millions of insects, that dance in the air and
creep on every leaf and blade upon the ground.  About noon all this is
hushed.  The hot rays of the sun beat perpendicularly down upon what
seems a vast untenanted solitude, and not a single chirp breaks the
death-like stillness of the great forest, with the solitary exception of
the metallic note of the uruponga, or bell-bird, which seems to mount
guard when all the rest of the world has gone to sleep.  As the
afternoon approaches they all wake up, refreshed by their siesta, active
and lively as fairies, and ready for another spell of work and another
deep-toned noisy chorus.

The country through which our adventurers travelled, as evening
approached, became gradually more hilly, and their march consequently
more toilsome.  They were just about to give up all thought of
proceeding farther that night, when, on reaching the summit of a little
hill, they beheld a bright red light shining at a considerable distance
in the valley beyond.  With light steps and hearts full of hope they
descended the hill and hastened towards it.



CHAPTER NINE.

THE HERMIT.

It was now quite dark, and the whole country seemed alive with
fire-flies.  These beautiful little insects sat upon the trees and
bushes, spangling them as with living diamonds, and flew about in the
air like little wandering stars.  Barney had seen them before, in the
West Indies, but Martin had only heard of them; and his delight and
amazement at their extreme brilliancy were very great.  Although he was
naturally anxious to reach the light in the valley, in the hope that it
might prove to proceed from some cottage, he could not refrain from
stopping once or twice to catch these lovely creatures; and when he
succeeded in doing so, and placed one on the palm of his hand, the light
emitted from it was more brilliant than that of a small taper, and much
more beautiful, for it was of a bluish colour, and very intense,--more
like the light reflected from a jewel than a flame of fire.  He could
have read a book by means of it quite easily.

In half an hour they drew near to the light, which they found proceeded
from the window of a small cottage or hut.

"Whist, Martin," whispered Barney, as they approached the hut on tiptoe;
"there may be savages into it, an' there's no sayin' what sort o'
craturs they are in them parts."

When about fifty yards distant, they could see through the open window
into the room where the light burned; and what they beheld there was
well calculated to fill them with surprise.  On a rude wooden chair, at
a rough unpainted table, a man was seated, with his head resting on his
hand, and his eyes fixed intently on a book.  Owing to the distance, and
the few leaves and branches that intervened between them and the hut,
they could not observe him very distinctly.  But it was evident that he
was a large and strong man, a little past the prime of life.  The hair
of his head and beard was black and bushy, and streaked with
silver-grey.  His face was massive, and of a dark olive complexion, with
an expression of sadness on it strangely mingled with stern gravity.
His broad shoulders--and, indeed, his whole person--were enveloped in
the coarse folds of a long gown or robe, gathered in at the waist with a
broad band of leather.

The room in which he sat--or rather the hut, for there was but one room
in it--was destitute of all furniture, except that already mentioned,
besides one or two roughly-formed stools; but the walls were completely
covered with strange-looking implements and trophies of the chase; and
in a corner lay a confused pile of books, some of which were, from their
appearance, extremely ancient.  All this the benighted wanderers
observed as they continued to approach cautiously on tiptoe.  So
cautious did they become as they drew near, and came within the light of
the lamp, that Barney at length attempted to step over his own shadow
for fear of making a noise; and, in doing so, tripped and fell with
considerable noise through a hedge of prickly shrubs that encircled the
strange man's dwelling.

The hermit--for such he appeared to be--betrayed no symptom of surprise
or fear at the sudden sound; but rising quietly, though quickly, from
his seat took down a musket that hung on the wall, and, stepping to the
open door, demanded sternly, in the Portuguese language, "Who goes
there?"

"Arrah, then, if ye'd help a fellow-cratur to rise, instead o' talkin'
gibberish like that, it would be more to your credit!" exclaimed the
Irishman, as he scrambled to his feet and presented himself, along with
Martin, at the hermit's door.

A peculiar smile lighted up the man's features as he retreated into the
hut and invited the strangers to enter.

"Come in," said he, in good English, although with a slightly foreign
accent.  "I am most happy to see you.  You are English.  I know the
voice and the language very well.  Lived among them once, but long time
past now--very long.  Have not seen one of you for many years."

With many such speeches, and much expression of good-will, the
hospitable hermit invited Martin and his companion to sit down at his
rude table, on which he quickly spread several plates of ripe and dried
fruits, a few cakes, and a jar of excellent honey, with a stone bottle
of cool water.  When they were busily engaged with these viands, he
began to make inquiries as to where his visitors had come from.

"We've comed from the sae," replied Barney, as he devoted himself to a
magnificent pine-apple.  "Och but yer victuals is mighty good, Mister--
what's yer name?--'ticklerly to them that's a'most starvin'."

"The fact is," said Martin, "our ship has been taken by pirates, and we
two swam ashore, and lost ourselves in the woods; and now we have
stumbled upon your dwelling, friend, which is a great comfort."

"Hoigh, an' that's true," sighed Barney, as he finished the last slice
of the pine-apple.

They now explained to their entertainer all the circumstances attending
the capture of the Firefly, and their subsequent adventures and
vicissitudes in the forest; all of which Barney detailed in a most
graphic manner, and to all of which their new friend listened with grave
attention and unbroken silence.  When they had concluded he said,--"Very
good.  You have seen much in very short time.  Perhaps you shall see
more by-and-by.  For the present you will go to rest, for you must be
fatigued.  I will _think_ to-night,--to-morrow I will _speak_."

"An', if I may make so bould," said Barney, glancing with a somewhat
rueful expression round the hard earthen floor of the hut, "whereabouts
may I take the liberty o' sleepin'?"

The hermit replied by going to a corner, whence, from beneath a heap of
rubbish, he dragged two hammocks, curiously wrought in a sort of light
net-work.  These he slung across the hut at one end, from wall to wall,
and, throwing a sheet or coverlet into each, he turned with a smile to
his visitors,--"Behold your beds!  I wish you a very good sleep,--
adios!"

So saying, this strange individual sat down at the table, and was soon
as deeply engaged with his large book as if he had suffered no
interruption; while Martin and Barney, having gazed gravely and
abstractedly at him for five minutes, turned and smiled to each other,
jumped into their hammocks, and were soon buried in deep slumber.



CHAPTER TEN.

AN ENEMY IN THE NIGHT--THE VAMPIRE BAT--THE HERMIT DISCOURSES ON
STRANGE, AND CURIOUS, AND INTERESTING THINGS.

Next morning Martin Rattler awoke with a feeling of lightness in his
head, and a sensation of extreme weakness pervading his entire frame.
Turning his head round to the right he observed that a third hammock was
slung across the further end of the hut; which was, no doubt, that in
which the hermit had passed the night.  But it was empty now.  Martin
did not require to turn his head to the other side to see if Barney
O'Flannagan was there, for that worthy individual made his presence
known, for a distance of at least sixty yards all round the outside of
the hut, by means of his nose, which he was in the habit of using as a
trumpet when asleep.  It was as well that Martin did not require to look
round; for he found, to his surprise, that he had scarcely strength to
do so.  While he was wondering in a dreamy sort of manner what could be
the matter with him, the hermit entered the hut bearing a small deer
upon his shoulders.  Resting his gun in a corner of the room, he
advanced to Martin's hammock.

"My boy," he exclaimed, in surprise, "what is wrong with you?"

"I'm sure I don't know," said Martin, faintly; "I think there is
something wet about my feet."

Turning up the sheet, he found that Martin's feet were covered with
blood!  For a few seconds the hermit growled forth a number of
apparently very pithy sentences in Portuguese, in a deep guttural voice,
which awakened Barney with a start.  Springing from his hammock with a
bound like a tiger, he exclaimed, "Och! ye blackguard, would ye murther
the boy before me very nose?" and seizing the hermit in his powerful
grasp, he would infallibly have hurled him, big though he was, through
his own doorway, had not Martin cried out, "Stop, stop, Barney.  It's
all right; he's done nothing:" on hearing which the Irishman loosened
his hold, and turned towards his friend.

"What's the matter, honey?" said Barney, in a soothing tone of voice, as
a mother might address her infant son.  The hermit whose composure had
not been in the slightest degree disturbed, here said--"The poor child
has been sucked by a vampire bat."

"Ochone!" groaned Barney, sitting down on the table, and looking at his
host with a face of horror.

"Yes, these are the worst animals in Brazil for sucking the blood of men
and cattle.  I find it quite impossible to keep my mules alive, they are
so bad."

Barney groaned.

"They have killed two cows which I tried to keep here, and one young
horse--a foal you call him, I think; and now I have no cattle remaining,
they are so bad."

Barney groaned again, and the hermit went on to enumerate the wicked
deeds of the vampire-bats, while he applied poultices of certain herbs
to Martin's toe, in order to check the bleeding, and then bandaged it
up; after which he sat down to relate to his visitors, the manner in
which the bat carries on its bloody operations.  He explained, first of
all, that the vampire-bats are so large and ferocious that they often
kill horses and cattle by sucking their blood out.  Of course they
cannot do this at one meal, but they attack the poor animals again and
again, and the blood continues to flow from the wounds they make long
afterwards, so that the creatures attacked soon grow weak and die.  They
attack men, too,--as Martin knew to his cost; and they usually fix upon
the toes and other extremities.  So gentle are they in their operations,
that sleepers frequently do not feel the puncture, which they make, it
is supposed, with the sharp hooked nail of their thumb; and the
unconscious victim knows nothing of the enemy who has been draining his
blood until he awakens, faint and exhausted, in the morning.

Moreover, the hermit told them that these vampire-bats have very sharp,
carnivorous teeth, besides a tongue, which is furnished with the curious
organs, by which they suck the lifeblood of their fellow-creatures; that
they have a peculiar, leaf-like, overhanging lip; and that he had a
stuffed specimen of a bat that measured no less than two feet across the
expanded wings, from tip to tip.

"Och, the blood-thirsty spalpeen!" exclaimed Barney, as he rose and
crossed the room to examine the bat in question, which was nailed
against the wall.  "Bad luck to them, they've ruined Martin intirely."

"O no," remarked the hermit with a smile.  "It will do the boy much
good, the loss of the blood; much good, and he will not be sick at all
to-morrow."

"I'm glad to hear you say so," said Martin, "for it would be a great
bore to be obliged to lie here when I've so many things to see.  In fact
I feel better already, and if you will be so kind as to give me a little
breakfast I shall be quite well."

While Martin was speaking, the obliging hermit--who, by the way, was now
habited in a loose short hunting-coat of brown cotton,--spread a
plentiful repast upon his table; to which, having assisted Martin to get
out of his hammock, they all proceeded to do ample justice: for the
travellers were very hungry after the fatigue of the previous day; and
as for the hermit, he looked like a man whose appetite was always sharp
set, and whose food agreed with him.

They had cold meat of several kinds, and a hot steak of venison just
killed that morning, which the hermit cooked while his guests were
engaged with the other viands.  There was also excellent coffee, and
superb cream, besides cakes made of a species of coarse flour or meal,
fruits of various kinds, and very fine honey.

"Arrah! ye've the hoith o' livin' here!" cried Barney, smacking his lips
as he held out his plate for another supply of a species of meat which
resembled chicken in tenderness and flavour.  "What sort o' bird or
baste may that be, now, av' I may ask ye, Mister--what's yer name?"

"My name is Carlos," replied the hermit, gravely; "and this is the flesh
of the armadillo."

"Arms-what-o?" inquired Barney.

"_Armadillo_," repeated the hermit.  "He is very good to eat but very
difficult to catch.  He digs down so fast we cannot catch him, and must
smoke him out of his hole."

"Have you many cows?" inquired Martin, as he replenished his cup with
coffee.

"Cows?" echoed the hermit, "I have got no cows."

"Where do you get such capital cream, then?" asked Martin in surprise.

The hermit smiled.  "Ah! my friends, that cream has come from a very
curious cow.  It is from a cow that grows in the ground."

"Grows!" ejaculated his guests.

"Yes, he grows.  I will show him to you one day."

The hermit's broad shoulders shook with a quiet internal laugh.  "I will
explain a little of that you behold on my table."

"The coffee I get from the trees.  There are plenty of them here.  Much
money is made in Brazil by the export of coffee,--very much.  The cakes
are made from the mandioca-root which I grow near my house.  The root is
dried and ground into flour, which, under the general name _farina_, is
used all over the country.  It is almost the only food used by the
Indians and Negroes."

"Then there are Injins and Niggers here, are there?" inquired Barney.

"Yes, a great many.  Most of the Negroes are slaves; some of the Indians
too; and the people who are descended from the Portuguese who came and
took the country long ago, they are the masters.--Well, the honey I get
in holes in the trees.  There are different kinds of honey here; some of
it is _sour_ honey.  And the fruits and roots, the plantains, and
bananas, and yams, and cocoa-nuts, and oranges, and plums, all grow in
the forest and much more besides, which you will see for yourselves if
you stay long here."

"It's a quare country, intirely," remarked Barney, as he wiped his mouth
and heaved a sigh of contentment.  Then, drawing his hand over his chin,
he looked earnestly in the hermit's face, and, with a peculiar twinkle
in his eye, said,--"I s'pose ye couldn't favour me with the lind of a
raazor, could ye?"

"No, my friend; I never use that foolish weapon."

"Ah, well, as there's only monkeys and jaguars, and sich like to see me,
it don't much signify; but my moustaches is gittin' mighty long, for
I've been two weeks already without a shave."

Martin laughed heartily at the grave, anxious expression of his
comrade's face.  "Never mind, Barney," he said, "a beard and moustache
will improve you vastly.  Besides, they will be a great protection
against mosquitoes; for you are such a hairy monster, that when they
grow nothing of your face will be exposed except your eyes and
cheek-bones.  And now," continued Martin, climbing into his hammock
again and addressing the hermit, "since you won't allow me to go out
a-hunting to-day, I would like very much if you would tell me something
more about this strange country."

"An' may be," suggested Barney, modestly, "ye won't object to tell us
something about yersilf--how you came for to live in this quare,
solitary kind of a way."

The hermit looked gravely from one to the other, and stroked his beard.
Drawing his rude chair towards the door of the hut he folded his arms,
and crossed his legs, and gazed dreamily forth upon the rich landscape.
Then, glancing again at his guests, he said, slowly; "Yes, I will do
what you ask,--I will tell you my story."

"An', if I might make so bould as to inquire," said Barney, with a
deprecatory smile, while he drew a short black pipe from his pocket,
"have ye got such a thing as 'baccy in them parts?"

The hermit rose, and going to a small box which stood in a corner,
returned with a quantity of cut tobacco in one hand, and a cigar not far
short of a foot long in the other!  In a few seconds the cigar was going
in full force, like a factory chimney; and the short black pipe glowed
like a miniature furnace, while its owner seated himself on a low stool,
crossed his arms on his breast, leaned his back against the door-post
and smiled,--as only an Irishman can smile under such circumstances.
The smoke soon formed a thick cloud, which effectually drove the
mosquitoes out of the hut, and though which Martin, lying in his
hammock, gazed out upon the sunlit orange and coffee-trees, and tall
palms with their rich festoons of creeping-plants, and sweet-scented
flowers, that clambered over and round the hut and peeped in at the open
door and windows, while he listened to the hermit who continued for at
least ten minutes to murmur slowly, between the puffs of his cigar,
"Yes, I will do it; I will tell you my story."



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

THE HERMIT'S STORY.

"My ancestors," began the hermit, "were among the first to land upon
Brazil, after the country was taken possession of in the name of the
King of Portugal, in the year 1500.  In the first year of the century,
Vincent Vanez Pincon, a companion of the famed Columbus, discovered
Brazil; and in the next year, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, a Portuguese
commander, took possession of it in the name of the King of Portugal.
In 1503, Americus Vespucius discovered the Bay of All Saints, and took
home a cargo of Brazil-wood, monkeys and parrots; but no permanent
settlement was effected upon the shores of the new continent and the
rich treasures of this great country remained for some years longer
buried and unknown to many--for the wild Indians who lived here knew not
their value.

"It was on a dark and stormy night in the year 1510.  A group of swarthy
and naked savages encircled a small fire on the edge of the forest on
the east coast of Brazil.  The spot where their watch-fire was kindled
is now covered by the flourishing city of Bahia.  At that time it was a
wilderness.  Before them stretched the noble bay which is now termed
_Bahia de Todos Santos_,--All Saints' Bay.

"The savages talked earnestly and with excited looks as they stood upon
the shore, for the memory of the wondrous ships of the white men that
had visited them a few years before was deeply engraven on their minds;
and now, in the midst of the howling storm, another ship was seen
approaching their land.  It was a small vessel, shattered and
tempest-tossed, that drove into the Bahia de Todos Santos on that stormy
night.  Long had it battled with the waves of the Atlantic, and the
brave hearts that manned it had remained stanch to duty and strong in
hope, remembering the recent glorious example of Columbus.  But the
storm was fierce and the bark was frail.  The top-masts were broken and
the sails rent; and worst of all, just as land hove in sight and cheered
the drooping spirits of the crew, a tremendous wave dashed upon the
ship's stern and carried away the rudder.

"As they drove helplessly before the gale towards the shore, the naked
savages crowded down upon the beach and gazed in awe and astonishment at
the mysterious ship.  A few of them had seen the vessels of Americus
Vespucius and Cabral.  The rumour of the white men and their floating
castle had been wafted far and wide along the coast and into the
interior of Brazil, and with breathless wonder the natives had listened
to the strange account.  But now the vision was before them in reality.
On came the floating castle, the white foam dashing from her bows, and
the torn sails and ropes flying from her masts as she surged over the
billows and loomed through the driving spray.

"It was a grand sight to see that ship dashing straight towards the
shore at fearful speed; and those who looked on seemed to be impressed
with a vague feeling that she had power to spring upon the strand and
continue her swift career through the forest, as she had hitherto cleft
her passage through the sea.  As she approached, the savages shrank back
in fear.  Suddenly her frame trembled with a mighty shock.  A terrible
cry was borne to land by the gale, and all her masts went overboard.  A
huge wave lifted the vessel on its crest and flung her further on the
shore, where she remained firmly fixed, while the waves dashed in foam
around her and soon began to break her up.  Ere this happened, however,
a rope was thrown ashore and fastened to a rock by the natives.  By
means of this the crew were saved.  But it would have been well for
these bold navigators of Portugal if they had perished in the stormy
sea, for they were spared by the ocean, only to be murdered by the wild
savages, on whose shore they had been cast.

"All were slain save one,--Diego Alvarez Carreo, the captain of the
ship.  Before grasping the rope by which he reached the shore, he thrust
several cartridges into his bosom and caught up a loaded musket.
Wrapping the lock in several folds of cloth to keep it dry, he slid
along the rope and gained the beach in safety.  Here he was seized by
the natives, and would no doubt have been barbarously slain with his
unfortunate companions; but, being a very powerful man, he dashed aside
the foremost, and, breaking through their ranks, rushed towards the
wood.  The fleet savages, however, overtook him in an instant, and were
about to seize him when a young Indian woman interposed between them and
their victim.  This girl was the chief's daughter, and respect for her
rank induced them to hesitate for a moment; but in another instant the
Portuguese captain was surrounded.  In the scuffle that ensued, his
musket exploded, but fortunately wounded no one.  Instantly the
horrified savages fled in all directions leaving Carreo alone!

"The captain was quick-witted.  He knew that among hundreds of savages
it was madness to attempt either to fight or fly, and the happy effect
of the musket explosion induced him to adopt another course of action.
He drew himself up proudly to his full height, and beckoned the savages
to return.  This they did, casting many glances of fear at the dreaded
musket.  Going up to one who, from his bearing and ornaments, seemed to
be a chief, Carreo laid his musket on the sand, and, stepping over it so
that he left it behind him, held out his hand frankly to the chief.  The
savage looked at him in surprise, and suffered the captain to take his
hand and pat it; after which he began to examine the stranger's dress
with much curiosity.  Seeing that their chief was friendly to the white
man, the other savages hurried him to the camp-fire, where he soon
stripped off his wet clothes and ate the food which they put before him.
Thus Diego Carreo was spared.

"Next day, the Indians lined the beach and collected the stores of the
wrecked vessel.  While thus employed, Carreo shot a gull with his
musket; which so astonished the natives that they regarded him with fear
and respect, amounting almost to veneration.  A considerable quantity of
powder and shot was saved from the wreck, so that the captain was
enabled to keep his ascendency over the ignorant natives; and at length
he became a man of great importance in the tribe, and married the
daughter of the chief.  He went by the name of _Caramuru_,--`The man of
fire.'  This man founded the city of Bahia.

"The coasts of Brazil began soon after this to be settled in various
places by the Portuguese; who, however, were much annoyed by the
Spaniards, who claimed a share in the rich prize.  The Dutch and English
also formed settlements; but the Portuguese still retained possession of
the country, and continued to prosper.  Meanwhile Diego Caramuru, `the
man of fire,' had a son who in course of time became a prosperous
settler; and as his sons grew up he trained them to become cultivators
of the soil and traders in the valuable products of the New World.  He
took a piece of ground, far removed from the spot where his father had
been cast ashore, and a short distance in the interior of the country.
Here the eldest sons of the family dwelt laboured, and died, for many
generations.

"In the year 1808 Portugal was invaded by Napoleon Buonaparte, and the
sovereign of that kingdom, John the Sixth, fled to Brazil, accompanied
by his court and a large body of emigrants.  The king was warmly
received by the Brazilians, and immediately set about improving the
condition of the country.  He threw open its ports to all nations; freed
the land from all marks of colonial dependence; established newspapers;
made the press free, and did everything to promote education and
industry.  But although much was done, the good was greatly hindered,
especially in the inland districts, by the vice, ignorance, and
stupidity of many of the Roman Catholic priests, who totally neglected
their duties,--which, indeed, they were incompetent to perform,--and in
many instances, were no better than miscreants in disguise, teaching the
people vice instead of virtue.

"Foremost among the priests who opposed advancement, was a descendant of
the `man of fire.'  Padre Caramuru dwelt for some years with an English
merchant in the capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro.  The padre was not an
immoral man, but he was a fiery bigot and fiercely opposed everything
that tended to advance the education of the people.  This he did, firmly
believing that education was dangerous to the lower orders.  His church
taught him, too, that the Bible was a dangerous book; and whenever a
copy fell into his hands he immediately destroyed it.  During the
disturbances that took place after the time of King John's departure for
Portugal, and just before Brazil became an independent state under his
son, the Emperor Don Pedro the First, Padre Caramuru lost a beloved and
only brother.  He was quite a youth, and had joined the army only a few
months previously, at the desire of his elder brother the padre, who was
so overwhelmed by the blow that he ceased to take an active part in
church or political affairs and buried himself in a retired part of his
native valley.  Here he sought relief and comfort in the study of the
beauties of Nature, by which he was surrounded, but found none.

"Then he turned his mind to the doctrines of his church, and took
pleasure in verifying them from the Bible.  But, as he proceeded, he
found, to his great surprise, that these doctrines were, many of them,
not to be found there; nay, further, that some of them were absolutely
contradicted by the word of God.

"Padre Caramuru had been in the habit of commanding his people not to
listen to the Bible when any one offered to read it; but in the Bible
itself he found these words, `Search the Scriptures.'  He had been in
the habit of praying to the Virgin Mary, and begging her to intercede
with God for him; but in the Bible he found these words: `There is one
mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.'  These things
perplexed him much.  But while he was thus searching, as it were, for
silver, the ignorant padre found gold!  He found that he did not require
to _work_ for salvation, but to _ask_ for it.  He discovered that the
atonement had been made once for all by Jesus Christ the Lamb of God;
and he read with a thrilling heart these words: `God so loved the world,
that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life.'

"Long and earnestly did the padre ponder these words and pray over them;
and gradually the Holy Spirit enlightened his mind, and he saw how
hateful that system was which could forbid or discourage the reading of
the blessed word of God.  He soon resolved to forsake the priesthood.
But when he had done so, he knew not what to turn his hand to.  He had
no one like-minded to consult with, and he felt that it was wrong to eat
the bread of idleness.  Being thus uncertain what to do, he resolved in
the meantime to carry goods into the interior of the country, and offer
them for sale.  The land round his dwelling and his own gun would supply
him with food; and for the rest, he would spend his time in the study of
the Bible, and seek for more light and direction from God.

"Such," continued the hermit, "is a slight sketch of the history of my
country and of myself."

"Yourself?" exclaimed Martin.

"Yes.  I am the Padre Caramuru, or rather I _was_.  I am Padre no
longer, but Senhor Carlos Caramuru, a merchant.  Yet I know not what to
do.  When I look round upon my country, and see how they know not the
precious word of God, my heart burns in me, and I sometimes think that
it is my duty to go forth and preach."

"No doubt ye are right," said Barney.  "I've always bin of opinion that
when a man feels very strong in his heart on any partic'lar subject it's
a sure sign that the Almighty intends him to have something more to do
with that subject than other men who don't feel about it at all."

The hermit remained silent for a few minutes.  "I think you are right,
friend," he said; "but I am very ignorant yet.  I have no one to explain
difficulties to me; and I fear to go about preaching, lest I should
preach what is not true.  I will study yet for a time, and pray.  After
that perhaps, I may go forth."

"But you have told us nothing yet about the trade of the country," said
Martin, "or its size, or anything of that sort."

"I will soon tell you of that, when I have lighted another cigar.  This
one does not draw well.  Have you got a full pipe still, my friend?"

"All right, Mr Carrymooroo," replied Barney, knocking out the ashes.
"I'll jist load wance more, and then,--fire away."

In a few minutes the big cigar and short pipe were in full play, and the
hermit continued:--

"This country is very large and very rich, but it is not well worked.
The people are lazy, many of them, and have not much enterprise.  Much
is done, no doubt; but very much more _might_ be done.

"The empire of Brazil occupies nearly one half of the whole continent of
South America.  It is 2600 miles long, and 2500 miles broad; which, as
you know perhaps, is a little larger than all Europe.  The surface of
the country is beautiful and varied.  The hilly regions are very wild,
although none of the mountains are very high, and the woods are
magnificent; but a great part of the land consists of vast grassy
plains, which are called llanos, or campos, or silvas.  The campos along
the banks of the River Amazon are equal to six times the size of France;
and there is one great plain which lies between the Sierra Ibiapaba and
the River Tocantins which is 600 miles long by 400 miles broad.  There
are very few lakes in Brazil, and only one worth speaking of--the Lagoa
dos Platos--which is 150 miles long.  But our rivers are the finest in
the whole world, being so long, and wide, and deep, and free from falls,
that they afford splendid communication with the interior of the land.
But alas! there are few ships on these rivers yet, very few.  The rivers
in the north part of Brazil are so numerous and interlaced that they are
much like the veins in the human body; and the great River Amazon and a
few of its chief tributaries resemble the arteries.

"Then as to our produce," continued the hermit, "who can tell it all?
We export sugar, and coffee, and cotton, and gold, silver, lead, zinc,
quicksilver, and amethysts, and we have diamond mines--"

"Di'mond mines!" echoed Barney; "och, but I would like for to see them.
Sure they would sparkle most beautiful.  Are they far off, Mr
Carrymooroo?"

"Yes, very far off.  Then we export dye-woods, and cabinet-woods, and
drugs, and gums, and hides,--a great many hides, for the campos are full
of wild cattle, and men hunt them on horseback, and catch them with a
long rope called the _lasso_."

"How I should like to have a gallop over these great plains," murmured
Martin.

"Then we have," continued the hermit, "rice, tapioca, cocoa, maize,
wheat, mandioca, beans, bananas, pepper, cinnamon, oranges, figs,
ginger, pine-apples, yams, lemons, mangoes, and many other fruits and
vegetables.  The mandioca you have eaten in the shape of farina.  It is
very good food; one acre gives as much nutriment as six acres of wheat.

"Of the trees you have seen something.  There are thousands of kinds,
and most magnificent.  Some of them are more than thirty feet round
about.  There are two hundred different kinds of palms, and so thick
stand the giant trees in many places, with creeping-plants growing
between, that it is not possible for man to cut his way through the
forests in some parts.  Language cannot describe the grandeur and glory
of the Brazilian forests.

"We have numbers of wild horses, and hogs, and goats; and in the woods
are tiger-cats, jaguars, tapirs, hyenas, sloths, porcupines, and--but
you have seen many things already.  If you live you will see more.  I
need not tell you of these things; very soon I will show you some.

"The population of my country consists of the descendants of Portuguese
settlers, native Indians, and Negroes.  Of the latter, some are free,
some slaves.  The Indians go about nearly naked.  Most of them are in a
savage state: they paint their skins, and wear gaudy ornaments.  The
religion of the country is Roman Catholic, but all religions are
tolerated; and I have much hope for the future of Brazil, in spite of
the priests."

"And do ye git much out o' the di'mond mines?" inquired Barney, whose
mind was running on this subject.

"O yes, a great deal.  Every year many are got, and Government gets
one-fifth of the value of all the gold and diamonds found in the
country.  One diamond was found a short time ago which was worth 40,000
pounds."

"Ye don't say so!" exclaimed Barney in great surprise, as he blew an
immense cloud of smoke from his lips.  "Now, that's extror'nary.  Why
don't everybody go to the mines and dig up their fortin at wance?"

"Because men cannot _eat_ diamonds," replied the hermit gravely.

"Troth, I niver thought o' that; ye're right."

Martin laughed heartily as he lay in his hammock and watched his
friend's expression while pondering this weighty subject.

"Moreover," resumed the hermit, "you will be surprised to hear that
diamond and gold finding is not the most profitable employment in the
country.

"The man who cultivates the ground is better off than anybody.  It, is a
fact a very great fact, a fact that you should get firmly fixed in your
memory--that in less than _two years_ the exports of sugar and coffee
amounted to more than the value of all the diamonds found in _eighty_
years.  Yes, that is true.  But the people of Brazil are not well off.
They have everything that is necessary to make a great nation; but we
are not a great nation, far from it."  The hermit sighed deeply as he
ceased speaking, and fell into an abstracted frame of mind.

"It's a great country intirely," said Barney, knocking the ashes out of
his pipe, and placing that much-loved implement carefully in his pocket;
"a great country, but there's a tremendous big screw loose somewhere."

"It seems curious to me," said Martin, in a ruminating tone of voice,
"that people should not get on better in a country, in which there is
everything that man can desire, to make him rich and happy.  I wonder
what it wants; perhaps it's too hot and the people want energy of
character."

"Want energy!" shouted the hermit leaping from his seat, and regarding
his guests for a few moments with a stern expression of countenance;
then, stretching forth his hand, he continued, in an excited tone:
"Brazil does not want energy; it has only one want,--it wants the Bible!
When a country is sunk down in superstition and ignorance and moral
depravity, so that the people know not right from wrong, there is only
one cure for her,--the Bible.  Religion here is a mockery and a shame;
such as, if it were better known, would make the heathen laugh in scorn.
The priests are a curse to the land, not a blessing.  Perhaps they are
better in other lands,--I know not; but well I know they are, many of
them, false and wicked here.  No truth is taught to the people,--no
Bible is read in their ears; religion is not taught,--even morality is
not taught; men follow the devices and desires of their own hearts, and
there is no voice raised to say, `You are doing wrong.'  My country is
sunk very low; and she cannot hope to rise, for the word of her Maker is
not in her hand.  True, there are a few, a very few Bibles in the great
cities; but that is all: that cannot save her hundreds of towns and
villages.  Thousands of her people are slaves in body,--all, all are
slaves in soul; and yet you ask me what she wants.  Ha! she wants
_truth_, she wants to be purged of falsehood.  She has bones and
muscles, and arteries and veins,--everything to make a strong and
healthy nation; but she wants blood,--she has no vital stream; yes,
Brazil, my country, wants the Bible!"



CHAPTER TWELVE.

A HUNTING EXPEDITION, IN WHICH ARE SEEN STONES THAT CAN RUN, AND COWS
THAT REQUIRE NO FOOD--BESIDES A DESPERATE ENCOUNTER WITH A JAGUAR, AND
OTHER STRANGE THINGS.

For many weeks Martin Rattler and his friend Barney O'Flannagan
continued to dwell with the hermit in his forest-home, enjoying his
entertaining and instructive discourse, and joining with him in the
bunting expeditions which he undertook for the purpose of procuring
fresh food for his table.  In these rambles they made constant
discoveries of something new and surprising, both in reference to the
vegetables and animals of that extraordinary region of the earth.  They
also had many adventures,--some amusing and some terrible,--which we
cannot enlarge on here, for they would fill ten volumes such as this,
were they to be all recorded in detail.

One day the hermit roused them earlier than usual, and told them to get
ready, as he intended to go a considerable distance that day, and he
wished to reach a particular spot before the heat of noon.  So Martin
and Barney despatched breakfast in as short a time as possible, and the
hermit read them a chapter out of his large and well-thumbed Bible,
after which they equipped themselves for the chase.

When Martin and his friend escaped from the pirates, and landed on the
coast of Brazil, they were clothed in sailor-like costume, namely, white
duck trousers, coloured flannel shirts, blue jackets, round straw-hats,
and strong shoes.  This costume was not very suitable for the warm
climate, in which they now found themselves, so their hospitable friend
the hermit gave them two loose light cotton coats or jackets, of a blue
colour, and broad-brimmed straw-hats similar to his own.  He also gave
them two curious garments called _ponchos_.  The poncho serves the
purpose of cloak and blanket.  It is simply a square dark-coloured
blanket with a hole in the middle of it, through which the head is
thrust in rainy weather, and the garment hangs down all round.  At night
the poncho is useful as a covering.  The hermit wore a loose open
hunting-coat and underneath it a girdle, in which was a long sharp knife
and a brace of pistols.  His trousers were of blue-striped cotton.  He
usually carried a double-barrelled gun over his shoulder, and a
powder-horn and bullet-bag were slung round his neck.  Barney now
procured from this hospitable man a supply of powder and shot for his
large brass-mounted cavalry pistol.  The hermit also made him a present
of a long hunting-knife; and he gave one of a smaller size to Martin.
As Martin had no weapon, the hermit manufactured for him a stout bow and
quiver full of arrows; with which, after some practice, he became
reasonably expert.

Thus armed they sallied forth, and, following the foot-path that
conducted from the door of the hut to the brow of the hill opposite,
they were soon buried in the shades of the great forest.  On this
particular morning Barney observed that the hermit carried with him a
stout spear, which he was not usually in the habit of doing.  Being of
an inquisitive disposition, he inquired the reason of his taking it.

"I expect to find a jaguar to-day," answered the hermit.  "I saw him
yesterday go down into the small valley, in which my cows grow.  I will
show you my cows soon, Martin."

The hermit stopped short suddenly as he spoke, and pointed to a large
bird, about fifty yards in advance of them.  It seemed to bear a
particular ill-will to a round rough stone which it pecked most
energetically.  After a few minutes the bird ceased its attacks and flew
off; whereupon the rough stone opened itself out, and, running quickly
away, burrowed into a little hole and disappeared!

"That is an armadillo," remarked the hermit, continuing to lead the way
through the woods; "it is covered with a coat of mail, as you see; and
when enemies come it rolls itself up like a ball and lies like a hard
stone till they go away.  But it has four little legs, and with them it
burrows so quickly that we cannot dig it up, and must smoke it out of
its hole,--which I do often, because it is very good to eat, as you very
well know."

While they continued thus to walk through the woods conversing, Martin
and Barney were again interested and amused by the immense number of
brilliant parrots and toucans which swooped about, chattering from tree
to tree, in large flocks.  Sometimes thirty or forty of the latter would
come screaming through the woods and settle upon the dark-green foliage
of a coffee-tree; the effect of which was to give the tree the
appearance of having been suddenly loaded with ripe golden fruit.  Then
the birds would catch sight of the travellers, and fly screaming away,
leaving the tree dark-green and fruitless as before.  The little green
parrots were the most outrageously noisy things that ever lived.  Not
content with screaming when they flew, they continued to shriek,
apparently with delight while they devoured the seeds of the gorgeous
sun-flowers: and, more than once, Martin was prompted to scatter a
handful of stones among them, as a hint to be less noisy; but this only
made them worse,--like a bad baby, which, the more you tell it to be
quiet, sets to work the more earnestly to increase and add to the vigour
of its roaring.  So Martin wisely let the parrots alone.  They also
startled, in passing through swampy places, several large blue herons,
and long-legged cranes: and on many of the trees they observed the
curious hanging nests of a bird, which the hermit told them was the
large oriole.  These nests hung in long strings from the tops of the
palm-trees, and the birds were very actively employed moving about and
chattering round their swinging villages: on seeing which Martin could
not help remarking that it would astonish the colony not a little, if
the top house were to give way and let all the mansions below come
tumbling to the ground!

They were disappointed, however, in not seeing monkeys gambolling among
the trees, as they had expected.

"Ah! my friends," said the hermit, "travellers in my country are very
often disappointed.  They come here expecting to see everything all at
once; but although there are jaguars, and serpents, and bears, and
monkeys, plenty of them, as your ears can tell you, these creatures keep
out of the sight of man as much as possible.  They won't come out of the
woods and show themselves to please travellers!  You have been very
lucky since you arrived.  Many travellers go about for months together
and do not see half so much as you."

"That's thrue," observed Barney, with his head a little on one side, and
his eyes cast up in a sort of meditative frown, as if he were engaged in
subjecting the hermit's remarks to a process of severe philosophical
contemplation; "but I would be very well plazed av' the wild bastes
would show themselves now and then, for--"

Martin Rattler burst into a loud laugh, for Barney's upward glance of
contemplation was suddenly transformed into a gaze of intense
astonishment, as he beheld the blue countenance of a large red monkey
staring down upon him from amid the branches of an overhanging tree.
The monkey's face expressed, if possible, greater surprise than that of
the Irishman, and its mouth was partially open and thrust forward in a
sort of threatening and inquiring manner.  There seemed to be some bond
of sympathy between the monkey and the man, for while _its_ mouth opened
_his_ mouth opened too.

"A-a-a-a-a-ah!" exclaimed the monkey.  A facetious smile overspread
Barney's face--

"Och! be all manes; the same to you, kindly," said he, taking off his
hat and making a low bow.

The civility did not seem to be appreciated, however; for the monkey put
on a most indignant frown and displayed a terrific double-row of long
brilliant teeth and red gums, while it uttered a shriek of passion,
twisted its long tail round a branch, and hurled itself, with a motion
more like that of a bird than a beast, into the midst of the tree and
disappeared, leaving Martin and Barney and the hermit, each with a very
broad grin on his countenance.

The hunters now arrived at an open space where there were several large
umbrageous trees, and as it was approaching mid-day they resolved to
rest here for a couple of hours.  Birds and insects were gradually
becoming more and more silent and soon afterwards the only sounds that
broke upon their ears were the curious metallic notes of the urupongas,
or bell-birds; which were so like to the rapid beating of a smith's
hammer on an anvil, that it was with the greatest difficulty Barney was
restrained from going off by himself in search of the "smiddy."  Indeed
he began to suspect that the worthy hermit was deceiving him, and was
only fully convinced at last when he saw one of the birds.  It was pure
white, about the size of a thrush, and had a curious horn or fleshy
tubercle upon its head.

Having rested and refreshed themselves, they resumed their journey a
short time before the noisy inhabitants of the woods recommenced their
active afternoon operations.

"Hallo! what's that?" cried Barney, starting back and drawing his
pistol, while Martin hastily fitted an arrow to his bow.

Not ten paces in front of them a frightful monster ran across their
path, which seemed so hideous to Martin, that his mind instantly
reverted to the fable of Saint George and the Dragon, and he almost
expected to see fire issuing from its mouth.  It was a huge lizard, with
a body about three feet long, covered with bright scales.  It had a
long, thick tail.  Its head was clumsy and misshapen, and altogether its
aspect was very horrible.  Before either Martin or Barney could fire,
the hermit dropped his gun and spear, sprang quickly forward, caught the
animal by the tail, and, putting forth his great strength to the utmost,
swung it round his head and dashed its brains out against a tree.

Barney and Martin could only stare with amazement.

"This we call an iguana," said the hermit as he piled a number of heavy
stones on the carcase to preserve it from other animals.  "It is very
good to eat--as good as chicken.  This is not a very big one; they are
sometimes five feet long, but almost quite harmless,--not venomous at
all; and the only means he has to defend himself is the tail, which is
very powerful, and gives a tremendously hard blow; but, as you see, if
you catch him quick, he can do nothing."

"It's all very well for you, or even Barney here, to talk of catching
him by the tail," said Martin, smiling; "but it would have puzzled me to
swing that fellow round my head."

"Arrah! ye're right, boy; I doubt if I could have done it mesilf," said
Barney.

"No fear," said the hermit patting Martin's broad shoulders as he passed
him and led the way; "you will be strong enough for that very soon,--as
strong as me in a year or two."

They now proceeded down into a somewhat dark and closely wooded valley,
through which meandered a small rivulet.  Here they had some difficulty
in forcing their way through the dense under-wood and broad leaves, most
of which seemed very strange to Martin and his comrade, being so
gigantic.  There were also many kinds of ferns, which sometimes arched
over their heads and completely shut out the view, while some of them
crept up the trees like climbing-plants.  Emerging from this, they came
upon a more open space, in the midst of which grew a number of majestic
trees.

"There are my cows!" said the hermit, pausing as he spoke, and pointing
towards a group of tall straight-stemmed trees that were the noblest in
appearance they had yet seen.  "Good cows they are," he continued, going
up to one and making a notch in the bark with his axe: "they need no
feeding or looking after, yet, as you see, they are always ready to give
me cream."

While he spoke, a thick white liquid flowed from the notch in the bark
into a cocoa-nut drinking-cup, which the hermit always carried at his
girdle.  In a few minutes he presented his visitors with a draught, of
what they declared was most excellent cream.

The masseranduba, or milk-tree, as it is called, is indeed one of the
most wonderful of all the extraordinary trees in the forests of Brazil,
and is one among many instances of the bountiful manner, in which God
provides for the wants of his creatures.  No doubt this might with equal
truth be said of all the gifts that a beneficent Creator bestows upon
mankind; but when, as in the case of this milk-tree, the provision for
our wants comes in a singular and striking manner, it seems fitting and
appropriate that we should specially acknowledge the gift as coming from
the hand of Him who giveth us all things liberally to enjoy.

The milk-tree rises with a straight stem to an enormous height, and the
fruit, about the size of a small apple, is full of rich and juicy pulp,
and is very good.  The timber, also, is hard, fine-grained, and
durable,--particularly adapted for such works as are exposed to the
weather.  But its most remarkable peculiarity is the rich vegetable milk
which flows in abundance from it when the bark is cut.  This milk is so
like to that of the cow in taste, that it can scarcely be distinguished
from it, having only a very slight peculiarity of flavour, which is
rather agreeable than otherwise.  In tea and coffee it has the same
effect as rich cream, and, indeed, is so thick that it requires to be
diluted with water before being used.  This milk is also employed as
glue.  It hardens when exposed to the air, and becomes very tough and
slightly elastic, and is said to be quite as good and useful as ordinary
glue.

Having partaken of as much milk as they desired, they continued their
journey a little further, when they came to a spur of the sierra, or
mountain range, that cuts through that part of the country.  Here the
ground became more rugged, but still densely covered with wood, and
rocks lay piled about in many places, forming several dark and gloomy
caverns.  The hermit now unslung his gun and advanced to the foot of a
cliff, near the further end of which there were several caves, the
mouths of which were partially closed with long ferns and masses of
luxuriant vegetation.

"Now we must be prepared," said the hermit feeling the point of his
spear.  "I think there is a jaguar here.  I saw him yesterday, and I am
quite sure he will not go away till he tries to do some mischief.  He
little knows that there is nothing here to hurt but me."  The hermit
chuckled as he said this, and resting his gun against the cliff near the
entrance to the first cave, which was a small one, he passed on to the
next.  Holding the spear in his left band, he threw a stone violently
into the cavern.  Barney and Martin listened and gazed in silent
expectation; but they only heard the hollow sound of the falling stone
as it dashed against the sides of the cave; then all was still.

"Och, then, he's off," cried Barney.

"Hush," said Martin; "don't speak till he has tried the other cave."

Without taking notice of their remarks, the hermit repeated the
experiment at the mouths of two caverns further on, with the like
result.

"Maybe the spalpeen's hidin' in the little cave where ye laid down yer
gun," suggested Barney, going towards the place as he spoke.

"Och, then, come here, friend; sure it must be the mouth of a mine, for
there's two o' the beautifulest di'monds I iver--"

Barney's speech was cut short by a low peculiar sound, that seemed like
the muttering of far-distant thunder.  At the same moment the hermit
pulled him violently back, and, placing himself in a firm attitude full
in front of the cavern, held the point of the spear advanced before him.

"Martin," he whispered, "shoot an arrow straight into that hole,--
quick!"

Martin obeyed, and the arrow whizzed through the aperture.  Instantly
there issued from it a savage and tremendous roar, so awful that it
seemed as if the very mountain were bellowing and that the cavern were
its mouth.  But not a muscle of the hermit's figure moved.  He stood
like a bronze statue,--his head thrown back and his chest advanced, with
one foot planted firmly before him and the spear pointing towards the
cave.  It seemed strange to Martin that a man should face what appeared
to him unknown danger, so boldly and calmly; but he did not consider
that the hermit knew exactly the amount of danger before him.  He knew
precisely the manner in which it would assail him, and he knew just what
was necessary to be done in order to avert it; and in the strength of
that knowledge he stood unmoved, with a slight smile upon his tightly
compressed lips.

Scarcely had the roar ceased when it was repeated with tenfold
fierceness; the bushes and fern leaves shook violently, and an enormous
and beautifully spotted jaguar shot through the air as if it had been
discharged from a cannon's mouth.  The hermit's eye wavered not; he bent
forward a hair's-breadth; the glittering spear-point touched the
animal's breast, pierced through it, and came out at its side below the
ribs.  But the force of the bound was too great for the strength of the
weapon: the handle snapped in twain, and the transfixed jaguar struck
down the hermit and fell writhing upon him!

In the excitement of the moment Barney drew his pistol from his belt and
snapped it at the animal.  It was well for the hermit at that moment
that Barney had forgotten to prime his weapon; for, although he aimed at
the jaguar's skull, there is no doubt whatever that he would have blown
out the hermit's brains.  Before he could make a second attempt, Martin
sprang towards the gun which leaned against the cliff, and, running
quickly up, he placed the muzzle close to the jaguar's ear and lodged a
bullet in its brain.  All this was done in a few seconds, and the hermit
regained his legs just as the animal fell dead.  Fortunately he was not
hurt, having adroitly avoided the sharp claws of his enemy.

"Arrah!  Mister Hermit," said Barney, wiping the perspiration from his
forehead, "it's yersilf that was well-nigh done for this time, an' no
mistake.  Did iver I see sich a spring! an' ye stud the charge jist like
a stone wall,--niver moved a fut!"

"Are you not hurt?" inquired Martin, somewhat anxiously; "your face is
all covered with blood."

"Yes, boy, but it is the blood of the jaguar; thanks to you for your
quick hand, I am not hurt at all."

The hermit washed his face in the neighbouring brook, and then proceeded
to skin the jaguar, the carcase being worthless.  After which they
retraced their steps through the woods as quickly as possible, for the
day was now far spent, and the twilight as we have before remarked, is
so short in tropical latitudes that travellers require to make sure of
reaching the end of the day's journey towards evening, unless they
choose to risk losing their way, and spending the night in the forest.

They picked up the iguana in passing; and, on reaching the spot where
the armadillo had burrowed, the hermit paused and kindled a small fire
over the hole, by means of his flint, steel, and tinder-box.  He thus
contrived to render the creature's habitation so uncomfortable that it
rushed hurriedly out; then, observing that its enemies were waiting, it
doubled its head and tail together, and became the image of a rough
stone.

"Poor thing," said Martin, as the hermit killed it; "that reminds me of
the ostrich of the desert, which, I'm told, when it is chased over the
plains by men on horseback, and finds that it cannot escape, thrusts its
head into a bush, and fancies, no doubt, that it cannot be seen,
although its great body is visible a mile off!"

"Martin," said Barney, "this arth is full o' quare craturs intirely."

"That's true, Barney; and not the least `quare' among them is an
Irishman, a particular friend of mine!"

"Hould yer tongue, ye spalpeen, or I'll put yer head in the wather!"

"I wish ye would, Barney, for it is terribly hot and mosquito-bitten,
and you couldn't have suggested anything more delightful.  But here we
are once more at our forest-home; and now for a magnificent cup of
coffee and a mandioca-cake."

"Not to mintion," added Barney, "a juicy steak of Igu Anny, an' a tender
chop o' Army Dillo."



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

MARTIN AND BARNEY CONTINUE THEIR TRAVELS, AND SEE STRANGE THINGS--AMONG
OTHERS, THEY SEE LIVING JEWELS--THEY GO TO SEE A FESTA--THEY FIGHT AND
RUN AWAY.

Martin Rattler and Barney O'Flannagan soon after this began to entertain
a desire to travel further into the interior of Brazil, and behold with
their own eyes the wonders of which they had heard so much from their
kind and hospitable friend, the hermit.  Martin was especially anxious
to see the great river Amazon, about which he entertained the most
romantic ideas,--as well he might, for there is not such another river
in the world for size, and for the many curious things connected with
its waters and its banks.  Barney, too, was smitten with an intense
desire to visit the diamond mines, which he fancied must be the most
brilliant and beautiful sight in the whole world; and when Martin asked
him what sort of place he expected to see, he used to say that he
"pictur'd in his mind a great many deep and lofty caverns, windin' in
an' out an' round about, with the sides and the floors and the ceilin's
all of a blaze with glittering di'monds, an' top'zes, an' purls, an'
what not; with Naiggurs be the dozen picking them up in handfuls.  An'
sure," he would add, "if we was wance there, we could fill our pockets
in no time, an' then, hooray for ould Ireland! an' live like Imperors
for ivermore."

"But you forget Barney, the account the hermit has given us of the
mines.  He evidently does not think that much is to be made of them."

"Och! niver mind the hermit.  There's always good luck attends Barney
O'Flannagan; an' sure if nobody wint for fear they would git nothing,
all the di'monds that iver came out o' the mines would be lyin' there
still; an' didn't he tell us there was wan got only a short time since,
worth I don't know how many thousand pounds?  Arrah! if I don't go to
the Mines an' git one the size o' me head, I'll let ye rig me out with a
long tail, an' set me adrift in the woods for a blue-faced monkey."

It so happened that this was the time when the hermit was in the habit
of setting out on one of his trading trips; and when Martin told him of
the desire that he and Barney entertained to visit the interior, he told
them that he would be happy to take them along with him, provided they
would act the part of muleteers.  To this they readily agreed, being
only too glad of an opportunity of making some return to their friend,
who refused to accept any payment for his hospitality, although Barney
earnestly begged of him to accept of his watch, which was the only
object of value he was possessed of,--and that wasn't worth much, being
made of pinchbeck, and utterly incapable of going!  Moreover, he
relieved their minds, by telling them that they would easily obtain
employment as canoe-men on the Amazon, for men were very difficult to be
got on that river to man the boats; and if they could stand the heat,
and were willing to work like Indians, they might travel as far as they
pleased.  To which Martin replied, in his ignorance, that he thought he
could stand anything; and Barney roundly asserted that, having been
burnt to a cinder long ago in the "East Injies," it was impossible to
overdo him any more.

Under these circumstances, therefore, they started three weeks later to
visit a populous town about twenty miles off, from which they set out on
their travels, with a string of heavily laden mules, crossed the low
countries or campos lying near to the sea, and began to ascend the
sierras that divide this portion of Brazil from the country which is
watered by the innumerable rivers that flow into the mighty Amazon.

The cavalcade consisted of ten mules, each with two goodly sized bales
of merchandise on its back.  They were driven and attended to by
Negroes, whose costume consisted of a light cotton shirt with short
sleeves, and a pair of loose cotton drawers reaching down to the knee.
With the exception of a straw-hat this was all they wore.  Martin, and
Barney, and the hermit each bestrode a mule, with a small bale slung on
either side; over the front of which their legs dangled comfortably.
They had ponchos with them, strapped to the mules' backs, and each
carried a clumsy umbrella to shield him from the fierce rays of the sun;
but our two adventurers soon became so hardened and used to the climate,
that they dispensed with the umbrellas altogether.

The sierra, or mountain range, over which they passed was about thirty
miles in extent, being in some places quite level and open, but in
others somewhat rugged and covered with large but thinly scattered
trees, the most common of which had fine dark-green glossy leaves, with
spikes of bright-yellow flowers terminating the branchlets.  There were
also many peculiar shrubs and flowering plants, of a sort that the
travellers had never seen the like of in their native land.

"How I wish," said Martin with a sigh, as he rode along beside his
friend Barney, "that I knew something of botany."

Barney opened his eyes in surprise.  "Arrah! it's too much of a
philosopher ye are already, lad.  What good would it do ye to know all
the hard names that men have given to the flowers?  Sure I wance wint
after the doctor o' a ship, to carry his box for him when he wint on
what he called botanical excursions; and the poor cratur used to be
pokin' his nose for iver down at the ground, an' peerin' through his
green spectacles at miserable bits o' plants, an' niver seemin' to enjoy
anything; when all the time _I_ was lookin' far fornint me, an all
around me, an' up at the sky, seein' ivery beautiful thing, and
snifterin' up the sweet smells, an' in fact enjoyin' the whole
univarse--an my pipe to boot--like an intelligent cratur."  Barney
looked round as he spoke, with a bland, self-satisfied expression of
countenance, as if he felt that he had given a lucid definition of the
very highest style of philosophy, and proved that he, Barney
O'Flannagan, was possessed of the same in no common degree.

"Well, Barney," rejoined Martin, "since you give me credit for being a
philosopher, I must continue to talk philosophically.  Your botanical
friend took a _microscopic_ view of nature, while you took a
_telescopic_ view of it.  Each view is good, but both views are better;
and I can't help wishing that I were more of a philosopher than I am,
especially in reference to botany."

"Humph!" ejaculated Barney, who seemed not quite to understand his young
friend, "yer observations are remarkably thrue, and do ye great credit,
for yer years.  Ah!  Mr Hermit, good luck to ye!  I'm glad to see that
ye've got some consideration for man and baste.  I'm quite ready for my
victuals, and so's my mule; aren't you, avic?"

Barney's latter remark was addressed to his patient charger, from whose
back he sprang as he spoke, and slackened its girths.

It was now approaching mid-day, and the hermit had pitched upon a large
tree as a fitting spot for rest and refreshment.  Water had been brought
up the mountain in a huge calabash; but they did not require to use it,
as they found a quantity in the hollow stump of a tree.  There were
several frogs swimming about in this miniature lake; but it was found to
be fresh and clear and good, notwithstanding.

Towards evening they passed a string of mules going towards the town
which they had just left.  They were driven by Negroes, most of whom
were slaves, and nearly quite naked.  A Brazilian merchant, wearing a
picturesque broad-brimmed, high-crowned straw-hat, a poncho, and brown
leather boots armed at the heels with large sharp spurs, rode at the
head, and gave the strangers a surly nod of his head as they passed.
Soon after, they descended into the plain, and came to a halt at a sort
of roadside public-house, where there was no sleeping accommodation, but
where they found an open shed in which travellers placed their goods,
and slung their hammocks, and attended to themselves.  At the venda,
close beside it, they purchased a large bag of farina, being short of
that necessary article of food, and then set to work to prepare supper
in the open air; while the merry Negroes, who seemed to enjoy life most
thoroughly, laughed and sang as they removed the bales from the mules'
backs and cooked their simple fare.

Barney's cooking propensities now came into full play; and, with the
variety of fruits and vegetables which the country afforded, he
exercised his ingenuity, and produced several dishes of so savoury a
nature that the hermit was compelled to open his eyes in amazement, and
smack his lips with satisfaction, being quite unable to express his
sentiments in words.  While thus busily and agreeably employed, they
were told by the owner of the venda that a festa was being celebrated at
a village about a league distant from where they stood.

"I should like to see it above all things," said Martin eagerly; "could
we not go?"

The hermit frowned.  "Yes, we can go, but it will be to behold folly.
Perhaps it will be a good lesson, from which much may be learned.  We
will go."

"It's not a step that I'll budge till I've finished me pipe," said
Barney, pulling away at that bosom friend with unexampled energy.  "To
smoke," he continued, winking gently with one eye, "is the first law of
nature; jist give me ten minutes more, an' I'm your man for anything."

Being a fine evening, they proceeded on foot.  In about an hour after
setting out, they approached the village, which lay in a beautiful
valley below them.  Sounds of mirth and music rose like a distant murmur
on the air, and mingled with the songs of birds and insects.  Then the
sun went down, and in a few minutes it grew dark, while the brilliant
fire-flies began their nocturnal gambols.  Suddenly a bright flame burst
over the village, and a flight of magnificent rockets shot up into the
sky, and burst in a hundred bright and variously-coloured stars, which
paled for a few seconds the lights of nature.  But they vanished in a
moment, and the clear stars shed abroad their undying lustre,--seeming,
in their quiet unfading beauty, a gentle satire on the short-lived and
garish productions of man.

"Mighty purty, no doubt," exclaimed Barney.  "Is this the Imperor's
birth-day?"

"No," replied the hermit shaking his head; "that is the way in which the
false priests amuse the people.  The poor Indian and the Negro, and,
indeed, the ignorant Brazilian, thinks it very grand; and the priests
let them think it is pleasing to the God of heaven.  Ah! here comes an
old Negro; we will ask him."

Several country people, in varied and picturesque costumes, hurried past
the travellers towards the village; and as they came to a foot-path that
joined the road, an old Negro approached them.  Saluting him in the
Portuguese language, the hermit said, "Friend, why do they let off
rockets to-night?"

"Por Dios," (for God), answered the old man, looking and pointing
upwards with grave solemnity.  Without vouchsafing another word, he
hurried away.

"So they think," said the hermit, "and so they are taught by the
priests.  Music, noise, and fire-works please these ignorant people; and
so the priests, who are mostly as ignorant as the people, tell them it
is a good part of religious ceremony."

Presently a band of young girls came laughing and singing along the
road.  They were dressed in pure white, their rich black tresses being
uncovered and ornamented with flowers, and what appeared to be bright
jewels.

"Hallo!" exclaimed Martin, gazing after them; "what splendid jewels!
surely these must be the daughters of very rich people."

"Och, but they've been at the di'mond mines for certain!  Did iver ye
sae the like?"

The girls did indeed seem to blaze with jewels, which not only sparkled
in their hair, but fringed their white robes, and were worked round the
edges of their slippers; so that a positive light shone around their
persons, and fell upon the path like a halo, giving them more the
appearance of lovely supernatural beings than the daughters of earth.

"These jewels," said the hermit, "were never polished by the hands of
men.  They are fire-flies."

"Fire-flies!" exclaimed Martin and Barney simultaneously.

"Yes, they are living fire-flies.  The girls very often catch them and
tie them up in little bits of gauze, and put them, as you see, on their
dresses and in their hair.  To my mind they seem more beautiful far than
diamonds.  Sometimes the Indians, when they travel at night, fix
fire-flies to their feet and so have good lamps to their path."

While Barney was expressing his surprise at this information, in very
racy language, they entered the village; and, mingling with the throng
of holiday-keepers, followed the stream towards the grand square.

The church, which seemed to be a centre of attraction, and was
brilliantly illuminated, was a neat wooden building with two towers.
The streets of the village were broad and straggling; and so luxuriant
was the vegetation, and so lazy the nature of the inhabitants, that it
seemed as if the whole place were overgrown with gigantic weeds.  Shrubs
and creeping-plants grew in the neglected gardens, climbed over the
palings, and straggled about the streets.  Plants grew on the tops of
the houses, ferns peeped out under the eaves; and, in short, on looking
at it, one had the feeling that ere long the whole place, people and
all, must be smothered in superabundant vegetation!

The houses were all painted white or yellow, with the doors and windows
bright green,--just like grown-up toys; and sounds of revelry, with now
and then the noise of disputation, issued from many of them.

It is impossible to describe minutely the appearance of the motley
crowd, through which our adventurers elbowed their way, gazing curiously
on the strange scene, which seemed to them more like a dream than
reality, after their long sojourn in the solitudes of the forest.
Processions headed by long-robed priests with flambeaux and crucifixes;
young girls in light costumes and long white cotton shawls, selling
sweet cakes of mandioca flour, and bonbons; swarthy Brazilians, some in
white jackets, loose cotton drawers, and straw-hats, others in brown
leather boots and ponchos; Negroes in short white drawers and shifts,
besides many without any clothing above their waists; Indians from the
interior, copper-coloured, and some of them, fine-looking men, having
only a strip of cloth about their loins;--such were the strange crew
whose loud voices added to the whiz of rockets, squibs, crackers, guns,
and musical instruments, created a deafening noise.

In the midst of the village there was a tree of such enormous size that
it quite took our travellers by surprise.  It was a wild fig-tree,
capable of sheltering a thousand persons under its shadow!  Here a
spirited fandango was going on, and they stood for some time watching
the movements of the performers.  Growing tired of this, they wandered
about until they came to a less crowded part of the village, and entered
a pleasant grove of trees, skirting the road by which they had arrived.
While sauntering here, enjoying the cool night breeze and delicious
perfume of flowers, a woman uttered a piercing shriek near to them.  It
was instantly followed by loud voices in altercation.  Ever ready to fly
to the help of womankind, and, generally, to assist in a "row," Barney
darted through the bushes, and came upon the scene of action just in
time to see the white skirt of a female's dress disappear down an
avenue, and to behold two Brazilians savagely writhing in mortal strife.
At the moment he came up, one of the combatants had overcome the other,
and a fierce smile of triumph crossed his swarthy countenance as he
raised his gleaming knife.

"Och, ye murtherer! would ye attimpt that same?" cried Barney, catching
the man by the wrist and hurling him on his back.  The other sprang up
on being thus unexpectedly freed, and darted away, while the thwarted
man uttered a yell of disappointment and sprang like a tiger at Barney's
throat.  A blow, however, from the Irishman's fist, quietly delivered,
and straight between the eyes, stretched the Brazilian on the ground.
At the same moment a party of men, attracted by the cries, burst through
the bushes and surrounded the successful champion.  Seeing their
countryman apparently dead upon the ground, they rushed upon Barney in a
body; but the first who came within reach was floored in an instant, and
the others were checked in their career by the sudden appearance of the
hermit and Martin Rattler.  The noise of many voices, as of people
hastening towards them, was heard at the same time.

"We have no time to lose, do as I bid you," whispered the hermit.
Whirling a heavy stick round his head the hermit shouted the single word
"Charge!" and dashed forward.

Barney and Martin obeyed.  Three Brazilians went down like ninepins; the
rest turned and fled precipitately.

"Now, run for life!" cried the hermit, setting the example.  Barney
hesitated to follow what he deemed a cowardly flight, but the yells of
the natives returning in strong force decided the question.  He and
Martin took to their heels with right good will, and in a few minutes
the three friends were far on the road which led to their night bivouac;
while the villagers, finding pursuit hopeless, returned to the village,
and continued the wild orgies of their festa.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

COGITATIONS AND CANOEING ON THE AMAZON--BARNEY'S EXPLOIT WITH AN
ALLIGATOR--STUBBORN FACTS--REMARKABLE MODE OF SLEEPING.

It is pleasant, when the sun is bright, and the trees are green, and
when flowering shrubs and sweet-smelling tropical trees scent the balmy
atmosphere at eventide, to lie extended at full length in a canoe, and
drop easily, silently, yet quickly, down the current of a noble river,
under the grateful shadow of overhanging foliage; and to look lazily up
at the bright blue sky which appears in broken patches among the verdant
leaves; or down at the river in which that bright sky and those green
leaves are reflected; or aside at the mud-banks where greedy vultures
are searching for prey, and lazy alligators are basking in the sun; and
to listen, the while, to the innumerable cries and notes of monkeys,
toucans, parrots, orioles, bemtevi or fly-catchers, white-winged and
blue chatterers, and all the myriads of birds and beasts that cause the
forests of Brazil, above all other forests in the world probably, to
resound with the gleeful songs of animated nature!

It is pleasant to be thus situated, especially when a cool breeze blows
the mosquitoes and other insects off the water, and relieves you for a
time from their incessant attacks.  Martin Rattler found it pleasant as
he thus lay on his back with his diminutive pet marmoset monkey seated
on his breast quietly picking the kernel out of a nut.  And Barney
O'Flannagan found it pleasant, as he lay extended in the bow of the
canoe with his head leaning over the edge gazing abstractedly at his own
reflected visage, while his hands trailed through the cool water, and
his young dog--a shaggy indescribable beast with a bluff nose and a
bushy tail--watched him intently, as a mother might watch an only child
in a dangerous situation.  And the old sun-dried, and storm-battered,
and time-shrivelled mulatto trader, in whose canoe they were embarked
and whose servants they had become, found it pleasant, as he sat there
perched in his little montaria, like an exceedingly ancient and
overgrown monkey, guiding it safely down the waters of the great river
of the Tocantins.

Some months have passed since we last parted from our daring
adventurers.  During that period they had crossed an immense tract of
country, and reached the head-waters of one of the many streams that
carry the surplus moisture of central Brazil into the Amazon.  Here they
found an old trader, a free mulatto, whose crew of Indians had deserted
him,--a common thing in that country,--and who gladly accepted their
services, agreeing to pay them a small wage.  And here they sorrowfully,
and with many expressions of good-will, parted from their kind friend
and entertainer the hermit.  His last gift to Martin was the wonderfully
small marmoset monkey before mentioned; and his parting souvenir to
Barney was the bluff-nosed dog that watched over him with maternal care,
and loved him next to itself;--as well it might; for if everybody had
been of the same spirit as Barney O'Flannagan, the Act for the
prevention of cruelty to animals would never have been passed in
Britain.

It was a peculiar and remarkable and altogether extraordinary monkey,
that tiny marmoset.  There was a sort of romance connected with it, too;
for it had been the mother of an indescribably small infant-monkey,
which was killed at the time of its mother's capture.  It drank coffee,
too, like--like a Frenchman; and would by no means retire to rest at
night until it had had its usual allowance.  Then it would fold its
delicate little hands on its bosom, and close its eyes with an
expression of solemn grief, as if, having had its last earthly wish
gratified, it now resigned itself to sleep.  Martin loved it deeply, but
his love was unrequited; for, strange to say, that small monkey lavished
all its affection on Barney's shaggy dog.  And the dog knew it, and was
evidently proud of it, and made no objection whatever to the monkey
sitting on his back, or his head, or his nose, or doing in fact whatever
it chose whenever it pleased.  When in the canoe, the marmoset played
with Grampus, as the dog was named; and when on shore it invariably
travelled on his back.

Martin used to lie in the canoe half asleep and watch the little face of
the marmoset, until, by some unaccountable mental process, he came to
think of Aunt Dorothy Grumbit.  Often did poor Martin dream of his dear
old aunt, while sleeping under the shelter of these strange-leaved
tropical trees and surrounded by the wild sounds of that distant land,
until he dreamed himself back again in the old village.  Then he would
rush to the well-known school, and find all the boys there except Bob
Croaker, who he felt certain must be away drowning the white kitten; and
off he would go and catch him, sure enough, in the very act, and would
give him the old thrashing over again, with all the additional vigour
acquired during his rambles abroad thrown into it.  Then he would run
home in eager haste, and find old Mrs Grumbit hard at the one thousand
nine hundred and ninety-ninth pair of worsted socks; and fat Mr Arthur
Jollyboy sitting opposite to her, dressed in the old lady's bed-curtain
chintz and high-crowned cap, with the white kitten in his arms and his
spectacles on his chin, watching the process with intense interest and
cautioning her not to forget the "hitch" by any means; whereupon the
kitten would fly up in his face, and Mr Jollyboy would dash through the
window with a loud howl, and Mrs Grumbit's face would turn blue; and,
uncoiling an enormous tail, she would bound shrieking after him in among
the trees and disappear!  Martin usually wakened at this point and found
the marmoset gazing in his face with an expression of sorrowful
solemnity, and the old sun-dried trader staring vacantly before him as
he steered his light craft down the broad stream of the Tocantins.

The trader could speak little more English than sufficed to enable him
to say "yes" and "no;" Barney could speak about as much Portuguese as
enabled him to say "no" and "yes;" while Martin, by means of a slight
smattering of that language, which he had picked up by ear during the
last few months, mixed now and then with a word or two of Latin, and
helped out by a clever use of the language of signs, succeeded in
becoming the link of communication between the two.

For many weeks they continued to descend the river; paddling
energetically when the stream was sluggish, and resting comfortably when
the stream was strong, and sometimes dragging their canoe over rocks and
sand-banks to avoid rapids--passing many villages and plantations of the
natives by the way--till at last they swept out upon the bosom of the
great Amazon River.

The very first thing they saw upon entering it was an enormous
alligator, fully eighteen feet long, sound asleep on a mud-bank.

"Och! put ashore, ye Naygur," cried Barney, seizing his pistol and
rising up in the bow of the canoe.  The old man complied quickly, for
his spirit was high and easily roused.

"Look out now, Martin, an' hould back the dog for fear he wakes him up,"
said Barney, in a hoarse whisper, as he stepped ashore and hastened
stealthily towards the sleeping monster; catching up a handful of gravel
as he went, and ramming it down the barrel of his pistol.  It was a
wonderful pistol that--an Irish one by birth, and absolutely incapable
of bursting, else assuredly it would have gone, as its owner said, to
"smithereens" long ago.

Barney was not a good stalker.  The alligator awoke and made for the
water as fast as it could waddle.  The Irishman rushed forward close up,
as it plunged into the river, and discharged the compound of lead and
stones right against the back of its head.  He might as well have fired
at the boiler of a steam-engine.  The entire body of an alligator--back
and belly, head and tail--is so completely covered with thick hard
scales, that shot has no effect on it; and even a bullet cannot pierce
its coat of mail, except in one or two vulnerable places.  Nevertheless
the shot had been fired so close to it that the animal was stunned, and
rolled over on its back in the water.  Seeing this, the old trader
rushed in up to his chin, and caught it by the tail; but at the same
moment the monster recovered, and, turning round, displayed its terrific
rows of teeth.  The old man uttered a dreadful roar, and struggled to
the land as fast as he could; while the alligator, equally frightened,
no doubt, gave a magnificent flourish and splash with its tail, and
dived to the bottom of the river.

The travellers returned disgusted to their canoe, and resumed their
journey up the Amazon in silence.

The vulnerable places about an alligator are the soft parts under the
throat and the joints of the legs.  This is well-known to the jaguar,
its mortal foe, which attacks it on land, and fastening on these soft
parts, soon succeeds in killing it; but should the alligator get the
jaguar into its powerful jaws or catch it in the water, it is certain to
come off the conqueror.

The Amazon, at its mouth, is more like a wide lake or arm of the sea
than a river.  Mention has been already made of this noble stream in the
Hermit's Story; but it is worthy of more particular notice, for truly
the Amazon is in many respects a wonderful river.  It is the largest,
though not quite the longest, in the world.  Taking its rise among the
rocky solitudes of the great mountain range of the Andes, it flows
through nearly four thousand miles of the continent in an easterly
direction, trending northward towards its mouth, and entering the
Atlantic Ocean on the northern coast of South America, directly under
the Equator.  In its course it receives the waters of nearly all the
great rivers of central South America, and thousands of smaller
tributaries; so that when it reaches the ocean its volume of water is
enormous.  Some idea may be formed of its majestic size, from the fact
that one of its tributaries--the Rio Negro--is fifteen hundred miles
long, and varying in breadth; being a mile wide not far from its mouth,
while higher up it spreads out in some places into sheets of ten miles
in width.  The Madeira, another tributary, is also a river of the
largest size.  The Amazon is divided into two branches at its mouth by
the island of Marajo, the larger branch being ninety-six miles in width.
About two thousand miles from its mouth it is upwards of a mile wide.
So great is the force of this flood of water, that it flows into the sea
unmixed for nearly two hundred miles.  The tide affects the river to a
distance of about four hundred miles inland; and it is navigable from
the sea for a distance of three thousand miles inland.

On the north bank of the Amazon there are ranges of low hills, partly
bare and partly covered with thickets.  These hills vary from three
hundred to a thousand feet high, and extend about two hundred miles
inland.  Beyond them the shores of the river are low and flat, for more
than two thousand miles, till the spurs of the Andes are reached.

During the rainy season the Amazon overflows all its banks, like the
Nile, for many hundreds of miles; during which season, as Martin Rattler
truly remarked, the natives may be appropriately called aquatic animals.
Towns and villages, and plantations belonging to Brazilians, foreign
settlers, and half-civilised Indians, occur at intervals throughout the
whole course of the river; and a little trade in dye-woods,
India-rubber, medicinal drugs, Brazil nuts, coffee, etcetera, is done;
but nothing to what might and ought to be, and perhaps would be, were
this splendid country in the hands of an enterprising people.  But the
Amazonians are lazy, and the greater part of the resources of one of the
richest countries in the world is totally neglected.

"Arrah!" said Barney, scratching his head and wrinkling his forehead
intensely, as all that we have just written, and a great deal more, was
told to him by a Scotch settler whom he found superintending a cattle
estate and a saw-mill on the banks of the Amazon--

"Faix, then, I'm jist as wise now as before ye begun to spake.  I've no
head for fagures whatsumdiver; an' to tell me that the strame is
ninety-six miles long and three thousand miles broad at the mouth, and
sich like calcerlations, is o' no manner o' use, and jist goes in at wan
ear an' out at the tother."

Whereupon the Scotch settler smiled and said, "Well, then, if ye can
remember that the Amazon is longer than all Europe is broad; that it
opens up to the ocean not less than ten thousand miles of the interior
of Brazil; and that, _comparatively_ speaking, no use is made of it
whatever, ye'll remember enough to think about with profit for some time
to come."

And Barney did think about it, and ponder it, and revolve it in his
mind, for many days after, while he worked with Martin and the old
trader at the paddles of their montaria.  They found the work of
canoeing easier than had been anticipated; for during the summer months
the wind blows steadily up the river, and they were enabled to hoist
their mat-sail, and bowl along before it against the stream.

Hotels and inns there were none; for Brazil does not boast of many such
conveniences, except in the chief towns; so they were obliged, in
travelling, to make use of an empty hut or shed, when they chanced to
stop at a village, and to cook their own victuals.  More frequently,
however, they preferred to encamp in the woods--slinging their hammocks
between the stems of the trees, and making a fire sometimes, to frighten
away the jaguars, which, although seldom seen, were often heard at
night.  They met large canoes and montarias occasionally coming down the
stream, and saw them hauled up on shore, while their owners were cooking
their breakfast in the woods; and once they came upon a solitary old
Indian in a very curious position.  They had entered a small stream in
order to procure a few turtles' eggs, of which there were many in that
place buried in the sand-banks.  On turning a point where the stream was
narrow and overhung with bushes and trees, they beheld a canoe tied to
the stem of a tree, and a hammock slung between two branches overhanging
the water.  In this an old Indian lay extended, quite naked and fast
asleep!  The old fellow had grown weary with paddling his little canoe;
and, finding the thicket along the river's banks so impenetrable that he
could not land, he slung his hammock over the water, and thus quietly
took his siesta.  A flock of paroquets were screaming like little green
demons just above him, and several alligators gave him a passing glance
as they floundered heavily in the water below; but the red man cared not
for such trifles.  Almost involuntarily Martin began to hum the popular
nursery rhyme--

  "Hushy ba, baby, on the tree top;
  When the wind blows the cradle will rock."

"Arrah, if he was only two foot lower, its thirty pair o' long teeth
would be stuck into his flank in wan minute, or I'm no prophet," said
Barney, with a broad grin.

"Suppose we give him a touch with the paddle in passing," suggested
Martin.

At this moment Barney started up, shaded his eyes with his hand, and,
after gazing for a few seconds at some object ahead of the canoe, he
gave utterance to an exclamation of mingled surprise and consternation.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

THE GREAT ANACONDA'S DINNER--BARNEY GETS A FRIGHT--TURTLES' EGGS,
OMELETS AND ALLIGATORS' TAILS--SENHOR ANTONIO'S PLANTATION--PREPARATIONS
FOR A GREAT HUNT.

The object which called forth the cry from our Irish friend, as related
in the last chapter, was neither more nor less than a serpent of
dimensions more enormous than Barney had ever before conceived of.  It
was upwards of sixteen feet long, and nearly as thick as a man's body;
but about the neck it was three times that size.  This serpent was not,
indeed, of the largest size.  In South America they grow to nearly forty
feet in length.  But it was fabulously gigantic in the eyes of our
adventurers, who had never seen a serpent of any kind before.

"Oh!" cried Martin, eagerly, "that must be an anaconda.  Is it not?" he
inquired, turning to the old trader.

"Yees; it dead," was the short reply.

"So it is!" cried Martin, who, on a nearer approach, observed that the
brute's body was cut in two just below the swelling at the neck.

"Now, did ye iver," cried Barney with increased surprise, "see a sarpint
with a cow's horns growin' out at its mouth?  Put ashore, old boy; we
must have a 'vestigation o' this remarkable cratur."

The canoe was soon aground, and in another minute the three travellers
busily engaged in turning over the carcass of the huge reptile, which
they found, to the amazement of Martin and Barney, had actually
swallowed an ox whole, with the exception of the horns, which protruded
from its mouth!

After much questioning, in bad Portuguese, broken English, and
remarkable signs, Martin succeeded in drawing from the old trader the
information that anacondas of a large size are often in the habit of
thus bolting horses and oxen at a mouthful.

There is not the slightest exaggeration in this fact.  Readers who are
inclined to disbelieve it may refer to the works of Wallace and Gardner
on Brazil,--authorities which cannot be doubted.

The reptile commences by patiently watching, until an unfortunate animal
strays near to where it is lying, when it darts upon it, encircles it in
its massive coils, and crushes it to death in an instant.  Then it
squeezes the body and broken bones into a shapeless mass; after which it
licks the carcass all over, and covers it with a thick coating of
saliva.  Having thus prepared its mouthful, the anaconda begins at the
tail and gradually engulfs its victim, while its elastic jaws, and
throat, and stomach are distended sufficiently to let it in; after which
it lies in a torpid state for many weeks, till the morsel is digested,
when it is ready for another meal.  A horse goes down entire, but a cow
sticks at the horns, which the anaconda cannot swallow.  They are
allowed to protrude from its mouth until they decay and drop off.

They were at a loss at first to account for the creature being killed;
but the old trader suggested that it had been found in a torpid state,
and slain by the Indian whom they had seen a short time ago enjoying his
siesta among the trees.

Having cut it open, in order to convince themselves beyond a doubt that
it had swallowed an entire ox, Martin and the old trader re-embarked in
the canoe, and Barney was on the point of joining them when the bushes
close beside him were slightly stirred.  Looking quickly round, he
beheld the head and the glittering eyes of another anaconda, apparently
as large as the dead one, ready to dart upon him,--at least so he
fancied; but he did not wait to give it a chance.  He fled instantly,
and sprang towards the boat which he nearly upset as he leaped into it,
and pushed out into the stream.  On reaching the middle of the river
they looked back, but the anaconda was gone.

Soon after this they came to a long sandbank, where the old trader said
they should find as many turtles' eggs as they wished for, although to
Barney and Martin there seemed to be nothing on the bank at all.  The
freshwater turtle of the Amazon, of which there are various species, is
one of the most useful of reptiles.  Its flesh supplies abundance of
good food; and the eggs, besides being eaten, afford an excellent oil.
The largest species grow to the length of three feet, and have a
flattish oval shell of a dark colour, and quite smooth.  Turtles lay
their eggs about the beginning of September, when the sand-banks begin
to be uncovered.  They scrape deep holes for them, and cover them
carefully over, beating down the sand quite flat, and walking across the
place several times, for the purpose of concealment.  The eggs are then
left to be hatched by the heat of the sun.  But alas for the poor
turtles, men are too clever for them.  The eggs are collected by the
natives in thousands, and, when oil is to be made of them, they are
thrown into a canoe, smashed and mixed up together, and left to stand,
when the oil rises to the top, and is skimmed off and boiled.  It keeps
well, and is used both for lamps and cooking.  Very few of the millions
of eggs that are annually laid arrive at maturity.

When the young turtles issue forth and run to the water, there are many
enemies watching for them.  Great alligators open their jaws and swallow
them by hundreds; jaguars come out of the forests and feed upon them;
eagles and buzzards and wood-ibises are there, too, to claim their share
of the feast; and, if they are fortunate enough to escape all these,
there are many large and ravenous fishes ready to seize them in the
stream.  It seems a marvel that any escape at all.

In a few minutes the old trader scraped up about a hundred eggs, to the
immense satisfaction of Martin and Barney.  Then he took a bow and arrow
from the bottom of the montaria, and shot a large turtle in the water,
while his companions kindled a fire, intending to dine.

Only the nose of the turtle was visible above water; but the old man was
so expert in the use of the bow, that he succeeded in transfixing the
soft part of the animal's neck with an arrow, although that part was
under water.  It was a large turtle, and very fat and heavy, so that it
was with difficulty the trader lifted it upon his old shoulders and bore
it in triumph to the spot where his companions were busily engaged with
their cooking operations.  Turtles are frequently shot with the arrow by
the natives; they are also taken in great numbers with the hook and the
net.

Dinner was soon ready.  Barney concocted an immense and savoury omelet,
and the old trader cooked an excellent turtle-steak, while Martin
prepared a junk of jaguar meat, which he roasted, being curious to taste
it, as he had been told that the Indians like it very much.  It was
pretty good, but not equal to the turtle-eggs.  The shell of the egg is
leathery, and the yolk only is eaten.  The Indians sometimes eat them
raw, mixed with farina.  Cakes of farina, and excellent coffee,
concluded their repast; and Barney declared he had never had such a
satisfactory "blow out" in his life; a sentiment with which Martin
entirely agreed, and the old trader--if one might judge from the
expression of his black countenance--sympathised.

For many weeks our adventurers continued to ascend the Amazon, sometimes
sailing before the wind; at other times, when it fell calm, pushing the
montaria up the current by means of long poles, or advancing more easily
with the paddles.  Occasionally they halted for a day at the residence
of a wealthy cacao planter, in order to sell him some merchandise; for
which purpose the canoe was unloaded, and the bales were opened out for
his inspection.  Most of these planters were Brazilians, a few were
Yankee adventurers, and one or two were Scotch and English; but nearly
all had married Brazilian ladies, who, with their daughters, proved good
customers to the old trader.  Some of these ladies were extremely "purty
craturs," as Barney expressed it; but most of them were totally
uneducated and very ignorant,--not knowing half so much as a child of
seven or eight years old in more favoured lands.  They were very fond of
fine dresses and ornaments, of which considerable supplies were sent to
them from Europe and the United States, in exchange for the valuable
produce of their country.  But although their dresses were fine and
themselves elegant, their houses were generally very poor affairs--made
of wood and thatched with broad leaves; and it was no uncommon thing to
see a lady, who seemed from her gay dress to be fitted for a
drawing-room, seated on an earthen floor.  But there were all sorts of
extremes in this strange land; for at the next place they came to,
perhaps, they found a population of Negroes and Indians, and most of the
grown-up people were half naked, while all the children were entirely
so.

At one plantation, where they resolved to spend a few days, the owner
had a pond which was much frequented by alligators.  These he was in the
habit of hunting periodically, for the sake of their fat, which he
converted into oil.  At the time of their arrival, he was on the eve of
starting on a hunting expedition to the lake, which was about eight
miles distant; so Barney and Martin determined to go and "see the fun,"
as the latter said.

"Martin, lad," remarked Barney, as they followed the Negro slave who had
been sent by Senhor Antonio, the planter, to conduct them to the lake,
while he remained behind for an hour or two to examine the bales of the
old trader; "this is the quarest country, I believe, that iver was made;
what with bastes, and varmints, and riptiles, and traes, and bushes, and
rivers, it bates all creation."

"Certainly it does, Barney; and it is a pity there are so few people in
it who know how to make use of the things that are scattered all around
them.  I'm inclined to think the hermit was right when he said that they
wanted the Bible.  They are too far sunk in laziness and idleness to be
raised up by anything else.  Just look," continued Martin, glancing
round, "what a wonderful place this is!  It seems as if all the birds
and curious trees in Brazil had congregated here to meet us."

"So't does," said Barney, stopping to gaze on the scene through which
they were passing, with an expression of perplexity on his face, as if
he found the sight rather too much even for _his_ comprehension.
Besides the parrots and scarlet and yellow macaws, and other
strange-looking birds which we have elsewhere mentioned, there were
long-tailed light-coloured cuckoos flying about from tree to tree, not
calling like the cuckoo of Europe at all, but giving forth a sound like
the creaking of a rusty hinge; there were hawks and buzzards of many
different kinds, and red-breasted orioles in the bushes, and black
vultures flying overhead, and Muscovy ducks sweeping past with whizzing
wings, and flocks of the great wood-ibis sailing in the air on noiseless
pinions, and hundreds of other birds that it would require an
ornithologist to name; and myriads of insects,--especially ants and
spiders, great and small,--that no entomologist could chronicle in a
life-time: all these were heard and seen at once; while of the animals
that were heard, but not so often seen, there were black and spotted
jaguars, and pacas, and cotias, and armadillos, and deer, and many
others, that would take _pages_ to enumerate and whole books to
describe.

But the noise was the great point.  That was the thing that took Martin
and Barney quite aback, although it was by no means new to them; but
they could not get used to it.  And no wonder!  Ten thousand paroquets
shrieking passionately, like a hundred knife-grinders at work, is no
joke; especially when their melodies are mingled with the discordant
cries of herons, and bitterns, and cranes, and the ceaseless buzz and
hum of insects, like the bagpipe's drone, and the dismal croaking of
boat-bills and frogs,--one kind of which latter, by the way, doesn't
croak at all, but _whistles_, ay, better than many a bird!  The
universal hubbub is tremendous!  I tell you, reader, that you _don't_
understand it and you can't understand it; and if, after I had used the
utmost excess of exaggerated language to convey a correct impression of
the reality, you were to imagine that you really _did_ understand it,
you would be very lamentably mistaken--that's all!

Nevertheless, you must not run away with the idea that the whole empire
of Brazil is like this.  There are dark thick solitudes in these vast
forests, which are solemn and silent enough at times; and there are wide
grassy campos, and great sandy plains, where such sounds are absent.
Yet there are also thousands of such spots as I have just described,
where all nature, in earth, air, and water, is instinct with noisy
animal life.

After two hours' walk, Martin and his companion reached the lake, and
here active preparations were making for the alligator hunt.

"Is that the only place ye have to spind the night in, Sambo?" said
Barney to their conductor, as he pointed to a wooden shed near which
some fifteen or twenty Negro slaves were overhauling the fishing tackle.

"Yis, massa," answered the black, showing his white teeth; "dat is de
hottle of dis great city."  Sambo could speak a little English, having
wrought for several years on the coffee plantation of a Yankee settler.
He was a bit of a wag, too, much to the indignation of his grave master,
the Senhor Antonio, who abhorred jesting.

"Ye're too cliver, avic," said Barney, with a patronising smile; "take
care ye don't use up yer intellect too fast.  It hurts the constitution
in the long-run."

"I say, Barney," cried Martin, who had gone ahead of his companions,
"come here, man, and just look at this pond.  It's literally crammed
full of alligators."

"Musha, but there's more alligators than wather, I belave!" exclaimed
Barney.

The pond was indeed swarming with these ferocious reptiles, which were
constantly thrusting their ugly snouts above the surface and then
disappearing with a flourish of their powerful tails.  During the rainy
season this lake was much larger, and afforded ample room for its
inhabitants; but at the height of the dry season, which it was at this
time, there was little water, and it was much overstocked.  When
alligators are thus put upon short allowance of water, they frequently
bury themselves in the wet mud, and lie dormant for a long time, while
the water continues to retire and leaves them buried.  But when the
first shower of the rainy season falls, they burst open their tomb, and
drag their dry bodies to the lake or river, on whose margin they went to
sleep.

An hour or two later the Senhor Antonio arrived; but as it was getting
dark, nothing could be done until the following morning; so they slung
their hammocks under the wooden shed on the margin of the lake, and, in
order to save themselves as much as possible from the bites of the
tormenting mosquitoes, went to sleep with their heads tied up in their
handkerchiefs, and their hands thrust into their breeches pockets!  The
occasional splash and snort of contending alligators, about twenty yards
off, varied the monotony of the hours of darkness, while the frogs and
cranes and jaguars sang their lullaby.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

AN ALLIGATOR HUNT--REMARKABLE EXPLOSIONS--THE RAINY SEASON USHERED IN BY
AN AWFUL RESURRECTION.

At sunrise an expressive shout in Portuguese set the black slaves on
their feet; and, after a hasty breakfast of alligator-tail and farina,
they commenced operations.  Alligator-tail is by no means bad food, and
after the first mouthful--taken with hesitation and swallowed with
difficulty,--Martin and Barney both pronounced it "capital."  Sambo, who
had cooked the delicate morsel, and stood watching them, smacked his
lips and added, "Fuss rate."

All being now ready for the hunt, a number of Negroes entered the water,
which was nowhere very deep, with long poles in their hands.  This
appeared to Martin and Barney a very reckless and dangerous thing to do,
as no doubt it was.  Nevertheless accidents, they were told, very rarely
happened.

Sambo, who was the overseer of the party, was the first to dash up to
the middle in the water.  "Hi," exclaimed that dingy individual, making
a torrent of remarks in Portuguese, while he darted his long pole hither
and thither; then, observing that Martin and Barney were gazing at him
open mouthed, he shouted, "Look out, boys! here 'im comes!  Take care,
ole feller, or he jump right down you throat! hi-i-i!"

As he spoke, a large alligator, having been rudely stirred up from his
muddy bed, floundered on the surface of the lake, and Sambo instantly
gave it a thump over the back and a blow under the ribs; which had the
effect of driving it in the direction of the shore.  Here a number of
Negroes were ready for him; and the moment he came within reach, a coil
of rope with a noose on the end of it, called a lasso, was adroitly
thrown over the reptile's head: ten or twelve men then hauled the lasso
and dragged it ashore amid shouts of triumph.  This alligator was twenty
feet long, with an enormous misshapen head and fearful rows of teeth
that were terrible to behold.  The monster did not submit to be
captured, however, without a struggle; and the Negroes grew wild with
excitement as they yelled and leaped madly about seeking to avoid its
dangerous jaws and the blows of its powerful tail.  After some trouble,
a second lasso was thrown over the tail, which was thus somewhat
restrained in its movements; and Sambo, approaching cautiously with an
axe, cut a deep gash just at the root of that formidable appendage,
which rendered it harmless.  "Hi-i," shouted Sambo in triumph, as he
sprang towards the animal's head, and inflicted a similar gash in the
neck; "dare, you quite finish, ole feller."

"Musha but that's thrue!" ejaculated Barney, who stood staring at the
whole proceeding like one in a trance.  "Did ye iver git a bite, Sambo?"

Barney received no answer, for his sable friend was already up to his
waist in the water with five or six of his brethren, who were
flourishing their long poles and driving the snorting alligators towards
the shore, where their comrades, with lassos and harpoons, awaited them.
Sometimes they harpooned the alligators, and then, fastening lassos to
their heads and tails, or to a hind leg, dragged them ashore; at other
times they threw the lasso over their heads at once, without taking the
trouble to harpoon them.  It was a terrible and a wonderful sight to
witness the Negroes in the very midst of a shoal of these creatures, any
one of which could have taken a man into his jaws quite easily,--whence,
once between these long saw-like rows of teeth, no man could have
escaped to tell how sharp they were.  The creatures were so numerous
that it was impossible to thrust a pole into the mud without stirring up
one of them; but they were so terrified at the sudden attack and the
shouts of the Negroes, that they thought only of escape.

Suddenly there arose a great cry.  One of the lassos had snapt and the
alligator was floundering back into the water, when Sambo rushed in up
to the arm-pits, and caught the end of the rope.  At the same moment two
alligators made at the Negro with open jaws.  It is probable that the
animals went in his direction by mere accident, and would have brushed
past him in blind haste; but to Martin and Barney it seemed as if the
poor man's fate were sealed, and they uttered a loud shout of horror as
they bounded simultaneously into the water, not knowing what to do, but
being unable to restrain the impulse to spring to Sambo's aid.
Fortunately, however, one of the other Negroes was near Sambo.  He
sprang forward, and dealt the alligators two tremendous blows with his
pole on their snouts, right and left, which turned them off.  Then other
Negroes came up, laid hold of Sambo, who would not let go his hold and
was being dragged into deep water, caught the end of the rope, and in
ten minutes hauled their victim to the shore, when it was quickly
despatched in the usual manner.

By this time about a dozen alligators, varying from ten to twenty feet
in length, had been captured; and Barney at length became so bold that
he requested to be allowed to try his hand at throwing the lasso, the
dexterous use of which by the Negroes had filled him with admiration.  A
loud burst of laughter greeted this proposal, and Sambo showed a set of
teeth that might have made even the alligators envious, as he handed the
Irishman a coil of line.

"Now don't miss, Barney," cried Martin laughing heartily, as his comrade
advanced to the edge of the lake and watched his opportunity.  "Mind,
your credit as an expert hunter is at stake."

The Senhor Antonio stood close behind the Irishman, with his arms folded
and a sarcastic smile on his countenance.

"Don't send it down him's throat," yelled Sambo.  "Hi-i, dat's de vay to
swing um round.  Stir um up, boys!--poke um up, villains, hi!"

The Negroes in the water obeyed with frantic glee, and the terrified
monsters surged about in all directions, so that Barney found it almost
impossible to fix his attention on any particular individual.  At length
he made up his mind, whirled the coil round his head, discharged the
noose, caught the Senhor Antonio round the neck, and jerked him
violently to the ground!

There was a simultaneous pause of horror among the slaves; but it was
too much for their risible faculties to withstand; with one accord they
rushed howling into the water to conceal their laughter, and began to
stir up and belabour the alligators with their poles, until the surface
of the lake was a sheet of foam.

Meanwhile the Senhor Antonio sprang to his feet and began to bluster
considerably in Portuguese; but poor Barney seemed awfully crestfallen,
and the deep concern which wrinkled his face, and the genuine regret
that sounded in the tones of his voice, at length soothed the indignant
Brazilian, who frowned gravely, and waving his hand, as if to signify
that Barney had his forgiveness, he stalked up to the shed, lighted a
cigarito, and lay down in his hammock.

"Well," said Martin, in an undertone, "you did it that time, Barney.  I
verily thought the old fellow was hanged.  He became quite livid in the
face."

"Och! bad luck to the lasso, say I.  May I niver more see the swate
groves o' Killarney if iver I meddle with wan again."

"Hi-i; you is fuss rate," said Sambo, as he and his comrades returned
and busied themselves in cutting up the dead alligators.  "You beat de
Niggers all to not'ing.  Not any of dis yere chiles eber lasso Sen'or
Antonio yet; no, neber!"

It was some time before the Negroes could effectually subdue their
merriment, but at length they succeeded, and applied themselves
vigorously to the work of cutting out the fat.  The alligators were all
cut open,--a work of no small difficulty, owing to the hard scales which
covered them, as with coats of mail; then the fat, which accumulates in
large quantities about the intestines, was cut out and made up into
packets in the skins of the smaller ones, which were taken off for this
purpose.

These packets were afterwards carried to the Senhor's dwelling, and the
fat melted down into oil, which served for burning in lamps quite as
well as train oil.  The flesh of a smaller species of alligator, some of
which were also taken, is considered excellent food; and, while the
Negroes were engaged in their work, Barney made himself useful by
kindling a large fire and preparing a savoury dish for "all hands,"
plentifully seasoned with salt and pepper, with which condiments the
country is well supplied, and of which the people are exceedingly fond.

There was also caught in this lake a large species of fish called
pirarucu, which, strangely enough, found it possible to exist in spite
of alligators.  They were splendid creatures, from five to six feet
long, and covered with large scales more than an inch in diameter, which
were beautifully marked and spotted with red.  These fish were most
delicately flavoured, and Barney exerted his talents to the utmost in
order to do them justice.  Martin also did his best to prove himself a
willing and efficient assistant, and cleaned and washed the pirarucu
steaks and the junks of alligator-tail to admiration.  In short, the
exertions of the two strangers in this way quite won the hearts of the
Negroes, and after dinner the Senhor Antonio had quite recovered his
good humour.

While staying at this place Martin had an opportunity of seeing a great
variety of the curious fish, with which the Amazon is stocked.  These
are so numerous that sometimes, when sailing up stream with a fair wind,
they were seen leaping all round the canoe in shoals, so that it was
only necessary to strike the water with the paddles in order to kill a
few.

The peixe boi, or cow-fish, is one of the most curious of the
inhabitants of the Amazon.  It is about six feet long, and no less than
five feet in circumference at its thickest part.  It is a perfectly
smooth, and what we may call _dumpy_ fish, of a leaden colour, with a
semicircular flat tail, and a large mouth with thick fleshy lips,
resembling those of a cow.  There are stiff bristles on the lips, and a
few scattered hairs over the body.  It has two fins just behind the
head; and below these, in the females, there are two breasts, from which
good white milk flows when pressure is applied.  The cow-fish feeds on
grass at the borders of rivers and lakes; and, when suckling its young,
it carries it in its fins or flippers, and clasps the little one to its
breast, just as a mother clasps her baby!  It is harpooned and taken for
the sake of its fat, from which oil is made.  The flesh is also very
good, resembling beef in quality, and it was much relished by Martin and
Barney, who frequently dined on beefsteaks cut from this remarkable
cow-fish.

There was also another fish which surprised our adventurers not a
little, the first time they met with it.  One evening Senhor Antonio had
ordered a net to be thrown into the river, being desirous of procuring a
few fresh fish for the use of his establishment.  The Indians and
Negroes soon after commenced dragging, and in a few minutes afterwards
the sandy bank of the river was strewn with an immense variety of small
fish, among which were a few of a larger kind.  Martin and Barney became
excited as they saw them leaping and spluttering about, and ran in
amongst them to assist in gathering them into baskets.  But scarcely had
the latter advanced a few steps when there was a loud report, as if a
pistol had gone off under his feet.

"Hallo!" exclaimed the Irishman, leaping two feet into the air.  On his
reaching the ground again, a similar explosion occurred, and Barney
dashed aside, overturning Martin in his haste.  Martin's heel caught on
a stone, and he fell flat on the ground, when instantly there was a
report as if he had fallen upon and burst an inflated paper bag.  The
natives laughed loud and long, while the unfortunate couple sprang up
the bank, half inclined to think that an earthquake was about to take
place.  The cause of their fright was then pointed out.  It was a
species of small fish which has the power of inflating the fore part of
its body into a complete ball, and which, when stamped upon, explodes
with a loud noise.  There were great numbers of these scattered among
the other fish, and also large quantities of a little fish armed with
long spines, which inflict a serious wound when trodden upon.

At this place adventures on a small scale crowded upon our travellers so
thickly that Martin began to look upon sudden surprises as a necessary
of life, and Barney said that, "if it wint on any longer he feared his
eyebrows would get fixed near the top of his head, and niver more come
down."

One evening, soon after their departure from the residence of Senhor
Antonio, the old trader was sitting steering in the stern of his canoe,
which was running up before a pretty stiff breeze.  Martin was lying on
his back, as was his wont in such easy circumstances, amusing himself
with Marmoset; and Barney was reclining in the bow talking solemnly to
Grampus; when suddenly the wind ceased, and it became a dead calm.  The
current was so strong that they could scarcely paddle against it so they
resolved to go no further that night, and ran the canoe ashore on a low
point of mud, intending to encamp under the trees, no human habitation
being near them.  The mud-bank was hard and dry, and cracked with the
heat; for it was now the end of the dry season, and the river had long
since retired from it.

"Not a very comfortable place, Barney," said Martin, looking round, as
he threw down one of the bales which he had just carried up from the
canoe.  "Hallo! there's a hut, I declare.  Come, that's a comfort
anyhow."

As he spoke, Martin pointed to one of the solitary and rudely
constructed huts or sheds, which the natives of the banks of the Amazon
sometimes erect during the dry season, and forsake when the river
overflows its banks.  The hut was a very old one, and had evidently been
inundated, for the floor was a mass of dry, solid mud, and the palm-leaf
roof was much damaged.  However, it was better than nothing, so they
slung their hammocks under it, kindled a fire, and prepared supper.
While they were busy discussing this meal, a few dark and ominous clouds
gathered in the sky, and the old trader, glancing uneasily about him,
gave them to understand that he feared the rainy season was going to
begin.

"Well, then," said Barney, lighting his pipe and stretching himself at
full length in his hammock, with a leg swinging to and fro over one side
and his head leaning over the other, as was his wont when he felt
particularly comfortable in mind and body; "Well then, avic, let it
begin.  If we're sure to have it anyhow, the sooner it begins the
better, to my thinkin'."

"I don't know that," said Martin, who was seated on a large stone beside
the fire sipping a can of coffee, which he shared equally with Marmoset.
The monkey sat on his shoulder gazing anxiously into his face, with an
expression that seemed as if the creature were mentally exclaiming, "Now
me, now you; now me, now you," during the whole process.  "It would be
better, I think, if we were in a more sheltered position before it
begins.  Ha! there it comes though, in earnest."

A smart shower began to fall as he spoke, and, percolating through the
old root descended rather copiously on the mud floor.  In a few minutes
there was a heaving of the ground under their feet!

"Ochone!" cried Barney, taking his pipe out of his mouth and looking
down with a disturbed expression, "there's an arthquake, I do belave."

For a few seconds there was a dead silence.

"Nonsense," whispered Martin uneasily.

"It's dramin' I must have been," sighed Barney, resuming his pipe.

Again the ground heaved and cracked, and Martin and the old trader had
just time to spring to their feet when the mud floor of the hut burst
upwards and a huge dried-up looking alligator crawled forth, as if from
the bowels of the earth!  It glanced up at Barney; opened its tremendous
jaws, and made as if it would run at the terrified old trader; then,
observing the doorway, it waddled out, and, trundling down the bank,
plunged into the river and disappeared.

Barney could find no words to express his feelings, but continued to
gaze, with an unbelieving expression, down into the hole, out of which
the monster had come, and in which it had buried itself many weeks
before, when the whole country was covered with soft mud.  At that time
it had probably regarded the shelter of the inundated hut as of some
advantage, and had lain down to repose.  The water retiring had left it
there buried, and--as we have already mentioned in reference to
alligators--when the first shower of the rainy season fell, it was led
by instinct to burst its earthy prison, and seek its native element.

Before Barney or his companions could recover from their surprise, they
had other and more urgent matters to think about.  The dark clouds burst
overhead, and the rain descended like a continued water-spout--not in
drops but in heavy sheets and masses; the roof of the hut gave way in
several places, driving them into a corner for shelter; the river began
to rise rapidly, soon flooding the hut; and, when darkness overspread
the land, they found themselves drenched to the skin and suspended in
their hammocks over a running stream of water!

This event brought about an entire change in the aspect of nature, and
was the cause of a sad and momentous era in the adventures of Martin
Rattler and his companion.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

THE GAPO--INTERRUPTIONS--GRAMPUS AND MARMOSET--CANOEING IN THE WOODS--A
NIGHT ON A FLOATING ISLAND.

There is a peculiar and very striking feature in the character of the
great Amazon, which affects the distinctive appearance of that river,
and materially alters the manners and customs of those who dwell beside
it.  This peculiarity is the periodical overflow of its low banks; and
the part thus overflowed is called the _Gapo_.  It extends from a little
above the town of Santarem up to the confines of Peru, a distance of
about seventeen hundred miles; and varies in width from one to twenty
miles: so that the country when inundated, assumes in many places the
appearance of an extensive lake, with forest trees growing out of the
water; and travellers may proceed many hundreds of miles in their canoes
without once entering the main stream of the river.  At this time the
natives become almost aquatic animals.  Several tribes of Indians
inhabit the Gapo; such as the Purupurus, Muras, and others.  They build
small movable huts on the sandy shores during the dry season, and on
rafts in the wet.  They subsist on turtle, cow-fish, and the other fish
with which the river abounds, and live almost entirely in their canoes;
while at night they frequently sling their hammocks between the branches
of trees, and sleep suspended over the deep water.

Some of the animals found in the Gapo are peculiar to it, being
attracted by the fruit-trees which are found growing only there.  The
Indians assert that every tree that grows in the Gapo is distinct from
all those that grow in other districts; and when we consider that these
trees are submerged for six months every year, till they are tall enough
to rise above the highest water-level, we may well believe their
constitution is somewhat different from those that are reared on
ordinary ground.  The Indians are wonderfully expert in finding their
way among the trackless mazes of the Gapo, being guided by the broken
twigs and scraped bark that indicate the route followed by previous
travellers.

Owing to this sudden commencement of the rainy season, the old trader
resolved to return to a small village, and there spend several months.
Martin and Barney were much annoyed at this; for the former was
impatient to penetrate further into the interior, and the latter had
firmly made up his mind to visit the diamond mines, about which he
entertained the most extravagant notions.  He did not, indeed, know in
the least how to get to these mines, nor even in which direction they
lay; but he had a strong impression that as long as he continued
travelling he was approaching gradually nearer to them, and he had no
doubt whatever that he would get to them at last.  It was, therefore,
with no small degree of impatience that they awaited the pleasure of
their sable master, who explained to them that when the waters reached
their height he would proceed.

Everything comes to an end, even a long story.  After many weeks had
passed slowly by, their sojourn in this village came to an end too.  It
was a dull place, very dull, and they had nothing to do; and the few
poor people who lived there seemed to have very little or nothing to do.
We will, therefore, pass it over, and resume our narrative at the point
when the old trader announced to Barney that the flood was at its height
and they would now continue their journey.  They embarked once more in
their old canoe with their goods and chattels, not forgetting Marmoset
and Grampus, whose friendship during their inactive life had become more
close than ever.  This friendship was evidenced, chiefly, by the
matter-of-course way in which Grampus permitted the monkey to mount his
back, and ride about the village and through the woods, where dry places
could be found, as long as she pleased.  Marmoset was fonder of riding
than walking, so that Grampus had enough to do; but he did not put
himself much about.  He trotted, walked, galloped, and lay down, when,
and where, and as often as he chose, without any reference to the small
monkey; and Marmoset held on through thick and thin, and nibbled nuts or
whatever else it picked up, utterly regardless of where it was going to,
or the pace at which it went.  It was sharp, though, that small monkey,
sharp as a needle, and had its little black eyes glancing on all sides;
so that when Grampus dashed through under-wood, and the branches
threatened to sweep it off, it ducked its head; or, lying flat down,
shut its eyes and held on with all its teeth and four hands like a
limpet to a rock.  Marmoset was not careful as to her attitude on
dog-back.  She sat with her face to the front or rear, just as her fancy
or convenience dictated.

After leaving the village they travelled for many days and nights
through the Gapo.  Although afloat on the waters of the Amazon, they
never entered the main river after the first few days, but wound their
way, in a creeping, serpentine sort of fashion, through small streams
and lakes and swamps, from which the light was partially excluded by the
thick foliage of the forest.  It was a strange scene, that illimitable
watery waste, and aroused new sensations in the breasts of our
travellers.  As Barney said, it made him "feel quite solemn-like and
eerie to travel through the woods by wather."

The canoe was forced under branches and among dense bushes, till they
got into a part where the trees were loftier and a deep gloom prevailed.
Here the lowest branches were on a level with the surface of the water,
and many of them were putting forth beautiful flowers.  On one occasion
they came to a grove of small palms, which were so deep in the water
that the leaves were only a few feet above the surface.  Indeed they
were so low that one of them caught Martin's straw-hat and swept it
overboard.

"Hallo! stop!" cried Martin, interrupting the silence so suddenly that
Grampus sprang up with a growl, under the impression that game was in
view; and Marmoset scampered off behind a packing-box with an angry
shriek.

"What's wrong, lad?" inquired Barney.

"Back water, quick! my hat's overboard, and there's an alligator going
to snap it up.  Look alive, man!"

In a few seconds the canoe was backed and the straw-hat rescued from its
perilous position.

"It's an ill wind that blows nae guid, as the Scotch say," remarked
Barney, rising in the canoe and reaching towards something among the
overhanging branches.  "Here's wan o' them trees that old black-face
calls a maraja, with some splendid bunches o' fruit on it.  Hould yer
hat Martin; there's more nor enough for supper anyhow."

As he spoke a rustling in the leaves told that monkeys were watching
them, and Marmoset kept peeping up as if she half expected they might be
relations.  But the moment the travellers caught sight of them they
bounded away screaming.

Having gathered as much fruit as they required, they continued their
voyage, and presently emerged into the pleasant sunshine in a large
grassy lake, which was filled with lilies and beautiful water-plants,
little yellow bladder-worts, with several other plants of which they
knew not the names; especially one with a thick swollen stalk, curious
leaves, and bright blue flowers.  This lake was soon passed, and they
again entered into the gloomy forest and paddled among the lofty trunks
of the trees, which rose like massive columns out of the deep water.
There was enough of animal life there, however, to amuse and interest
them.  The constant plash of falling fruit showed that birds were
feeding overhead.  Sometimes a flock of parrots or bright blue
chatterers swept from tree to tree, or a trogon swooped at a falling
bunch of fruit and caught it ere it reached the water; while ungainly
toucans plumped clumsily down upon the branches, and sat, in striking
contrast, beside the lovely pompadours, with their claret-coloured
plumage and delicate white wings.

Vieing with these birds in splendour were several large bright-yellow
flowers of the creeping-plants, which twined round the trees.  Some of
these plants had white, spotted, and purple blossoms; and there was one
splendid species, called by the natives the flor de Santa Anna--the
flower of Saint Ann--which emitted a delightful odour and was four
inches in diameter.

Having traversed this part of the wood, they once more emerged upon the
main stream of the Amazon.  It was covered with waterfowl.  Large logs
of trees and numerous floating islands of grass were sailing down; and
on these sat hundreds of white gulls, demurely and comfortably voyaging
to the ocean; for the sea would be their final resting-place if they sat
on these logs and islands until they descended several hundreds of miles
of the great river.

"I wish," said Martin, after a long silence, during which the travellers
had been gazing on the watery waste as they paddled up stream--"I wish
that we could fall in with solid land, where we might have something
cooked.  I'm desperately hungry now; but I don't see a spot of earth
large enough for a mosquito to rest his foot on."

"We'll jist have to take to farhina and wather," remarked Barney, laying
down his paddle and proceeding leisurely to light his pipe.  "It's a
blissin' we've got baccy, any how.  'Tis mesilf that could niver git on
without it."

"I wish you joy of it, Barney.  It may fill your mouth, but it can't
stop your hunger."

"Och, boy, it's little ye know!  Sure it stops the cravin's o' hunger,
and kapes yer stumick from callin' out for iver, till ye fall in with
somethin' to ate."

"It does not seem to stop the mouth then, Barney, for you call out for
grub oftener than I do; and then you say that you couldn't get on
without it; so you're a slave to it old boy.  I wouldn't be a slave to
anything if I could help it."

"Martin, lad, ye're gittin' deep.  Take care now, or ye'll be in
mettlefeesics soon.  I say, ould black-face,"--Barney was not on
ceremony with the old trader,--"is there no land in thim parts at all?"

"No, not dis night."

"Och, then, we'll have to git up a tree and try to cook somethin' there;
for I'm not goin' to work on flour and wather.  Hallo! hould on!
There's an island, or the portrait o' wan!  Port your helm, Naygur! hard
sport!  D'ye hear?"

The old man heard, but, as usual, paid no attention to the Irishman's
remarks; and the canoe would have passed straight on, had not Barney
used his bow-paddle so energetically that he managed to steer her, as he
expressed it, by the nose, and ran her against a mass of floating logs
which had caught firmly in a thicket and were so covered with grass and
broken twigs as to have very much the appearance of a real island.  Here
they landed, so to speak, kindled a small fire, made some coffee,
roasted a few fish, baked several cakes, and were soon as happy and
comfortable as hungry and wearied men usually are when they obtain rest
and food.

"This is what I call jolly," remarked Barney.

"What's jolly?" inquired Martin.

"Why _this_, to be sure,--grub to begin with, and a smoke and a
convanient snooze in prospect."

The hopes which Barney cherished, however, were destined to be blighted,
at least in part.  To the victuals he did ample justice; the pipe was
delightful, and in good working order; but when they lay down to repose,
they were attacked by swarms of stinging ants, which the heat of the
fire had driven out of the old logs.  These and mosquitoes effectually
banished sleep from their eye-lids, and caused them to reflect very
seriously, and to state to each other more than once very impressively,
that with all their beauties and wonders, tropical lands had their
disadvantages, and there was no place like the "ould country," after
all.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE SAD AND MOMENTOUS ERA REFERRED TO AT THE CLOSE OF THE CHAPTER
PRECEDING THE LAST.

One sultry evening, many weeks after our travellers had passed the
uncomfortable night on the floating island in the Gapo, they came to a
place where the banks of the river rose boldly up in rugged rocks and
hemmed in the waters of the Amazon, which were by this time somewhat
abated.  Here they put ashore, intending to kindle their fire and encamp
for the night, having been up and hard at work since day-break.

The evening was calm and beautiful, and the troublesome insects not so
numerous as usual,--probably owing to the nature of the ground.  One or
two monkeys showed themselves for a moment, as if to inquire who was
there, and then ran away screaming; a porcupine also crossed their path,
and several small bright snakes, of a harmless species, glided over the
rocks, and sought refuge among the small bushes; but beyond these there
were few of the sights and sounds that were wont to greet them in the
forest.

"I think things look well to-night," remarked Martin as he threw down a
bundle of sticks which he had gathered for the fire; "we shall have a
comfortable snooze for certain, if the mosquitoes don't wake up."

"I'm not so sure of that," replied Barney, striking a light with flint
and steel and stooping to puff the smouldering spark into a flame.
"I've larned by exparience that ye niver can be--puff--sure o' nothin'
in this--puff--remarkable country.  Jist look at Darkey now," continued
the Irishman, sitting down on a stone before the fire, which now began
to kindle up, and stuffing the tobacco into his pipe with his little
finger.  "There he is, a livin' Naygur, a-liftin' of the provision-bag
out o' the canoe.  Well, if he was all of a suddent to turn into
Marmoset, an' swaller himself, an' then jump down the throat of Grampus,
and the whole consarn, canoe and all, to disappear, I don't think that I
would be much surprised."

"Would you not, Barney?  I suspect that I should be, a little, under the
circumstances; perhaps the old Nigger would be more so."

"Niver a taste," continued Barney.  "Ye see, if that was to happen, I
would then know that it was all a drame.  I've more than wance expected
to wake up since I comed into furrin parts; the only thing that kapes me
in doubt about it is the baccy."

"How so, Barney?"

"Why, bekase it tastes so rael, good luck to it! that I can't git myself
to think it's only a drame.  Jist look, now," he continued, in the same
tone of voice; "if it wasn't a drame, how could I see sich a thing as
that standin' on the rock over there?"

Martin glanced towards the spot pointed out by his friend, and
immediately started up with surprise.--"Hallo!  Barney, that's no dream,
I'll vouch for it.  He's an Indian, and a very ugly one too, I declare.
I say, old fellow, do you know what sort of savage that is?"

"Not know," answered the trader, glancing uneasily at the stranger.

"He might have the dacency to put on more close, anyhow," muttered
Barney, as he gazed inquiringly at the savage.

The being who had thus appeared so suddenly before the travellers
belonged to one of the numerous tribes of Indians inhabiting the country
near the head-waters of some of the chief tributaries of the Amazon.  He
was almost entirely naked, having merely a scanty covering on his loins;
and carried a small quiver full of arrows at his back, and what appeared
to be a long spear in his hand.  His figure was strongly but not well
formed; and his face, which was of a dark copper hue, was disfigured in
a most remarkable manner.  A mass of coarse black hair formed the only
covering to his head.  His cheeks were painted with curious marks of jet
black.  But the most remarkable points about him were the huge pieces of
wood which formed ornaments in his ears and under lip.  They were round
and flat like the wooden wheel of a toy-cart, about half an inch thick,
and larger than an old-fashioned watch.  These were fitted into enormous
slits made in the ears and under lip, and the latter projected more than
two inches from his mouth!  Indeed, the cut that had been made to
receive this ornament was so large that the lip had been almost cut off
altogether, and merely hung by each corner of his mouth!  The aspect of
the man was very hideous, and it was by no means improved when, having
recovered from his surprise at unexpectedly encountering strangers, he
opened his mouth to the full extent and uttered a savage yell.

The cry was answered immediately.  In a few minutes a troop of upwards
of thirty savages sprang from the woods, and, ascending the rock on
which their comrade stood, gazed down on the travellers in surprise,
and, by their movements, seemed to be making hasty preparations for an
attack.

By this time Barney had recovered his self-possession, and became
thoroughly convinced of the reality of the apparition before him.
Drawing his pistol hastily from his belt, he caught up a handful of
gravel, wherewith he loaded it to the muzzle, ramming down the charge
with a bit of mandioca-cake in lieu of a wad; then drawing his cutlass
he handed it to Martin, exclaiming, "Come, lad, we're in for it now.
Take you the cutlass and I'll try their skulls with the butt o' my
pistol: it has done good work before now in that way.  If there's no
more o' the blackguards in the background we'll bate them aisy."

Martin instinctively grasped the cutlass, and there is no doubt that,
under the impulse of that remarkable quality, British valour, which
utterly despises odds, they would have hurled themselves recklessly upon
the savages, when the horrified old trader threw himself on Barney's
neck and implored him not to fight; for if he did they would all be
killed, and if he only kept quiet the savages would perhaps do them no
harm.  At the same moment about fifty additional Indians arrived upon
the scene of action.  This, and the old man's earnest entreaties,
induced them to hesitate for an instant, and, before they could
determine what to do, they were surprised by some of the savages, who
rushed upon them from behind and took them prisoners.  Barney struggled
long and fiercely, but he was at length overpowered by numbers.  The
pistol, which missed fire, was wrenched from his grasp, and his hands
were speedily bound behind his back.  Martin was likewise disarmed and
secured; not, however, before he made a desperate slash at one of the
savages, which narrowly missed his skull, and cut away his lip ornament.

As for the old trader, he made no resistance at all, but submitted
quietly to his fate.  The savages did not seem to think it worth their
while to bind him.  Grampus bounced and barked round the party savagely,
but did not attack; and Marmoset slept in the canoe in blissful
ignorance of the whole transaction.

The hands of the two prisoners being firmly bound, they were allowed to
do as they pleased; so they sat down on a rock in gloomy silence, and
watched the naked savages as they rifled the canoe and danced joyfully
round the treasures which their active knives and fingers soon exposed
to view.  The old trader took things philosophically.  Knowing that it
was absolutely impossible to escape, he sat quietly down on a stone,
rested his chin on his hands, heaved one or two deep sighs, and
thereafter seemed to be nothing more than an ebony statue.

The ransacking of the canoe and appropriating of its contents occupied
the savages but a short time, after which they packed everything up in
small bundles, which they strapped upon their backs.  Then, making signs
to their prisoners to rise, they all marched away into the forest.  Just
as they were departing, Marmoset observing that she was about to be left
behind, uttered a frantic cry, which brought Grampus gambolling to her
side.  With an active bound the monkey mounted its charger, and away
they went into the forest in the track of the band of savages.

During the first part of their march Martin and Barney were permitted to
walk beside each other, and they conversed in low, anxious tones.

"Surely," said Barney, as they marched along surrounded by Indians,
"thim long poles the savages have got are not spears; I don't see no
point to them."

"And what's more remarkable," added Martin, "is that they all carry
quivers full of arrows, but none of them have bows."

"There's a raison for iverything," said Barney, pointing to one of the
Indians in advance; "that fellow explains the mystery."

As he spoke, the savage referred to lowered the pole, which seemed to be
about thirteen feet long, and pushing an arrow into a hole in the end of
it, applied it to his mouth.  In another moment the arrow flew through
the air and grazed a bird that was sitting on a branch hard by.

"'Tis a blow-pipe, and no mistake!" cried Barney.

"And a poisoned arrow, I'm quite sure," added Martin; "for it only
ruffled the bird's feathers, and see, it has fallen to the ground."

"Och, then, but we'd have stood a bad chance in a fight if thim's the
wipons they use.  Och, the dirty spalpeens!  Martin, dear, we're done
for.  There's no chance for us at all."

This impression seemed to take such deep hold of Barney's mind, that his
usually reckless and half jesting disposition was completely subdued,
and he walked along in gloomy silence, while a feeling of deep dejection
filled the heart of his young companion.

The blow-pipe which these Indians use is an ingeniously contrived
weapon.  It is made from a species of palm-tree.  When an Indian wants
one, he goes into the woods and selects a tree with a long slender stem
of less than an inch in diameter; he extracts the pith out of this, and
then cuts another stem, so much larger than the first that he can push
the small tube into the bore of the large one,--thus the slight bend in
one is counteracted by the other, and a perfectly straight pipe is
formed.  The mouth-piece is afterwards neatly finished off.  The arrows
used are very short, having a little ball of cotton at the end to fill
the tube of the blow-pipe.  The points are dipped in a peculiar poison,
which has the effect of producing death when introduced into the blood
by a mere scratch of the skin.  The Indians can send these arrows an
immense distance, and with unerring aim, as Martin and Barney had many
an opportunity of witnessing during their long and weary journey on foot
to the forest-home of the savages.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

WORSE AND WORSE--EVERYTHING SEEMS TO GO WRONG TOGETHER.

Although the Indians did not maltreat the unfortunate strangers who had
thus fallen into their hands, they made them proceed by forced marches
through the wilderness; and as neither Barney nor Martin had been of
late much used to long walks, they felt the journey very severely.  The
old trader had been accustomed to everything wretched and unfortunate
and uncomfortable from his childhood, so he plodded onward in silent
indifference.

The country through which they passed became every day more and more
rugged, until at length it assumed the character of a wild mountainous
district.  Sometimes they wound their way in a zig-zag manner up the
mountain sides, by paths so narrow that they could scarcely find a
foot-hold.  At other times they descended into narrow valleys where they
saw great numbers of wild animals of various kinds, some of which the
Indians killed for food.  After they reached the mountain district they
loosed the hands of their prisoners, in order to enable them to climb
more easily.  Indeed in many places they had to scramble so carefully
that it would have been impossible for any one to climb with his hands
tied behind his back.  But the Indians knew full well that they ran no
risk of losing their prisoners; for if they had attempted to escape,
dozens of their number were on the watch, before, behind, and on either
side, ready to dart away in pursuit.  Moreover, Barney had a feeling of
horror at the bare idea of the poisoned arrows, that effectually
prevented him from making the smallest attempt at escape.  With a
cutlass or a heavy stick he would have attacked the whole tribe
single-handed, and have fought till his brains were knocked out; but
when he thought of the small arrows that would pour upon him in hundreds
if he made a dash for the woods, and the certain death that would follow
the slightest scratch, he discarded all idea of rebellion.

One of the animals killed by the Indians at this time was a black
jaguar,--a magnificent animal, and very fierce.  He was discovered
crouching in a thicket backed by a precipice, from which he could only
escape by charging through the ranks of his enemies.  He did it nobly.
With a roar that rebounded from the face of the high cliff and echoed
through the valley like a peal of thunder, he sprang out and rushed at
the savages in front, who scattered like chaff right and left.  But at
the same instant fifty blow-pipes sent their poisoned shafts into his
body, and, after a few convulsive bounds, the splendid monarch of the
American forests fell dead on the ground.  The black jaguar is a
somewhat rare animal, and is very seldom seen.  This one was therefore
hailed as a great prize, and the skin and claws were carefully
preserved.

On the afternoon of the same day the party came to a broad stream, over
which they, or some other of the numerous tribes in the country, had
constructed a very simple and curious bridge.  It was a single rope
attached to an immense mass of rock on one side and to the stem of a
large tree on the other.  On this tight-rope was fastened a simple loop
of cord, so constructed that it could encircle the waist of a man and at
the same time traverse from one end of the tight-rope to the other.
Barney put on a comical frown when he came to this and saw the leader of
the party rest his weight in the loop, and, clinging with hands and legs
to the long rope, work himself slowly across.

"Arrah! it's well for us, Martin, that we're used to goin' aloft," said
he, "or that same bridge would try our narves a little."

"So it would, Barney.  I've seldom seen a more uncomfortable-looking
contrivance.  If we lost our hold we should first be dashed to pieces on
the rocks, and then be drowned in the river."

Difficult though the passage seemed, however, it was soon accomplished
by the active savages in safety.  The only one of the party likely to be
left behind was Grampus; whom his master, after much entreaty in
dumb-show, was permitted to carry over by tying him firmly to his
shoulders.  Marmoset crossed over walking, like a tight-rope dancer,
being quite _au fait_ at such work.  Soon after they came to another
curious bridge over a ravine.  It had been constructed by simply felling
two tall trees on the edge of it in such a manner that they fell across.
They were bound together with the supple vines that grew there in
profusion.  Nature had soon covered the whole over with climbing-plants
and luxuriant verdure; and the bridge had become a broad and solid
structure, over which the whole party marched with perfect ease.
Several such bridges were crossed, and also a few of the rope kind,
during the journey.

After many weeks' constant travelling, the Indians came to a beautiful
valley one evening just about sunset--and began to make the usual
preparations for encamping.  The spot they selected was a singular one.
It was the foot of a rocky gorge, up which might be seen trees and
bushes mingled with jagged rocks and dark caverns, with a lofty sierra
or mountain range in the background.  In front was the beautiful valley
which they had just crossed.  On a huge rock there grew a tree of
considerable size, the roots of which projected beyond the rock several
yards, and then, bending downwards, struck into the ground.
Creeping-plants had twined thickly among the roots, and thus formed a
sort of lattice-work which enclosed a large space of ground.  In this
natural arbour the chiefs of the Indians took up their quarters and
kindled their fire in the centre of it, while the main body of the party
pitched their camp outside.  The three prisoners were allotted a corner
in the arbour; and, after having supped, they spread their ponchos on a
pile of ferns, and found themselves very snug indeed.

"Martin," said Barney, gravely, as he smoked his pipe and patted the
head of his dog, "d'ye know, I'm beginning to feel tired o' the company
o' thim naked rascals, and I've been revolvin' in my mind what we should
do to escape.  Moreover, I've comed to a conclusion."

"And what's that?" inquired Martin.

"That it's unposs'ble to escape at all, and I don't know what to do."

"That's not a satisfactory conclusion Barney.  I, too, have been
cogitating a good deal about these Indians, and it is my opinion that
they have been on a war expedition, for I've noticed that several of
them have been wounded; and, besides, I cannot fancy what else could
take them so far from home."

"True, Martin, true.  I wonder what they intind to do with us.  They
don't mean to kill us, anyhow; for if they did they would niver take the
trouble to bring us here.  Ochone! me heart's beginnin' to go down
altogether; for we are miles and miles away from anywhere now, and I
don't know the direction o' no place whatsumdiver."

"Never mind, Barney, cheer up," said Martin with a smile; "if they don't
kill us that's all we need care about.  I'm sure we shall manage to
escape somehow or other in the long-run."

While they thus conversed the old trader spread his poncho over himself
and was soon sound asleep; while the Indians, after finishing supper,
held an animated conversation.  At times they seemed to be disputing,
and spoke angrily and with violent gesticulations, glancing now and then
at the corner where their prisoners lay.

"It's my belafe," whispered Barney, "that they're spakin' about us.  I'm
afeard they don't mean us any good.  Och but if I wance had my pistol
and the ould cutlass.  Well, well, it's of no manner o' use frettin'.
Good night Martin, good night!"

The Irishman knocked the ashes out of his pipe, turned his face to the
wall, and, heaving a deep sigh, speedily forgot his cares in sleep.  The
Indians also lay down, the camp-fires died slowly out; and the deep
breathing of the savages alone betokened the presence of man in that
lone wilderness.

Barney's forebodings proved to be only too well founded; for next
morning, instead of pursuing their way together, as usual, the savages
divided their forces into two separate bands, placing the Irishman and
the old trader in the midst of one, and Martin Rattler with the other.

"Surely they're niver goin' to part us, Martin," said Barney with a
careworn expression on his honest countenance that indicated the anxious
suspicions in his heart.

"I fear it much," replied Martin with a startled look, as he watched the
proceedings of the Indians.  "We must fight now, Barney, if we should
die for it.  We _must_ not be separated."

Martin spoke with intense fervour and gazed anxiously in the face of his
friend.  A dark frown had gathered there.  The sudden prospect of being
forcibly torn from his young companion, whom he regarded with almost a
mother's tenderness, stirred his enthusiastic and fiery temperament to
its centre, and he gazed wildly about, as if for some weapon.  But the
savages anticipated his intention; ere he could grasp any offensive
weapon two of their number leaped upon him, and at the same moment
Martin's arms were pinioned in a powerful grasp.

"Och, ye murderin' blackguards!" cried Barney, hitting out right and
left, and knocking down a savage at each blow.  "Now or niver! come on,
ye kangaroos!"

A general rush was made upon the Irishman, who was fairly overturned by
the mass of men.  Martin struggled fiercely to free himself, and would
have succeeded had not two powerful Indians hastened to the help of the
one who had first seized him.  Despite his frantic efforts, he was
dragged forcibly up the mountain gorge, the echoes of which rang with
his cries as he shouted despairingly the name of his friend.  Barney
fought like a tiger; but he could make no impression on such numbers.
Although at least a dozen Indians lay around him bleeding and stunned by
the savage blows of his fists,--a species of warfare which was entirely
new to them,--fresh savages crowded round.  But they did not wish to
kill him, and numerous though they were, they found it no easy matter to
secure so powerful a man; and when Martin turned a last despairing
glance towards the camp, ere a turn in the path shut it out from view,
the hammer-like fists of his comrade were still smashing down the naked
creatures who danced like monkeys round him, and the warlike shouts of
his stentorian voice reverberated among the cliffs and caverns of the
mountain pass long after he was hid from view.

Thus Martin and Barney were separated in the wild regions near the
Sierra dos Parecis of Brazil.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

MARTIN REFLECTS MUCH, AND FORMS A FIRM RESOLVE--THE INDIAN VILLAGE.

When the mind has been overwhelmed by some sudden and terrible calamity,
it is long ere it again recovers its wonted elasticity.  An aching void
seems to exist in the heart, and a dead weight appears to press upon the
brain, so that ordinary objects make but little impression, and the soul
seems to turn inwards and brood drearily upon itself.  The spirit of fun
and frolic, that had filled Martin Rattler's heart ever since he landed
in Brazil, was now so thoroughly and rudely crushed, that he felt as if
it were utterly impossible that he should ever smile again.

He had no conception of the strength of his affection for the rough,
hearty sailor, who had until now been the faithful and good-humoured
companion of his wanderings.  As Barney had himself said on a former
occasion, his life up till this period had been a pleasant and exciting
dream.  But he was now awakened rudely to the terrible reality of his
forlorn position; and the more he thought of it the more hopeless and
terrible it appeared to be.

He knew not in what part of Brazil he was; he was being hurried
apparently deeper into these vast solitudes by savages who were
certainly not friendly, and of whose language he knew not a word; and
worst of all, he was separated perhaps for ever from the friend, on
whom, all unconsciously to himself, he had so long leaned for support in
all their difficulties and dangers.  Even though he and Barney should
succeed in escaping from the Indians, he felt--and his heart was
overwhelmed at the thought--that in such a vast country there was not
the shadow of a chance that they should find each other.  Under the deep
depression produced by these thoughts Martin wandered on wearily, as if
in a dream--taking no interest in anything that occurred by the way.  At
length, after several days fatiguing journey over mountains and plains,
they arrived at the Indian village.

Here the warriors were received with the utmost joy by the wives and
children whom they had left behind, and for a long time Martin was left
almost entirely to do as he pleased.  A few days before, his bonds had
been removed, and once or twice he thought of attempting to escape; but
whenever he wandered a little further than usual into the woods, he
found that he was watched and followed by a tall and powerful savage,
whose duty it evidently was to see that the prisoner did not escape.
The fearful idea now entered Martin's mind that he was reserved for
torture, and perhaps a lingering death; for he had read that many savage
nations treated their prisoners in this cruel manner, for the
gratification of the women who had lost relations in the war.  But as no
violence was offered to him in the meantime, and he had as much farina
and fruit to eat as he could use, his mind gradually became relieved,
and he endeavoured as much as possible to dismiss the terrible thought
altogether.

The Indian village occupied a lovely situation at the base of a gentle
hill or rising ground, the summit of which was clothed with luxuriant
trees and shrubs.  The huts were of various shapes and sizes, and very
simple in construction.  They were built upon the bare ground; some were
supported by four corner posts, twelve or fifteen feet high, and from
thirty to forty feet long, the walls being made of thin laths connected
with wicker-work, and plastered with clay.  The doors were made of
palm-leaves, and the roofs were covered with the same material, or with
maize straw.  Other huts were made almost entirely of palm-leaves and
tent-shaped in form; and, while a few were enclosed by walls, the most
of the square ones had one or more sides entirely open.  In the large
huts several families dwelt together, and each family had a hearth and a
portion of the floor allotted to it.  The smoke from their fires was
allowed to find its way out by the doors and chinks in the roofs, as no
chimneys were constructed for its egress.

The furniture of each hut was very simple.  It consisted of a few
earthen pots; baskets made of palm-leaves, which were filled with
Spanish potatoes, maize, mandioca-roots, and various kinds of wild
fruits; one or two drinking vessels; the hollow trunk of a tree, used
for pounding maize in; and several dishes which contained the colours
used by the Indians in painting their naked bodies,--a custom which was
very prevalent amongst them.  Besides these things, there were bows,
arrows, spears, and blow-pipes in abundance; and hammocks hung from
various posts, elevated about a foot from the ground.  These hammocks
were made of cotton cords, and served the purpose of tables, chairs, and
beds.

The ground in the immediate neighbourhood of the village was laid out in
patches, in which were cultivated mandioca-roots, maize, and other
plants useful for domestic purposes.  In front of the village there was
an extensive valley, through which a small river gurgled with a pleasant
sound.  It was hemmed in on all sides by wooded mountains, and was so
beautifully diversified by scattered clusters of palms, and irregular
patches of undulating grassy plains, all covered with a rich profusion
of tropical flowers and climbing-plants, that it seemed to Martin more
like a magnificent garden than the uncultivated forest--only far more
rich and lovely and picturesque than any artificial garden could
possibly be.  When the sun shone in full splendour on this valley--as it
almost always did!--it seemed as if the whole landscape were on the
point of bursting into flames of red and blue, and green and gold; and
when Martin sat under the shade of a tamarind-tree and gazed long upon
the enchanting scene, his memory often reverted to the Eden of which he
used to read in the Bible at home, and he used to wonder if it were
possible that the sun and flowers and trees _could_ be more lovely in
the time when Adam walked with God in Paradise.

Martin was young then, and he did not consider, although he afterwards
came to know, that it was not the beauty of natural objects, but the
presence and favour of God and the absence of sin, that rendered the
Garden of Eden a paradise.  But these thoughts always carried him back
to dear old Aunt Dorothy and the sweet village of Ashford; and the
Brazilian paradise was not unfrequently obliterated in tears while he
gazed, and turned into a vale of weeping.  Ay, he would have given that
magnificent valley,--had it been his own, ten times over, in exchange
for one more glance at the loved faces and the green fields of home.

Soon after his arrival at the Indian village Martin was given to
understand, by signs, that he was to reside with a particular family,
and work every day in the maize and mandioca fields, besides doing a
great deal of the drudgery of the hut; so that he now knew he was
regarded as a slave by the tribe into whose hands he had fallen.  It is
impossible to express the bitterness of his feelings at this discovery,
and for many weeks he went about his work scarcely knowing what he did,
and caring little, when the hot sun beat on him so fiercely that he
could hardly stand, whether he lived or died.  At length, however, he
made up his mind firmly to attempt his escape.  He was sitting beneath
the shade of his favourite resort, the tamarind-tree, when he made this
resolve.  Longing thoughts of home had been strong upon him all that
day, and desire for the companionship of Barney had filled his heart to
bursting; so that the sweet evening sunshine and the beautiful vale over
which his eyes wandered, instead of affording him pleasure, seemed but
to mock his misery.  It was a lesson that all must learn sooner or
later, and one we would do well to think upon before we learn it, that
sunshine in the soul is not dependent on the sunshine of this world, and
when once the clouds descend, the brightest beams of all that earth
contains cannot pierce them,--God alone can touch these dark clouds with
the finger of love and mercy, and say again, as He said of old, "Let
there be light."

A firm purpose, formed with heart and will, is cheering and invigorating
to a depressed mind.  No sooner did the firm determination to escape or
die enter into Martin's heart, than he sprang from his seat, and,
falling on his knees, prayed to God, in the name of our Redeemer, for
help and guidance.  He had not the least idea of how he was to effect
his escape, or of what he intended to do.  All he knew was that he had
_made up his mind_ to do so, _if God would help him_.  And under the
strength of that resolve he soon recovered much of his former
cheerfulness of disposition, and did his work among the savages with a
degree of energy that filled them with surprise and respect.  From that
day forth he never ceased to revolve in his mind every imaginable and
unimaginable plan of escape, and to watch every event or circumstance,
no matter how trifling, that seemed likely to aid him in his purpose.

Seeing that he was a very strong and active fellow, and that he had
become remarkably expert in the use of the bow and the blow-pipe, the
Indians now permitted Martin to accompany them frequently on their short
hunting expeditions, so that he had many opportunities of seeing more of
the wonderful animals and plants of the Brazilian forests, in the
studying of which he experienced great delight.  Moreover, in the course
of a few months he began to acquire a smattering of the Indian language,
and was not compelled to live in constant silence, as had been the case
at first.  But he carefully avoided the formation of any friendships
with the youths of the tribe, although many of them seemed to desire it,
considering that his doing so might in some way or other interfere with
the execution of his great purpose.  He was civil and kind to them all,
however, though reserved; and, as time wore away, he enjoyed much more
liberty than was the case at first.  Still, however, he was watched by
the tall savage, who was a surly, silent fellow, and would not be drawn
into conversation.  Indeed he did not walk with Martin, but followed him
wherever he went during his hours of leisure, at a distance of a few
hundred yards, moving when his prisoner moved, and stopping when he
halted, so that Martin at last began to regard him more as a shadow than
a man.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

SAVAGE FEASTS AND ORNAMENTS--MARTIN GROWS DESPERATE, AND MAKES A BOLD
ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE.

Hunting and feasting were the chief occupations of the men of the tribe,
with whom Martin sojourned.  One day Martin was told that a great feast
was to take place, and he was permitted to attend.  Accordingly, a
little before the appointed time he hastened to the large hut, in and
around which the festivities were to take place, in order to witness the
preparations.

The first thing that struck him was that there seemed to be no
preparations making for eating; and on inquiry he was told that they did
not meet to eat, they met to drink and dance,--those who were hungry
might eat at home.  The preparations for drinking were made on an
extensive scale by the women, a number of whom stood round a large
caldron, preparing its contents for use.  These women wore very little
clothing, and their bodies, besides being painted in a fantastic style,
were also decorated with flowers and feathers.  Martin could not help
feeling that, however absurd the idea of painting the body was, it had
at least the good effect of doing away to some extent with the idea of
nakedness; for the curious patterns and devices gave to the Indians the
appearance of being clothed in tights,--and, at any rate, he argued
mentally, paint was better than nothing.  Some of the flowers were
artificially constructed out of beetles' wings, shells, fish-scales, and
feathers, and were exquisitely beautiful, as well as gorgeous.

One of the younger women struck Martin as being ultra-fashionable in her
paint.  Her black shining hair hung like a cloak over her reddish-brown
shoulders, and various strange drawings and figures ornamented her face
and breast.  On each cheek she had a circle, and over that two strokes;
under the nose were four red spots; from the corners of her mouth to the
middle of each cheek were two parallel lines, and below these several
upright stripes; on various parts of her back and shoulders were
curiously entwined circles, and the form of a snake was depicted in
vermilion down each arm.  Unlike the others, she wore no ornament except
a simple necklace of monkeys' teeth.  This beauty was particularly
active in manufacturing the intoxicating drink, which is prepared
thus:--

A quantity of maize was pounded in the hollow trunk of a tree, and put
into an earthen pot, where it was boiled in a large quantity of water.
Then the women took the coarsely ground and boiled flour out of the
water, chewed it in their mouths for a little, and put it into the pot
again!  By this means the decoction began to ferment and became
intoxicating.  It was a very disgusting method, yet it is practised by
many Indian tribes in America; and, strange to say, also by some of the
South Sea islanders, who, of course, could not have learned it from
these Indians.

When this beverage was ready, the chief, a tall, broad-shouldered man,
whose painted costume and ornaments were most elaborate, stepped up to
the pot and began a strange series of incantations, which he accompanied
by rattling a small wooden instrument in his hand; staring all the time
at the earthen pot, as if he half expected it to run away; and dancing
slowly round it as if to prevent such a catastrophe from taking place.
The oftener the song was repeated the more solemn and earnest became the
expression of his face and the tones of his voice.  The rest of the
Indians, who were assembled to the number of several hundreds, stood
motionless round the pot, staring at him intently without speaking, and
only now and then, when the voice and actions of the chief became much
excited, they gave vent to a sympathetic howl.

After this had gone on for some time, the chief seized a drinking-cup,
or cuja, which he gravely dipped into the pot and took a sip.  Then the
shaking of the rattle and the monotonous song began again.  The chief
next took a good pull at the cup and emptied it; after which he
presented it to his companions, who helped themselves at pleasure; and
the dance and monotonous music became more furious and noisy the longer
the cup went round.

When the cup had circulated pretty freely among them, their dances and
music became more lively; but they were by no means attractive.  After
he had watched them a short time, Martin left the festive scene with a
feeling of pity for the poor savages; and as he thought upon their low
and debased condition he recalled to mind the remark of his old friend
the hermit,--"They want the Bible in Brazil."

During his frequent rambles in the neighbourhood of the Indian village,
Martin discovered many beautiful and retired spots, to which he was in
the habit of going in the evenings after his daily labours were
accomplished, accompanied, as usual, at a respectful distance, by his
vigilant friend the tall savage.  One of his favourite resting-places
was at the foot of a banana-tree, which grew on the brow of a stupendous
cliff, about a mile distant from the hut, in which he dwelt.  From this
spot he had a commanding view of the noble valley and the distant
mountains.  These mountains now seemed to the poor boy to be the
ponderous gates of his beautiful prison; for he had been told by one of
his Indian friends that on the other side of them were great campos and
forests, beyond which dwelt many Portuguese, while still further on was
a great lake without shores, which was the end of the world.  This,
Martin was convinced, must be the Atlantic Ocean; for, upon inquiry, he
found that many months of travel must be undergone ere it could be
reached.  Moreover, he knew that it could not be the Pacific, because
the sun rose in that direction.

Sauntering away to his favourite cliff, one fine evening towards sunset
he seated himself beneath the banana-tree and gazed longingly at the
distant mountains, whose sharp summits glittered in the ruddy glow.  He
had long racked his brain in order to devise some method of escape, but
hitherto without success.  Wherever he went the "shadow" followed him,
armed with the deadly blow-pipe; and he knew that even if he did succeed
in eluding his vigilance and escaping into the woods, hundreds of
savages would turn out and track him, with unerring certainty, to any
hiding place.  Still the strength of his stern determination sustained
him; and, at each failure in his efforts to devise some means of
effecting his purpose, he threw off regret with a deep sigh, and
returned to his labour with a firmer step, assured that he should
eventually succeed.

As he sat there on the edge of the precipice, he said, half aloud, "What
prevents me from darting suddenly on that fellow and knocking him down?"

This was a question that might have been easily answered.  No doubt he
was physically capable of coping with the man, for he had now been
upwards of a year in the wilderness, and was in his sixteenth year,
besides being unusually tall and robust for his age.  Indeed he looked
more like a full-grown man than a stripling; for hard, incessant toil,
had developed his muscles and enlarged his frame, and his stirring life,
combined latterly with anxiety, had stamped a few of the lines of
manhood on his sunburnt countenance.  But, although he could have easily
overcome the Indian, he knew that he would be instantly missed; and,
from what he had seen of the powers of the savages in tracking wild
animals to their dens in the mountains, he felt that he could not
possibly elude them except by stratagem.

Perplexed and wearied with unavailing thought and anxiety, Martin
pressed his hands to his forehead and gazed down the perpendicular
cliff, which was elevated fully a hundred feet above the plain below.
Suddenly he started and clasped his hands upon his eyes, as if to shut
out some terrible object from his sight.  Then, creeping cautiously
towards the edge of the cliff, he gazed down, while an expression of
stern resolution settled upon his pale face.

And well might Martin's cheek blanch, for he had hit upon a plan of
escape which, to be successful, required that he should twice turn a
bold, unflinching face on death.  The precipice, as before mentioned,
was fully a hundred feet high, and quite perpendicular.  At the foot of
it there flowed a deep and pretty wide stream, which, just under the
spot where Martin stood, collected in a deep black pool, where it rested
for a moment ere it rushed on its rapid course down the valley.  Over
the cliff and into that pool Martin made up his mind to plunge, and so
give the impression that he had fallen over and been drowned.  The risk
he ran in taking such a tremendous leap was very great indeed, but that
was only half the danger he must encounter.

The river was one of a remarkable kind, of which there are one or two
instances in South America.  It flowed down the valley between high
rocks, and, a few hundred yards below the pool, it ran straight against
the face of a precipice and there terminated to all appearance; but a
gurgling vortex in the deep water at the base of the cliff, and the
disappearance of everything that entered it, showed that the stream
found a subterranean passage.  There was no sign of its re-appearance,
however, in all the country round.  In short the river was lost in the
bowels of the earth.

From the pool to the cliff where the river was engulfed the water ran
like a mill-race, and there was no spot on either bank where any one
could land, or even grasp with his hand, except one.  It was a narrow,
sharp rock, that jutted out about two feet from the bank, quite close to
the vortex of the whirlpool.  This rock was Martin's only hope.  To miss
it would be certain destruction.  But if he should gain a footing on it
he knew that he could climb by a narrow fissure into a wild, cavernous
spot, which it was exceedingly difficult to reach from any other point.
A bend in the river concealed this rock and the vortex from the place
whereon he stood, so that he hoped to be able to reach the point of
escape before the savage could descend the slope and gain the summit of
the cliff from whence it could be seen.

Of all this Martin was well aware, for he had been often at the place
before, and knew every inch of the ground.  His chief difficulty would
be to leap over the precipice in such a manner as to cause the Indian to
believe he had fallen over accidentally.  If he could accomplish this,
then he felt assured the savages would suppose he had been drowned, and
so make no search for him at all.  Fortunately the ground favoured this.
About five feet below the edge of the precipice there was a projecting
ledge of rock nearly four feet broad and covered with shrubs.  Upon this
it was necessary to allow himself to fall.  The expedient was a
desperate one, and he grew sick at heart as he glanced down the awful
cliff, which seemed to him three times higher than it really was, as all
heights do when seen from above.

Glancing round, he observed his savage guardian gazing contemplatively
at the distant prospect.  Martin's heart beat audibly as he rose and
walked with an affectation of carelessness to the edge of the cliff.  As
he gazed down, a feeling of horror seized him; he gasped for breath, and
almost fainted.  Then the idea of perpetual slavery flashed across his
mind, and the thought of freedom and home nerved him.  He clenched his
hands, staggered convulsively forward and fell, with a loud and genuine
shriek of terror, upon the shrubs that covered the rocky ledge.
Instantly he arose, ground his teeth together, raised his eyes for one
moment to heaven, and sprang into the air.  For one instant he swept
through empty space; the next he was deep down in the waters of the dark
pool, and when the horrified Indian reached the edge of the precipice,
he beheld his prisoner struggling on the surface for a moment, ere he
was swept by the rapid stream round the point and out of view.

Bounding down the slope, the savage sped like a hunted antelope across
the intervening space between the two cliffs, and quickly gained the
brow of the lower precipice, which he reached just in time to see Martin
Rattler's straw-hat dance for a moment on the troubled waters of the
vortex and disappear in the awful abyss.  But Martin saw it too, from
the cleft in the frowning rock.

On reaching the surface after his leap he dashed the water from his
eyes, and looked with intense earnestness in the direction of the
projecting rock towards which he was hurried.  Down he came upon it with
such speed that he felt no power of man could resist.  But there was a
small eddy just below it, into which he was whirled as he stretched
forth his hands and clutched the rock with the energy of despair.  He
was instantly torn away.  But another small point projected two feet
below it.  This he seized.  The water swung his feet to and fro as it
gushed into the vortex, but the eddy saved him.  In a moment his breast
was on the rock, then his foot, and he sprang into the sheltering cleft
just a moment before the Indian came in view of the scene of his
supposed death.

Martin flung himself with his face to the ground, and thought rather
than uttered a heartfelt thanksgiving for his deliverance.  The savage
carried the news of his death to his friends in the Indian village, and
recounted with deep solemnity the particulars of his awful fate to
crowds of wondering,--in many cases sorrowing,--listeners; and for many
a day after that the poor savages were wont to visit the terrible cliff
and gaze with awe on the mysterious vortex that had swallowed up, as
they believed, the fair-haired boy.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

THE ESCAPE--ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS--FIGHT BETWEEN A JAGUAR AND AN
ALLIGATOR--MARTIN ENCOUNTERS STRANGE AND TERRIBLE CREATURES.

Freedom can be fully appreciated only by those who have been for a long
period deprived of liberty.  It is impossible to comprehend the feelings
of joy that welled up in Martin's bosom as he clambered up the rugged
cliffs among which he had found shelter, and looked round upon the
beautiful valley, now lying in the shadow of the mountain range behind
which the sun had just set.  He sat down on a rock, regardless of the
wet condition of his clothes, and pondered long and earnestly over his
position, which was still one of some danger; but a sensation of
light-hearted recklessness made the prospect before him seem very
bright.  He soon made up his mind what to do.  The weather was extremely
warm, so that, after wringing the water out of his linen clothes, he
experienced little discomfort; but he felt that there would not only be
discomfort but no little danger in travelling in such a country without
arms, covering, or provisions.  He therefore determined on the bold
expedient of revisiting the Indian village during the darkness of the
night in order to procure what he required.  He ran great risk of being
retaken, but his necessity was urgent and he was aware that several
families were absent on a hunting expedition at that time, whose huts
were pretty certain to be unoccupied.

Accordingly, when two or three hours of the night had passed, he
clambered with much difficulty down the precipitous rocks, and reached
the level plain, over which he quickly ran, and soon reached the
outskirts of the village.  The Indians were all asleep, and no sound
disturbed the solemn stillness of the night.  Going stealthily towards a
hut he peeped in at the open window, but could see and hear nothing.
Just as he was about to enter, however, a long-drawn breath proved that
it was occupied.  He shrank hastily back into the deep shade of the
bushes.  In a few minutes he recovered from the agitation into which he
had been thrown and advanced cautiously towards another hut.  This one
seemed to be untenanted, so he opened the palm-leaf door gently and
entered.  No time was to be lost now.  He found an empty sack or bag,
into which he hastily threw as much farina as he could carry without
inconvenience.  Besides this, he appropriated a long knife; a small
hatchet; a flint and steel, to enable him to make a fire; and a stout
bow with a quiver full of arrows.  It was so dark that it was with
difficulty he found these things.  But as he was on the point of leaving
he observed a white object in a corner.  This turned out to be a light
hammock, which he seized eagerly, and, rolling it up into a small
bundle, placed it in the sack.  He also sought for, and fortunately
found, an old straw-hat which he put on.

Martin had now obtained all that he required, and was about to quit the
hut when he became suddenly rooted to the spot with horror on observing
the dark countenance of an Indian gazing at him with distended eyeballs
over the edge of a hammock.  His eyes, unaccustomed to the darkness of
the room, had not at first observed that an Indian was sleeping there.
He now felt that he was lost.  The savage evidently knew him.  Dreadful
thoughts flashed through his brain.  He thought of the knife in his
belt, and how easily he could despatch the Indian in a moment as he lay;
but then the idea of imbruing his hands in human blood seemed so awful
that he could not bring himself to do it.

As he looked steadily at the savage he observed that his gaze was one of
intense horror, and it suddenly occurred to him that the Indian supposed
he was a ghost!  Acting upon this supposition, Martin advanced his face
slowly towards that of the Indian, put on a dark frown, and stood for a
few seconds without uttering a word.  The savage shrank back and
shuddered from head to foot.  Then, with a noiseless step, Martin
retreated slowly backward towards the door and passed out like a
spectre--never for a moment taking his eyes off those of the savage
until he was lost in darkness.  On gaining the forest he fled with a
beating heart to his former retreat; but his fears were groundless, for
the Indian firmly believed that Martin's spirit had visited his hut and
carried away provisions for his journey to the land of spirits.

Without waiting to rest Martin no sooner reached the scene of his
adventurous leap than he fastened his bag firmly on his shoulders and
struck across the valley in the direction of the blue mountains that
hemmed it in.  Four or five hours hard walking brought him to their
base, and long before the rising sun shone down upon his recent home he
was over the hills and far away, trudging onward with a weary foot, but
with a light heart, in what he believed to be the direction of the east
coast of Brazil.  He did not dare to rest until the rugged peaks of the
mountain range were between him and the savages; but, when he had left
these far behind him, he halted about mid-day to breakfast and repose by
the margin of a delightfully cool mountain stream.

"I'm safe now!" said Martin aloud, as he threw down his bundle beneath a
spreading tree and commenced to prepare breakfast.

"O! my friend Barney, I wish that you were here to keep me company."
The solitary youth looked round as if he half expected to see the rough
visage and hear the gladsome voice of his friend; but no voice replied
to his, and the only living creature he saw was a large monkey, which
peered inquisitively down at him from among the branches of a
neighbouring bush.  This reminded him that he had left his pet Marmoset
in the Indian village, and a feeling of deep self-reproach filled his
heart.  In the baste and anxiety of his flight he had totally forgotten
his little friend.  But regret was now unavailing.  Marmoset was lost to
him for ever.

Having kindled a small fire, Martin kneaded a large quantity of farina
in the hollow of a smooth stone, and baked a number of flat cakes, which
were soon fired and spread out upon the ground.  While thus engaged, a
snake of about six feet long and as thick as a man's arm glided past
him.  Martin started convulsively, for he had never seen one of the kind
before, and he knew that the bite of some of the snakes is deadly.
Fortunately his axe was at hand.  Grasping it quickly, he killed the
reptile with a single blow.  Two or three mandioca-cakes, a few wild
fruits, and a draught of water from the stream, formed the wanderer's
simple breakfast.  After it was finished, he slung his hammock between
two trees, and jumping in, fell into a deep, untroubled slumber, in
which he continued all that day and until day-break the following
morning.

After partaking of a hearty breakfast, Martin took up his bundle and
resumed his travels.  That day he descended into the level and wooded
country that succeeded the mountain range; and that night he was obliged
to encamp in a swampy place, near a stagnant lake, in which several
alligators were swimming, and where the mosquitoes were so numerous that
he found it absolutely impossible to sleep.  At last, in despair, he
sprang into the branches of the tree to which his hammock was slung and
ascended to the top.  Here, to his satisfaction, he found that there
were scarcely any mosquitoes, while a cool breeze fanned his fevered
brow; so he determined to spend the night in the tree.

By binding several branches together he formed a rude sort of couch, on
which he lay down comfortably, placing his knife and bow beside him, and
using the hammock rolled up as a pillow.  As the sun was setting, and
while he leaned on his elbow looking down through the leaves with much
interest at the alligators that gambolled in the reedy lake, his
attention was attracted to a slight rustling in the bushes near the foot
of the tree.  Looking down, he perceived a large jaguar gliding through
the under-wood with cat-like stealth.  Martin now observed that a huge
alligator had crawled out of the lake, and was lying on the bank asleep
a few yards from the margin.  When the jaguar reached the edge of the
bushes it paused, and then, with one tremendous spring, seized the
alligator by the soft part beneath its tail.  The huge monster struggled
for a few seconds, endeavouring to reach the water, and then lay still,
while the jaguar worried and tore at its tough hide with savage fury.
Martin was much surprised at the passive conduct of the alligator.  That
it could not turn its stiff body, so as to catch the jaguar in its jaws,
did not, indeed, surprise him; but he wondered very much to see the
great reptile suffer pain so quietly.  It seemed to be quite paralysed.
In a few minutes the jaguar retired a short distance.  Then the
alligator made a rush for the water; but the jaguar darted back and
caught it again; and Martin now saw that the jaguar was actually playing
with the alligator as a cat plays with a mouse before she kills it!
During one of the cessations of the combat, if we may call it by that
name, the alligator almost gained the water, and in the short struggle
that ensued both animals rolled down the bank and fell into the lake.
The tables were now turned.  The jaguar made for the shore; but before
it could reach it the alligator wheeled round, opened its tremendous
jaws and caught its enemy by the middle.  There was one loud splash in
the water, as the alligator's powerful tail dashed it into foam; and one
awful roar of agony, which was cut suddenly short and stifled as the
monster dived to the bottom with its prey; then all was silent as the
grave, and a few ripples on the surface were all that remained to tell
of the battle that had been fought there.

Martin remained motionless on the tree top, brooding over the fight
which he had just witnessed, until the deepening shadows warned him that
it was time to seek repose.  Turning on his side he laid his head on his
pillow, while a soft breeze swayed the tree gently to and fro and rocked
him sound asleep.

Thus, day after day, and week after week, did Martin Rattler wander
alone through the great forests, sometimes pleasantly, and at other
times with more or less discomfort; subsisting on game which he shot
with his arrows, and on wild fruits.  He met with many strange
adventures by the way, which would fill numerous volumes were they to be
written every one; but we must pass over many of these in silence, that
we may recount those that were most interesting.

One evening, as he was walking through a very beautiful country, in
which were numerous small lakes and streams, he was suddenly arrested by
a crashing sound in the under-wood, as if some large animal were coming
towards him; and he had barely time to fit an arrow to his bow when the
bushes in front of him were thrust aside, and the most hideous monster
that he had ever seen appeared before his eyes.  It was a tapir; but
Martin had never heard of or seen such creatures before, although there
are a good many in some parts of Brazil.

The tapir is a very large animal,--about five or six feet long and three
or four feet high.  It is in appearance something between an elephant
and a hog.  Its nose is very long, and extends into a short proboscis;
but there is no finger at the end of it like that of the elephant.  Its
colour is a deep brownish black, its tough hide is covered with a thin
sprinkling of strong hairs, and its mane is thick and bristly.  So thick
is its hide that a bullet can scarcely penetrate it; and it can crush
its way through thickets and bushes, however dense, without receiving a
scratch.  Although a very terrific animal to look at, it is fortunately
of a very peaceable and timid disposition, so that it flees from danger,
and is very quick in discovering the presence of an enemy.  Sometimes it
is attacked by the jaguar, which springs suddenly upon it and fastens
its claws in its back; but the tapir's tough hide is not easily torn,
and he gets rid of his enemy by bouncing into the tangled bushes and
bursting through them, so that the jaguar is very soon _scraped_ off his
back!  The tapir lives as much in the water as on the land, and
_delights_ to wallow like a pig in muddy pools.  It is, in fact, very
similar in many of its habits to the great hippopotamus of Africa, but
is not quite so large.  It feeds entirely on vegetables, buds, fruits,
and the tender shoots of trees, and always at night.  During the day
time it sleeps.  The Indians of Brazil are fond of its flesh, and they
hunt it with spears and poisoned arrows.

But Martin knew nothing of all this, and fully expected that the
dreadful creature before him would attack and kill him; for, when he
observed its coarse, tough-looking hide, and thought of the slender
arrows with which he was armed, he felt that he had no chance, and there
did not happen to be a tree near him at the time up which he could
climb.

With the energy of despair he let fly an arrow with all his force; but
the weak shaft glanced from the tapir's side without doing it the
slightest damage.  Then Martin turned to fly, but at the same moment the
tapir did the same, to his great delight and surprise.  It wheeled round
with a snort, and went off crashing through the stout under-wood as if
it had been grass, leaving a broad track behind it.

On another occasion he met with a formidable-looking but comparatively
harmless animal, called the great ant-eater.  This remarkable creature
is about six feet in length, with very short legs and very long strong
claws; a short curly tail, and a sharp snout, out of which it thrusts a
long narrow tongue.  It can roll itself up like a hedgehog, and when in
this position might be easily mistaken for a bundle of coarse hay.  It
lives chiefly, if not entirely, upon ants.

When Martin discovered the great ant-eater, it was about to begin its
supper; so he watched it.  The plain was covered with ant-hills,
somewhat pillar-like in shape.  At the foot of one of these the animal
made an attack, tearing up earth and sticks with its enormously strong
claws, until it made a large hole in the hard materials, of which the
hill was composed.  Into this hole it thrust its long tongue, and
immediately the ants swarmed upon it.  The creature let its tongue rest
till it was completely covered over with thousands of ants, then it drew
it into its mouth and engulfed them all!

As Martin had no reason in the world for attempting to shoot the great
ant-eater, and as he was, moreover, by no means sure that he could kill
it if he were to try, he passed on quietly and left this curious animal
to finish its supper in peace.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

MARTIN MEETS WITH FRIENDS AND VISITS THE DIAMOND MINES.

One day, after Martin had spent many weeks in wandering alone through
the forest, during the course of which he was sometimes tempted to
despair of seeing the face of man again, he discovered a beaten track;
at the sight of which his heart bounded with delight.  It was a Saturday
afternoon when he made this discovery, and he spent the Sabbath-day in
rest beside it.  For Martin had more than once called to remembrance the
words which good Aunt Dorothy used to hear him repeat out of the Bible,
"Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy."  He had many long, earnest,
and serious meditations in that silent forest, such as a youth would be
very unlikely to have in almost any other circumstances, except,
perhaps, on a sick-bed; and among other things he had been led to
consider that if he made no difference between Saturday and Sunday, he
must certainly be breaking that commandment; so he resolved thenceforth
to rest on the Sabbath-day; and he found much benefit, both to mind and
body, from this arrangement.  During this particular Sabbath he rested
beside the beaten track, and often did he walk up and down it a short
way, wondering where it would lead him to; and several times he prayed
that he might be led by it to the habitations of civilised men.

Next day after breakfast he prepared to set out; but now he was much
perplexed as to which way he ought to go, for the track did not run in
the direction in which he had been travelling, but at right angles to
that way.  While he still hesitated the sound of voices struck on his
ear, and he almost fainted with excitement; for, besides the hope that
he might now meet with friends, there was also the fear that those
approaching might be enemies; and the sudden sound of the human voice,
which he had not heard for so long, tended to create conflicting and
almost overwhelming feelings in his breast.  Hiding quickly behind a
tree, he awaited the passing of the cavalcade; for the sounds of horses
hoofs were now audible.

In a few minutes a string of laden mules approached, and then six
horsemen appeared, whose bronzed olive complexions, straw-hats and
ponchos, betokened them Brazilians.  As they passed, Martin hailed them
in an unsteady voice.  They pulled up suddenly and drew pistols from
their holsters; but on seeing only a fair youth armed with a bow, they
replaced their weapons, and with a look of surprise rode up and assailed
him with a volley of unintelligible Portuguese.

"Do any of you speak English?" inquired Martin, advancing.

One of the horsemen replied, "Yees, I spok one leet.  Ver' smoll.  Where
you be com?"

"I have escaped from the Indians who live in the mountains far away over
yonder.  I have been wandering now for many weeks in the forest and I
wish to get to the sea-coast or to some town where I may get something
to do, that I may be enabled to return home."

"Ho!" said the horseman, gravely.  "You com vid us.  Ve go vid goods to
de Diamond Mines.  Git work dere, yees.  Put you body on dat hoss."

As the Brazilian spoke he pointed to a spare horse, which was led, along
with several others, by a Negro.  Thanking him for his politeness Martin
seized the horse by the mane and vaulted into the saddle, if the rude
contrivance on its back might be so designated.

The string of mules then moved on, and Martin rode with a light heart
beside this obliging stranger, conversing with much animation.

In a very short time he learned, through the medium of his own bad
Portuguese and the Brazilian's worse English, that he was not more than
a day's ride from one of the diamond mines of that province of Brazil
which is named Minas Geraes; that he was still many leagues distant from
the sea; and that he would be sure to get work at the mines if he wished
it for the chief overseer, the Baron Fagoni, was an amiable man and very
fond of the English,--but he could not speak their language at all, and
required an interpreter.  "And," said the Brazilian, with a look of
great dignity, "I hab de honour for be de 'terpreter."

"Ah!" exclaimed Martin, "then I am in good fortune, for I shall have a
friend at court."

The interpreter smiled slightly and bowed, after which they proceeded
for some time in silence.

Next evening they arrived at the mines; and, after seeing to the comfort
of his horse, and inquiring rather hastily as to the welfare of his
family, the interpreter conducted Martin to the overseer's house in
order to introduce him.

The Baron Fagoni stood smoking in the doorway of his dwelling as they
approached; and the first impression that Martin received of him was
anything but agreeable.

He was a large, powerful man, with an enormous red beard and moustache,
and a sombrero-like hat that concealed nearly the whole of his face.  He
seemed an irritable man, too; for he jerked his arms about and stamped
in a violent manner as they drew near, and instead of waiting to receive
them, he entered the house hastily and shut the door in their faces.

"The Baron would do well to take lessons in civility," said Martin,
colouring, as he turned to the interpreter.

"Ah, he be a leet pecoolair, sometime!  Nev'r mind.  Ve vill go to him."

So saying, the interpreter opened the door and entered the hall where
the overseer was seated at a desk, writing as if in violent haste.

Seeing that he did not mean to take notice of them, the interpreter
spoke to him in Portuguese; but he was soon interrupted by a sharp
reply, uttered in a harsh, grating voice, by the overseer, who did not
look up or cease from his work.

Again the interpreter spoke as if in some surprise; but he was cut short
by the overseer uttering, in a deep, stern voice, the single word.

"Obey."

With a low bow the interpreter turned away, and taking Martin by the arm
led him into an inner apartment, where, having securely fastened the
window, he said to him, "De Baron say you be von blackguard tief; go
bout contrie for steal diamonds.  He make pris'ner ov you.  Adios."

So saying, the interpreter made his bow and retired, locking the door
behind him and leaving Martin standing in the middle of the room staring
before him in speechless amazement.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

THE DIAMOND MINES--MORE AND MORE ASTONISHING!

If Martin Rattler was amazed at the treatment he experienced at the
hands of his new acquaintances on arriving, he had occasion to be very
much more surprised at what occurred three hours after his
incarceration.

It was getting dark when he was locked up, and for upwards of two hours
he was left in total darkness.  Moreover, he began to feel very hungry,
having eaten nothing since mid-day.  He was deeply engaged in devising
plans for his escape when he was interrupted by the door being unlocked,
and a Negro slave entering with four magnificent candles, made of
bees-wax, which he placed upon the table.  Then he returned to the door,
where another slave handed him a tray containing dishes, knives and
forks, and, in short, all the requisites for laying out a supper-table.
Having spread a clean linen cloth on the board, he arranged covers for
two, and going to the door placed his head to one side and regarded his
arrangements with much complacency, and without paying the slightest
attention to Martin, who pinched himself in order to make sure he was
not dreaming.

In a few minutes the second Negro returned with an enormous tray, on
which were dishes of all sizes, from under whose covers came the most
savoury odours imaginable.  Having placed these symmetrically on the
board, both slaves retired and relocked the door without saying a word.

At last it began to dawn on Martin's imagination that the overseer must
be an eccentric individual, who found pleasure in taking his visitors by
surprise.  But although this seemed a possible solution of the
difficulty, he did not feel satisfied with it.  He could with difficulty
resist the temptation to attack the viands, however, and was beginning
to think of doing this, regardless of all consequences, when the door
again opened and the Baron Fagoni entered, relocked the door, put the
key in his pocket and, standing before his prisoner with folded arms,
gazed at him intently from beneath his sombrero.

Martin could not stand this.  "Sir," said he, starting up, "if this is a
joke, you have carried it far enough; and if you really detain me here a
prisoner, every feeling of honour ought to deter you from adding insult
to injury."

To this sternly delivered speech the Baron made no reply, but springing
suddenly upon Martin, he grasped him in his powerful arms and crushed
him to his broad chest till he almost broke every bone in his body!

"Och! cushla, bliss yer young face! sure it's yersilf, an' no mistake!
Kape still, Martin, dear.  Let me look at ye, darlint!  Ah! then, isn't
it my heart that's been broken for months an' months past about ye?"

Reader, it would be utterly in vain for me to attempt to describe either
the words that flowed from the lips of Martin Rattler and Barney
O'Flannagan on this happy occasion, or the feelings that filled their
swelling hearts.  The speechless amazement of Martin, the ejaculatory
exclamations of the Baron Fagoni, the rapid questions and brief replies,
are all totally indescribable.  Suffice it to say that for full quarter
of an hour they exclaimed, shouted, and danced round each other, without
coming to any satisfactory knowledge of how each had got to the same
place, except that Barney at last discovered that Martin had travelled
there by chance, and he had reached the mines by "intuition."  Having
settled this point, they sobered down a little.

"Now Martin, darlint," cried the Irishman, throwing aside his hat for
the first time, and displaying his well-known jolly visage, of which the
forehead, eyes, and nose alone survived the general inundation of red
hair, "ye'll be hungry, I've small doubt, so sit ye down, lad, to
supper, and you'll tell me yer story as ye go along, and afther that
I'll tell ye mine, while I smoke my pipe,--the ould cutty, boy, that has
comed through fire and wather, sound as a bell and blacker than iver!"

The Baron held up the well-known instrument of fumigation, as he spoke,
in triumph.

Supper was superb.  There were venison steaks, armadillo cutlets, tapir
hash, iguana pie, and an immense variety of fruits and vegetables, that
would have served a dozen men, besides cakes and splendid coffee.

"You live well here, Barney--I beg pardon--Baron Fagoni," said Martin,
during a pause in their meal; "how in the world did you come by that
name?"

Barney winked expressively.  "Ah, boy, I wish I may niver have a worse.
Ye see, when I first comed here, about four months ago, I found that the
mine was owned by an Irish gintleman; an', like all the race, he's a
trump.  He took to me at wance when he hear'd my voice, and then he took
more to me when he comed to know me character; and says he to me wan
day, `Barney,' says he, `I'm gittin' tired o' this kind o' life now, and
if ye'll agree to stop here as overseer, and sind me the proceeds o' the
mine to Rio Janeiro, a great city on the sea-coast an' the capital o'
Brazil, I'll give ye a good share o' the profits.  But,' says he, `ye'll
need to pretind ye're a Roosian, or a Pole, or somethin' o' that kind;
for the fellows in thim parts are great rascals, and there's a few
Englishmen among them who would soon find out that ye're only a jack-tar
before the mast and would chate ye at no allowance; but if ye could
spake no language under the sun but the gibberish pecooliar to the
unbeknown provinces o' Siberia, ye could escape detection as far as yer
voice is consarned; and by lettin' yer beard grow as long as possible,
and dressin' yersilf properly, ye might pass, and be as dignified as the
great Mogul.'

"`Musha!' said I, `but if I don't spake me own tongue I'll have to be
dumb altogither.'

"`No fear,' says he; `I'll tache ye enough Portuguese in a month or two
to begin with, an' ye'll pick it up aisy after that.'  And sure enough I
began, tooth and nail, and, by hard workin', got on faster than I
expected; for I can spake as much o' the lingo now as tides me over
needcessities, and I understand most o' what's said to me.  Anyhow, I
ginerally see what they're drivin' at."

"So, then, you're actually in charge of the mine?" said Martin, in
surprise.

"Jist so, boy; but I'm tired of it already; it's by no means so pleasant
as I expected it would be; so I'm thinkin' o' lavin' it, and takin' to
the say again.  I'm longin' dreadful to see the salt wather wance more."

"But what will the owner say, Barney: won't he have cause to complain of
your breaking your engagement?"

"Niver a bit, boy.  He tould me, before we parted, that if I wanted to
quit I was to hand over the consarn to the interpreter, who is an honest
fellow, I belave; so I'm jist goin' to pocket a di'mond or two, and ask
lave to take them home wid me.  I'll be off in a week, if all goes well.
An' now, Martin, fill yer glass; ye'll find the wine is not bad, after
wan or two glasses; an' I'll tell ye about my adventures since I saw ye
last."

"But you have not explained about your name," said Martin.

"Och! the fact is, that when I comed here I fortunately fell in with the
owner first, and we spoke almost intirely in Irish, so nobody understood
where I comed from; and the interpreter hear'd the master call me by my
name; so he wint off and said to the people that a great Barono
Flanagoni had come, and was up at the house wid the master.  But we
corrected him afterward, and gave him to understand that I was the Baron
Fagoni.  I had some trouble with the people at first after the owner
left; but I pounded wan or two o' the biggest o' them, to such a extint
that their own friends hardly knew them; an iver since they've been
mighty civil."

Having carefully filled the black pipe, and involved himself in his own
favourite atmosphere, the Baron Fagoni then proceeded to relate his
adventures, and dilated upon them to such an extent that five or six
pipes were filled and finished ere the story came to a close.  Martin
also related his adventures; to which his companion listened with such
breathless attention and earnestness that his pipe was constantly going
out; and the two friends did not retire to rest till near day-break.

The substance of the Baron's narrative was as follows:--

At the time that he had been so suddenly separated from his friend,
Barney had overcome many of his opponents, but at length he was
overpowered by numbers, and his arms were firmly bound; after which he
was roughly driven before them through the woods for several days, and
was at length taken to their village among the mountains.  Here he
remained a close prisoner for three weeks, shut up in a small hut and
bound by a strong rope to a post.  Food was taken to him by an old
Indian woman, who paid no attention at first to what he said to her, for
the good reason that she did not understand a word of English.  The
persuasive eloquence of her prisoner's tones, however, or perhaps his
brogue, seemed in the course of a few days to have made an impression on
her; for she condescended to smile at the unintelligible compliments
which Barney lavished upon her in the hope of securing her good-will.

During all this time the Irishman's heart was torn with conflicting
feelings, and although, from the mere force of habit, he could jest with
the old woman when she paid her daily visits, there was no feeling of
fun in his bosom, but, on the contrary, a deep and overwhelming sorrow,
which showed itself very evidently on his expressive face.  He groaned
aloud when he thought of Martin, whom he never expected again to see;
and he dreaded every hour the approach of his savage captors, who, he
fully expected, retained him in order to put him to death.

One day, while he was sitting in a very disconsolate mood, the Indian
woman entered with his usual dinner,--a plate of thick soup and a coarse
cake.  Barney smiled upon her as usual, and then letting his eyes fall
on the ground, sighed deeply,--for his heart was heavier than usual that
day.  As the woman was about to go, he looked earnestly and gravely in
her face, and putting his large hand gently on her head, patted her grey
hairs.  This tender action seemed to affect the old woman more than
usual.  She laid her hand on Barney's arm, and looked as if she wished
to speak.  Then turning suddenly from him, she drew a small knife from
her girdle and dropped it on the ground, as if accidentally, while she
left the hut and re-fastened the door.  Barney's heart leaped.  He
seized the knife and concealed it hastily in his bosom, and then ate his
dinner with more than ordinary zest; for now he possessed the means of
cutting the strong rope that bound him.

He waited with much impatience until night closed over the Indian
village, and, then cutting his bonds, he tore down the rude and rather
feeble fastenings of the door.  In another instant he was dashing along
at full speed through the forest, without hat or coat, and with the
knife clutched in his right hand.  Presently he heard cries behind him,
and redoubled his speed; for now he knew that the savages had discovered
his escape, and were in pursuit.  But, although a good runner, Barney
was no match for the lithe and naked Indians.  They rapidly gained on
him, and he was about to turn at bay and fight for his life, when he
observed water gleaming through the foliage on his left.  Dashing down a
glade he came to the edge of a broad river with a rapid current.  Into
this he sprang recklessly, intending to swim with the stream; but ere he
lost his footing he heard the low deep thunder of a cataract a short
distance below!  Drawing back in terror, he regained the bank, and waded
up a considerable distance in the shallow water, so as to leave no trace
of his footsteps.  Then he leaped upon a rock, and, catching hold of the
lower branches of a large tree, drew himself up among the dense foliage,
just as the yelling savages rushed with wild tumult to the water's edge.
Here they paused, as if baffled.  They spoke in rapid, vehement tones
for a few seconds, and then one party hastened down the banks of the
stream towards the fall, while another band searched the banks above.

Barney's heart fell as he sat panting in the tree, for he knew that they
would soon discover him.  But he soon resolved on a bold expedient.
Slipping down from the tree, he ran deliberately back towards the
village; and, as he drew near, he followed the regular beaten track that
led towards it.  On the way he encountered one or two savages hastening
after the pursuing party; but he leaped lightly into the bushes, and lay
still till they were past.  Then he ran on, skirted round the village,
and pushed into the woods in an entirely opposite direction, from the
one in which he had first set out.  Keeping by one of the numerous
tracks that radiated from the village into the forest he held on at top
speed, until his progress was suddenly arrested by a stream about twenty
yards broad.  It was very deep, and he was about to plunge in, in order
to swim across, when he observed a small montaria, or canoe, lying on
the bank.  This he launched quickly, and observing that the river took a
bend a little further down, and appeared to proceed in the direction he
wished to pursue,--namely, away from the Indian village,--he paddled
down the rapid stream as fast as he could.  The current was very strong,
so that his little bark flew down it like an arrow, and on more than one
occasion narrowly missed being dashed to pieces on the rocks which here
and there rose above the stream.

In about two hours Barney came to a place where the stream took another
bend to the left, and soon after, the canoe swept out upon the broad
river into which he had at first so nearly plunged.  He was a long way
below the fall now, for its sound was inaudible; but it was no time to
abate his exertions.  The Indians might be still in pursuit; so he
continued to paddle all that night and did not take rest until
day-break.  Then he slept for two hours, ate a few wild fruits, and
continued his journey.

In the course of the next day, to his great joy, he overtook a trading
canoe, which had been up another tributary of this river, and was
descending with part of a cargo of India-rubber shoes.  None of the men,
of whom there were four, could speak English; but they easily saw from
the Irishman's condition that he had escaped from enemies and was in
distress; so they took him on board, and were glad to avail themselves
of his services: for, as we have before mentioned, men are not easily
procured for voyaging in those parts of Brazil.  Three weeks after this
they arrived at a small town, where the natives were busily engaged in
the manufacture of shoes, bottles, and other articles of India-rubber;
and here Barney found employment for a short time.

The seringa, or India-rubber-tree, grows plentifully in some parts of
Brazil, and many hundreds of the inhabitants are employed in the
manufacture of shoes.  The India-rubber is the juice of the tree, and
flows from it when an incision is made.  This juice is poured into
moulds and left to harden.  It is of a yellowish colour naturally, and
is blackened in the course of preparation.  Barney did not stay long
here.  Shoe-making, he declared, was not his calling by any means; so he
seized the first opportunity he had of joining a party of traders going
into the interior, in the direction of the diamond districts.  The
journey was long and varied.  Sometimes by canoe and sometimes on the
backs of mules and horses, and many extraordinary adventures did he go
through ere he reached the diamond mines.  And when at length he did so,
great was his disappointment.  Instead of the glittering caves which his
vivid imagination had pictured, he found that there were no caves at
all; that the diamonds were found by washing in the muddy soil; and,
worst of all, that when found they were dim and unpolished, so that they
seemed no better than any other stone.  However, he resolved to continue
there for a short time, in order to make a little money; but now that
Martin had arrived he thought that they could not do better than make
their way to the coast as fast as possible, and go to sea.

"The only thing I have to regret," he said, at the conclusion of his
narrative, "is that I left Grampus behind me.  But arrah!  I came off
from the savages in such a hurry that I had no time at all to tell him I
was goin'!"

Having sat till day-break, the two friends went to bed to dream of each
other and of home.

Next morning Barney took Martin to visit the diamond mines.  On the way
they passed a band of Negro slaves who encircled a large fire, the
weather being very cold.  It was at that time about the end of July,
which is one of the coldest months in the year.  In this part of Brazil
summer and winter are reversed,--the coldest months being May, June, and
July; the hottest, November, December, January, and February.

Minas Geraes, the diamond district, is one of the richest provinces of
Brazil.  The inhabitants are almost entirely occupied in mining or in
supplying the miners with the necessaries of life.  Diggers and
shopkeepers are the two principal classes, and of these the latter are
best off; for their trade is steady and lucrative, while the success of
the miners is very uncertain.  Frequently a large sum of money and much
time are expended in mining without any adequate result; but the
merchants always find a ready sale for their merchandise, and, as they
take diamonds and gold-dust in exchange, they generally realise large
profits and soon become rich.  The poor miner is like the gambler.  He
digs on in hope; sometimes finding barely enough to supply his wants,--
at other times making a fortune suddenly; but never giving up in
despair, because he knows that at every handful of earth he turns up he
may perhaps find a diamond worth hundreds, or, it may be, thousands of
pounds.

Cidade Diamantina,--the City of Diamonds,--is the capital of the
province.  It is a large city, with many fine churches and buildings;
and the whole population, consisting of more than 6000 souls, are
engaged, directly or indirectly, in mining.  Every one who owns a few
slaves employs them in washing the earth for gold and diamonds.

The mine of which Barney had so unexpectedly become overseer, was a
small one, in a remote part of the district, situated among the
mountains, and far-distant from the City of Diamonds.  There were only a
few huts, rudely built and roofed with palm-leaves, besides a larger
building, or cottage, in which the Baron Fagoni resided.

"'Tis a strange life they lead here," said Barney, as he led Martin down
a gorge of the mountains, towards a small spot of level ground, on which
the slaves were at work; "a strange life, and by no means a pleasant
wan; for the feedin' is none o' the best and the work very sevare."

"Why, Barney, if I may judge from last night's supper, the feeding seems
to be excellent."

"Thrue, boy, the Baron Fagoni feeds well, bekase he's the cock o' the
roost; but the poor Naygurs are not overly well fed, and the critters
are up to their knees in wather all day, washing di'monds; so they
suffer much from rheumatiz and colds.  Och, but it's murther entirely;
an' I've more than wance felt inclined to fill their pockets with
di'monds and set them all free!  Jist look, now, there they are, hard at
it."

As he spoke they arrived at the mine.  The ground in the vicinity was
all cut up and dug out to a considerable depth, and a dozen Negroes were
standing under a shed washing the earth, while others were engaged in
the holes excavating the material.  While Martin watched them his friend
explained the process.

The different kinds of soil through which it is necessary to cut before
reaching the diamond deposit are, first about twenty feet of reddish
sandy soil; then about eight feet of a tough yellowish clay; beneath
this lies a layer of coarse reddish sand, below which is the peculiar
soil in which diamonds are found.  It is called by the miners the
_cascalho_, and consists of loose gravel, the pebbles of which are
rounded and polished, having at some previous era been subject to the
action of running water.  The bed varies in thickness from one to four
feet and the pebbles are of various kinds; but when there are many of a
species called _Esmerilo preto_, the cascalho is considered to be rich
in diamonds.

Taking Martin round to the back of the shed, Barney showed him a row of
troughs, about three feet square, close to the edge of a pond of water.
These troughs are called _bacos_.  In front of each stood a Negro slave
up to his knees in water.  Each had a wooden plate, with which he dashed
water upon the rough cascalho as it was thrown into the trough by
another slave.  By this means, and by stirring it with a small hoe, the
earth and sand are washed away.  Two overseers were closely watching the
process; for it is during this part of the operation that the largest
diamonds are found.  These overseers were seated on elevated seats, each
being armed with a long leathern whip, to keep a sharp look-out, for the
slaves are expert thieves.

After the cascalho had been thus purified, it was carefully removed to
the shed to be finally washed.

Here seven slaves were seated on the side of a small canal, about four
feet broad, with their legs in the water nearly up to their knees.  This
canal is called the _lavadeira_.  Each man had a small wooden platter,
into which another slave, who stood behind him, put a shovelful of
purified cascalho.  The _bateia_, or platter, was then filled with water
and washed with the utmost care several times, being closely examined
after each washing, and the diamonds picked out.  Sometimes many
platefuls were examined but nothing found; at other times several
diamonds were found in one plate.  While Martin was looking on with much
curiosity and interest, one of the slaves uttered an exclamation and
held up a minute stone between his finger and thumb.

"Ah! good luck to ye, lad!" said Barney, advancing and taking the
diamond which had been discovered.  "See here, Martin; there's the
thing, lad, that sparkles on the brow o' beauty, and gives the Naygurs
rheumatiz--"

"Not to mention their usefulness in providing the great Baron Fagoni
with a livelihood," added Martin, with a smile.

Barney laughed, and going up to the place where the two overseers were
seated, dropped the precious gem into a plate of water placed between
them for the purpose of receiving the diamonds as they were found.

"They git fifteen or twinty a day sometimes," said Barney, as they
retraced their steps to the cottage; "and I've hear'd o' them getting
stones worth many thousands o' pounds; but the biggest they iver found
since I comed here was not worth more than four hundred."

"And what do you do with them, Barney, when they are found?" inquired
Martin.

"Sind them to Rio Janeiro, lad, where my employer sells them.  I don't
know how much he makes a year by it; but the thing must pay, for he's
very liberal with his cash, and niver forgits to pay wages.  There's
always a lot o' gould-dust found in the bottom o' the bateia after each
washing, and that is carefully collected and sold.  But, arrah!  I
wouldn't give wan snifter o' the say-breezes for all the di'monds in
Brazil!"

As Barney said this he entered his cottage and flung down his hat with
the air of a man who was resolved to stand it no longer.

"But why don't you wash on your own account?" cried Martin.  "What say
you; shall we begin together?  We may make our fortune the first week,
perhaps!"

Barney shook his head.  "No, no, boy; I've no faith in my luck with the
di'monds or gould.  Nevertheless I have hear'd o' men makin' an awful
heap o' money that way; partiklarly wan man that made his fortin with
wan stone."

"Who was that lucky dog?" asked Martin.

"Well, ye see, it happened this way: There's a custom hereaway that
slaves are allowed to work on Sundays and holidays on their own account;
but when the mines was a government consarn this was not allowed, and
the slaves were the most awful thieves livin', and often made off with
some o' the largest di'monds.  Well, there was a man named Juiz de Paz,
who owned a small shop, and used to go down now and then to Rio de
Janeiro to buy goods.  Wan evenin' he returned from wan o' his long
journeys, and, bein' rather tired, wint to bed.  He was jist goin' off
into a comfortable doze when there came a terrible bumpin' at the door.

"`Hallo!' cried Juiz, growlin' angrily in the Portugee tongue; `what
d'ye want?'

"There was no answer but another bumpin' at the door.  So up he jumps,
and, takin' down a big blunderbuss that hung over his bed, opened the
door, an' seized a Naygur be the hair o' the head!

"`Oh, massa! oh, massa! let him go!  Got di'mond for to sell!'

"On hearin' this, Juiz let go, and found that the slave had come to
offer for sale a large di'mond, which weighed about two penny-weights
and a third.

"`What d'ye ask for it?' said Juiz, with sparklin' eyes.

"`Six hundred mil-reis,' answered the Naygur.

"This was about equal to 180 pounds sterling.  Without more words about
it he paid down the money; and the slave went away.  Juiz lost his sleep
that night.  He went and tould the neighbours he had forgot a piece of
important business in Rio and must go back at wance.  So back he went
and stayed some time in the city, tryin' to git his di'mond safely sold;
for it was sich a big wan that he feared the government fellows might
hear o't; in which case he would have got ten years transportation to
Angola on the coast of Africa.  At last however, he got rid of it for
20,000 mil-reis, which is about 6000 pounds.  It was all paid to him in
hard dollars; and he nearly went out o' his wits for joy.  But he was
brought down a peg nixt day, when he found that the same di'mond was
sold for nearly twice as much as he had got for it.  Howiver, he had
made a pretty considerable fortin; an' he's now the richest di'mond and
gould merchant in the district."

"A lucky fellow certainly," said Martin.  "But I must say I have no
taste for such chance work; so I'm quite ready to start for the
sea-coast whenever it suits the Baron Fagoni's convenience."

While they were speaking they were attracted by voices outside the
cottage, which sounded as if in altercation.  In another minute the door
burst open, and a man entered hurriedly, followed by the interpreter.

"Your overseer is impertinent!" exclaimed the man, who was a tall
swarthy Brazilian.  "I wish to buy a horse or a good mule, and he won't
let me have one.  I am not a beggar; I offer to pay."

The man spoke in Portuguese, and Barney replied in the same language.

"You can have a horse _if you pay for it_."

The Brazilian replied by throwing a heavy bag of dollars on the table.

"All right," said Barney, turning to his interpreter and conversing with
him in an undertone.  "Give him what he requires."  So saying he bowed
the Brazilian out of the room, and returned to the enjoyment of his
black pipe, which had been interrupted by the incident.

"That man seems in a hurry," said Martin.

"So he is.  My interpreter tells me that he is quite like one o' the
blackguards that sometimes go about the mines doin' mischief, and he's
in hot haste to be away.  I should not wonder if the spalpeen has been
stealin' gould or di'monds and wants to escape.  But of course I've
nothin' to do with that, unless I was sure of it; and I've a horse or
two to sell, and he has money to pay for it; so he's welcome.  He says
he is makin' straight for the say-coast; and with your lave, Martin, my
boy, you and I will be doin' that same in a week after this, and say
good-bye to the di'mond mines."



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

NEW SCENES AND PLEASANT TRAVELLING.

A new and agreeable sensation is a pleasant thing.  It was on as bright
an evening as ever shone upon Brazil, and in as fair a scene as one
could wish to behold, that Martin Rattler and his friend Barney
experienced a new sensation.  On the wide campos, on the flower-bedecked
and grassy plains, they each bestrode a fiery charger; and, in the
exultation of health, and strength, and liberty, they swept over the
green sward of the undulating campos, as light as the soft wind that
fanned their bronzed cheeks, as gay in heart as the buzzing insects that
hovered above the brilliant flowers.

"Oh, this is best of all!" shouted Martin, turning his sparkling eyes to
Barney, as he reined up his steed after a gallop that caused its nostril
to expand and its eye to dilate.

"There's nothing like it!  A fiery charger that can't and _won't_ tire,
and a glorious sweep of plain like that!  Huzza! whoop!"  And loosening
the rein of his willing horse, away he went again in a wild headlong
career.

"Och, boy, pull up, or ye'll kill the baste!" cried Barney, who
thundered along at Martin's side enjoying to the full the spring of his
powerful horse; for Barney had spent the last farthing of his salary on
the two best steeds the country could produce, being determined, as he
said, to make the last overland voyage on clipper-built animals, which,
he wisely concluded, would fetch a good price at the end of the journey.
"Pull up! d'ye hear?  They can't stand goin' at that pace.  Back yer
topsails, ye young rascal, or I'll board ye in a jiffy."

"How can I pull up with _that_ before me!" cried Martin, pointing to a
wide ditch or gully that lay in front of them.  "I must go over that
first."

"Go over that!" cried Barney, endeavouring to rein in his horse, and
looking with an anxious expression at the chasm.  "It's all very well
for you to talk o' goin' over, ye feather; but fifteen stun--Ah, then,
_won't_ ye stop?  Bad luck to him, he's got the bit in his teeth!  Oh
then, ye ugly baste, go, and my blissin' go with ye!"

The leap was inevitable.  Martin went over like a deer.  Barney shut his
eyes, seized the pommel of the saddle, and went at it like a
thunder-bolt.  In the excitement of the moment he shouted, in a
stentorian voice, "Clap on all sail! d'ye hear?  Stu'n sails and
skyscrapers!  Kape her steady!  Hooray!"

It was well for Barney that he had seized the saddle.  Even as it was,
he received a tremendous blow from the horse's head as it took the leap,
and was thrown back on its haunches when it cleared the ditch, which it
did nobly.

"Hallo! old boy, not hurt, I hope," said Martin, suppressing his
laughter as his comrade scrambled on to the saddle.  "You travel about
on the back of your horse at full gallop like a circus rider."

"Whist, darlint, I do belave he has damaged my faygur-head.  What a nose
I've got!  Sure I can see it mesilf without squintin'."

"So you have, Barney.  It's a little swelled, but never mind.  We must
all learn by experience, you know.  So come alone."

"Hould on, ye spalpeen, till I git my wind!"

But Martin was off again at full speed; and Barney's horse, scorning to
be left behind, took the bit again in its teeth and went--as he himself
expressed it,--"screamin' before the wind."

A new sensation is not always and necessarily an agreeable thing.
Martin and Barney found it so on the evening of that same day, as they
reclined (they could not sit) by the side of their fire on the campo
under the shelter of one of the small trees which grew here and there at
wide intervals on the plain.  They had left the diamond mine early that
morning, and their first day on horseback proved to them that there are
shadows, as well as lights, in equestrian life.  Their only baggage was
a single change of apparel and a small bag of diamonds,--the latter
being the product of the mine during the Baron Fagoni's reign, and which
that worthy was conveying faithfully to his employer.  During the first
part of the day they had ridden though a hilly and woody country, and
towards evening they emerged upon one of the smaller campos, which occur
here and there in the district.

"Martin," said Barney, as he lay smoking his pipe, "'tis a pity that
there's no pleasure in this world without _something_ crossgrained into
it.  My own feelin's is as if I had been lately passed through a
stamping machine."

"Wrong, Barney, as usual," said Martin, who was busily engaged
concluding supper with an orange.  "If we had pleasures without
discomforts, we wouldn't half enjoy them.  We need lights and shadows in
life--what are you grinning at Barney?"

"Oh! nothin', only ye're a remarkable philosopher, when ye're in the
vein."

"'Tis always in vain to talk philosophy to you, Barney, so good night
t'ye.  Oh, dear me, I wish I could sit down! but there's no
alternative,--either bolt upright or quite flat."

In quarter of an hour they both forgot pleasures and sorrows alike in
sleep.  Next day the sun rose on the edge of the campo as it does out of
the ocean, streaming across its grassy billows, and tipping the ridges
as with ruddy gold.  At first Martin and Barney did not enjoy the lovely
scene, for they felt stiff and sore; but, after half an hour's ride,
they began to recover; and when the sun rose in all its glory on the
wide plain, the feelings of joyous bounding freedom that such scenes
always engender obtained the mastery, and they coursed along in silent
delight.

The campo was hard, composed chiefly of a stiff red clay soil, and
covered with short grass in most places; but here and there were rank
bushes of long hairy grasses, around and amongst which grew a multitude
of the most exquisitely beautiful flowerets and plants of elegant forms.
Wherever these flowers flourished very luxuriantly there were single
trees of stunted growth and thick bark, which seldom rose above fifteen
or twenty feet.  Besides these there were rich flowering myrtles, and
here and there a grotesque cactus or two.

Under one of these trees they reined up after a ride of two hours, and
picketing their horses, prepared breakfast.  It was soon despatched, and
then remounting, away they went once more over the beautiful plains.

About mid-day, as they were hasting towards the shelter of a grove which
appeared opportunely on the horizon, Barney said suddenly--

"Martin, lad, we're lost!  We're out of our course, for sartin."

"I've been thinking that for some time, Barney," replied Martin; "but
you have your compass, and we can surely make the coast by dead
reckoning--eh?"

"True, lad, we can; but it'll cost us a dale o' tackin' to make up for
lee-way.  Ah, good luck to ye! here's a friend'll help us."

As he spoke a herd of wild cattle dashed out of the grove and scampered
over the plain, followed by a herdsman on horseback.  Seeing that he was
in eager pursuit of an animal which he wished to lasso, they followed
him quietly and watched his movements.  Whirling the noose round his
head, he threw it adroitly in such a manner that the bull put one of its
legs within the coil.  Then he reined up suddenly, and the animal was
thrown on its back.  At the same moment the lasso broke, and the bull
recovered its feet and continued its wild flight.

"Good day, friend," said Barney, galloping towards the disappointed
herdsman and addressing him in Portuguese, "could you show us the road
to Rio?  We've lost it intirely."

The man pointed sulkily in the direction in which they were going, and,
having mended his lasso, he wheeled about and galloped after the herd of
cattle.

"Bad luck to yer manners!" said Barney, as he gazed after him.  "But
what can ye expect from the poor critter?  He niver larned better.  Come
along, Martin, we'll rest here a while."

They were soon under the shelter of the trees, and having fastened their
horses to one of them, they proceeded to search for water.  While thus
employed, Barney shouted to his companion, "Come here, lad; look here."

There was something in the tone of the Irishman's voice that startled
Martin, and he sprang hastily towards him.  Barney was standing with his
arms crossed upon his chest and his head bowed forward, as he gazed with
a solemn expression on the figure of a man at his feet.

"Is he ill?" inquired Martin, stooping and lifting his hand.  Starting
back as he dropped it, he exclaimed, "Dead!"

"Ay, boy, he has gone to his last account.  Look at him again, Martin.
It was he who came to the mine a week ago to buy a horse, and now--."
Barney sighed as he stooped and turned the body over in order to
ascertain whether he had been murdered; but there were no marks of
violence to be seen.  There was bread too in his wallet; so they could
come to no other conclusion than that the unhappy man had been seized
with fatal illness in the lonesome wood and died there.

As they searched his clothes they found a small leathern bag, which, to
their amazement was filled with gold-dust; and in the midst of the gold
was another smaller bag containing several small diamonds.

"Ha!" exclaimed Martin, "that explains his hurry.  No doubt he had made
off with these, and was anxious to avoid pursuit."

"No doubt of it," said Barney.  "Well, thief or no thief, we must give
the poor cratur' dacent burial.  There's not a scrap o' paper to tell
who he is or where he came from,--a sure sign that he wasn't what he
should ha' been.  Ah!  Martin, what will we not do for the sake o'
money! and, after all, we can't keep it long.  May the Almighty niver
let you or me set our hearts on it."

They dug a shallow grave with their hands in a sandy spot where the soil
was loose, in which they deposited the body of the unfortunate man; and
then remounting their horses, rode away and left him in his lonely
resting-place.

For many days did Martin and Barney travel through the land on
horseback, now galloping over open campos, anon threading their way
through the forest, and sometimes toiling slowly up the mountain sides.
The aspect of the country varied continually as they advanced, and the
feelings of excessive hilarity with which they commenced the journey
began to subside as they became accustomed to it.

One evening they were toiling slowly up a steep range of hills, which
had been the prospect in front of them the whole of that day.  As they
neared the summit of the range Martin halted at a stream to drink, and
Barney advanced alone.  Suddenly Martin was startled by a loud cry, and
looking up he saw Barney on his knees with his hands clasped before him!
Rushing up the hill, Martin found his comrade with his face flushed and
the tears coursing down his cheeks as he stared before him.

"Look at it Martin, dear!" he cried, starting up and flinging his cap in
the air, and shouting like a madman.  "The say! my own native illiment!
the beautiful ocean!  Och, darlint my blessing on ye!  Little did I
think to see you more,--hooray!"

Barney sang and danced till he sank down on the grass exhausted; and, to
say truth, Martin felt much difficulty in restraining himself from doing
likewise, for before him was spread out the bright ocean, gleaming in
the light of the sinking sun, and calm and placid as a mirror.  It was
indeed a glorious sight to these two sailors, who had not seen the sea
for nearly two years.  It was like coming suddenly face to face--after a
long absence--with an old and much-loved friend.

Although visible, the sea, however, was still a long way off from the
Serra dos Orgos, on which they stood.  But their steeds were good, and
it was not long ere they were both rolling like dolphins in the
beautiful bay of Rio de Janeiro.

Here Barney delivered up the gold and diamonds to his employer, who paid
him liberally for his services and entertained them both hospitably
while they remained in the city.  The bag of gold and diamonds, which
had been found on the body of the dead man, they appropriated, as it was
absolutely impossible to discover the rightful owner.  Barney's friend
bought it of them at full price; and when they embarked, soon after, on
board a homeward bound ship, each had four hundred pounds in his pocket!

As they sailed out of the noble harbour Martin sat on the poop gazing at
the receding shore while thick-coming memories crowded on his brain.

His imagination flew back to the day when he first landed on the coast,
and escaped with his friend Barney from the pirates,--to the hermit's
cottage in the lonely valley, where he first made acquaintance with
monkeys, iguanas, jaguars, armadillos, and all the wonderful, beautiful,
and curious birds, beasts, and reptiles, plants, trees, and flowers,
that live and flourish in that romantic country.  Once more, in fancy,
he was sailing up the mighty Amazon, shooting alligators on its banks,
spearing fish in its waters, paddling through its curious gapo, and
swinging in his hammock under its luxuriant forests.  Once again he was
a prisoner among the wild Indians, and he started convulsively as he
thought of the terrible leap over the precipice into the stream that
flowed into the heart of the earth.  Then he wandered in the lonely
forest.  Suddenly the diamond mines were before him, and Barney's jovial
voice rang in his ears; and he replied to it with energy, for now he was
bounding on a fiery steed over the grassy campos.  With a deep sigh he
awoke from his reverie to find himself surrounded by the great wide sea.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

THE RETURN.

Arthur Jollyboy, Esquire, of the Old Hulk, sat on the top of a tall
three-legged stool in his own snug little office in the sea-port town of
Bilton, with his legs swinging to and fro; his socks displayed a
considerable way above the tops of his gaiters; his hands thrust deep
into his breeches pockets; his spectacles high on his bald forehead, and
his eyes looking through the open letter that lay before him; through
the desk underneath it; through the plank floor, cellars and foundations
of the edifice; and through the entire world into the distant future
beyond.

"Four thousand pair of socks," he murmured, pulling down his spectacles
and consulting the open letter for the tenth time: "four thousand pair
of socks, with the hitch, same as last bale, but a very little coarser
in material."

"Four thousand pair! and who's to make them, I wonder.  If poor Mrs
Dorothy Grumbit were here--ah! well, she's gone, so it can't be helped.
Four thousand!--dear me who _will_ make them.  Do _you_ know?"

This question was addressed to his youngest clerk, who sat on the
opposite side of the desk staring at Mr Jollyboy with that open
impudence of expression peculiar to young puppy-dogs whose masters are
unusually indulgent.

"No, sir, I don't," said the clerk with a broad grin.

Before the perplexed merchant could come at any conclusion on this
knotty subject the door opened and Martin Rattler entered the room,
followed by his friend Barney O'Flannagan.

"You've come to the wrong room, friends," said Mr Jollyboy with a
benignant smile.  "My principal clerk engages men and pays wages.  His
office is just opposite; first door in the passage."

"We don't want to engage," said Martin; "we wish to speak with you,
sir."

"Oh, beg pardon!" cried Mr Jollyboy, leaping off the stool with
surprising agility for a man of his years.  "Come in this way.  Pray be
seated--Eh! ah, surely I've seen you before, my good fellow?"

"Yis, sir, that ye have.  I've sailed aboard your ships many a time.  My
name's Barney O'Flannagan, at yer sarvice."

"Ah!  I recollect; and a good man you are, I've been told, Barney; but I
have lost sight of you for some years.  Been on a long voyage, I
suppose?"

"Well, not 'xactly; but I've been on a long cruise, an' no mistake, in
the woods o' Brazil I wos wrecked on the coast there, in the Firefly."

"Ah, to be sure.  I remember.  And your young messmate here, was he with
you?"

"Yes, sir, I was," said Martin, answering for himself; "and I had once
the pleasure of your acquaintance.  Perhaps if you look steadily in my
face you may--"

"Ah, then! don't try to bamboozle him.  He might as well look at a bit
o' mahogany as at your faygur-head.  Tell him at wance, Martin, dear."

"Martin?" exclaimed the puzzled old gentleman, seizing the young sailor
by the shoulders and gazing intently into his face.  "Martin!  Martin!
Surely not--yes! eh!  Martin Rattler?"

"Ay that am I, dear Mr Jollyboy, safe and sound, and--"

Martin's speech was cut short in consequence of his being violently
throttled by Mr Jollyboy, who flung his arms round his neck and
staggered recklessly about the office with him!  This was the great
point which Barney had expected; it was the climax to which he had been
looking forward all the morning: and it did not come short of his
anticipations; for Mr Jollyboy danced round Martin and embraced him for
at least ten minutes, asking him at the same time a shower of questions
which he gave him no time to answer.  In the excess of his delight
Barney smote his thigh with his broad hand so forcibly that it burst
upon the startled clerk like a pistol-shot, and caused him to spring off
his stool!

"Don't be afeared, young un," said Barney, winking and poking the small
clerk jocosely in the ribs with his thumb.  "Isn't it beautiful to see
them?  Arrah, now! isn't it purty?"

"Keep your thumbs to yourself, you sea monster," said the small clerk,
angrily, and laying his hand on the ruler.  But Barney minded him not,
and continued to smite his thigh and rub his hands, while he performed a
sort of gigantic war-dance round Mr Jollyboy and Martin.

In a few minutes the old gentleman subsided sufficiently to understand
questions.

"But, my aunt," said Martin, anxiously; "you have said nothing about
Aunt Dorothy.  How is she? where is she? is she well?"

To these questions Mr Jollyboy returned no answer, but sitting suddenly
down on a chair, he covered his face with his hands.

"She is not ill?" inquired Martin in a husky voice, while his heart beat
violently.  "Speak, Mr Jollyboy, is she--is she--"

"No, she's not ill," returned the old gentleman; "but she's--"

"She is dead!" said Martin, in a tone so deep and sorrowful that the old
gentleman started up.

"No, no, not dead, my dear boy; I did not mean that.  Forgive my
stupidity, Martin.  Aunt Dorothy is gone,--left the village a year ago;
and I have never seen or heard of her since."

Terrible though this news was, Martin felt a slight degree of relief to
know that she was not dead;--at least there was reason to hope that she
might be still alive.

"But when did she go? and why? and where?"

"She went about twelve months ago," replied Mr Jollyboy.  "You see,
Martin, after she lost you she seemed to lose all hope and all spirit;
and at last she gave up making socks for me, and did little but moan in
her seat in the window and look out towards the sea.  So I got a
pleasant young girl to take care of her; and she did not want for any of
the comforts of life.  One day the little girl came to me here, having
run all the way from the village, to say that Mrs Grumbit had packed up
a bundle of clothes and gone off to Liverpool by the coach.  She took
the opportunity of the girl's absence on some errand to escape; and we
should never have known it, had not some boys of the village seen her
get into the coach and tell the guard that she was going to make
inquiries after Martin.  I instantly set out for Liverpool; but long
before I arrived the coach had discharged its passengers, and the
coachman, not suspecting that anything was wrong, had taken no notice of
her after arriving.  From that day to this I have not ceased to
advertise and make all possible inquiries, but without success."

Martin heard the narrative in silence, and when it was finished he sat a
few minutes gazing vacantly before him, like one in a dream.  Then
starting up suddenly, he wrung Mr Jollyboy's hand, "Good-bye, my dear
friend; good-bye.  I shall go to Liverpool.  We shall meet again."

"Stay, Martin, stay--"

But Martin had rushed from the room, followed by his faithful friend,
and in less than half an hour they were in the village of Ashford.  The
coach was to pass in twenty minutes, so, bidding Barney engage two
outside seats, he hastened round by the road towards the cottage.  There
it stood, quaint time-worn, and old-fashioned, as when he had last seen
it--the little garden in which he had so often played, the bower in
which, on fine weather, Aunt Dorothy used to sit, and the door-step on
which the white kitten used to gambol.  But the shutters were closed,
and the door was locked, and there was an air of desolation and a deep
silence brooding over the place, that sank more poignantly into Martin's
heart than if he had come and found every vestige of the home of his
childhood swept away.  It was like the body without the soul.  The
flowers, and stones, and well-known forms were there; but she who had
given animation to the whole was gone.  Sitting down on the door-step,
Martin buried his face in his hands and wept.

He was quickly aroused by the bugle of the approaching coach.  Springing
up, he dashed the tears away and hurried towards the highroad.  In a few
minutes Barney and he were seated on the top of the coach, and dashing,
at the rate of ten miles an hour, along the road to Liverpool.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

THE OLD GARRET.

Days, and weeks, and months, passed away, and Martin had searched every
nook and corner of the great sea-port without discovering his old aunt,
or obtaining the slightest information regarding her.  At first he and
Barney went about the search together, but after a time he sent his old
companion forcibly away to visit his own relatives, who dwelt not far
from Bilton, at the same time promising that if he had any good news to
tell he would immediately write and let him know.

One morning, as Martin was sitting beside the little fire in his
lodging, a tap came to the door, and the servant girl told him that a
policeman wished to see him.

"Show him in," said Martin, who was not in the least surprised, for he
had had much intercourse with these guardians of the public peace during
the course of his unavailing search.

"I think, sir," said the man on entering, "that we've got scent of an
old woman wich is as like the one that you're arter as hanythink."

Martin rose in haste, "have you, my man?  Are you sure?"

"'Bout as sure as a man can be who never seed her.  But it won't take
you long to walk.  You'd better come and see for yourself."

Without uttering another word, Martin put on his hat, and followed the
policeman.  They passed through several streets and lanes, and at length
came to one of the poorest districts of the city, not far-distant from
the shipping.  Turning down a narrow alley, and crossing a low
dirty-looking court, Martin's guide stopped before a door, which he
pushed open and mounted by a flight of rickety wooden stairs to a
garret.  He opened the door and entered.

"There she is," said the man in a tone of pity, as he pointed to a
corner of the apartment, "an' I'm afeer'd she's goin' fast."

Martin stepped towards a low truckle-bed on which lay the emaciated form
of a woman covered with a scanty and ragged quilt.  The corner of it was
drawn across her face, and so gentle was her breathing that it seemed as
if she were already dead.  Martin removed the covering, and one glance
at that gentle, careworn countenance sufficed to convince him that his
old aunt lay before him!  His first impulse was to seize her in his
strong arms, but another look at the frail and attenuated form caused
him to shrink back in fear.

"Leave me," he said, rising hastily and slipping half a sovereign into
the policeman's hand; "this is she.  I wish to be alone with her."

The man touched his hat and retired, closing the door behind him; while
Martin, sitting down on the bed, took one of his aunt's thin hands in
his.  The action was tenderly performed, but it awoke her.  For the
first time it flashed across Martin's mind that the sudden joy at seeing
him might be too much for one so feeble as Aunt Dorothy seemed to be.
He turned his back hastily to the light and with a violent effort
suppressed his feelings while he asked how she did.

"Well, very well," said Aunt Dorothy, in a faint voice.  "Are you the
missionary that was here long ago?  Oh!  I've been longing for you.  Why
did you not come to read to me oftener about Jesus?  But I have had him
here although you did not come.  He has been saying `Come unto me, ye
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'  Yes, I have
found rest in Him."  She ceased and seemed to fall asleep again; but in
a few seconds she opened her eyes and said, "Martin, too, has been to
see me; but he does not come so often now.  The darling boy used always
to come to me in my dreams.  But he never brings me food.  Why does no
one ever bring me food?  I am hungry."

"Should you like food now, if I brought it to you?" said Martin in a low
voice.

"Yes, yes; bring me food,--I am dying."

Martin released her hand and glided gently out of the room.  In a few
minutes he returned with a can of warm soup and a roll; of which Aunt
Dorothy partook with an avidity that showed she had been in urgent need.
Immediately after, she went to sleep; and Martin sat upon the bed
holding her hand in both of his till she awoke, which she did in an hour
after, and again ate a little food.

While she was thus engaged the door opened and a young man entered, who
stated that he was a doctor, and had been sent there by a policeman.

"There is no hope," he said in a whisper, after feeling her pulse; "the
system is quite exhausted."

"Doctor," whispered Martin, seizing the young man by the arm, "can
nothing save her?  I have money, and can command _anything_ that may do
her good."

The doctor shook his head.  "You may give her a little wine.  It will
strengthen her for a time, but I fear there is no hope.  I will send in
a bottle if you wish it."

Martin gave him the requisite sum, and in a few minutes the wine was
brought up by a boy.

The effect of the wine was wonderful.  Aunt Dorothy's eyes sparkled as
they used to do in days of old, and she spoke with unwonted energy.

"You are kind to me, young man," she said, looking earnestly into
Martin's face, which, however, he kept carefully in shadow.  "May our
Lord reward you."

"Would you like me to talk to you of your nephew?" said Martin; "I have
seen him abroad."

"Seen my boy!  Is he not dead?"

"No; he is alive, and in this country, too."

Aunt Dorothy turned pale, but did not reply for a few minutes, during
which she grasped his hand convulsively.

"Turn your face to the light," she said faintly.

Martin obeyed, and bending over her whispered, "He is here; I am Martin,
my dear, dear aunt--"

No expression of surprise escaped from Aunt Dorothy as she folded her
arms round his neck, and pressed his head upon her bosom.  His hot tears
fell upon her neck while she held him, but she spoke not.  It was
evident that, as the strength infused by the wine abated, her faculties
became confused.  At length she whispered,--"It is good of you to come
to see me, darling boy.  You have often come to me in my dreams.  But do
not leave me so soon; stay a very little longer."

"This is no dream, dearest aunt," whispered Martin, while his tears
flowed faster; "I am really here."

"So you always say, my darling child; but you always go away and leave
me.  This is a dream, no doubt like all the rest; but oh, it seems very
very real!  You never _wept_ before, although you often smiled.  Surely
this is the best and brightest dream I ever had!"

Continuing to murmur his name while she clasped him tightly to her
bosom, Aunt Dorothy gently fell asleep.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

CONCLUSION.

Aunt Dorothy Grumbit did _not_ die!  Her gentle spirit had nearly fled;
but Martin's return and Martin's tender nursing brought her round, and
she gradually regained all her former strength and vigour.  Yes, to the
unutterable joy of Martin, to the inexpressible delight of Mr Arthur
Jollyboy and Barney, and to the surprise and complete discomfiture of
the young doctor who shook his head and said, "There is no hope," Aunt
Dorothy Grumbit recovered, and was brought back in health and in triumph
to her old cottage at Ashford.

Moreover, she was arrayed again in the old bed-curtain chintz with the
flowers as big as saucers, and the old high-crowned cap.  A white kitten
was got, too, so like the one that used to be Martin's playmate, that no
one could discover a hair of difference.  So remarkable was this, that
Martin made inquiry, and found that it was actually the grand-daughter
of the old kitten, which was still alive and well; so he brought it back
too, and formally installed it in the cottage along with its grandchild.

There was a great house-warming, on the night of the day, in which Aunt
Dorothy Grumbit was brought back.  Mr Arthur Jollyboy was there--of
course; and the vicar was there; and the pursy doctor who used to call
Martin "a scamp;" and the schoolmaster; and last--though not least
Barney O'Flannagan was there.  And they all had tea, during which dear
Aunt Dorothy smiled sweetly on everybody and said nothing--and, indeed,
did nothing, except that once or twice she put additional sugar and
cream into Martin's cup when he was not looking, and stroked one of his
hands continually.  After tea Martin related his adventures in Brazil,
and Barney helped him; and these two talked more that night than any one
could have believed it possible for human beings to do, without the aid
of steam lungs!  And the doctor listened, and the vicar and schoolmaster
questioned, and old Mr Jollyboy roared and laughed till he became
purple in the face--particularly at the sallies of Barney.  As for old
Aunt Dorothy Grumbit, she listened when Martin spoke.  When Martin was
silent she became stone deaf!

In the course of time Mr Jollyboy made Martin his head clerk; and then,
becoming impatient, he made him his partner off-hand.  Then he made
Barney O'Flannagan an overseer in the warehouses; and when the duties of
the day were over, the versatile Irishman became his confidential
servant and went to sup and sleep at the Old Hulk; which, he used to
remark, was quite a natural and proper and decidedly comfortable place
to come to an anchor in.

Martin became the stay and comfort of his aunt in her old age; and the
joy which he was the means of giving to her heart was like a deep and
placid river which never ceases to flow.  Ah! there is a rich blessing
in store for those who tenderly nurse and comfort the aged, when called
upon to do so; and assuredly there is a sharp thorn prepared for those
who neglect this sacred duty.  Martin read the Bible to her night and
morning; and she did nothing but watch for him at the window while he
was out.  As Martin afterwards became an active member of the benevolent
societies, with which his partner was connected, he learned from sweet
experience that, "it is more blessed to give than to receive," and that,
"it is _better_ to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house
of feasting."  Dear young reader, do not imagine that we plead in favour
of moroseness or gloom.  Laugh if you will, and feast if you will, and
remember, too, that, "a merry heart is a continual feast;" but we pray
you not to forget that God himself has said that a visit to the house of
mourning is _better_ than a visit to the house of feasting: and, strange
to say, it is productive of greater joy; for to do good is better than
to get good, as surely as sympathy is better than selfishness.

Martin visited the poor and read the Bible to them; and in watering
others he was himself watered, for he found the "Pearl of Great Price,"
even Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world.

Business prospered in the hands of Martin Rattler, too, and he became a
man of substance.  Naturally, too, he became a man of great importance
in the town of Bilton.  The quantity of work that Martin and Mr
Jollyboy and Barney used to get through was quite marvellous; and the
number of engagements they had during the course of a day was quite
bewildering.

In the existence of all men, who are not born to unmitigated misery,
there are times and seasons of peculiar enjoyment.  The happiest hour of
all the twenty-four to Martin Rattler was the hour of seven in the
evening; for then it was that he found himself seated before the blazing
fire in the parlour of the Old Hulk, to which Aunt Dorothy Grumbit had
consented to be removed, and in which she was now a fixture.  Then it
was that old Mr Jollyboy beamed with benevolence, until the old lady
sometimes thought the fire was going to melt him; then it was that the
tea-kettle sang on the hob like a canary; and then it was that Barney
bustled about the room preparing the evening meal, and talking all the
time with the most perfect freedom to any one who chose to listen to
him.  Yes, seven p.m. was Martin's great hour, and Aunt Dorothy's great
hour, and old Mr Jollyboy's great hour, and Barney's too; for each knew
that the labours of the day were done, and that the front door was
locked for the night, and that a great talk was brewing.  They had a
tremendous talk every night, sometimes on one subject, sometimes on
another; but the subject of all others that they talked oftenest about
was their travels.  And many a time and oft, when the winter storms
howled round the Old Hulk, Barney was invited to draw in his chair, and
Martin and he plunged again vigorously into the great old forests of
South America, and spoke so feelingly about them that Aunt Dorothy and
Mr Jollyboy almost fancied themselves transported into the midst of
tropical scenes, and felt as if they were surrounded by parrots, and
monkeys, and jaguars, and alligators, and anacondas, and all the
wonderful birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, that inhabit the woods
and waters of Brazil.

THE END.





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