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Title: Argentina from a British Point of View
Author: Various
Language: English
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ARGENTINA FROM A BRITISH POINT OF VIEW

AND

NOTES ON ARGENTINE LIFE.



With Photographs and Diagrams.


EDITED BY
CAMPBELL P. OGILVIE.


LONDON:
WERTHEIMER, LEA & CO.,
CLIFTON HOUSE, WORSHIP STREET, E.C
1910.


PRINTED BY WERTHEIMER, LEA & CO., CLIFTON HOUSE, WORSHIP STREET, LONDON,
E.C


DEDICATED To _all_ THE SHAREHOLDERS OF THE SANTA FÉ LAND COMPANY,
LIMITED, _who take a real interest in the Company_.



PREFACE.


In May last I was asked to read, towards the end of the year, a paper on
Argentina, before the Royal Society of Arts. The task of compiling that
paper was one of absorbing interest to me; and though I fully realise
how inadequately I have dealt with so interesting a subject, I venture
to think that the facts and figures which the paper contains may be of
interest to some, at any rate, of the Shareholders of the Santa Fé Land
Company. It is upon this supposition that it is published.

Whilst I was obtaining the latest information for the paper (which was
read before the Royal Society of Arts on November 30th, 1910), several
members of the staff of the Santa Fé Land Company aided me by writing
some useful and interesting notes on subjects connected with Argentina,
and also giving various experiences which they had undergone whilst
resident there. I am indebted to the writers for many hints on life in
Argentina, and as I think that others will find the reading of the notes
as engaging as I did, they are now reproduced just as I received them,
and incorporated with my own paper in a book of which they form by no
means the least interesting part.

The final portion of the book--Leaves from a journal entitled "The
Tacuru"--is written in a lighter vein. It describes a trip through some
of the Northern lands of the Santa Fé Land Company, and it is included
because, although frankly humorous, it contains much really useful
information and many capital illustrations, I should, however, mention
that this journal was written by members of the expedition, and was
originally intended solely for their own private edification and
amusement; therefore all the happier phases of the trip are noted; but I
can assure my English readers that the trip, well though it was planned,
was not all luxury.

To the many who have helped me in this work I tender my most sincere
thanks.

CAMPBELL P. OGILVIE.

     LAWFORD PLACE,
        MANNINGTREE, ESSEX,
            _December, 1910_.


CONTENTS.


                                                   PAGE

ARGENTINA FROM A BRITISH POINT OF VIEW                1

HISTORY OF THE SANTA FÉ LAND COMPANY, LIMITED        33

THE VALUE OF LAND IN ARGENTINA                       45

REMARKS ON STORMS AND THE CLIMATE OF THE ARGENTINE   51

SOME EXPERIENCE OF WORKING ON ESTANCIAS              57

THE SOCIAL SIDE OF CAMP LIFE                         69

CARNIVAL IN THE ARGENTINE                            75

HORSE-RACING IN THE ARGENTINE                        79

SUNDAYS IN CAMP                                      87

THE SERVANT PROBLEM IN ARGENTINA                     91

POLICE OF A BYGONE DAY                               97

A VISIT TO THE NORTHERN CHACO                       107

WORK IN THE WOODS                                   119

CACHAPÉS, AND OTHER THINGS                          125

MY FRIEND THE AXEMAN                                131

DUST AND OTHER STORMS                               141

LOCUSTS                                             147

CONSCRIPT LIFE IN THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC            155

ACROSS THE BOLIVIAN ANDES IN 1901                   161

PROGRESS OF THE PORT OF BUENOS AIRES                185

JUST MY LUCK!                                       193

"THE TACURU"                                        199



LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS.


                                               FACING PAGE

CATTLE TRAIN ON CENTRAL ARGENTINE RAILWAY,
BRINGING CATTLE TO BARRANCOSA                           39

LOADING WHEAT AT ROSARIO FROM THE "BARRANCA"            40

SAN CRISTOBAL ESTANCIA HOUSE                            41

WATERING-PLACE AT BARRANCOSA                            42

WOOD ON THE COMPANY'S OWN LINE READY FOR LOADING        43

LOADING TIMBER AT WAYSIDE STATION                       44

WHEAT READY FOR LOADING AT STATION ON CENTRAL
ARGENTINE RAILWAY                                       48

THE MAKER OF LAND VALUES                                50

TENNIS PARTY AT VERA                                    73

CARNIVAL AT VERA                                        77

"A DAY OF REAL ENJOYMENT"                               90

SQUARE QUEBRACHO LOGS WORKED BY THE AXEMAN, SHOWING
RESIN OOZING THEREFROM                                 134

LOADING WHEAT AT THE PORT OF BUENOS AIRES              187

HORSES AWAITING INSPECTION                             209

STACKING ALFALFA                                       210

ALFALFA ELEVATOR AT WORK                               211

THE GREEN FIELDS OF ALFALFA                            212

HERD OF CATTLE                                         215

EXPANSE OF ALFALFA                                     221

DISC-PLOUGH AT WORK                                    222

ROADMAKER AND RAILROAD BUILDER                         223

PLOUGHING VIRGIN CAMP                                  226

HART-PARR ENGINE, DRAWING ROADMAKER                    228

CATTLE LEAVING DIP                                     233

CROSSING THE SALADO                                    240

THE EFFECT OF A LONG DROUGHT                           241

REFINED CAMPS                                          242

"RICH BLACK ALLUVIAL SOIL"                             251

WATER KNEE-DEEP                                        265

QUEBRACHO COLORADO TREE                                266

SLEEPERS AWAITING TRANSPORT AT VERA                    267

TANNIN EXTRACT FACTORY                                 268

SOME OF THE HORSES                                     271

"AWFUL FLOOD"                                          276

ON THE WAY TO OLMOS                                    277



LIST OF DIAGRAMS.

                                               FACING PAGE

IMMIGRATION RETURNS                                      2

AGRICULTURAL EXPORTATION                                14

CULTIVATED AREA IN HECTARES                             15

VALUE IN £ STERLING OF THE TOTAL EXPORTS OF
ARGENTINA, 1900-09                                      22



ARGENTINA FROM A BRITISH POINT OF VIEW.


Argentina, which does not profess to be a manufacturing country,
exported in 1909 material grown on her own lands to the value of
£79,000,000, and imported goods to the extent of £60,000,000. This fact
arrests our attention, and forces us to recognise that there is a trade
balance of nearly 20 millions sterling in her favour, and to realise the
saving power of the country.

It is not mere curiosity which prompts us to ask: "Are these £79,000,000
worth of exports of any value to us? Do we consume any of them? Do we
manufacture any of them? And do we send any of this same stuff back
again after it has been dealt with by our British artisans?" It would be
difficult to follow definitely any one article, but upon broad lines the
questions are simple and can be easily answered. Amongst the
agricultural exports we find wheat, oats, maize, linseed, and flour. The
value placed upon these in 1908 amounted to £48,000,000, and England
pays for and consumes nearly 42 per cent. of these exports. Other goods,
such as frozen beef, chilled beef, mutton, pork, wool, and articles
which may be justly grouped as the results of the cattle and sheep
industry, amounted to no less a figure than £23,000,000. All these
exports represent foodstuffs or other necessities of life, and are
consumed by those nations which do not produce enough from their own
soil to keep their teeming populations. Another export which is worthy
of particular mention comes from the forests, viz., quebracho, which, in
the form of logs and extract, was exported in 1908 to the value of
£1,200,000. The value of material of all sorts sent from England to
Argentina in 1908 was £16,938,872 (this figure includes such things as
manufactured woollen goods, leather goods, oils, and paints), therefore
it is clear that we have, and must continue to take, a practical and
financial interest in the welfare and prosperity of Argentina.

New countries cannot get on without men willing and ready to exploit
Nature's gifts, and, naturally, we look to the immigration returns when
considering Argentina's progress. To give each year's return for the
last 50 years would be wearisome, but, taking the average figures for
ten-year periods from 1860 to 1909, we have the following interesting
table. (The figures represent the balance of those left in the country
after allowing for emigration):--

                                  Yearly Average.
From 1860 to 1869 (inclusive)   ...  15,044
  "  1870  " 1879   "           ...  29,462
  "  1880  " 1889   "           ...  84,586
  "  1890  " 1899   "           ...  43,618
  "  1900  " 1909   "           ... 100,998

Sixty-five per cent. of the immigrants are agricultural labourers, who
soon find work in the country, and again add their quota to the
increasing quantity and value of materials to be exported. Facing this
page is a diagram of the Immigration Returns from 1857 to 1909.

Nature has been lavish in her gifts to Argentina, and man has taken
great advantage of these gifts. My desire now is to show what has been
done in the way of developing agriculture in this richly-endowed country
during the last fifty years. One name which should never be forgotten in
Argentina is that of William Wheelwright, whose entrance into active
life in Buenos Aires was not particularly dignified; in 1826 he was
shipwrecked at the mouth of the River Plate, and struggled on
barefooted, hatless and starving to the small town of Quilmes.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM OF IMMIGRATION RETURNS.

NOTE:--IN THE YEARS 1888, 1889 & 1890 THE ARGENTINE GOVERNMENT ASSISTED
PASSAGES.]

Mr. Wheelwright was an earnest and far-seeing man, and his knowledge of
railways in the United States helped him to realise their great
possibilities in Argentina; but, strange to say, upon his return to his
native land he could not impress any of those men who afterwards became
such great "Railway Kings" in the U.S.A. Failing to obtain capital for
Argentine railway development in his own country, Wheelwright came to
England, and interested Thomas Brassey, whose name was then a household
word amongst railway pioneers. These two men associated themselves with
Messrs. Ogilvie & Wythes, forming themselves into the firm of Brassey,
Ogilvie, Wythes & Wheelwright, whose first work was the building of a
railway 17,480 kilometres long between Buenos Aires and Quilmes in 1863;
afterwards they built the line from Rosario to Cordova, which is
embodied to-day in the Central Argentine Railway. Other railways were
projected, and this policy of progress and extension of the steel road
still holds good in Argentina.

The year 1857 saw the first railway built, from Buenos Ayres to Flores,
5,879 kilometres long; in 1870 there were 457 miles of railroad; in 1880
the railways had increased their mileage to 1,572; in 1890 Argentina
possessed 5,895 miles of railway, and in 1900 there were 10,352 miles.

The rapid increase in railway mileage during the last nine years is as
follows:--

In 1901 there were 10,565 miles of railway.
 " 1902  "     "   10,868   "    "    "
 " 1903  "     "   11,500   "    "    "
 " 1904  "     "   12,140   "    "    "
 " 1905  "     "   12,370   "    "    "
 " 1906  "     "   12,850   "    "    "
 " 1907  "     "   13,829   "    "    "
 " 1908  "     "   14,825   "    "    "
 " 1909  "     "   15,937[A]"    "    "

12,000 of which are owned by English companies, representing a capital
investment of £170,000,000.

In other words, for the last forty years Argentina has built railways
at the rate of over a mile a day, and in 1907, 1908, and 1909 her
average rate per day was nearly three miles. This means that owing to
the extension of railways during this last year alone, over a million
more acres of land could have been given up to the plough if suitable
for the cultivation of corn.

When William Wheelwright first visited Argentina it was little more than
an unknown land, whose inhabitants had no ambition, and no desire to
acquire wealth--except at the expense of broken heads. There was a
standard of wealth, but it lay in the number of cattle owned; land was
of little value, save for feeding cattle, and therefore counted for
naught, but cattle could be boiled down for tallow; bones and hides were
also marketable commodities; the man, therefore, who possessed cattle
possessed wealth.

The opening out of the country by railways soon changed the aspect of
affairs. The man who possessed cattle was no longer considered the rich
man; it was he who owned leagues of land upon which wheat could be grown
who became the potentially rich man; he, by cutting up his land and
renting it to the immigrants, who were beginning to flock in in an
endless stream to the country, found that riches were being accumulated
for him without much exertion on his part. He took a risk inasmuch as he
received payment in kind only. Therefore, when the immigrants did well,
so did he, and as many thousands of immigrants have become rich, it
follows that the land proprietors have become immensely so. It was the
railways which created this possibility, and endowed the country by
rendering it practicable to grow corn where cattle only existed before,
but many Argentines to-day forget what they owe to the railway pioneers;
it is the railways, and the railways only, which render the splendid and
yearly increasing exports possible.

In 1858 cattle formed 25 per cent. of the total wealth of Argentina, but
in 1885 cattle only represented 18 per cent. of the total wealth,
railways having made it possible during those thirty years to utilise
lands for other purposes than cattle-feeding. Let it be clearly
understood, the total value of cattle had not decreased; far from that,
the cattle had increased in value during the above period to the extent
of £48,000,000, and to-day cattle, sheep, horses, mules, pigs, goats and
asses represent a value of nearly £130,000,000. The following table
shows how great the improvement has been in Argentine animals:--

                                             Per Head.
Cattle in 1885 were valued at an average of  $13[B]
   "      1908        "      "      "         32
Sheep  in 1885        "      "      "          2
   "      1908        "      "      "          4
Horses in 1885        "      "      "         11
          1908        "      "      "         25

Notwithstanding these increased valuations per head, and the larger
number of animals in the country, the value created by man's labour far
outweighs the increased value of mere breeding animals.

Next to the railways the improvements in shipping have helped the
development of Argentina; the shipping trade of Buenos Aires has
increased at the rate of one million tons per annum for the past few
years, and the entries into the port form an interesting and instructive
table:

The following statement gives the total tonnage that passed through the
port of Buenos Aires from 1880 to 1909, and will more clearly show the
increase and advance made in the last thirty years. These figures
include both steamers and sailing-vessels, and local as well as foreign
trade:--

                Tons.
1880  ...    644,750
1881  ...    827,072
1882  ...    995,597
1883  ...  1,207,321
1884  ...  1,782,382
1885  ...  2,200,779
1886  ...  2,408,323
1887  ...  3,369,057
1888  ...  3,396,212
1889  ...  3,804,037
1890  ...  4,507,096
1891  ...  4,546,729
1892  ...  5,475,942
1893  ...  6,177,818
1894  ...  6,686,123
1895  ...  6,894,834
1896  ...  6,115,547
1897  ...  7,365,547
1898  ...  8,051,045
1899  ...  8,741,934
1900  ...  8,047,010
1901  ...  8,661,300
1902  ...  8,902,605
1903  ... 10,269,298
1904  ... 10,424,615
1905  ... 11,467,954
1906  ... 12,448,219
1907  ... 13,335,733
1908  ... 15,465,417
1909  ... 16,993,973

In 1897, out of the total number of steamers that entered Buenos Aires,
viz., 901, with a tonnage of 2,342,391; 519, with a tonnage of
1,327,571, were British. Taking the year 1909 we find that 2,008
steamers and 137 sailing-vessels entered the port of Buenos Aires from
foreign shores with a tonnage of 5,193,542, and 1,978 steamers and 129
sailing-vessels left the port for foreign shores with a tonnage of
5,174,114; out of these, British boats lead with 2,242 steamers and 37
sailing-vessels, or say 53-1/2 per cent. of the total. Germany comes
next with 456 steamers and 2 sailing-vessels, or say 10-3/4 per cent, of
the total. Italy with 307 steamers and 67 sailing-vessels is next, and
then France with 264 steamers. The total number of steamers that entered
and left the port from local and foreign ports is 13,485, with a tonnage
of 14,481,526, and 20,264 sailing-vessels with 2,512,447 tons, which
make up the amount of 16,993,973 tons, as shown above.

In the year 1884 the experiment of freezing beef, killed in Buenos
Aires, and shipping it to Europe was first tried. That was successful,
but an immense improvement was made when the process of chilling became
the common means by which meat could be exported. The frozen beef trade
in Argentina has had a wonderful development; it commenced in 1884, and
the export of chilled meat has progressed steadily at the rate of 25,000
beeves yearly, until, in 1908, it reached the enormous quantity of
573,946 beeves, or 180,000 tons. Frozen mutton has remained
comparatively steady, and has only increased by 38,000 tons in
twenty-two years, or from 2,000,000 sheep frozen in 1886 to 3,297,667 in
1908, whilst "jerked beef," which was mostly sent to Cuba and Brazil,
has fallen from 50,000 tons per annum to 6,651 tons. The value of frozen
and preserved meats exported in 1908 was £5,233,948.

The value of live-stock in Argentina in 1908 was made up as follows:--

Cattle  ... ... ... £82,000,000
Sheep   ... ... ...  25,000,000
Horses  ... ... ...  18,000,000
Mules   ... ... ...   2,000,000
Pigs    ... ... ...   1,368,000
Goats and Asses ...   1,000,000

A few years ago it was common on an estancia feeding 50,000 or 60,000
cattle to find the household using canned Swiss milk. To-day 425,000
litres of milk are brought into the city of Buenos Aires each day for
consumption, and no less than two tons of butter, one ton of cream, and
three tons of cheese are used there daily. Argentina also exports
butter. This trade has sprung up entirely within the last fourteen
years, and in 1908 she exported 3,549 tons of butter, the value of which
was £283,973.

Until 1876 Argentina imported wheat for home consumption; in that year,
when for many years past agricultural labourers had been arriving at an
average of 25,000 per annum, she began to export wheat with a modest
shipment of 5,000 tons. Thirty years later the export had mounted up to
2,247,988 tons, and in 1908 the wheat exported amounted to 3,636,293
tons, and was valued at £25,768,520. Agricultural colonies had sprung up
everywhere, and cattle became of second-rate importance; to-day the
value of the exports of corn, which term includes wheat, barley, maize,
oats, etc., is more than double that of cattle and cattle products. It
is interesting to follow the evolution wrought by labour, intelligence,
and capital in the prairie lands of Argentina. First, let us note the
developments on those wonderful tracts of splendid prairie lands lying
between the River Plate and the Andes: fifty years ago these lands were
of little account, and only a few cattle were to be found roaming about
them, but upon the advance of the railway they came under the plough,
and, without much attention or care, produced wheat and maize. After a
time improvements in the method of cultivation produced a better return,
and to-day a great deal of attention is paid to the preparing of the
land, and thought and care are given to the seed time, the growing, and
the harvest. When it is found desirable to rest the land after crops of
wheat and maize, etc., alfalfa is grown thereon. Alfalfa is one of the
clover tribe, and has the peculiar property of attaching to itself those
micro-organisms which are able to fix the nitrogen in the air and render
it available for plant food. Every colonist knows the value of alfalfa
for feeding his animals, but it is not every colonist who knows why this
plant occupies such a high place amongst feeding stuffs. Alfalfa is
easily grown, very strong when established, and, provided its roots can
get to water, will go on growing for years. The _raison d'être_ for
growing alfalfa is for the feeding of cattle and preparing them for
market, and for this purpose a league of alfalfa (6,177 acres metric
measurement) will carry on an average 3,500 head. When grown for dry
fodder it produces three or four crops per annum and a fair yield is
from 6 to 8 tons per acre of dry alfalfa for each year. A ton of such
hay is worth about $20 to $30, and after deducting expenses there is a
clear return of about $14 per acre.

The figures supplied by one large company are interesting; they show
that, on an average, cattle, when placed upon alfalfa lands, improve in
value at the rate of $2.00 per head per month, so it is easy to place a
value on its feeding properties. Thus, we will take a camp under alfalfa
capable of carrying 10,000 head of cattle all the year round, where as
the fattened animals are sold off an equal number is bought to replace
them. Such a camp would bring in a clear profit of $200,000 per annum,
and the property should be worth £175,000 sterling. An animal that has
been kept all its life on rough camp, and, when too old for breeding, is
placed for the first time on alfalfa lands, fattens extremely quickly,
and the meat is tender and in quality compares favourably with any other
beef. No business in Argentina of the same importance has shown such
good returns as cattle breeding, and these results have been chiefly
brought about by the introduction of alfalfa, and a knowledge of the
life history of alfalfa is of the greatest importance to the cattle
farmer. All cereal crops take from the soil mineral matter and nitrogen.
Therefore, after continuous cropping the land becomes exhausted and
generally poorer; experience has taught us that rotation of crops is a
necessity to alleviate the strain on the soil, and such an axiom has
this become that in many cases English landlords insist that their
leases shall contain a clause binding the tenants to grow certain stated
crops in rotation.

This system is known in England as the four-course shift. Knowledge
gained by successive generations of observant farmers has given us the
key to what Nature had hitherto kept to herself, and to-day we know why
the plan adopted by our forefathers was right, and why the rotation of
crops was, and is, a necessity. Men of science are devoting their lives
to the systematic study of Nature's hidden secrets, and by means of
Agricultural Colleges, as well as private individual research, these
discoveries are being given to mankind, and long before the soils of
Argentina show any serious loss of nitrogen from continuous cropping,
science will probably have established means of applying in a practical
manner those methods already known of propagating the
nitrogen-collecting bacteria which thrive on alfalfa, clover, peas, soya
beans, and other leguminous plants. Almost every country is now devoting
time, money, and energy to agricultural research work. In 1908 the
Agricultural College at Ontario prepared no less than 474 packages of
Legume Bacteria, and in 309 cases beneficial results followed from the
application thereof to the soil; in 165 cases no improvements in the
crops were noticed, this may, however, have been due to the want of
knowledge of how to manipulate the bacteria, or to lack of experience in
noting effects scientifically, but in any case the experiment must be
considered successful when the results obtained were satisfactory in no
less than 65 per cent. of the trials. No greater factor exists than the
microscope in opening up and hunting out the secrets concealed in the
very soil we are standing on.

If soils were composed of nothing but pure silica sand, nothing would
ever grow; but in Nature we find that soils contain all sorts of mineral
matter, and chief amongst these is lime.

Alfalfa thrives on land which contains lime, and gives but poor results
where this ingredient is deficient. The explanation is simple. There is
a community of interest between the very low microscopic animal life,
known as bacteria, and plant life generally. In every ounce of soil
there are millions of these living germs which have their allotted work
to do, and they thrive best in soils containing lime.

If one digs up with great care a root of alfalfa (it need not be an old
plant, the youngest plant will show the same peculiarity), and care is
taken in exposing the root (perhaps the best method is the washing away
of the surrounding earth by water), some small nodules attached to the
fine, hair-like roots are easily distinguished by the naked eye, and
these nodules are the home of a teeming, microscopical, industrious
population, who perform their allotted work with the silent, persistent
energy so often displayed in Nature. Men of science have been able to
identify at least three classes of these bacteria, and to ascertain the
work accomplished by each. The reason for their existence would seem to
be that one class is able to convert the nitrogen in the air into
ammonia, whilst others work it into nitrite, and the third class so
manipulate it as to form a nitrate which is capable of being used for
plant food.

Now, although one ton of alfalfa removes from the soil 50 lb. of
nitrogen, yet that crop leaves the soil richer in nitrogen, because the
alfalfa has encouraged the multiplication of those factories which
convert some of the thousands of tons of nitrogen floating above the
earth into substance suitable for food for plant life. As a dry fodder
for cattle three tons of alfalfa contains as much nutrition as two tons
of wheat.

The cost of growing alfalfa greatly depends upon the situation of the
land to be dealt with; also upon whether labour is plentiful or not;
but, in order to give some idea of the advantage of growing this cattle
food, we will imagine the intrinsic value of the undeveloped land to be
£4,000, upon which, under existing conditions, it would be possible to
keep 1,000 head of animals, whereas if this same land were under alfalfa
3,000 to 3,500 animals would be fattened thereon, and the land would
have increased in value to £20,000 or £30,000.

Now, if the undeveloped land is to be improved, it becomes necessary
either to work it yourself, with your own men, in which case you must
provide ploughs, horses, bullocks, etc., or to carry out the plan
usually adopted, that of letting the land to colonists who have had some
experience in this class of work. Usually a colonist will undertake to
cultivate from 500 to 600 acres, and agrees to pay to the landowner
anything from 10 per cent. to 30 per cent. of his crops according to the
distance of the land from the railway. The colonist brings his
agricultural tackle along with him, and establishes his house (usually a
most primitive affair), digs his well, and then proceeds to plough. In
this work the whole family joins; the father leads the way, followed by
the eldest child, and all the others in rotation, with the wife bringing
up the rear; she keeps a maternal eye upon the little mite, who with
great gusto and terrific yells manages somehow to cling to the plough
and to do his or her share with the rest. Is it to be wondered at that
work progresses fast under these conditions? There is but one idea
prevalent in the family, namely, that time and opportunity are with
them.

The first crop grown on newly-broken ground is usually maize; the second
year's crop is linseed, and perhaps a third year's crop--probably
wheat--is grown by the colonist before the land is handed back to the
owner ready to be put down in alfalfa. The colonist's cultivation of the
land will have effectually killed off the natural rough grasses which
would otherwise grow up and choke the alfalfa. Sometimes the alfalfa is
sown with the colonist's last crop, and in such cases the landowner
finds the alfalfa seed, and during the sowing of this crop it is very
advisable that either he or his agent should be in constant attendance,
because the after results greatly depend upon the care with which the
seeding has been done. When the colonist's contract is completed he
moves on to another part, and the owner, who has year by year received a
percentage of the crops, takes back his land. Considerable outlay has
now to be made in fences, wells, and buildings; the more there are of
these the better, the land will carry a larger head of cattle and the
control of them is easy when the camp has been properly divided.

The colonists are generally Italians. They are an industrious and kindly
people, hardy and quiet, well content with their surroundings, careful
and frugal in their living, and many thousands could go back to their
own country with wealth which has been acquired by constant and
assiduous attention to the economies of life.

It has often been said that an Englishman will starve where an Italian
will thrive, and in some respects this is true; but it would be better
expressed if it were stated that an Italian can adapt himself to
circumstances better than an Englishman. At the same time, I doubt if an
Italian would come off best were the two placed on a desert island where
instantaneous action, grit, and endurance were called for.

Many things are said of an Englishman, and none fits his character
better than that which gives him the privilege of "grumbling," and this
characteristic becomes more marked when he is able to grumble with one
of his own kith and kin. I have heard Argentines praise Englishmen, who,
they say, manage their estancias far and away beyond all others, but at
the same time they have told me that they would never allow two
Englishmen on their place at once.

It has been said that many of the immigrants do not intend to settle in
the country. Probably this idea has gained ground on account of the
large numbers of the labouring population, who are attracted to
Argentina by the high wages ruling during the harvest time, and then
find it pays them to go home and secure the European harvest, but
generally these men come out again to stay. They have acquired a
knowledge of the country, and often enough have also acquired an
interest in some land, and they return, bringing their families, to
adopt Argentina as their home--for a period at least.

A glance at the statistics prepared by the authorities in Buenos Aires
shows that during the last fifty-two years 4,250,980 persons entered as
immigrants, and out of this number only 1,690,783 returned, leaving in
the country 2,560,197 individuals, or an average of 50,000 workers per
annum. These figures have become even more marked of recent years.
Taking the last five years, the country has received on an average
249,000 immigrants per annum; of these, 103,000 went back. In other
words, 727,670 have made their homes within the borders of Argentina
during the past five years, and of these at least 500,000 were
agriculturists.

It is not to be wondered at, then, that the exports, chiefly made up of
agricultural produce, have shown extraordinary progress. Facing this
page is a diagram showing the agricultural exportation from 1900 to
1908.

[Illustration: AGRICULTURAL EXPORTATION INCLUDING WHEAT, LINSEED, OATS,
MAIZE, ETC.]

[Illustration: CULTIVATED AREA IN HECTARES. (1 HECTARE = 2.471 ACRES)]

Nothing can be more eloquent than the figures shown in this diagram.
This remarkable progress, almost steady in its upward march, is not in
one direction only. Argentina is an ideal country for agriculturists,
and in every branch of that industry progress has been made. Greater
care is being taken to-day in working up the by-products of the cattle
business. More varied crops are being grown, and vegetable by-products
are being economically looked after. The forests of Argentina are also
being worked for the benefit of mankind. The Quebracho Colorado tree
forms a very important item of export. It is sent out of the country
either in the form of logs, of which no less than 254,571 tons were
exported in 1908, or in the form of an extract for tanning purposes;
48,162 tons of this extract were made and exported in 1908, and a small
quantity of the wood was exported in the shape of sawdust. The total
value of Quebracho Colorado exported in various forms in that year was,
as already stated, £1,200,000. This means that the Quebracho forests are
being depleted at the rate of half a million tons per annum for export
purposes alone, in addition to the enormous quantities used for
sleepers, etc., in the country.

The area in acres under cultivation for the year 1908 was 46,174,250, an
increase of 265 per cent, on the land under cultivation in the year
1895.

The diagram facing this page shows the area in hectares cultivated from
1897 to 1908:--

WHEAT--The area under cultivation for wheat shows an increase of 89 per
cent, in ten years from--

8,000,000 acres in cultivation in 1898, to
15,157,750  "   "       "      "  1908

LINSEED--shows an increase of 361 per cent, from--

831,972 acres in cultivation in 1898, to
3,835,750 "   "       "      "  1908

MAIZE--increased by 250 per cent., and other crops, including Oats, 300
per cent. in the same period.

The United Kingdom purchased from Argentina and retained for its own use
(in round figures) during the year 1908--

WHEAT       to the value of £13,000,000
MAIZE          "       "      5,600,000
FROZEN MEAT    "       "      9,300,000
                            -----------
          Making a total of £27,900,000
                            -----------

Indeed, we buy from Argentina nearly 25 per cent. of our total food
purchased abroad, and she supplies nearly 29 per cent. of our corn and
grain requirements. These figures again clearly demonstrate that we have
a vital interest in the well-being of our friends across the sea.

In every direction Argentina has progressed, and judging from the past
we may look with confidence to the future; the total area of the
Republic is 776,064,000 acres, and certainly it is within the bounds of
reasonable forecast to consider that 100,000,000 acres of this land will
be, when opened up by railways, and other facilities, available for
corn-growing. To-day only one-fifth of this available area is being
cultivated, and another 43,000,000 acres are being utilised for feeding
purposes; thus, only 63,000,000 out of 776,000,000 acres are being
occupied. The chief reason why more is not utilised is because there is
not sufficient labour available.

  Argentina                   has   5    inhabitants per square mile.
  Russia                       "   18         "             "
  Canada, Newfoundland, etc.   "    1-1/2     "             "
  Australia                    "    1-1/3     "             "
  U. Kingdom                   "  364         "             "
  Belgium                      "  625         "             "
  Germany                      "  290         "             "

Not only is there an enormous tract of land lying dormant, but the
productive power of land now under cultivation may be vastly increased
if farmers will devote their attention to improving the conditions of
cultivation. 11.3 bushels of wheat per acre is not high-class farming,
yet this is the average production for Argentina. Manitoba in 1908
produced 13-1/2 bushels per acre, Saskatchewan, 17 bushels. In the
fourteenth century England only produced 10 bushels per acre, but we
have improved this yield to 30 bushels, while Roumania has increased her
yield from 15 bushels per acre in 1890, to 23 bushels in 1908. France
has increased her yield from 17 bushels in 1884, to 20 bushels in 1908.
Germany has increased her yield per acre from 20 bushels in 1899, to 30
bushels in 1908. So that we may not only look forward to a greater area
being placed under cultivation, but we may reasonably expect heavier
crops, if land proprietors will bring science to bear on their work of
development. Indeed, with land rising in price, with an increasing
influx of immigrants, and with more intelligent cultivation of the soil,
the land must of necessity give a far larger yield than it has done
heretofore.

The following tables, taken from the Board of Trade returns, show from
whence England draws some of her supplies. They also show how
prominently Argentina figures as a food producer. The first table
includes corn and meat; the second gives corn alone, and the third meat
alone:--

FOOD IMPORTED INTO AND RETAINED BY THE UNITED KINGDOM IN 1908.

CORN (including wheat, barley, oats, rye,
  buckwheat, peas, beans, maize, wheatmeal,
  flour, oatmeal, and offals)                 £71,103,487

MEAT, fresh and frozen  (including animals
for food)                                      48,704,613

                                  Total      £119,808,100

Of this--

                                   £          Per Cent.
    Argentina supplied         29,569,773 or   24.68
    U.S.A. supplied            38,229,135 or   31.90
    Russia supplied             7,394,607 or    6.18
    Canada supplied            11,907,203 or    9.94
    Australia (including
     Tasmania) supplied         4,520,244 or    3.77
    Other Colonies and Foreign
     Countries supplied        28,187,138 or   23.53

                             £119,808,100 or  100.00

       *       *       *       *       *

CORN IMPORTED INTO AND RETAINED BY THE UNITED KINGDOM IN 1908.

                   Argentina.  U.S.A.    Russia.    Canada.  Australia
                                                            (including
                                                            Tasmania).


                       £          £         £          £         £
Wheat     ... ... | 13,096,812 10,779,221 2,286,180  6,335,329 2,402,988
                  |
Barley    ... ... |     22,943    733,446 2,622,005    205,697     --
                  |
Oats      ... ... |  1,463,368      --    1,144,387      6,441     --
                  |
Rye       ... ... |      --       129,691    93,066     49,009     --
                  |
Buckwheat ... ... |      --         --        6,677      --        --
                  |
Peas      ... ... |      --        38,545    42,279    105,495     2,345
                  |
Beans (not fresh, |
other than Haricot|
Beans)   ... ...  |      --         --       15,094      --        --
                  |
Maize     ... ... |  5,603,463  2,023,576  1,107,858    44,822     --
                  |
Wheatmeal         |
and Flour     ... |     50,597  5,407,119         80   809,479   119,440
                  |
Oatmeal and       |
  Rolled Oats ... |      --       183,334      --      207,516     --
                  |
Farinaceous sub-  |
  stances (except |
  Starch, Farina, |
  Dextrine, and   |
  Potato Flour)   |      --        99,112      --       59,302     --
                  |
Bran and Pollard  |     11,932       --         --        --        --
                  |
Sharps and        |
  Middlings       |     35,113       --         --        --        --
                  |
Maize Meal        |       --       129,543      --        --        --
              ----+-----------+------------+-----------+-----------+-----------
                 £ 20,284,228 | 19,523,587 | 7,317,626 | 7,823,090 | 2,524,773
              ----------------+------------+-----------+-----------+-----------
Percentage             28.53% |    27.46%  |  10.29%   | 11.00%    | 3.56%
              ----------------+------------+-----------+-----------+-----------


       *       *       *       *       *

     Other
 Colonies and
    Foreign        Total.
   Countries.

      £              £
 13,630,183[C]   71,103,487

---------------+-------------+
 13,630,183    | 71,103,487  |
---------------+-------------+
  19.16%       | = 100%      |
---------------+-------------+

       *       *       *       *       *

MEAT, including animals for food, and fresh, chilled, frozen and tinned,
imported into and retained by the United Kingdom in 1908:

                                    £        Per Cent.

Argentina supplied              9,285,545 or   19.07
U.S.A.       "                 18,705,548 "    38.41
Russia       "                     76,981 "     0.16
Canada       "                  4,084,113 "     8.38
Australia (including Tasmania)
          supplied              1,995,471 "     4.10
Other Colonies and Foreign
Countries supplied[D]          14,556,955 "    29.88

                               48,704,613 "   100.00



The lesson shown here is one worthy of attention. We see that Argentina
supplies England with one-fourth of her imported food, and U.S.A.
supplies nearly one-third. Therefore it behoves both England and
Argentina to see that America does not so manipulate things that she
acquires the control over our meat and food supplies.

Argentine authorities should not only exercise the law sanctioned
February 4th, 1907, concerning the inspection of factories, but they
should enforce greater care in seeing that all Argentine saladeros and
packing-houses are manipulated with intense care, and cleanliness should
be insisted upon; it would be a bad day for Argentina should ever such
an outcry be raised against her saladeros as that which a few years ago
was directed against the North American packing houses and for a time
ruined the canning industry of the United States, and yet we find
American methods being introduced into Argentina without let or
hindrance. If our soldiers and sailors are to be fed upon canned meats,
let those who are responsible for purchasing the food, at least see that
the food is prepared under healthy and sanitary conditions.

The corn-growing industry of the Argentine Republic is an intensely
interesting subject. Before railways and steamships brought the foreign
producer into close competition with our own farmers, Argentina did not
produce enough grain to supply her home consumption, and cattle were
bred only for their hides, tallow and bones. In the course of time, when
steamers superseded sailing-ships and the world's carrying capacity
thus became enormously increased, Argentina saw her opportunity of
becoming a keen competitor in the food market. Corn-growing became a
highly remunerative business, although much still remains to be learned
concerning the handling of wheat. Both in the States and Canada grain is
handled in a cheaper and more expeditious manner than in Argentina. An
enormous amount of grain is dealt with in the Wheat Exchange of
Winnipeg, but a further big impetus will be given to this industry when
the wheat-fields of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are connected
with a deep-sea port on Hudson Bay; this will be an accomplished fact in
1915, and as this route means a thousand miles less haulage by land, and
eight hundred less by sea to the chief European ports than by any
existing route, it is bound to become the popular one; the chief factor,
however, in making it a useful wheat outlet is the established fact that
Hudson Bay, although many miles north of Lake Superior, remains free
from ice for a period of one month after Lake Superior is tightly frozen
up.

Argentina may look forward to keen competition with Canada and Siberia
for many years to come; on the other hand, the U.S.A. will steadily show
a smaller quantity of wheat available for exportation, and the following
table throws some light upon the wheat position:--

Argentina and Uruguay have increased
  the area of their wheat-growing
  land brought under the plough in
  the last ten years by                      124 per cent.
Canada in the last ten years by              120 per cent.
Russia in the last ten years by               27 per cent.
United States in the last ten years by        14 per cent.

No country in the world has shown such wonderful capabilities for
growing linseed as the Argentine, and her average production for the
following five-year periods show this expansion:--

Years.        Production in Tons.
1894-1898           193,000
1899-1903           382,000
1904-1908           839,000

In ten years she increased her production by 335 per cent. In the same
period India increased her production by 3.8 per cent., and North
America by 105 per cent., whilst Russia was unable to keep up her
supply.

The world's total linseed production for 1908 was made up as follows:--

Argentina      produced 1,101,000 tons.
North America  produced   694,000 tons.
Russia         produced   470,000 tons.
India          produced   360,000 tons.

Here again we find Argentina leading. Moreover, she exported nearly the
whole of her production, whilst North America, Russia, and India
exported less than half a million tons between them.

It is more than probable that by 1920 Argentina will be able to export,
as the result of agricultural work, more than £100,000,000 worth of
produce per annum. It is interesting to note that, as the present
figures reveal, allowing for a population of 6,500,000 and an
agricultural produce export of £48,335,432, each individual in Argentina
has sent abroad, after producing enough from the land to keep himself,
goods to the value of nearly £8.

The diagram facing this page shows what has been accomplished by
Argentina in the last ten years.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM OF VALUE IN £ STERLING OF THE TOTAL EXPORTS OF
ARGENTINA 1900-1909.]

In actual money value the exportation of wheat, linseed, oats, maize,
other grain, flour, bran, and middlings is, in round figures, as
follows:--

1900   £15,485,000
1901    14,319,000
1902    13,634,000
1903    21,050,000
1904    30,065,000
1905    34,047,000
1906    31,530,000
1907    32,818,000
1908    48,335,000
1909    46,100,000

CATTLE.

The value derived from the cattle industry and its allied produce is of
great importance to the Argentine Republic. The exports from this
industry may be divided into four heads, namely:--

LIVE ANIMALS;

RAW PRODUCTS;

MANUFACTURED OR PARTLY MANUFACTURED MATERIAL AND BY-PRODUCTS.

Since the closing of English ports in 1901 to the importation of live
cattle from Argentina, the trade in the export of live stock has fallen
off considerably; the total value did not in 1908 amount to more than
£568,966; Belgium took 65,224 sheep, Chili took 45,114 cattle and 14,394
sheep, Bolivia took 3,383 head of cattle and 10,676 sheep, and 16,000
asses and mules, while horses were imported into England, Africa,
Portugal, Brazil, Uruguay, Chili, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

Exports of raw products, which include frozen and chilled beef and
mutton, hides, sheepskins, wool, and such things as horsehair, tallow,
jerked beef, etc., represented a value of £19,549,231 in 1908.

Manufactured or partly manufactured material, including prepared tallow,
meat extracts, meat, butter, cheese, lard, dressed leather, etc.,
represented £2,454,760, whilst the by-products, including bones, dried
blood, guano, waste fats, etc., were valued at £430,734. Thus,
Argentina's total export from the cattle industry (after supplying her
own needs) was over £23,000,000.

Argentina's live stock on hand when the last census was taken in May,
1908, was as follows:--

Cattle ... ... ... 29,116,625
Sheep  ... ... ... 67,211,758
Horses ... ... ...  7,531,376
Mules, swine,
goats, and asses    6,098,802

representing in value £129,369,628.

The favourite breed of cattle is the Shorthorn, and they comprise 84 per
cent, of the classified breeding cows; the Herefords only figure out as
6 per cent., but, undoubtedly, a more careful and complete
classification will lead to modifications in these figures, for at the
present time no less than five and a-half million cows are returned as
Criollo cattle, in other words, unimproved stock.

Not until the year 1885, when it became possible to send frozen meat to
Europe, did estancieros pay serious attention to growing cattle for meat
production, and now, with an ever-increasing quantity of land being
placed under alfalfa, the Argentine Republic is fast becoming the
leading factor in the production of meat to satisfy the world's
consumption.

Cattle on the outside fringe of occupied lands are still very coarse and
rough, with a distinct strain of the Hereford about them; they are,
however, a useful herd and most suitable for the districts they occupy,
where they often have to undergo the hardships of shortage of pasture
owing to drought, and little or no water, indeed, it is a marvel how
these animals exist at times; and assuredly no refined breed of cattle
could live where the Criollos not only manage to thrive, but generally
to return a satisfactory result to their owners. The cattle on ranches
which are nearer to the seaports, manufacturing centres, or railway
stations show distinct improvements. Greater care is bestowed upon them,
and the main consideration is never lost sight of--it is the ambition of
every estanciero to have his cattle graded up so that they are looked
upon as "freezers," which means that they are good enough to be
purchased by one or other of the refrigerating companies, who take
nothing but the best.

In 1888 cattle running the northern camps (which then represented the
extreme outlying posts) were only valued at $6 per head.

In 1890 the value had risen to $10 per head.
 " 1900   "        "     "      15     "
 " 1908   "        "     "      28     "
 " 1910   "        "     "      40     "

The question of stock raising and the object to be obtained must rest
with the owners: they must decide whether the land is to be utilised for
fattening cattle or for breeding the high-class animals for which there
is an ever-ready market. To show the enormous value of animals and the
high standard to which agricultural lands can be brought, mention must
be made of two estancias near Buenos Aires, viz., those belonging to
Messrs. Cobo and Messrs. Bell, where splendid stock is always to be
found. To give some idea of the high price paid for first-class pedigree
animals, it may be mentioned that £3,800 was paid for a prize Durham
bull which was sold to Argentina!

At the cattle show at Buenos Aires held in July, 1910, Herefords for
killing realized from £850 to £1,000 per animal! These latter high
prices were, however, evidently paid by the agents of Cold Storage
Companies for advertising purposes. One representative explained that
the freezing Companies desired to encourage breeders, and that his
Company paid the high prices mentioned above so as to let the breeders
know that they would always be paid high prices for first-class cattle.

When we consider the really important position which Argentina takes as
a food producer, it appears incredible that the English nation (business
men and the general public alike) is so extremely ignorant, as a rule,
of prevailing conditions. I do not refer to those who have invested
their money in the many channels known to the River Plate circle. But
men holding high official positions speak of our commercial interests in
Argentina as "something between a hundred and a hundred and fifty
millions," and then in a whispered side-speech indicate the dangers of
revolution.

Often it is suggested that the chances of death from small-pox, yellow
fever, and even from murder are a serious drawback to what might
otherwise be a country possible to live in. It makes one very indignant
to hear these statements from the lips of those who probably have never
left their own country. Let me assure you they may be swept aside, and
were it not for their frequent reiteration it would be unnecessary to
say that there is not one grain of truth in these suggestions as applied
to the state of things to-day.

Nearly one-fifth of the population of Argentina is centred in and around
Buenos Aires. It is a city of 1,200,000 inhabitants, many of whom are
millionaires; but at the same time there exists much poverty within its
precincts--poverty caused in no small degree by the viciousness of the
rich, but to a far greater extent by the rooted objection of certain
classes to go out to the camps where, during the harvest time at least,
wages are high and labour is anxiously awaited.

When we compare the health of this city of Buenos Aires with that of
other large cities, we can see what has been done in the way of
improvements in the last few years. A glance at the following tables
will give some idea of what has been accomplished. The natural increase
of the population of Buenos Aires between 1898 and 1907 was 19.1 per
1,000, and no other city equals this.

The increase in London          was  8.8 per  1,000.
       "        Berlin           "   8.5      "
       "        New York         "   5.7      "
       "        St. Petersburg   "   4.6      "


The birth-rate of Buenos Aires for 1908 was 34.3 per 1,000.
      "       "   London           "        25.7
      "       "   Berlin           "        23.3
      "       "   New York         "        28.5
      "       "   St. Petersburg   "        27.5

Both these tables are, however, probably affected by the great number of
immigrants finding their way to Argentina, many of whom remain in Buenos
Aires.

The health of the City may be well gauged by the death-rate for the year
1907.

Buenos Aires stands well with 15.2 per 1,000 inhabitants.
London has a death-rate of    15.1       "       "
Berlin       "       "        14.8       "       "
New York     "       "        18.6       "       "
St. Petersburg       "        25.7       "       "

(Undoubtedly the high rate shown by the last-named city is greatly due
to the foul condition of the Neva.)


To appreciate thoroughly the position which Buenos Aires now holds, and
the strides which have been made in regard to the sanitation of the
City, we have but to look at the past. Between the years 1889 and 1898
the death-rate per thousand was as high as 22.9 per 1,000; from 1899 to
1908 it was only 16.6, and now the record stands at 15.2 per 1,000.

The authorities are justly proud of what has been done, and will not
diminish their efforts so long as there is work to do and problems to
solve.

I should like to state once more the fact that the United Kingdom
depends upon Argentina for nearly one-fourth of her food supply
purchased abroad. I want to impress upon your mind the seriousness of
the position, for this proportion of one-fourth will be largely
increased in the near future, for reasons already stated.

The question has often been asked, "Is it safe to buy land in
Argentina?" But the drift of this query too often is merely
self-interest; in other words, it really means "Can I successfully
speculate in land?" Clearly the matter is solely a personal one, no
other consideration is thought of, so one is tempted to give an evasive
answer. Should the questioner, however, be a young fellow, with God's
gift of health and plenty of truth and grit in him, who wants not only
to acquire the land, but to work it, then, indeed, there is but one
answer, and that is in the affirmative--let him go, and let him ever
remember that he is an Englishman and that England is judged by the
conduct of her sons: but do not let him make the great mistake a
newcomer so often falls into, which is, that because he is an Englishman
all other nationalities must be inferior, and that by some sort of
divine right he has been created lord of all. Let him realise that those
whom he meets in Argentina are as noble and pure as those he left at
home. Argentina offers to-day a splendid opening for the best of
England's sons, but she does not want the loafer nor the ne'er-do-well.
Can it be wondered at that England's prestige is seriously injured when
so many of the "wasters," and worse, are sent from the country? It is
but natural that from these, who go to foreign countries, England is
judged. To my mind we should send abroad men who are bound to succeed,
men who never forget that from their behaviour the Mother Country will
be appraised. Argentina will embrace and reward them, but she will spurn
and despise the dissolute and drunken.

The advice I would give to all those thinking of trying Argentina as a
field for agricultural work is to remember that to be successful one
must begin at the bottom, the harder the school the better will be the
result: you cannot detect and correct the faults which militate against
success unless you have been through the mill. Not long ago I sent a boy
out to Argentina and painted the first two years of learning in the new
country in rather lurid colours. I explained and dwelt on the
hardships--indeed, I described it as "a dog's life." Within a year, the
lad wrote home to his parents and mentioned all that I had told him, but
finished up by saying, "There's plenty of 'life' about it, but not much
'dog.'" The truth is that the boy had accepted things as they came along
and had adapted himself to his surroundings, and, I predict, he will
never regret having left his home, where opportunities were cramped by
small surroundings, for the wider field of Argentina.

A great many Englishmen resident in Argentina, whose sons are looking
forward to finding their life's work in that country, send their boys
home to England to be educated. Far be it from me to deprecate the
training acquired by English public school life, but it might well be
worth while to consider the other phase. The boy who has had his
schooling in Argentina and goes through his training and passes into one
of their Universities will have to his credit something which cannot be
bought by money or influence by boys straight out from home. He will
have been a fellow student, and worked shoulder to shoulder with men who
will in due time occupy positions of power and influence, and it is just
as well to weigh out these things before deciding where to educate your
boy. A boy born in Argentina, whatever the nationality of his parents
may be, is by Argentine law an Argentine subject, and should be brought
up to appreciate that he is liable to be called upon to go through a
military course: the Argentine boy, who has had just as gentle an
upbringing as the English boy, is compelled to serve his time in the
army if called upon, and generally the discipline engendered by this
training has not only been good for him, but is a distinctly valuable
asset to the country, and the English boy, as well as a boy of any other
parentage born in the country, will be obliged to go through this
military training if required.

I venture to think that were England to adopt compulsory military
service in some shape or form, we should hear a great deal less of the
unemployed and "don't-want-work" demonstrations.

To attempt to give a picture of Argentine life is impossible in the
short time at my disposal. Imagine to yourself, if you can, a country of
1,212,600 square miles whose borders extend from well within the Tropics
to away down south to the everlasting snows, embracing all kinds of
lands, from the very richest of soils to ice-capped and rocky peaks, and
you must admit that to attempt to describe the various conditions of
life therein is wellnigh impossible. Life is much what the surrounding
conditions make it--on the extreme edge of cultivation it is distinctly
rough, on the inner camps refinement steps in, and in the cities you
will find just what society you wish. Amongst the cosmopolitan
population of Buenos Aires there are many men and women of the highest
culture and education.

There are many Argentines, who stand out prominently from the throng of
busy pleasure-seekers, who are devoting their lives to improving the
surroundings of those less fortunate fellow-creatures who have fallen
upon the thorny path, and whose portion is often the cup of bitterness.
Indeed, I have ever found the Argentine desirous of helping those who
seek advice and assistance; but he spurns the foreigner who degrades
himself and his country by acts of folly which would not be permitted in
his native land.

Englishmen often fall into the great error of keeping themselves to
themselves. Possibly this trait is engendered from birth and training by
our insular position, but it is a great pity to carry it too far, for
the Argentine people do appreciate the thoroughness of our countrymen,
and are ready to welcome the right sort. We have taught the Argentines
many of our national sports and games, and they have entered into them
with such thoroughness that the teachers have often had to admit that
the pupil has proved better than the master.

Travelling has become an integral part of the education of the Argentine
family to-day, and it is quite general to find young children speaking
fluently four or five languages.

I could wish that those who have Argentine friends would insist upon
their seeing, when in this country, some of the Englishman's home
surroundings, for hotel life, theatres, dinners, and music-halls are all
very well in their way, but to see the real inwardness of English life
you must follow the Englishman to his country home. My experience is
that the Argentine will always refuse an invitation to your home at
first, because of the trouble which he believes you will be put to, but
don't take "no" for an answer; simply make him come, and he will thank
you afterwards for his experience of English home life.

Just a word or two, for fear I have left an impression that Argentina is
the El Dorado which lies beyond the seas. There are such things as
locusts, floods, droughts, and frosts in that country.

The first of these--locusts--are indeed a plague which to-day it seems
almost impossible to annihilate, for I have little faith in man's
attempts effectually to stop or decrease this pestilence; on the other
hand, Nature always seems to be on the alert to prevent an overthrow of
the balance of things. Those who have spent their lives in the River
Plate district have seen this appalling plague crushed by means which
Nature, in her own good time, has thought fit to use.

With regard to floods and droughts, these can, at least, be modified by
men, and means are now being adopted to conserve the floods and render
their waters available in time of drought.

From frosts we seem powerless to defend ourselves, and it is only those
whose work is in close touch with the growing and handling of crops who
can fully appreciate the damage done by late frosts.

No country is free from drawbacks of some sort or another, and these
troubles which I have just mentioned will not prevent the forward march
of progress in Argentina.


FOOTNOTES:

[A] These figures are approximate

[B] The dollar referred to throughout this paper is the Argentine paper
dollar, which since 1899 has had a fixed value, and is worth
approximately 1s. 9d. Previous to that date its value fluctuated
considerably.

[C] A list of the other Colonies and Foreign Countries which largely
contributed to this total will be found on the following page.

[D] The other colonies and foreign countries which largely contributed
to the totals mentioned are as follows:--

DENMARK--Barley £22,708 Meat 5,988,573

ROUMANIA--Corn, etc. £2,564,538 Meat nil.

TURKEY (including CRETE)--Corn, etc £1,383,971 Meat nil.

TURKEY, ASIATIC--Corn, etc. £1,344,322 Meat nil.

CHILI--Corn, etc £1,099,660 Meat 10,682

BRITISH INDIA--Corn, etc £2,226,668 Meat nil.

NEW ZEALAND--Corn, etc £30,585 Meat 4,168,649



HISTORY OF THE SANTA FÉ LAND COMPANY, LIMITED.

In the years 1881 and 1882, Messrs. C. de Murrieta & Co. acquired a
block of land from the Government of the Province of Santa Fé, and in
December, 1882, sold one undivided half-share thereof to Messrs. Kohn,
Reinach & Co. Messrs. Murrieta & Co. and Messrs. Kohn, Reinach & Co.,
having decided to develop the said lands, formed the Santa Fé Land
Company, and the prospectus appeared in July, 1883.

The area sold to the new Company was said to comprise about 650 Spanish
leagues, or 4,336,150 English acres, and the price to be paid to the
vendors was £1,050 per league.

In order to provide a port of shipment on the Rio Parana the Company
bought a further lot of 323 acres in the Colony of Romang.

In addition to the original block of land, the Company has since bought
the following areas:--

The estancia of La Barrancosa, 10,801 hectareas, say      26,678

The estancia of Santa Catalina, 4,049 hectareas, say      10,002

A strip of land at Guaycuru on the eastern boundary
of the Company's forest lands, 1,636 hectareas, say        4,041

A piece of land at Venado Tuerto, 37 hectareas, say           91

A piece of land at Arrufo, 100 hectareas, say                247

A piece of land at Tostado, 50 hectareas, say                123

                                                          41,182

Since the beginning of the Company the total area of land sold has
amounted to 709,549 acres (up to 30th June, 1910). It is calculated
that the land comprised in the Bazan claim, to which reference is made
later on, measures 582,914 acres. Upon this supposition the Company now
owns 3,044,100 acres.

The original price paid for the Company's lands worked out at about 3s.
an acre.

The original capital of the Company was £875,000, of which over £675,566
was paid to the vendors, leaving a balance of £199,434 to meet the
preliminary expenses and the initial cost of opening up the new
properties. After some years it was found necessary to write off a
portion of the capital, and accordingly, in 1897, the Company's lands
were re-valued at approximately 2s. 9d. an acre.

The present Directors of the Company are:--

Mr. CAMPBELL P. OGILVIE (_Chairman_).
Mr. IVOR BEVAN.
Mr. GORDON H. BROWN.
LORD HAWKE.
Mr. LOUIS H. KIEK.
Mr. T.E. PRESTON.
Capt. The Hon. F.C. STANLEY.

The London Office is at 779, Salisbury House, Finsbury Circus, London,
E.C., and the Secretary of the Company is Mr. David Simpson. The Head
Office in the Argentine is at 761, Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires, and
the following are the principal officers of the Company in Argentina:--

Mr. HUGH M. RATTRAY (_General Manager_).
Mr. W.B. WHIGHAM (_Manager of the Cattle
and Lands Department at Sun Cristobal_).
Mr. R.N. LAND (_Manager at Santa Catalina_).
Mr. T. SCOTT ROBSON (_Manager at La Barrancosa_).
Mr. G.L.C. GITTINS (_Acting Manager of the Woods Department_).



SHARE CAPITAL.

The original shares of the Company were £10 each. It was decided in 1897
to reduce them to £7 fully paid, which placed the capital at £612,500.
Shortly afterwards each £7 share was converted into seven shares of £1
each.

In 1906 the shareholders authorised the creation of £200,000 of fresh
capital, which was issued to them in two blocks of £154,000 in 1906 and
£46,000 in 1907.

Fresh capital was authorised in 1908, viz., £187,500, of which £161,608
was issued in 1909, and further lots have since been issued, bringing
the total amount of authorised capital to £1,000,000, and of issued
capital at 30th June, 1910, to £982,347.

An issue of £50,000 Six per Cent. Debentures was made in January, 1904;
and the whole amount was redeemed on the 1st July, 1909.


BAZAN LANDS.

Part of the area sold to the Company consisted of a block of
approximately 88 Spanish leagues, or 530,000 English acres, which became
the subject of negotiations and lawsuits between this Company, the
Provincial Government of Santa Fé, and other parties, lasting for more
than twenty-five years. The area in question lay to the West of the Rio
Salado, and, at the time when this Company was formed, was supposed to
be included in the Province of Santa Fé. Soon afterwards the Province of
Santiago del Estero put forward a claim to the lands on the ground that
the boundaries of that Province extended eastwards to the Rio Salado,
and it therefore disputed the right of the Province of Santa Fé to sell
the lands to Messrs. Murrieta & Co. in 1882.

By an Agreement with the Government of the Province of Santa Fé, the
Santa Fé Land Company took proceedings in the Supreme Courts of the
Province to establish its rights to the land in dispute on the
understanding that if the Company failed to establish its claim, the
Government of the Province of Santa Fé would indemnify it for its loss.
In the result the Company was evicted from the lands, and entered into
negotiations with the Government of the Province of Santa Fé for
indemnification. These negotiations went on for some years without
coming to any practical conclusion, and at last the Company commenced a
lawsuit against the Province and won it. After further delays and
negotiations the Government agreed to issue bonds in respect of the
Company's claim, and, in July, 1909, the Company agreed to accept
$3,212,000 paper Bonds of the Province, carrying interest at 3-1/2 per
cent., with an amortisation of 1/2 per cent., the coupons being
available for payment of land tax. The Government further undertook to
ratify the original titles of the Company, and to make a survey at the
joint expense of both parties, for the purpose of ascertaining the exact
area comprised in the original transfer. Any lands found to be in excess
were to be paid for by the Company to the Government at the rate of
$13.50, paper, per hectarea (about 8s. an acre). The price of such
excess lands was to be recouped by the Government from the Bonds issued
to the Company, and the Government retained $712,000 Bonds for this
purpose, pending the result of the survey.

[Illustration: _Cattle Train on Central Argentine Railway, bringing
Cattle to Barrancosa._]


RAILWAY COMMUNICATION.

At the time of the formation of the Company, the nearest railway was
that belonging to the Central Argentine Railway, and the nearest
railway station was Rosario, but some years later, the lines now
belonging to the French Railway Company of the Province of Santa Fé were
laid between Santa Fé and San Cristobal. Subsequently the Central Norte
Railway, which stretches northwards from San Cristobal to Tucuman, was
built by the National Government, and in 1907, the National Government
built a line from Santa Fé to San Cristobal _via_ San Justo.

The Company have built a railway from a point north of Vera running into
their forests, and extend it from time to time as the development of the
wood industry demands. They further own a line from Margarita to La
Gallareta, where the extract factory of the Compania Tanin de Santa Fé
is situated. The Company propose to build a railway from San Cristobal
to penetrate to their northern properties, and have applied to the
Argentine National Government for a railway concession in connection
therewith.


ADMINISTRATION.

After various changes of centre the administration offices of the
Company were, in the year 1902, divided between San Cristobal for the
cattle and lands department, and Vera for the woods department, but, in
1906, the woods department was placed under the supervision of the
General Manager of the Company, who lived at San Cristobal, and, in
1908, the central offices were moved from San Cristobal to Buenos Aires.
Through the latter office all the work of the Company in Argentina
passes on to the London office, the managers at San Cristobal, Vera,
Santa Catalina, and La Barrancosa, having to concern themselves only
with the technical and administrative work carried on under them
respectively.


COMPANY'S BUSINESS.

The Company's business has been mainly divided into three branches,
viz.: (1) land sales and rentals; (2) cattle industry, and (3) timber
trade.

The first two branches are conducted from San Cristobal, situated at the
S.W. corner of the Company's original lands, and for many years the site
of the central offices of the Company in Argentina, whilst the timber
trade is conducted from Vera.


SAN CRISTOBAL DEPARTMENT.

A township was started at San Cristobal in 1884, and now numbers 4,500
persons.

The Administration House and other buildings for the use of the General
Manager and Staff of the Cattle and Lands Department were erected about
three miles from the town, and the whole now forms a large and handsome
establishment, equipped with the most modern requisites for carrying on
the work of the estancia.

The cattle lands have been divided up into sections, which are managed
by officials of the Company, under the control of the administration at
San Cristobal. The office there and the offices on the various sections
have recently been connected up by telephone. These sections are
Polvareda, Michelot, Los Moyes, and Lucero (which lie to the North and
North-East of San Cristobal), and Las Chuñas, which forms the
North-Western corner of the Company's lands.

[Illustration: _Loading Wheat at Rosario from the "Barranca."_]

[Illustration: _San Cristobal Estancia House._]


SANTA CATALINA AND LA BARRANCOSA.

In January, 1897, the Company rented the estancia of Santa Catalina,
which is situated about five miles from Los Cardos on the Central
Argentine Railway and about 150 miles South of San Cristobal. Here the
stock which was brought down from San Cristobal was fattened before
passing on to the markets. At the same time the Company continued the
sowing of alfalfa which had been begun by the proprietor, and ultimately
decided to buy the camp and use it as an establishment for breeding fine
stock. The terms of the purchase were that the price should be paid by
way of an annuity, payable during the joint lifetime of the owner and
his wife. In 1909 this method of payment was compounded and satisfied in
full by an allotment of shares of the Company.

The practice has been that the male calves born on this estancia should
be sent North to the general herds kept at San Cristobal and the
adjoining sections, and that the progeny of these animals should in turn
be sold as fat cattle.

To facilitate this business the Company found it necessary to acquire a
camp specially adapted for fattening purposes in the Southern part of
the Province, so that they might be brought into closer touch with the
markets of Rosario and Buenos Aires. They accordingly bought the
estancia La Barrancosa in 1906, and have been constantly increasing the
area there under alfalfa, equipping it with a full complement of wells
and fencing. This estancia lies half way between the towns of San Isabel
and Venado Tuerto, from the latter of which it is distant about sixteen
miles. But, during the year 1909, a new broad-gauge railway line was
opened, leading from Rosario to Bahia Blanca. It passes right through
the estancia, and by means of a station just outside the boundary the
Company have fresh means of despatching their animals to Rosario.


VERA DEPARTMENT.

The headquarters of the Woods Department is situated about eight miles
N.W. of the town of Vera, which stands at kilometre 250 north of the
City of Santa Fé on the line of the French Railway Company leading from
Santa Fé to Resistencia. Sawmills and offices were built, which involved
the presence of a considerable number of work-people, for whom houses
had to be provided. Consequently, a small village has grown up at the
place.

A branch railway was begun in 1905, at a point 13 kilometres north of
Vera town, on the French Railway, to penetrate westwards into the
Company's forests, and has been extended to a point called Olmos, lying
30 miles away. Along the line two or three hamlets have sprung up, where
people connected with the wood industry reside, as well as the Company's
officials who control the timber in the neighbourhood.

In 1904 the Company entered into an agreement with Messrs. Albert and
Charles Harteneck, Frederick and Charles Portalis, and Hermann Renner,
to bring out a Company to work a factory for the manufacture of tannin
extract from the wood of the Quebracho Colorado tree, and this factory
was ultimately built within the Company's properties at a place called
La Gallareta, which is situated 17 kilometres north-west of the Station
of Margarita on the French Railway line. The Santa Fé Land Company have
also built a branch line from Margarita to this tannin factory.

[Illustration: _Watering-Place at Barrancosa._]

[Illustration: _Wood on the Company's Own Line ready for Loading._]

THE FOLLOWING TABLE SHOWS THE FINANCIAL POSITION OF THE COMPANY FROM
1898 TO THE PRESENT TIME.

Year       Share Capital.   Deben- Profit. Loss.  Placed   Balance   Dividend
ending.                     tures                   to     Forward. (percent.)
          Autho-   Issued   6 per cent.           Reserve.
          rised.   and fully
                   paid.
             £        £       £       £       £     £         £
30th June,
" 1898    612,500  612,500   ...       420   ...    ...   Cr.   420    ...
" 1899    612,500  612,500   ...     ...    1,650   ...   Dr. 1,230    ...
" 1900    612,500  612,500   ...    11,757   ...    ...   Cr. 2,870   1-1/4
" 1901    612,500  612,500   ...     9,854   ...   2,000  "   3,068   1-1/4
" 1902    612,500  612,500   ...    20,746   ...  10,000  "   6,158   1-1/4
" 1903    612,500  612,500   ...    23,988   ...  10,000  "   7,896   2
" 1904    612,500  612,500  50,000  28,332   ...   6,000  "   8,790   3-1/2
" 1905    612,500  612,500  50,000  36,483   ...   6,000  "   8,648   5
" 1906    812,500  612,500  50,000  48,183   ...   6,000  "  11,018   6-1/2
" 1907    812,500  766,500  50,000  82,700   ...  12,000  "  20,398   8
" 1908  1,000,000  812,500  50,000  91,463   ... 86,628[E] " 20,611  10
" 1909  1,000,000  812,500  50,000 115,375   ...  20,000  "  22,549  10 and
                                                                  Bonus of 1-1/2

[Illustration: _Loading Timber at Wayside Station._]

FOOTNOTES:

[E] Including £76,623 from Share Premiums.



THE VALUE OF LAND IN ARGENTINA.


When one goes to a foreign country, and more especially when he intends
to settle there with the idea of making a fortune, he naturally turns
his attention to the value of the land, as from this he draws his views
of the prosperity of the country. Now, twenty-five years ago the
Argentine had comparatively very few railways; consequently, the lands
at any long distance from Buenos Aires (the capital) were at a very low
value. The province of Buenos Aires, the largest in the country, has
always been the most populated, and its lands have always commanded the
highest prices, and these have risen tremendously, but not so much of
late years in proportion as land in the northern provinces. During the
years 1885, 1886, 1887, and 1888, there was a great boom in land.
Foreigners were pouring in, bringing capital; great confidence was put
by foreign capitalists in the country, several railways had run out new
branches, new railways were built, new banks were opened, and a very
large extent of land was opened up and cultivated, and put under wheat
and linseed, harvests were good and money was flowing into the country.
Then came a very bad year, 1889; the harvest was practically lost owing
to the heavy and continuous rains which fell from December till July
with hardly a clear day. This, together with a bad government and the
revolution of 1890, created a great panic and a tremendous slump in all
land, from which it took a long time to recover. Where people had bought
camps and mortgaged them, which was the general thing to do in those
days, the mortgagees foreclosed, and, when the camps were auctioned
off, they did not fetch half what the properties had been bought for in
the first instance, some four or five years previously. This, naturally,
had a serious effect on the credit, soundness, and finances of the
country, but really, the crisis was not felt until some three or four
years after, and it was 1896 and 1897 which were very serious years for
the country.

To give one an idea of the value of land in four or five of the
principal provinces of the country, I must begin with the Queen
Province, as it is called, viz., Buenos Aires. In 1885, property in the
city centre was worth 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. a yard, whereas to-day it has
been sold up to £200 sterling per yard, while suburban lots of 20 yards
by 60 yards realised £5 and to-day are fetching £150, and camp lands
have risen from £10,000, to £100,000 the square league. Of course this
is within a radius of 30 to 50 leagues of the city; lands away to the
south and west may yet be bought at £10,000, and, still further south
towards Neuquen and the far Pampa, at £2,000 per square league. The
province of Buenos Aires is not considered good for alfalfa growing, but
has good natural grass camps.

The province of Santa Fé is a large province, extending from the
northern boundary of the province of Buenos Aires to Santiago del
Estero, and contains what is known as the Gran Chaco. The southern
portion of this province is largely dedicated to the production of
wheat, linseed, and maize, for which it is admirably adapted. There are
also large estancias carrying vast herds of cattle, sheep, and horses,
while the northern portion has vast forests of very fine and valuable
timber.

[Illustration: _Wheat ready for Loading at Station on Central Argentine
Railway._]

The first part of this province to be developed was the country around
Rosario, the large port on the River Parana, where ocean-going steamers
call. This, together with good railway accommodation in all directions
combined with excellent land in the district, facilitates the
cultivation of cereals on a very large scale. Property in Rosario itself
is very valuable, and from £30 to £50 a yard is a common figure. In the
immediate district of Rosario land is rarely sold in large areas, but
may be calculated at £20 an acre, whilst 40 leagues further north it is
to-day worth £50,000 a league. I know of one estancia of one league
which was bought in 1885 for £2,000, resold, after being sown down in
alfalfa and divided into paddocks, without further improvements, at
£12,000 (this was in 1903), and again sold in 1909, certainly with
further improvements as regards watering arrangements and more paddocks,
house, and sheds, etc., in fact, a fair model estancia in good working
order, for £60,000. Land on the south-west of Rosario, and about 40
leagues distant, has in the twenty-five years risen from £2,000 a league
to £40,000 a league. This is for virgin camp, and to-day in these
districts the average price can be stated at from £30,000 to £40,000 per
league, yet 300 miles further north land--good land--can be had at from
£4,000 to £6,000 per league.

The next province, Cordoba, is one of the most hilly in the country, and
has been one of the most developed during latter years. Some twenty
years ago this was almost considered a desert, where one was told
nothing would grow and cattle could not live. To-day it is one of the
most prosperous; wheat and linseed are great products here, while
alfalfa, when carefully treated, that is, not overstocked, lives for
ever on account of the sandy soil, and water being so near the surface.
These lands twenty years ago were valued at about £500 to £600 per
league, while to-day it is difficult to acquire land under cultivation
or alfalfa at less than £30,000 per league. In the Northern part of this
province are very valuable stone quarries.

Another province that is advancing very fast is that of San Luis. Here,
again, it has been found that alfalfa is at home, and thrives
splendidly. This, again, is a very sandy soil, and consequently is much
sought after, but this land has not yet touched the value of that in the
provinces already mentioned; it will not stand so much cropping, and
will not carry the same amount of stock, but still the average price for
virgin camp is from £5,000 to £10,000 per league. In this province there
is a very large extent of very poor land, covered with a small shrub,
which is not worth more than £2,000 a league.

Mendoza is a more northerly province, and mostly dedicated to the grape
and wine industry, while a lot of fruit is also exported from there.
Wine is made in very large quantities, and a lot of very good quality.
The value of land varies very much. The greater portion is worth at
present very little. The great point is to get the water concessions for
irrigating; without irrigation the land is useless. A good vineyard in
its prime, with good irrigation rights, is worth as much as from £40 to
£50 per acre, while the ordinary camp land is at about 7s. per acre.

[Illustration: _The Maker of Land Values._]



REMARKS ON STORMS AND THE CLIMATE OF THE ARGENTINE.


The Argentine Republic, like all hot countries, is subject to very great
hurricanes and storms. They occur most frequently in the spring and
summer, when very sudden changes of temperature take place. The
thermometer has often been known to drop 25 degrees within half an hour.

A great deal of damage is always caused, trees which have taken years of
care and trouble are ruthlessly uprooted, roofs blown off, windmills
blown down, haystacks turned over, and valuable animals struck by
lightning. The terrible closeness and stillness which generally precede
a "tormenta" are certain forerunners of bad weather and storms. A
terrible hailstorm which took place some time ago will always be
remembered by its spectators. The usual signs of it were evident; the
atmosphere had become very close and it had been extremely hot for some
hours before. Though only about 4 p.m., it got peculiarly dark and a
strong gale began to blow, and distant sounds of thunder were heard. A
sudden lull came, which meant that the storm was about to break; sheets
of lightning of every description were followed by deafening peals of
thunder, which made man and beast tremble. Then there came a downfall of
huge hailstones; they were just like big lumps of jagged ice; some of
them measured about six to eight inches round and weighed over half a
pound. This storm did a fearful lot of harm; not a leaf was left on a
single tree, and hundreds of birds lay dead all around. Though very
violent, this hailstorm did not last more than ten minutes, in which
time an incalculable amount of destruction took place.

In September, 1909, a very bad cyclone suddenly came on us. The sky
turned black and blacker, and the clouds looked horribly wicked.
Suddenly a terrific gale got up, which caused every window and door to
rattle in a most alarming manner, though they had all been as well
secured as possible. The dust seemed to filter in just the same, and in
five minutes the house was an inch thick in it. We heard a loud bang and
then another over our heads, and on looking out of a window we saw the
roof of one of the outer buildings lying on the ground; part of it had
been blown over our house and had carried away the chimney, a big iron
one, on its way. We were told afterwards that the cook had had to use
all her force against the kitchen window to keep it from bursting open,
as, if the wind had got in, it would have carried away that roof as
well. This hurricane lasted for about an hour and a-half; as soon as it
had abated somewhat we went out to see the result. Everywhere reigned
havoc and confusion, the whole place looked an old ruin, brick-bats,
tiles, broken branches, loose sheets of corrugated iron lying all
around; three roofs had been blown away, several windmills knocked down
and carried 100 yards away, and lovely old trees had been completely
uprooted.

The natives, frightened of remaining in their own quarters, had, in
their terror, deserted them and taken refuge, with their wives and
children, in the open camp, where they fondly imagined they were safer.
Out in the camp the roofs of most of the "puestos," or huts, had been
also carried away, leaving the occupants exposed to the cold rains and
winds which followed.

A peculiar feature of this storm was that it was not at all general; at
the neighbouring "estancias" it was not felt at all, and some of the
"peons," who were riding in the camp at the time, said they could see
this whirlwind coming a long way off at a tremendous rate and that it
looked like a column of red smoke; they could not feel the effects of
the wind either, although they were not more than half a mile away.

This storm was followed by very heavy rains which lasted for about ten
days, during which our house was flooded, as the wind had lifted the
tiles and the rain was driven in through every possible place.

Another time, when driving home from the town of Vernado Tuerto, we were
caught in a very bad dust storm. Things became so black that we could
not see where we were going, so we had to halt. The wind was so strong
that the men had to get out of the carriage, which was a heavy
covered-in waggonette, and hold the wheels down to prevent it from being
overturned. We all looked like seaside niggers, as the dust and rain
falling at once came down like mud on us all. One gets quite hardened to
these severe storms. On one occasion a very rough wind began to blow,
but, as it was a steady gale, no one took particular notice of it. It
was after dinner, and everybody was busy playing cards. The wind made
such a deafening noise that you could hardly hear yourself speak;
presently some of the occupants of the house thought they would have a
look outside to see if things were all right; when they were surprised
to see an outer building, used for stores and machinery, roofless, and
the roof nowhere to be seen; it was discovered afterwards on the top of
their own house, and they had never heard it happen.

The climate in the Argentine is very variable; we have great extremes of
heat and cold. It is healthy as a rule, except in the swampy districts
or during a very wet season, when a great many residents suffer from
rheumatism.

People talk about the sudden changes of English weather, but we are
treated just the same; one day it will be brilliantly hot and fine, and
another day cold and miserable.

One part of the country or another is generally suffering from drought,
when in another part they are being flooded out.

In the winter there is much more sunshine than there is in England; in
the early morning it is bitterly cold, at noon on a fine day it is
blazing hot, and then, as soon as the sun goes in, it freezes hard.

In the summer, of course, the heat is very great, but, as it is
generally dry, it is quite healthy.



SOME EXPERIENCES OF WORKING ON ESTANCIAS.

I came out with my brother on a tramp steamer from Penarth. We took
thirty-one days. However, time passed fairly quickly, chipping off rust
and painting the decks, after we got over our sickness.

Rain fell heavily as we landed at Buenos Aires, two typical _gringos_
(greenhorns), not knowing a word of Spanish. I went to a first-class
hotel, whose proprietor I had met in England. My first attempt to speak
Spanish was in a tram. I asked the conductor to stop; getting out I
said, "Mucha grasa" (much fat), instead of "muchas gracias" (many
thanks)--then called the man a fool for laughing.

We stopped in Buenos Aires a week and our bill came into hundreds of
dollars, which took a big slice off our small means.

We then went to an estancia (farm) in the Province of Cordoba. The
estancia was fifty-one miles square, owned by an Argentine family. The
manager was a North-American, well known in camp life.

The estancia consisted of three sections, one where I went, another
where my brother was, and the other the headquarters.

I was under a young Scotchman. The camp was fifteen miles, with 3,000
cows, 2,000 steers, and 500 mares. There was my companion, one peon
(man), a boy, and myself. My house was made of mud walls and floor, a
zinc roof, with a little straw. It was cool in summer, but very cold in
winter. There was one room for ourselves, where we slept and ate, one
for the cook (when we had one), and a kitchen. Under my bed I had a
snake's hole; a long black snake came out in the night, and, on hearing
a sound, would go back. I did everything to kill it, but with no
success. Also I had two kittens which slept in my bed. One night I felt
something soft by my feet. I thought it was the kittens, but, putting my
hand down, I found my feet covered with blood. I jumped out of bed, and
found a young hare half eaten and my sheets covered with blood.

The first thing I had to do was to skin a cow, and it made me feel very
uncomfortable to look at the horrid sight. The next day I was sent to
fetch the fat from a dead cow. When I got there I could not see any fat
and wondered what it was. I saw the intestines and carried them bodily
on my new recado (native saddle). My horse got excited and I arrived
dead beat. I told my companion I had the fat: then he burst out laughing
and said I had got the intestines. Needless to say my recado was the
worse for wear.

The food was different from what I was used to, and I felt ill for a
time.

In the summer I was up at between three and four, having "maté-cocido"
(cooked Paraguayan tea--the native drink) with a hard biscuit; at
eleven, breakfast of puchero (big pieces of meat boiled in a pot), then
maize with milk and a biscuit. Sometimes tea at four, but very seldom;
supper consisted of an asado and maté at seven or eight o'clock.

I had charge of two valuable stallions--they had a stable of mud and
straw.

At branding time the capataz (foreman) came up with his men for a week.
Up before three o'clock, quite dark, we branded 6,000 calves, and I
enjoyed it.

The Boss seldom came; when he did, his trap would be sure to run over a
piece of wire, and then we heard of it; nothing missed him.

Then our cook began stealing provisions from the store box. We changed
the locks three times, and each time she bought a key to the same. One
night I asked her for some coffee. She said there was none. I could see
she had some in a small bag, and I went to fetch it. She took up a knife
and threatened me. I soon twisted the knife from her. Our food was bad,
my companion was careless, and frightened of her. One day he had a row,
and she got the sack, using strong language. We then did our own cooking
for eight months: the first one home from camp had to begin cooking.

The meat we got was often green and bitter. All the time we had puchero
and asado, and an occasional ostrich egg.

Ostriches swarmed everywhere, and it was good sport lassoing them. I
found one nest with fifty eggs, laid by different birds. My cooking was
rather a failure at first, the smoke was so thick we could not see each
other. I was told to cook maize for dinner. I made a big fire, and
cooked for three hours, and was then told I had the stallions' maize.
Another time it was very dark; our candles, made of old clothes and
grease, had run out. I had made some good soup, and put the pot near the
table, then, walking by, put my foot in it: the hot grease made me hop,
and took the skin off my foot. Our table was an old greasy box; we had
no plates, nor forks, just a big knife. Sometimes, coming in very tired
from a hard day, we had no strength to chop wood and make a fire; we
just went to bed. Many days we only had an asado and maté. Maté I am
very fond of--it is so refreshing and sustaining.

My brother was only eight miles away: his section was under alfalfa, and
he had a comfortable house. One dark night, going home from his place, I
followed a fence until I came to a cross fence. I was going slowly,
when, all of a sudden, my horse stopped dead, and I shot over the fence,
the bridle and halter came off, and away went my horse, leaving me to
continue five miles on foot.

Bizcachas (like a big badger) were numerous. One day we dug a two-metre
hole, and next day found eight live ones. They have teeth one and a-half
inches long.

Our nearest village was eighteen miles away, where I met some English
friends, and played tennis or had some other amusement. I used to start
back at 2.30 a.m. to be in time for work. One night I had to cross a big
field, without a path or fence for a guide. It was dark, and lightning
hard. I made for a light, which I thought was the house. Going for some
time, I came to a fence--I was lost. I unsaddled and lay down to sleep,
the rain was pouring hard, when I heard a donkey braying, so I shouted,
and was answered by a man in a puesto (out-station). The light I saw was
a village twelve miles away.

My companion was very slack, and the patrons came up and sacked him.

Then I went to the estancia house for a month, breaking in colts for
driving. I felt rather sad at leaving my rough work. It was hard work,
but I never had better health.

My Boss then earned $15 per month, and his wife cooked for the men. Now
he is one of the richest men in the country.

There was no opening there, so the Boss sent me to a New Zealander who
had half a league of camp, all fine stock, good alfalfa and splendid
water. He had a big house and I expected I would live well. My first
work was to dig up locusts' eggs for a week under a hot sun, with the
ground very hard. The Boss was a man of forty-two, very red-faced and
extremely rich, but as mean as possible.

Our meals took about six to eight minutes, fast eating; he would watch
every mouthful. At tea he would take a lot of milk and give me a little;
he finished soon, while I burnt my throat. He allowed me a slice of
biscuit for each meal. His cook only got $10 a month.

In the winter we were in bed by six to seven.

His clothes were a disgrace to any peon. He had native trousers that
button at the foot, with top boots, no socks, his heel and big toe were
sticking out, no vest, only a shirt and an old hat, where the grease of
many years was visible.

He was a splendid worker--I have not seen a better one. We used to catch
locusts in a big zinc box pulled by two horses; the locusts were put
into sacks, and after being left standing for four days, were carted to
the village, where he got 10 cents a kilo. The smell in carting these
dead locusts was simply terrible. Then I helped pick ten square of
maize, which at first took a little skin off my hands. At branding time
we lassoed each calf to cut off the horns. I had to sit on their necks,
and got smothered in the face with hot blood. The Boss was very proud
because his monthly account only came to $12 for four of us: biscuits,
sugar, tea, and other things. He sent his clothes once in three months
to be washed. He had few friends, no one ever came to visit him, and
every Sunday he shut himself in his room. He bought the place for
$90,000 and sold it for over double. He was a thorough campman, but so
mean. One cold winter 500 cows died of starvation; rather than sell them
at a low price he let them starve. The last thing he said was, he was
"going to New Zealand to marry an ugly lady, but she has plenty of
money." His countrymen called him a disgrace to his country and the
meanest in the Argentine.

Then a kind friend found me a place on a well-known estancia in the same
province. The manager, the second-manager, and the book-keeper were all
Irish, born in the country. I had a good horse, which I rode fifty miles
to the estancia.

The second told me to have my food with the peons (men), which was
rather disheartening. I tried to eat in the kitchen, but the French cook
kicked me out, and for ten months I fed with the peons; they were very
good fellows. The second and the book-keeper had meals together. The
second-manager did no work: up at half-past eight, he went to the train,
had a drink at the shop, then came back for dinner, slept until
tea-time, then went to see the train pass again and have another drink,
and came back at all hours. He had been there fourteen years and was
only getting a hundred a month.

The chief work was loading cattle and sheep for the big freezing
factories. The trucks were rotten. One night we finished at 11 p.m.,
after a hard day's work, three of us unloaded 300 quebracho posts in
under three hours. I had a French gardener in my room who did nothing
else but spit and talk politics.

The Boss took me to learn shearing. I had to shear, gather the wool,
sort it and pack it up. Each man got five cents a sheep, but it was hard
work, all done by hand.

Then I cut alfalfa for a fortnight--a nice easy job.

A Catholic priest came to stay for eight days--Mass every day at 7 a.m.
and 8 p.m., sometimes three a day. No work at all. Everyone had to
go--the book-keeper did not, so he got the sack. I, as a Protestant,
went to the sermons, which were very good. It was wonderful; these rough
campmen went away quite tamed for a time. The last night the Boss got
married at half-past twelve at night to a native lady. Another time,
while we were at Mass, someone came to say the gardener was dying--we
raced down, the priest in front ready to hear his confession, but when
we got there the gardener was calmly smoking his pipe, greatly
surprised.

An inspector of locusts stopped all the summer. He did nothing but eat,
sleep, and drink whisky. We had locust-killing machines of every
description, but we did not kill ten kilos.

The days I enjoyed were when we started out early to part some animals
in a herd of over a thousand. At eleven we would have an asado and maté,
and give our horses a drink, then finish parting, and get home at
half-past seven. The horses look wrecks, and no good, but they work all
day--mostly galloping--and are splendid stayers.

The Boss's brother, a very nice man of fifty, married a servant of the
Boss, a girl of eighteen.

Great excitement is caused by races. The Boss was keen, and the men
talked of nothing else for days. Every Sunday there are races. Once I
rode my horse bareback in three races of 200 metres, and won a bottle of
beer, a packet of tobacco, and a knife.

Then I was put in charge of fine stock. I had ten Durham bulls, two
thoroughbred stallions, one Pecheron, eight rams and twelve pigs. I had
a boy under me. I also had to saddle up the Boss's and the Second's
horses, and harness the traps. Sometimes I had to wait till eleven at
night, very tired, to unsaddle the Second's horse, as he had been making
love to the Stationmaster's sister.

The work was very interesting and hard, even on Sundays or feast days,
watering, cleaning the animals, and curing any foals that were ill.

I then moved to another room near the stable, with a newly arrived
Italian who knew no Spanish nor English, also an Irishman just arrived.
They could not speak to each other. The Irishman slept on the floor
every night, and poured kerosene all over him to keep insects away. One
day he poisoned five pigs, giving them the dip-water to drink. He had
few clothes. He would turn them inside out, and often had three pairs of
trousers and two shirts on.

One day the Boss was out: the men were taming some wild colts in the
corral. I took French leave and went. I got on five. None had had a
saddle on before or even been handled. We lassoed them, pulled them down
and put on the bridle. Then five men held a long rope and one put on the
native saddle, with stirrups big enough to get your toes in. Then they
tied a red handkerchief round my head. I mounted gently but quickly.
Then the rope was taken off and away the colt went as fast as possible,
with one man on each side to shove you either way, all the time bucking
and plunging. I did not fall, but one stirrup broke. One laid down and
would not move. It tried to bite everyone. When they go fast and buck at
the same time it is very hard to stick on.

On the 25th of May, the great holiday in this country, I went to an
estancia to see some friends. On my way back we had to cross a deep
river. The coachman drove across, but one wheel went into a big hole and
the jerk sent me out on my head, where the wheel passed over my hair,
missing my head by inches. I was senseless. A crowd of women came and
began weeping--they thought I was dead--then I was taken in a procession
to the chemist, who sent me to a hospital, where I found my collar bone
broken. I did nothing for three weeks.

This estancia is a splendid one for learners, because there is a little
of everything. Once I had a month with the threshing machine, sleeping
out with the mosquitoes, and getting meat nearly raw for food; but a lot
of money can be made from the harvest.

Then, after a few weeks' holiday to England, we came back, and I went
down south with my brother to sow alfalfa seed. We had a caravan on
wheels, and learned how to plough and sow. We went to a camp
race-meeting, where every estancia has its own tent, there is racing all
day and dancing at night.

I often look back upon these jolly times. Work was exacted with anything
but kindness, but the life was simple and very healthy, and many
pleasant reminiscences are talked over when it is my luck to join others
around the camp fire before falling to sleep with nothing but a
bullock's head as a pillow and a "recado" as a blanket and the glorious,
starry sky above one.



THE SOCIAL SIDE OF CAMP LIFE.


To an outsider, life in the camps or country might be considered very
slow: the distance between the estancias being so great, the ordinary
form of social life is quite impossible; for instance, when one goes to
pay a call on a neighbour, even a first call, it means going for the
day, starting in the cool of the morning and returning in the evening,
and so allowing the horses to have a rest. Of course, if everyone had a
motor-car, this might not be necessary; but as yet they are very few and
far between. This is no doubt owing to the bad roads; in most districts,
after a few hours' rain, the roads are flooded, and what is worse still,
"pantanosa" (thick, sticky mud).

Most estancieros keep open house, and are only too pleased when people
"drop in," which they do at all times and for any meal, almost without a
"by your leave." An estancia house has to be very elastic, and ready to
provide, at a moment's notice, board and lodging for unexpected guests.
This is quite the nicest way of entertaining one's friends--no fuss of
preparation, and, more often than not, a very jolly evening of cards,
music, or games.

It is a delightful country for men, a healthy, open-air life, with
plenty of hard work and hard riding; each man has from four to six
horses allowed him for working purposes, and then, as a rule (talking of
the English mayor-domo), he has two or three polo ponies of his own.
Sunday is the great day for polo; there is very little time in our busy
Argentine even for a practice game during the week, so Sunday means a
merry meeting of friends wherever there is a polo club in the district,
people going in six or seven leagues (or even more) from one side of
the town to meet friends who have come an equal distance from the other
side, a thing they might not do for months if it were not for the polo
club. Each lady takes her turn in providing tea on these polo Sundays,
and there is great competition as to who makes the best cakes,
especially as it often falls to the lady herself to make these luxuries.

Wherever there is a polo club the most exciting event of the year is the
Spring Race Meeting, two days' racing, often followed by a polo match or
tournament with neighbouring clubs, and always as many dances as
possible, as it is the only time in the year when enough girls can be
collected together; every estancia house has its own party, as many as
can be crowded in, including friends from Buenos Aires and Rosario, who
delight in these camp meetings, and she is a proud hostess who can count
a few girls amongst her party. I may as well add here that girls are
almost "non est" in the camp, many districts for leagues and leagues
round not being able to boast of one English girl.

[Illustration: _Tennis Party at Vera_.]

Most clubs hold a Gymkhana Meeting in the Autumn, which makes one more
excitement in the year: it is a very merry meeting as a rule, with
always a dance or two if enough girls can be found. During the Winter
season (from April 1st to September 1st) the shooting is very good in
most parts, and many good shooting parties are given where there is
enough game to make it worth while asking one's friends. The bag
consists of partridges, martinetta (similar to the pheasant) and hares
(which are not considered worth picking up); when there are a number of
guns, dogs are not used, but two men on horseback drag a wire through
the grass (several in a line, if a big party), which forces the birds to
rise, and the guns walk behind. Peons on horseback, carrying sacks, keep
close up to them and pick up the birds as they fall, and close on their
heels comes a big brake, into which are emptied the contents of the
sacks as they get too heavy. The ladies of the party follow in all sorts
and conditions of vehicles, cheering on the shooters and dispensing
much-needed refreshments. A shoot is always followed up by a jolly
evening, after a hot bath and a good dinner. The men, forgetting how
tired they are, are quite ready to sing, dance, or play bridge until the
small hours. Another great event not to be forgotten is the visit of the
Camp Chaplain: he goes from one district to another holding services,
every Sunday in a different place. In a well-populated district he would
hold one about every two months, but to some places, where there are
next to no English people, he would probably only go about once or twice
a year. Church Sunday is quite an event, and again gives one an
opportunity of meeting friends from a distance. The parson is very
lenient with us as a rule, and does not object to any form of amusement
in the afternoon, such as polo, tennis, cricket, football, or golf, and
encourages the young men to come to _Church_ (usually a room hired for
the occasion) in costumes suitable for such. Our poor Camp Chaplain does
not have an easy time; distances are so great that more than half his
time is spent on the train.

[Illustration: _Carnival at Vera_.]



CARNIVAL IN THE ARGENTINE.


Carnival falls every year during the week before the beginning of Lent.
It is a general holiday, and much fun and amusement are crammed into the
few days which precede the dull season of fasting.

Carnival is more observed in camp towns than in the bigger cities, where
the custom of celebrating it is very much on the wane, and where the law
forbids water-throwing and other such damp forms of amusement, which are
winked at by the more lenient authorities in local towns.

It is really quite a pretty sight to see a camp town during carnival.
The one main street, which does not boast of pavements, and is generally
a yard deep in dust, is gaily decorated with bunting and festoons. Small
stands are put up every ten yards or so, in which the "caballeros" take
up their positions and pelt the "senoritas" with confetti and
"serpentinas" (blocks of different coloured paper which look like rolls
of tape about 30 or 50 yards long). The elite of the "pueblo" drive
round in the procession; ladies, some in the very latest creations, and
some in beautiful fancy dresses, parade round in flower and ribbon
bedecked carriages. A prize is generally given to the best decorated
conveyance, and to the best fancy costume, which causes a lot of
competition and jealousy amongst the fair sex.

On an estancia, carnival is celebrated in a much more drastic fashion.
On one place, the giddy members of the household have a very rowdy time
of it, and make things very lively for the unwary. On one occasion, they
determined to give the mayor-domo his share of the general drenching
which he had missed; so when he rode in at midday, after a long and busy
morning's work in the camp, he was welcomed with a volley of buckets of
water, which were emptied over him from the top of the house, where the
delinquents had taken up their advantageous position.

Another time a certain young damsel, a guest in the same house, saw from
the window her hostess entertaining one of the boys, a fresh arrival
from England, who had ridden over from a neighbouring estancia. Prompted
by her daring friends she was induced to take up a jug of water, and
stealing up behind his chair, emptied the contents of the vessel over
the visitor's head, and then bolted; the injured party, after recovering
his self-possession, rose to the occasion and gave chase, and after a
desperate struggle, and in spite of penitent apologies, she was borne
off by her captor and deposited in the first tub he happened to see,
which turned out to be a freshly painted rubbish barrel.

There is not much respecting of persons on these occasions, the girls
generally combine against the boys, who, as a rule, come off best. The
most binding promises are made on both sides, who vow not to throw
anything larger than a "globo" (a small balloon filled with water, which
bursts when it touches anything solid) or "poms" (leaden squirt full of
scent); but in the excitement of the fray which follows all is
forgotten, and buckets of water, the garden hose, and even the ducking
of some in water troughs, are the final outcome.

The scene after an afternoon or evening's battle is very funny; girls,
with their hair lying in dripping masses over their faces and shoulders,
their dresses, generally the oldest of thin cotton ones, clinging
hopelessly to their wearied forms, present a truly comic sight. When
they are all tired of strife, they retire by common consent to the
house, where, after discarding their soaking garments and taking a warm
bath, they are ready to discuss the glories of the day over a
much-wanted dinner.



HORSE-RACING IN THE ARGENTINE.



HORSE-RACING IN THE ARGENTINE.


In this country a great deal more racing goes on than in Europe, and it
is not confined to the moneyed classes only. Even the "peones" hold
their small meetings and match their grass-fed ponies. Estancieros and
mayor-domos have camp race-meetings once or twice yearly at all the
larger polo clubs, and at Palermo and Hurlingham every class of society
in Buenos Aires may be seen on the stands.

At Palmero race-meetings are held frequently, almost weekly in fact, on
Sunday afternoons; and the stands are generally well filled. On days of
festival, when there is a special programme, the place is crowded, and
these occasions correspond, more or less, with the more important
meetings in England.

The course is of earth, and perfectly flat, so that the only thing which
interferes with the view is dust. The stands are magnificent and the
different grades of society are divided by railings, while at the back
of each may be seen the row of offices of the "Sport," which is the
betting system of the country.

This consists of tickets, which are sold at a fixed price, with the name
of one of the entries. After the race there is a great rush to the
offices, made by those who have bought the winner, to collect their
winnings, which are the total receipts, minus a small percentage,
divided by the number of those who bought the winner. In this way a very
hot favourite will pay very little more than the original purchase
money, while an outsider who wins will pay his backers perhaps ten, or
even twenty times their deposit. There is also private betting, of
course, but no public bookmakers.

The horses are of very good quality, though not up to the standard of
the classic races in Europe. A number of youngsters are imported yearly
from England and the United States, and among them usually some good
selling-plate winners, and one or two that have been placed in
first-class flat races. The country also produces some excellent horses,
and they are improving every year; the stud farms are already well known
in Europe as some of the best in the world. Of these, the most
important, perhaps, is the "Ojo de Agua," so-called from its famous
spring, which waters all the stables as well as dwelling quarters. It is
the home of the famous Cyllene, whose offspring we expect to see winning
races in the near future; Polar Star, scarcely less known, and
Ituzaingo, a native of this country, are his present companions; while
the remains of Gay Hermit, Stiletto, Pietermaritzburg, and Kendal, all
of whom are well known among turf circles at home, rest beneath its
soil. There are several other equally famous stud farms, such as the
"San Jacinto," the present home of Val d'Or, who won the Eclipse Stakes
from Cicero, the Derby winner of that year; at another, Diamond Jubilee,
whose list of victories is long, resided for the latter part of his
life.

Nor are the jockeys unworthy of their mounts, and some very fine riding
may be witnessed both at Palermo and Hurlingham.

In contrast to these races, run on a well-ordered course, and watched
from luxurious stands, are the native "cancha" meetings, held, probably,
at some country public-house, and run on a "cancha," consisting of a
soft piece of road, or along a fence where there are no holes. The races
consist of matches arranged between two ponies, over short distances.
The start is made only by agreement of both the jockeys, and thus many
hours are wasted in their manoeuvres to get the advantage of one another
at the start. If the judges have money on the loser, the race is often
given a dead heat, and has to be run again. The pony of most endurance
has usually the best chance of winning, though the race itself is short,
as his rival may be tired out by repeated false starts. Large sums of
money often change hands at these meetings, as the native is a born
gambler, and understands this primitive method of racing better than the
more complicated systems of the regular course. Owing to this, and to
the competitors' efforts to cheat one another, not infrequently knives
are drawn during the heated discussion which follows the race.

The ponies are, for the most part, taken straight off the camp, though
in some cases they have been fed on maize and trained. They are ridden
either bareback or with the native "recado," and catch-weights: as may
be gathered from the method, it is usually "owners up."

Between these two extreme classes of racing in this country are the
English camp race-meetings, which are held by all the larger polo clubs
once or twice a year. Being of rare occurrence, and as some, if not all,
of the faces are open to members of other clubs, these are among the
chief social gatherings in camp life: in many cases there is a small
polo tournament attached, as it is the best opportunity for those who
come from a distance, and could not come twice. Therefore it usually
means a two or three days' holiday, and often a dance, or some
entertainment in the evenings. Old friends exchange reminiscences, and
new acquaintances are formed; while the ladies also make the best of the
opportunity to put on their smartest frocks and hats.

The races themselves, too, are the source of considerable talk and
excitement: both horses and jockeys are well known by sight or
reputation to the chief part of the company, and any "dark horse" or new
arrival, is inspected with care and anxiety by his rivals.

The class of horse entered varies between the three-quarter bred and the
"criollo" with no pretence to breeding at all, who often carries off the
short polo pony sprints. Occasionally there may be a thoroughbred
entered who has been found wanting at Palermo or Hurlingham, but these
are few and not always successful, as the longest races do not often
exceed about a mile and a-half. As the weights correspond to
steeplechase weights at home the jockeys are practically always
amateurs, and a large percentage of "owners up" is always found. Young
mayor-domos who have never ridden at a meeting before often find
themselves ranged alongside of Grand National riders at the start, and
some amusing incidents have occurred, though there is some very good
amateur riding to be seen as well.

The betting is on a smaller scale generally than at the native meeting,
and is often conducted by someone setting up as a public bookmaker; at
other times a "sport" is formed after the fashion of Palermo. Also the
auction of all entries before the start of the races in the American way
is a great favourite; the total receipts for each race are divided
proportionately between those who bought the winner and "placed" horses.

There is opportunity for a little horse-dealing too, and many good polo
ponies to send home or play in the tournaments have been picked up in
this way. The shorter races for ponies under polo height give an
opportunity to the polo player, and the mayor-domo who cannot train his
ponies for longer distances, to try the mettle of their mounts against
outside and purer blood.

Nowadays most of the entries are trained to some extent, though not
many go to regular training establishments. To have a reasonable chance
of running well in the longer races, however, it is necessary to have
your mounts in stable exercised regularly and fed on corn. It is only
quite lately, however, that even so much training has been adopted at
all generally. In the old pioneer days of English estancias, when these
clubs were formed, they raced ponies taken straight off grass and kept
fit by riding the regular rounds of camp and stock.

There are many tales of the great "rags" that happened in those days,
and curious incidents of racing, too. On one occasion a winner of a polo
pony race was objected to as over height. The measurement was to be
taken after the end of the meeting; and it must be remembered that all
ponies out in the camp are unshod. The man who had come in second went
round to the stables before the measuring and noticed in the winner's
stall a number of large pieces of hoof recently chopped off. The pony
passed with an inch off his forefeet and nothing was said, though it had
been obviously over height. That evening at bridge the owner happened to
win considerably from the man who had lodged the complaint, who, when
the score was to be settled, threw down some pieces of hoof on the table
saying, "Take back your dirty chips."

Nowadays, of course, things are not quite so rough and ready, and most
of the clubs are affiliated, and run under Hurlingham or the Jockey Club
rules, so that good sport and good feeling prevail. In fact the camp man
looks forward to these occasions as the best bits of sport and amusement
that he will get during the year.



SUNDAYS IN CAMP.



SUNDAYS IN CAMP.


In no place is Sunday more looked forward to and enjoyed than in camp.
Holidays on the estancia come but seldom, and were it not for the
welcome break that gives the campman a day of rest every week, his life
would be a round of work, and probably make him the proverbial "dull
boy." All the busy working-days are so filled with the various duties
that when evening comes and dinner is over the tired worker has little
inclination for reading or any other relaxation, the thought of that
early bell which rouses him before sunrise makes him take advantage of
every hour's sleep he can. At an hour when the townman is thinking of
beginning the evening's amusement at theatre or concert, the campman is
sleeping the sound sleep that fresh air combined with hard work never
denies. But on one evening an exception is made to these early hours,
and that is Saturday. With the pleasant feeling of a week's work
completed and the morrow's rest before them, our campmen begin their
weekly holiday by an extra hour or two at billiards or music, or perhaps
a rubber of bridge, turning in with a fervid "Thank goodness,
to-morrow's Sunday." Then the pleasure of waking at the usual hour (4
a.m. or even earlier in summer) and remembering that it is the blessed
Day of Rest, and having time to enjoy the extra hours, then the luxury
of dressing at one's leisure, choosing the collar and most becoming tie
and adjusting them with care, and coming out in spotless white duck or
smart riding breeches, ready to enjoy whatever sport is in season;
tennis is mostly played all the year round; and when birds are plentiful
a shoot on the lagunas attracts the sportsman, the "bag" making a
welcome variety to the dinner table; snipe, partridge, hares, and many
varieties of duck are common in a season that has not been too dry.
Then, to those lucky ones who have a polo club within reach, Sunday
during the winter season is a day of real enjoyment.

The game, which in England can only be played by men of means, can on
the estancia be enjoyed by all at little expense, the useful little
Argentine horses being easily trained to the game. Sometimes one finds a
few enterprising golfers who, with not a little trouble, make a few
"greens" and do a couple of rounds just to keep their hand in, but it is
not a general camp game. It will be seen, however, that the Day of Rest
is not one of idleness, but rather a healthful and beneficial change of
exercise.

Church service enters but seldom into the camp Sunday--such privileges
are rare, although now camp parsons are more numerous than a few years
ago--but at best one can only count on one or two services a year. When
a Church service _is_ held he would be a carping critic indeed who is
not satisfied and pleased with the earnest attention with which the
service is followed and the vigorous singing of hymns and chants in
which all the boys join so lustily; it is a reminder of Home to them,
and the familiar service is thoroughly enjoyed.

The Day of Rest, so essential to one's well-being, seems to come round
with such surprising rapidity that we may say truly it proves that
estancia life, with its long hours of hard work, so far from being
monotonous or wearisome, is a happy life. Where time flies past quickly
it means it passes happily, and amongst the most pleasant of the days we
spend in this land of sunshine we must count the Sundays in camp.

[Illustration: "A Day of Real Enjoyment."]

THE SERVANT PROBLEM IN ARGENTINA.



THE SERVANT PROBLEM IN ARGENTINA.


We often hear complaints from friends at home about the trouble they
experience over obtaining and keeping good servants, and there is no
doubt that the servant problem is a serious one in England, and is
getting worse every year; but it pales into insignificance when compared
with the trials and tribulations of those who live in the Argentine and
have to keep house.

From all one hears, those living in Buenos Aires and the larger towns
have a terrible time of it with their servants, especially if they are
not overburdened with the good things of this world in the shape of hard
cash; but my experiences have been confined to the camp, so that of the
town side of the question I cannot speak.

I have been three years in the province of Cordoba, and all the servants
I have met with except one were Argentines from the foothills of the
Cordoba Sierras.

They were without exception quite untrained as far as the English idea
goes, and the first thing to do with them was usually to teach them the
primitive ideas of cleanliness. The first servant I had was an ancient
female named Andrea, about forty years old, and it proved quite
impossible to get her to see the necessity of keeping anything in the
kitchen clean, as she seemed imbued with the idea that it was great
waste of time washing saucepans and frying-pans, as they would only get
dirty again when next used, and the most she could be persuaded to do
was to rub them round inside with a bit of old newspaper or a handful of
grass. Needless to say, after a time I got tired of these methods, and
so we parted.

My next servant, Angelina, was one of the best I had, as she was clean,
which was a great consideration, and also she was quick to learn and
soon picked up the rudiments of cooking according to our ideas; her
great failing, however, was that she was anything but honest, and could
not refrain from petty pilfering; and another drawback to her was her
objection to wearing shoes or stockings in the hot weather; in spite of
being constantly told that she must not appear without them, she would
insist in doing so, and this was a continual cause of trouble.

After getting rid of No. 2 our real troubles began, and we had eight
changes in ten months. At the time we were living in wooden huts about
two miles from a village which was a summer resort for rich people from
Buenos Aires, and this caused a dearth of servants during the summer
months, as the place was full from the beginning of December to the end
of March, and people who came up for the summer and rented houses
usually were willing to pay anything to get servants, with the result
that we outside would get none, or only the cast-off ones. Nos. 3 and 4
stayed but a short time. My fifth attempt was a terrible girl, too dirty
for words; and though apparently willing to learn, too utterly lacking
in intelligence to ever learn anything. She used to get herself into the
most awful grimy condition, and one incident during her time with me is
worth mentioning. I had with great difficulty one day got her to
understand that a wood floor could not be properly cleaned with a grass
broom dipped in cold water and just swished about over it, and, by going
down on my knees with a scrubbing brush and hot water and soap, and
giving a practical demonstration of how a floor should be washed, had
started her away to clean it, and judged that I might safely leave her,
to attend to the other household duties in the kitchen. I must tell you
that the day previously I had given her a practical lesson in
black-leading a stove by doing it myself while she looked on. Well,
after an hour in the kitchen I returned to see how she was getting on,
when I found to my great pleasure that not content with scrubbing the
floor, she had also attacked the stove with hot water, soap, and
scrubbing brush, with the result that my hard work of the previous day
was all undone and the whole room well sprinkled with black specks and
the stove a mass of rust. Two weeks of similar experiences finished our
acquaintance, and she gave place to No. 6. After I had spent three weeks
teaching No. 6 cooking, she quietly informed me that she was leaving at
the end of the week to take up a place as cook in Rosario, as she now
knew enough cooking for the position; so I had not only wasted all my
time in teaching her, but had paid her into the bargain for learning
enough to leave me.

The next servant, No. 7, Alexandrina, was, I think, the worst. She was a
Spaniard from Barcelona. She was an awful individual, and would insist
on wearing clothes of so light and scanty a nature that she was not
decent to have about the house; also, whenever we happened to have a
joke of any sort to laugh over at meals, she used immediately to come in
from the kitchen to see what was going on, and I had the greatest
difficulty to get her to return to the kitchen. I had to get rid of her,
because her moral reputation was anything but good, and two days in the
week she refused to get out of bed, and told me to do my own dirty work,
as she was ill; so at the end of two weeks she had to go. No. 8, Maria,
was a girl direct from the sierras, and was very stupid and silly, and
did not a single thing. One day I was buying vegetables, and she asked
me why I wanted to buy roots, and when I told her they were to eat, she
said even poor people could afford to buy meat, and she would not eat
them. One day I took this girl out with me to do some shopping, and
called on some people who had a piano. It was twilight, and someone was
playing the piano, and she rushed in the room and out again, with her
face very white, and said someone was beating a big, black animal in the
corner of the room, and it was screaming dreadfully with the pain. This
girl's mother was a very talkative old lady, and would insist on coming
with three children every day and taking up her position in the kitchen,
and when once she commenced to talk, one could not get away from her. At
the end of the month she came for the girl's pay, and wanted me to pay
her more money, which I was not willing to do, as I had been unable to
teach her much; so she asked if her daughter might go away for the day
and night, as she had to bath. This I was only too willing to agree to,
and let her go; but they returned in the middle of the night, and
removed all her belongings. After a few days I managed to get No. 9, who
was a widow with two children: but she only stayed two weeks. Our tenth
and last attempt was made with No. 4 once more, as she was again able to
come to us. She stayed two months, when we went away for four weeks'
holiday. A week after our return I paid her in full for the month,
though she had never been near the house all that time, and she promptly
said she could not stay with us any longer, and left. We nearly got to
No. 11, as we engaged a girl to come at $20 a month to start with, and
she was to come the next morning at eight o'clock to begin work. She
arrived at 10 a.m., and informed me that, as we had paid our last
servant $25 the month, she could not come for less. I was so sick and
tired of my experiences that this finished me, and I decided to do
without any servant. Since then, for the last year, I have done the work
myself.



POLICE OF A BYGONE DAY.



POLICE OF A BYGONE DAY.


Yes, times have changed since I went to San Cristobal just twenty years
ago. For then the English were pioneers, so to speak; not in a country
of savagery, but of semi-savagery, a very different and much worse
matter. I wonder is A.J., the Chief of Police, still to the fore? Ye
gods, how that man tried to break my heart, and how nearly he succeeded!
I was a Mayor-domo then, and G. was my boss, standing in the place of
the owners to me. The boss had a mortal dread of the police and their
powers, seen and unseen. So that when the worthy Chief of Police
suddenly decided to add the trade of butchering to his many lucrative
businesses, I received orders to sell him cows at twenty-five per cent.
less price than I sold to any of his competitors. Thus, whereas I was
selling them at twenty dollars paper, then worth about one pound per
head, I had to sell him at fifteen shillings, with the inevitable result
that he almost immediately became master of the situation and the entire
local market became his, enabling him to charge what he liked for meat,
while I was forbidden to raise the price of the cows sold him.

Insatiable in his greed, he began to ask for cattle twice a week, always
taking from ten to twenty animals, until one day, after exceptionally
wet weather, I protested that it was not possible to round up the stock
in the then state of the camp and destroy so much grass for a small
bunch of cows. Unlucky thought and ill-judged protest! For when he urged
that the inhabitants of the town were starving, and that a small point
of half-breed heifers would do to go on with, I received orders to let
him part out from our best herd. Twenty fine half-bred Herefords did he
pick while I almost shed tears of blood, though all the time, of course,
I had to show a smiling face.

This sort of thing had been going on for some time, when one of the
boundary riders told me that the fence between the town and one of our
nearest paddocks had been cut during the night.

"Then mend it up," said I.

"Sir, it is mended already."

Not a week had passed before the same man brought me the same report. So
I determined to "parar rodeo" (round up the cattle) immediately, and
count them. Twenty heifers short in one square league, and in less than
a month! This thing had to stop. I told the Capataz to take the boundary
rider off that beat, without telling him why, and then the Capataz and I
patrolled the fence night after night for a week, during which it was
never cut.

We put a new boundary rider on, and three mornings later he came to see
me bright and early, saying that not only had the fence been cut, but
that there were distinct traces of cattle having passed out recently.

After assuring myself that there was no doubt about the matter, for I
found the hoof marks of what I calculated to be not less than twenty
animals, I went post haste to my friend the Chief of Police, never
doubting that after all the favours shown him he would prove a friend in
need. I was young then.

"You don't say so, Don Ernesto!" said his podgy, putty-faced little
Highness. "Where was it? When was------ By heavens, somebody shall
suffer for this! Just let me or any of my soldiers catch the thieves,
and not one of them shall reach Santa Fé alive. Now, I'll tell you what.
Just leave it to me, and don't you worry nor think any more about the
matter, much less mention it to a soul. In less than two days I'll have
the thief or thieves here in the stocks."

I told him plainly that that was not my programme, and that, whatever he
did, I was not going to leave that fence unpatrolled until I could move
the stock out of the paddock.

"Then this is what we'll do, Don Ernesto. You shall be one of us. You
come and dine with me at six o'clock this evening, and afterwards we'll
go out with the sergeant and five or six men and catch 'em."

It was about the equinox, if I remember rightly--the springtime, when
everything is lovely and lovable: the camp flowers all in bloom, the
aroma of the trees burdening the air with delicious perfume, the fresh
verdure and plenty of grass, the powerful, stout-hearted bounding of the
horse (no longer "poor") beneath one, and, above all, the great issue
expected of the business in hand, the most important business to me in
the world at the time--all these combined spelled but one word, "Hope!"

Carbine in hand, Colt in holster, I arrived at his residence. There he
was, sitting at the door of his corner house, whence he could look down
three streets at once. How like a spider, I thought.

His welcome was cordial, but he seemed to smile at my eagerness, and
told me that he never dined before eight.

"But let us sit here in the cool of the evening," said he, handing out a
chair for me to sit by him on the footpath, "and let us take some
refreshment to while away the time. But, tell me, where did you say that
the fence was cut? But did you really see signs that cattle had passed?
Preposterous! The sons of guns shall suffer for this. Eh well, I'm glad
of it in a way--glad to have a little work, and perhaps a little
excitement. It doesn't do to have a too orderly district, for the
Governor and his satellites in Santa Fé imagine I'm lazy and not looking
after my business if they hear of no commotions. That black fellow you
sent me the other day, Don Ernesto--the fellow that was molesting a mad
woman in the camp--- I've got him seventeen years in the line for that.
I wish you would send me a few more, for hardly a letter comes from
Santa Fé in which I am not asked to send in recruits, so hard up are
they for Provincial soldiers."

Just then a poor Italian colonist came up, hat in hand. He, too, and all
his class were pioneers in those days, and God knows what they suffered.

"Well, what d'ye want?" asked my companion.

"Sir," said the wretched man, stuttering in his nervousness, "one of my
bullocks has been stolen, and I know the thief. I have been to the
Justice of the Peace, and he told me to bring the thief to him; but,
sir, the th-thief refuses to come."

"_Bueno_! Ten dollars, and ten dollars _down_," roared the majesty of
law.

"But, sir,----"

"No! But me no buts! Ten dollars at once, or I'll call the sergeant to
lock you up until you can get it."

I could see that the poor fellow's heart was breaking as he drew the
money from his pocket and handed it over. Smilingly the bully turned to
me and said, as his victim walked slowly away, "I'll bet you that that
man doesn't come around to molest me again. I'll guarantee to you, Don
Ernesto, that there isn't a district in the whole province where so few
appeals for justice are made."

At last it was dinner-time, and, being ushered into a dirty room with a
brick floor, dim light and grimy tablecloth, I seated myself at the
table with my host, his secretary, the doctor, and a clerk. The dinner
was in the usual native style of those days: ribs of beef roasted on
the gridiron, beef and pumpkin boiled together, to finish up with
"caldo," which is simply the water in which the beef and vegetables have
been boiled, with a good thick coating of grease.

No sooner had we begun dinner than it was noticed that we had no wine.

"No wine! How's this? What d'ye mean?" as he angrily turned to the
sergeant who was waiting.

"If you please, sir, So-and-so and So-and-so," mentioning the name of a
local firm of storekeepers, "say that they can supply no more wine until
they can get some of their accounts settled."

"How dare you bring me such a message as that! Take the corporal with a
couple of men and bring a half-barrel at once--in less than three
minutes, or I'll know the reason why."

The barrel was brought, and, with a bit and brace, quickly tapped, and
the wine set flowing round the table.

The dinner dragged on and on, until I thought he meant us to sit there
all night. Ten o'clock came, half-past, and then eleven. Then I began to
smell a rat. I kept on urging the necessity for action, but it became
more and more evident that the Chief was fooling. He pressed wine upon
all and upon me in particular, while he drank little himself, although
he pretended otherwise. At last, I could stand it no longer, and got up
in no very good humour to go.

"No, but stop, Don Ernesto! Where are you going? Sit down again. The
horses are not saddled yet: not even caught up. Sit down and have
patience and we'll all go with you in good time."

It was after twelve when at last we made a start. There were the Chief,
the sergeant, a corporal, four men, and myself. We rode slowly in a
northerly direction until we came to a small gate in the fence, of which
I had the key. All the way thither the Chief, while commending me for my
forethought in bringing arms, had been impressing upon me the importance
of not using them, no matter what happened, "Because, you see, you are
not an arm of the law, and if you were to shoot anyone, I should be
obliged to arrest you and send you to Santa Fé."

When we got through the fence, what was my surprise when the Chief said,
"Bueno, Don Ernesto, you and I have had a long day. What I propose is
that you and I off-saddle and doss down here, while the sergeant and men
patrol with muffled bits and spurs at a short distance from the fence.
Then the moment they hear anything they can come and let us know!"

In vain I protested that this was not my idea at all, and that I too
wanted to do the patrolling, but when he told a man to take the saddle
off my horse and shake down a bed for me, I thought it wiser to
acquiesce, or, at least, appear to do so. I shall never forget that
night. How we talked and talked and talked as we lay beneath the
brilliant stars, I, boiling with rage and anxiety under my assumed
tranquillity, while he, doubtless, was as much annoyed at having to keep
me in conversation. It must have been nearly four o'clock when I told
him that I really must sleep. "Bueno," said he, as he rolled over on his
side, "hasta mañana."

In five minutes he was snoring. Even so, I did not dare to move, for
fear that he might be foxing. About an hour passed, during which he
moved, coughed, expectorated, and had other signs of conscious
animation, much to my disgust, until at last I thought the snoring
sounded too genuine to be shammed, so I crept towards him and whispered
in his ear that I thought I heard sounds of movement. But his snoring
was rhythmic and swinish, so I gathered up my saddle and gear and stole
over to my horse, which was picketed some yards off, and proceeded to
saddle him up. In doing so, my stirrups somehow clashed and thought it
was all up, for what a fool I should look if he woke and discovered me.
But it was all right: the music continued.

I led the horse for some little distance, then mounting, I rode him down
alongside the fence for about a mile until I came to a fresh gap in it.

Horror! Even though it was but what my suspicions had depicted, the
realisation came as a shock to me. "The--! The--!" To repeat my
expressions would edify no one.

Guided by the signal-lights at the station, I moved along at a smart
trot and soon recognised the quick tramping of animals ahead. Then I
drew back, and as the day was just breaking, I drew round to the west
side of the cavalcade, so that I might see without being seen. Yes, sure
enough, there were six military chacots outlined against the great sky
and a troop of animals ahead of them.

I halted to let them get well away from me, and then, with rage and
hatred in my heart, swearing vengeance all the while, I galloped as hard
as ever I could to the estancia, to impatiently await the uprising of my
boss.

"We must wire, or one of us must go to the Governor in Santa Fé at
once," I urged. But what was my disgust to be met with but a quiet smile
of amusement!

"Not if I know it," said he. "Why, good God, man, do you want to have
all our throats cut? This man is a personal friend of the Governor's,
and what satisfaction do you think we are likely to get out of that?"

"Then let us go to the Consul, the British Minister, or even to the
President of the Republic?"

A quiet smile with a negatory shake of the head was the only answer.

A fortnight later I sought him in his private sitting-room and found the
Chief of Police sitting in an easy-chair.

"Ha! ha! ha! Don Ernesto. So you caught us, did you? Well, it was worth
the fun. I never laughed so much in all my life as when I awoke that
morning and found that you had given me the slip!"



A VISIT TO THE NORTHERN CHACO.


After three years on an estancia in the vast monotonous, treeless, but
most fertile plains of the Central Argentine, under scorching sun,
driving rains, and biting wind, one feels that one would like to see a
river sometimes, animal life and more congenial surroundings; and so I
determined to visit the Northern Chaco, that enormous tract of land
which lies North of Santa Fé and stretches right away for many hundreds
of miles to North, East, and West.

Leaving Rosario by the night express, one crosses the great, slightly
undulating plains, probably among the richest in the world for the
growth of wheat, linseed, and maize, reaching Santa Fé early the
following morning. This town, the capital and Government centre of the
province, is rather an uninteresting place; chiefly noticeable in it are
the great number of fine churches and the magnificent sawmills owned by
a large French company. Santa Fé is supposed to be one of the most
religious centres in the Republic. More than once it has almost been
washed away in an eddy of the giant Parana in flood, the water rising
four feet in the houses on the highest level in the town.

After spending a day of sight-seeing in Santa Fé, we embarked at
nightfall for Vera, the headquarters of the Santa Fé Land Company's wood
department, arriving there in the early morning. The land around here
from the train appears to be a dry, salty country, devoid of herbage,
and only valuable on account of the excellent forest trees and timber.

Our morning meal was taken in the station waiting-room (the only
restaurant in the town), and consisted of cold coffee and what the
Argentine understands by boiled eggs, which have in reality been in
boiling water half a minute, and which, in order to eat, one has to tip
into a wine-glass and beat up with a fork, adding pepper and salt, etc.
This is the general way of eating eggs in South America; an egg cup is
one of the few things one cannot get in the country without going to an
English store in Buenos Aires.

Leaving Vera at 8 a.m. the train goes at a snail's pace along the branch
line to Reconquista, covering the distance of about thirty leagues in
five hours. Arriving there in the sweltering midday heat, we were met by
an English friend and his capataz, the latter dressed in his enormous
slouch hat, deerskin apron, and silver spurs weighing probably a full
kilo.

One cannot help noticing at once the different type of natives; from the
slow, slouching, don't-care kind of men, which one sees in Cordoba and
Southern Santa Fé, to the quick, straight, hawk-eyed half-Indian
Chaquenos.

Reconquista on a hot summer's day is one of the dirtiest places on this
earth, which is saying a good deal. One drives through streets two feet
deep in light sandy dust, which hangs in clouds all over the town. There
is an excellent hotel in the centre of the town, built on typical
Spanish plans with fine large open patios, which are filled with
splendid tropical plants and ferns. Having washed off the dust of three
days' travel from our weary persons, and having changed into more
suitable travelling gear, we sat down to an excellent spread.

In the cool of the evening we made a tour of the town, being most
interested in the cigar factories, where we bought excellent smokes for
$2 a hundred, all hand-made from pure tobacco leaf by the brown-hued
lasses of Reconquista.

The rest of the evening we spent in unpacking our native saddles, and
preparing everything for our long horseback journey--not having
forgotten to see that our tropilla of fifteen grey ponies were fit and
ready to make an early start next morning.

Three a.m. next morning found us out in the "corrales" having our ponies
allotted to us by the capataz--we found the tropilla on "ronda"--that
is, in a corner with a lasso tied across in front of them, the height of
their chests, and all facing outwards. This is the most general way of
teaching horses to stand in the Chaco, as, if taught to stand singly,
they would fall too easy a prey to the Indians and gauchos. In order to
saddle these ponies we had to "manear" them, that is, tie their forelegs
together, for without this they refused to let us put the blankets on
their backs.

All being ready, we started off, four of us, two in front and two
behind, with eleven loose ponies between us. By this time the sky was
beginning to grow light, and evidently the fresh morning air had
disagreed with my friend T.'s horse, which suddenly cleared down a side
street with his head between his forelegs and his back arched like the
bend in an archer's bow.

After some seconds of this amusing sight T. managed to get the pony's
head up and came along again, looking very warm and beaming; his
pink-nosed pony quite satisfied that he would have to carry more than
his own weight for some distance further.

Leaving Reconquista on the north we crossed, over an old railway
embankment, a large stretch of low country, through which a small stream
glided with winding course, and jogging along league after league we
gradually got into more interesting country: little clumps of trees with
very thick undergrowth, clinging creepers, bright-coloured flowers, and
gorgeously plumaged birds.

All along the sides of the roads were little farms, apparently
uncultivated, except for small patches of wonderfully grown maize and
browning linseed. Practically all these farms are owned by Swiss and
German peasants, each one with his small herd of cows and working
bullocks.

We changed our ponies every three or four leagues, always going at the
same jog-trot, stopping occasionally at a wayside inn to wet our parched
throats with fresh well water (with a drop of caña in it to kill the
microbes), and smoking hard all the time to keep off the swarms of
mosquitoes.

After travelling ten leagues or so we began to leave these habitations
behind us, and got into wilder country with no fences, only long
stretches of undulating land, dotted with patches of splendid-looking
trees and enticing shade.

The road occasionally crossed small streams, which gradually became more
tropical looking, until we came to quite a large river, two or three
hundred metres wide, looking beautifully peaceful and oily. Standing
above on the bank, in the shade of some magnificent quebracho trees, we
looked down upon this lazy stretch of perfect scenery, when suddenly
there was a slight disturbance in the water and a small black dot
appeared on the top of the water. The capataz at once pulled out his
revolver, all of us doing likewise, only to have to put them back again,
as the dot had disappeared as quickly as it came. This was the first
sign of wild animal life we saw, the "jacaré" or alligator. In the more
civilised parts of the Chaco, these animals, as well as the carpincho or
water-hog, are getting quite rare, and having been so much shot at and
worried they need the most careful stalking.

As we got further away, we came upon many more of these streams, all
looking much the same; some had bridges over them made of quebracho
logs, laid endways on and covered with earth, very dangerous to cross
after wet weather or floods, especially at night, as they are generally
full of holes where the earth has fallen in.

At 10 a.m. each day we unsaddled for lunch, which was generally composed
of "charque" or salted beef, biscuits, and coffee. The first night we
slept at the last habitation which we saw, a small wayside inn. Arriving
there late in the evening, we had the greatest difficulty in obtaining
entrance on account of the chorus of barking, snapping dogs, and on
account of the innkeeper's fear of drunken gauchos.

Another early start on the second day saw us well on our journey by
siésta time, which we spent on the edge of a very fine forest. The
afternoon was very hot, and we did not start off again until 4 o'clock.
During the evening we swam across a small river which we found
overflowing its banks on account of the local rains, and, as darkness
fell, we found it almost impossible to see our way on account of the
fireflies, which made such a glare in front of us that the slight track
which we had been following was almost invisible. It was a very dark
night, and once or twice we felt rain. We had to go very slowly, so that
we should not miss the track. Thus we trotted on in Indian file, each of
us now leading spare horses, in silence, except when one of us asked how
many leagues it was to the estancia, only to jog on again for what
seemed two or three hours, until almost midnight. With a cheerful yell
we suddenly came on a barbed wire fence, and after hunting about for a
time, a wire gate.

Immediately tongues seemed to be mechanically loosened and the
conversation flowed freely, discussing the ride, horses, coming
stiffness, and all the things that one has to talk about after two and
a-half days in the saddle. On reaching the estancia about 2 a.m., none
of us needed much bed, and throwing our things down on the grass
outside, we soon were dreaming of alligators, broken bridges, swimming
rivers, etc.

About 10 o'clock the next morning I awoke to find myself on a most neat
little estancia high up on a hill, overlooking, across a slight valley,
magnificent forests where one could see the glint of running water.

The house was brick floored and had four very nice rooms, which had been
colour-washed by my friends with excellent success. The ceilings at once
attracted attention, being of a deep-coloured black wood, well oiled and
seasoned. "Timbo" it is called, and is the best carving and furniture
wood in the country.

Out in the garden were oranges, lemons, citrons, pomegranates, limes,
and all kinds of luxurious fruits and vegetables. In a small fenced
paddock at the end of the garden, were sweet potatoes, pea-nuts, cotton,
tobacco, and some magnificent maize.

The men's huts were made of mud over a cane network, and the roofs were
made of split palm trees, hollowed out and made in the form of a large
~~~~~~~ the palms being placed concavely and convexly alternately,
making fine drainage for the heavy rains. The whole place was surrounded
by a ring of fine chaco paraiso trees and "ombu." The horse corrals were
all _palo a pique_, that is, made of solid posts, stuck in close
together side by side, and about two metres high, with no wire.

The camp was more or less on the real banks of the Parana, sloping away
to the river four leagues away, and forming one of the most fertile
spots in the Republic. This low-lying land is the finest and cheapest
grazing in the north, but it is unreliable because it is quite inundated
in time of floods, when the cattle have to be withdrawn to higher camp.

During various excursions on the following days we saw tracks of
"tigers" (leopard) and "lions" (puma); the kill of the latter, a small
gazelle buck, "guasuncho," we found neatly covered up with grass and
leaves, and easily distinguishable from the tiger's kill, which is
always left uncovered. A very fine tiger's skin was brought in one
night, measuring 1.84 metres from the tip of the nose to the root of the
tail, and 1.56 metres across. The man had suddenly come across it while
on foot in the monte, and after wounding it with his Winchester had run
it down with his dogs and killed it.

One evening we caught sight of a tapi (tapir) coming down to drink, but
were unable to shoot on account of the bad light. Each day we saw many
wild pigs ("chancho moro") and various kinds of wild cats, including the
splendid "gato once" or ounce cat, whose skin is one of the finest, and
only to be compared with the "lobo" or golden otter, which has a most
magnificent fluffy pelt with a golden tint on the tips. The latter is
unfortunately getting very rare now.

The great wolf or "aguaras" is still common, and is a very stately
beast, as he slopes along with his hind-quarters well under him, with
pricked ears and shaggy black mane.

The forests here are mostly in long strips and clumps, with excellent
pasture land between them; and they contain, among other commoner chaco
trees, lance wood, four crowns, and tala. Amongst the strange trees
there is one enormous broad-leafed tree called "guapoij," which has long
creeping roots, which cling on to neighbouring trees and gradually pull
them down and absorb all their goodness, killing them, and in some
marvellous way apparently eating them up. One finds occasionally one of
these trees embracing another bigger than itself, and gradually rooting
it out of the ground.

On all low ground one generally finds "Zeibos"--a tree with very soft
wood and very pretty branches of scarlet flowers.

The wild apricot or "ijguajay" grows everywhere, and looks a very
tempting fruit, fatal, however, to most Europeans, as it is a very
powerful purge. The Indian children eat the fruit with joy, and it
apparently has no bad effect on them.

The forests are full of all kinds of animals, and, in addition to those
already mentioned, there are red deer, black and brown monkeys, and
bear, and the ring-tailed coons, which latter make noises like the
grunting of pigs.

Of ground game there are foxes, tattoo or mulita, armadillo, and
ostriches.

Amongst the birds the most common are various kinds of hawks, including
some very much like the great bustard, English brown buzzard, and osprey
falcon, and two or three kinds of parrots and cockatoos, the green
parrots being the curse to agriculturists, eating all the maize, as the
locusts do in the South.

There are many different kinds of "carpinteros" or woodpeckers, most of
them having most wonderful plumage of brown, green, scarlet, blue, and
yellow.

A strange bird which is not often seen is the "tucan," a small black
bird, with a beak almost as big as his body, and of a splendid orange
colour with a scarlet tip; he is a top-heavy looking little chap when
seen seated on an orange tree, his favourite haunt.

Amongst table birds there are grey pheasants, martinetta, and
partridges. Of wild fowl, there are enormous varieties, including the
"pato real" or great tree duck, whistling mallard, various kinds of teal
and shovellers, widgeon, muscony and hooded duck, black-headed geese,
grey geese, and swans. Amongst water-birds are the black, grey, and
white "garza" or heron. The latter are especially valuable on account of
the splendid feathers on the back of their necks. Of the smaller birds
there is the gallinetta, a kind of landrail, the curse of hunters
shooting wild duck, their wretched screech warning every bird in the
district. The beautifully coloured and almost transparently winged
golden moorhen covers every stretch of water inland, and the "chaja" or
wild turkey, one of the most useless birds in the Chaco, and quite
uneatable, sends forth his dismal cry "chaja."

The kingfishers are, perhaps, the most noticeable of all the river
birds, and are of all sizes, from the small European variety to one
almost ten times their size. Gorgeously plumaged, they skim, like
flashes of light, over the water, which is full of all kinds of fish
including "Dorado," a splendid fighting fish, excellent eating, which
can be caught with rod or fly, and goes up to 10 kilos in weight;
"Suravi," a great mud fish, which is seen sometimes basking out of
water, weighing up to 50 kilos, with enormous head, and good eating;
"Savala," the mud-eating cruiser, which one sees nearly always with its
tail out of water, and which makes excellent revolver shooting;
"Palmieta," the curse of the Chaco streams and rivers, making bathing
unadvisable on account of its hostile assaults on the extremities of all
foreign bodies; and the "rallo," or sun fish, a large flat fish with a
long tail.

Thus was spent a week of happy days of excursions and explorations,
where sometimes we had to walk through great distances of undergrowth
and the everywhere-abundant prickly cactus, cutting our way with large
cavalry swords, always with our eyes skinned to catch sight of some
strange bird, beast, or flower. Sometimes we waded for miles through
swamps, which, in some places, abound with enormous water snakes up to 6
metres long.

We put up all kinds of water-fowl, as we struggled on, splashing
through rivers, clambering up and skeltering down slippery banks,
reaching home tired and weary every night to recount all the day's
doings, sitting out in the patio in the cool evening, eaten up by
mosquitoes.

So ended my holiday, with hurried packing, much toast-drinking, and a
final little farewell dance to the accompaniment of guitar, gramophone,
mouth-organ, and accordion. The journey south was of no great interest,
half on horseback, half in "galera," or public mail coach, with, as
fellow passengers, a German traveller, a curé (most jovial of beings,
who had brought enough food with him to feed a whole regiment), a head
of police and his men, and two coach boys.

The coach, with five young horses tied in abreast, went bumping and
jolting along hour after hour, until we came to a big river,
unfortunately in flood. The horses were unhitched, tied together and
swum across; a boat coming from some unseen corner, took passengers and
luggage across, leaving the coach itself alone, with a long wire tied to
the end of the pole. The horses were fastened to the end of this wire on
the other side of the river, and then, with a whoop and a cheer, the
coach tumbled head-over-heels into the raging flood, twisting and
turning in all ways, first one side up and then the other, until at last
it reached the near bank. And so we travelled on, back to civilisation;
a tiring journey in dust and heat by rail, bringing us home to the same
old flat, treeless, priceless plains of the Central Argentine, to dream
for many days of birds, fishes, animals, flowers, trees, good friends,
and the fine natives of the Northern Chaco.



WORK IN THE WOODS.



WORK IN THE WOODS.


The worker in the forests is of necessity an early riser, the nature of
his task requiring that he should be up betimes. His preparations for
breakfast are simple, and he is ready to start out after half an hour
spent in imbibing a few matés full of yerba infusion. The cartmen tie in
their bullocks, kept overnight in a corral, and drive off to bring in
wood prepared by the axemen, the bullock-herd takes his charges to
pasture and the men's employer mounts his horse to visit the camp of his
axemen, or goes to the store to fetch meat and provisions. The axemen
generally live in tents or temporary shelters, convenient to their work,
and some distance from the contractor's rancho. They have to work hard,
stripped to the waist in summer; they fell the trees, and either square
the logs for baulks and sleepers, or cut the bark and outside layer of
white wood off to make logs for export, working by moonlight when the
heat of the day is excessive. Their food consists of biscuits, called
Galleta, dried to the consistency of flint; these they soften in soup
made from fresh meat or dried "Charki." To this soup is added rice,
maize, or "Fido's," which is coarse macaroni.

The favourite roast, called the "Asado," is made from ribs of beef
impaled on a stick and placed near the fire till sufficiently cooked.
This delicacy, usually as hard as nails, is enjoyed by the men, who cut
off portions, which they hold in their teeth, while, with a jack-knife,
mouthfuls are sawn off close to the nose, at the risk of shortening that
organ. Water is drunk, or coffee sweetened liberally with moist sugar.
This coffee is made in the country, chiefly from beans or maize, with a
large percentage of chicory to give it body.

It is picturesque to see a long string of carts enter a deposit to the
sound of pistol cracks from long whips, and to watch the cartmen unload
the heavy logs.

A cartman will load his cart with logs of a ton and upwards, each with
the aid of his team of bullocks, placing the chains so that the animals,
at the desired moment, by advancing a short distance, roll the log from
the ground on to the cart. In the case of very heavy logs the cart is
placed upside down on the log, which is then bound to it, and the
bullocks pull the whole thing over. The distances which have to be
covered by these carts are considerable, fifteen miles in the day is not
unusual, changing bullocks once en route, but a great deal depends on
the roads being dry, as in wet weather the wheels sink up to the hubs in
the mud and the roads are soon dotted here and there with loads
abandoned till better conditions enable them to be reloaded and
delivered at a depository.

These cartmen are hardy fellows and work wet to the skin, covered with
mud up to their knees, or, again, hidden in the dust from the roads,
which envelopes the moving carts in a choking cloud.

It is little to be wondered at if the axemen and cartmen, when pay day
arrives, go in for a spree, which for them usually takes the form of
gambling, enlivened by dancing and drinking till daylight.

The result of sojourning in the woods does not, as might be expected,
have the effect of making these men unsociable, and they embrace every
opportunity of attending a race meeting or dance. When the men are
excited by drink quarrels are frequent, and the police search them for
arms before admitting them to a Re-union.

Arms are carried ostensibly as a precaution against meeting with
Indians and bad characters in the lonely recesses of the forest, and the
men like to carry a knife and a good revolver, or, better still, a
Winchester, to enable them to get a shot at any wild animal they may
come across, the skins of these being much prized. They take a pleasure
in presenting a visitor with a puma skin or other trophy of the chase.

Among these people one looks for, and finds, the primitive idea of
hospitality, an unaffected welcome and willingness to give of the best
they have. Here are men independent by virtue of their labour, which
gives them sufficient for their daily wants. They have no thought for
the morrow or what will be their lot when too feeble to work.

The axemen, who are natives of Italy and Austria, are very good workmen,
but compare unfavourably with natives of the country, being extremely
dirty in their persons, to such a degree that it is a disagreeable
experience to have to interview them in an office, whereas the Argentine
native puts on his best apparel when he goes to an estancia.

The forest workers are nomads, and, as the woods get cut out, move on to
fresh camping grounds, leaving the woods to revert to their former
solitude, a haunt for the wild animals, who creep back once silence has
returned.



CACHAPÉS, AND OTHER THINGS.



CACHAPÉS, AND OTHER THINGS.


To a man coming from the Southern Camps to the forest belt of Santa Fé,
the cachapé must appeal as something peculiar to the district, and most
essentially local. He has had a surfeit of carts with two wheels, each
12 feet high, and dragged by anything from sixteen to twenty-eight
horses; Russian carts, like Thames punts on four wheels, no longer amuse
him, while American spring carts are much too European to warrant
unslinging the Kodak. But the cachapé--here is something not to be
lightly passed over. Lying idle it may not strike him at first sight as
a cart, but rather as a remnant of some revolution, when, tired of
waging light operatic war, the army disbanded, leaving their
gun-carriages to serve more peaceful purposes.

Two pairs of short, squat, enormously powerful wheels; between, and
joining them, a roughly hewn pole and various chains in an apparently
hopeless tangle. Yet see them in work--every niche doing its work, every
chain taking ten per cent, more strain than it was ever intended to
take, creaking, groaning, crashing into holes, crawling laboriously over
snaps and trunks to fall again with its load of four tons with a
jerking, swaying, and straining as though struggling to free itself from
its load, and you recognise the _raison d'être_ of the queer little
cart.

The capaché is not without its humorous moments. Supposing the cartmen
find a log too heavy to load in the ordinary way; they do not return and
inform the boss that the log must be hoisted by mechanical means or
propose high-priced cranes. Seeing that obviously they can't put the log
on the cart, they accept the alternative and put the cart on the log,
chain it on securely, then haul everything right side up again with the
bullocks and proceed to the unloading station. Once there, it might be
supposed that they would tumble the cart over again, but here the
intelligent foreigner is misled. The correct proceeding now is for the
cartmen to lie on their backs and push with their feet, after the manner
of the gentlemen in music halls, who, reclining on sawed-off sofas,
twiddle gold-spangled spheres with their toes; only our cartmen lie in
water and mud and the gold-spangled sphere is changed for a three-ton
log. The force the men can exert in this position is little short of
marvellous. Out one crawls, reviews the situation, then back again
under, a creak, a combined push, and over the wheels comes the log,
throwing up the mud and water for 50 feet around. Then back they go
again for another load six miles through the forest. Wet through, their
clothes hanging in ribbons from shoulders and belt, one day's mud caking
on another's, and with a long sword stuck through their belt in front,
they present a figure comical enough were it not that one knew the other
side of the picture.

Reeking with inherited consumption, they live the one life which is
certain to kill them before they are forty. Wet through and chilled,
they are called upon again and again to suddenly exert enormous
strength, since no man can desert his cart. He must "get there." He must
get out of his trouble. He eats largely when and how he can, and when he
has saved any money the merry "Taba" bone charms it from him in a way
too universal perhaps to call for any remark. Sometimes he finishes his
carting days through too decided opinions as to the other man's
integrity in playing "Taba"; sometimes on his canvas bed in a hut of mud
and branches, his browny yellow face and sunken eyes asking no pity,
betraying no emotion; in either case he is rarely over thirty-five and
often leaves a wife and children.

I say "wife and children," since it sounds the usual thing; but, as a
matter of strict fact, the ceremony of getting married is deprecated
among them, as it signifies "Putting on side," and is only resorted to
when they are in a village and there is a chance that the presents that
are given will more than compensate the tremendous expense they have to
go to. Speaking to a gentleman of this kidney, I was informed that when
the cross-eyed blacksmith Strike got married, it cost him three dollars
and a-half (say 5s.) in fire crackers alone, and my informant went on to
say that the only case he knew of where marriage had been really
successful was that of the fair-haired carpenter, who was married and
asked all the bosses on the place, who each gave something, with which
he was able to buy a sewing machine for the eldest girl, then aged six.

But, mark you, lest you should judge them lightly, remember that their
unwritten pact is just as binding to them as our formal marriage tie is
to us, and that in their way they are probably better husbands and
fathers than your Balham clerk. In their young days they may chop and
change, which changes are generally marked by little iron crosses in the
woods, but, once they have settled down, desertion is far rarer than in
civilised countries. I have seen a native workman with his shoulder
blade in his arm-pit, his face cut to ribbons, and with pieces of
casting sticking to his back through the carrying away of a crane, cavil
against the idea of being taken into the township where the doctor was,
lest his old woman, unused to a town life, should find the surroundings
uncongenial. This in a broken, muttered whisper, twelve hours after the
accident had happened, during which time every new arrival had been
called upon to witness the peculiar nature of his injuries.

Much has been said about the terrible wickedness of the lower-class
native, his gambling, his immorality, his almost fanatical desire to
murder everyone he sees; and for complete and detailed lists of crimes
and monstrosities appeal to any newcomer, who will be delighted to hold
forth on the subject; but when one has lived with them and worked with
them under varying conditions, and has suffered in some degree what they
suffer, one hesitates to condemn them offhand.

Blackguards they are--but manly, humorous blackguards. Immoral, one must
confess them to be, according to our lights, but even in England "Custom
from time immemorial" is held as law.

The vast majority will steal raw hide gear as a cat steals fish, but
will not touch your money, much as in a community of young men property
is common to all with the same exception. They will lie if scared, or
rather will substitute for the truth something they think you would like
to hear, and they will do as little work as you will let them.

But, have a bad case of sickness in the house and ask a man to go out at
midnight with the carriage to get the doctor, or to go on horseback on
his own horse twenty miles for medicine, and he goes as quietly and
pleasantly as though he were going about the most commonplace work. He
expects no tip, no extra wage, nor is he lauded as a hero. He may have
come down, horse and all, in the dark, but is happy if he has not
smashed the bottle of medicine, and he resumes his work on return, just
as if he hadn't been up all night riding at a hard canter over broken
ground full of holes and snags.

No, he is by no means an ideal worker, neither is he half so bad as he's
painted, and I'd rather meet him in the next world than lots of men who
boss him in this.



MY FRIEND THE AXEMAN.



MY FRIEND THE AXEMAN.


Eighty square leagues of dense forest. One is inclined to feel a trifle
small and overcome when this fraction of Mother Earth is put into one's
hands (metaphorically), with orders to know all about it and to be able
to answer all questions as to what is going on in it.

The work is like most other occupations: not quite so romantic as it
sounds at first, but as interesting as one cares to make it.

One's main employment can best be illustrated by a leaf out of a mental
diary.

Fulano de Tal, axeman, wants credit for provisions at the almacen or
general store--Has he sufficient wood cut to warrant it? It is the
Mayor-domo's business to find out.

With this end in view, he rides along "The Mangy" watercourse till he
comes to the lowland of "The Blind Cow." The barking of half a dozen
mongrel curs leads him into the edge of the forest, and he comes upon
the residence of Fulano de Tal. The man has perhaps recently moved to
this spot, and has not had time or energy to build himself a "rancho,"
and therefore the homestead consists of about four yards of canvas
stretched across the branch of a tree like the roof of a tent.

Beneath this is a "New Home" sewing machine, a Brummagem bedstead, and a
small trunk, made burglar-proof by innumerable bands and fastenings of
bright tin, or even gilt wall-paper. Scattered around are the little
Fulanos, in costumes varying from nothing to very little.

Their mother ceases her cooking operations, wipes her hands on the
nearest child's head, and invites the visitor to dismount.

He answers that he is looking for her husband, and she directs him with
a sweep of the hand which covers a quadrant of the compass and includes
several square leagues of thick forest. Taking a likely track, however,
he soon hears the ring of axe-strokes, and finds his man patiently
chipping away at a felled tree, which is rapidly taking the form of a
baulk, with the sides as smooth as if sawn.

His horse is tied up near, and he takes the Mayor-domo through his
"corte," showing him the wood prepared for the carters. Give him a
chance and he will count every log twice (most likely he has already
plastered mud over the marks which show the rotten patch in the wood,
and is wondering whether he has cleared the black sufficiently off a
piece of "campana" to persuade a reasonable man that it is really fresh
wood).

It is part of the inspector's stock in trade to know these and a myriad
other tricks, too numerous to take separately.

The typical axeman in the Santa Fé Chaco is more genuinely "childlike"
than, and quite as "bland" as, the famous Celestial. He never quite
grows up; he will spend his last dollar on a mouth-organ when he is
forty, and give a wild war-whoop of delight as a stack of newly piled
sleepers falls crashing to the ground.

He loves sweets and the bright clothes which he wears with childish
dignity on feast-days and holidays.

His _amour propre_ is tremendous, and influences his code of honour to a
great extent. The first ten commandments he will break most cheerfully,
but the eleventh--"Thou shalt not be found out"--he respects to the best
of his power.

Stealing, for instance, he regards as a pastime, but call him a thief
and you must be prepared for trouble. A perfect instance of this can be
quoted in the case of an estanciero who found a peon wearing one of his
shirts.

[Illustration: _Square Quebracho Logs worked by the Axeman, showing
Resin oozing therefrom._]

"You are wearing my shirt," said the master. "No, Señor; I bought it in
the store." "But you stole it from me," insisted the estanciero,
pointing to the tab at the front, where his name was written in marking
ink; "there is my name on it."

The man, being quite illiterate, had not reckoned on such damning
evidence, but he recovered himself and replied with dignity: "Very well,
Señor; if it is yours, take it; _but don't call me a thief_."

Honesty is with them, admittedly, a matter of degree. A man will always
say if questioned about some small deficiency, "Do you think I would
swindle you for a matter of two dollars?" or "Do you think I would risk
my credit with the Company for the sake of _one_ calf?" To be honest in
a case where a larger profit is involved is a height of integrity to
which he does not even pretend. "I am going to be frank with you"--that
is an expression which puts the wise man on his guard, for it is
generally followed by a cascade of lies.

Business must be done on a completely different basis to that which
obtains in England. To return to our friend Fulano, for instance: he
wishes perhaps to ask for an increase of fifty cents per ton on his
wood, and introduces the subject by a short conversation about the
points of his horse, passing on to the bad state of the bullocks and
enlarging on the chance of a rainy winter. You have just decided that he
has nothing more to say and are preparing to leave him, when he makes
his request with as much circumlocution as possible. To have come
straight to the point would have been contrary to all his ideas of
correct procedure.

I have heard two natives make one another's acquaintance with a bout of
verbal sparring which an Englishman would obviate by a single sentence,
such as "Good morning; Mr. Brown, I believe?" "Yes," the other would
answer, and the business would be entered upon immediately.

The Spanish blood, however, calls for some such dialogue as the
following, which is taken from real life.

_A._--"Good day."

_B._--"Good day."

_A._--"How are you, Señor?"

_B._--"Very well, thank you, Señor; how are you?"

_A._--"Very well, thank you."

_B._--"I am glad."

_A._--"Equally."

_B._--"Don't mention it."

_A._--"I am speaking to Mr. Juan Sosa?"

_B._--"At your service."

_A._--"At yours."

_B._--"Equally."

_A._--"It gives me great pleasure to know you."

_B._--"Equally."

They are flowery always, whether in greeting, praise, commendation, or
in denunciation.

In illustration of the last point, I once heard a cartman give vent to a
quite Olympic challenge.

His cart had stuck in a deep rut up to the axles, and he commenced
operations by addressing his bullocks with tender words and soft names
swiftly followed by lurid curses. This proving useless, he invoked
higher powers, and called on his pet saints by name--"Help me, San
Pedro, San Geronimo, Santa Lucia, San Juan." Still no result:--

Then his patience failed entirely--"If you won't help me, San Pedro," he
shouted, "come down and I'll fight you;" "Come down, San Juan, and I'll
take you both on together."

Still no reply.

Taking his hat off he placed it on the ground, made the motion of
clawing his guardians from the skies and placing them in his hat.

"Stay there, San Geronimo; Stay there, San Juan; Stay there, San Marco."

When his hat was full enough for his satisfaction he leapt into the air,
came down on it with both feet, and continued to dance on it for about
three minutes.

Thus, for a real or imagined slight, the streak of black blood will show
up and convert a friend into a relentless enemy.

It is not surprising when one considers the lack of civilising
influences which ought to be exerted from the top downwards, but which
have no root in the highest power they know, which is the arm of the
law. It might be interesting to note a few proofs of the corruption
which exists among those who wield the local weapons of justice--among
the commissaries, police, and justices of the peace.

The Chief of Police of----, for instance, a town of only about 7,000
inhabitants, refused £2,000 a year for the local gambling rights.

Again, a gardener, whom I knew, was put in jail for being drunk and
disorderly. On going to the place some time later I found the man still
imprisoned. "Why," I asked, "for such a small offence"? "We found," was
the answer, "that when sober he was such a good workman that we could
not spare him from the job of cleaning the stables."

On the other hand, a friend of mine was dissatisfied with the policeman
he had, and sent the sergeant into the township to exchange him for
another. The man returned with a particularly villainous-looking
specimen, and when asked where he had got him, explained that the Chief
of Police had told him to look among the prisoners for a suitable man,
give him a uniform and take him.

"I thought this was the best of them; but they all wanted to come," he
concluded ingenuously.

Another commissary in the north of this country flattered himself on his
revolver-shooting, and used to perform the feat of shooting the hat off
a man's head without hurting him. He was in the local bar one day when a
peon entered with a brand new white hat; it was an opportunity not to be
missed. Crack--and the man fell with a bullet through his temple instead
of his hat.

Did the Comisário stand stricken with remorse, or burst into
self-reproach? No. He moved the body with the toe of his boot and
remarked: "Carramba, I am getting a very poor shot nowadays."

A story which was told me in the province of Rio Negro, and which was
well vouched for, contained serio-comic elements of which I believe the
perpetrator, whom I knew personally, quite capable.

An old man who owned a considerable quantity of land, died intestate. A
man who lived with him, Garcia by name, had no idea of letting the
property go to distant unknown relations, and concocted the following
plot (obviously with the connivance of the neighbouring Justice of the
Peace, who was a friend of his).

The law allows that a sane man "in articulo mortis," and past the power
of speech, may make statements by signs: so when the Justice was
summoned to the house, Garcia told him that the man was not yet dead,
and wished to make his will.

Garcia seated himself at the foot of the bed, while the Justice at the
side addressed questions to the deceased on the following lines:--

"Do you wish me to record your last will and testament?"

The corpse nodded.

"Do you wish your property to pass into your cousins' hands?"

The head moved from side to side.

"Do you intend to make Garcia your sole legatee?"

The deceased nodded several times.

Two witnesses were brought, and the business was settled with
commendable promptitude.

I think it was Garcia himself who explained, some time afterwards, that
as the dead man wore a full beard and whiskers, it was easy enough to
hide the strings passing from his ears and chin to the foot of the bed
under the coverings.

In this connection I have since heard that one of the legal ceremonies
in a coroner's inquest in Central America is to solemnly ask the
deceased who killed him.

To return to the point, however; if such things exist among those in the
highest positions of trust it is not surprising to find wholesale
chicanery among the lower orders; that they realise their shortcomings
is evidenced by the fact that if they wish to impress you with the truth
of a statement, they add "palabra de Ingles," i.e., "on the word of an
Englishman."

Their Indian descent is answerable for a great deal, the white and black
blood being so mixed that it is almost impossible to note the dividing
line. Their dusky ancestors were blessed with an extremely limited
intelligence, only being able to count up to four. The following
incidents were related to me by an old estanciero. He once saw a
trainload of Indian prisoners who had had oranges given them throwing
the skins against the windows and showing great surprise when they fell
inside.

In another instance a woman came with her daughter to place her in
domestic service at the estancia, and as the mother did all the talking,
the estanciero's wife asked if the daughter could speak Spanish.

"Oh, yes," answered the mother, "but she is barefoot, and would not
presume to talk Spanish unless she had shoes on."

This same girl at first insisted on turning up the carpet whenever she
entered a room and walking along the boards at the side.

I fear that I have given a black character to the people I work among,
but there are lights as well as shades, and I have had many a weary
hour's ride wiled away by the philosophy and anecdotes of some peon or
small contractor, without mentioning the enjoyment of that hospitality
which is a characteristic of the nation.

Beside a camp fire, under the stars, while the maté pot passes from hand
to hand, or when huddled under a horse cloth with the rain dousing the
last embers, I have found the Correntino, or Santa Fecino, a cheery and
uncomplaining companion, who compares well with the recently arrived
Englishman, who, under the same circumstances, is generally sleepy or
bad tempered.

Treat him well and he will treat you well, but if it is necessary to
chasten him for his soul's good, keep your hand a little nearer to your
revolver than his is to his knife.

DUST AND OTHER STORMS.



DUST AND OTHER STORMS.


Life in South America has many and varied experiences, though not so
uncomfortably exciting perhaps to-day as they were, when more than three
years seldom passed without a revolution of some kind, either national
or provincial. The year 1893 was marked by two revolutions in Rosario,
the first provincial and the second national, with perhaps little more
than two months between them. It sounds terribly alarming to hear that a
revolution has broken out, and pictures of the French Revolution
immediately rise before one, but, fortunately, those of South American
cities are not of that calibre; reports and rumours fly about of the
terrible things that are going to be done, but these generally end in
rumour, and after a few persons, those who have nothing to do with the
movement, have been killed, probably by soldiers letting off their
rifles up some street just on the chance of hitting something (often
that at which they are _not_ aiming), the revolution fizzles out very
quickly.

In the second revolution of 1893 great excitement was caused in Rosario
by a revolutionary gunboat being pursued by a Government boat and a
naval battle (!) being fought on the river outside Rosario. These two
boats blazed away at each other till the revolutionary gunboat was
reduced to a wreck; the Government boat then threatened to turn its guns
on Rosario unless the revolutionists capitulated. The town was given
twenty-four hours to decide, and, after various disasters, including a
terrible battle, had been threatened, as usual the revolution came to a
sudden end, on this particular occasion owing to the revolutionist
leader, D. Alem, committing suicide. That same year, 1893,
distinguished itself by drawing to a close with three of the most
terrible dust storms ever seen in a country that, after any lengthened
period of dry weather, suffers from dust storms of a greater or lesser
degree. The first of these occurred early in December, after many months
of drought, on a brilliantly sunny afternoon. Standing at the front door
of a house at Fisherton, a suburb about six miles from Rosario, we
noticed right down in the S.W., on the horizon, great banks of
grey-looking clouds, which, to our surprise, seemed to be rolling
rapidly up the sky towards us. They had a most alarming appearance, for
these masses of grey cloud approaching so rapidly seemed to portend a
storm of terrible force. In less than twenty minutes from the time we
first saw the clouds the afternoon had changed from brilliant sunshine
to pitchy darkness. So rapidly had the darkness come on us that no one
was prepared, and no matches or lights were forthcoming; so there we
stood in a room in absolute darkness, no glimmer of light even revealing
where the windows were situated in the room. Though all doors and
windows were closely shut, we could feel the dust entering in clouds
through the cracks, making it quite unpleasant breathing. When the storm
caught us we had to stand and wait, I must own with some fear as to how
it was going to end. Up to this time the storm had come up and fallen on
us in total silence: now, after about ten minutes of pitch darkness, we
could hear in the far distance the wind coming. It came up with cyclonic
force, and then everything in the way of tins and buckets began to be
blown in every direction, and the horses to gallop about neighing,
evidently very much frightened. The wind was the forerunner of the rain,
which gradually began to clear the air, though, of course, for some time
it rained mud, much to the detriment of the houses, and to anyone
unfortunate enough to be caught out of doors in the storm; indeed, one
of our friends, who insisted on starting for the station just as the
storm descended on us, was found crouching under his umbrella by one of
the posts of the railway fence, with a face as black as a sweep's, and,
by then, deeply repentant that he had started for the station against
advice. Indeed, many caught out in camp by the storm lost their lives
through falling into wells, and, in some cases, the river. But,
fortunately, nowadays--principally, I fancy, owing to the larger area of
country under cultivation--these dust storms do not recur.



LOCUSTS.


During the past century considerable study has been centred upon the
life and habits of the locust, mainly from the desire to seek its
subjugation and destruction, and, whilst much general biological
information has been written upon the subject, there are things which we
do not yet know about this insect or its habits. We do not know what
precise influences cause their migration, nor do we know what is the
exact length of life of the locust or its breeding power, or the precise
locality in any country which may be defined as its permanent abode.
Locusts are classified under the order of orthopterous insects of the
family Acrydiidae, and are very closely related to grasshoppers.

There are a large number of species, the differentiating features being
more or less the form and sculpture of protorax, the size of the head,
the length and size of the prosternal spine, the comparative length and
size of the hind thighs and shanks, the amount and arrangement of the
tegmina mottlings, the comparative length of wings, and the general
build of the entire insect, which may be robust or fairly slender.

A general description of the distinctive physical features of migratory
locusts might be given as a strong, wild-looking head, a strong collar
inside which the neck moves, powerful and peculiarly-formed legs
attached to a short, strong, square trunk or thorax, four wings, two
antennae or feelers, six legs, and a long segmentary abdomen. The ground
colour of the locust is generally brownish, straw, or red, but its
colour varies somewhat according to the particular season of the year
or some other peculiar circumstance, but nothing certain is known as to
what influences the shade of colour. Mere ground colour is immaterial
and does not signify a new species.

Besides having a pair of compound eyes which form so noticeable a
feature in its head, there are three other simple little eyes, placed
like shining dots at three angles of a triangle below the two feelers.

The mouth, which is a fearful apparatus, consists of nine distinct and
well-marked organs; an interior or upper lip, consisting of a plate
deeply cleft and capable of opening enormously; two true jaws or
powerful mandibles; and two pairs of jointed organs called (maxillary)
palpi, and two lower jaws. The mandibles and jaws move laterally from
right to left.

The thorax or trunk consists really of three rings. To the first is
attached the two front legs; to the second, the two middle legs and the
first pair of wings, and to the third, the two hind legs and the second
pair of posterior wings. Along the posterior margin is a well marked
serrated (spinous) arrangement by means of which the locust adheres and
grips forcibly. The trunk appears to be full of a fatty sort of
substance.

The abdomen consists of a number of horny segments which are joined
together by an elastic membrane, a construction which enables the insect
to extend its body several centimetres beyond its normal extent. It can
also be increased in thickness.

The front and middle feet of this insect are short and weak, but the
length, strength, and formation of the hind legs enable it to take
extraordinary leaps. A full-grown locust can jump seven or eight feet in
height, whilst it is said to be able to leap more than 200 times the
length of its body.

The female is normally larger by 1/4 or 1/2 inch in length than the
male, and has a rather thicker body.

The average length of the migratory locust is from 2-1/2 to 3 inches and
about 3/8 inch in thickness in the abdomen. Locusts generally lay their
eggs in the spring, and the manner in which the females, having selected
a favourable site, make an excavation in the earth for depositing their
eggs is intensely interesting and wonderful.

At the very extremity of the abdomen the female has two pairs of horny
valves or hooks, each pair placed back to back with their points
directed outwards, and arranged so that all four hooks can be brought
with their points close together. By this means a sharp pointed lever is
formed which can be turned around, evolved, and forked. With this
apparatus she drills a small hole and by means of a series of muscular
efforts and the continuing opening and closing of the valves provided
with the formation of the abdomen, she actually bores to a depth of 6 to
7 centimetres, or about 3 inches. Here she deposits her eggs--normally
about eighty--regularly arranged in a long cylindrical mass and
envelopes them in a spumous or sort of glutinous secretion, so that the
whole are quite tapped up and level with the surface of the ground. This
substance when dried is more or less impassable and affords protection
to the eggs from the elements and secures an easy outlet to the surface
for the young locust when hatched. The eggs resemble in shape grains of
small rice and are about 1/4 inch long.

The eggs hatch in from twenty-five to sixty days, usually about forty
days, but the period may vary a little according to temperature,
humidity, etc. The young locusts are known as "hoppers," in which stage
they pass some forty-five or fifty days before arriving at the fully
developed stage known as "fliers." To reach the "flying" or "migratory"
stage they pass through six different states, changing the colour of
their skin several times, gradually approaching to full growth, and
finally growing wings.

They have no quiescent stage, and whilst they are naturally yet
incapable of flight, their locomotive powers are very considerable, and
they are very destructive, for their voracity is great. Comparatively
speaking, the flying locusts do less damage to the growing crops than
the hoppers, who devour everything clean before them.

It is interesting to state that the "hoppers" in the first stage are in
length about 7 to 9 mm., or not quite one-third of an inch, and that the
feelers have thirteen divisions, extending to twenty-seven divisions at
full growth.

During the cold weather they usually gather together in thousands,
clinging closely to all kinds of vegetation and to each other. In this
season the general rule seems to be that comparatively little food is
taken of any kind. For the purpose of watching the development of their
eggs, several hundred locusts have been opened during the winter months
by entomologists, and invariably their cases have been found empty.

Perhaps the most feasible suggestion as to the cause of their migratory
impulse is that locusts naturally breed in dry sandy districts in which
food is scarce, and are thus impelled to wander in order to procure the
necessaries of life.

The rate of travel varies according to circumstances. With an
unfavourable wind, or little wind, they seldom travel more than five
miles an hour. At other times, when the wind is favourable, they will
cover fifteen to twenty miles per hour. When on the wing it is certain
that a distance of 1,000 miles may, in particular cases, be taken as a
moderate estimate of flight, and whilst, probably, it is often much
less, it is sometimes much more. Their height of flight has been
variously estimated at from forty to two hundred feet. "A dropping from
the clouds" is a common expression used by observers when describing the
apparition of a swarm.

It will not be denied that the presence of locusts in force constitutes
a terrible plague. They make their appearance in swarms and eat up
everything. It is wellnigh impossible to estimate the number in a cloud
of locusts, but some idea may be formed from the fact that when they are
driven, as sometimes is the case in a storm, into the sea and drowned,
so many are washed ashore, that it is said by one observer that their
dead bodies formed a bank of nearly 40 miles long and 300 yards wide,
and many feet in depth, and the stench from the corruption of their
bodies proceeded 150 miles inland.

When a swarm of locusts temporarily settles in a district, all
vegetation rapidly disappears, and then hunger urges them on another
stage. Such is their voracity that cannibalism amongst them has been
asserted as an outcome of the failure of other kinds of food.

Locusts have their natural enemies. Many birds greedily devour them, in
fact a migratory swarm is usually followed by myriads of birds,
especially sea gulls; they are often found 150 to 200 miles inland.
Often a flock of gulls will clean up a "manga" of locusts; they devour
them by thousands, and will then go to a neighbouring laguna, take a
little water, and throw up all they have eaten, and at a given signal go
off again to fill up with more locusts, only to repeat the operation
time after time. Predatory insects of other orders also attack them,
especially when in the unwinged state. They have still more deadly foes
in parasites, some of which attack the fully developed locust, but the
greater number adopt the more insidious method of attacking the eggs.

Many inventions have been brought out with the object of exterminating
the locusts, some of which, at least, have doubtless been partly
successful, but determined and combined effort by the nation and land
proprietors is imperative if the remedial and preventive measures
proposed are to reap the success hoped for.

The Agricultural Defence Department reports having spent $10,561,540 mn.
from 1st January, 1909, to 31st May, 1910, in fighting the locusts. The
total area invaded was 135,000,000 hectares (about 337,500,000 acres).

From 1892 to date, and with what is required for the present year,
$54,000,000 have been spent in combating locusts and like plagues to
agriculture.



CONSCRIPT LIFE IN THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC.


The life of a conscript is more agreeable than most people in the
Argentine Republic imagine it to be, although it has its disadvantages
as well as its advantages.

Every year all over the Republic a drawing takes place, calling to arms,
for a year in the Army or two in the Navy, Argentines who have attained
the age of twenty-one. At an average 12,000 to 15,000 are called out
every year and distributed in the different regiments, according to
height; from 1.75 metres upwards to Cavalry, middle height to Infantry,
and short men to Artillery.

For eight months the troops are drilled daily, and at the end of this
period a big manoeuvre is held in which every regiment has to take part.
This manoeuvre is divided into two parts: in the month of September all
troops pertaining to the I., II., and IV. Regions are mobilised, and in
November those of the III. and V.

The daily routine is as follows: At 4 a.m. at the call of a bugle all
troops have to rise, and the roll is called over; at 4.30 a.m. coffee is
served; at 5.0 every morning orders are given to saddle-up horses and
arm, and they have to be ready to leave the barracks at 5.30 for morning
drill on horseback or to go to the shooting range, according to the
time-table; the drilling continues till 10 o'clock, at which hour the
troops are due back at the barracks, having to go through a course of
drilling on foot up till 11 o'clock.

At 11 o'clock the troops have to turn out and clean and brush down their
horses until 11.30, at which hour lunch is served out; after which they
are allowed to do as they like (except leave the barracks) till 1.30
p.m.; from 1.30 to 3 p.m. the troops are drilled on foot, and at 3 p.m.
"Maté-cocido" is served out; at 3.30 they have to attend class until
4.30 p.m., either on "Campaign Service," "Military Duties or Laws," or
on the "Carabine or Sword"; every other day class is given on the
different parts of a horse, and on how to look after and clean same.
From 4.30 to 5.30 p.m. there is revision and cleaning of arms. At 5.30
dinner is served out, after which those who have leave are allowed out
until 10 p.m., or in some cases until 4 a.m. next morning.

Those drawn for the Navy have to go through a preliminary course of
training on shore before being sent on board the training ship
"Sarmiento," which every two years leaves Buenos Aires for a trip round
the world, occupying, on an average, eighteen months.

There are certain allowances made for students, who at the age of
nineteen are allowed to enlist in the 8th Cavalry, where they have to
serve for three months. At the end of this period they are put through a
very severe examination, and should they pass, are promoted to the grade
of Sub-Lieutenant of the Reserve, having to serve for a month every year
in a regiment allotted to them.

The advantages of conscription are many. It brings half-breeds from all
parts of the Republic in touch with civilization, it teaches them
obedience, respect for their superiors, and, above all, how to shoot.
After their year's service they leave the barracks knowing a good deal
more about things in general than when they entered them.

There is also the better class of lads to be considered. Conscription
teaches them a few things also, viz., to knuckle down (which is a great
failing of the Anglo-Argentines), and be made to do things which they
have not been accustomed to, clean out stable, etc., and look after
their equipment properly, as anything they may happen to lose is
deducted from their wages, which are very small, $5 per month.

The food in the Army is good and plentiful: there is coffee in the
morning on rising, a mid-day meal and dinner, which are usually similar,
consisting of soup and "puchero" (a national dish made of beef and
vegetables boiled), and an occasional dish of "pulenta" (boiled maize).

The general treatment in the barracks is good. There are cases of
miscarriage of justice and ill-treatment, but these are rare. A
conscript may have to suffer punishment although in the right, and is
not allowed to protest his innocence against an officer until after he
has completed his punishment.



ACROSS THE BOLIVIAN ANDES IN 1901.


Recollections of a journey from the Peruvian port of Mollendo to the
Bolivian interior, which the writer made in the year stated, are here
transcribed. No rhetorical merit is claimed, facts only are related, and
the compiler of the manuscript only hopes that his efforts may, in part
at least, justify a cursory perusal, without exhausting the patience of
the readers, or overtaxing their indulgence. These notes are transcribed
nearly ten years after the trip was made, and any readers who may have
visited Bolivia at a more recent date are requested to make allowance
for such modifications or change of conditions of which they can be the
only judges.

I have crossed the Andes Chain in other places farther south, in Chile;
but on this occasion I will confine my observations to the trip as
headed.

Mollendo is one of the worst ports on the Pacific coast, but is of some
importance on account of the fact that the railway through Peru to Lake
Titicaca starts here. All vessels have to lie at least half a mile from
the land on account of the constant heavy swell, and the landing is
always attended by a certain amount of danger, so much so that not
infrequently passengers have to be "slung" on to the landing stage in
baskets made for the purpose. Like most of the South American coast from
Valparaiso northwards there is little or no vegetation, and the scenery
is not of the kind generally associated with tropical climes, of which
one reads so much. Sand dunes and waste meet the eye on all sides, and
the traveller for the interior is generally glad when the railway
journey commences.

Of the country through which the railway takes one there is not much to
be said, but the attention of the traveller is at once called to the
marvellous ingenuity of the famous engineer Meiggs, who built the
railway. Gradually rising as the coast recedes, the train reaches
Arequipa, at an elevation of 7,500 feet, and distant from Mollendo about
200 miles. Arequipa has about 45,000 inhabitants, and, while rather
prettily situated in a small valley surrounded by high volcanoes, it
does not have anything of particular interest to attract one. Moreover,
it suffers frequently from earthquakes, which does not surprise one when
you look at the giant volcano "El Misti," towering up to 18,000 feet, at
no great distance off. The houses are all built with "vaulted"
foundations, the better to resist the "earth-tremblings," but on this
occasion I did not experience any shocks.

Leaving Arequipa behind, the ascent continues until the highest point is
reached at Crucero Alto, where a notice board indicates that we are now
14,666 feet above sea level. It is before reaching this altitude that
the wonderful enterprise of the engineer shows up. The line goes on
winding and climbing, twisting back again but always ascending, for
hours, until a point is reached where passengers, looking down from the
carriage windows, may see right below them, only a few feet down, the
actual railway track over which they have passed an hour before. At one
place there are actually _three tracks visible,_ one right below the
other, just like steps and stairs, and I believe there is nothing quite
like it in Argentina. Leaving Crucero Alto the descent is very gradual
until Puno is reached, on the shore of Lake Titicaca, but still at an
altitude of 12,000 feet or more. I did not actually see the town, which
is a short distance from the station, but went straight on board the
"Coya," the steamer which was to ferry us across to Chililaya or Puerto
Perez, on the Bolivian side of the immense lake.[F] The distance in this
direction is about 110 miles, and the passage was made in ten hours,
during the night, so that I had not on this occasion an opportunity of
seeing the surrounding scenery.

On another occasion I saw too much of it, as the steamer missed the
canalized strip which extends several miles out from Puno, and we
remained hard aground for thirty hours. We had over a hundred Japanese
passengers--immigrants going to the rubber country--and all armed with
huge revolvers; but as the food lasted out until we were relieved by
another small steamer belonging to the railway company they were kept in
good humour, and they gave no trouble at all. Before floating again
about 100 tons of cargo had to be transhipped to the other steamer, and
when we again got into the deep channel it was again transferred to the
s.s. "Coya." This latter boat was about 150 feet long; it was quite a
comfortable boat, and the food and bedding were decent, when you
consider the part of the world you were in. The bill of fare and wine
list contained many quaint delicacies, and I shall never forget how the
printer of same spelt the word indicating Scotch wine (commonly known as
whisky). He was quite phonetic from the Spanish point of view, and the
word read "Güiscki," but it tasted all right.

Landing at the Bolivian side of Puerto Perez, the immense plateau which
covers all the centre of Bolivia stretches out on all sides landwards,
until it meets the inner and higher range of the Cordilleras.

La Paz, the then capital of Bolivia, on account of the fact that the
President, General Pando, lived there, was our next objective point,
and we found the old "Diligence Coach," drawn by eight horses, awaiting
to convey us the forty-two miles across the plain. This part of the
journey is most uninteresting, and the road was only fair. All along it
is the same level, stony ground, entirely devoid of trees, and covered
completely with large, round stones. These latter the Indians have to
gather in heaps, and thus make some open patches for growing their
potatoes and grain, which, with their "Chalona," or sheep dried in the
sun, are their principal foodstuffs throughout the year. Besides, the
surplus produce is conveyed to the larger towns on llamas, and there
realised to the best advantage. It is a very interesting sight every
Sunday morning to see the "market," and the curio hunter would just be
in his element, as not only do the Indians bring in vegetables and
fruits, but all sorts of native silver in quaint shapes, and ornaments
made by the Indians themselves can be picked up very cheaply. The
dresses of the Indian squaws are also very picturesque, and, as far as I
can remember, red, green, and bright yellow were the dominating colours.
But I am getting away from the main subject.

Right ahead of us there is the gigantic Illimani, silent and majestic,
with its perpetually white crown rising 22,000 feet above sea-level. One
begins to wonder where La Paz can be, as the plain seems to extend right
to the foot of the mountain. Keeping steadily on, however, the coach
eventually arrives at the brink of a hitherto unnoticed hollow, and the
scene that here awaits the traveller is magnificent in the extreme. To
describe the view baffles my limited vocabulary. There you are looking
down on the roofs of the houses in La Paz, which lies snugly 1,200 feet
below you. It just seems that you could drop a stone on to them, so
precipitate are the cliffs; but it is the enormous drop that deceives
the eye, because, of the route over which the coach passes, six miles
have yet to be traversed before getting into the town. I have seen La
Paz from the top of the "Cuesta" both by day and night, and the latter
effect, while losing much of its grandeur and magnificence, on account
of the darkness, almost surpasses in beauty that of the daylight vision.
The whole city is lit up by electricity, and it just seems as if one
were gazing _down_ on another firmament, if such a thing can be
imagined. I repeat, that to fully appreciate this special scenery words
fail me.

Allow me to transgress once more. On the first occasion that I reached
the top of the entrance to La Paz it was under rather "sporting"
circumstances, which, I think, I may be excused for interpolating here.
I had come on horseback and _alone_ from the mining town of Coro Coro,
sixty-six miles off, and it is a very hard and tiring journey. The
elevation above the sea varies from about 14,000 feet to 12,000 feet at
the La Paz end, and therefore great speed is impossible on account of
the rarity of the air. Apparently I had journeyed too fast for my horse,
as the poor animal died when I was still eighteen miles from La Paz.
Here was a nice "kettle of fish." It was all right enough as long as
daylight lasted, but when darkness overtook me I was fairly "in the
soup." Not knowing the road, and there being nothing to guide me and no
one to consult, I simply walked along slowly, hoping to strike up
against some Indian settlement, and pass the night somehow or other. I
trudged along for goodness knows how long until I eventually did hear
some sounds indicating that at any rate I was nearing some encampment or
habitation. I could hear what was supposed to be music, and in the dark
made my way, as near as I could judge, in the direction of the sound,
and in about half an hour my efforts were rewarded, as I had overtaken a
band of roving Indians, all in fancy dress, playing funny reed
instruments and dancing continuously as they travelled. They could not
speak Spanish, but at that time I knew sufficient of their
language--"Aymara," as it is called--and soon explained to them my
position. I was allowed to accompany them, as I found they also were
bound for La Paz, and soon became a lifelong friend of theirs when I
produced a small bottle of whisky which I had with me. The experience
was of a unique nature for a white man, but I must confess I rather
appreciated the novelty than otherwise, and when I reached La Paz about
1 a.m. I felt that I had had quite an adventure, which might easily have
had a more sinister termination, had my Indian escort shown the other
side of their nature. Well, to come back to our old coach, which I think
I left at the top of the La Paz entrance, I resumed my seat and got into
the city at mid-day. I put up at an excellent hotel, of which there were
several, and at once bethought me of looking for work, as the balance in
my bank (otherwise my pocket) did not warrant my looking upon my visit
to La Paz as one of pleasure only. At the time I write of there was one
solitary Britisher resident in La Paz, and he was a Scotchman like
myself. This was before the railway from Oruro was built, and he was
proprietor of the coaches that ran, once a week, from La Paz to the
south; and I understood had quite a remunerative business. La Paz is a
peculiarly situated city, as the reader may imagine from my description
of its position. The streets are mostly hilly and steep, with the
exception of one or two which run parallel to each other on both sides
of the valley, at the foot of, and in the centre of which flows, the La
Paz river. This it bridged in about half a dozen places for horse
traffic, and while, for most of the year, there is scarcely any water in
the river, when the snow melts it is converted into a veritable roaring
torrent; and I happened to be present during one of the most serious
accidents that had ever occurred from this cause.

It had rained very copiously for some days, and the river had risen
enormously--in fact higher than ever before recorded--and many were the
predictions as to how the bridges would stand the weight of water. The
usual sightseers were about, and, unfortunately, a large number of them
paid the penalty with their lives. They had been duly warned that a
certain bridge was dangerous and threatened to give way, but this
evidently excited their curiosity all the more; at any rate, a crowd
tried to cross, with the result that the bridge tumbled into the raging
stream, carrying with it over 200 people, and many of them were
drowned--the exact number was never known.

Quite an important city is La Paz, and a large number of wealthy
mine-owners reside there, drawing their incomes from rich tin mines in
the neighbourhood. There are also numerous stores from which the wants
of the distant population that reside in the rubber country are
supplied. The larger proportion of the inhabitants are Indians, and I
cannot help remarking that the Bolivian Indians, men and women, are
about the ugliest type of human creatures I have yet seen. Besides, they
are very illiterate, and it is estimated that, of the total population
of Bolivia, only about 30 per cent. can read or write. In the south,
Aymara is chiefly spoken; but further north, Quechua is the commoner
language. I saw several bull fights in the bullring of which the town
boasts, but they were so very disgusting that I refrain from nauseating
my readers with details.

The Cathedral was only half completed when I was there, and I understand
is still in the same condition. I was forgetting to mention that there
was no British Minister or Consul in La Paz, and the story goes that, at
some previous period, a Bolivian President compelled the British
official representative to ride round the plaza seated on a donkey, but
with his face to the tail; the consequence being that the Prime Minister
of Great Britain figuratively wiped Bolivia off the map. Anything which
we required from the Diplomatic Service had to be obtained through the
medium of the British Minister resident in Lima, in Peru. This may now
be altered, but I am not aware of the fact. I remained several months in
La Paz in the employment of a Bolivian magnate, but the remuneration not
being commensurate with my ambitions, I eventually arranged to accompany
the proprietor of a very large rubber forest on a trip to his properties
on the higher reaches of the River Amazon, and hence my privilege of
being able to offer you a perusal of my experiences across the inner
ranges of the Cordillera mountains. His daughter also accompanied him,
and, although the journey is a most uncomfortable one in more ways than
one, she stood the fatigue of many days' riding on mule-back, over
trails which did not deserve the name of roads, just about as well as
any of the rest of us.

For a trip of this kind many provisions have to be made, as very little
indeed can be procured on the journey in the way of good food or
lodging. We accordingly had to carry our beds and bedding, and in fact
everything we could think of in the form of clothes, food, firearms,
and, of course, the necessary accompaniment in liquid form. Most of our
baggage and what we might not require at a moment's notice we sent on
ahead with a day's anticipation, and eventually on the 20th May, 1901,
our caravan departed from the then capital of Bolivia, at 8 a.m. Our
conveyance, to start with, consisted of a coach drawn by four mules, and
it took much longer to climb the steep "Cuesta" than it had taken us to
descend on previous occasions already mentioned. However, our animals
were good and in about an hour and a-half we reached the top of the
hill, and I took what proved to be my last view of La Paz City.

The journey for the first forty miles is over the same ground as I have
already referred to, in the direction of Lake Titicaca, and there is
nothing more to be said about it, beyond that we changed animals at a
place called Ocomisto, this being simply a few Indian huts where there
is always a supply of grain and water for the animals, and the ordinary
country fare for the passing traveller. There was a long journey ahead
of us, so we only remained during the time that was occupied in
outspanning the tired mules and inspanning the fresh lot. At 1 o'clock
we reached Machacamarca, another "tambo" or resting-place, and were very
disgusted to find that our pack animals, which we had dispatched the day
before, had got no farther than this point. Our desired destination for
the night was the Indian town of Achicachi, twelve leagues off, but as
it was now quite out of the question to think of travelling our baggage
animals so far before night should overtake us, we had to change our
plans and therefore directed our coach towards Guarina, another Indian
town on the shores of Lake Titicaca, but much nearer than Achicachi, and
we eventually arrived there at 5 p.m., having covered, more or less,
fifty miles since morning. The journey seemed longer, as the country is
so much alike all along the route; but as the roads were fair,
travelling was quite comfortable.

Guarina is purely an Indian fishing village, and the only white people
are the Bolivian half-caste authorities. As I have already stated, there
are no hotels or even lodging-houses in these Indian towns, and ordinary
travellers have just to hunt about until they find a place suitable to
put beds for the night. However, as my friend was a "personage" in
Bolivia, in other words, a man of position and power in political
circles, we of course fared considerably better than we should otherwise
have done had he not been with us; and we were invited to put up in the
house of one of these men in authority. He did his best for us in their
frugal way of living, and gave us a meal consisting of "Chairo," which
is soup as black as coal, and made from frozen potatoes which are called
"chuno." These are about the size of walnuts, hard and black, and have
to be well soaked before cooking, and then they are not a savoury bite.
The next plate consisted of "Chalona," already described as lean sheep
dried in the sun, and which, generally speaking, is very repugnant in
appearance, smell, and taste. Never mind, we were hungry and partook of
whatever was brought along, until the "inner man" cried content! The
meal, I may add, was washed down with a cheap "wine" distilled from
cheaper raisins, but it was something wet, and for the time sufficed.

Our pack animals arrived at Guarina about 7 p.m., and we very soon had
our things unpacked and occupied our beds, knowing that a pretty early
start would be made in the morning. The night passed uneventfully, and
at daybreak we got under way, bound for Achicachi, about five leagues
off. There is still a road for vehicles to this town, and keeping along
the shores of Lake Titicaca, we reached this larger Indian town about 9
a.m. The population was about 5,000 Indians, but it is a very
uninteresting, bleak spot, and we only remained long enough to have a
square meal, which we were again fortunate enough to have provided for
us by the reigning magistrate. That over, we then dispatched our coach
on its return journey to La Paz, and thought of our other means of
transport for the forward journey. Good mules we had sent ahead, and
were now awaiting us saddled and ready, and we at last got started on
this the more arduous part of our journey inland. Our destination for
the night was Gualata, a small holding belonging to my fellow-traveller,
and we reached it at about 1 o'clock, having climbed probably 2,000 feet
higher up the mountains. Cultivation of cereals and potatoes is carried
on on a limited scale, owing to the altitude, and taking it all round,
the house, although comfortable enough, was situated in about as bleak
and bare a spot as it is pretty well possible to imagine.

Nevertheless, it was peopled by about sixty Indians, who turned out in
true Indian style in their beautifully coloured robes and making
horrible discordant noises which were intended for music--all, of
course, to show their appreciation of their "patron." Here, of course,
we got all we required, and as there were any amount of fowls to be had,
our bill-of-fare improved in accordance. There was nothing to do
specially, and we did not feel inclined to move about much at this
elevation above the sea, so we were quite pleased when bed-time came
round, and without any ceremony each retired to their respective couches
_on the floor_. Owing to excessive cold, however, sleep was out of the
question, and it was a relief when day dawned on May 22nd. After
refreshing ourselves with a cup of tea we set out for Sorata, distant
about six leagues. Travelling was now much slower as the roads were very
bad, and in some places very steep and covered with loose stones. This
made the foothold bad for the mules, but we trusted to the useful
animals entirely, letting them go along on a loose rein to choose their
own footing, which they did very successfully. We passed the Indian
village of Illabaya, perched on the side of a hill, and all plotted out
in small squares for the cultivation of vegetables, etc., of which we
bought a supply for our own use. The highest point we passed was over
14,000 feet, and then began the gradual descent into the pretty little
town of Sorata, 6,000 feet lower down. The path was not of the best, and
the pace was very slow; but the scenery was quite refreshing compared
with what we had already passed through.

Sorata is indeed very pretty and quaint, and although comparatively out
of the world, a traveller can spend a short time there pleasantly, and
personally speaking, the few days we remained were very enjoyable,
thanks once more to my friend's influence. For a change we did not sleep
on the floor, and by way of recreation I scented out a billiard table,
not a good one, it is true, and the balls were rather elliptical; but as
I had once personated the "Mikado," _à la Gilbert & Sullivan_, the
conditions were not so disconcerting as they would doubtless have been
to a less famous personage! Sorata, being the nearest town to the
Bolivian rubber districts which export their products to the Pacific
coast, is naturally of more consequence on that account, as all
materials and merchandise for the interior must pass through the hands
of the Sorata merchants, while the rubber exported to the coast also
finds its way through the medium of Sorata agents.

There is the usual plaza in the centre of the town, where the youth and
beauty disport themselves in the way peculiar to these mountainous
regions, which consists of walking round and round at a good pace to
keep up the circulation, as the weather is nearly always cold in Sorata.
Illampu, the competitor of Illimani and Aconcagua, and which claims to
be the highest peak in South America, rises up magnificently right above
and round the town, and visitors for the first time must really wonder
how they are to find a road to cross these gigantic mountains, as the
town appears to be so completely shut in.

However, on 27th May we started to ascend the track forming the way to
the interior, and got a fine send-off by the inhabitants, the more
important of whom turned out to bid us adieu and wish us luck over a
case or two of beer. The climb before us was a constant one for 18
miles, and to-day we were to pass the highest point of our entire trip.
This we reached about midday, at just under 16,000 feet. We were above
the perpetual snow-line for a short time, and it was piercingly cold,
besides we had to go slowly on account of the thin air, but we kept
steadily on and reached an old mining establishment called "El Injenio"
at 5 p.m., having done 24 miles in all since morning. There is a long,
steep descent to the old mining camp by a narrow winding track cut out
of the mountain side, and as the drop on one side to the little stream
down below was about 40 to 50 feet, and there was no protecting fence of
any kind, we decided to get off our mules, and accordingly completed the
worst part of the way on foot, and of course this made travelling very
much slower.

Apparently, gold-washing had not been carried on for a very long time,
as although the main building still has a roof, the whole place has a
very deserted look about it; but, nevertheless, it still affords a
covering for weary travellers like ourselves, and we soon began to
select the most comfortable looking corners for our beds. There was an
old Indian there who earns a meagre existence by selling forage to
passing travellers for their beasts of burden; and he was also utilised
by us for getting a fire ready and boiling water for a welcome cup of
warm tea.

One thousand feet above our heads, as it seemed, we could see Llane,
another of these quaint, Indian hamlets, but the appearance of the
exceedingly precipitate track up to it did not excite us in any desire
to make the ascent. After partaking of some food, we got under our
blankets in the usual way at sunset to once more sleep the sleep of the
contented traveller. By 6.15 next morning we were again in the saddle
and under way--the road was now even narrower than before, about two
feet wide only--winding round and round the mountain side, ascending all
the time, and in some parts far too steep for comfortable riding. From
now onwards the journey was over tracks, not roads, and many of the
ascents and descents were so steep that it was quite out of the question
to attempt to negotiate them on muleback. We, accordingly, with
philosophic patience had just to accept the inevitable, and get off and
lead our animals over these now really dangerous parts. Some of the
precipices down to the river bed were now much deeper, and had we slid
over, we might have experienced considerable inconvenience at the
bottom, and a greater difficulty in getting up again. The roads became
worse and worse, and really they could be given no other name than
"goat-tracks," but the mule is a wonderful beast, and let him have his
head (on no account attempt to guide him), there is not much fear of any
serious trouble. Our sleeping place for the night was to be at an old
ruin of a house at a bare, but more level, opening in the mountains,
called Tolapampa, and before reaching this we had to negotiate much the
worst pass on the whole route. This is called the "tornillo" (screw),
and it is a real corkscrew path, cut out of the mountain side at an
angle of about 50 deg., and about 450 feet of a climb.

Riding was of course impossible, and we scrambled more than walked until
we safely got over the top, very tired and puffed out. The mules with
their cargo followed our example, and it was wonderful to see how they
kept their feet; as one false step might have sent them to the bottom,
carrying everything behind them too, and on more than one occasion this
has happened, the animals falling, generally being killed outright in
the fall. Pushing on as fast as possible, it was not till 4 o'clock p.m.
that our residence for the night loomed in view, and it did not inspire
one that it could supply much in the way of home comforts. Sure, the old
hovel had walls and a roof, but beyond that there were no windows, and
where the door ought to have been there was only a hole in the wall, but
nothing to close it with to keep out the intense cold.

We, of course, knew when we started that we would have to rough it, so
there was no use grumbling now, and therefore set about at once to get
something to make a fire with. With great good fortune we, after a great
deal of searching and gathering, obtained some old rubbish that burned.
I say with good luck, because this is a treeless region yet, at an
elevation of 10,000 feet, and fuel is naturally always at a premium. For
cooking it did not matter so much, as we had a spirit lamp, but it was
to warm our bodies and keep up our spirits that made the fire so
desirable. Darkness was on us before we finished our evening meal, and
we looked forward to the night with no very pleasant forebodings--and it
did turn out a tiresome night--it rained all the time and the cold was
extreme--so much so, that we eventually sat up most of the time, hoping
by daylight to move on to a more charitable atmosphere.

I think I should not miss this opportunity of relating an experience of
mine when I journeyed over the same route on another occasion. Then I
was only accompanied by two Indians--no white people--and was travelling
towards Sorata. I remember very well we reached Tolapampa, already
described, in the afternoon, it having rained constantly all day. I was
suffering from malaria very acutely, and the high levels at which we had
been travelling also affected me grievously. I arrived at Tolapampa
soaked to the skin, shivering cold, and really more dead than alive. To
aggravate matters we could not light a fire--everything was wet--and I
can assure you it was anything but a bright outlook for us. Another gang
of about ten Indians also turned up, and we did look a sorry lot.
However, these natives, seeing that I was so weak (I had had malaria
almost constantly during the previous six months), did all they could to
get me to "buck up," and kept moving me backwards and forwards to warm
myself, which operation I well remember was a very tedious one. They
also tried to get me to eat of their cold frugal fare; but that was
beyond me; and after they decided it was time to rest for the night, I
scrambled in _amongst them_--Indians all round me--so as to benefit from
the heat of their bodies. It was neither a very pleasant nor a very
clean position that I occupied, and I can hardly realise how I had the
courage to do what I did; but the facts remain the same, and at any rate
I got some rest.

It poured all night, and when at daybreak I suggested to my men that it
was time to start, they positively refused to move until the rain
ceased. I brought all my persuasive powers to bear, but it was of no
avail, and as I had decided to go on alone, all I got out of them was a
promise they would follow me at 10 o'clock. It was very disappointing,
but I was determined to get forward at all cost. I therefore started on
my lonely journey at eight o'clock, with the rain, and at times sleet,
coming down in bucketfuls; I could hardly see in front of me at times,
and it was destined to be a trip of which I shall always retain very
vivid recollections. On this occasion, owing to the excessive rains, all
the little mountain streams, which under normal circumstances are of no
inconvenience to travellers, had been converted into veritable roaring
torrents, causing me on more than one occasion to think twice before
attempting a crossing. To condense matters as much as possible, let me
remark that it rained all day; travelling was not only difficult but
positively dangerous, and I, being so ill, could hardly keep my seat on
my mule. All this made travelling so slow that I was still a long way
from "El Injenio," my objective point for the night, when darkness
overtook me. I had the narrow, dangerous paths to go along which I have
already described, and I therefore did not trust to getting over them on
muleback, but took the safer and, in my opinion, more sensible plan of
leading my animal. This was tedious work, but it was to become worse
very soon. I arrived at one of those swollen mountain streams, the
appearance of which in the darkness fairly frightened me. My mule would
not look at it, and for a while I did not know exactly what to do. I
could judge that it was four or five feet deep, and rushing past at a
great rate. Neither mule nor I could ever have hoped to keep our feet if
we had attempted crossing, as it was about thirty feet wide. I left my
mule and commenced to reconnoitre along the side, when I came to what
had been a bridge, but which was partly washed away, leaving a gap of
about four feet in the middle, as far as I could judge in the uncertain
light, and over which it was impossible for a mule to go. Leaving my
mule, I made a good jump, and, fortunately, got over all right, but,
after all, I did not know in the least where I was, and, before
attempting to return to my animal, I started to go forward in the hope
of at least striking some sheltered spot where I might pass the night.
Meantime, however, I heard a crash, and, as it turned out, away had gone
the remainder of the bridge, leaving me on one side, and now completely
isolated from my mule and saddle-bags. There was no use fretting, so I
continued moving on--it was now dark--feeling my way, and keeping very
carefully away from the river. I had not proceeded very far before my
progress was all too suddenly arrested. I did not until the next morning
know what actually did take place, but the facts are as follows: In
groping my way along I had actually been walking on the very edge of a
sort of precipice, and apparently had simply stepped over the side. At
any rate, I rolled to the bottom, which, luckily for me, was only about
fifteen feet; but it was quite a bump, and I wondered where I had
actually landed. As it was so black, and I did not know anything of my
surroundings, I simply made up my mind to remain where I had fallen
until morning. I ought to tell you that, although I had plenty of
matches, they were all wet with the rain, so that they would not light,
and I had to remain in darkness all night. My saddle-bags were with the
mule, and I did not even know now where the animal might be. I was
soaking wet, shivering with ague, nothing to eat, plenty of cigarettes
and matches, but unable to smoke or even make a light, so my
disagreeable plight can to some extent be imagined. Moreover, there were
about six inches of water all round me, so that I could not attempt to
sleep. The cold was intense, and I can safely say that I never spent
such a long, disagreeable, and dreary night in all my previous
experience, and I hope never to be compelled to do so again. There are
bears in this district also, but I am thankful to say that I was not
molested in any way.

Towards morning the rain slackened, and when daylight came I never felt
more thankful in my life. I climbed out of my nest, and there, only
about a hundred yards away, was my faithful mule standing exactly as I
had left him. I waited until the water in the stream had gone down
sufficiently, and crossing on foot, with the water about two feet deep,
I mounted my mule, and then recrossed on muleback. I knew from the
number of hours I had travelled on the previous day I could not be far
from Injenio, and I was right, as in less than an hour I saw my
destination right ahead of me. I was in a pitiful condition, and could
hardly stand up. The old Indian recognised me and got me dry wraps after
a fashion, and I got under his dry blankets. I could not eat, but I
drank a large quantity of "Aguardiente," which at least put some life
into me. In the meantime I did not know what had become of my pack
animals and Indians, but I was not in a state to worry about them, and
didn't. Instead, I kept my bed for about thirty hours, until I was
revived somewhat. Then, luckily, my men turned up, and I was able to
continue my journey to Sorata.

Well, we left Tolapampa about 6 a.m., and for the best part of the day
the route was over country very similar to that passed on the previous
day; but we were descending rapidly now, and the temperature became
perceptibly much warmer, in fact, by the afternoon we had indications
that soon we should arrive in the "montes," where we would have
vegetation in abundance, and consequently we would at least have some
shade during the heat of the day. The road, nevertheless, continued to
be very rough and broken, and we had frequently to dismount and lead our
animals for long distances at a time. The long pass of Margurani was
unusually tiring, as it was down hill most of the time, and over loose
rocks and stones, which were very hard on our poor feet. Pararani, a
small stopping-place, was reached about 2 p.m., and as both we and the
animals had just about had enough of it, we decided to remain for the
night.

We were now right in tropical surroundings, and the beautiful palms and
ferns, not to mention the magnificent butterflies of all colours, were a
grateful contrast to the scenery we had been accustomed to since we left
Sorata. We were now only about two thousand feet above sea level, and
the weather was very hot indeed, mosquitoes and other worrying insects
were very plentiful; but, bad as they can be, they seemed trivial
troubles compared with what we had come through. At this "puesto" we
were better treated, as we obtained vegetables, bananas, and oranges,
and with our tinned stuffs made quite a decent repast. The place was
owned by a Spaniard, and he, along with his wife, cultivates a little
piece of ground, and supplied passing travellers with general rations
for both man and beast. The place was clean in comparison with what we
had been accustomed to, and we seemed to sigh a mutual sigh of content
at our good luck in reaching this "oasis." We rested all afternoon, and
got to bed early, and, although there were rats about, I slept "like a
log," I was so fearfully tired.

In the morning, however, I awoke refreshed, and with our usual
punctuality got away at 6 o'clock, feeling that at last we were nearing
our journey's end, as we now directed our animals' heads towards
Copacabana, the nearest of the rubber forests belonging to my friend.
This was only three or four leagues off, and the going was somewhat
improved also, so our progress was a good deal faster than usual. During
the greater part of the present journey, the weather, so far, had been
fairly good, that is, taking into consideration the high regions through
which we had come, but we were not fated to be so successful on this our
last day. In fact, we had not gone far, when a really characteristic
tropical shower baptized us properly, and continued during the whole of
the rest of the day, the result being, as may be imagined, that we
arrived at "Copacabana" like the proverbial "drookit mice." As the path
was beneath the trees all the way, we got the full benefit of the rain
dripping from the branches overhanging, which was just like a shower
bath all the time. However, I got into dry clothes, and, I think, felt
when I got into the Estancia house, that after all the "roughing," the
trip was, in part, compensated for by the new experiences I had gone
through, making my way over these very mountainous regions at such a
very high elevation.

However, I remained for over a year in the rubber districts, and had an
opportunity of seeing how the work is carried on and of judging of the
enormous profit which must result to the lucky owners. Unfortunately,
the climate is of the very worst, and the malaria being of a very
malignant nature, is very hard on white people. I had my full share of
this "terciana," as it is called, and sometimes wonder how I really
managed to work my way to the outside world again.

In conclusion, let me express a modest hope that the perusal of my
humble effort to put personal adventures on paper may at least convey to
the reader some idea of what has to be experienced if one chooses to be
a wanderer like myself in remote places, and that he or she may to a
certain extent enjoy the result nominally, without going through the
hard work involved in the actual performance.

FOOTNOTES:

[F] Allow me to remind the reader that Lake Titicaca is the highest
water in the world which is navigated by steam.

[Illustration: _Loading Wheat at the Port of Buenos Aires._]



PROGRESS OF THE PORT OF BUENOS AIRES.


The first Custom House built for the port of Buenos Aires was in 1603.
The only work carried out in the harbour up to the end of the eighteenth
century was the construction of thirty-five metres of brick quay-wall at
the site of the "Arsenal" on the Riachuelo. We find that although
between the years 1852 and 1858 many plans were presented for building
of piers, these were only carried into practice and built by the
Government under the technical direction of Engineer E. Taylor; a new
Custom House replacing the fortress, a timber pier for loading and
unloading goods, and another pier for passenger traffic at the locality
of the old mole. In the year 1878 the Riachuelo was first opened for
traffic for sea-going ships, and in 1879, 197 vessels with 55,091
tonnage had entered the Riachuelo. As early as 1862 Ed. Madero turned
his attention to the question of docks for the port of Buenos Aires, and
in 1865 applied for permission to construct them at his own cost, but
the application was rejected. Four years later he presented another
application, which suffered the same fate. In 1869 the total exports
from Buenos Aires were 397,722 tons, the bulk of which were loaded at
the Riachuelo, and steamers over 100 metres long frequented the harbour
about the time of 1870. It was not until 1882 that Ed. Madero succeeded
in obtaining the concession of building the docks for the port of Buenos
Aires. The docks were to be constructed on the river side of the city,
between the gasworks on the north and the Riachuelo River on the south.

The trade of the City of Buenos Aires up to the time of the opening of
the South Basin had nearly all been carried on between the shore and the
steamers by lighters and small steam tenders. The usual anchorage for
the ocean steamers was in the "bar anchorage," a distance of about
fourteen miles from the city. The cargoes were transhipped into
lighters, which brought them as near to the shore as possible, and from
this point they were taken to the Custom House in specially-constructed
carts with very large wheels. Passengers were transhipped in the bar
anchorage into small tenders, and were brought to a point about 500
metres from the end of the passenger mole. From these tenders, when
there was sufficient water, they were taken ashore in small boats,
while, if the water was too low to go alongside the mole, they also had
to be brought ashore in carts. In many cases, however, passengers were
brought on in tenders and landed at the Riachuelo wharves, which were
then under construction. The first steamers that arrived in the River
Plate were those of the Royal Mail Company, followed by the French
Messageries Maritimes, and shortly afterwards by the Lamport & Holt
Line.

Up to the year 1870 these lines, and a few more that were started,
progressed very slowly, although the rates of freight were then very
high; but after that trade increased gradually, and not only a fair
number of sailing-vessels arrived yearly, but the regular lines of
steamers increased their number of sailings. The great drawback was the
deficient state of the port, where steamers had to lie at a distance of
fourteen to sixteen miles, and most of the sailing-vessels at ten to
twelve miles from the shore. There was no channel dredged, and even the
Riachuelo was so scantily supplied with water that lighters drawing
seven to eight feet were sometimes for weeks prevented from getting out
to deliver their cargo to the sea-going vessels in the outer roads. The
discharge was exclusively effected into lighters, which, apart from the
heavy expense incurred by the receiver of the goods, presented the great
objection that a considerable portion of the cargo was often broached
and pilfered before it reached the shore, claims for which had to be
paid by the ship. Another point was that many of these lighters were old
sailing-vessels or steamers, and, in the unseaworthy and leaky state
they were in, often arrived with their cargo considerably damaged. On
the completion of the South Basin on 28th January, 1889, passengers were
able to embark or disembark with a little more comfort, and cargoes were
landed on the quays. Docks 1 and 2 have each a water area of 23 acres,
being 570 metres long by 160 metres wide, with a quay length of 1,420
metres. No. 3 Dock has a water area of 27 acres, is 690 metres long by
160 metres wide, with a quay length of 1,660 metres. No. 4 Dock has a
water area of 25 acres, is 630 metres long by 160 metres wide, with a
quay length of 1,535 metres.

All these four docks, when they were originally finished, had a depth of
23 feet 9 inches below low water, so that, however low the river may be,
there should never be less than 23 feet 9 inches in the docks. Since
then dredging has been going on and the docks have been deepened to
receive larger vessels. The docks are united by passages 20 metres in
width, each passage being crossed by a swing bridge. Dock No. 4 is
entered at its northern end by the north lock. This lock opens into the
North Basin, which has a water area of 41 acres and a quay length of
1,409 metres and a depth of 21 feet 3 inches. The total area of the
basins and the four docks is 174 acres, and the total length of quays
8,482 lineal metres. The following are the dates the various basins and
docks were opened to traffic:--

    South Basin   ...   ...   ...   28th January, 1889
    South Lock, Dock No. 1    ...   31st January, 1890
    Dock No. 2    ...   ...   ...   26th September, 1890
    Dock No. 3    ...   ...   ...   31st March, 1892
    Dock No. 4, North Lock, North
      Basin, and Graving Docks ...  7th March, 1897
    First half of North Channel...  15th June, 1897
    Second half of North Channel,
      buoys and beacons  ...   ...  31st March, 1898

The timber sea-wall was built to a level of 16 feet above low water, and
the stone sea-wall to 19 feet. Originally there were built three sheds
in the South Basin, three sheds and two warehouses in Dock No. 1, two
warehouses and two sheds in Dock No. 2, five warehouses in Dock No. 3,
and four warehouses in Dock No. 4, the total capacity of these sheds and
warehouses being 525,510 cubic metres, and the floor area 192,800 square
metres. Since then, several warehouses have been built, and some burnt
down. The total cost of the harbour works as contracted for by Ed.
Madero was $35,000,000 gold, or, say, about £7,000,000. This includes
the South Basin, Dock No. 1, Dock No. 2, Dock No. 3, Dock No. 4, North
Basin, North Channel, Graving Docks, machinery, etc.

The following statement shows the total tonnage that passed through the
port of Buenos Aires in 1880, 1890, 1900, and 1909, and clearly shows
the advance made in the last 30 years.

These figures include steamers and sailing-vessels, and local as well
as foreign trade.

    1880   ...   ...   ...      644,750 tons
    1890   ...   ...   ...    4,507,096 tons
    1900   ...   ...   ...    8,047,010 tons
    1909   ...   ...   ...   16,993,973 tons

In 1909 we find that 2,008 steamers and 137 sailing-vessels entered the
port of Buenos Aires from foreign shores with a tonnage of 5,193,542,
and 1,978 steamers and 129 sailing-vessels left the port for foreign
shores with a tonnage of 5,174,114; out of these, British boats lead
with 2,242 steamers and 37 sailing-vessels, or, say, 53-1/2 per cent, of
the total.



JUST MY LUCK!


I really have had rather bad luck. As you know, I was wrecked on my way
out from the Old Country. The good ship "Southern Cross" met her fate on
a rock in Vigo Bay, and my luggage met its fate at the same time. This
was something of a blow, but I expected to be treated a little more
kindly by fate when once my destination was reached; I would be a
stranger in a new country, and fate is proverbially kind to tyros of
every sort.

R.M.S.P. "Danube," which carried the shipwrecked passengers of the
"Southern Cross" from Vigo to Buenos Aires, arrived at the Argentine
capital towards the end of January. At the conclusion of my journey, one
of my fellow-passengers, to whom I was saying good-bye, gave me this
sound piece of advice: "Take care of yourself, and the country will take
care of you." I don't suppose I can have taken care of myself, for
within two months I was down with typhoid fever. This is how fate treats
strangers in a new country.

You know that I had the good fortune, shortly after my arrival, to find
employment with the Santa Fé Land Company, and immediately on my falling
ill, the Manager of the estancia sent me to bed, and reduced me to a
milk diet. Two days later he himself took me down to the Buenos Aires
British Hospital, and it is to this fact, and to the sensible treatment
which I received in camp, that I in great measure owe my quick recovery.
The journey to Buenos Aires was made as comfortable as possible. Even
so, however, I must have been slightly delirious, for I remember
thinking that everybody in the train was wearing a pink shirt without
either coat or waistcoat. This must surely have been a delusion.

I reached the hospital on a Sunday morning, and was promptly carried
upstairs to a private ward. Though my temperature was now as much as 104
deg., and my faculties were naturally not at their quickest, I could not
help noticing the cheery look of the ward. There were flowers on the
tables, the patients were obviously well cared for, everything was
scrupulously clean, and the British nurses looked both efficient and
attractive. The scrupulous cleanliness, together with the latest and
most approved methods of treatment, were indeed a feature of the
hospital in all its aspects.

It was a short time afterwards that one of the doctors, after carefully
diagnosing my case, ordered me to the medical ward, where there would be
greater facilities for giving me a course of baths. In the medical ward
my treatment was as kind and as careful as formerly, but my new
surroundings had for the moment a rather depressing effect. I was just
able to realise that the cases around me were more serious than in the
private ward, and that both doctors and nurses were more grave and
intent on their work. I was soon, however, to become delirious again,
and for the next few days was more or less oblivious to my environment.
After a short time I became more alive to what was happening around me.
We typhoid patients had four cold baths daily, and those patients who in
their normal existence were unaccustomed to one warm bath a week were
somewhat inclined to rebel. This was amusing. My sense of humour was
reviving. The company here was certainly more mixed than in the private
ward--consisting as it did of every class and of every nationality, from
Montenegrin to Turk, but it was not on that account any the less
entertaining. Two or three berths away a brawny Scot of monster
dimensions, who was convalescent after an acute attack of rheumatism,
would every night before getting into bed say, with a certain naïvete,
and without any sense of proportion, that he was going to his "little
nest." And yet people accuse Scotsmen of a lack of imagination. On
either side of me lay a typhoid patient--each delirious. The one on my
right hand imagined he was at home drinking beer in Plymouth, and the
one on my left, an Italian workman, would persistently call for his
boots. It seemed he wished to return to his work and did not think any
other article of dress necessary. The weather at the time was certainly
hot, and this may have suggested such a daring flaunting of the
conventions. It is curious that among typhoid patients this illusion of
doing some action without sufficient clothing is rather prevalent. I
myself at one time imagined that I had been discharged from the hospital
with only the top of my pyjamas and a travelling rug. As I would carry
the travelling rug on my arm, it scarcely compensated for the lack of
other apparel. Through all these vagaries on the part of the patients
the nurses remained kind and careful as ever. This was especially
conspicuous in one case, where a patient insisted that his nurse was a
Chinese pirate, and behaved accordingly, but she gave her charge the
same excellent attention as before. At this time I began to be troubled
with the pangs of a great hunger. After subsisting for five weeks on
milk alone, my food diet began with small doses of cornflour and with
large doses of castor oil, but at last there came a chicken. I shall
never forget that first chicken, nor the nurse who brought it to me. How
I tore those bones--of the chicken, not the nurse--apart, and how I
attacked them in my fingers so that I should not leave any of the good
meat. Eventually my bed in the medical ward was required for a more
serious case than myself, and I was sufficiently well to be returned to
the private ward for a few days of convalescence. The patients here were
certainly more companionable than in the medical ward, and they suffered
from less grave complaints. They were for the most part victims of
accidents, and were all nearly well enough to leave the hospital. In the
evenings we generally had some sort of amusement among ourselves. The
_pièce de resistance_ was more often than not a wrestling match between
the man with the amputated foot and the man who had undergone an
operation for sciatica. As both performers were in ordinary
circumstances compelled to use crutches, their efforts were distinctly
humorous.

It was after two months of medical treatment that I was able to leave
the British Hospital, and it was only when on the point of leaving that
I realised what we Britishers owe to this institution.

The building itself is constructed on the most approved designs, it is
fitted with every modern appliance, both medical and surgical; the
treatment is excellent, the percentage of cures remarkable--not a single
case has been lost in the medical ward during the current year; the
doctors are not only experienced, but efficient; and finally, the
nurses--but perhaps I have already dwelt with sufficient emphasis on
their virtues.

All the same, thank Heaven I return to camp in a week, and may fate deal
more kindly with me in the future.



"THE TACURU."



"THE TACURU."

PATRON SAINT: GEORGE WASHINGTON.



No. 1.

_Saturday, March 26th, 1910._


When we consider the already overstocked journalistic world, and
remember the innumerable papers and magazines which greet one at every
street corner and nestle in every armchair, we feel that an apology is
due to our readers (if any) for our temerity in swelling the overflow of
periodicals, but let us assure you our reasons for putting another paper
on the market are purely altruistic. It is no idea of mere gain, or even
a desire for notoriety that urges us to issue "The Tacuru"; we have
undertaken this responsibility because we know that the world would be
the loser did we refuse to give to the public the highly scientific
impressions formed by an extraordinarily intelligent party of pilgrims
during a unique journey into the wild uncultivated northern lands of the
Argentine, especially as some of the most intellectual (the superlative
adverb is well chosen) members of the band have promised to give their
scientific views on the lands through which we shall pass daily. Though
this expedition is only advertised to last a fortnight, yet we have no
intention of closing our paper at the end of that time, for we are
certain that once the public have been educated to appreciate the
high-class literature and useful information which it will be the aim of
"The Tacuru" to supply, we shall have created a demand and interest
which not even Halley's comet can rival, and we shall endeavour to
satisfy that demand daily. Our only fear was that lest the world should
be kept waiting for the publication of our paper, for though everything
was in readiness yesterday for an early start to-day, the elements
seemed inclined to delay us, and when rain had fallen steadily nearly
all day, The Instigator of the trip was seen to clench his jaw yesterday
afternoon, as he remarked "We cannot start till Monday." This fiat
caused dire consternation; the idea of waiting for two days when all
those carts were packed ready for our immediate outset, filled the party
with annoyance, and had it not been for the fact that The Instigator is
a man not to be trifled with, it is possible remonstrances might have
been raised. But, fortunately, each member of the party only possessed
the angelic variety of temper, so no expostulations were made, and peace
was maintained. This unequalled patience under trials was rewarded, and
great was the joy of the party when at 8 p.m. it was found that the rain
had ceased, and the moon shone forth in such a way as to influence The
Instigator to rescind his decision and declare an early start for
to-day.

Rumour has it that The Jehu and his aide-de-camp and Our Hostess sat up
till 12.30 a.m., finally arranging "places in the carriages, food
supplies, blankets required," and all the innumerable details which made
for the party's comfort.

Before we publish the impressions, contributed by one member of the
band, on to-day's trip, we think our readers might appreciate a slight
character sketch of each of our "Staff." There are nine Pilgrims.

FIRST: _The Instigator_. Well, he's right when you know him, but you do
want to know him first. What possessed him to suggest that we should
trek away north, goodness only knows, unless he was fired by a desire to
imitate the Cook-Peary journeys, or it may have been the celebrated
"Cristobal Cocktails" which inspired him to do great deeds.

We hear that coming out from England he earned a reputation on board
ship as an auctioneer, and once even sold a live lord for a few
shillings to the highest lady bidder. As a camp man he is a marvel,
never seen on horseback, but generally discovered on his hands and knees
fudging about with a thing he calls a pocket microscope, and
occasionally going off into hysterics over some clod of earth, a leaf,
or some weird microbes which he says are feeding on the alfalfa roots.
Talking of feeding, The Instigator can eat anything, his motto is "_tout
jour_"; he has the digestion of an ostrich, and says "it is just as well
to make a good meal while you are about it, for you never know when and
where you will get the next." His best friends cannot say he is musical
(save when others are trying to sleep); but he has a favourite song, and
it is that old music-hall classic entitled "Do, do, be always on the
do." However, he is a very good fellow, and notwithstanding that square
jaw of his, which seems to hint at the possibility of "a man of wrath"
existing in that silent thoughtful being, he is kindness itself to all,
and never fails to do his share of work as it comes along.

SECOND: _Our Guest_. The Wild Man discovered this _rara avis_ in a
railway carriage, babbling for "Kwilmez Beer," so he was brought along,
and he had not been long at the Estancia before he was running first
favourite in the Popularity Stakes. He was always ready for anything,
and it must have been his desire to acquire knowledge which induced him
to come with the party. The Saint has undertaken to explain to him how
colonists thrive on the 8 per cent. system, and to teach him how many
grains of maize make "ocho." We doubt whether she will succeed in the
latter attempt, for we fancy Our Guest will never leave eight grains of
maize uneaten; he is a wonder for that delicacy, and feeds on it
constantly, and we hear rumours that he intends to take some maize cobs
home with him to his native country, and proposes to feed his "team" on
it.

THIRD: _The Delineator._ This is a misnomer, he really should be called
"The Photographer," but that sounds so common, and his views are so
uncommon that we called him The Delineator instead; besides, he always
travels about with maps and charts (his own, or someone else's) and when
appealed to as to what course we should take, replies in a cold, hard
voice, "North by North, just as she goes." Like the rest of the party,
he has never travelled quite the road we are going now, but the prospect
of collecting a few new varieties of butterflies, moths, insects, and
plants caused his eyes to light up with a wild gleam when he heard of
the trip, and the yarns he spins of things unseen by the ordinary sober
mortal are ever a joy to the listener, and make them whisper, _se non è
vero è ben trovato._

FOURTH: _The Jehu._ There is but one name for a man who handles his
four-in-hand over tree-trunks, tacurus, and tussocks, as our coacher
does. He drives as not even his namesake drove; in rain, in sunshine, in
light, in darkness, over smooth ground or rough, he guides his steeds
with consummate skill and care, which is wonderful to see. After a more
than usually big bump he turns to his passengers with a cheery "All
aboard?"; then gives his attention once more to the animals of which he
is so fond, and in which he takes such pride. His knowledge of the
horses he drives is marvellous. The Jehu is a man of great perception
and information, and has a pleasant knack of being able to convey his
knowledge to others. He and The Instigator have great arguments together
which interest all listeners by day, but the discussions are not
followed with quite so much delight by those who are privileged to hear
them at night, when they often degenerate into a snoring competition.

FIFTH: _The Wild Man_--had been driven south by stress of weather and
strikes. We should like to say something nice about him, for he always
carries revolvers, knives, and cameras, but we fear that our kindest
remarks may be misunderstood by one so unused to a quiet civilisation
with no revolutions, so we refrain from all personal comments. This
product of a land of luxuriant vegetation has a quaint penchant for
collecting matchboxes (filled), old boots, deer horns, and any odd
things lying about the camp belonging to himself or other people; still
he is always cheerful and content, never grumbles, and can give valuable
information respecting the ways of the natives who look upon him as a
man and a brother.

SIXTH: _The Chaperon_--has his uses. It will be his business to see that
we are housed, clothed, and fed. The horses and peons will also be under
his care, and if anyone wants to grumble about anything The Chaperon is
the person to abuse. Tent-erecting is what he considers himself to be
very good at; but rumour has it that his best accomplishment is
hairdressing (ladies or gentlemen, English or foreign styles). His
resources know no bounds; he has been seen to fasten up a pair of
leggings with bits of stick. His powers of annexation, both mentally and
materially, are indeed marvellous. He prefers to make his bed on the
bricks or the cold, hard ground, and then enlarges on the comfort
thereof; he generally takes his food standing up, and is always on the
spot ready for any emergency when required.

SEVENTH: _The Saint_--is a lady who will give away anything in her
possession, save chicken or eggs. Just now she is making donations of
pipes, tobacco, handkerchiefs (her own or The Instigator's), and good
advice on matrimony. She is a person of importance, and is very keen on
collecting knowledge which she is always ready to impart to others;
unfortunately, some of her efforts to improve humanity have not been
absolutely successful, but she is never discouraged, and takes up the
next case on the list with equal enthusiasm. Most of us have to thank
her for some good thing or other. She will do her best to keep every
member of the party up to the mark, physically and mentally. Her
accomplishments are numerous.

EIGHTH: _My Lady_--is a general favourite; she will look after the lot
of us in her own gracious fashion. Everyone goes to her for advice,
sympathy, or help, which she is always ready to give. Even without her
tea-basket she would be an absolute necessity for the social success of
the trip, for, as the advertisements say of patent sweepers and the
Encyclopaedia Britannica, "no party is complete without" her, so every
one was glad to hear that she had agreed to accompany the northern
pioneers. Those favoured ones who have seen her "on the boards," whisper
that her histrionic genius is marvellous; we, who are not among the
fortunate number, can only say that if her acting equals her talent for
giving (when required) a really concise, lucid description of anything,
it must indeed be wonderful. Her quotations, too, are so ready and apt,
though occasionally they remind us, by their vagueness, of her namesake
and favourite book.

NINTH: _The Kid_. Why she is brought along, nobody will ever know. It
may have been as a "contrapeso" ("an addition of meat or fish of
inferior quality, thrown in to complete the weight," _vide_ Arturo
Cuyas' Dictionary), but we think she came with the sheep. Anyhow, it was
not until the first part of the journey had been accomplished that she
was discovered bleating in the corner of one of the coaches. We had a
meeting to decide whether she should come on with us or not, and
arranged to put her on the job of tidying up for the trip; but her
hopeless incompetence and ready impertinence to her superior officers,
necessitated instant dismissal without a character. However, as she is
really not worth the trouble of sending back, we locked up the tea tin,
and let her continue the journey on the condition that she will not talk
too much, awake or asleep. With any luck, we may yet lose her somewhere
in the wilds.

       *       *       *       *       *

The one disappointment expressed by all the party was that Our Hostess
decided not to accompany us on the trip, but to await our return at
Cristobal.

We started out from the estancia house as soon as the ladies' luggage
could be brought downstairs, and we should like to remark, in passing,
that it was a very affecting sight to see Our Guest, The Delineator, and
The Wild Man lifting and carrying heavy boxes and baggage (with no
thought of gain) out to the peons, who, under the able direction of The
Chaperon, loaded them scientifically on to one of the four carts, which,
when ready, were sent on ahead with the nine peons who had been told off
for the trip. Cameras appeared from every available corner as we
prepared to move, and many invaluable photos of the start of the caravan
must have been secured by those who gave us such a hearty send-off. When
at last Our Hostess had put in the final cushion and rug, and provided
us with biscuits and bull's-eyes, and was satisfied that even she could
do nothing more for our comfort, we parted from her with great regret,
promising that she should receive numerous marconigrams concerning our
welfare, and our travels en route. First went off the four-in-hand
driven by The Jehu, who had four members of the party in his care; he
was followed by The Chaperon, who drove a pair, and looked after the
rest of the explorers.

There is an old saying, "Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang
him." The truth of this saying has never been better exemplified than
in the case of the Chaco, which long held the reputation of being good
for nothing. Rumour had it that the northern land was useless; life was
impossible there for the white man; indeed, it was supposed that cattle
even could not live there on account of the mosquitoes and garrapata;
and Indians were said to be as thick as flies, and equally disturbing.

The Santa Fé Land Company has been one of the pioneers who steadily
fought down these reports, and by showing what good cattle could be bred
there, and what crops grown, has gradually opened up the possibilities
of the northern lands to colonists and investors. Slowly but surely
workers came north, first in fear and dread, but later with confidence,
and now the cry is "They come, and still they come." Before we had gone
far on our journey we had an opportunity of conversing with one lately
arrived colonist. A wonderful crop of maize attracted our notice, and we
stopped to speak to the great, jolly, strong-framed Italian who had
grown it. He has moved up from the south with his wife and family, and
his fellow-workmen. They started ploughing, and though it was late in
the season, he was persuaded to try a catch-crop of maize, with the
result that he has to-day banked $5,000, when he never expected to
secure a chance harvest. And so sure is he that the land will repay all
labour and time expended upon it that he is anxious to take up a league
and colonize it with his fellow-countrymen.

It is the same story all through the northern lands; anyone with pluck,
adaptability and grit can do what this man has done: indeed hard work
and perseverance will as amply reward the labourer in the northern lands
as they have done in the south. The sight of this great crop of valuable
maize, on land which a few months before was a mere waste, brings the
words of the Psalmist forcibly to one's thoughts, for surely of no
country could it more truly be said than of the Argentine, "Dwell in
the land, and be doing good, and, verily, thou shalt be fed"; and
perhaps there are few countries in which there are less openings for the
man whose mind is not set towards "doing good": the Argentine has little
room for the shirker.

[Illustration: _Horses awaiting Inspection._]

The rain of yesterday relieved us from the trials of dust on our
journey, but it also made the going very heavy, and instead of
travelling for the usual two hours before relieving horses, we were
obliged to make an early stop for a change. This is always an
interesting sight, for the animals are so well trained. Our total number
is 87, and when a halt is called, these animals are all lined up in a
row, generally against a wire fence. At the word of command they range
themselves, backed close against the fence in a long line with their
heads outwards. Packed tightly together they await the inspection of
their master, who chooses the animals he requires, and as they are
standing thus they allow themselves to be haltered up and led quietly
away from the line to be harnessed. Their training is wonderful, but it
is really amusing to watch the expression of the horses as they stand in
a row while the selection takes place, they seem to be saying "Please,
sir, not I this time." Where no wire fence is available, the peons
stretch a rope or lasso out, and the horses will line up against that in
the same manner. During our first change of horses, unexpected
excitement occurred. The Saint perceived a plaid horse--at least this is
what she called it, and we believed it to be German for piebald
horse--from which a peon had dismounted. This horse must have reminded
her of the circus-riders of her childhood (or possibly her action was
owing to temporary aberration); anyhow, without a word of warning, she
leapt astride the native saddle and gave a short display of how it
should be done. However, fortunately from her point of view, though
disappointingly from that of the spectators, the piebald animal had not
been trained to circus tricks, and only quietly ambled along for a few
yards, during which time the cameras came into full play. After The
Saint had been persuaded to dismount, and the horses were harnessed up,
an onward move was made, and it was not long before we met our host for
the day. He had ridden to the furthest outposts of his section to join
us, and under his guidance we were conducted to two or three spots,
where The Instigator inspected rodeos of animals in his charge.

We arrived at the Section house of Polvareda about midday, and found
that our host had prepared an alarmingly sumptuous repast for his influx
of visitors: as course followed course, roast ducks dodged the turkey,
and were pursued by plum pudding, etc., we began to wonder if our host
thought that meal would have to last us for the fortnight of our trip.
But we discovered that he came from the West of England, and had not
forgotten the ideas of hospitality current in that part of the world.
Rumour had it that he himself had been seen carrying about pails of
scalded milk at 4 a.m. This proceeding explains the delicious Devonshire
cream and butter we are enjoying.

The afternoon was spent in driving or riding round the section to
inspect various windmills, more groups of cattle, wells, fencing, and
new alfalfa, etc. Our host, as we were driving round, took the
opportunity for giving us a short, successful exhibition of buck-jumping
with his steed, whether willingly or not, neither he nor history
mentions. At eventide, another excellent repast was provided, and The
Saint was so impressed by the catering and culinary skill of our host,
that she decided to inaugurate a prize to be won by the bachelor
estanciero who shall provide the best meals for the hungry nomads during
the trip; certainly our host for to-day has put the standard very high
for the other competitors. A short telephonic communication was held
during dinner with Our Hostess at Cristobal, and "All's well" was
reported on both sides.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Stacking Alfalfa._]

[Illustration: _Alfalfa Elevator at Work._]

       *       *       *       *       *

"THE TACURU."

No. 2.

_Sunday, March 27th, 1910._


The party did not sit up late last night; they had a short talk on the
verandah for the sake of digestion, and then all retired to bed, but
alas! not to rest. Foolishly they had imagined that mosquitoes were
things of the past, and no nets were put up, with the result that one
and all soon learnt that for fresh blood and newcomers there was a
plethora of these little demons waiting with their irritating song,
sting, and bite: from some of the party we learn complaints of other
songs, more human, and more nasal, and it is believed that it was Our
Guest who was heard at midnight to be murmuring the chorus of a
favourite song, viz., "Hush, boys! No noise! Silence ebryting! Listen,
and you'll hear de little angels sing." At least it says "angels" in the
song, but the word Our Guest used sounded like "demons," but probably he
was dreaming of the "ping" of bullets and the roar of battle as the
snores resounded through the room, or, one might almost say, through the
house. Very early this morning there were cries for The Chaperon: he was
wanted to tell the time; he was wanted to bring water for ablutions; he
was wanted to tell us when breakfast would be ready; he was wanted to
give advice or remedies for mosquito bites, and, in general, for a short
space of time, he justified his existence. When at last the members of
the party had collected themselves from all sorts of odd corners,
coffee (with the addition of bacon and eggs, and several other things)
was served, and the interval, before the order "All aboard" was issued,
was chiefly occupied in observing and discussing the effects of our
first night's experience of bichos. Our Guest, after due deliberation,
laid down some useful rules for future guidance, the chief being, "Never
be without a Mosquitero": his face and head were literally enlarged on
this point, and he assured us that a mosquito's proboscis is an
impressive point. Apparently The Kid, too, would have liked to give her
views on mosquitoes and their ways, but her uninteresting remarks were
cut short by The Wild Man's order of "kennel up," and, given a bottle of
cana, she seemed quite happy. Our Guest seemed to have an impression,
also, that someone had blundered. He knew someone had slumbered (some
had not), and plaintively he begged that he might be allowed in future
to sleep at one estancia further ahead of the rest of the party.

Most of the nomads had had some slapping acquaintance with mosquitoes
during the night, and the showing of bites, swellings, lumps, etc., only
ended when The Jehu ordered the bugle to be sounded for an onward move.
We were well under way before half the lamentations had been entered in
the station complaint book.

Bidding adieu to Polvareda, where the green fields of alfalfa show the
march of progress, we pushed forward, but as we left we were unable to
decide whether it was a desire to escape observation (and, perhaps, the
too-effusive thanks of the lady members of the party), or a violent
toothache, which caused our host to conceal himself in a huge blanket
wrapped around his head as we left, but we fear it was toothache that
necessitated the extra wrappings.

[Illustration: _The Green Fields of Alfalfa_.]

We had not gone far on our journey before we crossed the bridge over Las
Conchas. The manager of the next section met us soon afterwards, and we
inspected the cattle on his domains. On our way from Polvareda to
Michelot we passed the emporium of the Universal Provider of the North,
in other words, "the stores," where most of the necessities and many of
the luxuries of life can be obtained. The Saint can never resist the
desire of a bargain, and others of the party were anxious to see all
that the stores contained, so we made a halt and inundated the building,
where everything was extraordinarily neat and clean, shelves piled high
with bales of bright-coloured cottons, cloths, and handkerchiefs; hats
hanging in long lines, brilliant saddle-cloths, pipes, knives, tobacco,
axes, leather goods and harness, every variety of tinned foods, barrels
of flour, sugar, etc., all arranged with precision, and showing
cleanliness and method at every turn. Some men were sitting on the
benches, smoking and drinking and chatting together, for apparently "the
stores" constitutes the local rendezvous and news agency for miles
around.

The Saint at once made purchases, for no place is stamped on her memory
unless she has spent money there. She wanted to make the whole party
presents of hats, handkerchiefs, or pipes, but she was restrained, and
ultimately satisfied her generosity by choosing the best saddle-cloth
the establishment could supply, and one or two hats. We went into the
living-rooms of the storekeeper, and found the same attractive neatness
there. A gramophone occupied a side table, and skins and pictures were
hanging on the walls. The storekeeper's wife and her sister were
attractive Englishwomen; there were two or three children running about,
but none of them could speak anything but their father's native
language. After this inspection we drove on, and we are glad to be able
to register the fact that Our Guest for once acted up to the first part
of the old adage, "Earn sixpence a day and live up to it." The Jehu's
coach had stayed behind for a while, to allow The Instigator to observe
and note a great many things which were no business of his at all, and
the peons had likewise remained, but The Saint, having fulfilled her
mission of purchasing whenever possible, was content, and anxious to get
on to the Section house for a rest before her afternoon ride, so The
Chaperon drove on with his coach, and we are assured, on what we
consider good authority, that when Our Guest perceived a closed gate in
the way, and no peon at hand, he leapt from the carriage (perhaps "flew"
would be a better word) and opened that gate. Possibly he had been fired
with ambition to earn money while inspecting those crimson and blue
handkerchiefs at the stores, for we know he appreciates "colours"; but,
whatever his motive, he _did_ open that gate, and let it be recorded to
the honour of his fellow-passengers that his action was not allowed to
pass unappreciated or unrewarded. When all the party were collected at
Michelot estancia house, lunch was served on the verandah by a
dour-looking Oriental, who apparently combined the duties of cook and
parlourmaid in his own somewhat yellow person, and very well he
performed his task, but as he went silently about his business of
serving this large party, which he did with a slow precision and
apparent utter disregard of his master's orders, he reminded us
irresistibly of the soi-disant American definition of "Life," and we
began to wonder whether it were not a Chinaman who summed up existence
in the words, "After all, Life is only one d----d thing after another."

[Illustration: _Herd of Cattle._]

A short siesta followed lunch, and after an early tea everyone mounted
horses or carriages and went forth to see the sights of the
Section--everyone, that is to say, save The Chaperon, who had other work
to do; he it was who discovered and averted what might have been a
disaster. Some members of the party were quite content as long as they
were given three cups of tea, others fancied cocktails, and some babbled
for cocoa. It was suddenly found that the supply of this last useful
article was running short. The Kid not being a cocoa-drinker, casually
suggested filling up the tin with tannin extract or dust; she said "it
looked the same and nobody need smell it," but The Chaperon declined to
resort to subterfuges and rode off to the stores to supply a deficiency
caused by his own lack of attention.

At Michelot, as at Polvareda, great progress has been made of late
years, alfalfa laid down, fences and wells made, and the cattle are
improving yearly. Our last sight, before the inspection for the day was
finished, was a wonderful rodeo of 3,000 cattle, which we viewed from
the vantage point of the banks of a newly made reservoir. It was a
striking picture, which will not easily be erased from the memory of
those who saw it. The cattle, with their long continuous lowing, were
rounded up below us, and away on the horizon the sun was setting with
the glory one never sees better elsewhere than over a plain, leaving, as
it rapidly sank from sight, marvellous shades of gold and crimson on the
fantastically shaped clouds. Save for the animals and their drivers just
around us, the whole vast space seemed so still and empty, yet on every
hand were traces of man's labour and skill, conquering a tract of land
which was almost valueless a few short years back.

On our return to the house we found dinner for us on the verandah. This
was a delightfully cool method of taking food, but rather apt to attract
beasties, and although the philosophers and friends of the party
arranged the lights to keep away insects as much as possible, and
succeeded in their efforts, some members of the party preferred to take
no risks and dined with veils wrapped around their heads, only leaving
their mouths available. The Wild Man caused some excitement before we
sat down to dinner by introducing us to a beast he called a "railway
insect." It certainly strongly resembled a railway train, with its green
light on its head, red at the tail, and luminous yellow lights all over
its caterpillar-like body; it was a most interesting discovery, and the
Wild Man went up in everyone's estimation for a few minutes. The
Oriental again served us with silent steadiness. It was suggested that
one of our "boys" should assist him in the task of waiting on the party
of twelve, but notwithstanding the fact that he had been told he might
kick round any boy he chose to make an assistant, he waived aside all
outside help with the words "no good," and continued on his way
imperturbably.

The Instigator, with The Delineator and The Jehu, had a long discussion
after dinner on various Argentine subjects too deep for the ordinary
mortal, though The Wild Man and The Chaperon seemed to be trying to take
an intelligent interest in the conversation. Our Guest sat silent,
looked sad, and on being offered a penny for his thoughts, he murmured
that he was wondering whether he would be allowed any sleep to-night.
Doubtless he felt wearied, because, as it is Sunday, The Chaperon had
been allowed to take a half-day off for his own amusements, and Our
Guest, perhaps stimulated by his financial success of the morning,
offered to fulfil the duties of chaperon during his absence; but we
regret to say that we cannot candidly advise Our Guest to take up
chaperoning as a means of livelihood, for though willing and tactful, he
lacks the long training and apprenticeship necessary for continual
service in this arduous work.

The ladies seemed happier, for they had noted the mosquito nets over
each bed in their room, and they looked forward to a peaceful night. We
had our usual communication with Our Hostess over the telephone before
retiring, and received and gave satisfactory reports from both sides.

A correspondent wishes to know if any of our readers can name the author
of these lines:--

"Heaven gives sleep to the bad, in order that the good may be
undisturbed." He would also like to know if this generally accepted
quotation is quite correct, or whether the "un" is a misprint. Replies
to "O.G.," c/o THE TACURU.

Owing to the innumerable applications which we have received for
advertising space in our widely circulated periodical, we have decided
to open our columns to advertisements at the rate of 50 cents per line,
applications to be sent to "The Advertisement Editor," THE TACURU
Offices, c/o The Jehu, First Coach. All orders must be prepaid.

       *       *       *       *       *

ADVERTISEMENTS.

WANTED.--Bricklayers who can build straight.--Apply Manager, Michelot.

RIDING TAUGHT by a lady, side-saddle or astride; fees go to
Charity.--Apply "T.S.," c/o TACURU Offices.

BOOT CLEANING undertaken in best style. Gents', per pair, $1; Ladies',
per pair, for the asking.--Orders received by "T.C.," Offices of this
Paper.

       *       *       *       *       *



"THE TACURU."

No. 3.

_Monday, March 28th, 1910._

Owing to the care with which the mosquito nets had been put up, there
were few complaints of bites when the party assembled for breakfast, but
the conversation chiefly degenerated into an argument on phonetics. The
different rooms held various views on the harmonizing of sounds. Had it
been a glee competition we should undoubtedly have given the award to
the verandah party. Sleeping on the bricks seems to bring out the
sweetness of a treble voice as nothing else can do. The Saint and My
Lady both remarked that they were very fond of music, but they could not
appreciate being awakened from their beauty sleeps, by the announcement
in a raucous voice of "No, thank you." They do not wish for a moment to
imply that The Kid was not perfectly justified in refusing whatever she
did refuse, but they would like her in future to confine her
conversations to the daytime if possible, and to leave their nights in
peace. It was a happy thought on the part of The Jehu to suggest a
picnic at the Waters Meet to-day, before our forward move on to Los
Moyes, and after breakfast we started out. First we went to inspect the
site where the new house is to be built, then on to the pretty little
monte near by, where some picturesque photographs were taken of the
cavalcade of riders. We paused in this tiny monte, for it is an
intensely interesting spot from a botanical point of view, and with care
and attention should be so for some years to come. In an extraordinary
small compass this wood contains more varied specimens of trees than one
would ordinarily see in a day's journey. So on to Waters Meet. Here one
is afforded an opportunity for studying the watershed of this portion of
Argentina. Three rivers meet here, the Concha, the Calchaqui, and the
Northern Salado. The latter is the only perennial river in that region;
it rises in the snowy peaks of the Andes, in the province of Salta,
miles away, and it is not to be wondered at, that, though it is a
slow-moving river and meanders through the Gran Chaco, in the times of
floods its swollen waters overflow their banks and flood immense tracts
of land. Thomas Page, an American Admiral, in the year 1855, navigated
this river from its junction with the Parana to the spot where we were
to-day, but when he went up it there was so little water in the river
that he had to give up the idea of continuing his pioneer task of
exploration. It had been his intention to open up the river for trade,
and there is no reason why this should not be done at some future date.
The Calchaqui goes under different names at various places. It rises on
the great swamps on the North-East of the Santa Fé Land Company's
territory, and flows through a chain of lakes and cañadas until it runs
into the huge laguna "Del Palmar," and thence along what used to be the
Eastern boundary of the Santa Fé Land Company's lands, until it joins
the Salado.

The Calchaqui must drain at least 150,000 acres of land, and the Rio
Concha has a watershed of about 60 or 70 thousand acres. It is not known
what the area of the watershed of the Salado is, but it must be immense;
therefore it can be understood that the meeting-place of the waters of
these three rivers is an interesting spot geographically, and we were
all glad to have seen it. On our arrival at the Water Meet we had our
first introduction to the native "asado," and we all hoped it would not
be the last. The peons collected (apparently from nowhere), in less time
than it takes to write about, sticks and odds and ends for a fire, over
the ashes of which they broiled the meat, holding it over the heat on
long skewers of wood. The meat was brought to us cooked, still on these
skewers, and each one cut off, or had cut off for them by The Jehu, the
portion he or she preferred, and a very hearty and merry meal was made
by all. The resulting silence of repletion was only broken by a murmur
from The Saint of "My heart is full," which sentiment, anatomically
amended, was echoed by all.

[Illustration: _Expanse of Alfalfa_.]

When active exertion was once more possible everyone repaired to the
banks of the Waters Meet, and a spot being found where there were no
dead fish lying about, the ladies (under the tutorship of Our Guest and
The Jehu) indulged in a little rifle-shooting at bottles. We fear that
we cannot record any marvellous marksmanship on their part, for the
bottles were still bobbing about on the water when the ladies' party
retraced their steps to the "camp." A cup of tea was suggested before
the returning drive, and it was thought possible (though not probable)
that The Kid might be useful on this occasion. However any hopes in this
direction were speedily dispelled when (after a great deal of noise and
talk) she appeared with a thick black liquid, which proved absolutely
undrinkable. True it was poured from a tea-pot, but anything less like
"tea" as one usually meets it at 5 o'clock, could scarcely be imagined,
and the air seemed full of the unspoken query, "Has everyone a use in
this world?" The drive back to the estancia house was as pleasant as
that of the morning, and there we found the Chinaman (who, owing to the
strenuous exertions of The Chaperon, now appeared with considerably less
hair, and obviously a more swollen head), had gauged correctly the
incompetency of The Kid, in the brewing of his native beverage, and
consequently had prepared a beverage which might pass for tea, and was
enjoyed by all. After this refreshment a move was made, the luggage had
gone on, and the party followed in their two coaches. We now began to
approach a more pleasing country, and drove through little montes of
scrub and trees, with a few bright-coloured verbena and cacti growing
near the ground, making a brave show, and that larger optunia, the
prickly pear, with its silver grey appearance and the bright crimson of
its fruit showed up occasionally against the low trees. Altogether, the
land had a more homelike and less expansive appearance, as it was broken
up by these little groups of trees. It was a glorious drive. We were
favoured with another exquisite sunset which shed weird and beautiful
light over this strangely quiet and empty country. As the four-horse
char-à-banc had started some minutes ahead of the more modest two-horse
vehicle, it was to be supposed that it would reach the destination, Los
Moyes, first, and we hear that there was some consternation expressed by
the party of the smaller coach when, on their arrival they found that
nothing had been heard, or seen, of the more ambitious vehicle. However,
The Chaperon on being appealed to, impassively murmured "They're all
right," and started to give orders for unloading, and putting up beds
and generally arranging matters as if the section house belonged to him,
and this callousness on his part, we are told, calmed the others
sufficiently to allow of their enjoying the remnants of the sunset,
undisturbed by any thoughts of the horrible fates which might (but were
not likely to) have overtaken their companions.

Certainly Los Moyes section house is most prettily situated, with an
expanse of alfalfa beyond the little front garden, and trees in the
distance opening to show a glimpse of the smallest lake. There are three
of these lakes not far from the house, and fishing is carried on, by
means of spearing, in their waters. Long after the last trace of sunset
had faded from the sky, The Jehu appeared with his coach, and a rush was
made by the hosts of Los Moyes, and their earlier arrivals, to ascertain
the cause of this delay. All anxiety was quickly allayed by one glance
at the face of The Instigator. He was exuberant with joy. The rest of
the occupants of the coach seemed rather less excited, and more weary,
as they explained that The Instigator had sighted in the far offing a
steam plough, and despite murmurs of "the dinner waits and we are tired"
from The Delineator and The Wild Man, he insisted on investigating that
plough, in fact on trying it himself, and it was with difficulty he was
persuaded to return to the coach, and continue the drive home. We
believe the credit for this latter achievement is due to The Delineator,
who, with tact worthy of a diplomat, suggested that if an early return
to the ploughing were made next morning, photos could be obtained of the
machine and its work. This bait was successful, and The Instigator was
gently enticed away with promises of "to-morrow."

[Illustration: _Disc-Plough at Work._]

[Illustration: _Roadmaker and Railroad Builder_.]

After everyone was assured that everyone else was safe, The Instigator
came back from his Elysium, dreamily to finish the quotation of The
Delineator and The Wild Man with "Said Gilpin, So am I," and we all sat
down to dinner, during which meal much merriment was caused by a
difference of opinion between The Saint and her host on "dogs and
species of dogs." Our enemies, the mosquitoes, were not so virulent as
usual to-night, perhaps owing to the eucalyptus trees which are growing
near the house; anyhow the party could venture to sit out after dinner
on the verandah, which was already covered with beds for the
accommodation of some of the party. Thus, with an audience seated on
chairs and beds, The Instigator talked of the plough and of its
marvellous work in opening up hitherto unused tracts of land. Want of
labour has retarded development considerably, and until quite recently
the northern camps were very much handicapped by the lack of labourers,
and of men with brains to guide the labour. Not only was there a
deficiency of men, but often so many of the working bullocks were
drafted off to the forests for timber haulage, that it left a sparseness
of them for agricultural purposes. The remedy, however, presented itself
by the utilisation of the traction engine. The breaking-up of fresh
lands has always been the trouble facing the colonist.

In dry weather it is almost impossible to get the plough, drawn by horse
or bullock, into the ground, and the drought so punishes the working
animals that often when rain comes they are too weak for their work, and
the colonist is unable to take the best advantage of the season, but
mechanical ploughing obviates all this, and gives him the virgin land in
such a condition that with the means at hand he is able to cultivate an
area sufficiently large to ensure him success.

As we sat thus on the verandah in the moonlight, plans were made for the
following day. It was decided that a visit to the plough should occupy
the morning, and a row on the lake, or ride round it, the afternoon,
before proceeding to Lucero. Fishing was spoken of, but we could not
manage everything in the short time we had at our disposal at Los Moyes,
so we found that probably the fishing would have to be given up. Thus,
in the security of the possession of clear consciences and mosquito
nets, the party retired to rest.

       *       *       *       *       *

Prepaid advertisements received at the office of this paper before 6
p.m. will be inserted in the next day's issue.

"M.L." writes in answer to "O.G." that the quotation he gives is from
the writing of the Persian poet Sâdi. The quotation is quite correct,
for though Sâdi travelled for a great number of years in Europe, Asia,
and Africa, he never travelled with the present Company in the
Argentine, therefore he did not realise that the sleep of the bad could
disturb the good. Modern thought is inclined to differ from his views.

       *       *       *       *       *

ADVERTISEMENTS.

LOST.--Two rubber sponges and two blankets. When finished with, please
return to the Manager, Michelot.

£10 REWARD.--Lost, one pearl-drop ear-ring; may be under the carpet.
Finder will be rewarded as above, on returning same to "T.S.," Offices
of this Paper.

       *       *       *       *       *

"THE TACURU."

No. 4.

_Tuesday, March 29th, 1910._

This morning, alas! did not fulfil the promise of last night's sunset,
for a drizzling rain was falling when the party collected for breakfast,
and we were afraid that not only would the fishing expedition be
impossible, but also that the ploughing inspection might have to be
postponed, and all were anxious, after the enthusiasm of The Instigator,
to see that engine at work. Our host had sent some men out in the early
morning to secure fish for our delectation, but they were unable to
spear more than one, and this large aquatic animal was now hanging up
under the verandah, causing a great deal of interest to the various
curious members of the band; needless to say, The Instigator was busy
divesting the fish of scales, examining them under his ubiquitous
microscope, and insisting on everyone observing the marvels of Nature
shown in this manner. We think that this was the psychological moment
when the rest of the party began to appreciate the powers of that
microscope, and insinuations were made to the owner that it would be a
pity to take such a beautiful pocket instrument back to Europe, in case
any accident should happen to the boat during the voyage, and the
microscope be lost.

The Delineator and The Wild Man appeared to be the chief favourites for
the prize, and knowing the acquisitive propensities of The Chaperon, all
were surprised to note his passiveness during the competition; however,
he explained his inertia by saying that his sleep had been disturbed by
visions for which no microscope was needed. He offered to sketch what he
had seen, but could give no more definite description in words than
"figures on the blind" and "streaming hair," so he was left alone to
recover his nerve. The Jehu then pointed out that his prophecy had
proved correct, and the misty rain had blown off, leaving a clear sky
and fine weather, so a start was made _en masse_ for the scene of the
ploughing operations. A slight lameness on the part of one of the steeds
made it necessary for the smaller coach to return for change of animals
after a few hundred yards. The Wild Man occupied the few minutes of this
delay to the best possible advantage. The owner of the house and
chattels was away, and The Wild Man, stimulated by The Chaperon made a
very productive tour of the rooms and verandah, resulting in great
satisfaction to himself.

When the coach was ready with fresh horses, and The Wild Man had
satisfied himself that nothing of value had escaped his observation,
another move forward was made, and on arriving at the ground the smaller
party found that the occupants of the first coach were already on the
plough, having ousted the colonists for the time being. This plough was
working on rough virgin ground, turning over more land in one hour than
two men and four horses can do in England in a whole day. Each member of
the party took their turn on the plough, and enjoyed the pleasure
derived from turning over the untouched soil, and of feeling that they
were helping to start the development of Nature's truest source of
wealth. The engine was drawing twenty disc-ploughs, and could plough
twenty-eight to thirty acres of land a day, week in and week out.

Until recent years land in the Argentine Republic has been ploughed in
small areas by animal labour, the farmer or colonist often employing the
members of his family to assist him, and thus saving expense. Owing,
however, to the immense harvests and the vast tracts of country awaiting
development, it has become necessary to work on a much bigger scale, and
to bring in the aid of machinery. In some places the ordinary form of
steam plough has presented many practical disadvantages. They are heavy
and unwieldy, and apt to sink in soft ground, from which they are
extricated with difficulty. This is likely to cause damage, or more
serious accidents, through explosion. Further, they require a constant
train of water-carts and fuel wagons, and a staff of at least six
persons to work them. At the spot where this engine was working the
latter objections were obviated, as both wood and water were plentiful.
In general, these difficulties are largely overcome by the adoption of
the naphtha motor engine, which has been brought to a state of
considerable perfection in Great Britain and the United States. It can
be employed not only for ploughing and threshing, but also for traction,
excavation, and embankment work, etc. An engine and plough will break up
one hectarea of camp per hour, and some of these machines with two
relays of workmen will break 108 hectareas per week. In a month of only
twenty-three working days they will break up a league of camp.

[Illustration: _Ploughing Virgin Camp._]

The price of naphtha is gradually decreasing in the Argentine Republic,
and the oil wells of the country will probably make the cost of fuel
even less by-and-by than it is to-day.

Areas of fertile camp, which have hitherto lain fallow, owing to their
being intersected by canadas, and difficult to get at, can now be
treated by the motor plough, with the result that their value will
rapidly rise. In an actual case near the Central Cordoba Railway, people
are to-day offering $118 per hectarea for land which was bought two
years ago for $25 per hectarea, but during the two years it has been
thoroughly ploughed and drained by mechanical means.

In nearly all the northern lands small trees grow irregularly all over
the camp, and in order to plough the land these trees must be dug up.
Machines are manufactured in the United States to deal with land
containing tree roots. They perform the double operation of cutting
roots under ground and ploughing up the surface, but they have not yet
been introduced into the Argentine in large numbers. Other machines dig
holes for fence posts at the rate of fifty holes per hour, and they can
be so accurately gauged that the posts may be firmly fixed without
expending much labour in ramming.

The naphtha engine is likewise used with great advantage for traction
purposes. A striking instance of this is to be found at Rio Gallegos,
where many naphtha engines are engaged in the work of carrying wool over
a track of more than 300 kilometres, a feat which would be quite
impossible with animal labour, owing to the rocky and broken condition
of the roads.

As the Santa Fé Land Company owns a great diversity of land, they have
used both the steam traction and the naphtha engines, and time will show
which machine is to be recommended.

It is a pity that the agricultural implement importers of Buenos Aires
should have recently formed themselves into a ring to lift prices,
because their doing so will certainly tend to lessen the progress which
agriculture is making in the Argentine. These combinations, however,
will not deter the Company from continuing its "march of progress," but
it comes hard on the colonist, who, after all, is the chief factor in
building up the fortunes of the great importing houses of Buenos Aires.

One of the greatest competitors of the British-built traction engine is
the Hart-Parr oil engine, a splendid agricultural tool, which is
invaluable where ordinary fuel is not easily procurable.

It was with great difficulty The Instigator could be persuaded to leave
the plough, and at one time his enthusiasm (and the engine) carried him
out of sight, and those remaining at the starting-point grew speculative
as to whether he would return before dark. However, a recommencement of
drizzling rain apparently cooled his ardour, and restored him to the
party. The nomads gladly turned their thoughts and coaches towards the
section house, realising as they went the sweet truth of the words, "The
ploughman homeward plods his weary way." Lunch awaited them, and the
fish of the morning appeared in a more pleasant guise, to be enjoyed by
all. After lunch, the rain showing no signs of clearing off, the party
had to give up all idea of the lake proper, but watched one form in
front of the house instead, and wondered how it would be negotiated when
the time came for an onward move. So they sat on chairs, baggage and
benches under the verandah, and tried to keep awake, while observing
the steady downpour. One member of the party at last gave up the
struggle against the inevitable, and sank gracefully into the arms of
Morpheus, represented by the bags of biscuits and other impedimenta. A
photo was secured of him as he lay half concealed amongst the
portmanteaux, packages and "pan." We refrain from publishing it, because
the chief feature of the picture is in the boots of the sleeper. (We
trust no weak humour is intended in the preceding paragraph?--EDITOR.)

[Illustration: _Hart-Parr Engine, drawing Roadmaker_.]

A slight diversion was caused by a repacking of some goods after lunch.
It seems that the bottles, with contents (a most important item), had
been forgotten, and The Wild Man was approached with a request that the
bottles might be transported to Lucero in his bag; of course, he
cheerily acquiesced, but as the whole of the contents of his bag had to
be turned out to pack the bottles scientifically, and as that bag
happened to be the same receptacle in which The Wild Man had secreted
the various articles collected during his tour of appreciation this
morning, developments were interesting to all, save to the man who had
laboured under the delusion that several horns and other articles which
appeared from the bag, were still in his own possession. However,
probably remembering The Wild Man's character (_vide_ page 205), he said
nothing, but calmly looked on as his goods were repacked and removed
from his sight for ever. All honour to such unselfishness.

After a cup of tea and farewells, the ladies were transferred to the
coaches in a highly skilled manner, and a damp drive to Lucero followed.
One sheet of drizzling rain surrounded us all through the journey, and
none were sorry when, after a side slip or two, the coaches drew up (not
before it was quite dark) outside the estancia house. A change into dry
garments was very welcome, and there was to be noticed for the first
time since the start of the Tacuruers, a dull air of respectability
over the party, as they collected for their evening meal.

Shirt fronts and pretty frocks appeared once more, for here we had a
lady presiding over the table. Still the old proverb proved true "Fine
feathers do not make fine birds," and some members of the party did not
live up to their costumes. It may have been the good dinner, or the
genial glow of a fire that upset their behaviour, but the fact remains
that there were two or three unusual occurrences during the course of a
merry meal. The Kid was observed to be burying her face in a spoonful of
jelly, and others seemed to be performing a sort of a general post
during the repast. However, all ended well, and after coffee various
home pets were introduced by our hostess, who is a devoted lover of
animals. A nutria appeared and some friendly dogs, and we heard of tame
foxes and diminutive ponies to be seen next day. It was a great regret
to everyone that The Delineator did not put in an appearance for dinner;
he pleaded headache and retired to bed early, perhaps in the hope of
getting some sleep before The Instigator came to share the room.

       *       *       *       *       *

ADVERTISEMENTS.

HARD CASE NO. 1.--"T.K." writes to inquire the proper procedure under
the following circumstances:--"A lady receives a plate of jelly at
dinner, the gentleman on her right at once takes up her spoon and
commences to feed her with the jelly." What should she do? And if she
allows herself to be fed, is it etiquette, this year, for the gentleman
on her left to give her a slight push, which results in her nose meeting
the jelly in the spoon? We offer the problems to our readers, and a
prize will be awarded for the best solution sent in.

LOST.--One pair deer's horns, nicely coloured. If this advertisement
meets the eye of T.W.M. the owner would be very glad to have the horns
returned to Michelot, but does not wish to make a point of it.

FOUND.--The reward of £10 for lost ear-ring is withdrawn; owner found
lost property herself, and has paid for her advertisement.

       *       *       *       *       *



"THE TACURU."

No. 5.

_Wednesday, March 30th, 1910._


Much to everyone's relief The Delineator appeared at breakfast looking
himself again; he replied to the enquiries showered upon him that his
indisposition could be explained in the words used by Herbert Spencer,
when he defined life as "The continuous adjustment of internal relations
to external relations." The Delineator said that that formula, when one
considered the various cookings, including the Oriental style we had
lately sampled, exactly described the cause of his passing illness, from
which he was now happily recovered.

The morning was bright, and nothing but the drying mud remained to
remind us of the rains of yesterday. At breakfast some strange tales
were told of a frightened nutria which generally slept peacefully under
a wardrobe in the dressing-room; but last night the room had another
occupant, whose sleep was not so peaceful as that of the nutria, and at
the first sound of a snore the poor animal was so scared that it leapt
from its usual bed and rushed round the room till it found a way of
escape, through the window, to a more restful soot.

Cattle-dipping was to be the sight of the morning, and as soon as the
out-door menagerie was explored, under the guidance of our hostess, who
has a wonderful knack with all animals, the coach and cavalcade of
riders set forth to the scene of operations. Here we found a large
number of animals ready to be dipped. This process is necessary to clean
the animals from the garrapata. This is a tick which has been, and still
is, the terror of the north. It is the means of transmitting to cattle
the disease known as "Texas Fever." The rough native cattle do not
suffer badly from this fever, but any newly imported fine stock from the
south generally succumb to it.

Time after time wealthy men who realized the menace this pest was to the
north have attempted to fight it, but their efforts have not been
successful. Often their loss has been immense, sometimes as many as 95%
of the total animals brought into the neighbourhood from the Province of
Buenos Aires have died.

Undoubtedly these constant failures helped to give the northern district
a bad name, but the experiments with the animals should have been
carried on by means of acclimatisation. Animals for the north should be
carefully handled, and with constant vigilance, adapted to their
surroundings. These are the principles on which the Santa Fé Land
Company have been working, and they confidently predict that before long
they will be selling pedigree bulls with tick on them. When this is an
accomplished fact, another great barrier to the progress of the north
will have been broken down.

The cattle tick has two phases in its life.

[Illustration: _Cattle leaving Dip._]

After establishing itself on the animal, the tick becomes a blood
sucker, and at certain seasons animals running wild over unbroken camps,
become literally covered with these bichos; consequently the cattle fall
back in condition, and the mortality amongst them mounts up to an
appallingly large percentage. To obviate this the dip is used, and has
come into general use. The animals are collected from afar, and brought
into the corral (a strong enclosure), from which there is a wooden
passage, having many contrivances useful for marking, branding, and
dehorning cattle, all of which are used in their due season; but for
dipping purposes this passage terminates in a precipitous slope, and the
animals are gently forced along it from the corral to plunge suddenly
into a prepared bath of a strong solution, which kills every tick; so it
follows, that if the animal has been totally submerged, it is absolutely
free from the parasite. The object of dipping is to kill all kinds of
insects and parasites which trouble the bovine race; especially so the
common Louse (the Dermatodectis Bovis) which is the scab producer. The
worst pest is, however, the cattle tick or Garrapata, and known under
the scientific name of Boophilus Annulatus.

This latter is the harbinger of the microbe of Texas Fever or Tristeza,
as it is known in the Argentine.

The remedies that are principally employed are of a tarry basis and
prepared so as to be easily mixed with water, usually in the proportion
of 1 to 100.

The amount of mixture used is 2.60 litres, and the cost works out at 10
cents. per head.

The greatest number of animals that the Santa Fé Land Company have been
able to put through the dip in a day is 6,700, working from 6 a.m. to 5
p.m.

Animals certainly are frightened the first time they take this bath, but
very soon they find the comfort of its effect, and come to like and
enjoy it. The cattle we saw dipped to-day had mostly been through the
process several times before, and walked calmly down the passage,
seeming to enjoy their scramble through the dip. On emerging from the
dip, the animals stand in a small corral on the other side, and are kept
there for a while to allow the liquor to drain off their hides, and find
its way back to the tank.

Some of the younger animals seemed scared at the first plunge, and
though a very great point is made of the fact that they must all be
collected and driven into the corral and down the passage, with the
utmost gentleness, some of them grew so disturbed at the unusual
proceeding, that they leapt on to the animal in front instead of sliding
down the dip as the older animals do. However, there are always plenty
of men under the superintendence of the mayor-domo to see that no harm
comes to any animal, and though in the early days of dips, broken legs
were not unusual occurrences, nowadays there are very seldom any
accidents, though thousands of animals may be dipped in a few hours. One
man holds a curious sort of wide blunt prong, with which he presses the
heads of any animals, who have not been totally immersed, under the
liquid as they pass him, thus ensuring the destruction of all parasites.

After this inspection The Instigator and company were taken on to see
land which was being broken by bullocks, and thence to the Rio Salado,
(which we are hoping to negotiate much further north to-morrow), and
returned in time for lunch. After a short pause for rest and a cup of
tea, the party, this time with their host and hostess, set off for
various windmills, earth tanks, etc., which were of recent erection, and
were to be reviewed by The Instigator. Everything he saw seemed to give
satisfaction, and a weary but happy band returned to the house for
dinner, in the course of which some native dishes were introduced to us.

Another lovely sunset favoured us this evening as we drove homewards,
and we hear that My Lady and The Wild Man almost came to a serious
quarrel over the shapes of various beautifully tinted clouds. One said a
certain cloud resembled a bear, the other said it was exactly like a
pork pie "shot" with a diamond tiara, and the matter was still under
bitter discussion long after the cloud in question had faded away into a
nebulous mist. The evening was calm and still, and we all sat outside
after coffee, discussing the unknown journey of to-morrow, and the
perils that might befall us on our way across the camps. The Instigator
talked emphatically, and quite unnecessarily, of "an early start is
imperative," till we all grew tired of his insistence and retired to
bed, where some of the party wondered under what circumstances they
would be sleeping to-morrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

CORRESPONDENCE.

     LUCERO, _March 30th, 1910._ DEAR SIR,

     May I use the valuable medium of your paper for the purpose of
     announcing that anyone who wishes to accompany the explorers on the
     excursion, under the guidance of The Jehu and myself to the wild
     north, must be ready, decently clothed and fed, with a supply of
     patience and drinkables in their personal luggage, not later than 6
     a.m., to-morrow, March 31st, 1910.

     I am, Yours, etc., THE INSTIGATOR.

     P.S.--While taking suitable precautions for the safety and
     happiness of those who entrust themselves to our care, we wish it
     to be understood that we cannot hold ourselves responsible for any
     loss of wearing apparel or other goods, temper, meals, or rest,
     caused by rain, mosquitoes, frogs, snakes, overeating, or the
     incompatibility of other passengers, or from any cause
     whatsoever.--T.I.

     _To the Editor of "The Tacuru."_

     _March 30th, 1910_.

     SIR,

     We should be glad to know if anything can be done to stop the
     public nuisance in the shape of the amalgamation of two members of
     the party, who are obviously descended from some long ago Christy
     Minstrels. We believe that, taken separately, one at a time, at
     long intervals, the aforesaid members can be tolerated for a few
     minutes (personally, we find them nauseating to a degree, under the
     most favourable circumstances), but together, when they attempt to
     be bright and amusing, and fancy they have a sense of humour and
     intelligent wit, they are absolutely impossible. They might have
     been useful (say in 1500) as the final torture decreed by the
     Inquisition, but in this year of grace of 1910, they are
     unwarrantable, and we shall be grateful if immediate steps can be
     taken for their separation, if not for their entire suppression. We
     are, Dear Sir, still suffering from violent headaches, caused by
     being shut up in the same coach for three hours with these
     imbeciles.

     Yours truly,

     T.D. and M.L.

       *       *       *       *       *

HARD CASE No. 1.

The prize of five cents has been awarded to a correspondent O.G. (who is
requested to forward his real name and address as soon as possible) for
the best solution to the Hard Case we published yesterday. He says that
in those circumstances the lady should undoubtedly allow herself to be
fed, and should do all in her power by opening her mouth widely, and
turning her head slightly in the direction of the gentleman on her
right, to assist him in his self-imposed task, and thus to avoid giving
him the impression that he had committed an unusual social solecism in
commencing to feed her.

Numerous correspondents have sent in solutions, but we consider the
above the best. Several answers have also been sent to the second part
of the question, and all agree that the gentleman on the left had no
shadow of excuse for causing the lady's nose to rest in the jelly. Such
a proceeding is totally without precedent in the highest circles.

       *       *       *       *       *

"THE TACURU."

No. 6.

_Thursday, March 31st, 1910._

THE LARGEST CIRCULATION OF ANY DAILY PAPER PUBLISHED ON THIS TRIP.

Everyone was astir early this morning, remembering The Instigator's
final warning last night of the necessity for an early start, but, on
assembling for breakfast at 7 a.m., The Instigator himself was missed.
His hawk-like eye (we apologise to Our Guest) had noticed some Galpon,
or drinking trough, or something, which he must, of course, investigate
before leaving Lucero, and dragging off The Delineator and The Jehu, he
quite forgot breakfast and the "early start," as he fussed over his
new-found interest, and it was not until he was captured forcibly by a
search party that his companions were allowed to come in to
breakfast--after the rest of the party had finished. Much to everyone's
delight the morning was bright and fine, and all promised favourably for
the excursion into the unknown.

While waiting for the start, considerable interest was caused by the
home-building operations of some birds, who were constructing a nest
under the eaves of the outbuilding, and manipulating the mud for its
construction in a most clever manner. One bird flew off to get some mud
while the other energetically fashioned the last piece into shape in the
nest, then, when the first returned, the second bird flew off to get her
contribution of clay; so the moulding of that nest grew apace while we
watched its progress.

Before we set out a pleading message came (and it was not the first,
either) from those left at headquarters, begging us to give up our
exploration scheme, and, in view of weather reports, to return in peace
to the civilisation of San Cristobal; but needless to say, nothing
daunted, The Instigator still kept to his determination to see all there
was to be seen, and the more people try to dissuade him from a thing,
once he has decided to do it, the more fixed becomes his intention to do
that thing. So, expostulations were useless, the final preparations and
farewells were made, a last communication held with Our Hostess at
Cristobal, before our passing into the wilds, and the Tacuru coaches
with their freight of precious humans, and still more precious food and
drink, started off from their pleasant rest at Lucero. Someone was heard
to murmur as the coaches drove off--

    "Then hey! for boot and horse, lad,
      And round the world away;
    The Instigator _must_ have his tour, lad,
      And _never_ will give way!"

But this puerile parody met with the indifference it deserved, and,
accompanied by the Section Manager, we commenced our journey, travelling
for some hours over the land which is in his charge. "Monte," too,
seemed to consider that his presence as a guide and friend would be
necessary to the party, and came along with us; he is a "wild" dog of
the deerhound type, who was taken as a tiny puppy from a litter found in
a wood near Los Moyes, and has ever since been devoted to his captors.
There is a calm air of disinterested abstraction about "Monte" which is
very satisfying, and he is undoubtedly a philosopher. One of the two
Indian guides we picked up during the day's journey also had a dog, but
it was of a very different appearance and character to "Monte." "Monte"
looked on mankind in general as needing his care and supervision, while
the little black smooth-haired terrier felt "the great passion" for one
alone. His master was evidently his god, and if he lost sight of
"master" for two minutes it was really touching to hear his cries,
almost like those of a child, as he tried to trace his master through
the shallow water which we sometimes crossed.

His yelps as he splashed along, nose to the ground, almost voiced the
sentiment:--

    "Rank and wealth I pass unheeding,
      Never giving them their due;
    For my heart and soul are needing,
      Nothing in the world but "YOU!"

And he and his "YOU" were never very far apart.

In a country where kindness to animals is not considered necessary, and
is very rarely found, this example of devotion between dog and man was
all the more noticeable and appreciated. Needless to say, as soon as The
Saint observed it she wanted to "give the man a present," and was only
restrained from doing so because she had nothing suitable for
presentation in her luggage, or in that of The Instigator.

About one o'clock we came to the banks of the Salado, concerning the
crossing of which river we had heard so much. We had been told it was
impossible and impassable; that the rains had swollen the river too much
for a safe passage; that at the best of times the banks were too steep
and slippery for carts to negotiate, and that all idea of crossing had
better be given up. The Instigator and The Jehu merely smiled when they
heard of these difficulties, but some members of the party had wondered
how the traversing of that river was to be accomplished, and they were
agreeably surprised, on reaching the spot chosen for crossing, to find
that a tenant had built a narrow "tajamar," or earth bank, across the
river, which at this place was not very wide. Everyone dismounted, the
horses were taken out, and all hands were in request to pull the
vehicles across. First went the coaches, then the luggage carts were
dragged over. To illustrate the difficulties of the proceedings we
publish one of the many photos taken, during the crossing of the
tajamar. Our Guest was one of the first to help in the conveyance of
these carts. Apparently, since the gate-opening episode, he has "learnt
the wisdom early to discern true beauty in utility," for he is always to
the fore when work is to be done, and in this case his athletic training
proved the truth of the Yankee expression that "It's muscle that tells."
The Delineator and The Wild Man, as usual, when real hard work presents
itself, "thought the party would like photographs of it," and, armed
with their cameras, retired to safe distances, where the work could not
possibly interfere with them or they with it, and took photos of the
progress of the carts. We cannot complain, however, of their action (or
inaction, rather), for the resulting pictures make a good memorial of
the crossing of the Salado by the "Tacuruers." The ladies rushed to
assist when they saw that photos were being taken, but, as the carts
were well over the danger line by the time the ladies were at the
ropes, we have no pictured record of their deeds, which, we may note,
were really quite valueless at this point.

[Illustration: _Crossing the Salado._]

[Illustration: _The Effect of a Long Drought_.]

Once the horses, carts, and luggage were safely across the tajamar the
more serious business of cocktails and lunch was thought of, and, in an
incredibly short time, the usual asado of meat, brought from Lucero, was
under discussion.

The unfortunate sheep who were still spared were let out for a short
run.

The Kid, too, was set free in the hopes that she might possibly prove
useful now, but, judging from her attitude during the preparations for
lunch, we should say those hopes would not be fulfilled.

As we rest after our arduous crossing of the Salado, our thoughts are
inclined to wander to the awful tragedy enacted here in the year 1904.
It was a disastrous year for many of the northern camp men. There was an
appalling drought of long continuation, for which all the northern camps
were totally unprepared; the river over which we have just passed became
the concentration spot for all that is most terrible at such times. It
is not exaggerating the case when we say that 15,000 animals (some of
them having travelled south for 100 miles or more), forced by instinct,
and guided by wire fences, came to drink from the foul, polluted chain
of water-holes which then represented this river. One can imagine the
horror and distress of it all--not a blade of grass for miles, where
to-day the vegetation is luxuriant, and not a drop of water in this
river on whose banks we are resting, only a few mud-holes in which
hundreds of decaying carcases were embedded. This is what the cattle
found after their long journey south, through which they were daily
growing weaker. It is not surprising to hear that, at one place alone
on the river-bed, over 3,000 hides were taken off dead animals, and,
probably, it is well within the mark to say that at least another 1,000
were lost. Well may we wonder, "Why this terrible suffering and loss?"
And the answer comes back, "Human negligence." It was the want of wells
which caused all this misery; cattle will bear drought for a long time,
but the actual want of water maddens them and causes the death of
thousands. If the northern camps are to be colonised and are to become
prosperous, the first necessity is the obtaining of a supply of good
water; second in importance only to the water supply is the fencing of
the camps, by which means a control over the cattle is established;
refined camps, better grasses, and alfalfa, will all follow in due
course; and anyone who has studied these northern lands would have no
hesitation in predicting that these camps will, in time, prove just as
profitable as any in the vast Republic of Argentina, and this is saying
a good deal, as those who have travelled over the rich southern camps
will realise. But, for his own sake, and for the sake of the cattle in
his care, let it be the first business of the estanciero to provide good
and sufficient wells, so that the terrible history of 1904 may never be
repeated.

[Illustration: _Refined Camps._]

However, the scene is different to-day, with a pleasant sunshine, the
crisp air sweeping over the uncultivated camp of natural grasses, and
plenty of water in the river; but we cannot linger, so, after the pipe
of peace for some, and a short siesta for others, "the all-aboard" bugle
was sounded, horses were put in, carts packed once more, and, after a
farewell to our host--who was returning to the section house--we went on
ahead into the wilder regions, and had a pleasant, though rather short,
drive for two or three hours before The Jehu called a halt. He explained
that we should require at least an hour for the unloading and erection
of the tents, tables, etc., before dusk; therefore, as the sun was only
a hand's breadth from the horizon (roughly speaking, an hour before
setting), we must dismount. He had chosen a pleasant spot for the camp
of the night, not far from a small ranch, and here the coaches halted.
Of course the luggage carts could not come up until some time later, as
their loads were so much heavier, and My Lady became even more popular
than usual when she suggested that the wait should be beguiled with a
cup of tea, and produced her tea-basket from the coach; true, we found
that there was no tea, but My Lady had plenty of cocoa. Water was
obtained from the house near by, and a very welcome cup of cocoa handed
round, accompanied by an unexpected slice of cake which apparently
appeared from nowhere, and which disappeared equally effectively, for it
was decidedly useful fodder and appreciated as such by all.

We discovered here that our friend "Monte" had declined to go back after
lunch with his present master to Lucero, but had chosen to accompany his
past master on this expedition. His presence was an agreeable surprise.
He was found surveying the party with his calm scrutiny, and apparently
he approved of our spot for camping, also of the cake.

As The Chaperon could find no work to do before the carts arrived, he,
for once, relaxed from his terrible strain of usefulness, and tided over
the tedious hour by trying to "throw the knife" in the most approved
cowboy manner. As each member of the party had had their "tea" (he was
practising with the knife which was used for the carving of the
cake--and anything else, when needed), no one objected to this harmless
amusement on his part, provided he did not pitch the knife on to their
toes; and, after long exercise, with the help of The Wild Man, who is
an adept at these tricks, The Chaperon at last succeeded in "throwing
the knife" to his satisfaction, and others' terror. A sigh of relief
escaped the lips of those who were dodging the knife when they saw the
luggage-carts looming in the distance. They at once drew the attention
of The Chaperon to the approach of the carts, and were rejoiced to see
him return the weapon to its sheath (in his leggings), and stiffen into
the attitude of action once more.

No sooner were the carts on the spot than every member of the party was
at work, or pretending to be so. Poles were taken off the carts, luggage
uncovered, canvas was everywhere, yells for "the mallet" alternated with
the resounding blows struck, with the same, by the strong men of the
band, tent-pegs bristled all over the ground, everyone wanted the hammer
at the same time, and apparent chaos reigned for half an hour; then,
behold! as by magic, the din ceased, two tents had been securely
erected, floored with canvas, the luggage was placed under another
covering of canvas, a table, with plates, knives, forks, etc., was ready
in an open space, camp-stools stood around it, beds, blankets, sheets
and pillows galore were in each tent, and the smell of roasting meat in
the distance rose pleasantly upon the air. The place looked as if the
party had been accustomed to camp there regularly once a week, so well
was everything arranged. Nothing had been forgotten which could add
comfort, for all hands had been working hard, and each peon, too, had
done his share; in fact, the sight would have rejoiced the soul of the
most ardent, red-tied Socialist, for surely never did a community carry
out more thoroughly the principle of "each one working for the happiness
of others." True, there was no trade union to limit their exertions, but
that was an omission for which we may be thankful.

As the dusk quickly deepened, the peons gathered round their fire, over
which the meat was cooking, a little distance from the camp site; the
lamps were lit and hung from poles, and the party looked with
satisfaction on their handiwork. It would have made an interesting, and
not unpicturesque illustration, if one could have obtained a photo of
the "Primera Vista" camp that evening.

But it was at this time, just when all seemed smiling and happy, that
the travellers were to go through their first real trial, for here the
discovery was made of a serious loss. It was spoken of in whispers at
first, but gradually the whispers increased to a murmur as the loss
became generally known; yet neither man nor woman quailed, and none
could have told from their outward bearing the bitter struggle they were
inwardly facing. A cynical traveller once said, after noting the
innumerable number of statues in the land, "South America has evidently
produced a phenomenal number of heroes," but we are inclined to think
their tale has not been told if those who bore their trouble so bravely
that night are to be "unhonoured and unsung." Think what it meant, you
who may read this, in years to come, in civilised places, comfortably
seated in your armchairs, conveniently near the cellaret, and,--honour
our brave! They had at least two days to face (with no prospect of
obtaining supplies anywhere) and they discovered, here, that _the case
of whisky was lost,_ left behind, vanished--they knew not what, only
that it had disappeared!

    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs not to moan or sigh,
    E'en though their throats were dry,
            Noble "Tacuruers"!

True, the comforting thought that they still had a bottle and a-half of
the precious drink with them may have helped them to keep their spirits
up with the hope of pouring spirits down, but a bottle and a-half is
not much amongst so many thirsty souls for three days, and, we repeat,
that great courage and bravery was shown by the equanimity with which
the party bore the news of their loss.

A minor loss was that the dinner napkins were not forthcoming, but that
surprised no one, for they were in the charge of The Kid, and, of
course, she had forgotten them at Lucero. We believe she said something
about their being "left to be washed" there, but no one listened to her,
and we used glass cloths instead.

At our first camp evening meal everyone did justice to the goods that
The Chaperon provided. Coffee was not forgotten, and, after their
dinner, the more musical members of the band tried to sing--it kept the
mosquitoes off--and when "a catch" was attempted even the bicho colorado
was cowed into silence. We had looked forward to hearing the guitar
played by one of the peons here. He had brought his instrument with him,
but, unfortunately, had dropped a large packing case upon it, which did
not improve its tone, and this accident prevented our hearing the
national dances played on a guitar in the open camp as we had hoped to
do.

Weary with the exertions of the day the party turned their thoughts and
steps early towards those tents where rows of little bedsteads, each
with its mosquito net above, looked so attractively inviting, and before
long lights were out and peace reigned as far as possible.

    "Thus done the Vales to bed they creep,
    By whispering winds soon lulled asleep."

Guards were set and they, with Monte, were left to protect the horses
and camp through the night.

CORRESPONDENCE.

     _March 31st, 1910._

     SIR,

     I feel that, as I am in a measure responsible for the presence of
     the two people to whom your correspondents of yesterday object, I
     should like to apologise, through the medium of your paper, for the
     inconvenience these two people have caused, and to assure your
     correspondents that steps shall be taken to prevent a repetition of
     the annoyance. The fact is, that both of them are so rarely out of
     Bedlam at the same time that I had not realised the necessity for
     keeping them apart, nor the danger of their amalgamation, but they
     shall be kept in separate coaches in future, and I can only express
     my sincere regret for the mischief and trouble they have caused.

     I am,

     Yours, etc.,

     THE INSTIGATOR.

       *       *       *       *       *

A correspondent writes to know if any of our readers can solve the
following problem for her:--"'A' starts on a seven days' journey with
eighty-seven horses, he loses two, one of which he finds next day, and
at the end of the week has 110 horses." The enquirer has searched
through her "Hamblin Smith" but can find no honest method of solution.

       *       *       *       *       *

ADVERTISEMENTS.

EXPERT GUIDE.--Anyone requiring a really good guide, thoroughly
conversant with the Chaco, ways of wild Indians and animals, please
apply "T.W.M.," Offices of this paper. Good shot, can cook and sew,
able to point out all the beauties of nature, animal and vegetable.
Terms moderate. Inspires confidence in the most timid ladies by his
winning smile.

LOST.--One tin of gingerbread biscuits (Huntley & Palmer). No reward is
offered, as they will probably be eaten by the time this advertisement
is in print. If anyone would return the tin, as a recuerdo, to Lucero,
advertiser would be obliged.

LOST.--Lucero. Several good horses.

       *       *       *       *       *

Several correspondents have written to know whether it is not a menace
to the rest of the community for one member of the band to sleep
promiscuously on the bricks, or anywhere else handy, at night. Two or
three say they have tripped over him in the dark and consider it would
be a safeguard if anyone preferring to spend the night in this way were
compelled by law to burn an anchor or other light. They are quite
willing to believe that the offender had had at least one "starboard
light" at some period of that night, but that light had lost its power
of illumination at the time our correspondents tripped over the
prostrate figure, and they wish to suggest that in future, people
sleeping out should use some means to safeguard unwary passers-by. (We
give the complaint the publicity it deserves and trust steps will be
taken to right the matter.--ED.)



"THE TACURU."

No. 7.

_Friday, April 1st, 1910._

ADVERTISE IN "THE TACURU"--THIS ENSURES YOUR WANTS BEING KNOWN IN EVERY
COACH.


We fancy that most of the party were awake to see the dawn this morning:
it may have been that they only saw the first streaks of light between
the openings of their tent as they lay in bed trying to soothe the
itching of the mosquito bites, but we think that few were asleep as the
sun rose gloriously from the mists on the horizon. It was a strange
sight, the sudden flooding with bright sunlight of that rough camp land,
which scarcely owned a tree or shrub. It may be the primitive barbarian
lying dormant in all of us though hidden under generations of
civilization, which makes us feel a close communion with Nature when we
see her in these great uncultivated wastes; but, whatever the causes of
the sympathy, these pictures, of wild untouched Nature, leave an
impression and a longing more deep than any experience gained in years
of civil life; none will ever regret having seen that sunrise on the
plain, though all regretted the cause of their wakefulness this morning.

Of course The Chaperon was up and clothed (he always seemed to be) and
ready to get basins of water, looking-glasses, shaving materials and all
luxuries for the others. The ladies were heard to enquire why he did not
bring them early tea and hot water, but, on the whole, he combined the
duties of valet and maid fairly efficiently.

Rumour has it that The Chaperon had given instructions that he was to be
called by the guard an hour before dawn, so, in the dark, he was
awakened by hoarse whispers of his name and gentle shakings. After he
arose it occurred to him that it felt more like the middle of the night
than the morning, and he enquired of the peon what time it was, the
answer coming in soft Spanish, "Can't say, the cocks have not crowed
yet!!!" On investigation The Chaperon found it was scarcely 4 a.m., so
spent the remaining two hours sitting round the camp fire with the
peons, alternately dozing and sucking maté. We believe he heard some
expert opinions on the subject of the "roncadors" of the camp during his
vigil. At any rate he had full opportunity for proving the reality of
Ruskin's words, "There is no solemnity so deep to a right-thinking
creature as that of dawn." At the same time he was heard to murmur
something to the effect that he would prefer a little less of the "deep
solemnity" and a little more of "deep slumber" another morning.

Scarcely were the toilets, and the packing of personal luggage,
accomplished, before a request was made that the mosquito nets and beds
might be removed for loading, and, as we emerged from the various tents,
the breakfast-table greeted us ready laden with tea (from the kettle),
sardines, jam, peons' biscuits, etc. True, the only milk procurable was
some condensed milk, which had "gone solid," there were not enough
knives to go round, and a few other irregularities, but no little items
of that sort ever disturbed the temper of The Tacuruers; they simply
remarked with the other "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," "Difficulties
are Nature's challenges to you," and used one spoon for all their cups,
tore off lumps of bread with their fingers (when they could get hold of
a loaf), and used the same plate and knife for jam and sardines alike,
and enjoyed their early meal.

[Illustration: "_Rich black alluvial Soil_."]

There was one subject that did cause sore feeling, and that was
mosquitoes. We had thought we knew all about them, we were proud with
the conceit of nets, ammonia, and veils, but our pride had a fall.
Comparatively speaking, we had only known mosquitoes theoretically
before (though that knowledge was bad enough); last night we learnt of
them practically, none of us had thought of _tucking in_ our nets, and
mosquitoes seemed to swarm up under each net before we had been in bed
for half an hour. Little peace did anyone get through those long night
hours, and, though a voice came from one of the tents about 2 a.m.,
remarking clearly above the intermittent snores, "Oh! how lovely," few
echoed the sentiment, and the speaker assured us this morning that she
was only dreaming, and that her words did not refer to insects of any
kind, neither were they made in connection with the upheaval caused by
"Monte" at one period of the night. He had taken up his quarters at one
end of the ladies' tent, but was disturbed from his beauty sleep by the
sudden barking of a dog outside the other end of the tent. This, of
course, must be seen to; it was his duty, so, leaping up, he rushed
through the tent, lifting up each one of the low beds, and their
occupants, as he passed under them on his way to quell the outside
noise. The ladies forbore to scream, though they thought of earthquakes,
but settled down again to their occupation of trying to kill mosquitoes,
quietly, in the dark, and to snatch moments of slumber occasionally.

After breakfast, Our Guest was rather unkindly "put on" by The
Instigator to dig holes, to ascertain how deep the rich, black, alluvial
soil reached; the ladies energetically washed up the breakfast things,
which occupation resulted in The Kid once more, and this time finally,
being given notice to leave, without a character, owing to general
incompetence, impertinence, and lack of ability to wash out tea-cloths.

By 7 a.m. the coaches and carts were ready, horses rounded up, the
"Primera Vista" camp was struck, and the march onward recommenced. But
not before The Chaperon had pointed out a terror that "might have been."
After breakfast he approached us with a stick held at arm's length, on
which hung a dead, slimy-looking, grey snake, about 4 feet long. He
explained that this reptile had crawled over the neck of one of the
peons as he lay on the grass last night. This had happened before we
went to bed, and we felt grateful to The Chaperon for having saved us
from another horror last night by keeping the fact, and snake, to
himself until we were leaving that camp.

The first part of our drive to-day was a new experience; we had passed
over a few ant-hills before on our journey, but now we came to a land
where it was difficult, if not impossible, to dodge them; they literally
covered the ground, and the South American ant-hill is a power to be
reckoned with. It is not the yielding mass composed of soft earth and
other heterogeneous materials as found in England, which can be
demolished with a kick, should anyone have sufficient temerity to lay
himself open to the attacks of the inmates by thus disturbing them; but
the homes of the black ant, and the Amazon ant, in Argentina are quite a
different affair. They are, usually, solid, hard masses of earth from
three to four feet high, very wide at the base, and covered entirely
with coarse grass. They present an unyielding obstacle to any vehicle,
and the wheels of even a heavily laden cart make no impression on them,
but they are not unlikely to cause the overturning of that cart, and
even traction engines suffer from the sudden drop caused by these
gigantic sugar-loaves. Therefore it will be easily realized that the
innumerable ant-hills through, and over which, we drove, were no
inconsiderable menace to the safety of the party, and it was only due to
the great care and skill of our drivers in threading their way amongst
these obstacles that the inmates of the coaches were not upset time
after time. As it was, no accident of the slightest description
occurred--only a few bumps and jolts as we ascended or descended one of
the ant-hills, which are so difficult to discern in open camp, where the
whole land is covered alike with long grass. The worst part of our
travelling did not last more than three or four hours; then we came to
smoother country, fewer ant-hills, and occasional small lagunas, the
land growing slightly undulating, though still bare of trees, and, after
another three hours' driving, during which we had many changes of horses
and several "helps" from the guides over extra bad pieces of travelling,
we could see in the distance the position of the Lake Palmar and the
tops of the palms which grow on the farther shore.

It was during this part of our day's journey that the peons made two
captures of live animals in an armadillo and a nutria. These men have
extraordinary good and far sight, and observe any movement in the grass,
yards ahead of them. They at once killed both animals, for they are
exceedingly fond of armadillo flesh, and cook the animal in its skin.

It was decided that horses and drivers alike would require a rest when
we reached the shores of the lake, and, after our cocheros had made
futile attempts to cut figures of 8 with their respective four and
two-in-hands on the invitingly firm, yellow sands which surround Lake
Palmar, all dismounted, horses were taken out, and, while lunch was
being prepared, the party wandered on the shores of the lake trying to
find remnants of extinct monsters, fossilised palms, and other
improbable things. The Instigator rushed up and down picking leaves to
bits, collecting sand and examining it under the microscope (which is,
as yet, his), tasting the water of the lake, and generally trying to
find a way of teaching Nature how to improve on her own handiwork. It
really seems a pity She does not engage him as her expert consulting
engineer. My Lady and The Saint did discover a boar-hound's tooth on the
sands, and two teeth of a nutria, very pretty in their long, gentle
curve, white at the root and gradually deepening to a reddish-brown at
the end; but both these finds were absolutely valueless, and, though
there was talk of having the teeth set as brooches, etc., connoisseurs,
such as The Wild Man, knew well that the "finds" would be dissolved to
dust long before they could reach the civilisation of a jeweller's shop.

The tiny banks which slope down from the camp to meet the wide
stretching sands of the lake are covered with scrub and low trees of the
acacia type, and, on one of these low trees, eked out with camp stools,
the party, wearied with their search for curios, settled down to await
their mid-day meal. It was gently broken to us that the sheep had at
last been sacrificed, and would shortly appear before us in a different
guise. The slaughter must have been most humane, for no one of us had
heard the slightest cry or sound of distress, and now the flesh was
being cooked. The peons would always prefer to cook all meat in the
hide, if they were allowed to do so, and it is only with constant
watching that they are prevented from thus wasting the valuable skins of
animals. They are enormous meat eaters, which is scarcely to be wondered
at, considering how scarce green food is. They live on meat, maté, and
hard biscuits.

The bright idea occurred to someone that a _hors-d'oeuvre_ would be
acceptable, considering how long ago we had had our meagre early morning
meal, so the only available article, a tinned Dutch cheese, was
attacked; and none but those who have tried, under similar
circumstances, one of the soft Dutch cheeses which one obtains in the
Argentine, would be able to understand how very good it can be. As it
was handed round (to everyone on the same knife), hunger, open-air, and
the exercise of the ant-hills caused it to be appreciated more than
usual, even beyond its deserts, if possible.

As the party were thus collected (mostly with their legs tucked away to
prevent the climbing operations of the black ants with which the ground
was swarming), The Instigator took this opportunity to try to rid
himself of some of the responsibility of the trip by calling a meeting
(the whole nine were already there), and putting it to the vote as to
whether The Kid, now that she had lost her companions the sheep, should
be turned adrift to find her way back again as best she could, drowned
in the lake, or allowed to accompany the party for the rest of the
journey. A wild gleam of joy lit the eyes of everyone who knew anything
of her at this prospect of getting rid of the trial. Both the ladies,
and everyone who had known her for longer than the week, voted, hands
and feet, for her extinction, but four of the men were foolishly too
polite to express their real wishes. So she herself was left with the
casting vote, and chose to go on! Thus The Instigator's well-thought
plan to remove an incubus was frustrated. He was so disgusted with his
failure in a laudable object that, directly after "lunch" (which meant
each one cutting off from the half-sheep, that was handed round, the
piece he or she preferred), he went off with his microscope trying to
find other interests, and in a few minutes was growing unduly excited
over a shrub on which he discovered some most unusual excrescences.
These shapeless masses of earth, apparently growing on the shrub, he was
examining from all points with the naked eye before submitting them to
microscopic investigation, and it was only when Our Guest came up and
removed some of the earth from one of the excrescences that The
Instigator, who was watching intently, noted that the mass resolved
itself into the shape of one of The Saint's shoes, which had been hung
up on the shrub to dry after her lake-searching expedition. Foiled
again, The Instigator collected The Delineator and My Lady, and started
to walk to the northern end of the lake, where The Jehu could pick them
up, when the washing, packing and harnessing allowed of an onward move.
We are told that for once The Kid, perhaps stimulated by her recent
narrow escape from total extinction, really did do some work here. It is
true we only have her word, an indistinct murmur from The Chaperon, and
some clean plates to vouch for the statement, as all the other members
of the party remaining were lying in more or less graceful slumberous
attitudes in carts, under trees, or anywhere else, enjoying forty winks.
Some excellent photos were obtained of the sleeping beauties as they lay
there resting, but their modesty caused them to beg for forbearance in
the publication of any of the pictures thus obtained.

Before the actual start was made, The Jehu, Our Guest, The Chaperon, and
The Wild Man tried their hands at some revolver-shooting. Naturally, the
drivers, after their long hours with the reins, could not do themselves
justice with the more dangerous weapons, but, combined with Our Guest
and The Wild Man, they left a fair show of broken bottles in the lake,
rather to the surprise of the lookers-on.

Neither of our cocheros could resist the further opportunity of figures
of eight as we drove off on the hard sand, but we believe they were not
encouraged in these exhibitions by their passengers, and, skirting the
North part of the lake they came to a little ranch where they had
arranged to meet the three walkers, who had discovered divers
interesting specimens of animal, vegetable and mineral kinds during
their very pleasant stroll round the lake. Here they were sitting at
the ranch awaiting the arrival of the coaches, and they introduced the
newcomers to a marvellous collection of tame birds with whom they had
made acquaintance. The owners of the ranch had six or seven birds of
different kinds, which flew about and pitched on anyone's shoulder or
hand, or on the carriages, and were most friendly; in fact, one big bird
was so willing to become attached to us that we could scarcely persuade
it to leave the coach when we were ready to drive on.

We allowed those who had driven to the spot a few moments in which to
dismount and greet the neat little mistress of the ranch, with whom we
had already made friends, and her pretty children. The roofing of this
little ranch and its out-houses was most interesting. It was carried out
entirely with trunks of palm trees. These, split in half and cleared of
all sap, made very effective roofing, placed alternately in concave and
convex form, so that the ridges of the two lengths of trunk placed bark
upward rest in the hollow of the intervening trunk. Naturally, all rain
water drains off the convex half into the concave trunk and flows down
these gullies into the water course formed of another hollowed palm
trunk running along the lower edge of the roof. A more suitable and
rainproof roof could scarcely be designed. The mistress of the house was
most anxious to entertain us to tea, but, having picked up our guide
from Vera, who it was arranged should meet us here with letters, we
could not spare time for further delay, and once more started off with
the guide ahead of us.

After leaving the ranch we turned to the eastward, and before long
passed over the Calchaqui river (which is more generally known as the
Golondrino here). This was not a difficult matter.

After crossing the Calchaqui we enter quite a new country, the land is
perceptibly higher, the grasses are finer and trees begin to appear.
First we came to the tall palm trees on the edge of the forest, and very
imposing they were, then small montes gave place to the regular woods
which stretch North on this side of the river, and trees abound. The
scenery was altogether more tropical. Occasional flocks of bright pink
flamingoes made a welcome touch of colour as they stood on the edge of
some little laguna, or, disturbed by the unusual approach of coaches,
flew off in the distance. Hares were to be seen now and then, and
sometimes even one of the small wild deer of the forest was noticed
before it rushed off to the shelter of the trees.

Unfortunately, about this time, the sun, which had been so friendly all
day, became overcast with clouds, and the sky assumed a threatening
appearance; but, notwithstanding the wise head-shakings of those who
know the country (The Delineator and The Jehu in particular), the party
refused to be downhearted, and asserted that rain was the most unlikely
event, and, in any case, they intended to enjoy their present drive
through scenery which was not unlike that which would be found in an
English park; the great expanses were gone, and in their place we had
slightly undulating stretches of grass bordered with trees of all kinds.
The whole aspect of the land had changed and the country here was
extremely pretty, though no distant views could be obtained owing to the
thick growth of the trees and the impossibility of finding any but the
slightest rising ground.

We arrived, before long, at a little ranch, in the neighbourhood of
which we were to encamp for the night. The spot was very different to
our camp of last night, for here we were surrounded with trees, and near
by a flock of sheep, belonging to the ranch, were feeding. Before the
heavier carts could arrive, and the work of tent-erecting commence,
there was plenty of time for a cup of tea, with the aid of My Lady's
useful basket; but all the water that could be obtained from the
so-called "well" at the ranch was half mud, and, though this was used
with great success, we could only secure two mouthfuls of tea from each
cup, as the rest of the contents was composed of mud. We believe The Kid
was rather annoyed about this, and felt distinctly aggrieved, but she
did not dare to give vent to her feelings, and the matter did not worry
those who were looking forward to "cocktails" before dinner, and well
they deserved those "cocktails," for by the time the carts arrived the
atmosphere had become intensely close; a slight drizzle seemed only to
add to the damp heat, and the work of unloading and erecting tents, and
beds, and unpacking in that warm, steaming air, which was intensified
under the coverings, was no light one; but here, again, everyone
performed their quota, whether large or small, for the general good.
Before long the tents were up. Three were erected to-night, as, owing to
the rain, we should be obliged to have food under canvas. The Instigator
caused great admiration by cunningly using trees as supports in the
erection of the tents under his supervision, and thus hurrying matters
on. Everything was finished, beds made, luggage under cover, the table
laid ready in the tent, and lamps lit and suspended before the short
twilight had given place to complete darkness, and The Saint once more
earned the blessings and gratitude of all by thoughtfully insisting on a
general "washing of faces." As she marshalled the party in front of her,
and attacked each one with sponge and towel, we were irresistibly
reminded of a board school; but that sponge of toilet vinegar, after the
damp heat and all the work, was one of the most refreshing things
imaginable, and everyone felt cleaner and more cheerful after this
ablution, and ready to attack the poor little armadillo, which had been
cooked; this meat tastes very much like sucking pig. The rain, which was
coming down heavily by this time, was powerless to damp the spirits of
the party as they sat down to dinner. They were only troubled because
they feared this would be their last evening meal in camp, and that
Civilisation might again claim them for her own to-morrow, for a great
deal of the enjoyment of this trip has been due, undoubtedly, to its
incomparable freedom. So they spent the time in eating, and holding a
mutual admiration society meeting. Each decided (between the mouthfuls
of mutton and armadillo) that every other member of the party was just
the nicest person that he or she had ever met, and, as there was no one
there to contradict the obviously erroneous statements, all were
satisfied and content, and drank each other's healths with enthusiasm,
and--whatever else was left. Someone even tried to murmur something
kindly about The Kid. Above all, the Instigator was eulogised, and
rightly, too, for his genial influence helped everything to go well; no
one could have grumbled at the little inconveniences which they had had
to put up with at times, while The Instigator was so cheerful and
anxious for others' comfort and careless of his own through all. His
interest in, and enthusiasm for, his Company know no bounds. Get him to
hold forth, and he will tell you how, in the early days of the Company,
matters were quite different from what they are to-day. The shares stood
then at five shillings each, and the bankers refused to allow an
overdraft of £2,000, and when it became absolutely necessary to have
money he actually made advances out of his own pocket to supply the
requisite funds.

Shortly afterwards matters began to improve, and when he visited the
property in 1900 he was able to send this reassuring message to the
General Meeting:--"I honestly believe the worst is past, and that in
future we shall progress."

He always appraises the work of others whether the result of their
operations is successful or not, and he will appreciate the mental and
manual exertions expended on the undertaking by the employees of the
Company at their true worth. All he asks of his colleagues and
subordinates is that each one shall "play the game" in every sense of
the word to the best of his ability. He never paints the prospects of a
beginner in rosy hues; in fact, he has been known to speak of the
hardships and privations which a young man must be prepared to go
through on first joining the Company as being comparable to "the life of
a dog." To-day the men who have been through those first years of
necessary self-denial and hard work are grateful for the training they
have received and anxious to work their best for the Company.

For a long while the party sat talking of their experiences on this
trip, and of the Company and its prospects. The travelling over this
comparatively unknown land had been a revelation to most; the dormant
wealth lying in the camp must be enormous, but men, money, and brains
are needed to exploit it. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to get
colonists for these more northern districts, but when the railway which
is contemplated becomes an accomplished fact, as it assuredly must,
people will be attracted further north, colonisation will be easier, the
land will yield its hundredfold, and some one will, in time, have
performed the great deed of "making two blades of grass grow where only
one grew before." It may seem to those accustomed to the narrower life
of towns, a lonely, empty life to spend one's years and energies
improving these wild lands; but assuredly the man who labours here with
the best that is in him, not only earns a great reward for himself in
the gradual development and growth of that land, but has deserved well
of mankind in general, and will, some day, receive his "Well done," than
which there is no higher praise, as surely as those whose lives have
been spent in the more public fields of civilisation or in military
prowess.

For some, obscure reason it is generally supposed that the man who
spends his life in agricultural pursuits is bound to have his mental
abilities dulled by the continuous round of duties connected with the
land and the care of animals. The origin of this idea is difficult to
imagine, unless it be that agriculture is the oldest and most necessary
pursuit of mankind; but surely the man who has to keep a perpetual watch
on wind, weather and workers, animal and vegetable kingdom and natural
phenomena, and be ready to anticipate any change, besides being
thoroughly in touch with all the latest improvements, mechanical and
material, in reference to his calling, and conversant with the ruling
prices in the best markets, cannot be held to be a man whose perceptions
are becoming blunted by his business. It is certainly true that there
are many who do "let things go," but that class is not confined to
agriculturists alone, and in agriculture, as in all other callings,
those who "let things slide" very shortly find that most things have
slid away from them irrevocably. Certainly the Argentine is no place for
the man disinclined for exertion. She holds rewards, and great rewards;
but only for the resolute who are prepared to lead a strenuous and
self-denying life of labour, exposure and fatigue, and who come to her
determined to win the best from her rich lands, and to take every
opportunity as it comes in their way for improving their knowledge.

Plans were made for to-morrow's journey; there was talk, if the day was
fine and the way possible, of going first south-east to the tannin
factory at La Gallareta, then due north to Las Gamas, but it was feared
that the recent heavy rains in this district would have made the
undertaking of the two journeys on one day inadvisable, and the Indian
guide persuaded the "leaders" that it would be wiser to go straight to
Las Gamas to-morrow and leave the visit to the factory for Monday. This
would give Tuesday for Santa Lucia and Wednesday for Vera. Sarnosa and
Olmos could be visited from one or the other of these two estancias,
and, leaving Vera on Friday afternoon, San Cristobal would be reached on
Saturday evening.

As we dispersed in the rain to our various tents, a slight thunder and
lightning storm commenced, but, notwithstanding this, we were happy in
the assurance that our troubles from mosquitoes were likely to be less
virulent to-night, owing to our proximity to the sheepfold of the ranch.
Therefore, as good disciples of the immortal Pepys, we quote--and with
appropriate action--"So to bed."

       *       *       *       *       *

ADVERTISEMENT.


OUT OF WORK.--Advertiser wants situation as general help; might be
useful in tea-taster's office; hard work not so much an object as high
wages and comfortable living. Advertiser could take immediate situation.
No references.--T.K., _Second Coach_.

       *       *       *       *       *

ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.


T.C. writes in answer to the arithmetical problem of yesterday's date,
"Yes, if A starts with 87 horses, loses 2, and finds 1, he does end the
journey with 110, for he collects 24 more at the last estancia. Only
experts can do this; hence your correspondent's failure to find a
solution."

LOST.--One watch and chain (said to be gold), trinkets attached
containing several locks of hair and portraits of ten or twelve
gentlemen. If finder would return portraits and hair, owner would be
obliged.--T.K.



"THE TACURU."

No. 8.

_Saturday, April 2nd, 1910._

THE CIRCULATION OF "THE TACURU" WENT UP LITERALLY BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS
YESTERDAY MORNING, FAR BEYOND THE EXPECTATIONS EVEN OF THE EDITOR.


The morning dawned damp and dreary; rain had fallen steadily all night
long, and still continues. Neither The Chaperon nor anyone else had an
opportunity for seeing "the golden exhalations of dawn" this morning.
To-day's "exhalations" were chiefly those of moisture, and the only gold
we saw was supplied by the light of the paraffin lamps which The
Chaperon, always on the look out to anticipate our wishes, provided for
us to see our way to wash. The water for ablutions was obtained from the
mud-hole which did duty for a well at the ranch, and its appearance was
somewhat disconcerting. However, with skill, one could scoop up a little
of the surface of the water for a splash without disturbing the thick
stratum of mud at the bottom of the basin; things might have been worse,
and everyone felt that on such a damp day washing at all was merely an
æsthetic waste of energy. By the time dressing was accomplished it was
sufficiently light for the lamps to be dispensed with, and we assembled
for breakfast in a dull-grey atmosphere. Hot tea, even though half mud,
was very good. We believe that the leaf of a certain cactus has the
power of clearing water absolutely; if it is dropped in a vessel of
water, it and the mud settle at the bottom, leaving the water quite
clear; but though several varieties of cacti were tried this morning,
none were successful; apparently the special kind did not grow around
our camp.

[Illustration: _Water Knee-deep._]

No one seemed much disheartened by the rain; even the peons, though
already wet through in their scanty garments, were cheerfully smiling as
usual, with no thought of grumbling. Monte, too, was calmly ready to
accompany us, despite the bad weather.

Owing either to the skilful manner of tucking in the nets adopted last
night, or to the neighbourhood of the sheepfold, mosquitoes had not
troubled us nearly so much as on the previous night; only the continual
flashes of lightning and the soft rumblings of thunder during the steady
downpour had been able to disturb our deep slumbers.

As soon as possible the tents were taken down, packing accomplished, and
a start made. Fortunately the ant-hills were considerably fewer in
number to-day, but the ground was ankle deep in water everywhere, and
fallen tree trunks hidden under the, in some places, really deep water,
formed a considerable danger in our path. However, again owing to the
skill of our drivers, no accident occurred all through that long drive
in unceasing rain, which shrouded all but the most immediate view. Of
course, constant changes of horses were necessary, as, for eight hours
we drove through water, above and below, to our destination. The
accomplishment of that drive of his four-in-hand from the absolutely
unsheltered position on the box was no small feat on the part of The
Jehu; we all felt an even deeper admiration for his pluck and endurance
than before, as he steadily pursued his way on that terrible day, when
his whole body and especially his hands must have been numbed through
and through with the cold and wet. The Chaperon, too, had an arduous
day, though his work was not so strenuous as that of The Jehu. At one
spot, when under trees we made a change of horses, The Chaperon was seen
to be wading through water, knee deep, as he handed round the only
refreshments available--ginger-bread, biscuits, beer and gin--to guests
and peons alike, all drinking gratefully from the same small measure.
That drive is something to be remembered; it was executed under the most
trying circumstances with not a single complaint or grumble from anyone,
but an increased thankfulness on the part of the passengers that they
were in such good hands during the trip. The land through which we drove
to-day is covered with trees of various kinds; large forests exist on
the eastern side of the Calchaqui, bordering the river for its entire
length; the trees of these forests are chiefly Algarrobo the wood of
which is not unlike our walnut in appearance, but extremely hard; in
days to come this timber will be used in great quantities for making
parquet flooring. It seems almost incredible that the city of Buenos
Aires should import millions of square metres of ready-made parquet
flooring when the Argentine produces magnificent timber of far more
suitable and better wearing quality for the purpose than any used in
imported parquet. As we have journeyed eastward, trees have become much
more numerous, and splendid timber is to be seen on every side. Most
numerous amongst the trees is the Quebracho Colorado, which supplies one
of the hardest timbers the world produces. The trees have a peculiar
appearance, for their leaves are quite small and the trunks have a rough
bark from which often hangs moss-like lichen, of which, by the way,
cattle are very fond. The photo on the opposite page gives a general
idea of a tree's appearance.

The wood, which is light in colour when first cut, becomes dark red upon
being exposed to light and weather, and it is intensely hard.

[Illustration: _Quebracho Colorado Tree._]

The word "quebracho" (pronounced KAYBRATSHO) signifies axe-breaking, and
even modern tools do not retain their edge long when working on this
wood.

The wonderful durability of the wood renders it a perfect material for
railway sleepers, and this has been appreciated by the Government of
Argentina to such an extent that they have decreed that the laying of
new railways is to be upon sleepers made of the hard woods of the
Country.

[Illustration: _Sleepers awaiting Transport at Vera._]

The forests of the Santa Fé Land Company have produced in the last
twelve years over a million Quebracho Colorado sleepers.

One drawback to the wood is that it has the peculiarity of splitting
around the heart of the tree. This is caused by the accumulation of
resin at certain periods, and is probably connected in some way with the
excessive moisture or dryness of a particular year's growth.

The tree is often attacked by a boring grub, which enters by making a
very small pin prick opening, and during its existence in the tree grows
and bores an ever enlarging hole until often it becomes half an inch in
diameter. It would seem almost incredible that a grub could live either
on the resins in the tree or be able to bore through what is one of the
hardest woods in the world.

Of recent years this timber has also been put to another use--that of
producing tan. When used for this purpose, the tree was cut down, its
outer sapwood removed, and then taken to the river to be finally shipped
to the United States of America or to Germany.

It was soon found that the railway and shipping freight charges absorbed
a considerable amount of the profits to be obtained in making this
tannin extract abroad, and, therefore, extract factories were erected in
Argentina. The process of obtaining the extract is very simple; the logs
are first put through a machine which reduces them to chips, the chips
are then boiled in water till all soluble matter is extracted from them,
and the solution obtained is concentrated down to the consistency of
pitch; in this form, after being dried, it is exported, and is used by
tanners the world over. The great necessity and essence of success, in
the present way of working the business, is good water and plenty of it.

We do not know who first noticed the tannin material oozing out of these
trees, but no doubt attention was called to the fact by pools in the
neighbourhood of the trees being often red in colour. Undoubtedly the
Germans first took this business up on a large scale, and to-day they
hold an enormous quantity of forest lands.

Hitherto the extract has been brought on to the market in a solid state
very much after the style of Burma cutch. The Santa Fé Land Company have
recently produced the material in a fine powdered state, absolutely
pure, and containing a great deal less moisture than any other form of
extract on the market, and they are about to erect a factory to work
this process in connection with their saw mills at Vera. This new
process requires very little water as compared with the old method, and
can be adopted, in huge areas hitherto unsuitable for the industry.

About mid-day we approached a plaza, or wood deposit, of the La
Gallareta Factory, situated on the Company's Lands. Rain had been
falling in torrents for days past, and the tracks (called by courtesy
"roads") had one and all become deep crevasses of soft mud, loads of
timber had been left here and there in the wood, just wherever the cart
conveying it had stuck, and in many places the water was so deep that
not a vestige of these obstacles could be seen. Our coaches had to be
driven under (or perhaps we should say "over") such circumstances as
these for about three miles, and this part of our journey was absolutely
dangerous; the greatest credit is due to the drivers and those in charge
of the party that no serious accident occurred, for, about mid-day, the
way was truly terrible, and one never knew when a tree trunk, small or
large, lying hidden under the water, would cause a terrific jolt to the
cart, despite the utmost efforts on the part of our cocheros. However,
we passed from the extreme danger zone into the comparatively smooth
waters of the flooded lands. So we drove on, our drivers and guides
becoming more and more chilled with the rain and cold, but always
cheerful, till at last wire fencing and other signs of civilisation
marked our approach to the precincts of Las Gamas. This was indeed a
welcome sight to the party, for all were beginning to feel the need of
food and shelter, and though the "passengers" in the coaches were
comparatively dry, despite the continual downpour, the drivers were wet
through long ago and the peons had not been dry since dawn.

[Illustration: _Tannin Extract Factory._]

No one was sorry when "The Jehu," to shorten the drive, ordered some of
the wire fencing to be dropped so that we might proceed in a straight
line to the house instead of making the considerable detour to the gate.
It was past three o'clock when, after a side-slip or two, and consequent
meeting with gate-posts, we drew up in front of the estancia house and
noticed on the outbuildings a damp flag trying to flap a weary "welcome"
to the party of Tacuruers. The first thing was to get The Jehu from his
driving seat and into a warm bath, and the same treatment was meted out
to The Chaperon, and hot whisky and water for all! Our host and hostess
gave us such a genial welcome and the big room looked so dry and
inviting, with a wood fire crackling in the grate, that our troubles,
which had, during the long hours of to-day's tedious drive, assumed
really serious proportions, were soon forgotten as we sat down, in an
incredibly short time, to a hearty meal of roast turkey and mince pies!
We almost fell to wishing each other a Happy Christmas, and
instinctively wondered if roast chestnuts would form part of the
afternoon's programme. Unfortunately, chestnuts of an allegorical kind
_did_ enter into the proceedings. Meanwhile, the rain continued its
unceasing downpour. It was some time before the baggage waggons arrived
on the scene, and, needless to say, they and their contents were very
damp. But the peons soon had the goods unpacked, and ere long were happy
and dry in the big galpon round a roaring fire, which they must have
badly needed. Their behaviour all through this terrible day, sometimes
under most trying circumstances, had been splendid, and it says a good
deal for master as well as for man that not once was a sound of
discontent heard. In fact, the men often suggested themselves little
things in which they thought they might help the caretakers of the
party. It was a relief to us all to know that the work of those peons
had ended for the day with the caring for the horses and unpacking of
the goods.

Monte still accompanied us, but here he had to be kept under strict
surveillance, for dogs were numerous on the premises, and several of
them were not of the kind who brook any encroachment, however harmless,
on their preserves; so poor Monte was perforce shut up, away from the
house, where Bear and his companions could not take exception to the
presence of an interloper. The late afternoon and evening were chiefly
spent in having warm baths, which were most grateful after the, of
necessity, somewhat sketchy ablutions of the past three days. Now that
the safe arrival of the luggage was an accomplished fact, and the
travellers clothed and fed, there seemed little reason for late hours,
and it was not long after dinner when the general dispersal took place.
We only waited to hear a few selections of songs on the beautiful
gramophone which our host had received a few months ago as a Christmas
greeting from England. It must be difficult for those at home to
realise what an immense amount of pleasure a good gramophone can give to
the dwellers in the far camp lands. This instrument was in constant
request, and both the machine and records were extraordinarily good.
Still, even this great attraction did not tempt the party to sit up
late; everyone was tired and exhausted, and our cocheros, more
especially the Jehu, must have been worn out with their exertions of the
day. We can only hope they will suffer no after ill effects from their
arduous task and severe drenchings.

[Illustration: _Some of the Horses._]

Our horses have been simply wonderful during this trip. We have driven,
ridden, and brought along nearly 100 animals for 150 miles, and have not
lost one upon the journey. This speaks volumes for the care and training
bestowed upon the animals at the head estancia, and we are inclined to
think that few other places could supply as many animals to do such
trying work. The fitness of our animals is owing entirely to the
continual attention and care they receive daily at the estancia.

       *       *       *       *       *

_We are sorry to be obliged to hold over all correspondence,
advertisements, etc., to-day, as, doubtless owing to the floods, no
communications had reached us up to the time of going to press. We hope
all correspondents will accept our sincere apologies for the unavoidable
delay in dealing with letters and orders; all despatches shall receive
our earnest attention as soon as they come to hand._



"THE TACURU."

No. 9

_Sunday, April 3rd, 1910._


Dawn showed us no respite of the drenching rain; the paths, the garden,
and the camps were all flooded with the continuous rain of yesterday and
last night, and still it poured. After disposing of a more substantial
breakfast than had fallen to the lot of the travellers for some days,
there seemed little to do save listen to the dulcet strains of the
gramophone, which proved a welcome diversion. A considerable disturbance
was caused by a dog fight under the table round which we were sitting;
whether intentional or not on the part of the animals, the rout of the
ladies was complete, and the dogs were only separated by the calm
procedure of some of the men who held them under the water taps until
their ardour was cooled. Monte was out of all this trouble, for he had
been consigned to the security of the galpon to avoid trouble concerning
rights of way which would assuredly have arisen between himself and Bear
(the big bulldog of the estancia) had they met. Bear amused the company
by presenting a truly comical sight, some minutes later, when he decided
to have a drink after his fight; he walked with majestic mien up to the
water spout, which jutted out from the house a few feet from the ground,
and, poking out his heavy under-jaw, collected the flow of water in his
mouth in a most satisfying way, for a few seconds. Of course, The
Instigator started off pacing and measuring the room's verandah, etc.,
in order to devise a scheme for the best improvements for the estancia,
and before long he and The Delineator had made out a plan which would
drive any member of the R.I.B.A. to desperation, but caused its authors
enormous joy. The Jehu and The Chaperon were occupied for some time in
seeing to the comfort of their men and animals, and trying to dry the
tents, clothes, etc., by the huge fire in the galpon in which the peons
were housed for the day. We are told that one Tacuruer tried to employ
the morning remuneratively by opening a temporary barber's shop on the
verandah, and advertising "hair-cutting and shaving"; possibly he might
have built up a successful business in time, but unfortunately for him
his first customer's beard was too unyielding for the ordinary scissors
and the customer objected to the way in which the horse clippers were
used on the hirsute growth of his chin, and talked of his treatment
afterwards in a way that did not inspire confidence in the other
might-have-been customers, who were observed to slink away one by one
from the barber's chair as if it were infected. We regret that a
well-meant enterprise on the part of one of The Tacuru party met with
such a poor reception.

A gleam of ceasing rain--it was not sunshine--gave courage to some of
the more energetic members of the party to go forth to inspect the heaps
of wood about to be made into charcoal in the neighbourhood of the
estancia, if any could be reached on dry land. For to-morrow the visit
to the La Gallareta factory will occupy the day, and the Charcoal piles
are too interesting a sight to be left unvisited now that we are in the
wood department of the Santa Fé Land Company.

In the northern districts where trees are numerous it is necessary to
"distroncar" the land before the soil can be brought into condition
suitable for the plough. In other words all the trees and roots must be
removed before ploughing operations commence. But the timber so obtained
is not wasted; the branches and all pieces not big enough to be used for
sleepers, etc., are cut up into various suitable lengths and piled
together in such a manner that when finished the heap presents the
appearance of a huge beehive; the centre of this dome running from the
apex to the ground is a hollow cylinder; this tube or pipe is filled up
with the small sticks and twigs from the trees, and when all is in
readiness the contents of the cylinder are fired from the top, the fire
slowly burns downwards and sets light to the surrounding logs which in
their turn smoulder till they become charcoal. But the match is not
applied until the whole mass of wood has been covered up and plastered
over with mud, to prevent the entrance of any air. The kiln thus forms
an enclosed retort, and the wood is carbonised and makes excellent
charcoal, which eventually finds its way to Buenos Aires and other
cities, where immense quantities are used for cooking and heating
purposes. If all goes well, the kiln being well built, and no air
admitted, some thirty to forty tons of charcoal are produced from one of
these heaps; not infrequently, however, the crown breaks in; this allows
the air to enter, the wood is completely burnt, and the labour expended
on this "horno" is represented by a few cartloads of useless ash. The
thought of these possible failures was too much for The Instigator; he
held forth, at length, upon the advisability of bringing a little
science to bear upon the problem of preventing any waste of the material
itself or of the by-products. His theory is that to make the best use of
nature's lavish gifts in the way of wood products, an iron or brick
still should be erected, on the inside of which the heavy tarry products
would naturally accumulate, and so find their way to the base of the
kiln where they could be collected and run out into casks for
utilisation, whilst the lighter vapours are condensed in the hood of the
still to be chemically treated later for their highly valuable
properties, and the charcoal itself would be a more certain production
from these brick or iron kilns than it is from the present heaps. At
this point of his lecture the weather became impossible, and when The
Instigator discovered that he was expatiating to the camp and rain
alone, he, too, turned to seek the shelter of the estancia house,
whither his audience had long ago fled. For some time we watched the
storm as it worked up with intense fury. The lightning as it illuminated
the whole camp was a wonderful sight, it seemed to flash (and this was
before the dinner hour) yellow light from the north, red from the south,
and a bright white light from the east, and was of long continuance. The
culminating point seemed to come when an appalling crash was heard and
something appeared to have been struck by lightning. This drove the
party indoors, though from the time of the crash (we found later that it
was the telephone which had suffered), the storm abated and only steady
rain continued. However, nothing more could be done out of doors, and
everyone was glad of warmth and shelter, while they hoped for a better
day to-morrow.

Songs occupied the evening, and most of the party retired early to bed.

The Editor regrets that up to the time of going to press to-day, the
advertisements, correspondence, etc., due for yesterday's issue had not
reached the office; he fears they may have been lost, and requests that
all orders may be repeated.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following advertisements of to-day's dating have been sent in:--

HAIR CUTTING AND SHAVING while you wait.--Lowest prices. Large supply of
tools, or customers may bring their own instruments if preferred. Good
style guaranteed. Customers' comfort not so much considered as thorough
work. Satisfaction certain.--T.C., THE VERANDAH.

WANTED.--Reliable Barber--for clipping advertiser's beard weekly, at own
residence. May be required to travel. Gentleness much appreciated;
advertiser would give valuable information on any subject in return for
Barber's services.--T.I., LAS GAMAS.

       *       *       *       *       *

WANTED--By several people; good book on "How not to lose at Bridge."
Anyone possessing a copy of this valuable work for sale, please quote
lowest price to The Editor, _Tacuru_ Office.

       *       *       *       *       *

Monday, April 4th, 1910.

The Editor and Staff of "The Tacuru" announce with great regret the
unavoidable demise of the journal known and respected by all as "The
Tacuru." This valuable and instructive periodical has become a necessity
to every happy home. The Editor hoped long to continue his beneficent
task of bringing a daily joy into the lives of all English-speaking and
reading people; but, alas, just as he bore "his blushing honours thick
upon him," there came a flood, an awful flood, and carried away his
hopes and printing press (we believe some people were drowned, too).
Therefore we must, perforce, bid our readers "farewell, a long
farewell." Though not, we hope, for ever. Printing presses are not
unique, and some day, in the land of civilisation, we hope to be able to
make our loss good and bring happiness and information once more to
countless millions. In case any of our readers would like to erect a
monument of gratitude to "The Tacuru," in memory of the enjoyment, or
otherwise, this paper has brought into their lives, we would mention
that the printing-press and a few lives were lost on the way to Olmos.
We are able to publish a photo of extreme interest, depicting the
counting of the loss after the deluge. With this, and our deepest
regrets, we must pause, trusting that some day our great work may be
renewed under similarly happy circumstances, by the same staff, to whom,
and to all contributors, willing or unwilling, a thousand thanks.

[Illustration: _"Awful Flood."_]

[Illustration: _On the Way to Olmos._]





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