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´╗┐Title: Afloat in the Forest - A Voyage among the Tree-Tops
Author: Reid, Mayne, 1818-1883
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Afloat in the Forest
A Voyage among the Tree-Tops
By Captain Mayne Reid
Published by Ticknor and Fields, Boston.
This edition dated 1867.



CHAPTER ONE.

THE BROTHERS AT HOME.

Twenty years ago, not twenty miles from the Land's End, there lived a
Cornish gentleman named Trevannion.  Just twenty years ago he died,
leaving to lament him a brace of noble boys, whose mother all three had
mourned, with like profound sorrow, but a short while before.

"Squire" Trevannion, as he was called, died in his own house, where his
ancestors for hundreds of years before him had dispensed hospitality.
None of them, however, had entertained so profusely as he; or rather
improvidently, it might be said, since in less than three months after
his death the old family mansion, with the broad acres appertaining to
it, passed into the hands of an alien, leaving his two sons, Ralph and
Richard, landless, houseless, and almost powerless.  One thousand pounds
apiece was all that remained to them out of the wreck of the patrimonial
estates.  It was whispered that even this much was not in reality
theirs, but had been given to them by the _very respectable_ solicitor
who had managed their father's affairs, and had furthermore _managed_ to
succeed him in the ownership of a property worth a rental of three
thousand a year.

Any one knowing the conditions under which the young Trevannions
received their two thousand pounds must have believed it to be a gift,
since it was handed over to them by the family solicitor with the
private understanding that they were to use it in pushing their fortunes
elsewhere,--anywhere except in Cornwall!

The land-pirate who had plucked them--for in reality had they been
plucked--did not wish them to stay at home, divested, as they were, of
their valuable plumage.  He had appropriated their fine feathers, and
cared not for the naked bodies of the birds.

There were those in Cornwall who suspected foul play in the lawyer's
dealings with the young Trevannions, among others, the victims
themselves.  But what could they, do?  They were utterly ignorant of
their late father's affairs,--indeed, with any affairs that did not
partake of the nature of "sports."  A solicitor "most respectable,"--a
phrase that has become almost synonymous with rascality,--a regular
church-goer,--accounts kept with scrupulous exactness,--a man of honest
face, distinguished for probity of speech and integrity of heart,--what
could the Trevannions do?  What more than the Smiths and the Browns and
the Joneses, who, notwithstanding their presumed greater skill in the
ways of a wicked lawyer world, are duped every day in a similar manner.
It is an old and oft-repeated story,--a tale too often told, and too
often true,--that of the family lawyer and his confiding client,
standing in the relationship of robber and robbed.

The two children of Squire Trevannion could do nothing to save or
recover their paternal estate.  Caught in the net of legal chicanery,
they were forced to yield, as other squires' children have had to do,
and make the best, of a bad matter,--forced to depart from a home that
had been held by Trevannions perhaps since the Phoenicians strayed
thitherward in search of their shining tin.

It sore grieved them to separate from the scenes of their youth; but the
secret understanding with the solicitor required that sacrifice.  By
staying at home a still greater might be called for,--subsistence in
penury, and, worse than all, in a humiliating position; for,
notwithstanding the open house long kept by their father, his friends
had disappeared with his guests.  Impelled by these thoughts, the
brothers resolved to go forth into the wide world, and seek fortune
wherever it seemed most likely they should find it.

They were at this period something more than mere children.  Ralph had
reached within twelve months of being twenty.  Richard was his junior by
a couple of years.  Their book-education had been good; the practice of
manly sports had imparted to both of them a physical strength that
fitted them for toil, either of the mind or body.  They were equal to a
tough struggle, either in the intellectual or material world; and to
this they determined to resign themselves.

For a time they debated between themselves where they should go, and
what do.  The army and navy came under their consideration.  With such
patronage as their father's former friends could command, and might
still exert in favour of their fallen fortunes, a commission in either
army or navy was not above their ambition.  But neither felt much
inclined towards a naval or military life; the truth being, that a
thought had taken shape in their minds leading them to a different
determination.

Their deliberations ended by each of them proclaiming a resolve,--almost
sealing it with a vow,--that they would enter into some more profitable,
though perhaps less pretentious, employment than that of either
soldiering or sailoring; that they would toil--with their hands, if need
be--until they should accumulate a sufficient sum to return and recover
the ancestral estate from the grasp of the avaricious usurper.  They did
not know how it was to be done; but, young, strong, and hopeful, they
believed it might be done,--with time, patience, and industry to aid
them in the execution.

"Where shall we go?" inquired Richard, the younger of the two.  "To
America, where every poor man appears to prosper?  With a thousand each
to begin the world with, we might do well there.  What say you, Ralph?"

"America is a country where men seem to thrive best who have _nothing_
to begin the world with.  You mean North America,--the United States,--I
suppose?"

"I do."

"I don't much like the United States as a home,--not because it is a
republic, for I believe that is the only just form of government,
whatever our aristocratic friends may say.  I object to it simply
because I wish to go south,--to some part of the tropical world, where
one may equally be in the way of acquiring a fortune."

"Is there such a place?"

"There is."

"Where, brother?"

"Peru.  Anywhere along the Sierra of the Andes from Chili to the Isthmus
of Panama.  As Cornish men we should adopt the specialty of our
province, and become miners.  The Andes mountains will give us that
opportunity, where, instead of grey tin, we may delve for yellow gold.
What say you to South America?"

"I like the thought of South America,--nothing would please me better
than going there.  But I must confess, brother, I have no inclination
for the occupation you speak of.  I had rather be a merchant than a
miner."

"Don't let that _penchant_ prevent you from selecting Peru as the scene
of mercantile transactions.  There are many Englishmen who have made
fortunes in the Peruvian trade.  You may hope to follow their example.
We may choose different occupations and still be near each other.  One
thousand pounds each may give both of us a start,--you as a merchant of
goods, I as a digger for gold.  Peru is the place for either business.
Decide, Dick!  Shall we sail for the scenes rendered celebrated by
Pizarro?"

"If you will it--I'm agreed."

"Thither then let us go."

In a month from that time the two Trevannions might have been seen upon
a ship, steering westward from the Land's End, and six months later both
disembarked upon the beach of Callao,--_en route_ first for Lima, thence
up the mountains, to the sterile snow-crested mountains, that tower
above the treasures of Cerro Pasco,--vainly guarded within the bosom of
adamantine rocks.



CHAPTER TWO.

THE BROTHERS ABROAD.

Ralph and Richard Trevannion.  If it were so, a gap of some fifteen
years--after the date of their arrival at Cerro Pasco--would have to be
filled up.  I decline to speak of this interval of their lives, simply
because the details might not have any remarkable interest for those
before whom they would be laid.

Suffice it to say, that Richard, the younger, soon became wearied of a
miner's life; and, parting with his brother, he crossed the Cordilleras,
and descended into the great Amazonian forest,--the "montana," as it is
called by the Spanish inhabitants of the Andes.  Thence, in company with
a party of Portuguese traders, he kept on down the river Amazon, trading
along its banks, and upon some of its tributary streams; and finally
established himself as a merchant at its mouth, in the thriving "city"
of Gran Para.

Richard was not unsocial in his habits; and soon became the husband of a
fair-haired wife,--the daughter of a countryman who, like himself, had
established commercial relations at Para.  In a few years after, several
sweet children called him "father,"--only two of whom survived to
prattle in his ears this endearing appellation, alas! no longer to be
pronounced in the presence of their mother.

Fifteen years after leaving the Land's End, Richard Trevannion, still
under thirty-five years of age, was a widower, with two children,--
respected wherever known, prosperous in pecuniary affairs,--rich enough
to return home, and spend the remainder of his days in that state so
much desired by the Sybarite Roman poet,--"otium cum dignitate."

Did he remember the vow mutually made between him and his brother, that,
having enough money, they would one day go back to Cornwall, and recover
the ancestral estate?  He did remember it.  He longed to accomplish this
design, he only awaited his brother's answer to a communication he had
made to him on this very subject.

He had no doubt that Ralph's desire would be in unison with his own,--
that his brother would soon join him, and then both would return to
their native land,--perhaps to dwell again under the same roof that had
sheltered them as children.

The history of the elder brother during this period of fifteen years, if
less eventful, was not less distinguished by success.  By steadily
following the pursuit which had first attracted him to Peru, he
succeeded in becoming a man of considerable means,--independent, if not
wealthy.

Like his brother, he got married at an early period,--in fact, within
the first year after establishing himself in Cerro Pasco.  Unlike the
latter, however, he chose for his wife one of the women of the
country,--a beautiful Peruvian lady.  She too, but a short while before,
had gone to a better world, leaving motherless two pretty children, of
twelve and fourteen years of age,--the elder of the two being a
daughter.

Such was the family of Ralph Trevannion, and such the condition of life
in which his brother's epistle reached him,--that epistle containing the
proposal that they should wind lip their respective businesses, dispose
of both, and carry their gains to the land that had given them birth.

The proposition was at once accepted, as Richard knew it would be.  It
was far from the first time that the thing had been discussed,
epistolary fashion, between them; for letters were exchanged as often as
opportunity permitted,--sometimes twice or thrice in the year.

In these letters, during the last few years of their sojourn in South
America, the promise made on leaving home was mutually mentioned, and as
often renewed on either side.  Richard knew that his brother was as
eager as himself to keep that well-remembered vow.

So long as the mother of Ralph's children was alive, he had not urged
his brother to its fulfilment; but now that she had been dead for more
than a year, he had written to say that the time had come for their
return to their country and their home.

His proposal was, that Ralph, having settled his affairs in Peru,--
which, of course, included the selling out of his share in the mines,--
should join him, Richard, at Para, thence to take ship for England.
That instead of going round by Cape Horn, or across the Isthmus, by
Panama, Ralph should make the descent of the great Amazon River, which
traverse would carry him latitudinally across the continent from west to
east.

Richard had two reasons for recommending this route.  First, because he
wished his brother to see the great river of Orellana, as he himself had
done; and secondly, because he was still more desirous that his _own
son_ should see it.

How this last wish was to be gratified by his brother making the descent
of the Amazon, may require explanation; but it will suffice to say that
the son of Richard Trevannion was at that time residing with his uncle
at the mines of Cerro Pasco.

The boy had gone to Peru the year before, in one of his father's
ships,--first, to see the Great Ocean, then the Great Andes,--afterwards
to become acquainted with the country of the Incas, and last, though not
of least importance, to make the acquaintance of his own uncle and his
two interesting cousins, the elder of whom was exactly his own age.  He
had gone to the Pacific side by _sea_.  It was his father's wish he
should return to the Atlantic side by land,--or, to speak more
accurately, by _river_.

The merchant's wish was to be gratified.  The miner had no desire to
refuse compliance with his proposal.  On the contrary, it chimed in with
his own inclinations.  Ralph Trevannion possessed a spirit adventurous
as his brother's, which fourteen years of mining industry, carried on in
the cold mountains of Cerro Pasco, had neither deadened nor chilled.
The thought of once more returning to the scenes of his youth quite
rejuvenated him; and on the day of receiving his brother's challenge to
go, he not only accepted it, but commenced proceedings towards carrying
the design into execution.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

A month afterwards and he might have been seen descending the eastern
slope of the Cordilleras on mule-back, and accompanied by his family and
followers; afterwards aboard a _balsa_,--one of those curious crafts
used in the descent of the Huallaga; and later still on the _montaria_,
upon the bosom of the great river itself.

With the details of his mountain travels, interesting as they may be, we
have naught to do.  No more with his descent of the Huallaga, nor his
long voyage on the Amazon itself, in that up-river portion of the stream
where it is called the "Maranon."  Only where it becomes the stupendous
"Solimoes" do we join Ralph Trevannion on his journey, and remain with
him as long as he is "Afloat in the Forest," _or making a voyage among
the tree-tops_.



CHAPTER THREE.

THE GALATEA.

On an evening in the early part of December, a craft of singular
construction might have been seen descending the Solimoes, and
apparently making for the little Portuguese port of Coary, that lies on
the southern side of the river.

When we say of singular construction, we mean singular to one
unaccustomed to the navigation of Amazonian waters.  There the craft in
question was too common to excite curiosity, since it was nothing more
than a _galatea_, or large canoe, furnished with mast and sail, with a
palm-thatched cabin, or _toldo_, rising over the quarter, a low-decked
locker running from bow to midships,--along each side of which were to
be seen, half seated, half standing, some half-dozen dark-skinned men,
each plying, instead of an oar, a paddle-blade.

Perhaps the most singular sight on board this embarkation was the group
of animated beings who composed its crew and passengers.  The former, as
already stated, were dark-skinned men scantily clad,--in fact, almost
naked, since a single pair of white cotton drawers constituted the
complete costume of each.

For passengers there were three men, and a like number of individuals of
younger age.  Two of the men were white, apparently Europeans; the other
was as black as soot could have made him,--unquestionably an African
negro.  Of the young people two were boys, not much differing in size,
and apparently not much in age, while the third was a half-grown girl,
of dark complexion, raven-coloured hair, and beautiful features.

One of the white men appeared to be, and was, the proprietor of the
montaria, and the employer of its swarthy crew.  He was Ralph
Trevannion.

The young girl was his daughter, and bore her Peruvian mother's name,
Rosa, more often pronounced by its diminutive of endearment, Rosita.
The younger of the two boys--also of dark complexion--was his son Ralph;
while the older, of true Saxon physiognomy and hue, was the son of his
brother, also bearing his father's Christian name, Richard.

The second white man was unmistakably of European race,--so much so that
any one possessing the slightest knowledge of the Hibernian type would
at once have pronounced him a "Son of the Sod."  A pure pug nose, a
shock of curled hair of the clearest carrot colour, an eternal twinkle
in the eye, a volume of fun lying open at each angle of the mouth, were
all characteristics by which "Tipperary Tom"--for such was his
_sobriquet_--might be remembered.

About the negro there was nothing special, more than that he was a pure
negro, with enormously thick lips, flattened nose, long protruding
heels, teeth white as hippopotamus ivory, and almost always set in a
good-humoured grin.  The darkey had been a sailor, or rather
ship-steward, before landing in Peru.  Thither had he strayed, and
settled at Cerro Pasco after several years spent aboard ship.  He was a
native of Mozambique, on the eastern coast of Africa, to which
circumstance was he indebted for the only name ever given him,--Mozey.

Both he and the Irishman were the servants of the miner, or rather his
retainers, who served him in various ways, and had done so almost ever
since his establishing himself among the rocks of Cerro Pasco.

The other creatures of the animated kingdom that found lodgment upon the
craft were of various shapes, sizes, and species.  There were
quadrupeds, quadrumana, and birds,--beasts of the field, monkeys of the
forest, and birds of the air,--clustering upon the cabin top, squatted
in the hold, perched upon the gangway, the toldo, the yard, and the
mast,--forming an epitomised menagerie, such as may be seen on every
kind of craft that navigates the mighty Amazon.

It is not our design to give any description of the galatea's crew.
There were nine of them,--all Indians,--four on each side acting as
rowers, or more properly "paddlers," the ninth being the pilot or
steersman, standing abaft the toldo.

Our reason for not describing them is that they were a changing crew,
only attached to the craft for a particular stage of the long river
voyage, and had succeeded several other similar sets since the
embarkation of our voyagers on the waters of the upper Amazon.  They had
joined the galatea at the port of Ega, and would take leave of her at
Coary, where a fresh crew of civilised Indians--"tapuyos"--would be
required.

And they _were_ required, but not obtained.  On the galatea putting into
the port of Coary, it was found that nearly every man in the place was
off upon a hunting excursion,--turtle and cow-fish being the game that
had called them out.  Not a canoe-man could be had for love or money.

The owner of the galatea endeavoured to tempt the Ega crew to continue
another stage.  It was contrary to their habit, and they refused to go.
Persuasion and threats were tried in vain.  Coaxing and scolding proved
equally unavailable; all except one remained firm in their refusal, the
exception being an old Indian who did not belong to the Ega tribe, and
who could not resist the large bribe offered by Trevannion.

The voyagers must either suspend their journey till the Coary
turtle-hunters should return, or proceed without paddlers.  The hunters
were not expected for a month.  To stay a month at Coary was out of the
question.  The galatea must go on manned by her own people, and the old
Indian who was to act as pilot.  Such was the determination of Ralph
Trevannion.  But for that resolve,--rash as it was, and ending
unfortunately for him who made it,--we should have no story to tell.



CHAPTER FOUR.

DRIFTING WITH THE CURRENT.

The craft that carried the ex-miner, his family and following, once more
floated on the broad bosom of the Solimoes.  Not so swift as before,
since, instead of eight paddlers, it was now impelled by only half the
number,--these, too, with less than half the experience of the crew who
had preceded them.

The owner himself acted as steersman, while the paddles were plied by
"Tipperary Tom," Mozey, the old Indian,--who, being of the Mundurucu
tribe, passed by the name of "Munday,"--and Richard Trevannion.

The last, though by far the youngest, was perhaps the best paddler in
the party.  Brought up in his native place of Gran Para, he had been
accustomed to spend half his time either in or upon the water; and an
oar or paddle was to him no novelty.

Young Ralph, on the contrary, a true mountaineer, knew nothing of
either, and therefore counted for nothing among the crew of the galatea.
To him and the little Rosa was assigned the keeping of the pets, with
such other light duties as they were capable of performing.

For the first day the voyage was uninterrupted by any incident,--at
least any that might be called unpleasant.  Their slow progress, it is
true, was a cause of dissatisfaction; but so long as they were going at
all, and going in the right direction, this might be borne with
equanimity.  Three miles an hour was about their average rate of speed;
for half of which they were indebted to the current of the river, and
for the other half to the impulsion of their paddles.

Considering that they had still a thousand miles to go before reaching
Gran Para, the prospect of a protracted voyage was very plainly outlined
before them.

Could they have calculated on making three miles an hour for every hour
of the twenty-four, things would not have been bad.  This rate of speed
would have carried them to their destination in a dozen days,--a mere
bagatelle.  But they knew enough of river-navigation to disregard such
data.  They knew the current of the Solimoes to be extremely slow; they
had heard of the strange phenomenon, that, run which way the river
might, north, south, east, or west,--and it _does_ keep bending and
curving in all these directions,--the wind is almost always met with
blowing _up stream_!

For this reason they could put no dependence in their sail, and would
have to trust altogether to the paddles.  These could not be always in
the water.  Human strength could not stand a perpetual spell, even at
paddles; and less so in the hands of a crew of men so little used to
them.

Nor could they continue the voyage at night.  By doing so, they would be
in danger of losing their course, their craft, and themselves!

You may smile at the idea.  You will ask--a little scornfully, perhaps--
how a canoe, or any other craft, drifting down a deep river to its
destination, could possibly go astray.  Does not the current point out
the path,--the broad waterway not to be mistaken?

So it might appear to one seated in a skiff, and floating down the
tranquil Thames, with its well-defined banks.  But far different is the
aspect of the stupendous Solimoes to the voyager gliding through its
_Capo_.

I have made use of a word of strange sound, and still stranger
signification.  Perhaps it is new to your eye, as your oar.  You will
become better acquainted with it before the end of our voyage; for into
the "Gapo" it is my intention to take you, where ill-luck carried the
galatea and her crew.

On leaving Coary, it was not the design of her owner to attempt taking
his craft, so indifferently manned, all the way to Para.  He knew there
were several civilised settlements between,--as Barra at the mouth of
the Rio Negro, Obidos below it, Santarem, and others.  At one or other
of these places he expected to obtain a supply of _tapuyos_, to replace
the crew who had so provokingly forsaken him.

The voyage to the nearest of them, however, would take several days, at
the rate of speed the galatea was now making; and the thought of being
delayed on their route became each hour more irksome.  The ex-miner, who
had not seen his beloved brother during half a score of years, was
impatient once more to embrace him.  He had been, already, several
months travelling towards him by land and water; and just as he was
beginning to believe that the most difficult half of the journey had
been accomplished, he found himself delayed by an obstruction vexatious
as unexpected.

The first night after his departure from Coary, he consented that the
galatea should lie to,--moored to some bushes that grew upon the banks
of the river.

On the second night, however, he acted with less prudence.  His
impatience to make way prompted him to the resolution to keep on.  The
night was clear,--a full moon shining conspicuously above, which is not
always the case in the skies of the Solimoes.

There was to be no sail set, no use made of the paddles.  The crew were
fatigued, and wanted rest and repose.  The current alone was to favour
their progress; and as it appeared to be running nearly two miles an
hour, it should advance them between twenty and thirty miles before the
morning.

The Mundurucu made an attempt to dissuade his "patron" from the course
he designed pursuing; but his advice was disregarded,--perhaps because
ill-understood,--and the galatea glided on.

Who could mistake that broad expanse of water--upon which the moon shone
so clearly--for aught else than the true channel of the Solimoes?  Not
Tipperary Tom, who, in the second watch of the night,--the owner himself
having kept the first,--acted as steersman of the galatea.

The others had gone to sleep.  Trevannion and the three young people
under the toldo; Mozey and the Mundurucu along the staging known as the
"hold."  The birds and monkeys were at rest on their respective perches,
and in their respective cages,--all was silent in the galatea, and
around,--all save the rippling of the water, as it parted to the
cleaving of her keel.



CHAPTER FIVE.

THE GALATEA AGROUND.

Little experienced as he was in the art of navigation, the steersman was
not inattentive to his duty.  Previously to his taking the rudder, he
had been admonished about the importance of keeping the craft in the
channel of the stream, and to this had he been giving his attention.

It so chanced, however, that he had arrived at a place where there were
two channels,--as if an island was interposed in the middle of the
river, causing it to branch at an acute angle.  Which of these was the
right one?  Which should be taken?  These were the questions that
occurred to Tipperary Tom.

At first he thought of awakening his master, and consulting him, but on
once more glancing at the two channels, he became half convinced that
the broader one must be the proper route to be followed.

"Bay Japers!" muttered he to himself.  "Shure I can't be mistaken.  The
biggest av the two ought to be the mane sthrame.  Anyway, I won't wake
the masther.  I'll lave it to the ship to choose for hersilf."  Saying
this he relaxed his hold upon the steering oar, and permitted the
galatea to drift with the current.

Sure enough, the little craft inclined towards the branch that appeared
the broader one; and in ten minutes' time had made such way that the
other opening was no longer visible from her decks.  The steersman,
confident of being on the right course, gave himself no further
uneasiness; but, once more renewing his hold upon the steering oar,
guided the galatea in the middle of the channel.

Notwithstanding all absence of suspicion as to having gone astray, he
could not help noticing that the banks on each side appeared to be
singularly irregular, as if here and there indented by deep bays, or
reaches of water.  Some of these opened out vistas of shining surface,
apparently illimitable, while the dark patches that separated them
looked more like clumps of trees half-submerged under water than
stretches of solid earth.

As the galatea continued her course, this puzzling phenomenon ceased to
be a conjecture; Tipperary Tom saw that he was no longer steering down a
river between two boundary banks, but on a broad expanse of water,
stretching as far as eye could reach, with no other boundary than that
afforded by a _flooded forest_.

There was nothing in all this to excite alarm,--at least in the mind of
Tipperary Tom.  The Mundurucu, had he been awake, might have shown some
uneasiness at the situation.  But the Indian was asleep,--perhaps
dreaming of some Mura enemy,--whose head he would have been happy to
embalm.

Tom simply supposed himself to be in some part of the Solimoes flooded
beyond its banks, as he had seen it in more places than one.  With this
confidence, he stuck faithfully to his steering oar, and allowed the
galatea to glide on.  It was only when the reach of water--upon which
the craft was drifting--began to narrow, or rather after it had narrowed
to a surprising degree, that the steersman began to suspect himself of
having taken the wrong course.

His suspicions became stronger, at length terminating in a conviction
that such was the truth, when the galatea arrived at a part where less
than a cable's length lay between her beam-ends and the bushes that
stood out of the water on both sides of her.  Too surely had he strayed
from the "mane sthrame."  The craft that carried him could no longer be
in the channel of the mighty Solimoes!

The steersman was alarmed, and this very alarm hindered him from
following the only prudent course he could have taken under the
circumstances.  He should have aroused his fellow-voyagers, and
proclaimed the error into which he had fallen.  He did not do so.  A
sense of shame at having neglected his duty, or rather at having
performed it in an indifferent manner,--a species of regret not uncommon
among his countrymen,--hindered him from disclosing the truth, and
taking steps to avert any evil consequences that might spring from it.

He knew nothing of the great river on which they were voyaging.  There
_might_ be such a strait as that through which the galatea was gliding.
The channel might widen below; and, after all, he might have steered in
the proper direction.  With such conjectures, strengthened by such
hopes, he permitted the vessel to float on.

The channel _did_ widen again; and the galatea once more rode upon open
water.  The steersman was restored to confidence and contentment.  Only
for a short while did this state of mind continue.  Again the clear
water became contracted, this time to a very strip, while on either side
extended reaches and estuaries, bordered by half-submerged bushes,--some
of them opening apparently to the sky horizon, wider and freer from
obstruction than that upon which the galatea was holding her course.

The steersman no longer thought of continuing his course, which he was
now convinced must be the wrong one.  Bearing with all his strength upon
the steering oar, he endeavoured to direct the galatea back into the
channel through which he had come; but partly from the drifting of the
current, and partly owing to the deceptive light of the moon, he could
no longer recognise the latter, and, dropping the rudder in despair, he
permitted the vessel to drift whichever way the current might carry her!

Before Tipperary Tom could summon courage to make known to his
companions the dilemma into which he had conducted them, the galatea had
drifted among the tree-tops of the flooded forest, where she was
instantly "brought to anchor."

The crashing of broken boughs roused her crew from their slumbers.  The
ex-miner, followed by his children, rushed forth from the toldo.  He was
not only alarmed, but perplexed, by the unaccountable occurrence.  Mozey
was equally in a muddle.  The only one who appeared to comprehend the
situation was the old Indian, who showed sufficient uneasiness as to its
consequences by the terrified manner in which he called out: "The Gapo!
The Gapo!"



CHAPTER SIX.

THE MONKEY-POTS.

"The Gapo?" exclaimed the master of the craft.  "What is it, Munday?"

"The Gapo?" repeated Tipperary Tom, fancying by the troubled expression
on the face of the Indian that he had conducted his companions toward
some terrible disaster.  "Phwat is it, Manday?"

"Da Gapoo?" simultaneously interrogated the negro, the whites of his
eyeballs shining in the moonlight.  "What be dat?"

The Mundurucu made reply only by a wave of his hand, and a glance around
him, as if to say, "Yes, the Gapo; you see we're in it."

The three interrogators were as much in the dark as ever.  Whether the
Gapo was fish, flesh, or fowl, air, fire, or water, they could not even
guess.  There was but one upon the galatea besides the Indian himself
who knew the signification of the word which had created such a
sensation among the crew, and this was young Richard Trevannion.

"It's nothing, uncle," said he, hastening to allay the alarm around him;
"old Munday means that we've strayed from the true channel of the
Solimoes, and got into the flooded forest,--that's all."

"The flooded forest?"

"Yes.  What you see around us, looking like low bushes, are the tops of
tall trees.  We're now aground on the branches of a _sapucaya_,--a
species of the Brazil-nut, and among the tallest of Amazonian trees.
I'm right,--see! there are the nuts themselves!"  As the young Paraense
spoke, he pointed to some pericarps, large as cocoa-nuts, that were seen
depending from the branches among which the galatea had caught.
Grasping one of them in his hand, he wrenched it from the branch; but as
he did so, the husk dropped off, and the prism-shaped nuts fell like a
shower of huge hailstones on the roof of the _toldo_.  "Monkey-pots
they're called," continued he, referring to the empty pericarp still in
his hand.  "That's the name by which the Indians know them; because the
monkeys are very fond of these nuts."

"But the Gapo?" interrupted the ex-miner, observing that the expressive
look of uneasiness still clouded the brow of the Mundurucu.

"It's the Indian name for the great inundation," replied Richard, in the
same tranquil tone.  "Or rather I should say, the name for it in the
_lingoa-geral_."

"And what is there to fear?  Munday has frightened us all, and seems
frightened himself.  What is the cause?"

"That I can't tell you, uncle.  I know there are queer stories about the
Gapo,--tales of strange monsters that inhabit it,--huge serpents,
enormous apes, and all that sort of thing.  I never believed them,
though the _tapuyos_ do; and from old Munday's actions I suppose he puts
full faith in them."

"The young patron is mistaken," interposed the Indian, speaking a patois
of the _lingoa-geral_.  "The Mundurucu does not believe in monsters.  He
believes in big serpents and monkeys,--he has seen them."

"But shure yez are not afeerd o' them, Manday?" asked the Irishman.

The Indian only replied by turning on Tipperary Tom a most scornful
look.

"What is the use of this alarm?" inquired Trevannion.  "The galatea does
not appear to have sustained any injury.  We can easily get her out of
her present predicament, by lopping off the branches that are holding
her."

"Patron," said the Indian, still speaking in a serious tone, "it may not
be so easy as you think.  We may get clear of the tree-top in ten
minutes.  In as many hours--perhaps days--we may not get clear of the
Gapo.  That is why the Mundurucu shows signs of apprehension."

"Ho!  You think we may have a difficulty in finding our way back to the
channel of the river?"

"Think it, patron!  I am too sure of it.  If not, we shall be in the
best of good luck."

"It's of no use trying to-night, at all events," pursued Trevannion, as
he glanced uncertainly around him.  "The moon is sinking over the
tree-tops.  Before we could well get adrift, she'll be gone out of
sight.  We might only drift deeper into the maze.  Is that your opinion,
Munday?"

"It is, patron.  We can do no good by leaving the place to-night.  Wiser
for us to wait for the light of the sun."

"Let all go to rest, then," commanded the patron, "and be ready for work
in the morning.  We need keep no lookout, I should think.  The galatea
is as safe here as if moored in a dry dock.  She is _aground_, I take
it, upon the limb of a tree!  Ha! ha! ha!"

The thought of such a situation for a sailing craft--moored amid the
tops of a tall tree--was of so ludicrous a nature as to elicit a peal of
laughter from the patron, which was echoed by the rest of the crew, the
Mundurucu alone excepted.  His countenance still preserved its
expression of uneasiness; and long after the others had sunk into
unconscious sleep, he sat upon the stem of the galatea, gazing out into
the gloom, with glances that betokened serious apprehension.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

THE GAPO.

The young Paraense had given a correct, although not sufficiently
explicit, account of the sort of place in which the galatea had gone
"aground."

That singular phenomenon known as the _Gapo_ (or _Ygapo_), and which is
one of the most remarkable characteristics of the great Amazonian
region, demands a more detailed description.  It is worthy of this, as a
mere study of physical geography,--perhaps as pleasant a science as any;
and furthermore, it is here absolutely necessary to the understanding of
our tale.  Without some comprehension of the circumstances that
surrounded them, the hardships and sufferings endured, the adventures
accomplished, and the perils passed by the crew of the strayed galatea,
would appear as so many fabulous inventions, set forth to stimulate and
gratify a taste for the merely marvellous.  Young reader, this is not
the aim of your author, nor does he desire it to be the end.  On the
contrary, he claims to draw Nature with a verisimilitude that will
challenge the criticism of the naturalist; though he acknowledges a
predilection for Nature in her wildest aspects,--for scenes least
exposed to the eye of civilisation, and yet most exposed to its doubting
incredulity.

There are few country people who have not witnessed the spectacle of a
piece of woodland inundated by the overflow of a neighbouring stream.
This flood is temporary; the waters soon subside into their ordinary
channel, and the trees once more appear growing out of _terra firma_,
with the green mead spreading on all sides around them.  But a flooded
forest is a very different affair; somewhat similar in character indeed,
but far grander.  Not a mere spinney of trees along the bank of a small
stream; but a region extending beyond the reach of vision,--a vast tract
of primeval woods,--the tall trees submerged to their very tops, not for
days, nor weeks, but for months,--ay, some of them forever!  Picture to
your mind an inundation of this kind, and you will have some idea of the
Gapo.

Extending for seventeen hundred miles along the banks of the Solimoes,
now wider on the northern, now stretching farther back from the southern
side, this semi-submerged forest is found, its interior almost as
unknown as the crater-like caverns of the moon, or the icy oceans that
storm or slumber round the Poles,--unknown to civilised man, but not
altogether to the savage.  The aboriginal of Amazonia, crouching in his
canoe, has pierced this water-land of wonders.  He could tell you much
about it that is real, and much that is marvellous,--the latter too
often pronounced fanciful by lettered _savans_.  He could tell you of
strange trees that grow there, bearing strange fruits, not to be found
elsewhere,--of wonderful quadrupeds, and _quadrumana_, that exist only
in the Gapo,--of birds brilliantly beautiful, and reptiles hideously
ugly; among the last the dreaded dragon serpent, "Sucuruju."  He could
tell you, moreover, of creatures of his own kind,--if they deserve the
name of man,--who dwell continuously in the flooded forest, making their
home on scaffolds among the tree-tops, passing from place to place in
floating rafts or canoes, finding their subsistence on fish, on the
flesh of the _manatee_, on birds, beasts, reptiles, and insects, on the
stalks of huge water-plants and the fruits of undescribed trees, on
monkeys, and sometimes upon _man_!  Such Indians as have penetrated the
vast water-land have brought strange tales out of it.  We may give
credence to them or refuse it; but they, at least, are firm believers in
most of the accounts which they have collected.

It is not to be supposed that the Gapo is impenetrable.  On the
contrary, there are several well-known waterways leading through it,--
well-known, I mean, to the Indians dwelling upon its borders, to the
_tapuyos_, whose business it is to supply crews for the galateas of the
Portuguese traders, and to many of these traders themselves.  These
waterways are often indicated by "blazings" on the trees, or broken
branches, just as the roads are laid out by pioneer settlers in a North
American forest; and but for these marks, they could not be followed.
Sometimes, however, large spaces occur in which no trees are to be seen,
where, indeed, none grow.  There are extensive lakes, always under
water, even at the lowest ebb of the inundation.  They are of all sizes
and every possible configuration, from the complete circle through all
the degrees of the ellipse, and not unfrequently in the form of a belt,
like the channel of a river running for scores of miles between what
might readily be mistaken for banks covered with a continuous thicket of
low bushes, which are nothing more than the "spray" of evergreen trees,
whose roots lie forty feet under water!

More frequently these openings are of irregular shape, and of such
extent as to merit the title of "inland seas."  When such are to be
crossed, the sun has to be consulted by the canoe or galatea gliding
near their centre; and when he is not visible,--by no means a rare
phenomenon in the Gapo,--then is there great danger of the craft
straying from her course.

When within sight of the so-called "shore," a clump of peculiar form, or
a tree topping over its fellows, is used as a landmark, and often guides
the navigator of the Gapo to the _igarita_ of which he is in search.

It is not all tranquillity on this tree-studded ocean.  It has its fogs,
its gales, and its storms,--of frequent occurrence.  The canoe is oft
shattered against the stems of gigantic trees; and the galatea goes
down, leaving her crew to perish miserably in the midst of a gloomy
wilderness of wood and water.  Many strange tales are told of such
mishaps; but up to the present hour none have received the permanent
record of print and paper.

Be it _our_ task to supply this deficiency.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

THE ECHENTE.

It would not be true to say that the crew of the galatea were up with
the sun.  There was no sun to shine upon the gloomy scene that revealed
itself next morning.  Instead, there was a fog almost thick enough to be
grasped with the hand.  They were astir, however, by the earliest
appearance of day; for the captain of the galatea was too anxious about
his "stranded" craft to lie late abed.

They had no difficulty in getting the vessel afloat.  A strong pull at
the branches of the sapucaya, and then an adroit use of the paddles,
carried the craft clear.

But what was the profit of this?  Once out in the open water, they were
as badly off as ever.  Not one of them had the slightest idea of the
direction they would take, even supposing they could find a clear course
in any direction!  A consultation was the result, in which all hands
took part, though it was evident that, after the patron, most deference
was paid to the Mundurucu.  The young Paraense stood next in the scale
of respect; while Tipperary Tom, beyond the account which he was called
upon to give of his steersmanship, was not permitted to mingle his
Hibernian brogue in the discussion.

Where was the river?  That was the first problem to be solved, and of
this there appeared to be no possible solution.  There was no sun to
guide them, no visible sky.  Even had there been both, it would scarce
have mended the matter.  The steersman could not tell whether, on
straying from the channel, he had drifted to the south or the north, the
east or the west; and, indeed, an intellect less obtuse than that of
Tipperary Tom might have been puzzled upon the point.  It has been
already mentioned, that the Solimoes is so tortuous as to turn to every
point of the compass in its slow course.  The mere fact that the moon
was shining at the time could be of little use to Tipperary Tom, whose
astronomy had never extended beyond the knowledge that there was a moon.

Where lay the river?  The interrogatory was repeated a score of times,
without receiving a satisfactory answer; though every one on board--the
little Rosita excepted--ventured some sort of reply, most, however,
offering their opinion with a doubting diffidence.  The Mundurucu,
although repeatedly appealed to, had taken small part in the discussion,
remaining silent, his eyes moodily wandering over the water, seeking
through the fog for some clue to their escape from the spot.

No one plied the paddles; they had impelled her out of sight of the
sapucaya, now shrouded in the thick fog; but, as it was useless paddling
any farther, all hands had desisted, and were now resting upon their
oars.  At this moment it was perceived that the galatea was in motion.
The Mundurucu was the first to notice it; for his attention had for some
time been directed to such discovery.  For this reason had he cast his
searching glances, now down into the turbid waters, and now out through
the murky atmosphere.  A thicket was discernible through the fog, but
every moment becoming less distinct.  Of course it was only a collection
of tree-tops; but whatever it was, it soon became evident that the
galatea was very slowly receding from it.  On discovering this, the
Mundurucu displayed signs of fresh animation.  He had been for some
minutes lying upon his face, craning out over the gangway, and his long
withered arms submerged in the water.  The others occupied themselves in
guessing what he was about; but their guesses had been to no purpose.
Equally purposeless had appeared the actions of the Indian; for, after
keeping his arm under water for a period of several minutes, he drew it
in with a dissatisfied air, and once more arose to his feet.  It was
just then that he perceived the tree-tops, upon which he kept his eyes
sharply fixed, until assured that the galatea was going away from them.

"_Hoola_!" he exclaimed, attempting to imitate the cry he had more than
once heard issuing from the lips of Tipperary Tom.  "_Hoola_! the river
is out there!"  As he spoke, he pointed towards the tree-tops.

It was the first confident answer to the all-important question.

"How can you tell that, Munday?" inquired the captain of the craft.

"How tell, patron?  How tell day from night, the moon from the sun, fire
from water?  The Solimoes is there."  The Indian spoke with his arm
still extended in the direction of the trees.

"We are willing to believe you," rejoined Trevannion, "and will trust to
your guidance; but pray explain yourself."

"It's all guess-work," interpolated Tipperary Tom.  "Ould Munday knows
no more av fwat he's talkin' about than Judy Fitzcummons's mother.  I'll
warrant ye we come in from the t'other side."

"Silence, Tom!" commanded his master.  "Let us hear what Munday has to
say.  _You_ have no right to contradict him."

"Och, awance!  An Indyen's opinion prefarred before that ov a freeborn
Oirishman!  I wondher what nixt."  And as Tipperary completed his
chapter of reproaches, he slank crouchingly under the shadow of the
_toldo_.

"So you think the river is there?" said Trevannion, once more addressing
himself to the Mundurucu.

"The Mundurucu is sure of it, patron.  Sure as that the sky is above
us."

"Remember, old man!  It won't do for us to make any mistake.  No doubt
we've already strayed a considerable distance from the channel of the
Solimoes.  To go again from it will be to endanger our lives."

"The Mundurucu knows that," was the laconic reply.

"Well, then, we must be satisfied of the fact, before we can venture to
make a move.  What proof can you give us that the river lies in that
direction?"

"Patron!  You know the month?  It is the month of March."

"Certainly it is.  What of that?"

"The _echente_."

"The _echente_?  What is that?"

"The flood getting bigger.  The water on the rise,--the Gapo still
growing,--that is the _echente_."

"But how should that enable you to determine the direction of the
river?"

"It has done so," replied the Indian.  "Not before three months--in
June--will come the _vasante_."

"The _vasante_?"

"The _vasante_, patron: the fall.  Then the Gapo will begin to grow
less; and the current will be _towards_ the river, as now it is _from_
it."

"Your story appears reasonable enough.  I suppose we may trust to it.
If so," added Trevannion, "we had better direct our course towards
yonder tree-tops, and lose no time in getting beyond them.  All of you
to your paddles, and pull cheerily.  Let us make up for the time we have
lost through the negligence of Tipperary Tom.  Pull, my lads, pull!"

At this cheering command the four paddlers rushed to their places; and
the galatea, impelled by their vigorous strokes, once more glided gayly
over the bosom of the waters.



CHAPTER NINE.

AN IMPASSABLE BARRIER.

In a few moments the boat's bow was brought within half a cable's length
of the boughs of the submerged trees.  Her crew could see that to
proceed farther, on a direct course, was simply impossible.  With equal
reason might they have attempted to hoist her into the air, and leap
over the obstruction that had presented itself before them.

Not only were the branches of the adjoining trees interlocked, but from
one to the other straggled a luxurious growth of creepers, forming a
network so strong and compact that a steamer of a hundred horse-power
would have been safely brought to a stand among its meshes.  Of course
no attempt was made to penetrate this impenetrable _chevaux de frise_;
and after a while had been spent in reconnoitring it, Trevannion, guided
by the counsel of the Mundurucu, ordered the galatea to go about, and
proceed along the selvage of the submerged forest.  An hour was spent in
paddling.  No opening.  Another hour similarly employed, and with
similar results!

The river might be in the direction pointed out by the Indian.  No doubt
it was; but how were they to reach it?  Not a break appeared in all that
long traverse wide enough to admit the passage of a canoe.  Even an
arrow could scarce have penetrated among the trees, that extended their
parasite-laden branches beyond the border of the forest!  By tacit
consent of the patron, the paddlers rested upon their oars; then plied
them once more; and once more came to a pause.

No opening among the tree-tops; no chance to reach the channel of the
Solimoes.  The gloomy day became gloomier, for night was descending over
the Gapo.  The crew of the galatea, wearied with many hours of exertion,
ceased paddling.  The patron did not oppose them; for his spirit, as
well as theirs, had become subdued by hope long deferred.  As upon the
previous night, the craft was moored among the tree-tops, where her
rigging, caught among the creepers, seemed enough to keep her from
drifting away.  But very different from that of the preceding night was
the slumber enjoyed by her crew.  Amidst the boughs of the sapucaya,
there had been nothing to disturb their tranquillity, save the
occasional shower of nuts, caused by the cracking of the dry shells, and
the monkey-pots discharging their contents.  Then was the galatea
"grounded" upon a solitary tree, which carried only its own fruit.
To-night she was moored in the middle of a forest,--at all events upon
its edge,--a forest, not of the earth, nor the air, nor the water, but
of all three,--a forest whose inhabitants might be expected to partake
of a character altogether strange and abnormal.  And of such character
were they; for scarce had the galatea become settled among the
tree-tops, when the ears of her crew were assailed by a chorus of
sounds, that with safety might have challenged the choir of Pandemonium.
Two alone remained undismayed,--Richard Trevannion and the Mundurucu.

"Bah!" exclaimed the Paraense, "what are you all frightened at?  Don't
you know what it is, uncle?"

"I know what it resembles, boy,--the Devil and his legions let loose
from below.  What is it, Dick?"

"Only the howlers.  Don't be alarmed, little Rosita!"

The little Peruvian, gaining courage from his words, looked admiringly
on the youth who had called her "little Rosita."  Any one could have
told that, from that time forward, Richard Trevannion might have the
power to control the destinies of his cousin.

"The howlers!  What are they?" inquired the old miner.

"Monkeys, uncle; nothing more.  From the noise they make, one might
suppose they were as big as buffaloes.  Nothing of the kind.  The
largest I ever saw was hardly as stout as a deerhound, though he could
make as much noise as a whole kennel.  They have a sort of a drum in the
throat, that acts as a sound-board.  That's what enables them to get up
such a row.  I've often heard their concert more than two miles across
country, especially in prospect of an approaching storm.  I don't know
if they follow this fashion in the Gapo; but if they do, from the way
they're going it now, we may look out for a trifling tornado."

Notwithstanding the apparent unconcern with which young Trevannion
declared himself, there was something in his manner that arrested the
attention of his uncle.  While pronouncing his hypothetical forecast of
a storm, he had turned his glance towards the sky, and kept it fixed
there, as if making something more than a transient observation.  The
fog had evaporated, and the moon was now coursing across the heavens,
not against a field of cloudy blue, but in the midst of black, cumulus
clouds, that every now and then shrouded her effulgence.  A dweller in
the tropics of the Western hemisphere would have pronounced this sign
the certain forerunner of a storm; and so predicted the young Paraense.
"We'll have the sky upon us within an hour," said he, addressing himself
more especially to his uncle.  "We'd better tie the galatea to the
trees.  If this be a _hurricane_, and she goes adrift, there's no
knowing where we may bring up.  The likeliest place will be in the
bottom of the Gapo."

"The young patron speaks truth," interposed Munday, his eyes all the
while reading the signs of the heavens; "The Mundurucu knows by yonder
yellow sky."

As he spoke, the Indian pointed to a patch of brimstone-coloured clouds,
conspicuous over the tops of the trees.  There was no reason why Ralph
Trevannion should not give credit to the two weather-prophets, who could
have no personal motive in thus warning him.  He yielded, therefore, to
their solicitation; and in ten minutes more the galatea was secured
among the tree-tops, as fast as cords could make her.



CHAPTER TEN.

A TROPICAL TORNADO.

Notwithstanding the apparently complete security thus obtained for the
craft, the Mundurucu did not seem to be easy in his mind.  He had
climbed up the mast to the yard, and, having there poised himself, sat
gazing over the tops of the trees upon the patch of brimstone sky which
was visible in that direction.  The others all talked of going to sleep,
except the young Paraense, who counselled them to keep awake.  He, too,
like the Mundurucu, was troubled with forebodings.  He understood the
weather-signs of the Solimoes, and saw that a storm was portending.
Though the sun had not been visible during the whole day, it was now
about the hour of his setting; and as if the storm had been waiting for
this as a signal, it now boldly broke forth.  A few quick puffs, with
short intervals between them, were its precursors.  These were soon
followed by gusts, stronger, as well as noisier, in their advent; and
then the wind kept up a continuous roaring among the tops of the trees;
while above the thunder rolled incessantly, filling the firmament with
its terrible voice.  Deep darkness and the vivid glare of the
lightning-flashes followed each other in quick succession.  At one
moment all was obscure around the crew of the galatea,--the sky, the
trees, the water, even the vessel herself; in the next, everything was
made manifest, to the distance of miles, under a brilliance garish and
unearthly.  To add to the unnatural appearance of things, there were
other sounds than those of the thunder or the storm,--the cries of
living creatures, strange and unknown.  Birds they might be, or beasts,
or reptiles, or all these, commingling their screams, and other accents
of affright, with the sharp whistling of the wind, the hoarse rumbling
of the thunder, and the continuous crashing of the branches.

The crew of the galatea were on the alert, with awe depicted on every
face.  Their fear was lest the craft should be blown away from her
moorings, and carried out into the open water, which was now agitated by
the fury of the storm.  Almost under the first lashing of the wind, huge
waves had sprung up, with white crests, that under the electric light
gleamed fiercely along the yellow swell of the turbid water.  Their
anxiety was of short continuance; for almost on the instant of its
rising, it became reality.  Unfortunately, the tree to which the craft
had been tied was one whose wood was of a soft and succulent nature,--a
species of _melastoma_.  Its branches were too brittle to bear the
strain thus unexpectedly put upon them; and almost at the first onset of
the tornado they began to give way, snapping off one after the other in
quick succession.  So rapid was the process of detachment, that, before
fresh moorings could be made, the last cord had come away; and the
galatea, like a greyhound loosed from the leash, shot out from among the
tree-tops, and went off in wild career over the waves of the Gapo.
Before any control could be gained over her by her terrified crew, she
had made several cables' length into the open water, and was still
sweeping onward over its seething surface.  To turn her head towards the
trees was clearly out of the question.  The attempt would have been
idle.  Both wind and waves carried her in the opposite direction, to say
nothing of the current, against which she had been already contending.
The crew no longer thought of returning to the tree-tops, out of which
they had been so unceremoniously swept: Their only chance of safety
appeared to be to keep the craft, as well balanced as circumstances
would permit, and run before the wind.  Even this for a time seemed but
a doubtful chance.  The wind blew, not in regular, uniform direction,
but in short, fitful gusts, as if coming from every point of the
compass; and the waves rolled around them as high as houses.  In the
midst of a chopping, purging sea, the galatea tumbled and pitched, now
head, now stern foremost, at times going onward in mad career, and with
headlong speed.  The parrots and macaws upon the yard had as much as
their strong claws could do to keep their perch; and the monkeys,
cowering under the shelter of the _toldo_, clung close to its timbers.
Both birds and beasts mingled their terrified cries with the creaking of
the galatea's timbers and the shouts of her crew.  The Gapo threatened
to ingulf them.  Every moment might be their last!  And with this dread
belief, scarce for a moment out of their minds, did our adventurers pass
the remainder of that remarkable night, the galatea galloping onward,
they could not tell whither.  All they knew or could remember of that
nocturnal voyage was, that the vessel kept upon her course, piloted only
by the winds and waves,--at times tossing within deep troughs of
turbulent water, at times poised upon the summits of ridge-like swells,
but ever going onward at high speed, seemingly ten knots an hour!

For a long while they saw around them only open water, as of some great
lake or inland sea.  At a later hour, the lightning revealed the tops of
submerged trees, such as those they had left behind; but standing out of
the water in clumps or coppices, that appeared like so many islands.
Amidst these they were carried, sometimes so close to the trees as to
give them hopes of being able to grasp their boughs.  Once or twice the
rigging of the galatea brushed among the branches; and they used every
effort to stay their runaway craft, and bring her to an anchorage.  But
in vain.  The storm was stronger than the united strength of the crew.
The twigs clutched with eager hands parted in twain, and the
storm-driven vessel swept on amid the surging waters.

Daylight arrived at length, breaking through a red aurora, soon followed
by a brilliant sunrise.  This somewhat cheered our despairing
adventurers.  But the tempest was still raging with undiminished fury,
the wind as loud and the waves as high as at any period throughout the
night.  Once more they were in the middle of a waste of waters, neither
trees nor land in sight.  Another great lake or inland sea?  It could
not be that over which they had been already carried?  No.  The wind was
now blowing more steadily; and could it not have shifted?  Even if it
had, they had not returned through the archipelago of tree-top islands.
They were in another opening of the Gapo.  Munday was of this opinion,
and that was proof sufficient to satisfy his companions.  As we have
said, the returning day did little to restore the confidence of the
galatea's crew.  The tornado still continued.  Despite the sunlit sky,
the storm showed no signs of abating; and the crazy craft gave tongue in
every timber of her frail frame.  The sounds were ominous to the ears of
those who listened to them.  It was too evident, that, unless there
should soon come a lull, the galatea would go to the bottom.  She had
not been constructed to stand a strain like that to which she had been
thus unexpectedly exposed, and an anchorage either to _terra firma_ or
the tree-tops would soon become necessary to her salvation.  Her crew,
convinced of this, were one and all upon the lookout, scanning the
horizon as closely as the crested billows would admit.  The Mundurucu
had mounted to the top of the mast, where, with one of the monkeys that
had perched itself on his shoulders, he clung with the tenacity of
despair.  All at once he was heard to cry out, the monkey mocking him in
mimic tone.

"What is it, Munday?  What do you see?" were the inquiries that reached
him from below.

"Land," was the laconic reply.

"Land!" went up the echo from half a score of joyous voices.

"Maybe not land,--I mean the _terra firma_," pursued the observer, in a
less confident tone.  "It may be only the top of a thick forest like
what we tried to penetrate yesterday.  Whatever it is, patron, it seems
along the whole edge of the sky.  We are drifting towards it, straight
as the wind can carry us."

"Thank God!" exclaimed Trevannion, "anything is better than this.  If we
can get once more among the tree-tops, we shall at least be saved from
drowning.  Thank God, children.  We shall be preserved!"

The Indian descended from the mast, close followed by the monkey, whose
serio-comic countenance seemed to say that he too was satisfied by the
observation just made.  Still careering madly onward before the tempest,
the boat soon brought the tree-tops within view, and, after a brief
debate, the conclusion was reached that it was only a submerged forest.
But even this was better than buffeting about on the open billows,--
every moment in danger of being swamped; and with a universal feeling of
joy our adventurers perceived that their craft was drifting toward that
dark line.  They were powerless to control her course.  Her rudder had
been unshipped during the night, and they could trust only to the
tempest still raging to carry them to the confines of the forest.  In
full hope that this would be the result, they took no measures either to
promote or frustrate the steering of the storm.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

THE GALATEA TREED.

Tossed by the tempest, the galatea preserved her course towards the
tree-tops, thus keeping up the spirits and confidence of her crew.
Despite some divergences caused by an occasional contrary gust of wind,
she kept an onward course, in due time arriving within such distance of
the forest, that it was no longer doubtful about her drifting among the
trees.  In this there was a prospect of temporary safety at the least,
and our adventurers had begun to congratulate themselves on the
proximity of the event.  Just then, a gigantic tree--it must have been
gigantic to stand so high over its fellows, though it could scarce be
fifty feet above the surface of the water--presented itself to their
eyes.  It stood solitary and alone, about a quarter of a mile from the
edge of the forest, and as much nearer to the craft, still struggling
through the wind-lashed water.  Like that in the top of which they had
first gone aground, it was a sapucaya,--as testified by the huge
pericarps conspicuously suspended from its branches.  High as may have
been the inundation, its stem rose still higher, by at least ten feet;
but half-way between the water's surface and the branches, the colossal
trunk forked in twain,--each of the twin scions appearing a trunk of
itself.  Through the fork was the water washing at each heave of the
agitated Gapo,--the waves with foaming crests mounting far up towards
the top of the tree, as if aspiring to pluck the ripe fruit depending
from its branches.

Towards this tree the galatea was now going as straight as if she had
been steered by the finger of Destiny itself.  There was no other power
to control her,--at least none that was human.  The wind, or destiny,--
one of the two,--must determine her fate.  The waves perhaps had
something to do with it; since the next that followed lifted the galatea
upon its curling crest, and lodged her in the sapucaya in such a fashion
that her keel, just amidships, rested within the forking of the twin
stems.

"Thank God!" exclaimed her owner, "we are safe now.  Moored between two
stanchions like these, neither the winds of heaven nor the waves of the
great ocean itself could prevail against us.  Make fast there!  Make
fast to the limbs of the tree!  Tie her on both sides.  These are no
twigs to be snapped asunder.  Hurrah! we are anchored at last!"

The gigantic stems of the sapucaya, rising on both sides above the
beam-ends of the galatea, looked like the supporters of a graving-dock.
It is true the craft still floated upon the bosom of a troubled water;
but what of that?  Once made fast to the tree, she could not be carried
farther; therefore was she secure against wind and wave.  The tornado
might continue, but no longer to be a terror to the crew.  These, partly
relieved from their fears, hastened to obey the master's commands.
Ropes were grasped, and, with hands still trembling, were looped around
the stems of the sapucaya.  All at once action was suspended by a loud
crash, which was followed by a cry that issued simultaneously from the
lips of all the crew; who, before its echoes could die away among the
branches of the sapucaya, had become separated into two distinct groups!

The crash had been caused by the parting of the galatea's keel, which,
resting in the fork of the tree, had broken amidships, on the subsidence
of the wave that had heaved her into this peculiar position.  For a few
seconds the two sections of the partly dissevered craft hung balanced
between the air and the water, the fore-deck with its stores balancing
the quarter with its _toldo_.  But long before the beam was kicked, the
occupants of both had forsaken them, and were to be seen, some of them
clinging to the branches of the sapucaya, some struggling beneath
against the storm and the current of the Gapo.  By noble devotion on the
part of those who could swim, the whole crew were placed beyond the
reach of the waves upon the branches of the sapucaya, where, from their
elevated position, they beheld the craft that had so long safely carried
them parting in two and sinking out of sight.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

A DANGEROUS DUCKING.

Before the dismembered vessel quite disappeared under the storm-lashed
waves, every individual of her crew had found a foothold upon the
branches of the sapucaya.  The tree, while causing the wreck of their
vessel, had saved them from going with her to the bottom of the Gapo.
For some time, however, they were far from feeling secure.  They were in
different parts of the tree, scattered all over it, just as they had
been able to lay hold of the limbs and lift themselves above the reach
of the swelling waves.  Scarce two of them were in the same attitude.
One stood erect upon a branch with arms around an upright stem; another
sat astride; a third lay along a limb, with one leg dangling downwards.
The young Paraense had taken post upon a stout _lliana_, that threaded
through the branches of the trees, and, with one arm around this and the
other encircling the waist of his cousin, Rosita, he kept both the girl
and himself in a position of perfect security.  Young Ralph found
footing on a large limb, while his father stood upon a still larger one
immediately below.  The pets, both birds and beasts, had distributed
themselves in their affright, and were seen perched on all parts of the
tree.

For a time there was no attempt made by any one to change his position.
The tornado still continued, and it was just as much as any of them
could do to keep the place already gained.  There was one who did not
even succeed in keeping his place, and this was Tipperary Tom.  The
Irishman had selected one of the lowest limbs, that stretched
horizontally outward, only a few feet above the surface of the water.
He had not exactly made choice of his perch, but had been flung upon it
by the swelling wave, and, clutching instinctively, had held fast.  The
weight of his body, however, had bent the branch downward, and, after
making several fruitless efforts to ascend to the stem, he had
discovered that the feat was too much for him.  There was no choice but
to hold on to the bent branch or drop back into the boiling Gapo, that
threatened from below to ingulf him; terrified by the latter
alternative, Tom exerted all his strength, and held on with mouth agape
and eyes astare.  Soon the tension would have proved too much for him,
and he must have dropped down into the water.  But he was not permitted
to reach this point of exhaustion.  A wave similar to that which had
landed him on the limb lifted him off again, launching him out into the
open water.

A cry of consternation came from the tree.  All knew that Tipperary Tom
was no swimmer; and with this knowledge they expected to see him sink
like a stone.  He did go down, and was for some moments lost to view;
but his carrot-coloured head once more made its appearance above the
surface, and, guided by his loud cries, his situation was easily
discovered.  He could only sink a second time to rise no more.  Sad were
the anticipations of his companions,--all except one, who had made up
his mind that Tipperary Tom was not yet to die.  This was the Mundurucu,
who at the moment was seen precipitating himself from the tree, and then
swimming out in the direction of the drowning man.  In less than a score
of seconds he was in the clutch of the Indian, who grasping him with one
hand, with the other struck out for the tree.

By good fortune the swell that had swept Tipperary from his perch, or
one wonderfully like it, came balancing back towards the sapucaya,
bearing both Indian and Irishman upon its crest, landing them in the
great fork where the galatea had gone to pieces, and then retiring
without them!  It seemed a piece of sheer good fortune, though no doubt
it was a destiny more than half directed by the arm of the Indian, whose
broad palm appeared to propel them through the water with the power of a
paddle.

To whatever indebted, chance or the prowess of the Mundurucu, certain it
is that Tipperary Tom was rescued from a watery grave in the Gapo; and
on seeing him along with his preserver safe in the fork of the tree, a
general shout of congratulation, in which even the animals took part,
pealed up through the branches, loud enough to be heard above the
swishing of the leaves, the whistling of the wind, and the surging of
the angry waters, that seemed to hiss spitefully at being disappointed
of their prey.

Tom's senses had become somewhat confused by the ducking.  Not so much,
however, as to hinder him from perceiving that in the fork, where the
wave had deposited him and his preserver, he was still within reach of
the swelling waters; seeing this, he was not slow to follow the example
of the Mundurucu, who, "swarming" up the stem of the tree, placed
himself in a safe and more elevated position.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

A CONSULTATION IN THE TREE-TOP.

It would scarce be possible to conceive a situation more forlorn than
that of the castaway crew of the galatea.  Seated, standing, or astride
upon the limbs of the sapucaya, their position was painful, and far from
secure.  The tempest continued, and it was with difficulty they could
keep their places, every gust threatening to blow them out of the
tree-top.  Each clung to some convenient bough; and thus only were they
enabled to maintain their balance.  The branches, swept by the furious
storm, creaked and crackled around them,--bending as if about to break
under their feet, or in the hands that apprehensively grasped them.
Sometimes a huge pericarp, big as a cannon-ball, filled with heavy
fruits, was detached from the pendulous peduncles, and went _swizzing_
diagonally through the air before the wind, threatening a cracked crown
to any who should be struck by it.  One of the castaways met with this
bit of ill-luck,--Mozey the Mozambique.  It was well, however, that he
was thus distinguished, since no other skull but his could have
withstood the shock.  As it was, the ball rebounded from the close
woolly fleece that covered the negro's crown, as from a cushion, causing
him no further trouble than a considerable fright.  Mozey's looks and
exclamations were ludicrous enough, had his companions been inclined for
laughter.  But they were not; their situation was too serious, and all
remained silent, fully occupied in clinging to the tree, and moodily
contemplating the scene of cheerless desolation that surrounded them.

Till now, no one had speculated on anything beyond immediate safety.  To
escape drowning had been sufficient for their thoughts, and engrossed
them for more than an hour after the galatea had gone down.  Then a
change began to creep over their spirits,--brought about by one
observable in the spirit of the storm.  It was, you remember, one of
those tropical tempests, that spring up with unexpected celerity, and
fall with equal abruptness.  Now the tempest began to show signs of
having spent itself.  The tornado--a species of _cyclone_, usually of
limited extent--had passed on, carrying destruction to some other part
of the great Amazonian plain.  The wind lulled into short, powerless
puffs, and the comparatively shallow waters of the Gapo soon ceased to
swell.  By this time noon had come, and the sun looked down from a
zenith of cloudless blue, upon an expanse of water no more disturbed,
and on branches no longer agitated by the stormy wind.

This transformation, sudden and benign, exerted an influence on the
minds of our adventurers perched upon the sapucaya.  No longer in
immediate danger, their thoughts naturally turned to the future; and
they began to speculate upon a plan for extricating themselves from
their unfortunate dilemma.

On all sides save one, as far as the eye could scan, nothing could be
seen but open water,--the horizon not even broken by the branch of a
tree.  On the excepted side trees were visible, not in clumps, or
standing solitary, but in a continuous grove, with here and there some
taller ones rising many feet above their fellows.  There could be no
doubt that it was a forest.  It would have gratified them to have
believed it a thicket, for then would they have been within sight and
reach of land.  But they could not think so consistently with their
experience.  It resembled too exactly that to which they had tied the
galatea on the eve of the tempest, and they conjectured that what they
saw was but the "spray" of a forest submerged.  For all that, the design
of reaching it as soon as the waters were calm was first in their minds.

This was not so easy as might be supposed.  Although the border of the
verdant peninsula was scarce a quarter of a mile distant, there were but
two in the party who could swim across to it.  Had there existed the
materials for making a raft, their anxiety need not have lasted long.
But nothing of the kind was within reach.  The branches of the sapucaya,
even if they could be broken off, were too heavy, in their green growing
state, to do more than to buoy up their own ponderous weight.  So a
sapucaya raft was not to be thought of, although it was possible that,
among the tree-tops which they were planning to reach, dead timber might
be found sufficient to construct one.  But this could be determined only
after a reconnoissance of the submerged forest by Richard Trevannion and
the Mundurucu, who alone could make it.

To this the patron hardly consented,--indeed, he was not asked.  There
seemed to be a tacit understanding that it was the only course that
could be adopted; and without further ado, the young Paraense, throwing
off such of his garments as might impede him, sprang from the tree, and
struck boldly out for the flooded forest.  The Mundurucu, not being
delayed by the necessity of stripping, had already taken to the water,
and was fast cleaving his way across the open expanse that separated the
solitary sapucaya from its more social companions.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

A FRACAS HEARD FROM AFAR.

The castaways watched the explorers until they disappeared within the
shadowy selvage.  Then, having nothing else to do, they proceeded to
make themselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit, by
selecting for their seats the softest branches of the sapucaya.  To be
sure there was not much choice between the limbs, but the great fork,
across which the galatea had broken, appeared to offer a position rather
better than any other.  As the swell was no longer to be dreaded,
Trevannion descended into the fork, taking little Rosa along with him,
while the others sat on higher limbs, holding by the branches or stout
llianas growing above them.  At best their situation was irksome, but
physical inconvenience was hardly felt in their mental sufferings.
Their reflections could not be other than painful as they contemplated
the future.  Their shelter in the sapucaya could be only temporary, and
yet it might continue to the end of their lives.  They had no assurance
that they might be able to get out of it at all; and even if they should
succeed in reaching the other trees, it might be only to find them forty
feet deep in water.  The prospect was deplorable and their forebodings
gloomy.

For nearly an hour they exchanged no word.  The only sound heard was an
occasional scream from one of the pet birds, or the jabbering of the
monkeys, of which there had been five or six, of different kinds, on the
galatea.  Two only had found refuge on the tree,--a beautiful little
_Ouistiti_, and a larger one, of the genus _Ateles_, the black Coaita.
The others, chained or otherwise confined, had gone down with the
galatea.  So, too, with the feathered favourites, of many rare and
beautiful kinds, collected during the long voyage on the Upper Amazon,
some of which had been bought at large prices from their Indian owners,
to carry across the Atlantic.  The caged had perished with the wreck,
others by the tornado, and, like the _quadrumana_, only two of the birds
had found an asylum on the tree.  One was a splendid hyacinthine macaw,
the _Araruna_ of the Indians (_Macrocercus hyacinthinus_); the other a
small paroquet, the very tiniest of its tribe, which had long divided
with the little ouistiti the affections of Rosa.

About an hour had elapsed since the departure of the swimming scouts,
with no signs of their return.  The party cast anxious glances towards
the place where they had last been seen, listening for any sounds from
the thicket that concealed them.  Once or twice they fancied they heard
their voices, and then they were all sure they heard shouts, but
mingling with some mysterious sounds in a loud, confused chorus.  The
coaita heard, and chattered in reply; so, too, did the ouistiti and
paroquet; but the macaw seemed most disturbed, and once or twice,
spreading its hyacinthine wings, rose into the air, and appeared
determined to part from its _ci-devant_ protectors.  The call of Ralph,
whose especial pet it was, allured it back to its perch, where, however,
it only stayed in a state of screaming uncertainty.  There was something
strange in this behaviour, though in the anxiety of the hour but little
heed was paid to it; and as the voices soon after ceased, the araruna
became tranquillised, and sat quietly on the roost it had selected.

Once more, however, the shouting and strange cries came pealing across
the water, and again the araruna gave evidence of excitement.  This time
the noise was of shorter duration, and soon terminated in complete
tranquillity.  Nearly two hours had now expired, and the countenances of
all began to wear an expression of the most sombre character.  Certainly
they had heard the voices of Richard and the Mundurucu mingling with
those unearthly sounds.  There was time enough for them to have gone far
into the unknown forest, and return.  What could detain them?  Their
voices had been heard only in shouts and sharp exclamations, that
proclaimed them to be in some critical, perhaps perilous situation.  And
now they were silent!  Had they succumbed to some sad fate?  Were they
dead?



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

THE JARARACA.

There are bodily sensations stronger than many mental emotions.  Such
are hunger and thirst.  The castaways in the tree-top began to
experience both in an extreme degree.  By good fortune, the means of
satisfying them were within reach.  With a "monkey-cup" emptied of its
triangular kernels they could draw up water at will, and with its
contents conquer the cravings of hunger.  At his father's request, and
stimulated by his own sensations, Ralph began climbing higher, to
procure some of the huge fruit-capsules suspended--as is the case with
most South American forest-trees--from the extremities of the branches.
The boy was a bold and skilful climber among the crags and cliffs of his
native Cordilleras.  Still a tree did not come amiss to him, and in a
twinkling he had ascended to the top branches of the sapucaya, the macaw
making the ascent with him, perched upon his crown.  All at once the
bird began to scream, as if startled by some terrible apparition; and
without losing an instant, it forsook its familiar place, and commenced
fluttering around the top of the tree, still continuing its cries.  What
could be the cause?  The boy looked above and about him, but could
discover nothing.  The screams of the araruna were instantly answered by
the little paroquet in a tiny treble, but equally in accents of terror,
while both the coaita and ouistiti, chattering in alarm, came bounding
up the tree.  The paroquet had already joined the macaw, and, as if in
imitation of its great congener, flew fluttering among the top branches,
in a state of the wildest excitement!  Guided by the birds, that kept
circling around one particular spot, the boy at length discovered the
cause of the alarm; and the sight was one calculated to stir terror.

It was a serpent coiled around a lliana that stretched diagonally
between two branches.  It was of a yellowish-brown colour, near to that
of the lliana itself; and but for its smooth, shining skin, and the
elegant convolutions of its body, might have been mistaken for one
parasite entwining another.  Its head, however, was in motion, its long
neck stretched out, apparently in readiness to seize upon one of the
birds as soon as it should come within striking distance.

Ralph was not so much alarmed.  A snake was no uncommon sight, and the
one in question was not so monstrous as to appear very formidable.  The
first thought was to call off the birds, or in some way get them out of
reach of the snake; for the imprudent creatures, instead of retreating
from such a dangerous enemy, seemed determined to fling themselves upon
its fangs, which Ralph could see erect and glistening, as at intervals
it extended its jaws.  The little paroquet was especially imprudent,
recklessly approaching within a few inches of the serpent, and even
alighting on the lliana around which it had warped itself.  Ralph was
ascending still higher, to take the bird in his hand, and carry it clear
of the danger, when his climbing was suddenly arrested by a shout from
Mozey, the Mozambique, that proclaimed both caution and terror.  "Fo'
you life doant, Mass'r Raff!" cried the negro, following up his
exclamation of warning.  "Fo' you life doant go near um!  You no know
what am dat ar snake?  It am de _Jararaca_!"

"Jararaca!" mechanically rejoined Ralph.

"Ya--ya--de moas pisenous sarpin in all de valley ob de Amazon.  I'se
hear de Injine say so a score ob times.  Come down, Mass'r! come down!"

Attracted by the screaming of the birds and the chattering of the
monkeys, the others listened attentively below.  But upon the negro's
quick cry of warning, and the dialogue that ensued, Trevannion ascended
higher, followed by Tipperary Tom,--Rosa remained alone below, in the
fork where her father had left her.  Trevannion, on coming in sight of
the snake, at once recognised it as all that Mozey had alleged,--the
most poisonous of the Amazon valley,--a species of _Craspedocephalus_.
He knew it from having seen one before, which the Mundurucu had killed
near Coary, and had described in similar terms,--adding that its bite
was almost instantly fatal, that it will attack man or beast without any
provocation, that it can spring upon its enemy from a distance, and,
finally, that it was more feared than any other creature in the country,
not excepting the jaguar and jacare!

The appearance of the reptile itself was sufficient to confirm this
account.  Its flat triangular head, connected with the body by a long
thin neck, its glittering eyes and red forking tongue, projected at
intervals more than an inch beyond its snout, gave the creature a
monstrous and hideous aspect.  It looked as if specially designed to
cause death and destruction.  It was not of great size,--scarcely six
feet long, and not thicker than a girl's wrist; but it needed not bulk
to make it dangerous.  No one knew exactly what to do.  All were without
arms, or weapons of any kind.  These had long since gone to the bottom
of the Gapo; and for some minutes no movement was made except by young
Ralph, who on being warned of his danger, had hastened to descend the
tree.  The birds were left to themselves, and still continued screaming
and fluttering above.  Up to this time the snake had remained
motionless, except his oscillating head and neck.  Its body now began to
move, and the glittering folds slowly to relax their hold upon the
lliana.

"Great God! he is coming down the tree!"  The words had hardly left
Trevannion's lips before the snake was seen crawling along the lliana,
and the next moment transferring its body to a branch which grew
slantingly from the main trunk.  This was soon reached; and then, by
means of another lliana lying parallel to it, the reptile continued its
descent.  All those who stood by the trunk hastily forsook the perilous
place, and retreated outward along the branches.  The jararaca seemed to
take no note either of their presence or flight, but continued down the
limb towards the fork of the main stem, where stood little Rosa.  "O
heavens!" cried Trevannion, in a voice of anguish, "my child is lost!"

The girl had risen to her feet, being already fearful of the danger
threatening her friends above; but on looking up, she beheld the hideous
reptile coming straight towards her.  Her situation was most perilous.
The lliana by which the snake was descending rose right up from the fork
of the sapucaya.  The child was even clasping it in her hand, to keep
herself erect.  The reptile could not pass without touching her.  In
fact, it must pass over her person to get down from the tree.  There was
no likelihood of its gliding on without striking her.  Its well-known
character--as the most malicious of venomous serpents--forbade the
supposition.  The snake was scarce ten feet above her head, still
gliding onward and downward!  It was at this crisis that her father had
given voice to that despairing exclamation.  He was about to scramble
down to the trunk, with the design of launching himself upon the
serpent, and grappling it with his naked hands, reckless of
consequences, when a sign from Mozey, accompanied by some words quickly
spoken, caused him to hesitate.

"No use, Mass'r!" cried the negro, "no use,--you be too late.  Jump,
lilly Rosy!" he continued, calling to the child in a loud, commanding
voice.  "It's you only chance.  Jump into de water, an ole Mozey he come
down sabe you.  Jump!"  To stimulate the child by his example, the
negro, with his last word, sprang out from his branch and plunged into
the water.  In an instant he was upon the surface again, continuing his
cries of encouragement.  Rosa Trevannion was a girl of spirit; and, in
this fearful alternative, hesitated not a moment to obey.  Short as was
the time, however, it would have proved too long had the snake continued
its descent without interruption.  Fortunately it did not.  When its
hideous head was close to the child's hand, where the latter grasped the
lliana, it suddenly stopped,--not to prepare itself for the fatal dart,
but because the negro's heavy fall had splashed much water against the
tree, sprinkling child and jararaca too.  It was the momentary surprise
of this unexpected shower-bath that had checked the serpent, while Rosa
dropped down into the Gapo, and was caught by her sable preserver.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

HOLD ON!

Mozey's noble conduct elicited a cry of admiration.  It was the more
noble as the negro was a poor swimmer, and therefore risked his own
life.  But this produced another effect, and in the shout there was no
tone of triumph.  The child was perhaps only rescued from the reptile to
be swallowed with her preserver by a monster far more; voracious, the
ingulfing Gapo.  Nor was it yet certain that she had been saved from the
serpent.  The jararaca is a snake eminently amphibious, alike at home on
land or at sea.  It might follow, and attack them in the water.  Then,
too, it would have a double advantage; for while it could swim like a
fish, Mozey could just keep himself afloat, weighted as he was with his
powerless burden.  In view of this, Trevannion's heart was filled with
most painful anxiety, and for some time neither he nor any beside him
could think what course to pursue.  It was some slight relief to them to
perceive that the snake did not continue the pursuit into the water; for
on reaching the fork of the tree it had thrown itself into a coil, as if
determined to remain there.

At first there appeared no great advantage in this.  In its position,
the monster could prevent the swimmers from returning to the tree; and
as it craned its long neck outward, and looked maliciously at the two
forms struggling below, one could have fancied that it had set itself to
carry out this exact design.  For a short time only Trevannion was
speechless, and then thought, speech, and action came together.  "Swim
round to the other side!" he shouted to the negro.  "Get under the great
branch.  Ho, Tom!  You and Ralph climb aloft to the one above.  Tear off
the lliana you see there, and let it down to me.  Quick, quick!"

As he delivered these instructions, he moved out along the limb with as
much rapidity as was consistent with safety, while Tipperary and Ralph
climbed up to carry out his commands.  The branch taken by Trevannion
himself was that to which he had directed the negro to swim, and was the
same by which Tipperary Tom had made his first ascent into the tree, and
from which he had been washed off again.  It extended horizontally
outward, at its extremity dipping slightly towards the water.  Though in
the swell caused by the tornado it had been at intervals submerged, it
was now too far above the surface to have been grasped by any one from
below.  The weight of Trevannion's body, as he crept outward upon it,
brought it nearer to the water, but not near enough for a swimmer to lay
hold.  He saw that, by going too far out, the branch would not bear his
own weight, and might snap short off, thus leaving the swimmers in a
worse position than ever.  It was for this reason he had ordered the
untwining of the creeper that was clinging above.  His orders were
obeyed with the utmost alacrity by Tom and Ralph, as if their own lives
depended on the speed.  Almost before he was ready to receive it, the
long lliana was wrenched from its tendril fastenings, and came
straggling down over the branch on which he sat, like the stay of a ship
loosened from her mast-head.

Meanwhile Mozey,--making as much noise as a young whale, blowing like a
porpoise, spurting and spitting like an angry cat,--still carrying the
child safe on his shoulders, had arrived under the limb, and, with
strokes somewhat irregularly given and quickly repeated, was doing his
very best to keep himself and her above water.  It was evident to all,
that the over-weighted swimmer was wellnigh exhausted; and had not the
end of the long lliana plumped down in the nick of time, the Mozambique
must indubitably have gone to the bottom, taking his charge with him.
Just in time, however, the tree-cable came within his clutch, and,
seizing it with all his remaining strength, Rosa relieved him of her
weight by laying hold herself, and the two were drawn up into the tree
amidst cries of "Hold on! hold on!" ending in general congratulation.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

THE PAROQUET.

Alas! there was one circumstance that hindered their triumph from being
complete.  The jararaca was still in the tree.  So long as this terrible
tenant shared their abode, there could be neither confidence nor
comfort.  There it lay coiled upon its scaly self, snugly ensconced in
the fork below, with skin glittering brightly, and eyes gleaming
fiercely in the golden sunlight that now fell slantingly against the
tree.  How long would the monster remain in this tranquil attitude, was
the question that presented itself to the minds of all, as soon as the
first transport of their joy had subsided.  It was evident it had no
intention of taking to the water, though it could have done so without
fear.  No doubt the sapucaya was its habitual haunt; and it was not
likely to forsake it just to accommodate some half-score of strange
creatures who had chosen to intrude.  Surely some time or other it would
re-ascend the tree, and then--?

But all speculations on this point were soon interrupted.  The little
paroquet, which had shown such excitement on first discovering the
snake, had been quiet while all were engaged in the salvage of Mozey and
the child.  Now that a certain quietness had been restored, the bird was
seen returning to the jararaca for the supposed purpose of renewing its
impotent attack.  For some minutes it kept fluttering over the serpent,
now alighting upon a branch, anon springing off again, and descending to
one lower and nearer to the jararaca, until it had almost reached its
head.  Strange to say, there appeared no hostility in the bird's
movements; its actions betrayed rather the semblance of fear, confirmed
by the tremulous quivering of its frame whenever it came to rest upon a
perch.  The spectators' suspicion was further strengthened by the little
creature's continued cries.  It was not the angry chattering by which
these birds usually convey their hostility, but a sort of plaintive
screaming that betokened terror.  At each flight it approached closer to
the serpent's forked tongue, and then retreated, as if vacillating and
irresolute.

The reptile meanwhile exhibited itself in a hideous attitude; yet a deep
interest enchained the spectators.  Its head had broadened, or flattened
out to twice the natural dimensions; the eyes seemed to shoot forth twin
jets of fire, while the extensile tongue, projected from a double row of
white, angular teeth, appeared to shine with phosphorescent flame.  The
bird was being _charmed_, and was already under the serpent's
fascination.

How could the pretty pet be saved?  Young Ralph, noticing the despair
upon his sister's face, was half inclined to rush down the tree, and
give battle to the jararaca; and Tipperary Tom--whose general hostility
to snakes and reptiles had a national and hereditary origin--purposed
doing something to avert the paroquet's fast-approaching fate.
Trevannion, however, was too prudent to permit any interference, while
the negro appeared only anxious that the magic spectacle should reach
its termination.  It was not cruelty on his part.  Mozey had his
motives, which were soon after revealed, proving that the brain of the
African is at times capable of conception equal, if not superior, to his
boasted Caucasian brother.  There was no interruption.  The end was not
far off.  By slow degrees, the bird appeared to grow exhausted, until
its wings could no longer sustain it.  Then, as if paralysed by a final
despair, it pitched itself right into the mouth of the reptile, whose
jaws had been suddenly extended to receive it!  There was a slight
flutter of the wings, a tremulous motion of the body, and the
self-immolated creature appeared to be dead.  The serpent, half
uncoiling itself, turned its head towards the tree, and, once more
opening its jaws, permitted the now lifeless paroquet to escape from
their clasp, and drop quietly into the crotch formed by the forking of
the stem.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE LLIANA UNLOOSED.

The spectators of this little tragedy of animal life had hitherto
prudently refrained from taking part in it.  Curiosity now exerted an
equal effect in preventing their interference; and without speech or
motion they sat on their respective perches to observe the _finale_ of
the drama, which evidently had not ended with the death of the paroquet.
That was but the beginning of the end, for the prey was yet to be
devoured.  Though provided with a double row of teeth, it is well-known
that animals of the reptile kind do not masticate their food.  These
teeth, set trenchantly, as is commonly the case, are intended only to
capture the living prey, which enters the stomach afterwards by a
process termed deglutition.  At the spectacle of just such a process,
with all its preliminary preparations, were the group in the sapucaya
now to be present,--the principal performer being apparently unconscious
of, or at all events unconcerned at, their presence.

Having deposited the dead bird in the fork of the tree, the serpent
changed its coiled attitude into one that would give it a chance of
filling its belly with less inconvenience.  There was not room for it to
extend itself fully; and, in default of this, the tail was allowed to
drop down along the stem of the tree, at least two thirds of the body
remaining in a horizontal position.  Having arranged itself apparently
to its satisfaction, it now directed its attention to the paroquet.
Once more taking the dead bird between its teeth, it turned it over and
over until the head lay opposite to its own, the body aligned in a
longitudinal direction.  The jaws of the snake were now widely extended,
while the tongue, loaded with saliva, was protruded and retracted with
great rapidity.  The serpent continued this licking process until the
short feathers covering the head of the bird, as also its neck and
shoulders, seemed to be saturated with a substance resembling soap or
starch.  When a sufficient coating had been laid on to satisfy the
instincts of the serpent, the creature once more opened its jaws, and,
making a sudden gulp, took in the head of the paroquet, with the neck
and shoulders.  For a time no further action was perceptible.  Yet a
movement was going on: and it was to assure himself of this that the
Mozambique was so attentive.

We have said that he had a motive for permitting the pet to be
sacrificed, which was now on the eve of being revealed to his
companions.  They all saw that there was something upon his mind, and
eagerly anticipated the revelation.  Just as the jararaca had succeeded
in bolting the anterior portion of the paroquet,--that is, the head,
neck, and shoulders,--Mozey rose from his seat, stole towards the stem
of the tree, and let himself down toward the fork, without saying a
word.  His purpose, however, was manifest the moment after, for he
stretched out his right hand, clutched the jararaca around the small of
the neck, and flung the serpent--no longer capable of defending itself--
far out into the waters of the Gapo!  The monster, with its feathered
morsel still in its mouth, sank instantly, to be seen no more; so
thought Mozey and his associates in the sapucaya.

But, as the event proved, they had hastened to an erroneous conclusion.
Scarce had their triumphant cheer echoed across the silent bosom of the
Gapo, when the paroquet was observed floating upon the water; and the
snake, having ejected the half-swallowed pill, was once more upon the
surface, swimming with sinuous but brisk rendings of its body in rapid
return to the tree.  The situation seemed more alarming than ever.  The
fiend himself could hardly have shown a more implacable determination.

To all appearance the jararaca was now returning to take revenge for the
insult and disappointment to which it had been subjected.  Mozey, losing
confidence in his own cunning, retreated up the tree.  He perceived, now
that it was too late, the imprudence of which he had been guilty.  He
should have permitted the snake to proceed a step further in the process
of deglutition, until the disgorging of the paroquet, against the grain
of its feathers, should have become impossible.  He had been too hasty,
and must now answer the consequences.  Sure enough, the serpent returned
to the sapucaya and commenced reascending, availing itself of the
lliana, by which all of its enemies had effected their ascent.  In a few
seconds it had mounted into the fork, and, still adhering to the
parasite, was continuing its upward way.

"O heavens!" ejaculated Trevannion, "one of us must become the prey of
this pitiless monster!  What can be done to destroy it?"

"Dar's a chance yet, Mass'r," cried Mozey, who had suddenly conceived a
splendid thought.  "Dar's a chance yet.  All ob you lay hold on de
creepin' vine, an' pull um out from de tree.  We chuck de varmint back
into the water.  Now den,--all togedder!  Pull like good uns!"

As the negro spoke, he seized the lliana, by which the serpent was
making its spiral ascent, and put out all his strength to detach it from
the trunk of the sapucaya.  The others instantly understood his design,
and grasping the parasite, with a simultaneous effort tried to tear it
off.  A quick jerk broke the lliana loose; and the jararaca, shaken from
its hold, was sent whirling and writhing through the air, till it fell
with a plunging noise upon the water below.  Once more a triumphant
cheer went up through the sapucaya branches, once more to be stifled ere
it had received the answer of its own echoes; for the jararaca was again
seen upon the surface, as before, determinedly approaching the tree.

It was a sight for despair.  There was something supernatural in the
behaviour of the snake.  It was a monster not to be conquered by human
strength, nor circumvented by human cunning.  Was there any use in
continuing the attempt to subdue it?  Mozey, a fatalist, felt half
disposed to submit to a destiny that could not be averted; and even
Tipperary Tom began to despair of the power of his prayers to Saint
Patrick.  The ex-miner, however, as well acquainted with the
subterraneous regions as with upper earth, had no superstition to hinder
him from action, and, instead of desponding he at once adopted the
proper course.  Catching hold of the creeper, that had already been
loosened from the trunk, and calling upon the others to assist him, he
tore the creeper entirely from the tree, flinging its severed stem far
out upon the water.  In a moment after, the snake came up, intending to
climb into the sapucaya, as no doubt it had often done before.  We
wonder what were its feelings on finding that the ladder had been
removed, and that an ascent of the smooth trunk of the sapucaya was no
longer possible, even to a tree snake!  After swimming round and round,
and trying a variety of places, the discomfited jararaca turned away in
apparent disgust; and, launching out on the bosom of the Gapo, swam off
in the direction of the thicket,--on the identical track that had been
taken by Richard and the Mundurucu.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

SERPENT FASCINATION.

It was some time before Trevannion and his companions in misfortune
could recover from the excitement and awe of their adventure.  They
began to believe that the strange tales told them of the Gapo and its
denizens had more than a substratum of truth; for the protracted and
implacable hostility shown by the snake, and its mysterious power over
the bird, seemed surely supernatural.  Trevannion reflected on the
singular behaviour of the jararaca.  That a reptile of such contemptible
dimensions should exhibit so much cunning and courage as to return to
the attack after being repeatedly foiled, and by an enemy so far its
superior in strength and numbers, together with its hideous aspect,
could not fail to impress him with a feeling akin to horror, in which
all those around him shared.  The very monkeys and birds must have felt
it; for when in the presence of snakes, they had never before exhibited
such trepidation and excitement.  Long after the serpent had been
pitched for the second time into the water, the coaita kept up its
terrified gibbering, the macaw screamed, and the tiny ouistiti,
returning to Rosa's protection,--no longer to be shared with its late
rival,--sat trembling in her lap, as if the dreaded reptile were still
within dangerous proximity.

This feeling was but temporary, however.  Trevannion was a man of strong
intellect, trained and cultivated by experience and education; and after
a rational review of the circumstances, he became convinced that there
was nothing very extraordinary, certainly nothing supernatural, in what
transpired.  The jararaca--as he had heard, and as everybody living on
the Amazon knew--was one of the most venomous of serpents, if not the
most venomous of all.  Even the birds and beasts were acquainted with
this common fact, and dreaded the reptile accordingly, not from mere
_instinct_, but from actual knowledge possessed and communicated in some
mysterious way to one another.  This would account for the wild terror
just exhibited, which in the case of the paroquet had come to a fatal
end.  There was a mystery about this for which Trevannion could not
account.  The power which the serpent appeared to have obtained over the
bird, controlling its movements without any apparent action of its own,
was beyond comprehension.  Whether or not it be entitled to the name
given it,--_fascination_, certainly it is a fact,--one that has been
repeatedly observed, and to which not only birds, but quadrupeds, have
been the victims; and not only by ordinary observers, but by men skilled
in the knowledge of nature, who have been equally at a loss to account
for it by natural causes.  But this link in the chain of incidents,
though mysterious, was not new nor peculiar to this situation.  It had
been known to occur in all countries and climes, and so soon ceased to
excite any weird influence on the mind of Trevannion.

For the other circumstances that had occurred there was an explanation
still more natural.  The jararaca, peculiarly an inhabitant of the Gapo
lands, had simply been sunning itself upon the sapucaya.  It may have
been prowling about in the water when overtaken by the tornado; and, not
wishing to be carried away from its haunt, had sought a temporary
shelter in the tree, to which an unlucky chance had guided the galatea.
Its descent was due to the behaviour of the birds, which, after having
for a time tantalised it,--provoking its spite, and in all likelihood
its hungry appetite,--had temporarily suspended their attack, returning
down the tree with Ralph and the negro.  It was in pursuit of them,
therefore, it had forsaken its original perch.  The commotion caused by
its descent, but more especially the ducking it had received, and the
presence of the two human forms in the water below, had induced it to
halt in the forking of the tree, where shortly after its natural prey
again presented itself,--ending in an episode that was to it an ordinary
occurrence.  The choking it had received in the hands of the negro, and
its unexpected immersion, had caused the involuntary rejection of the
half-swallowed morsel.  In the opaque water it had lost sight of the
bird, and was returning to the sapucaya either in search of its food, or
to reoccupy its resting-place.

It is well-known that the jararaca has no fear of man, but will attack
him whenever he intrudes upon its domain.  The Indians assert that it
will even go out of its way for this purpose, unlike the rattlesnake and
other venomous reptiles, which rarely exert their dangerous power except
in self-defence.  So this jararaca reascended the sapucaya undismayed by
the human enemies it saw there, one or more of whom might have become
its victims but for the timely removal of the lliana ladder.

On this review of facts and fancies, the equanimity of our adventurers
was nearly restored.  At all events, they were relieved from the
horrible thoughts of the supernatural, that for a time held ascendancy
over them.  Their hunger and thirst again manifested themselves, though
little Rosa and her preserver no longer suffered from the last.  In
their short excursion both had been repeatedly under water, and had
swallowed enough to last them for that day at least.  Yet they were in
want of food, and Ralph once more climbed the tree to obtain it.  He
soon possessed himself of half a dozen of the huge nut capsules, which
were tossed into the hands of those below, and, water being drawn up in
one of the emptied shells, a meal was made, which if not hearty, was
satisfactory.  The group could do no more than await the return of their
absent companions; and with eyes fixed intently and anxiously upon the
dark water, and beneath the close-growing trees, they watched for the
first ripple that might betoken their coming.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

THE WATER ARCADE.

We must leave for a time the castaways in the tree-top, and follow the
fortunes of the two swimmers on their exploring expedition.

On reaching the edge of the submerged forest, their first thought was to
clutch the nearest branch, and rest themselves by clinging to it.  They
were no longer in doubt as to the character of the scene that surrounded
them, for their experience enabled them to comprehend it.

"The Gapo!" muttered Munday, as they glided in under the shadows.  "No
dry land here, young master," he added, clutching hold of a lliana.  "We
may as well look out for a roost, and rest ourselves.  It's full ten
fathoms deep.  The Mundurucu can tell that by the sort of trees rising
over it."

"I didn't expect anything else," rejoined young Trevannion, imitating
his companion by taking hold of a branch and climbing up.  "My only hope
is that we may find some float timber to ferry the others across.  Not
that there's much in it if we do.  How we're to find our way out of this
mess is more than either you or I can tell."

"The Mundurucu never despairs,--not even in the middle of the Gapo," was
the Indian's proud reply.

"You have hope, then?  You think we shall find timber enough for a raft
to carry us clear of the inundation."

"No!" answered the Indian.  "We have got too far from the channel of the
big river.  We shall see no floating trees here,--nothing to make a raft
that would carry us."

"Why then did we come here, if not for the purpose of finding dead
timber for that object?"

"Dead timber?  No!  If that was our errand, we might go back as we've
come,--empty-handed.  We shall float all the people over here without
that.  Follow me, young master.  We must go farther into the Gapo.  Let
old Munday show you how to construct a raft without trees, only making
use of their fruit."

"Lead on!" cried the Paraense.  "I'm ready to assist you; though I
haven't the slightest conception of what you mean to do."

"You shall see presently, young master," rejoined Munday, once more
spreading himself to swim.  "Come on! follow me!  If I'm not mistaken,
we'll soon find the materials for a raft,--or something that will answer
as well for the present.  Come along, there!  Come!"--and he launched
himself into the water.

Trevannion followed his example, and, once more consigning himself to
the flood, he swam on in the Indian's wake.  Through aisles dimmed with
a twilight like that of approaching night, along arcades covered with
foliage so luxuriant as to be scarce penetrable by the rays of a tropic
sun, the two swimmers, the Indian ever in advance, held their way.

To Richard Trevannion the Mundurucu was comparatively a stranger, known
only as a _tapuyo_ employed by his uncle in the management of the
galatea.  He knew the tribe by rumours even more than sinister.  They
were reputed in Para to be the most bloodthirsty of savages, who took
delight not only in the destruction of their enemies, but in keeping up
a ghastly souvenir of hostility by preserving their heads.  In the
company of a Mundurucu, especially in such a place,--swimming under the
sombre shadows of a submerged forest,--it can scarce be wondered at that
the youth felt suspicion, if not actual fear.  But Richard Trevannion
was a boy of bold heart, and bravely awaited the _denouement_ of the
dismal journey.

Their swim terminated at length, and the Indian, pointing to a tree,
cried out: "Yonder--yonder is the very thing of which I was in search.
Hoo-hoo!  Covered with sipos too,--another thing we stand in need of,--
cord and pitch both growing together.  The Great Spirit is kind to us,
young master."

"What is it?" demanded Richard.  "I see a great tree, loaded with
climbers as you say.  But what of that?  It is green, and growing.  The
wood is full of sap, and would scarce float itself; you can't construct
a raft out of that.  The sipos might serve well enough for rope; but the
timber won't do, even if we had an axe to cut it down."

"The Mundurucu needs no axe, nor yet timber to construct his raft.  All
he wants here is the sap of that tree, and some of the sipos clinging to
its branches.  The timber we shall find on the sapucaya, after we go
back.  Look at the tree, young master!  Do you not know it?"

The Paraense, thus appealed to, turned his eyes toward the tree, and
scanned it more carefully.  Festooned by many kinds of climbing plants,
it was not so easy to distinguish its foliage from that of the parasites
it upheld; enough of the leaves, however, appeared conspicuous to enable
him to recognise the tree as one of the best known and most valuable to
the inhabitants, not only of his native Para, but of all the Amazonian
region, "Certainly," he replied, "I see what sort of tree it is.  It's
the _Seringa_,--the tree from which they obtain caoutchouc.  But what do
you want with that?  You can't make a raft out of India-rubber, can
you?"

"You shall see, young master; you shall see!"

During this conversation the Mundurucu had mounted among the branches of
the seringa, calling upon his companion to come after him, who hastily
responded to the call.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

THE SYRINGE-TREE.

The tree into whose top the swimmers had ascended was, as Richard had
rightly stated, that from which the caoutchouc, or India-rubber, is
obtained.  It was the _Siphonia elastica_, of the order _Euphorbiaceae_,
of the Amazonian valley.  Not that the _Siphonia_ is the only tree which
produces the world-renowned substance, which has of late years effected
almost a revolution in many arts, manufactures, and domestic economies
of civilised life.  There are numerous other trees, both in the Old and
New World, most of them belonging to the famed family of the figs, which
in some degree afford the caoutchouc of commerce.  Of all, however, that
yielded by the _Siphonia elastica_ is the best, and commands the highest
price among dealers.  The young Paraense called it _Seringa_, and this
is the name he had been accustomed to hear given to it.  _Seringa_ is
simply the Portuguese for syringe, and the name has attached itself to
the tree, because the use which the aborigines were first observed to
make of the elastic tubes of the caoutchouc was that of squirts or
syringes, the idea being suggested by their noticing the natural tubes
formed by the sap around twigs, when flowing spontaneously from the
tree.  For syringes it is employed extensively to this day by Brazilians
of all classes, who construct them by moulding the sap, while in its
fluid state, into pear-shaped bottles, and inserting a piece of cane in
the long neck.

The caoutchouc is collected in the simplest way, which affords a regular
business to many Amazonians, chiefly native Indians, who dispose of it
to the Portuguese or Brazilian traders.  The time is in August, when the
subsidence of the annual inundation permits approach to the trees; for
the _Seringa_ is one of those species that prefer the low flooded lands,
though it is not altogether peculiar to the Gapo.  It grows throughout
the whole region of the Amazon, wherever the soil is alluvial and
marshy.  The India-rubber harvest, if we may use the term, continues
throughout the dry months, during which time very large quantities of
the sap are collected, and carried over to the export market of Para.  A
number of trees growing within a prescribed circle are allotted to each
individual, whose business it is--man, woman, or boy--to attend to the
assigned set of trees; and this is the routine of their day's duty.

In the evening the trees are tapped; that is, a gash or incision is made
in the bark,--each evening in a fresh place,--and under each is
carefully placed a little clay cup, or else the shell of an
_Ampullasia_, to catch the milky sap that oozes from the wound.  After
sunrise in the morning, the "milkers" again revisit the scene of
operations, and empty all the cups into a large vessel, which is carried
to one common receptacle.  By this time the sap, which is still of a
white colour, is of the consistency of cream, and ready for moulding.
The collectors have already provided themselves with moulds of many
kinds, according to the shape they wish the caoutchouc to assume, such
as shoes, round balls, bottles with long necks, and the like.  These are
dipped into the liquid, a thin stratum of which adheres to them, to be
made thicker by repeated immersions, until the proper dimensions are
obtained.  After the last coat has been laid on, lines and ornamental
tracings are made upon the surface, while still in a soft state; and a
rich brown colour is obtained by passing the articles repeatedly through
a thick black smoke, given out by a fire of palm-wood,--several species
of these trees being specially employed for this purpose.  As the moulds
are usually solid substances, and the shoes, balls, and bottles are cast
_on_, and not _in_ them, it may be wondered how the latter can be taken
off, or the former got out.  King George would have been as badly
puzzled about this, as he was in regard to the apples in the pudding.
The idea of the Amazonian aboriginal, though far more ingenious, is
equally easy of explanation.  His bottle-moulds are no better than balls
of dried mud, or clay; and so too, the lasts upon which he fashions the
India-rubber shoes.  Half an hour's immersion in water is sufficient to
restore them to their original condition of soft mud; when a little
scraping and washing completes the manufacture, and leaves the commodity
in readiness for the merchant and the market.

The _Seringa_ is not a tree of very distinguished appearance, and but
for its valuable sap might be passed in a forest of Amazonia, where so
many magnificent trees meet the eye, without eliciting a remark.  Both
in the colour of its bark and the outline of its leaves it bears a
considerable resemblance to the European ash,--only that it grows to a
far greater size, and with a stem that is branchless, often to the
height of thirty or forty feet above the ground.  The trunk of that on
which the Mundurucu and his companion had climbed was under water to
that depth, else they could not so easily have ascended.  It was growing
in its favourite situation,--the Gapo,--its top festooned, as we have
said, with scores of parasitical plants, of many different species,
forming a complete labyrinth of limbs, leaves, fruits, and flowers.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

A BATTLE WITH BIRDS.

Scarce had the Paraense succeeded in establishing himself on the tree,
when an exclamation from his companion, higher up among the branches,
caused him to look aloft.  "Hoo-hoo!" was the cry that came from the
lips of the Mundurucu, in a tone of gratification.

"What is it, Munday?"

"Something good to eat, master?"

"I'm glad to hear it.  I feel hungry enough in all conscience; and these
sapucaya nuts don't quite satisfy me.  I'd like a little fish or flesh
meat along with them."

"It's neither," rejoined the Indian.  "Something as good, though.  It's
fowl!  I've found an arara's nest."

"O, a macaw!  But where is the bird?  You haven't caught it yet?"

"Haven't I?" responded the Mundurucu, plunging his arm elbow-deep into a
cavity in the tree-trunk; and dragging forth a half-fledged bird, nearly
as big as a chicken.  "Ah, a nest! young ones!  Fat as butter too!"

"All right.  We must take them back with us.  Our friends in the
sapucaya are hungry as we, and will be right glad to see such an
addition to the larder."

But Richard's reply was unheard; for, from the moment that the Mundurucu
had pulled the young macaw out of its nest, the creature set up such a
screaming and flopping of its half-fledged wings, as to fill all the
woods around.  The discordant ululation was taken up and repeated by a
companion within the cavity; and then, to the astonishment of the twain,
half a score of similar screaming voices were heard issuing from
different places higher up in the tree, where it was evident there were
several other cavities, each containing a nest full of young araras.

"A regular breeding-place, a macaw-cot," cried Richard, laughing as he
spoke.  "We'll get squabs enough to keep us all for a week!"

The words had scarce passed his lips, when a loud clangour reverberated
upon the air.  It was a confused mixture of noises,--a screaming and
chattering,--that bore some resemblance to the human voice; as if half a
score of Punches were quarrelling with as many Judys at the same time.
The sounds, when first heard, were at some distance; but before twenty
could have been counted, they were uttered close to the ears of the
Mundurucu, who was highest up, while the sun became partially obscured
by the outspread wings of a score of great birds, hovering in hurried
flight around the top of the seringa.  There was no mystery about the
matter.  The new-comers were the parents of the young macaws--the owners
of the nests--returning from a search for provender for their pets,
whose piercing cries had summoned them in all haste to their home.  As
yet, neither the Indian nor his young companion conceived any cause for
alarm.  Foolish indeed to be frightened by a flock of birds!  They were
not allowed to indulge long in this comfortable equanimity; for, almost
on the moment of their arrival above the tree, the united parentage of
araras plunged down among the branches, and, with wing, beak, and
talons, began an instant and simultaneous attack upon the intruders.
The Indian was the first to receive their onset.  Made in such a united
and irresistible manner, it had the effect of causing him to let go the
chick, which fell with a plunge into the water below.  In its descent it
was accompanied by half a dozen of the other birds,--its own parents,
perhaps, and their more immediate friends,--and these, for the first
time espying a second enemy farther down, directed their attack upon
him.  The force of the assailants was thus divided; the larger number
continued their onslaught upon the Indian, though the young Paraense at
the same time found his hands quite full enough in defending himself,
considering that he carried nothing in the shape of a weapon, and that
his body, like that of his comrade, was altogether unprotected by
vestments.  To be sure, the Mundurucu was armed with a sharp knife,
which he had brought along with him in his girdle; but this was of very
little use against his winged enemies; and although he succeeded in
striking down one or two of them, it was done rather by a blow of the
fist than by the blade.

In a dozen seconds both had received almost as many scratches from the
beaks and talons of the birds, which still continued the combat with a
fury that showed no signs of relaxation or abatement.  The Paraense did
not stay either to take counsel or imitate the example of his more sage
companion, but, hastily bending down upon the limb whereon he had been
maintaining the unequal contest, he plunged headforemost into the water.
Of course a "header" from such a height carried him under the surface;
and his assailants, for the moment missing him, flew back into the
tree-top, and joined in the assault on Munday.  The latter, who had by
this become rather sick of the contest, thinking of no better plan,
followed his comrade's example.  Hastily he flung himself into the
flood, and, first diving below the surface, came up beside the Paraense,
and the two swam away side by side in silence, each leaving behind him a
tiny string of red; for the blood was flowing freely from the scratches
received in their strange encounter.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

A CONTEST WITH CUDGELS.

Our discomfited adventurers did not swim far from the seringa, for the
birds did not follow them.  Satisfied with seeing the burglars fairly
beyond the boundaries of their domicile, the tenants of the tree
returned to their nests, as if to ascertain what amount of damage had
been done.  In a short time the commotion had almost subsided, though
there was heard an occasional scream,--the wail of the bereaved parents;
for the helpless squab, after struggling a while on the surface of the
water, had gone suddenly out of sight.  There was no danger, therefore,
of further molestation from their late assailants, so long as they
should be left in quiet possession of the seringa, and therefore there
was no further necessity for the two swimmers to retreat.  A new
intention had shaped itself in Munday's mind by this time, and he
expressed his determination to return, to the surprise of the youth, who
asked his purpose.

"Partly the purpose for which we first climbed it, and partly," added
he, with an angry roll of his almond-shaped eyes, "to obtain revenge.  A
Mundurucu is not to be bled in this fashion, even by birds, without
drawing blood in return.  I don't go out from this _igarape_ till I've
killed every arara, old as well as young, in that accursed tree, or
chased the last of them out of it.  Follow, and I'll show you how."

The Indian turned his face towards the thicket of tree-tops forming one
side of the water arcade, and with a stroke or two brought himself
within reach of some hanging parasites, and climbed up, bidding Richard
follow.  Once more they were shut in among the tops of what appeared to
be a gigantic mimosa.  "It will do," muttered the Mundurucu drawing his
knife and cutting a stout branch, which he soon converted into a cudgel
of about two feet in length.  This he handed to his companion, and then,
selecting a second branch of still stouter proportions, fashioned a
similar club for himself.

"Now," said he, after having pruned the sticks to his satisfaction,
"we're both armed, and ready to give battle to the araras, with a better
chance of coming off victorious.  Let us lose no time.  We have other
work to occupy us, and your friends will be impatient for our return."
Saying this, he let himself down into the water, and turned towards the
seringa.  His _protege_ made no protest, but followed instantly after.
Tightly clutching their cudgels, both reascended the seringa, and
renewed the battle with the birds.  The numbers were even more unequal
than before; but this time the advantage was on the side of the
intruders.

Striking with their clubs of heavy acacia-wood, the birds fell at every
blow, until not one arara fluttered among the foliage.  Most of these
had fallen wounded upon the water; a few only, seeing certain
destruction before them, took flight into the far recesses of the
flooded forest.  The Mundurucu, true to his promise, did not leave a
living bird upon the tree.

One after another, he hauled the half-fledged chicks from their nests;
one after another, twisted their necks; and then, tying their legs
together with a sipo, he separated the bunch into two equally-balanced
parts, hanging it over a limb of the tree.  "They can stay there till ee
come back, which will be soon.  And now let us accomplish the purpose
for which we came here!"  Laying aside the club that had made such havoc
among the macaws, he drew the knife from his girdle.  Selecting a spot
on one of the larger limbs of the seringa, he made an incision in the
bark, from which the milky juice immediately flowed.

He had made provision against any loss of the precious fluid in the
shape of a pair of huge monkey-pots, taken from a sapucaya while on the
way, and which had been all the while lying in their place of deposit in
a network of parasites.  One of these he gave Richard, to hold under the
tap while he made a second incision upon a longer limb of the seringa.
Both nutshells were quickly filled with the glutinous juice, which soon
began to thicken and coagulate like rich cream.  The lids were restored
to their places, and tied on with sipos, and then a large quantity of
this natural cordage was collected and made up into a portable shape.
This accomplished, the Mundurucu signified his intention of returning to
the castaways; and, after apportioning part of the spoil to his
companion, set out on the way they had come.  The young Paraense swam
close in his wake, and in ten minutes they had re-traversed the igarape,
and saw before them the bright sun gilding the Gapo at its embouchure,
that appeared like the mouth of some subterraneous cavern.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

CHASED BY A JACARe.

A few more strokes would have carried the swimmers clear of the water
arcade.  Richard was already congratulating himself on the prospect of
escaping from the gloomy shadow, when all at once his companion started,
raised his head high above the surface, and gazed backward along the
dark arcade.  As he did so, an exclamation escaped him, which only could
be one of alarm.  "A monster!" cried the Mundurucu.

"A monster!  What sort? where?"

"Yonder,--just by the edge of the igarape,--close in to the trees,--his
body half hid under the hanging branches."

"I see something like the trunk of a dead tree, afloat upon the water.
A monster you say, Munday?  What do you make it out to be?"

"The body of a big reptile,--big enough to swallow us both.  It's the
_Jacare-uassu_.  I heard its plunge.  Did not you?"

"I heard nothing like a plunge, except that made by ourselves in
swimming."

"No matter.  There was such a noise but a moment ago.  See! the monster
is again in motion.  He is after us!"

The dark body Richard had taken for the drifting trunk of a tree was now
in motion, and evidently making direct for himself and his companion.
The waves, undulating horizontally behind it, proclaimed the strokes of
its strong, vertically flattened tail, by which it was propelled through
the water.

"The jacare-uassu!" once more exclaimed the Mundurucu, signifying that
the reptile was the great alligator of the Amazon.

It was one of the largest size, its body showing full seven yards above
the water, while its projecting jaws, occasionally opened in menace or
for breath, appeared of sufficient extent to swallow either of the
swimmers.

It was idle for them to think of escaping through the water.  At ease as
they both were in this element, they would have proved but clumsy
competitors with a cayman, especially one of such strength and natatory
skill as belong to the huge reptile in pursuit of them.  Such a
swimming-match was not to be thought of, and neither entertained the
idea of it.

"We must take to the trees!" cried the Indian, convinced that the
alligator was after them.  "The Great Spirit is good to make them grow
so near.  It's the only chance we have for saving our lives.  To the
trees, young master,--to the trees!"

As he spoke, the Mundurucu faced towards the forest; and, with quick,
energetic strokes, they glided under the hanging branches.  Most nimbly
they climbed the nearest, and, once lodged upon a limb, were safe; and
on one of the lowest they "squatted," to await the approach of the
jacare.  In about three seconds the huge saurian came up, pausing as it
approached the spot where the two intended victims had ascended out of
its reach.  It seemed more than surprised,--in fact, supremely
astonished; and for some moments lay tranquil, as if paralysed by its
disappointment.  This quietude, however, was of short duration; for soon
after, as if conscious of having been tricked, it commenced quartering
the water in short diagonal lines, which every instant was lashed into
foam by a stroke of its powerful tail.

"Let us be grateful to the Great Spirit!" said the Indian, looking down
from his perch upon the tree.  "We may well thank him for affording us a
safe refuge here.  It's the jacare-uassu, as I said.  The monster is
hungry, because it's the time of flood, and he can't get food so easily.
The fish upon which he feeds are scattered through the Gapo, and he can
only catch them by a rare chance.  Besides, he has tasted our blood.
Did you not see him sup at it as he came up the igarape?  He's mad now,
and won't be satisfied till he obtains a victim,--a man if he can, for I
can tell by his looks he's a man-eater."

"A man-eater!  What mean you by that?"

"Only that this jacare has eaten men, or women as likely."

"But how can you tell that?"

"Thus, young master.  His bigness tells me of his great age.  He has
lived long, and in his time visited many places.  But what makes me
suspect him to be a man-eater is the eagerness with which he pursued us,
and the disappointment he shows at not getting hold of us.  Look at him
now!"

Certainly there was something peculiar both in the appearance and
movements of the jacare.  Young Trevannion had never seen such a monster
before, though alligators were plenteous around Para, and were no rare
sight to him.  This one, however, was larger than any he had ever seen,
more gaunt or skeleton-like in frame, with a more disgusting leer in its
deep-sunken eyes, and altogether more unearthly in its aspect.  The
sight of the hidden saurian went far to convince him that there was some
truth in the stories of which he had hitherto been sceptical.  After
all, the Gapo might contain creatures fairly entitled to the appellation
of "monsters."



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

A SAURIAN DIGRESSION.

It would be difficult to conceive a more hideous monster than this upon
which Richard Trevannion and his comrade gazed.  In fact, there is no
form in nature--scarce even in the imagination--more unpleasing to the
eye than that of the lizard, the serpent's shape not excepted.  The
sight of the latter may produce a sensation disagreeable and akin to
fear; but the curving and graceful configuration, either at rest or in
motion, and the smooth, shining skin, often brilliantly coloured in
beautiful patterns, tend to prevent it from approaching the bounds of
horror.  With the saurian shape it is different.  In it we behold the
type of the horrible, without anything to relieve the unpleasant
impression.  The positive, though distant, resemblance to the human form
itself, instead of making the creature more seemly, only intensities the
feeling of dread with which we behold it.  The most beautiful colouring
of the skin, and the gentlest habits, are alike inefficacious to remove
that feeling.  You may look upon the tree-lizard, clothed in a livery of
the most vivid green; the _Anolidae_, in the bright blue of turquoise,
in lemon and orange; you may gaze on the chameleon when it assumes its
most brilliant hues,--but not without an instinctive sense of
repugnance.  True, there are those who deny this, who profess not to
feel it, and who can fondle such pets in their hands, or permit them to
play around their necks and over their bosoms.  This, however, is due to
habit, and long, familiar acquaintance.

Since this is so with the smaller species of the lizard tribe, even with
those of gay hues and harmless habits, what must it be with those huge
saurians that constitute the family of the _Crocodilidae_, all of which,
in form, colour, habits, and character, approach the very extreme of
hideousness.  Of these gigantic reptiles there is a far greater variety
of species than is generally believed,--greater than is known even to
naturalists.  Until lately, some three or four distinct kinds,
inhabiting Asia, Africa, and America, were all that were supposed to
exist.  Recent exploration reveals a very different condition, and has
added many new members to the family of the _Crocodilidae_.

It would be safe to hazard a conjecture, that, when the world of nature
becomes better known, the number of species of these ugly amphibia,
under the various names of gavials, crocodiles, caymans, and alligators,
all brothers or first-cousins, will amount to two score.  It is the very
close resemblance in appearance and general habits that has hitherto
hindered these different kinds from being distinguished.  Their species
are many; and, if you follow the naturalists of the anatomic school, so
too are the genera; for it pleases these sapient theorists to found a
genus on almost any species,--thus confounding and rendering more
difficult the study it is their design to simplify.  In the case of the
_Crocodilidae_ such subdivision is absolutely absurd; and a single
genus--certainly two at the most--would suffice for all purposes,
practical or theoretical.  The habits of the whole family--gavials and
alligators, crocodiles, caymans, and jacares--are so much alike, that it
seems a cruelty to separate them.  It is true the different species
attain to very different sizes; some, as the _curua_, are scarce two
feet in length, while the big brothers of the family, among the gavials,
crocodiles, and alligators, are often ten times as long.

It is impossible to say how many species of _Crocodilidae_ inhabit the
waters of the South American continent.  There are three in the Amazon
alone; but it is quite probable that in some of its more remote
tributaries there exist other distinct species, since the three above
mentioned do not all dwell in the same portion of this mighty stream.
The Amazonian Indians speak of many more species, and believe in their
existence.  No doubt the Indians are right.

In the other systems of South American waters, as those of the La Plata,
the Orinoco, and the Magdalena, species exist that are not known to the
Amazon.  Even in the isolated water deposits of Lake Valencia Humboldt
discovered the bava, a curious little crocodile not noted elsewhere.
The three Amazonian reptiles, though having a strong resemblance in
general aspect, are quite distinct as regards the species.  In the
curious and useful dialect of that region, understood alike by Indians
and Portuguese, they are all called "Jacares," though they are
specifically distinguished as the _Jacare-uassu_ the _Jacare-tinga_, and
the _Jacare-curua_.  Of the first kind was that which had pursued the
two swimmers, and it was one of the largest of its species, full
twenty-five feet from the point of its bony snout to the tip of its
serrated tail.  No wonder they got out of its way!



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

TREED BY AN ALLIGATOR.

For a time the two refugees were without fear or care.  They knew they
were out of reach, and, so long as they kept to their perch, were in no
danger.  Had it been a jaguar instead of a jacare, it would have been
another thing; but the amphibious animal could not crawl up the trunk of
a tree, nor yet ascend by the hanging limbs or llianas.  Their only
feeling was that of chagrin at being stopped on their way back to their
companions in the sapucaya, knowing that their return would be
impatiently expected.  They could by shouting have made themselves
heard, but not with sufficient distinctness to be understood.  The
matted tree-tops intervening would have prevented this.  They thought it
better to be silent, lest their shouts might cause alarm.  Richard hoped
that the alligator would soon glide back to the haunt whence it had
sallied, and leave them at liberty to continue their journey, but the
Mundurucu was not so sanguine.

There was something in the behaviour of the jacare he did not like,
especially when he saw it quartering the water as if in search of the
creatures that had disappeared so mysteriously.

"Surely it won't lie in wait for us?" was the first question put by his
companion.  "You don't think it will?"

"I do, young master, I do.  That is just what troubles the Mundurucu.
He may keep us here for hours,--perhaps till the sun goes down."

"That would be anything but pleasant,--perhaps more so to those who are
waiting for us than to ourselves.  What can we do?"

"Nothing at present.  We must have patience, master."

"For my part, I shall try," replied the Paraense; "but it's very
provoking to be besieged in this fashion,--separated by only a few
hundred yards from one's friends, and yet unable to rejoin or
communicate with them."

"Ah!  I wish the _Curupira_ had him.  I fear the brute is going to prove
troublesome.  The Mundurucu can read evil in his eye.  Look! he has come
to a stand.  He sees us!  No knowing now when he will grow tired of our
company."

"But has it sense enough for that?"

"Sense!  Ah! cunning, master may call it, when he talks of the jacare.
Surely, young master, you know that,--you who are a Paraense born and
bred?  You must know that these reptiles will lie in wait for a whole
week by a bathing-place, watching for a victim,--some helpless child, or
even a grown man, who has been drinking too much _cashaca_.  Ah yes!
many's the man the jacare has closed his deadly jaws upon."

"Well, I hope this one won't have that opportunity with us.  We mustn't
give it."

"Not if we can help it," rejoined the Indian.  "But we must be quiet,
young master, if we expect to get out of this fix in any reasonable
time.  The jacare has sharp ears, small though they look.  He can hear
every word we are saying; ay, and if one were to judge by the leer in
his ugly eye, he understands us."

"At all events, it appears to be listening."

So the conversation sank to silence, broken only by an occasional
whisper, and no gesture even made communication, for they saw the
leering look of the reptile fixed steadily upon them.  Almost two hours
passed in this tantalising and irksome fashion.

The sun had now crossed the meridian line, and was declining westward.
The jacare had not stirred from the spot.  It lay like a log upon the
water, its lurid eyes alone proclaiming its animation.  For more than an
hour it had made no visible movement, and their situation was becoming
insupportable.

"But what can we do?" asked Richard, despairingly.

"We must try to travel through the tree-tops, and get to the other side.
If we can steal out of his sight and hearing, all will be well.  The
Mundurucu is angry with himself; he didn't think of this before.  He was
fool enough to hope the jacare would get tired first.  He might have
known better, since the beast has tasted blood.  That or hunger makes
him such a stanch sentinel.  Come, young master!" added the Indian,
rising from his seat, and laying hold of a branch.  "We must make a
journey through the tree-tops.  Not a word,--not a broken bough if you
can help it.  Keep close after me; watch what I do, and do you exactly
the same."

"All right, Munday," muttered the Paraense.  "Lead on, old boy!  I'll do
my best to follow you."



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

AN AQUA-ARBOREAL JOURNEY.

It may appear strange, incredible, absurd, that such a journey, for
however short a distance, should have been attempted by human beings.
No doubt to many it _will_ appear so, and be set down as ludicrously
improbable.  Twenty minutes passed in the shadowy gloom of a South
American forest would strip the idea of travelling among the tree-tops
of much of its improbability.  In many places such a feat is quite
possible, and comparatively easy,--perhaps not so "easy as rolling off a
log," but almost as much so as climbing to the top of one.  In the great
_montana_ of the Amazon there are stretches of forest, miles in extent,
where the trees are so matted and interlaced as to form one continuous
"arbour," each united to its immediate neighbours by natural stays and
cables, to which the meshes formed by the rigging of a ship are as an
open network in comparison.  In the midst of this magnificent luxuriance
of vegetable life, there are birds, beasts, and insects that never set
foot upon the ground;--birds in a vast variety of genera and species;
beasts--I mean quadrupeds--of many different kinds; insects of countless
orders; quadrumana that never touched _terra firma_ with any of their
four hands; and, I had almost added, _man_.  He, too, if not exclusively
confining himself to the tops of these forest-trees, may make them
habitually his home, as shall be seen in the sequel.

It was no great feat, then, for the Mundurucu and his acolyte to make a
short excursion across the "spray" of the forest, since this is the very
timber that is so tied together.  There was even less of danger than in
a tract of woods growing upon the highlands or "Campos."  A fall into
the Gapo could only entail a ducking, with a brief interruption of the
journey.

It does not follow that their progress must be either swift or direct.
That would depend upon the character of the trees and their parasites,--
whether the former grew close together, and whether the latter were
numerous and luxuriant, or of scanty growth.  To all appearance, Nature
in that spot had been beneficent, and poured forth her vegetable
treasures profusely.

The Indian, glancing through the branches, believed there would be no
more difficulty in getting to the other side of the belt of timber that
separated them from the open water, than in traversing a thicket of
similar extent.  With this confidence he set forth, followed by his less
experienced companion.  Both began and continued their monkey-like march
in the most profound silence.

They knew that it was possible and easy for the alligator to bear them
company; for although they were forced to pass through an almost
impervious thicket, down on the water it was altogether different.
There was nothing to impede the progress of the saurian, huge as it was,
except the trunks of the trees.

To tell the truth, it was a toilsome trip, and both the travellers were
weary of it long before coming within sight of the open water on the
opposite side.  Often were they compelled to carry their own weight on
the strength of their arms, by hoisting themselves from tree to tree.
Many a _detour_ had they to make, sometimes on account of the
impenetrable network of creepers, and sometimes because of open water,
that, in pools, interrupted their route.

The distance to be traversed was not over two hundred yards.  At
starting they knew not how far, but it proved about this measure.  If
they had made their calculation according to time, they might have
estimated it at half a score of miles.  They were a good hour and a half
on the journey; but the delay, with all its kindred regrets, was
forgotten, when they saw the open water before them, and soon after
found themselves on the selvage of the submerged forest.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

A TIMELY WARNING.

On arriving among the outside frees, our explorers, homeward bound, saw
something to cheer them,--something besides the bright sun and the
shining waters of the Gapo.  It was the sapucaya, still bearing its
stupendous fruit, the friends they had left behind them.  The Paraense
appeared to be counting them, as if to make sure that all were still
safe upon the tree.  Perhaps he was only intent on the discovery of one,
or, having discovered, was feeding his eyes upon her form, slender and
graceful in the distance.  He would have shouted to apprise them of the
safety of himself and companion, had not a sign from the latter,
accompanied by a few muttered words, counselled him to hold his peace.

"Why not, Munday?"

"Not a word, young master.  We are not yet out of the woods; the jacare
may hear us."

"We left it far behind in the igarape."

"Ah, true!  Who knows where he may be now?  Not the Mundurucu.  The
monster may have followed us.  Who knows?  He may be at this moment
within twenty yards, waiting for us to come back into the water."

As he spoke, the Indian looked anxiously behind him.  He could discover
no cause of alarm.  All was still under the shadow of the trees.  Not
even a ripple could be seen upon the sombre surface of the water.

"I think we've given it the slip," remarked Richard.

"It looks so," responded the Indian.  "The Mundurucu hears no sound,
sees no sign.  The jacare should still be in the igarape."

"Why should we delay any longer?  Several hours have elapsed since we
left the sapucaya.  My uncle and everybody else will be out of all
patience.  They will be distracted with sheer anxiety.  They look as if
they were.  Though we have a good view of them, I don't suppose they see
us.  If they did, they would be hailing us, that's certain.  Let us take
to the water, and rejoin them."

The Mundurucu, after looking once more to the rear, and listening for a
few moments, replied, "I think we may venture."

This was the cue for young Trevannion, and, lowering himself from the
limb on which he was supported, the two almost at the same instant
committed themselves to the flood.  Scarce had they touched the water
when their ears were assailed by a shout that came pealing across the
Gapo.  It neither startled nor surprised them, for they could not fail
to comprehend its meaning.  It was a cheer sent forth from the sapucaya,
announcing their reappearance to the eyes of their anxious companions.
Stimulated by the joyous tones, the two swimmers struck boldly out into
the open water.

Richard no longer thought of looking behind him.  In a hasty glance
directed towards the sapucaya, as he rose after his first plunge upon
the water, he had seen something to lure him on, at the same time
absorbing all his reflections.  He had seen a young girl, standing erect
within the fork of the tree, throw up her arms as if actuated by some
sudden transport of joy.  What could have caused it but the sight of
him?

The mind of the Mundurucu was far differently employed.  His thoughts
were retrospective, not prospective.  So, too, were his glances.
Instead of looking forward to inquire what was going on among the
branches of the sapucaya, he carried his beardless chin upon his
shoulder, keeping his eyes and ears keenly intent to any sight or sound
that might appear suspicious behind him.  His caution, as was soon
proved, was neither unnatural nor superfluous, nor yet the counsel given
to his companion to swim as if some swift and terrible pursuer were
after him; for although the Indian spoke from mere conjecture, his words
were but too true.

The swimmers had traversed about half the space of open water that lay
between the sapucaya and the submerged forest.  The Indian had purposely
permitted himself to fall into the wake of his companion, in order that
his backward view might be unobstructed.  So far, no alligator showed
itself behind them, no enemy of any kind; and in proportion as his
confidence increased, he relaxed his vigilance.  It seemed certain the
jacare had given up the chase.  It could not have marked their movements
among the tree-tops, and in all likelihood the monster was still keeping
guard near the opening of the igarape.  Too happy to arrive at this
conclusion, the Indian ceased to think of a pursuit, and, after making
an effort, overtook the young Paraense, the two continuing to swim
abreast.  As there no longer appeared any reason for extraordinary
speed, the swimmers simultaneously suspended the violent exertions they
had been hitherto making, and with relaxed stroke kept on towards the
sapucaya.

It was fortunate for both that other eyes than their own were turned
upon that stretch of open water.  Had it not been so, the silent
swimmer, far swifter than they, coming rapidly up in their rear, might
have overtaken them long before reaching the tree.  The shout sent forth
from the sapucaya, in which every voice bore a part, warned them of some
dread danger threatening near.  But for late experience, they might not
have known on which side to look for it; but, guided by this, they
instinctively looked back.  The jacare, close behind, was coming on as
fast as his powerful tail, rapidly oscillating from side to side, could
propel him.  It was fortunate for the two swimmers they had heard that
warning cry in time.  A score of seconds made all the difference in
their favour, all the difference between life and death.  It was their
destiny to live, and not die then in the jaws of the jacare.  Before the
ugly reptile, making all the speed in its power, could come up with
either of them, both, assisted by willing hands, had climbed beyond its
reach, and could look upon it without fear from among the branches of
the sapucaya.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

IMPROVISED SWIMMING-BELTS.

The huge saurian swam on to the tree,--to the very spot where Richard
and the Mundurucu had climbed up, at the forking of the stem.  On
perceiving that its prey had for a second time got clear, its fury
seemed to break all bounds.  It lashed the water with its tail, closed
its jaws, with a loud clattering, and gave utterance to a series of
sounds, that could only be compared to a cross between the bellowing of
a bull and the grunting of a hog.

Out in the open light of the sun, and swimming conspicuously upon the
surface of the water, a good view of the reptile could now be obtained;
but this did not improve the opinion of it already formed by Richard.
It looked, if possible, uglier than when seen in shadow; for in the
light the fixed leer of its lurid eye, and the ghastly blood-coloured
inside of the jaws, at intervals opened, and showing a triple row of
terrible teeth, were more conspicuous and disgusting.  Its immense bulk
made it still more formidable to look upon.  Its body was full eight
yards in length, and of proportionate thickness,--measuring around the
middle not less than a fathom and a half; while the lozenge-like
protuberances along its spine rose in pointed pyramids to the height of
several inches.

No wonder that little Rosa uttered a shriek of terror on first beholding
it; no wonder that brave young Ralph trembled at the sight.  Even
Trevannion himself, with the negro and Tipperary Tom, regarded the
reptile with fear.  It was some time before they felt sure that it could
not crawl up to them.  It seemed for a time as if it meant to do so,
rubbing its bony snout against the bark, and endeavouring to clasp the
trunk with its short human-like arms.  After several efforts to ascend,
it apparently became satisfied that this feat was not to be performed,
and reluctantly gave up the attempt; then, retreating a short distance,
began swimming in irregular circles around the tree, all the while
keeping its eye fixed upon the branches.

After a time, the castaways only bent their gaze upon the monster at
intervals, when some new manoeuvre attracted their notice.  There was no
immediate danger to be dreaded from it; and although its proximity was
anything but pleasant, there were other thoughts equally disagreeable,
and more important, to occupy their time and attention.  They could not
remain all their lives in the sapucaya; and although they knew not what
fortune awaited them in the forest, beyond, they were all anxious to get
there.

Whether it was altogether a flooded forest, or whether there might not
be some dry land in it, no one could tell.  In the Mundurucu's opinion
it was the former: and in the face of this belief, there was not much
hope of their finding a foot of dry land.  In any case, the forest must
be reached, and all were anxious to quit their quarters on the sapucaya,
under the belief that they would find others more comfortable.  At all
events, a change could not well be for the worse.

Munday had promised them the means of transport, but how this was to be
provided none of them as yet knew.  The time, however, had arrived for
him to declare his intentions, and this he proceeded to do; not in
words, but by deeds that soon made manifest his design.

It will be remembered that, after killing the macaws, he had tapped the
seringa, and "drawn" two cups full of the sap,--that he had bottled it
up in the pots, carefully closing the lids against leakage.  It will
also be remembered, that he had provided himself with a quantity of
creepers, which he had folded into a portable bundle.  These were of a
peculiar sort,--the true sipos of the South American forest, which serve
for all purposes of cordage, ropes ready made by the hand of Nature.  On
parting from the seringa, he had brought these articles along with him,
his companion carrying a share of the load.  Though chased by the
jacare, and close run too, neither had abandoned his bundle,--tied by
sipos around the neck,--and both the bottled caoutchouc and the cordage
were now in the sapucaya.  What they were intended for no one could
guess, until it pleased the Indian to reveal his secret; and this he at
length did, by collecting a large number of nuts from the sapucaya,--
Ralph and Richard acting as his aides,--emptying them of their
three-cornered kernels, restoring the lids, and then making them
"water-proof" by a coating of the caoutchouc.

Soon all became acquainted with his plans, when they saw him bind the
hollow shells into bunches, three or four in each, held together by
sipos, and then with a stronger piece of the same parasite attach the
bunches two and two together, leaving about three feet of the twisted
sipos between.

"Swimming-belts!" cried Ralph, now for the first time comprehending the
scheme.  Ralph was right.  That was just what the Mundurucu had
manufactured,--a set of _swimming-belts_.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

ALLIGATOR LORE.

For an hour the castaways remained in the tree, chafing with impatience
and chagrin that their awful enemy still kept his savage watch for them
in the Gapo below, gliding lazily to and fro, but ever watching them
with eager, evil eye.  But there was no help for it; and by way of
possessing their souls in more patience, and making time pass quicker,
they fell to conversing on a subject appropriate to the occasion, for it
was the jacare itself, or rather alligators in general.  Most of the
questions were put by Trevannion, while the answers were given by the
Mundurucu, whose memory, age, and experience made him a comprehensive
cyclopaedia of alligator lore.

The Indian, according to his own account, was acquainted with live or
six different kinds of jacare.  They were not all found in one place,
though he knew parts of the country where two or three kinds might be
found dwelling in the same waters; as, for instance, the jacare-uassu
(great alligator), the same as was then besieging them, and which is
sometimes called the black jacare, might often be seen in the same pool
with the jacare-tinga, or little alligator.  Little jacare was not an
appropriate name for this last species.  It was four feet long when full
grown, and he knew of others, as the jacare-curua, that never grew above
two.  These kinds frequented small creeks, and were less known than the
others, as it was only in certain places they were found.  The jacares
were most abundant in the dry season.  He did not suppose they were
really more numerous, only that they were then collected together in the
permanent lakes and pools.  Besides, the rivers were then lower, and as
there was less surface for them to spread over, they were more likely to
be seen.  As soon as the _echente_ commenced, they forsook the channels
of the rivers, as also the standing lakes, and wandered all over the
Gapo.  As there was then a thousand times the quantity of water, of
course the creatures were more scattered, and less likely to be
encountered.  In the _vasante_ he had seen half-dried lakes swarming
with jacares, as many as there would be tadpoles in a frog-pond.  At
such times he had seen them crowded together, and had heard their scales
rattling, as they jostled one another, at the distance of half a mile or
more.  In the countries on the lower part of the Solimoes, where many of
the inland lakes become dry during the _vasante_, many jacares at that
season buried themselves in the mud, and went to sleep.  They remained
asleep, encased in dry, solid earth, till the flood once more softened
the mud around them, when they came out again as ugly as ever.  He
didn't think that they followed this fashion everywhere; only where the
lakes in which they chanced to be became dry, and they found their
retreat to the river cut off.  They made their nests on dry land,
covering the eggs over with a great conical pile of rotten leaves and
mud.

The eggs of the jacare-uassu were as large as cocoa-nuts, and of an oval
shape.  They had a thick, rough shell, which made a loud noise when
rubbed against any hard substance.  If the female were near the nest,
and you wished to find her, you had only to rub two of the eggs
together, and she would come waddling towards you the moment she heard
the noise.  They fed mostly on fish, but that was because fish was
plentiest, and most readily obtained.  They would eat flesh or fowl,--
anything that chanced in their way.  Fling them a bone, and they would
swallow it at a gulp, seizing it in their great jaws before it could
reach the water, just as a dog would do.  If a morsel got into their
mouth that wouldn't readily go down, they would pitch it out, and catch
it while in the air, so as to get it between their jaws in a more
convenient manner.

Sometimes they had terrific combats with the jaguars; but these animals
were wary about attacking the larger ones, and only preyed upon the
young of these, or the jacare-tingas.  They themselves made war on every
creature they could catch, and above all on the young turtles, thousands
of which were every year devoured by them.  They even devoured their own
children,--that is, the old males did, whenever the _mai_ (mother) was
not in the way to protect them.  They had an especial preference for
dogs,--that is, as food,--and if they should hear a dog barking in the
forest, they would go a long way over land to get hold of him.  They lie
in wait for fish, sometimes hiding themselves in the weeds and grass
till the latter come near.  They seized them, if convenient, between
their jaws, or killed them with a stroke of the tail, making a great
commotion in the water.  The fish got confused with fright, and didn't
know which way to swim out of the reptile's reach.  Along with their
other food they ate stones, for he had often found stones in their
stomach.  The Indian said it was done that the weight might enable them
to go under the water more easily.

The _Capilearas_ were large animals that furnished many a meal to the
jacares; although the quadrupeds could swim very fast, they were no
match for the alligator, who can make head with rapidity against the
strongest current.  If they could only turn short, they would be far
more dangerous than they are; but their neck was stiff, and it took them
a long while to get round, which was to their enemies' advantage.
Sometimes they made journeys upon land.  Generally they travelled very
slowly, but they could go much faster when attacked, or pursuing their
prey.  Their tail was to be especially dreaded.  With a blow of that
they could knock the breath out of a man's body, or break his leg bone.
They liked to bask in the sun, lying along the sand-banks by the edge of
the river, several of them together, with their tails laid one on the
other.  They would remain motionless for hours, as if asleep, but all
the while with their mouths wide open.  Some said that they did this to
entrap the flies and insects that alighted upon their tongue and teeth,
but he (the Mundurucu) didn't believe it, because no quantity of flies
would fill the stomach of the great jacare.  While lying thus, or even
at rest upon the water, birds often perched upon their backs and
heads,--cranes, ibises, and other kinds.  They even walked about over
their bodies without seeming to disturb them.  In that way the jacares
could not get at them, if they wished it ever so much.

There were some jacares more to be dreaded than others.  These were the
man-eaters, such as had once tasted human flesh.  There were many of
them,--too many,--since not a year passed without several people falling
victims to the voracity of these reptiles.  People were used to seeing
them every day, and grew careless.  The jacares lay in wait in the
bathing-places close to villages and houses, and stole upon the bathers
that had ventured into deep water.  Women, going to fetch water, and
children, were especially subject to their attack.  He had known men,
who had gone into the water in a state of intoxication, killed and
devoured by the jacare, with scores of people looking helplessly on from
the bank, not twenty yards away.  When an event of this kind happened,
the people armed themselves _en masse_, got into their _montarias_
(canoes), gave chase, and usually killed the reptile.  At other times it
was left unmolested for months, and allowed to lie in wait for a victim.

The brute was _muy ladim_ (very cunning).  That was evident enough to
his listeners.  They had only to look down into the water, and watch the
movements of the monster there.  Notwithstanding its ferocity, it was at
bottom a great coward, but it knew well when it was master of the
situation.  The one under the sapucaya believed itself to be in that
position.  It might be mistaken.  If it did not very soon take its
departure, he, the Mundurucu, should make trial of its courage, and then
would be seen who was master.  Big as it was, it would not be so
difficult to subdue for one who knew how.  The jacare was not easily
killed, for it would not die outright till it was cut to pieces.  But it
could be rendered harmless.  Neither bullet nor arrow would penetrate
its body, but there were places where its life could be reached,--the
throat, the eyes, and the hollow places just behind the eyes, in front
of the shoulders.  If stabbed in any of these tender places, it must go
under.  He knew a plan better than that; and if the brute did not soon
raise the siege, he would put it in practice.  He was getting to be an
old man.  Twenty summers ago he would not have put up with such
insolence from an alligator.  He was not decrepit yet.  If the jacare
consulted its own safety, it would do well to look out.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

A HIDE UPON A REPTILE.

After thus concluding his long lecture upon alligators, the Indian grew
restless, and fidgeted from side to side.  It was plain to all, that the
presence of the jacare was provoking him to fast-culminating excitement.
As another hour passed, and the monster showed no signs of retiring,
his excitement grew to auger so intense, as to be no longer withheld
from seeking relief in action.  So the Mundurucu hastily uprose,
flinging aside the swimming-belts hitherto held in his hands.
Everything was put by except his knife, and this, drawn from his
_tanga_, was now held tightly in his grasp.

"What mean you, Munday?" inquired Trevannion, observing with some
anxiety the actions of the Indian.  "Surely you are not going to attack
the monster?  With such a poor weapon you would have no chance, even
supposing you could get within striking distance before being swallowed
up.  Don't think of such a thing!"

"Not with this weapon, patron," replied the Indian, holding up the
knife; "though even with it the Mundurucu would not fear to fight the
jacare, and kill him, too.  Then the brute would go to the bottom of the
Gapo, taking me along.  I don't want a ducking like that, to say nothing
of the chances of being drowned.  I must settle the account on the
surface."

"My brave fellow, don't be imprudent!  It is too great a risk.  Let us
stay here till morning.  Night will bring a change, and the reptile will
go off."

"Patron! the Mundurucu thinks differently.  That jacare is a man-eater,
strayed from some of the villages, perhaps Coary, that we have lately
left.  It has tasted man's blood,--even ours, that of your son, your
own.  It sees men in the tree.  It will not retire till it has gratified
its ravenous desires.  We may stay in this tree till we starve, and from
feebleness drop, one by one, from the branches."

"Let us try it for one night?"

"No, patron," responded the Indian, his eyes kindling with a revengeful
fire, "not for one hour.  The Mundurucu was willing to obey you in what
related to the duty for which you hired him.  He is no longer a
_tapuyo_.  The galatea is lost, the contract is at an end, and now he is
free to do what he may please with his life.  Patron!" continued the old
man, with an energy that resembled returning youth, "my tribe would
spurn me from the _malocca_ if I bore it any longer.  Either I or the
jacare must die!"

Silenced by the singularity of the Indian's sentiment and speech,
Trevannion forbore further opposition.  No one knew exactly what his
purpose was, though his attitude and actions led all to believe that he
meant to attack the jacare.  With his knife?  No.  He had negatived this
question himself.  How then?  There appeared to be no other weapon
within reach.  But there was, and his companions soon saw there was, as
they sat silently watching his movements.  The knife was only used as
the means of procuring that weapon, which soon made its appearance in
the form of a _macana_, or club, cut from one of the llianas,--a
_bauhinia_ of heaviest wood, shaped something after the fashion of a
"life-preserver," with a heavy knob of the creeper forming its head, and
a shank about two feet long, tapering towards the handle.  Armed with
this weapon, and restoring the knife to his _tango_, the Indian came
down and glided out along the horizontal limb already known to our
story.  To attract the reptile thither was not difficult.  His presence
would have been a sufficient lure, but some broken twigs cast upon the
water served to hasten its approach to the spot.  In confidence the
jacare came on, believing that by some imprudence, or misadventure, at
least one of those it had marked for its victims was about to drop into
its hungry maw.  One did drop,--not into its maw, or its jaws, but upon
its back, close up to the swell of its shoulders.  Looking down from the
tree, his companions saw the Mundurucu astride upon the alligator, with
one hand, the left, apparently inserted into the hollow socket of the
reptile's eye, the other raised aloft, grasping the _macana_, that
threatened to descend upon the skull of the jacare.  It _did_ descend,--
crack!--crash!--crackle!  After that there was not much to record.  The
Mundurucu was compelled to slide off his seat.  The huge saurian, with
its fractured skull, yielded to a simple physical law, turned over,
showing its belly of yellowish white,--an aspect not a whit more lovely
than that presented in its dark dorsal posterior.  If not dead, there
could be no doubt that the jacare was no longer dangerous; and as its
conqueror returned to the tree, he was received with a storm of
"_Vivas_" to which Tipperary Tom added his enthusiastic Irish
"Hoor-raa!"



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

TAKING TO THE WATER.

The Mundurucu merited congratulation, and his companions could not
restrain their admiration and wonder.  They knew that the alligator was
only assailable by ordinary weapons--as gun, spear, or harpoon--in three
places; in the throat, unprotected, except by a thin, soft integument;
in the hollow in front of the shoulders, and immediately behind the bony
socket of the eyes; and in the eyes themselves,--the latter being the
most vulnerable of all.  Why had the Indian, armed with a knife, not
chosen one of these three places to inflict a mortal cut or stab?

"Patron," said the Indian, as soon as he had recovered his breath, "you
wonder why the Mundurucu took all that trouble for a _macana_, while he
might have killed the jacare without it.  True, the knife was weapon
enough.  _Pa terra_!  Yes.  But it would not cause instant death.  The
rascal could dive with both eyes scooped out of their sockets, and live
for hours afterwards.  Ay, it could have carried me twenty miles through
the Gapo, half the distance under water.  Where would old Munday have
been then?  Drowned and dead, long before the jacare itself.  Ah,
patron, a good knock on the hollow of its head is the best way to settle
scores with a jacare."

And as if all scores had been now settled with this fellow, the huge
saurian, to all appearance dead, passed unheeded out of sight, the
current of the Gapo drifting it slowly away.  They did not wait for its
total disappearance, and while its hideous body, turned belly upward,
with its human-like hands stiffly thrust above the surface, was yet in
sight, they resumed their preparations for vacating a tenement of which
all were heartily tired, with that hopeful expectancy which springs from
a knowledge that the future cannot be worse than the present.  Richard
had reported many curious trees, some bearing fruits that appeared to be
eatable, strung with llianas, here and there forming a network that made
it easy to find comfort among their branches.  If there had been nothing
else to cheer them, the prospect of escaping from their irksome
attitudes was of itself sufficient; and influenced by this, they eagerly
prepared for departure.

As almost everything had been already arranged for ferrying the party,
very little remained to be done.  From the hermetically closed
monkey-cups the Mundurucu had manufactured five swimming-belts,--this
number being all that was necessary, for he and the young Paraense could
swim ten times the distance without any adventitious aid.  The others
had their share of empty shells meted out according to their weight and
need of help.  Rosa's transport required particular attention.  The
others could make way themselves, but Rosa was to be carried across
under the safe conduct of the Indian.

So when every contingency had been provided for, one after another
slipped down from the fork, and quietly departed from a tree that,
however uncomfortable as a residence, had yet provided them with a
refuge in the hour of danger.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

A HALF-CHOKED SWIMMER.

Munday led off, towing little Rosa after him by a sipo, one end fastened
to his girdle, and the other around her waist.  Trevannion followed
close behind, Ralph a little farther off, with Richard keeping abreast
of his cousin and helping him along.  Mozey swam next; Tipperary Tom,
who was last to leave the tree, brought up the rear.  The ouistiti had
found a berth on the shoulders of young Ralph, who, buoyed up by a good
supply of air-vessels, swam with his back above water.  As for the macaw
and coaita, the desperate circumstances in which our adventurers were
placed rendered it not only inconvenient, but out of the question, to
trouble themselves with such pets; and it had been agreed that they must
be abandoned.  Both, therefore, were left upon the tree.  With the macaw
it was a matter of choice whether it should stay there.  By simply
spreading out its great hyacinthine wings it could keep pace with its
_ci-devant_ protectors; and they had hardly left the tree, when the
bird, giving a loud scream, sprang from its perch, hovered a moment in
the air, and then, flying down, alighted on Mozey's wool-covered
cranium, making him hide his astonished head quickly under water.  The
arara, affrighted at having wetted its feet, instantly essayed to soar
up again; but its curving talons, that had clutched too eagerly in the
descent, had become fixed, and all its attempts to detach them were in
vain.  The more it struggled, the tighter became the tangle; while its
screams, united with the cries of the negro, pealed over the water,
awaking far echoes in the forest.  It was sometime before Mozey
succeeded in untwisting the snarl that the arara had spun around its
legs, and not until he had sacrificed several of his curls was the bird
free to trust once more to its wings.

We have said, that by some mystic influence the big monkey had become
attached to Tipperary Tom, and the attachment was mutual.  Tom had not
taken his departure from the tree without casting more than one look of
regret back among the branches, and under any other circumstances he
would not have left the coaita behind him.  It was only in obedience to
the inexorable law of self-preservation that he had consented to the
sacrifice.  The monkey had shown equal reluctance at parting, in looks,
cries, and gestures.  It had followed its friend down to the fork, and
after he had slipped into the water it appeared as if it would follow
him, regardless of both instinct and experience, for it could not swim.
These, however, proved strong enough to restrain its imprudence, and
after its protector had gone it stood trembling and chattering in
accents that proclaimed the agony of that unexpected separation.  Any
one listening attentively to its cries might have detected in the
piteous tones the slightest commingling of reproach.  How could it be
otherwise to be thus deserted?  Left to perish, in fact; for although
the coaita was perfectly at home upon the sapucaya, and could live there
as long as the nuts lasted, there was not the slightest chance of its
getting away from the tree.  It must stay there till the _vasante_, till
the flood fell, and that would not be for months.  Long before that it
must undoubtedly perish, either by drowning or starvation.

Whether or not these unpleasant forebodings passed through the monkey's
wits, and whether they nerved it, may never be known.  Certainly
something seemed to stimulate the creature to determination; for instead
of standing any longer shivering in the fork of the tree, it turned
suddenly, and, darting up the trunk, ran out upon one of the horizontal
branches.  To go directly from the sapucaya to the forest, it was
necessary to pass under this limb; and Tipperary Tom, following in the
wake of the others, had taken this track.  He was already far out from
the stem of the tree, almost clear of the overhanging branches, and half
oblivions of the painful parting, when a heavy body, pouncing upon his
shoulders, caused both him and his empty shells to sink some feet under
the water; for just like old Munday on the alligator had the monkey come
down upon Tipperary Tom.  The affrighted Irishman, on rising to the
surface, sputtered forth a series of cries, at the same time
endeavouring to rid himself of the unexpected rider on his back.  It was
just at this crisis, too, that the macaw had managed to make good its
footing in the fleece of the negro.  Mozey, however, was the first to
get clear of his incubus; and then all eyes were directed towards
Tipperary Tom and the clinging coaita, while peals of laughter resounded
from every lip.

Mozey had enfranchised himself by sacrificing a few tufts of his woolly
hair, but the task was not so easy for Tom.  In fact, it proved
altogether impracticable; for the coaita had curled its prehensile tail
around his neck in a knot that would have made a hangman envious.  The
more he tugged at it, the more it tightened; and had the Irishman been
left to himself, it would have no doubt ended in his being strangled
outright, a fate he began to dread.  At this crisis he heard the
Mundurucu shout to him across the water to leave the coaita alone, as
then it would relax its hold.  Fortunately for himself, Tom had the
prudence to obey this well-timed counsel; and although still half
suffocated by the too cordial embrace of his pet, he permitted it to
have its own way, until, having approached the forest, the monkey
relaxed its hold, and sprang up among the branches.



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

A SUPPER OF BROILED SQUAB.

Guided by the Mundurucu, the swimmers entered the water arcade before
described, and proceeded on to the tree that had furnished the
caoutchouc for their swimming-belts.  The siphonia, so late the scene of
strife and querulous complainings, was now silent as the tomb; not a
living arara was in sight or within hearing.  The few old birds that had
survived the club conflict had forsaken the spot, betaking themselves to
some distant part of the forest, perhaps out of the Gapo altogether, to
mourn over nests laid desolate, over chicks seized and instantly
destroyed by ruthless hands.  Only the young were there, suspended in a
bunch from the branches.  The Mundurucu mounted first, taking his charge
along with him; and then all the others climbed up into the tree, where
the macaw and the monkey--one upon wing, the other by a passage through
the tree-tops in speed almost equalling the flight of a bird--had
already arrived.

Farther progress for that night was no part of their purpose.  It would
have been as idle as imprudent.  The sun was already level with their
gaze, and to have forsaken their perch at that hour would have been like
leaving a good inn for the doubtful chances of the road.  The seringa,
with its thickly trellised limbs, offered snug quarters.  Upon its
network of parasites it was possible to repose; there were hammocks
woven by the hand of Nature, and, rude as they might be, they were a
pleasant improvement on their couches of the preceding night.

The tree contained other proofs of its hospitality.  The fat fledglings
suspended upon it promised a supper not to be despised; for none of the
party was a stranger to macaw flesh, and, as those were young and
tender, eyes sparkled and mouths watered on beholding them.  No one
expected that they were to be eaten raw, though there was more than one
in the party whose appetite had become sharp enough for this.  The
Mundurucu would have shown but slight squeamishness at swallowing one of
the squabs as it was, while to Mozey it would have signified less.  Even
Tipperary Tom declared his readiness to set about supping without
further preparation.

The semi-cannibal appetites of his companions were controlled by
Trevannion, who commenced talking of a fire.  How was it to be made?
How could the chicks be cooked?  His questions did not remain long
unanswered.  The Indian, eager to meet the wishes of his employer,
promised that they should be gratified.

"Wait a bit, patron," said he.  "In ten minutes' time you shall have
what you want, a fire; in twenty, roast arara."

"But how?" asked the patron.  "We have no flint nor steel, any of us;
and if we had, where find the tinder?"

"Yonder!" rejoined the Mundurucu.  "You see yonder tree on the other
side of the igarape?"

"That standing out by itself, with smooth, shining bark, and hoary,
handlike leaves?  Yes, I see it.  What of it?"

"It is the _embauba_, patron; the tree that feeds the lazy sloth, the
_Ai_."

"O, then it is that known as the _Cecropia peltata_.  True, its crown of
peltate leaves declares the species.  But we were talking of fire,
Munday.  Can you obtain it from the cecropia?"

"In ten minutes, patron, the Mundurucu will draw sparks from that tree,
and make a fire too, if he can only obtain from it a dry branch, one
without sap, decayed, dead.  You shall see."

So saying, he swam out towards the cecropia.  On reaching this, he
scaled it like a squirrel, and was soon among its silvery fronds, that
spread palm-like over the water.  Soon the snapping of a breaking branch
was heard, and shortly after the Indian came gliding down the tree, and,
holding the piece of cecropia above his head, swam with one hand towards
the caoutchouc, which he once more ascended.  On rejoining his
companions, they saw that the stick he had secured was a bit of dry,
dead wood, light, and of porous texture, just such as might be easily
ignited.  Not caring to make any secret of his design, he confirmed his
companions in their conjecture by informing them that the embauba was
the wood always employed by his people, as well as the other tribes in
Amazonia, when they wished to make a fire; and saying this, he proceeded
without further delay to make them acquainted with the proper way.
Strange to say, it proved to be the friction process, often described as
practised in remote corners of the world, and by savage tribes who could
never have held the slightest communication with one another.  Who
taught them this curious mode of creating fire?  Who inducted the Indian
of the Amazon, and the aboriginal of Borneo, into the identical ideas of
the _sumpitan_ and _gradatana_,--both blow-guns alike?  Who first
instructed mankind in the use of the bow?  Was it instinct?  Was it
wisdom from on high?

While Trevannion was reflecting on this strange theme, the Mundurucu had
shaped a long spindle from a slender branch which he had cut from some
hard wood growing near; and, whirling it between the palms of his hands,
in less than ten minutes, as he had promised, sparks appeared in the
hollowed stick of the cecropia.  Dry leaves, twigs, and bark had been
already collected, and with these a flame was produced, ending in a
fire, that soon burned brightly in one of the forks of the seringa.
Over this the young macaws, supported on spits, were soon done brown;
and a supper of roast arara, with parched sapucaya nuts, proved anything
but a despicable meal to the party who partook of it.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

ONCE MORE IN THE WATER.

Our adventurers passed a tolerable night among the sipos of the seringa.
They might have slept more soundly but for apprehensions about the
future that intruded even into their dreams.  Morning brought no relief,
for then reality itself appeared ruder than the visions of fancy in
their slumbers.  They had cold macaw for breakfast,--remains of the
preceding night's roast, which had been kept up as long as the fire was
alight, and carefully preserved, to serve for a future occasion.  It was
just sunrise, and as soon as the meal was over, they consulted seriously
how to extricate themselves from their unpleasant and perilous
position,--how to work a deliverance from the jaws of the Gapo.
Whereabouts in this strange region were they?  How far had they entered
it?  They could not even frame a guess of the distance traversed by the
galatea before she had come to grief in the fork of the sapucaya.  It
might be twenty miles, it might be fifty; who could tell?  They only
knew that the ill-fated vessel had been drifting away from the Solimoes,
and deep into the solitudes of the Gapo.  They knew they must be many
miles from the banks of the Solimoes, and, from his hydrographic
knowledge, already tested, the old tapuyo could tell its direction.  But
it was no longer a question of getting back to the channel of the great
river.  On the contrary, the object now was to reach solid land.  It
would be worse than idle to seek the Solimoes without the means of
navigating it; for, even should the stream be reached, it would be one
chance in a thousand to get within hail of a passing vessel.  Almost as
well might such be looked for in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  They
were now bent on discovering the shortest route to the mainland that
bordered this inundated region.  This should be found in the direction
opposite to that in which the river lay.  It might not, but the
probabilities were in favour of that hypothesis.  They had but little
difficulty in determining the way to take.  The index already pointed
out by the Indian was still to be depended upon.

The _echente_ was still going on.  The current was from the river, if
not with absolute directness, yet with enough to point out the bearing
of the Solimoes.  The land might be many miles distant,--farther than
the river itself,--but there was no alternative but to reach it or die.
But how reach it?  That was the question.  They could hardly hope to
swim the whole distance, for it must be great.  A raft?  This too was
talked of.  But how was a raft to be constructed?  Among the tops of
those water-loving trees there could scarce be found a stick light
enough to have floated itself, let alone the carrying of a ponderous
cargo.  Out of such heavy timber there would be but little chance of
their constructing a raft, and the idea was abandoned almost as soon as
broached.  But Munday's proposal met the approbation of all.  The water
arcade chanced to continue in the direction they should take.  Why not
once more make use of the swimming-belts, that had already done such
good service, and effect a further exploration of the flooded forest?
The proposition was too reasonable to be rejected.  It was unanimously
accepted; and, without more ado, our adventurers descended from the
siphonia, and began to traverse the strait.  The macaw and monkey kept
their company as before, but no longer needed to make themselves a
burden to their protectors, since both could travel through the
tree-tops as the swimmers passed below.



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

THE IGARAPE.

They needed no pilot to point out their course.  There could be no
danger of straying from it.  The strait they were following was of that
kind known as an igarape, which, in the language of the Amazonian
Indian, means literally "the path of the canoe,"--_igarite_ being the
name of the craft most used in the navigation of the Gapo.  The strait
itself might have been likened to a canal, running through a thicket,
which formed on both sides a colossal hedge, laced together by an
impenetrable network of parasitical plants.  Unlike a canal, however, it
was not of uniform breadth, here and there widening into little openings
that resembled lakes, and again narrowing until the tree-tops stretching
from each side touched one another, forming underneath a cool, shadowy
arcade.

Up this singular waterway our adventurers advanced, under the guidance
of the bordering line of verdure.  Their progress was necessarily slow,
as the two who could swim well were compelled to assist the others; but
all were aided by a circumstance that chanced to be in their favour,--
the current of the Gapo, which was going in the same direction with
themselves.  Herein they were greatly favoured, for the flow of the
flood corresponded very nearly with the course of the igarape; and, as
they advanced, they might have fancied themselves drifting down the
channel of some gently flowing stream.  The current, however, was just
perceptible; and though it carried them along, it could not be counted
on for any great speed.  With it and their own exertions they were
enabled to make about a mile an hour; and although this rate might seem
intolerably slow, they were not discontented, since they believed
themselves to be going in the right direction.  Had they been castaways
in mid-ocean, the case would have been different.  Such tardy travelling
would have been hopeless; but it was otherwise in the forest sea that
surrounded them.  On one side or the other they could not be more than
fifty miles from real dry land, and perhaps much less.  By going right,
they might reasonably hope to reach it, though detained upon the way.
It was of the utmost importance, however, that the direction should be
known and followed.  A route transverse to it might take them a thousand
miles, either way, through a flooded forest,--westward almost to the
foot of the Andes,--eastward to the mouth of the Amazon!  The
experienced tapuyo, knowing all this, was extremely cautious in choosing
the course they were now pursuing.  He did not exactly keep in the line
indicated by the flow of the flood.  Although the _echente_ was still
going on, he knew that its current could not be at right angles to that
of the river, but rather obliqued to it; and in swimming onward he made
allowance for this oblique, the igarape fortunately trending at a
similar inclination.

Several hours were spent in slowly wending along their watery way, the
swimmers occasionally taking a rest, stretched along the surface of the
water, supported by hanging llianas or the drooping branches of the
trees.  At noon, however, a longer halt was proposed by the guide, to
which his followers gladly gave consent.  All were influenced by a
double desire,--to refresh themselves not only by a good rest, but by
making a meal on the cold roast macaws, several of which were strapped
upon the shoulders of the tapuyo.  A tree with broad, spreading branches
offered a convenient place, and, climbing into it, they took their seats
to await the distribution of the dinner, which was committed to the care
of the ex-steward, Mozey.



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

ABOUT HUMMING-BIRDS.

Previous to ascending their dining-tree, the swimmers had been more than
six hours in the water, and, as nearly as they could guess, had made
about that number of miles.  They congratulated themselves on having met
with no hostile inhabitants of the Gapo, for the jararaca and jacare,
with the perils encountered while in the presence of these two dangerous
reptiles, were fresh enough in their remembrance to inspire them with
continual fear.  All along the way, the Indian had been constantly upon
the alert.  Nothing had occurred to cause them alarm, though many
strange sounds had been heard, and strange creatures had been seen.
Most of these, however, were of a character to cheer rather than
affright them.  The sounds were mostly musical,--the voices of birds,--
while the creatures seen were the birds themselves, many of beautiful
forms and bright plumage, perched upon the tree-tops, or winging their
way overhead.  Conspicuous among them were the tiny winged creatures
called humming-birds, with which the Gapo abounded.  During their swim
they had seen several distinct species of these lovely little sprites,
flashing like meteors over the surface of the water, or darting about
through the tree-tops like sparks of glistening light.  They appeared to
be the gnomes and elves of the place.

While eating dinner, our adventurers were favoured with an excellent
opportunity of observing the habits of these graceful and almost
microscopic creatures.  A tree stood near, whose top was surmounted by a
parasite,--a species of bignonia,--in full blossom, that with its array
of sweet-scented flowers completely covered the tree, almost concealing
the green foliage underneath.  Over this flowery spot hundreds of
humming-birds were hovering, now darting from point to point, anon
poised upon swiftly whirring wings in front of an open flower, their
tiny beak inserted into the corolla, therefrom to extract the savoury
honey.  There were several species of them, though none of them of large
size, and all looking more like insects than birds.  But for the
swiftness of their motions, they might have passed for a swarm of wild
bees (_meliponae_) disporting themselves among the flowers.  Ralph and
Rosa were delighted with the spectacle, though it was not new to them,
for the warmer valleys of the Andes, through which they had passed in
approaching the headwaters of the Amazon, were the favourite _habitat_
of the humming-birds, and there a greater number of species exist than
in Amazonia itself.  What was new to them, however, and to the rest of
the party as well, was some information imparted by the tapuyo while
they sat conversing after dinner.  He said that there were two kinds of
these birds, which, although alike in size, beauty, bright plumage, and
many other respects, were altogether distinct in their habits and ways
of life.  By two kinds he did not mean two species, for there were many,
but two sets of species, or groups, as the Indian would have called
them, had he been a student of ornithology.  One set, he said,--and the
several species then before their eyes belonged to it,--lived upon the
juice of the flowers, and this was their only food.  These frequented
such open _campos_ as those on the southern side of the Solimoes, and
along the rivers running into it from that direction.  They were also
common in plantations, and other places where clearings had been made,
or where the forest was thin and scattering, because there only could
they find a sufficiency of flowers.  It was only at times that they made
excursions into the great water-forest, when some of the sipo plants
were in blossom, just as the one before them was at that time.  The
species they saw did not belong to the Gapo.  They had only strayed
there upon a roving excursion, and would soon return to the mainland,--
the treeless regions.  The kinds that frequented the great forest never
went out of it, and cared nothing about flowers.  If seen hovering
around a tree in blossom, it was only because they were in pursuit of
insects, which had been attracted thither in search of the sweet juices.
Upon these the forest humming-birds regularly preyed, making their
exclusive diet upon flies, which they caught as much among the foliage
as the flowers, darting upon the insects whenever they perched upon the
leaves, and snapping them up either from the upper or under side.  They
built their nests upon the tips of the palm-leaves, choosing the side
that was inward towards the tree, from which they suspended them.  They
were purse-shaped, and composed of fibres closely woven together with a
thick lining of a fine, soft silk-cotton, taken from the fruit of a tree
called _samauma_.  They did not come much into the sun, like the other
kinds, but kept more in the shade, and might be often met whirring about
in the aisles of the forest.  Sometimes they would poise themselves in
the air, right in front of a person passing through among the
tree-trunks, and, after remaining till the intruder's face would be
within a few feet of them, would fly on in advance of him, and again
come to a pause in the same way, repeating the manoeuvre several times
in succession.  All these things, averred the observant Indian, made the
humming-birds that kept constantly to the forest very different from
those that only visited it upon occasions, and therefore, in his
opinion, they were of two distinct kinds.  And his opinion was the
correct one, founded on observations already made by the ornithologist,
and which have resulted in the classification of the humming-birds into
two great groups, the _Trochilinae_ and _Phaethorninae_.



CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

A CUL-DE-SAC.

Notwithstanding the pleasant theme that formed the subject of their
after-dinner discourse, it was not long continued.  Both those who took
part in it and those who listened were too anxious about their situation
to enjoy even the most interesting conversation.  As soon, therefore, as
they felt sufficiently recruited by the rest, they resumed their aquatic
journey.  For several hours they continued to advance at the same slow
rate, without encountering any incident worthy of record.  The igarape
still trended in a straight line, with only here and there a slight
turning to one side or the other, preserving, however, the same general
direction, which was northward.  This they had discovered on the night
before, not by observing the polar star, which is at no time visible at
the equator, nor until you have travelled several degrees to the north
of it.  Even when this well-known star should be seen from the low
latitudes of the torrid zone, it is usually obscured by the hazy film
extending along the horizon.  Sirius and other northern, constellations
had guided them.  As the sun had been shining throughout the whole of
that day as well as the preceding one, you may suppose there could be no
difficulty in discovering the quarter, within a point or two of the
compass, at any hour of the day.  This might be true to any one
travelling in a high latitude, northern or southern, or at certain
seasons of the year, anywhere outside the tropics.  Even within the
tropics it might be done by skilful observation, if the observer knew
the exact time of the year.  Trevannion knew the time.  He knew,
moreover, that it was close upon the vernal equinox, when the sun was
crossing the equatorial line, near to which they were wandering.  For
this reason, in the meridian hours the great orb was right over their
heads, and no one--not even a skilled astronomer--could have told north
from south, or cast from west.

Supposing that the igarape should not be trending in the same direction,
but imperceptibly departing from it?  In that case, during the mid-hours
of the day they could have had no guidance from the sky, and must have
suspended their journey till the sun should begin to sink towards the
west, and once more make known the points of the compass.  Fortunately
they needed not to make this delay.  As already observed, the flow of
the flood was the pilot to which they looked for keeping them in their
course; and, as this still ran with a slight obliquity in the same
direction as the igarape, the latter could not have departed from the
right line upon which, they had been advancing.  The current had been
compared with the points of the compass that morning before setting out.
It was a little to the east of north.  Northward, then, was the course
of the swimmers.

They had drawn further inference from the direction in which the flood
was setting.  It proved that they had strayed from the Solimoes by its
left or northern bank, and must now be somewhere among the mouths of the
great river Japura.  It was no consolation to discover this, but the
contrary.  The old tapuyo only looked graver on arriving at the
conviction that such was the case.  He knew that in that direction, in
the vast delta formed by the unnumbered branches of the Japura, the Gapo
was of great width, extending far back from the banks of this remarkable
river, and dry land in that direction might be at the greatest distance.
There was no alternative but to keep on, and, by deviating from the
course as little as possible, they might in due time reach the limits of
the flood.  Actuated by this impulse and its attendant hopes, they
continued their toilsome journey along "the path of the canoe."

We have said that for several hours they encountered no incident worthy
of note.  It was not destined, however, for that day's sun to set before
one should arise, whose record is not a matter of choice, but necessity,
since it exerted such an influence on the proceedings of the travellers
as to cause a complete change in their mode of progression.  What they
encountered was not exactly an incident, but an obstruction.  In other
words, their swim was suddenly brought to an end by the ending of the
igarape!

They had arrived at the termination of this curious canal, which all at
once came to a _cul-de-sac_, the trees closing in on both sides, and
presenting an impenetrable front, that forbade farther progress.  The
way was equally obstructed in every other direction; for on neither side
of the igarape, throughout its whole length, had any opening been
observed.  At first they fancied that the water might open again beyond
the obstruction, but Munday, after penetrating a short distance among
the tree-trunks, returned to declare his conviction that the igarape was
at an end.  Nor did it terminate by any gradual convergence of the two
lines of trees.  On the contrary, they came together in an abrupt
circular sweep,--one of colossal size, that rose high above its fellows
and spread far out, standing in the centre, like some Titanic guardian
of the forest, and seeming to say to the igarape, "Hitherto shalt thou
come, but no farther!"

It was of no use remaining longer in the water for that day.  Even had
the obstruction not arisen, it was time to have suspended their
exertions.  The sun was sinking towards the tree-tops, and by the time
they could get themselves snugly stowed away, and something ready for
supper, it would be night.  Leaving other cares for the morrow, and the
morrow to take care of itself, they at once proceeded to select their
sleeping-place for the night.  The colossal tree that had come so
unpleasantly across their track seemed to offer the very quarters they
were in search of; and, without more ado, they accepted the hospitality
of its wide-spreading branches.



CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

THE BRAZIL-NUTS.

The tree upon which they had made their roost was one of a species of
which they had observed many during the day.  It was the true Brazil-nut
(_Bertholletia excelsa_), own cousin to the sapucaya; for both are of
the same family,--the _Lecythis_,--of which there are many distinct
members.  Like the sapucaya, it is a denizen of the low lands and
flooded forests, growing to a stupendous height.  It produces large,
showy flowers, which are succeeded by huge capsule-like pericarps, each
enclosing a score or more of Brazil-nuts.  But though the flowers are
followed by the fruits, these do not all come together; and, like the
orange and other tropical trees, bud, blossom, and fruit may all be
observed upon the same branch, in various stages of development.

It need not be said that the nuts of the _Bertholletia_ form one of the
commercial staples of Amazonia.  They are too well-known to need further
description; for there are few dwelling-houses in either Europe or
America where they have not been submitted to the squeeze of the
nut-crackers.  In the forest, where they are no man's property, they are
collected by whoever chooses to take the trouble, but chiefly by the
Indians and half-breeds who dwell on the borders of the Gapo.  The time
to gather the Brazil-nuts is the _vasante_, or dry season, though there
are certain tribes of savages that go nutting in their canoes during the
season of the _echente_.  But the real nut harvest is after the floods
have subsided, and the trees once more stand upon dry land.  Then the
whole _malocca_ of Indians, or the inhabitants of a village, proceed in
a body to the places where the fruits are to be found, scattered around
the stems of the tall trees that have produced them.

In gathering their crop the gleaners require to observe certain
precautions, those who go under the trees covering their heads with a
thick wooden cap, resembling a helmet, lest the dropping of the heavy
capsules--big as a cannon-ball, and almost as heavy--might crack a
skull!  For this reason the monkeys of the Amazon forest, though crazy
for sapucaya and Brazil-nuts, always give the _Bertholletia_ a wide
berth, never going under, but around it, in a circle whose circumference
lies outside the tips of the branches.  Strange to say, these creatures
have no fear of the sapucaya, although its pericarps are as large and
heavy as those of the Brazil-nuts.  But the former do not fall to the
ground, or when they do, it is only after the lid has sprung open, and
the huge cup has scattered its contents, leaving it a light and empty
shell.  It is for this reason, as much as anything else, that the nuts
of the sapucaya are scarce in the market, and command a higher price.
Having escaped spontaneously from their shell, they are at the mercy of
all comers, birds, quadrupeds, and monkeys; whereas the Brazil-nuts,
protected by their thick woody pericarps, are not so easily accessible.
Even the monkeys cannot get at them, until some animal with teeth better
adapted for chiselling performs for them the service of laying open the
box, and giving them a chance at the treasures contained within.  This
is done by several species of rodents, among which the _cutia_ and
_paca_ are conspicuous; and one of the most comical spectacles to be
seen in a South American forest is that of a group of monkeys, watching
from a distance the proceedings of a paca thus employed, and then
springing forward to take forcible possession of the pericarp after it
has been sufficiently opened.

It was a bit of good fortune that our adventurers found lodgings upon
the _Bertholletia_.  Though more hospitality may usually be met with in
an inn, it provided them with at least a portion of their supper,--the
bread-stuff.  They had still left a brace of the macaw squabs that had
not been roasted; but Munday, as before, soon produced sufficient fire
to give them a scorching, and keen appetites supplied salt, pepper, and
sauce.



CHAPTER FORTY.

A TRAVELLING PARTY OF GUARIBAS.

Supper over, our adventurers only awaited the sunset to signal them to
their repose.  They had already selected their beds, or what was to
serve for such,--the spaces of horizontal network formed by the
intertwining of luxuriant llianas.  At the best, it was no better than
sleeping upon a raked hurdle; but they had been already somewhat inured
to an uneasy couch on the galatea, and they were every day becoming less
sensitive to necessities and hardships.  They were all tired with the
severe exertions they had made; for although their journey had been but
about six miles, it was enough to equal sixty made upon land.  They felt
as if they could go to sleep astride of a limb, or suspended from a
branch.

It was not decreed by fate that they should find rest before being made
the witnesses of a spectacle so curious, that, had they been ever so
much inclined for sleep, would have kept them awake against their will.

A noise heard afar off in the forest attracted their attention.  There
was nothing in it to alarm them, though had they not heard it before, or
something similar to it, their fears might have been excited to the
utmost pitch of terror.  What they heard was the lugubrious chant of a
band of howling monkeys.  Of all the voices of Nature that awake the
echoes of the Amazonian forest, there is perhaps none so awe-inspiring
as this.  It is a combination of sounds, that embrace the various tones
of shrieking, screaming, chattering, growling, and howling, mingled with
an occasional crash, and a rattle, such as might proceed from the throat
of a dying maniac.  And yet all this is often the product of a single
_mycetes_, or howling monkey, whose hollow hyoidal bone enables him to--
send forth every species of sound, from the rolling of a bass drum to
the sharp squeak of a penny-whistle.

"_Guaribas_!" quietly remarked the Mundurucu, as the distant noise was
first heard.

"Howling monkeys you mean?" interrogatively rejoined Trevannion.

"Yes, patron, and the loudest howlers of the whole tribe.  You'll hear
them presently.  They are coming this way."

"They're not far off now, I should say, if one may judge by the loudness
of their cries."

"All of a mile yet, patron.  It proves that the forest stretches more
than a mile in that direction, else the guaribas could not be there.  If
there be open water between us and them, they won't come this way.  If
not, we'll have them here in ten minutes' time.  I wish we could only
travel among the tree-tops as they can.  We shouldn't stay long in the
Gapo."

"Just as the Mundurucu expected," continued the tapuyo, after a pause.
"The guaribas are coming towards us.  I can hear the swishing of the
leaves as they pass among them.  We'll soon see them."

The howling of the guaribas had for some time ceased, but the rustling
of leaves, with the occasional snapping of a twig, to which the Indian
had directed the attention of his companions, told that the troop was
travelling through the tree-tops, otherwise observing a profound
silence.

Soon they appeared in sight, suddenly presenting themselves upon a tall
tree that stood by the side of the igarape, about a cable's length from
that occupied by our adventurers.  For some minutes the branches of the
tree were seen oscillating up and down, as each black guariba sprang
into it: and this continued until not less than a hundred had found
lodgement upon the limbs.  As the leader of the band, who was evidently
chief of the tribe, caught sight of the igarape, he was seen to pause in
an abrupt and ambiguous manner, at the same moment giving utterance to a
cry, easily intelligible as a word of command.  It had the effect of
causing those immediately behind him to come to a halt, as also the
others, as they sprang successively into the tree.  There could be no
question as to what had caused the halt.  It was the igarape crossing
the track which the guaribas were going.  With them the only question
was, how they were to get over it.

At the point where the howlers had clustered together, the strait was
narrower than elsewhere within sight.  Between the branches, extending
horizontally from the opposite sides of the igarape, there was a clear
space of about twenty feet; and to the spectators it appeared improbable
that any animal without wings could leap from tree to tree.  The
monkeys, however, did not seem to be of this opinion, but were plainly
contemplating the leap; and it was evident that some of them were only
restrained from taking it by an authoritative command from their chief,
which held them in check.  For several minutes there was a profound
silence among them, undisturbed until the stragglers had all arrived in
the tree, and squatted on the branches.

It was now observed that among these last were several mothers, each
carrying a child upon her back, or embraced between her bare arms; the
youngster with face upturned, clinging, not with teeth and toe-nail, but
with hands and tail, to the neck of its maternal parent.  To these the
attention of the whole tribe appeared to be directed; and it was evident
that they were the sole cause of the difficulty,--the _impedimenta_ that
had interrupted the onward march of the troop.

There had been confusion, accompanied by some chattering, after first
coming up; but a sign from the leader had put an end to all noise, and
then succeeded the silence already mentioned.  During its continuance
the guariba chief slowly ascended the tree, until he had attained a
position elevated above all his followers.  Then squatting down, with
his hams firmly planted upon a branch, his long tail carefully coiled
around another, he commenced his harangue with as much ceremony as if he
had been chairman of a Guild-Hall dinner.  Perhaps there was quite as
much sense and eloquence in his speech; at all events, there was more
noise: for during the ten minutes taken up by it--it had the advantage
of brevity--no other sound could have been heard over the Gapo within
the circuit of a mile.

His address being ended, the chief, by a series of detached speeches,
seemed to invite a reply from his followers, coaxing their assent, or
daring them to contradiction.  There appeared to be no dissent, not one
voice.  The chattering that responded to the speech was delivered in a
tone that spoke unanimous compliance with the proposal--whatever it
was--which their chief had offered to their consideration.

Then ensued another interval of silence, much shorter than before, and
again interrupted by the leader of the troop.  This time, however, his
words were few and to the purpose.  They were pronounced in a tone of
command, that called for prompt obedience, which was yielded
instantaneously and without protest.

One of the strongest of the guaribas ran out upon the limb overhanging
the igarape, and, stopping at its extremity, braced himself for the
leap.  In another instant it was made, and the monkey was seen rushing
up into the tree on the other side of the igarape.  A comrade followed,
placing his four hands in the same spot, his body in a similar attitude,
and making the leap so exactly like the guariba that had preceded him,
that it seemed the same monkey repeating the performance.  Then went
another, and another, so close following, that the creatures appeared
more like the links of some colossal but quick-moving chain, pulled by
supernatural power across the igarape, than a series of individual and
animated beings.



CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

THE MONKEY MOTHER.

Our adventurers sat in silent wonder watching the movements of the
monkeys.  It was certainly a spectacle of the most interesting character
to see these creatures making the passage of the igarape.  Perhaps the
most singular thing was the similarity of their leaps,--all planting
their feet upon the same spot of the branch from which the leader
sprang, springing exactly in the same way, and alighting on the opposite
side in apparently the same spot and attitude, proving that each and all
must have been actuated by the same thought or instinct at the precise
moment of passing from one tree to the other.  Another singular point
was, that during its continuance the intervals between each two were
almost as regular as the ticking of a clock.  As soon as one launched
itself out from the branch, another sprang into its place, and was ready
to follow so quickly that the air was never for a moment without a
monkey; and any one looking straight down the opening between the trees,
without glancing to either side, might almost have fancied that it was a
single guariba suspended in mid-air!

All the males of the tribe had succeeded in making the leap in safety;
and all the females, too,--those carrying their "piccaninnies" along
with the rest,--except one.  This was a mother with a very young child
on her back,--in fact a mere infant,--perhaps not nine days old.
Notwithstanding its extreme youth, it appeared to comprehend the
situation, as well as those of more mature age, clinging with its
infantile fingers to the shaggy hide of its mother, while its tiny tail
was twisted around the root of hers, in a loop that appeared tight as a
sailor's knot.

But the mother, enfeebled by some sickness,--for monkeys are subject to
sickness as well as men,--appeared doubtful of her ability to accomplish
the leap; and, after all the others had crossed, she stood upon the
branch evidently only half determined about following them.  At this
crisis occurred a curious incident,--the first of a series.  One of
those that had crossed, a man-monkey, was seen to separate from the
crowd, that had by this time ascended to the top of the tree.  Returning
along the limb to which they had just leaped, he placed himself opposite
to the hesitating female and began to chatter, intending to encourage
her, as his gestures showed.  The mother of the infant made reply; but
although the sounds were unintelligible to the human spectators, they
might be translated as saying, "It's not a bit of use, my trying; I
shall only get a ducking for my pains, and the infant too.  It may be
drowned."

Her reply was delivered in a tone of appeal; and, as if affected by it,
the male monkey--evidently the father of the child--made no more
remonstrance, but bounded back across the open water.  It was but the
work of six seconds for him to transfer the juvenile to his own
shoulders; and in as many more both he and it were on the right side of
the igarape.  Relieved of her charge and encouraged by the cries of
those already across, the mother sprang out from the branch.  The effort
was too great for her strength.  With her forefinger she caught the
twigs on the opposite side and succeeded in clutching them; but before
she could lap the branch with her tail,--a more trustworthy means of
prehension,--she had sunk below its level, and, the twigs giving way,
she plunged into the water.

A universal scream came from the top of the tree, and a score or more of
guaribas leaped down upon the limb from which the unfortunate had
fallen.  There was a scene of confusion,--just as there would have been
had the catastrophe happened among human beings,--as when a boat upsets
or some one breaks through the ice, and spectators stand speechless, or
hurry to and fro, no one knowing exactly what to do,--what order to
give, or whom to obey.

Very like was the scene of surprise, terror, and lamentation among the
monkeys,--except that it did not last quite so long.  In this respect
animal instinct, as it is called, has the advantage of bewildered
reason; and, while a crowd upon the sea-beach or the river-bank would
have spent ten minutes before taking action to rescue the drowning
individual, scarcely so many seconds were allowed to elapse before the
guaribas had picked up and safely deposited her trembling person on the
fork of a tree.

The mode in which this had been accomplished was something to astonish
the spectators, and yet it was performed in a very efficient manner.  As
soon as the screaming would permit, the voice of the guariba chieftain
was heard, in a chattering so loud and serious in tone as to indicate
command; and some half-score of the number, in obedience, glided out on
the limb of the tree under which the female was in imminent danger of
being drowned.  A bucket could not have descended into a well, or a
pulley-tackle come down from warehouse or mill, more promptly and
speedily than did that string of monkeys, hooked neck and tail to one
another, like the links of a long chain,--the lowest upon the swinging
series being the husband of the half-drowned mother, who had hastily
deposited his baby in one of the forkings of the tree.  Neither could
the water-bucket have been filled, nor the wheat-sack hooked on, with
half the speed and agility with which she was picked up and restored.

Once more shouldering her "chickabiddy," she took her place in the
troop, which, without further delay, moved on amid the tree-tops,
keeping in a direct line of march, as if bent upon a journey that was to
terminate at some spot already known to them.  For a long time their
track could be traced by their continuous howling, which then was heard
only at intervals, and at length receded to such a distance as to become
inaudible.



CHAPTER FORTY TWO.

THE MUNDURUCU DISCOURSES OF MONKEYS.

The sun was just setting as the guaribas disappeared; and from this
circumstance it was conjectured that they were on their return to some
favourite resting-place.  Trevannion supposed that they might be on
their way to dry land; and, if so, the route they had taken might serve
himself and party for a direction.  He mentioned this to the Mundurucu,
who shook his head, not doubtfully, but as a simple negative.

"You think it would be of no use our taking the direction in which they
have gone?" said the miner interrogatively.

"No, patron; not a bit of good in that.  They are as like to be going
from _terra firma_ as towards it.  It's all the same to them whether
they sleep over land, or water, so long as they have the trees to cling
to.  They are now trooping to some roost they have a fancy for,--perhaps
some very big tree,--which they use at all times for their
night-rendezvous, and where others of the same tribe will be likely to
meet them.  These have been off to some favourite feeding-ground, where
the fruit may be more plenty than in the neighbourhood of their regular
dwelling-place; or they may have been upon some ramble for amusement."

"What! do monkeys make such excursions?" inquired young Ralph.

"O yes," replied the Mundurucu.  "I've often met them trooping about
among the trees, where nuts and fruits were in plenty; and have watched
them, for hours at a time, without seeing them pluck a single one;--only
chattering and screeching and laughing and playing tricks upon each
other, as if they had nothing else to do.  Neither have they when
certain sorts of fruit are ripe, especially soft fruits, such as berries
and the pulpy nuts of several kinds of palms, as the _pupunha_ and
_assai_.  It is a little different at other seasons, when they have to
live on the Brazil-nuts and sapucayas; then they have something to do to
get at the kernels inside the thick shells, and at this they employ a
good deal of their time."

"Do they sleep perched on the trees, or have they nests among the
branches in which they can lie down at their ease?"

"They have nests, but not for that.  The females only use them when
about to bring forth their young.  As to sleeping at their ease, they
can do that on the very slenderest of branches.  It's no hardship to
them, as it is to us.  Not a bit."

"But do they not sometimes fall off in their sleep?"

"How could they do that, young master, when they have their tails to
hold on by?  Before going to sleep they take a turn or two of their long
tail round a branch, not always the one their body is on, but more
commonly a branch a little above it.  For that matter they don't need
any branch to rest upon.  They can go to sleep, and often do, hanging by
the tail,--for that is the position in which they are most at ease; just
as you would be reclining in a hammock.  I've seen them scores of times
asleep that way.  To prove that they feel most at home when hanging by
the tail, they take to it whenever any alarm comes suddenly upon them;
and they want to be in readiness for retreat, in case of its proving to
be an enemy."

"What singular creatures!" said Ralph, half in soliloquy.

"You speak truth, young master.  They have many an odd way, that would
lead one to believe that they had as much sense as some kinds of men.
You have seen how they picked up the old one that fell into the water;
but I've seen them do a still stranger thing than that.  It is but the
commonest of their contrivances, put in practice every time they want to
pluck a nut, or some fruit that grows near the end of a branch too
slender to carry their weight.  If there's a stronger limb above, they
go out upon it; and then, clinging together as you saw them do, they let
themselves down till the last in the string can lay hold of the fruit.
Sometimes there is no branch right over the spot; but that don't hinder
them from getting what they have coveted, if they can find a stout limb
anyways near.  Then they make their string all the same; and, by setting
it in motion, they swing back and forward, until the lowest of the party
is tossed out within reach of the fruit.  I've seen them try this, and
find that their string was just a few inches too short, when another
monkey would glide down upon the others, and add his length to complete
it.  Then I've seen them make a bridge, young master."

"Make a bridge!  Are you in earnest?  How could they?"

"Well, just in the same way as they get within reach of the nuts."

"But for what purpose?"

"To get across some bit of water, as a fast-running stream, where they
would be drowned if they fell in."

"But how do they accomplish it?  To make a bridge requires a skilled
engineer among men; are there such among monkeys?"

"Well, young master, I won't call it such skill; but it's very like it.
When on their grand journeyings they come to a stream, or even an
igarape like this, and find they can't leap from the trees on one side
to those growing on the other, it is then necessary for them to make the
bridge.  They go up or down the bank till they find two tall trees
opposite each other.  They climb to a high branch on the one, and then,
linking together, as you've seen them, they set their string in motion,
and swing backward and forward, till one at the end can clutch a branch
of the tree, on the opposite side.  This done the bridge is made, and
all the troop, the old ones that are too stiff to take a great leap, and
the young ones that are too weak, run across upon the bodies of their
stouter comrades.  When all have passed over, the monkey at the other
end of the string lets go his hold upon the branch; and if he should be
flung into water it don't endanger him, as he instantly climbs up the
bodies of those above him, the next doing the same, and the next also,
until all have got safe into the trees."

"Be japers," exclaimed Tipperary Tom, "it's wonderful how the craythers
can do it!  But, Misther Munday, have yez iver seen them fall from a
tree-top?"

"No, never, but I've known one to leap from the top of a tree full a
hundred feet in height."

"Shure it was kilt dead then?"

"If it was it acted very oddly for a dead animal, as it had scarce
touched the ground when it sprang back up another tree of equal height,
and scampered to the top branches nearly as quick as it came down."

"Ah!" sighed Trevannion, "if we had only the activity of these
creatures, how soon we might escape from this unfortunate dilemma.  Who
knows what is before us?  Let us pray before going to rest for the
night.  Let us hope that He, in whose hands we are, may listen to our
supplications, and sooner or later relieve us from our misery."  And so
saying, the ex-miner repeated a well-remembered prayer, in the response
to which not only the young people, but the Indian, the African, and the
Irishman fervently joined.



CHAPTER FORTY THREE.

TWO SLUMBERERS DUCKED.

It was somewhere among the mid-hours of the night, and all appeared to
be as sound asleep as if reclining upon couches of eider-down.  Not a
voice was heard among the branches of the Brazil-nut,--not a sound of
any kind, if we except the snore that proceeded from the spread nostrils
of the negro, and that of a somewhat sharper tone from the nasal organ
of the Irishman.  Sometimes they snored together, and for several
successive trumpetings this simultaneity would be kept up.  Gradually,
however, one would get a little ahead, and then the two snorers would be
heard separately, as if the two sleepers were responding to each other
in a kind of dialogue carried on by their noses.  All at once this nasal
duet was interrupted by a rustling among the boughs upon which rested
Tipperary Tom.  The rustling was succeeded by a cry, quickly followed by
a plunge.

The cry and the plunge woke everybody upon the tree; and while several
inquired the cause of the disturbance, a second shout, and a second
plunge, instead of affording a clue to the cause of alarm, only rendered
the matter more mysterious.  There was a second volley of
interrogatories, but among the inquiring voices two were missing,--those
of Mozey and the Irishman.  Both, however, could now be heard below; not
very articulate, but as if their owners were choking.  At the same time
there was a plashing and a plunging under the tree, as if the two were
engaged in a struggle for life.

"What is it?  Is it you, Tom?  Is it you, Mozey?" were the questions
that came thick and fast from those still upon the tree.

"Och! ach!--I'm chokin'!--I'm--ach--drown--ach--drownin'!--Help! help!"
cried a voice, distinguishable as the Irishman's, while Mozey's was
exerted in a similar declaration.

All knew that Tom could not swim a stroke.  With the Mozambique it was
different.  He might sustain himself above water long enough to render
his rescue certain.  With Tom no time was to be lost, if he was to be
saved from a watery grave; and, almost with his cry for help, Richard
Trevannion and the Mundurucu plunged in after him.

For a time, Trevannion himself and his two children could hear,
underneath them, only a confused medley of sounds,--the splashing of
water mingled with human voices, some speaking, or rather shouting, in
accents of terror, others in encouragement.  The night was dark; but had
it been ever so clear, even had the full moon been shining above, her
beams could not have penetrated through the spreading branches of the
Brazil-nut, melted and lined as they were with thorns and leafy llianas.

It would seem an easy task for two such swimmers as the Indian and
Paraense to rescue Tipperary Tom from his peril.  But it was not quite
so easy.  They had got hold of him, one on each side, as soon as the
darkness allowed them to discern him.  But this was not till they had
groped for some time; and then he was found in such a state of
exhaustion that it required all the strength of both to keep his chin
above the surface.

Mozey was fast becoming as helpless as Tom, being more than half
paralysed by the fright he had got from being precipitated into the
water while still sound asleep.  Such a singular awaking was sufficient
to have confused a cranium of higher intellectual development than that
of the Mozambique.

After having discovered their half-drowned companions, neither Richard
nor the Mundurucu knew exactly what to do with them.  Their first
thought was to drag them towards the trunk of the tree, under which they
had been immersed.  This they succeeded in doing; but once alongside the
stem, they found themselves in no better position for getting out of the
water.  There was not a branch within reach by which to raise
themselves, and the bark was as smooth as glass, and slippery with
slime.

When first ascending into the great tree, they had made use of some
hanging parasite, which now in the darkness they were unable to find.
Even the two swimmers began to despond.  If not their own lives, those
of their comrades might be lost in that gloomy aisle, whose pavement was
the subtle, deceitful flood.  At this crisis an idea occurred to the
young Paraense that promised to rescue them from their perilous
position, and he called out, "The swimming-belts! fling down the
swimming-belts!"  His uncle and cousin, by this time having a clearer
comprehension of what had occurred, at once obeyed the command.  Richard
and the Indian were not slow to avail themselves of this timely
assistance; and in a trice the two half-drowned men were buoyed up
beyond further danger.

On getting back into the Bertholletia, there was a general explanation.
Tipperary Tom was the cause of the awkward incident.  Having gone to
sleep without taking proper precautions, his limbs, relaxed by slumber,
had lost their prehensile power, and, sliding through the llianas, he
had fallen plump into the water below, a distance of more than a dozen
feet.  His cries, and the consequent plunge, had startled the negro so
abruptly that he too had lost his equilibrium, and had soused down the
instant after.

The Mundurucu was by no means satisfied with the occurrence.  It had not
only interrupted his repose, but given him a wet shirt in which to
continue it.  He was determined, however, that a similar incident should
not, for that night, occur,--at least not with the same individuals,--
and before returning to his roost he bound both of them to theirs with
_sipos_ strong enough to resist any start that might be caused by the
most terrible of dreams.



CHAPTER FORTY FOUR.

OPEN WATER.

The next day was spent in explorations.  These did not extend more than
four hundred yards from their sleeping-place; but, short as was the
distance, it cost more trouble to traverse it than if it had been twenty
miles on land, across an open country.

It was a thicket through which the explorers had to pass, but such a
thicket as one acquainted only with the ordinary woods of Northern
countries can have no conception of.  It was a matted tangle of trees
and parasitical plants, many of the latter--such as the climbing
jacitara palms, the huge cane-briers, and bromelias--thickly set with
sharp spines, that rendered it dangerous to come in contact with them.
Even had there been firm footing, it would have been no easy task to
make way through such a network; but, considering that it was necessary
to traverse the wood by passing from tree to tree, all the time keeping
in their tops, it will not be wondered at that a few hundred yards of
such progress was accounted a day's journey.

You must not suppose that all the party of our adventurers went even
thus far.  In fact, all of them remained in the Brazil-nut, except the
two who had acted as explorers on the former occasion,--Richard and the
Mundurucu.  It would have been worse than idle for any other to have
accompanied them.

It was near sunset when they returned with their report, which to
Trevannion and his party seemed anything but encouraging.  The explorers
had penetrated through the forest, finding it flooded in every
direction.  Not an inch of dry land had they discovered; and the Indian
knew, from certain signs well understood by him, that none was near.
The rapid drift of the current, which he had observed several times
during the day, was one of these indications.  It could not, he
declared, be running in that way, if dry land were in the vicinity.  So
far, therefore, as reaching the shore was concerned, they might make up
their minds for a long journey; and how this was to be performed was the
question of the hour.

One point the explorers had definitely determined.  The igarape
terminated at their sleeping-place.  There was no sign of it beyond.
Instead, however, they had come upon an opening of a very different
character.  A vast expanse of water, without any trees, had been found,
its nearest edge being the limit of their day's excursion.  This open
water did not extend quite to the horizon.  Around it, on all sides,
trees could be seen, or rather the tops of trees; for it was evident
that the thicket-like bordering was but the "lop and top" of a submerged
forest.  On returning to the "roost," Munday urged their going towards
the open water.

"For what purpose?" inquired the patron, who failed to perceive any good
reason for it.  "We can't cross it, there being no sort of craft to
carry us.  We cannot make a raft out of these green branches, full of
sap as they are.  What's the use of our going that way?  You say there's
open water almost as far as you can see,--so much the worse, I should
think."

"No, patron," replied the Indian, still addressing Trevannion as
respectfully as when acting as his hired _tapuyo_.  "So much the better,
if you give me leave to differ with you.  Our only hope is to find open
water."

"Why, we have been all along coming from it.  Isn't there plenty of it
behind us?"

"True, patron; but it's not running in the right direction.  If we
launched upon it, the current would be against us.  Remember, master,
'tis the _echente_.  We couldn't go that way.  If we could, it would
only bring us back to the river-channel, where, without some sort of a
vessel, we should soon go to the bottom.  Now the open Gapo we've seen
to-day is landward, though the land may be a good way off.  Still, by
crossing it, we shall be getting nearer to firm ground, and that's
something."

"By crossing it?  But how?"

"We must swim across it."

"Why, you've just said that it stretches almost to the edge of the
horizon.  It must be ten miles or more.  Do you mean to say we can swim
so far?"

"What's to hinder us, master?  You have, the monkey-pots; they will keep
you above water.  If not enough for all, we can get more.  Plenty of the
sapucaya-trees here."

"But what would be the object of our crossing this expanse of water?
You say there is no dry land on the other side; in that case, we'll be
no better off than here."

"There is land on the other side, though I think not near.  But we must
keep on towards it, else we shall never escape from the Gapo.  If we
stay here, we must starve, or suffer greatly.  We might search the
forest for months, and not find another nesting-place of the araras, or
good food of any kind.  Take my advice, patron.  Soon as comes the light
of to-morrow, let us cross to the open water.  Then you can see for
yourself what is best for us to do."

As the perilous circumstances in which they were placed had altogether
changed the relationship between Trevannion and his _tapuyo_, the latter
being now the real "patron," of course the ex-miner willingly gave way
to him in everything; and on the morning of the next day the party of
adventurers forsook the Brazil-nut, and proceeded towards the open Gapo.



CHAPTER FORTY FIVE.

THE JACANAS.

It will be asked how they proceeded.  To swim to the open water would
have been next to impossible, even with the assistance of the floats.
Not only would the thick tree-trunks and drooping llianas have hindered
them from making way in any direction; but there would have been nothing
to guide them through the shadowy water, and they must soon lose
themselves in a labyrinth of gloom.  No sign of the sky could have
availed them in the deep darkness below; and there were no landmarks to
which to trust.  The answer is, that they made their way along much as
did the monkeys which had passed them the day before, only that their
pace was a hundred times slower, and their exertions a thousand times
more laborious.  In fact, they travelled among the tree-tops, and
followed the same track which their explorers had already taken, and
which Munday, on his return, had taken the precaution to "blaze" by
breaking a number of twigs and branches.

Their progress was of the slowest kind,--slower than the crawl of a
cripple; but by dint of perseverance, and the performance of many feats
in climbing and clinging and balancing, and general gymnastics, they
succeeded at length in reaching the edge of the forest, and gaining a
view of the wide watery expanse.  It was a relief to their eyes, so long
strained to no purpose amidst the shadowy foliage that had enveloped
them.

"Now, Munday," asked Trevannion, as soon as he had recovered breath,
after such laborious exertion, "we are here on the edge of the open
water.  You talk of our being able to swim across it.  Tell us how."

"Just as we swam the igarape."

"Impossible, as you've admitted it can't be less than ten miles to the
other side.  The tree-tops yonder are scarce discernible."

"We came nearly as far along the canoe-path."

"True; but then we had a chance to rest every few minutes, and that gave
us strength to go on.  It will be different if we attempt to cross this
great sea, where there is no resting-place of any kind.  We should be a
whole day on the water, perhaps more."

"Perhaps so, patron.  But remember, if we do not try to get out of the
Gapo, we may be three, four, five, or six months among these tree-tops.
We may get no food but a few nuts and fruits,--scarcely enough to keep
us alive.  We may lose strength, and be no longer able to stay among the
branches; we may grow faint and fall, one by one, into the water, to go
down to the bottom of the Gapo or drop into the jaws of the jacares."

The alternative thus brought in terrible detail vividly before them
produced a strong impression; and Trevannion offered no objection to any
plan which the Mundurucu should propose.  He only requested a fuller
account of the feasibility of that now suggested,--in other words, an
explanation as to how they were to swim a stretch of ten miles without
stopping to rest.

Munday made no mystery of the matter.  He had no other plan than that
already tried with success,--the swimming-belts; only that two
additional sets would now be needed,--one for himself, the other for the
young Paraense.  On the short passage from the sapucaya to the forest,
and along the canoe-path, these bold swimmers had disdained the use of
that apparatus; but in a pull of ten miles, even they must have recourse
to such aid.

No further progress was to be made on that day, as the fatigue of their
arboreal journey required a long rest; and shortly after their arrival
upon the edge of the forest, they set about arranging for the night,
having chosen the best tree that could be found.  Unfortunately, their
larder was lower than it had ever been, since the going down of the
galatea.  Of the squab macaws there were no longer any left; and some
sapucaya nuts gathered by the way, and brought along by Munday, formed
the substance of their scanty supper.

As soon as it was eaten, the Mundurucu, assisted by Richard, busied
himself in manufacturing the required swimming-belts; and long before
the sun disappeared behind the forest spray, everything was ready for
their embarkation, which was to take place at the earliest moment of its
reappearance.

As usual, there was conversation,--partly to kill time, and partly to
keep off the shadows that surrounded, and ever threatened to reduce them
to despair.  Trevannion took pains to keep it up, and make it as
cheerful as the circumstances would permit, his object being less to
satisfy himself than to provide gratification for his children.  At
times he even attempted to jest; but generally the conversation turned
upon topics suggested by the scene, when the Indian, otherwise taciturn,
was expected to do the talking.  The open water became the subject on
this particular occasion.

"It appears like a lake," remarked the ex-miner.  "I can see a line of
trees or tree-tops all around it, with no signs of a break or channel."

"It is one," rejoined the _tapuyo_.  "A real _lagoa_.  Water in it at
all seasons,--both _echente_ and _vasante_,--only 'tis fallen now from
the flood.  There are no _campos_ in this part of the country; and if it
wasn't a lagoa, there would be trees standing out of it.  But I see a
surer sign,--the _piosocas_."

The speaker pointed to two dark objects at some distance off, that had
not hitherto been observed by any of the party.  On more careful
scrutiny, they proved to be birds,--large, but of slender shape, and
bearing some resemblance to a brace of cranes or curlews.  They were of
dark colour, rufous on the wings, with a green iridescence that
glistened brightly under the beams of the setting sun.

They were near enough to enable the spectators to distinguish several
peculiarities in their structure; among others a singular leathery
appendage at the base of the beak, stout, spinous processes or "spurs"
on the wing shoulders, very long, slender legs, and _tarsi_ of immense
length, radiating outward from their shank, like four pointed stare,
spread horizontally on the surface of the water.

What struck the spectators, not only with surprise, but appeared
unaccountable, was the fact that these birds seen upon the water were
not seated as if swimming or afloat; but standing erect upon their long
tarsi and toes, which apparently spread upon the surface, as if upon
ice!

Stranger still, while they were being watched, both were seen to forsake
their statue-like attitude, and move first toward each other, and then
apart again, running to and fro as if upon a solid fooling!  What could
it all mean?  Munday was asked for the explanation.  Were they walking
upon the water?

No.  There was a water plant under their feet--a big lily, with a leaf
several feet in diameter, that floated on the surface--sufficient to
carry the weight of the biggest bird.  That was what was supporting the
piosocas.

On scanning the surface more carefully, they could distinguish the big
lily, and its leaf with a turned-up edge resembling the rim of a Chinese
gong, or a huge frying-pan.  They became acquainted for the first time
with that gigantic lily, which has been entitled "the Royal Victoria,"
and the discoverer of which was knighted for his flattery.

"'Tis the _furno de piosoca_," said Munday, continuing his explanation.
"It is called so, because, as you see, it's like the oven on which we
bake our Cassava; and because it is the favourite roost of the piosoca."

By "piosoca" the Indian meant the singular _jacana_ of the family
_Palamedeidae_, of which there are species both in Africa and America.

The birds had fortunately made their appearance at a crisis when the
spectators required something to abstract their thoughts from the cares
that encompassed them, and so much were they engrossed by the curious
spectacle, that they did not perceive the _tapuyo_, as he let himself
gently down into the water, and swam off under the drooping branches of
the trees, pausing at a point opposite to where the piosocas were at
play.

From this point they could not have perceived him, as he had dived under
water, and did not come up again until the slender shanks of a jacana,
enveloped in the lily's soft leaf, were clutched by his sinewy fingers,
and the bird with a shrill scream was seen fluttering on the water,
while its terrified mate soared shrieking into the air.

The party in the tree-tops were at first amazed.  They saw a dark, round
object close to the struggling jacana, that resembled the head of a
human being, whose body was under water!  It was not till it had come
nearer, the bird still keeping it close company, that they identified
the head, with its copper-coloured face, now turned towards them, as
belonging to their guide and companion,--Munday.  A fire was soon
blazing in the branches, and instead of going to sleep upon a supper of
raw sapucayas, our adventurers sought repose after a hearty meal made
upon roast jacana!



CHAPTER FORTY SIX.

A COMPANION LEFT BEHIND.

By daybreak they were once more in the water, each provided with a
complete set of swimming-shells.  As the voyage was more extensive, and
altogether more perilous, the greatest pains was taken to have the
swimming apparatus as perfect as possible.  Any flaw, such as a weak
place in the waist-belts or shoulder-straps, or the smallest crevice
that would admit water into one of the shells, might be followed by
serious consequences, perhaps even drowning.  Besides making the new
belts, therefore, Munday had mended the old ones, giving all the shells
an additional coating of caoutchouc, and strengthening the sipos that
attached them to one another.

Just as the sun's disk was seen above the tree-tops that skirted the
_lagoa_ on the east, our adventurers embarked on their aquatic
expedition.  But it could not be said that they started in high spirits.
They knew not what was to be the sequel of their singular undertaking.
Where their journey was to end, or whether its end might not be for some
of their number--if not all of them--the bottom of the Gapo.

Indeed, the Indian, to whom they all looked for encouragement as well as
guidance, was himself not very sanguine of success.  He did not say so,
but for all that Trevannion, who had kept interrogating him at intervals
while they were preparing to start, had become impressed with this
belief.  As the Mundurucu persisted in counselling the expedition, he
did not urge any further opposition, and under the auspices of a
glorious tropical sunrise they committed themselves to the open waters
of the lagoa.

At the very start there occurred a somewhat ominous accident.  As the
coaita would have been a cumbersome companion for any of the swimmers to
carry, it was decided that the creature should be left behind.
Unpleasant as it was to part with a pet so long in the company of the
galatea's crew, there was no alternative but to abandon it.

Tipperary Tom, notwithstanding his attachment toward it, or rather its
attachment toward him, was but too willing to assent to the separation.
He had a vivid recollection of his former entanglement, and the risk he
had run of being either drowned in the Gapo, or strangled by the
coaita's tail; and with this remembrance still fresh before his fancy,
he had taken the precaution at this new start to steal silently off from
the trees, among the foremost of the swimmers.  Everybody in fact had
got off, before the coaita was aware of their intention to abandon it,
and to such a distance that by no leap could it alight upon anybody's
shoulders.  On perceiving that it was left behind, it set up a series of
cries, painfully plaintive, but loud enough to have been heard almost to
the limits of the lagoa.

A similar desertion of the macaw was evidently intended, to which no one
had given a thought, although it was Rosa's pet.  The ouistiti had been
provided with a free passage upon the shoulders of the young Paraense.
But the huge parrot was not to be left behind in this free and easy
fashion.  It was not so helpless as the coaita.  It possessed a pair of
strong wings, which, when strongly and boldly spread, could carry it
clear across the lagoa.  Conscious of this superior power, it did not
stay long upon the trees, to mingle its chattering with the screams of
the coaita.  Before the swimmers had made a hundred strokes, the macaw
mounted into the air, flew for a while hoveringly above them, as if
selecting its perch, and then dropped upon the negro's head, burying its
claws in his tangled hair.



CHAPTER FORTY SEVEN.

THE GUIDE ABANDONED.

As the swimmers proceeded, their hopes grew brighter.  They saw that
they were able to make good headway through the water; and in less than
an hour they were a full mile distant from their point of departure.  At
this rate they should be on the other side of the lagoon before sunset,
if their strength would only hold out.  The voyage promised to be
prosperous; and joy sat upon their countenances.

Shortly after there came a change.  A cloud was seen stealing over the
brow of the Mundurucu, which was the cue for every other to exhibit a
similar shadowing.  Trevannion kept scanning the countenance of the
tapuyo to ascertain the cause of his disquietude.  He made no enquiry;
but he could tell by the behaviour of the Indian that there, was trouble
on his mind.  At intervals he elevated his head above the water, and
looked back over his shoulder, as if seeking behind him for the cause of
his anxiety.  As they swam on farther, Munday's countenance lost nothing
of its anxious cast, while his turnings and backward glances became more
frequent.  Trevannion also looked back, though only to ascertain the
meaning of the tapuyo's manoeuvres.  He could see nothing to account for
it,--nothing but the tree-tops from which they had parted, and these
every moment becoming less conspicuous.  Though the patron did not
perceive it, this was just what was causing the tapuyo's apprehensive
looks.  The sinking of the trees was the very thing that was producing
his despondency.

Stimulated less by curiosity than alarm, Trevannion could keep silent no
longer.  "Why do you look back, Munday?" he inquired.  "Is there any
danger in that direction?  Have you a fear that we shall be followed?  I
can see nothing except the tree-tops, and them scarcely at this moment."

"That's the danger.  We shall soon lose sight of them altogether; and
then--"

"What then?"

"Then--I confess, patron, I am puzzled.  I did not think of it before we
took to the water."

"O, I see what you mean.  You've been hitherto guiding our course by the
trees from which we parted.  When they are no longer in view we shall
have nothing to steer by?"

"It is true.  The Great Spirit only can guide us then!"  The Mundurucu
evidently felt more than chagrin that he had expressed himself so
confidently about their being able to cross the lagoon.  He had only
taken into consideration the circumstance of their being able to swim,
without ever thinking of the chance of their losing the way.  The trees
sinking gradually to the horizon first admonished him; and as he
continued to swim farther into the clear water, he became convinced that
such mischance was not only possible, but too probable.  With a sort of
despairing effort he kept on with even more energy than before, as if
trying how far he could follow a straight line without depending on any
object to pilot him.

After proceeding thus for two or three hundred yards, he once more
raised his chin to his shoulder and looked back.  The tree-tops were
barely visible; but he was satisfied on perceiving that the one from
which they had started rose up directly opposite to him, thus proving
that in his trial stretch he had gone in a straight line, inspiring him
with the hope of being able to continue it to the opposite side.  With
renewed confidence he kept on, after uttering a few phrases of cheer to
the others.

Another stretch of about three hundred yards was passed through in
silence, and without any incident to interrupt the progress of the
swimmers.  Then all came to a pause, seeing their conductor, as before,
suspend his stroke, and again make a rearward reconnoissance.  This time
he did not appear so well satisfied, until he had raised his head high
over the surface, which he accomplished by standing erect, and beating
the water with his palms downward, when his confidence was again
refreshed, and he started forward once more.

At the next stopping-place, instead of raising himself once into the
standing poise, he did so several times in succession, each time sinking
down again with an exclamation of disappointment.  He could not see the
trees, even at the utmost stretch of his neck.  With a grunt that seemed
to signify his assent to the abandoning of their guidance, he again laid
himself along the water, and continued in the direction he had been
already following; but not before assuring himself that he was on the
right course, which fortunately he was still able to do by noting the
relative positions of the others.

At starting away from this, which he intended should be their last
stopping-place, he delivered a series of admonitions intended for every
swimmer.  They were to keep their places, that is, their relative
positions to him and one another, as nearly as might be; they were to
swim gently and slowly, according to the example he should set them, so
that they might not become fatigued and require to pause for rest; and,
above all, they were not to bother him by putting questions, but were,
in short, to proceed in perfect silence.  He did not condescend to
explain these strange injunctions further than by telling them that, if
they were not followed, and to the letter, neither he nor they might
ever climb into another tree-top!

It is needless to say that, after such an intimation, his orders
received implicit obedience; and those to whom he had given them swam
onward after him as silently as so many fishes.  The only sound heard
was the monotonous sighing of the water, seething against the hollow
sapucaya-shells, now and then varied by the scream of the _caracara_
eagle, as it poised itself for a second over their heads, in surprise at
the singular cohort of aquatic creatures moving so mysteriously through
the lagoons.



CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT.

ROUND AND ROUND.

For a full hour our adventurers preserved, not only their relative
positions, but also the silence that had been enjoined upon them.  None
of them spoke, even when a dead guariba--that had been drowned, perhaps,
by attempting a leap too great for its strength and agility--came
drifting along among them.  Not one of them took any notice of it except
the ouistiti upon the shoulders of Richard Trevannion.  This diminutive
quadrumanous specimen, on recognising the body of one of its big
kinsmen, entered upon a series of chatterings and squeakings, trembling
all the while as if suddenly awakened to the consciousness that it was
itself in danger of terminating its existence in a similar manner.

Its cries were not heeded.  Munday's admonition had been delivered in a
tone too serious to be disregarded; and the ouistiti was permitted to
utter its plaint, without a single word being addressed to it, either of
chiding or consolation.  Tranquillity was at length restored, for the
little ape, seeing that no notice was taken of it, desisted from its
noisy demonstrations, and once more the swimmers proceeded in silence.

Half an hour or so might have elapsed before this silence received a
second interruption.  It again came in the voice of the ouistiti; which,
rearing itself on its tiny hind-legs, having the shoulders of the
Paraense for a support, craning its head outward over the water,
commenced repeating its cries of alarm.  In seeking for an explanation
of this conduct, they contented themselves with watching the movements
of the alarmist, and by turning their eyes towards the object which
appeared to attract the ouistiti and cause it such evident alarm.  Each
buoyed himself up to get a good view; and each, as he did so, saw scarce
ten paces ahead of him the carcass of a guariba!  It was drifting
towards them in the same manner as the one they had already met; and
before any of them thought of exchanging speech, it was bobbing about in
their midst.

The reflection that occurred to the swimmers was, that there had been a
general drowning among the guaribas somewhere on the shores of the
lagoon: perhaps a tribe had got into some isolated tree, where their
retreat had been cut off by the inundation.  Had the tapuyo not been of
the party, this theory might have satisfied all hands, and the journey
would have been continued, instead of being suddenly interrupted by the
tapuyo himself.  He was not so easily deceived.  On passing the first
guariba, although he had said nothing, he had carefully noted the
peculiarities of the carcass; and as soon as he swam within
distinguishing distance of the second guariba, he saw that the pair were
identical.  In other words, our adventurers had for the second time
encountered the same unfortunate ape.

There could be but one conclusion.  The carcass could not have changed
its course, unless by the shifting of the wind, or the current of the
water.  But neither would have explained that second _rencontre_.  It
was only intelligible upon the supposition that the swimmers had been
going round and round and returning on their own track!



CHAPTER FORTY NINE.

GOING BY GUESS.

Although their guide was the first to discover it, he did not attempt to
conceal the dilemma into which he had been instrumental in leading them.
"'Tis true, patron!" he said, addressing himself to Trevannion, and no
longer requiring compliance with his former regulations.  "We have gone
astray.  That's the same monkey we met before; so you see we're back
where we were a half-hour ago.  _Pa terra_!  It's crooked luck, patron;
but I suppose the Great Spirit wills it so!"

Trevannion, confounded, made scarcely any reply.

"We mustn't remain here anyhow," pursued the Indian.  "We must try to
get to the trees somewhere,--no matter where."

"Surely," said the ex-miner, "we can accomplish that?"

"I hope so," was the reply of the tapuyo, given with no great
confidence.

Trevannion reflected that they had been _swimming in a circle_.  Should
this occur again,--and there was every possibility of such a thing,--the
desired end might not be so easy of accomplishment.

For some minutes speculation was suspended.  The guide was engaged in
action.  Like a water-spaniel in search of a winged wild-duck, he
repeatedly reared himself above the surface, casting glances of
interrogation to every quarter of the compass.  Like the same spaniel,
when convinced that the wounded bird has escaped him, he at length
desisted from these idle efforts; and, laying his body along the water,
prepared to swim disappointedly to the shore.

With something more than disappointment--something more than chagrin--
did Munday commence retreating from the lagoon.  As he called upon his
companions to follow him, there was a tremor in his voice, and an
irresolution in his stroke perceptible to the least observant of them;
and the fact of his having shouldered the dead guariba, after first
making inspection to see that it was fit for food, was proof of his
entertaining some suspicion that their voyage might be a long one.  No
one questioned him; for notwithstanding the failure of his promise to
guide them straight across the lagoon, they still relied upon him.  On
whom or what else could they rely?

After proceeding a considerable distance, he came to a pause, once more
stood up in the water, and, turning as upon a pivot, scanned the circle
of the horizon.  Satisfied that there was not a tree-top within view, he
swam onward as before.  Could he have ensured keeping a straight course,
no great danger need have been apprehended.  The lagoon might be ten
miles wide; or, if twenty, it could not so materially affect the result.
Swim as slowly as they might, a score of hours would see them on its
shore,--whether this was the spray of another submerged forest, or the
true _terra firma_.  There was no danger of their going to the bottom,
for their swimming-belts secured them against that.  There was no danger
of their suffering from thirst,--the contingency most dreaded by the
castaway at sea, and the strayed traveller in the desert,--of fresh
water they had a surfeit.  Nor did hunger dismay them.  Since eating the
jacana, they had set forth upon a breakfast of Brazil-nuts,--a food
which, from its oily nature, may be said to combine both animal and
vegetable substance.  Moreover, they were now no longer unprovided
against a future emergency: since their guide carried upon his shoulders
the carcass of the guariba.

Their real danger lay in their deviating from a right line: for who
could swim straight, with his eyes on a level with the surface of the
water, and nothing to direct his course, neither tree, nor rock, nor
star, nor signal of any kind?  The tapuyo knew this.  So did they all.
Even the children could tell that they were no longer guided, but going
by guess-work.  It was no longer a question of getting _across_ the
lagoon, but _out_ of it.  The unsteady movements of their guide, instead
of allaying their fears, produced the contrary effect, and the
disconsolate expression on his countenance was evidence that he was
under much apprehension.

For over an hour this uncertainty continued.  The swimmers, one and all,
were beginning to give way to serious alarm.  To say nothing of reaching
land, they might never more set eyes upon the submerged forest.  They
might swim round and round, as in the vortex of Charybdis, until sheer
exhaustion should reduce them utterly.  In due time hunger must overtake
them; and a lingering death by starvation might be their destiny.  When
faint from want of food and unable to defend themselves, they would be
attacked by predatory creatures dwelling in the water, while birds of
prey would assail them from the air.  Already could they fancy that the
cry of the caracara sounded more spiteful than was its wont; and
exultingly, as if the base bird foreboded for them a tragical ending.

More than twenty times had the tapuyo repeated his inspection of the
horizon, without seeing aught to cheer him.  They had been many hours in
the water, and supposed it to be about noon.  They could only conjecture
as to the time, for the sun was not visible.  At an early hour in the
morning--almost as they started--the sky had become overcast with a
sheet of leaden grey, concealing the sun's disk from their sight.  This
circumstance had caused some discouragement; but for it they might long
since have escaped from their dilemma, as the golden luminary, while low
down, would have served them as a guide.

Strange to say, at that hour when it was no longer of any concern to
them, the sky became suddenly clear, and the sun shone forth with
burning brilliance.  But his orb was now in the zenith, and of no
service to point out the quarter of the compass.  Within the equatorial
zone, north, south, east, and west were all alike to him at that season
of the year and that hour of the day.  If they could but have the
direction of one of these points, all would have been well.  But the sun
gave no sign.

For all that, the Indian hailed his appearance with a grunt of
satisfaction, while a change came over his countenance that could scarce
be caused by the mere brightening of the sky.  Something more than
cheerfulness declared itself in his dark features,--an expression of
renewed hope.

"If the sun keep on to show," said he, in answer to the questioning of
Trevannion, "it will be all right for us.  Now it's no good.  In an hour
from now he'll make some shadow.  Then we shall swim as straight as can
be, never fear, patron! we shall get out of this scrape before night,--
never fear!"

These cheering words were welcome, and produced universal joy where but
the moment before all was gloom.

"I think, patron," continued the tapuyo.  "We may as well stop swimming
for a while, till we see which way the sun goes.  Then we can make a
fresh start.  If we keep on now, we may be only making way in the wrong
direction."

The tired swimmers were only too ready to yield compliance to this bit
of advice.  The Mundurucu made one more endeavour to catch sight of the
tree-tops, and, being still unsuccessful, resigned himself to
inactivity, and along with the rest lay motionless upon the water.



CHAPTER FIFTY.

GUIDED BY A SHADOW.

In this way about an hour was spent; though by no means in solemn
silence.  Perfectly at ease, so far as physical comfort was concerned,
upon their liquid couch the swimmers could converse, as if stretched
upon a carpet of meadow-grass; and they passed their time in discussing
the chances of their ultimate escape from that cruel situation, to which
an unlucky accident had consigned them.  They were not altogether
relieved from apprehension as to their present predicament.  If the sky
should become again overcast, they would be worse off than ever, since
there was the loss of time to be considered.  All were constantly
turning their eyes upwards, and scanning the firmament, to see if there
were any signs of fresh clouds.

Munday looked towards the zenith with a different design.  He was
watching for the sun to decline.  In due time his watchfulness was
rewarded; not so much by observation of the sun itself, as by a
contrivance which declared the course of the luminary, long before it
could have been detected by the eye.

Having cautioned the others to keep still, so that there should be no
disturbance in the water,--otherwise perfectly tranquil,--he held his
knife in such a way that the blade stood up straight above the surface.
Taking care to keep it in the exact perpendicular, he watched with
earnest eye, as a philosopher watches the effect of some chemical
combination.  In a short time he was gratified by observing a _shadow_.
The blade, well balanced, cast an oblique reflection on the water; at
first, slight, but gradually becoming more elongated, as the experiment
proceeded.

Becoming at length convinced that he knew west from east, the tapuyo
restored his knife to its place, and, calling to his companions to
follow him, he struck off in the direction pointed out to him by the
shadow of the steel.  This would take the swimmers in an easterly
direction; but it mattered not what direction so long as it carried them
out of the lagoon.  As they proceeded onward, the guide occasionally
assured himself of keeping the same course, by repeating the experiment
with his knife; but after a time he no longer needed to consult his
queer sun-dial, having discovered a surer guide in the spray of the
forest, which at length loomed up along the line of the horizon.

It was close upon sunset when they swam in among the drooping branches,
and once more, with dripping skins, climbed up into the tops of the
trees.  Had it not been that they were glad to get to any port, they
might have felt chagrin on discovering that chance had directed them to
the very same roost where they had perched on the preceding night.

The drowned guariba which Munday had carried from the middle of the
lagoon was roasted, and furnished their evening meal; and the epicure
who would turn up his nose at such a viand has never tasted food under
the shadow of an Amazonian forest.



CHAPTER FIFTY ONE.

AROUND THE EDGE.

Discouraged by their failure, our adventurers remained upon their perch
till nearly noon of the next day, in listless lassitude.  The exertions
of the preceding day had produced a weariness that required more than a
night's rest, for not only their bodies, but their spirits were under
the influence of their long toil, until their state of mind bordered
upon despondency.  As the hours wore on, and their fatigue was gradually
relieved by rest, their spirits rose in like proportion; and before the
sun had reached its meridian, the instinctive desire of life sprang up
within their bosoms, and once more they began to consider what steps
should be taken to prolong it.

Should they make another attempt to cross the lagoon by swimming?  What
chance would there be of steering in the right course, any more than
upon the day before?  They were just as likely to go astray a second
time, and perhaps with a less fortunate _finale_.  If again lost amidst
the waste of waters, they might not be able to get sight of the
tree-tops, but swim on in circles or crooked turnings, until death,
arising from sheer exhaustion, or want of food, should complete their
misery.

Even the Mundurucu no longer urged the course in which he had formerly
expressed such confidence; and for some time he declined giving any
advice whatever,--his silence and his gloomy looks showing that he felt
humiliated by the failure of his plan.  No one thought of reproaching
him; for although their faith in his power was not quite so strong as it
had hitherto been, there was yet confidence in his superior skill.  Had
they been castaways from a ship, escaping in an open boat, or on some
raft or spar, in the middle of the great ocean, their cook would
doubtless have disputed his right to remain master.  But in the midst of
that strange inland sea, whose shores and islands consisted only of
tree-tops, the Mozambique acknowledged himself to be no more than a
novice.

Trevannion himself took the lead in suggesting the next plan.  It was
not intended to give up the idea of crossing the lagoon.  It was a
general belief that on the other side there must be land; and therefore
to reach it became the paramount thought of the party.  To go around it,
by keeping upon the trees, was clearly out of the question.  Even had
these continued all the way with interlacing branches, still the journey
would have been one that apes alone could perform.  It would have
occupied days, weeks, perhaps a month; and what certainty was there of
finding food for such a length of time?  Still, if they could not travel
upon the tree-tops, what was to hinder them from going _under_ them?
Why should they not use the forest to steer by,--swimming along the edge
of the trees, and making use of them at intervals for rest, and for a
sleeping-place during the night?

The idea was excellent, and, coming from Trevannion himself, was of
course approved without one opposing voice.  Even the Indian
acknowledged that it was a sagacious design, and superior to his own.
Fortunately it required but slight preparation for trial, and as the sun
shone down from the zenith they forsook their resting-place, and once
more betook themselves to the water, with their swimming-belts carefully
adjusted again about them.



CHAPTER FIFTY TWO.

THE MASSARANDUBA.

They advanced at the rate of about a mile an hour.  Could they have kept
on steadily, this would have given them ten or twelve miles a day, and
two or three days might have brought them to the other side of the
lagoon.  It was necessary, however, that they should stop at intervals
to obtain rest; and their progress was further impeded by the piosoca
plants,--the huge water-lilies already described,--whose broad, circular
leaves, lying along the surface like gigantic frying-pans, came directly
in their course.  Here and there they had to traverse a tract of these
lilies several acres in extent, where the rims of the rounded leaves
almost touched each other; and the thick succulent stalks formed a
tangle underneath, through which it was very difficult for a swimmer to
make way.  More than once they were compelled to go around these watery
gardens for a distance of many hundreds of yards, but thus shortening
the journey made in the right direction.

On account of such impediments they had not gone more than three miles
from their point of starting, when the Mundurucu recommended a halt for
the night, although it could not have been later than six o'clock, as
could be told by the sun, still high up in the heavens.

"I am hungry, patron," said the Indian at last; "so are you all.  We
must have some supper, else how can we go on?"

"Supper!" echoed Trevannion.  "Yes, sure enough, we are hungry.  I knew
that an hour ago.  But upon what do you propose to sup?  I see nothing
but trees with plenty of leaves, but no fruit.  We cannot live upon
leaves like the sloth.  We must be starving before we take to that."

"We shall sup upon milk, master, if you don't object to our making a
camping-place close by."

"Milk!" exclaimed Tom.  "What div yez say, Misther Munday?  Div yez mane
milk?  Och! don't be after temptin' wan's stomach with a dilicacy that
can't be obtained in this land av wather!  Shure now we're not only a
hundred modes from the tail av a cow, but a thousand, may be, from that
same."

"You may be wrong there," interrupted the Paraense.  "There are cows in
the Gapo, as well as upon land.  You have seen them yourself as we came
down the river?"

"Troth, yis,--if yez mane the fish-cow," (the Irishman alluded to the
_Vaca marina_, or manatee,--the _peixe-boi_ or fish-cow of the
Portuguese, several species of which inhabit the Amazon waters).  "But
shure the great brute could not be milked, if we did cotch wan av them;
an' if we did we should not take the throuble, when by sthrippin' the
skin av her carcass we'd get somethin' far betther for our suppers, in
the shape av a fat steak."

"Yonder is what the Mundurucu means!" said the guide.  "Yonder stands
the cow that can supply us with milk for our supper,--ay, and with bread
too to go along with it; don't you see the _Massaranduba_?"

At first they could see nothing that particularly claimed attention.
But by following the instructions of the guide, and raising their heads
a little, they at length caught sight of a tree, standing at some
distance from the forest edge, and so far overtopping the others as to
appear like a giant among pygmies.  It was in reality a vegetable
giant,--the great massaranduba of the Amazon,--one of the most
remarkable trees to be found even in a forest where more strange species
abound than in any other part of the world.  To Tom and some others of
the party the words of the Mundurucu were still a mystery.  How was a
tree to supply them with a supper of bread and milk?

Trevannion and Richard required no further explanation.  The former had
heard of this singular tree; the latter had seen it,--nay, more, had
drank of its milk, and eaten of its fruit.  It was with great joy the
young Paraense now looked upon its soaring leafy top, as it not only
reminded him of a spectacle he had often observed in the woods skirting
the suburbs of his native city, but promised, as the tapuyo had
declared, to relieve the pangs of hunger, that had become agonisingly
keen.



CHAPTER FIFTY THREE.

A VEGETABLE COW.

The tree which had thus determined them to discontinue their journey,
and which was to furnish them with lodgings for the night, was the
famous _palo de vaca_, or "cow-tree" of South America, known also as the
_arbol de leche_, or "milk-tree."  It has been described by Humboldt
under the name _Galactodendron_, but later botanical writers, not
contented with the very appropriate title given to it by the great
student of Nature, have styled it _Brosium_.  It belongs to the natural
order of the _Atrocarpads_, which, by what might appear a curious
coincidence, includes also the celebrated breadfruit.  What may seem
stranger still, the equally famous upas-tree of Java is a scion of the
same stock, an _atrocarpad_!  Therefore, just as in one family there are
good boys and bad boys, (it is to be hoped there are none of the latter
in yours,) so in the family of the atrocarpads there are trees producing
food and drink both wholesome to the body and delicious to the palate,
while there are others in whose sap, flowers, and fruit are concealed
the most virulent of poisons.

The massaranduba is not the only species known as _palo de vaca_, or
cow-tree.  There are many others so called, whose sap is of a milky
nature.  Some yield a milk that is pleasant to the taste and highly
nutritious, of which the "hya-hya" (_Tabernaemontana utibis_), another
South American tree, is the most conspicuous.  This last belongs to the
order of the _Apocyanae_, or dog-banes, while still another order, the
_Sapotacae_, includes among its genera several species of cow-tree.  The
massaranduba itself was formerly classed among the _Sapotads_.

It is one of the largest trees of the Amazonian forest, frequently found
two hundred feet in height, towering above the other trees, with a top
resembling an immense vegetable dome.  Logs one hundred feet long,
without a branch, have often been hewn out of its trunk, ready for the
saw-mill.  Its timber is very hard and fine grained, and will stand the
weather better than most other South American trees; but it cannot be
procured in any great quantity, because, like many other trees of the
Amazon, it is of a solitary habit, only two or three, or at most half a
dozen, growing within the circuit of a mile.

It is easily distinguished from trees of other genera by its reddish,
ragged bark, which is deeply furrowed, and from a decoction of which the
Indians prepare a dye of a dark red colour.  The fruit, about the size
of an apple, is full of a rich juicy pulp, exceedingly agreeable to the
taste, and much relished.  This is the bread which the Mundurucu hoped
to provide for the supper of his half-famished companions.

But the most singular, as well as the most important, product of the
massaranduba is its milky juice.  This is obtained by making an incision
in the bark, when the white sap flows forth in a copious stream, soon
filling a calabash or other vessel held under it.  On first escaping
from the tree it is of the colour and about the consistency of rich
cream, and, but for a slightly balsamic odour might be mistaken for the
genuine produce of the dairy.  After a short exposure to the air it
curdles, a thready substance forming upon the surface, resembling
cheese, and so called by the natives.  When diluted with water, the
coagulation does not so rapidly take place; and it is usually treated in
this manner, besides being strained, before it is brought to the table.
The natives use it by soaking their _farinha_ or maize-bread with the
sap, and it is also used as cream in tea, chocolate, and coffee, many
people preferring it on account of the balsamic flavour which it imparts
to these beverages.

The milk of the massaranduba is in great demand throughout all the
district where the tree is found, both in the Spanish and Portuguese
territories of tropical South America.  In Venezuela it is extensively
used by the negroes, and it has been remarked that these people grow
fatter during the season of the year when the _palo de vaca_ is plenty.
Certain it is that no ill effects have been known to result from a free
use of it; and the vegetable cow cannot be regarded otherwise than as
one of the most singular and interesting productions of beneficent
Nature.



CHAPTER FIFTY FOUR.

A MILK SUPPER.

It was some time before they swam under the massaranduba's
wide-spreading branches, as it did not stand on the edge of the forest,
and for a short time after entering among the other trees it was out of
sight.  The instincts of the Indian, however, directed him, and in due
time it again came before their eyes, its rough reddish trunk rising out
of the water like a vast ragged column.

As might have been expected, its huge limbs were laden with parasites,
trailing down to the surface of the water.  By these they found no
difficulty in making an ascent, and were soon safely installed; its huge
coreaceous leaves of oblong form and pointed at the tops, many of them
nearly a foot in length, forming a shade against the fervent rays of the
sun, still several degrees above the horizon.

As the Indian had anticipated, the tree was in full bearing, and ere
long a number of its apples were plucked, and refreshing the parched
palates that would have pronounced them exquisite had they been even
less delicious than they were.  Munday made no stay even to taste the
fruit.  He was determined on giving his companions the still rarer treat
he had promised them, a supper of milk; and not until he had made some
half-dozen notches with his knife, and placed under each a
sapucaya-shell detached from the swimming-belts, did he cease his
exertions.

They had not long to wait.  The vegetable cow proved a free milker, and
in twenty minutes each of the party had a pericarp in hand full of
delicious cream, which needed no sugar to make it palatable.  They did
not stay to inquire how many quarts their new cow could give.  Enough
for them to know that there was sufficient to satisfy the appetites of
all for that night.

When, after supper, the conversation naturally turned to the
peculiarities of this remarkable tree, many other facts were elicited in
regard to its useful qualities.  Richard told them that in Para it was
well-known, its fruit and milk being sold in the streets by the negro
market-women, and much relished by all classes of the inhabitants of
that city; that its sap was used by the Paraense joiners in the place of
glue, to which it was equal, if not superior, guitars, violins, and
broken dishes being put together with it in the most effective manner,
its tenacity holding against both heat and dampness.  Another curious
fact was, that the sap continues to run long after the tree has been
felled: that even the logs lying in the yard of a saw-mill have been
known to yield for weeks, even months, the supply required by the
sawyers for creaming their coffee!

And now our adventurers, admonished by the setting of the sun, were
about stretching themselves along the branches, with the intention of
going to sleep.  But they were not to retire without an incident, though
fortunately it was such as to add to the cheerfulness lately inspiring
the spirits of all, even to the macaw and little monkey, both of whom
had amply regaled themselves upon the succulent fruits of the
massaranduba.  The great ape, again left behind, had been altogether
forgotten.  No one of the party was thinking of it; or, if any one was,
it was only with a very subdued regret.  All knew that the coaita could
take care of itself, and under all circumstances it would be safe
enough.  For all this, they would have been very glad still to have kept
it in their company, had that been possible; and all of them were glad
when a loud chattering at no great distance was recognised as the
salutation of their old acquaintance, the coaita.  Directly after, the
animal itself was seen springing from tree to tree, until by a last long
leap it lodged itself on the branches of the massaranduba, and was soon
after seated upon the shoulders of Tipperary Tom.

While the swimmers were proceeding by slow stages, the ape had kept them
company among the tops of the adjacent trees; and, but for its being
delayed by having to make the circuit around the various little bays, it
might have been astride the vegetable cow long before the swimmers
themselves.  Coming late, it was not the less welcome, and before going
to sleep it was furnished with a fruit supper, and received a series of
caresses from Tom, that in some measure consoled it for his double
desertion.



CHAPTER FIFTY FIVE.

ONLY A DEAD-WOOD.

Despite the coarse netting of the hammocks on which they were
constrained to pass the night, our adventurers slept better than was
their wont, from a certain feeling of security,--a confidence that God
had not forgotten them.  He who could give them food in the forest could
also guide them out of the labyrinth into which their own negligence had
led them.

A prayer to Him preceded their breakfast on the cream of the cow-tree,
and with another they launched themselves upon their strings of shells,
with renewed confidence, and proceeded along the curving selvage of the
trees.  As before, they found their progress impeded by the "ovens" of
the piosoca; and despite their utmost exertions, at noon they had made
scarce three miles from their starting-point, for the gigantic tree that
had sheltered them was full in sight, and even at sunset they could not
have been more than six miles from it.

In the forest about them there appeared no resting-place for the night.
The trees stood closely together, but without any interlacing of
branches, or large horizontal limbs upon which they might seek repose.
For a time it appeared as if they would have to spend the night upon the
water.  This was a grave consideration, and the guide knew it.  With
their bodies immersed during the midnight hours,--chill even within the
tropics,--the consequences might be serious, perhaps fatal.  One way or
another a lodgement must be obtained among the tree-tops.  It was
obtained, but after much difficulty.  The climbing to it was a severe
struggle, and the seat was of the most uncomfortable kind.  There was no
supper, or comfort of any kind.

With the earliest appearance of day they were all once more in the
water, and slowly pursuing their weary way.  Now slower than ever, for
in proportion to their constantly decreasing strength the obstruction
from the piosocas appeared to increase.  The lagoon, or at least its
border, had become a labyrinth of lilies.

While thus contending against adverse circumstances, an object came
under their eyes that caused a temporary abstraction from their misery.
Something strange was lying along the water at the distance of about a
quarter of a mile from them.  It appeared to be some ten or twelve yards
in length, and stood quite high above the surface.  It was of a dark
brown colour, and presented something the appearance of a bank of dried
mud, with some pieces of stout stakes projecting upward.  Could it be
this?  Was it a bank or spit of land?

The hearts of the swimmers leaped as this thought, inspired by their
wishes, came into every mind.  If land, it could be only an islet, for
there was water all around it,--that they could perceive.  But if so, an
islet, if no bigger than a barn-door, would still be land, and therefore
welcome.  They might stretch their limbs upon it, and obtain a good
night's rest, which they had not done since the wreck of the galatea.
Besides an islet ever so small--if only a sand-bar or bank of mud--would
be a sort of evidence that the real dry land was not far off.

The dark form at first sight appeared to be close in to the trees, but
Munday, standing up in the water, pronounced it to be at some distance
from them,--between fifty and a hundred yards.  As it was evident that
the trees themselves were up to their necks in water, it could hardly be
an island.  Still there might be some elevated spot, a ridge or mound,
that overtopped the inundation.  Buoyed up by this hope, the swimmers
kept on towards it, every eye scanning intently its outlines in order to
make out its real character.  All at once the projections which they had
taken for stakes disappeared from the supposed spot of mud.  They had
assumed the shape of large wading birds of dark plumage, which, having
spread their long, triangular wings, were now hovering above the heads
of the swimmers, by their cries proclaiming that they were more
astonished at the latter than they could possibly be at them.

It was not until they had arrived within a hundred yards of the object
that its true character was declared.  "_Pa Terra_!"  Munday cried, in a
sonorous and somewhat sorrowful voice, as he sank despairingly upon his
breast;--"no island,--no bank,--no land of any kind.  _Only a
dead-wood_!"

"A dead-wood!" repeated the patron, not comprehending what he meant, and
fancying from the chagrined air of the Indian that there might be
mischief in the thing.

"That's all, master.  The carcass of an old _Manguba_, that's been long
since stripped of his limbs, and has been carried here upon the current
of the Gapo; don't you see his huge shoulders rising above the water?"

Richard proceeded to explain the Indian's meaning.  "The trunk of a dead
tree, uncle.  It's the silk-cotton-tree, or manguba, as Munday calls it.
I can tell that by its floating so lightly on the water.  It appears to
be anchored, though; or perhaps it is moored among the stalks of the
piosocas."

The explanation was interrupted by a shout from the Indian, whose
countenance had all at once assumed an expression of cheerfulness,--
almost joy.  The others, as they turned their eyes upon him, were
surprised at the sudden change, for but a moment before they had noticed
his despairing look.

"The Mundurucu must be mad, patron," he shouted.  "Where is his head?
Gone down to the bottom of the Gapo along with the galatea!"

"What's the matter?" inquired Tom, brightening up as he beheld the
joyful aspect of the Indian.  "Is it dhroy land that he sees?  I hope
it's that same."

"What is it, Munday?" asked Trevannion.  "Why do you fancy yourself
insane?"

"Only to think of it, patron, that I should have been sorry to find but
the trunk of a tree.  The trunk of a tree,--a grand manguba, big enough
to make a _montaria_, an _igarite_,--a galatea, if you like,--a great
canoe that will carry us all!  Cry _Santos Dios_!  Give thanks to the
Great Spirit!  We are saved!--we are saved!"

The words of the tapuyo, wild as they might appear, were well
understood.  They were answered by a general shout of satisfaction,--for
even the youngest of the party could comprehend that the great log lying
near them might be made the means of carrying them clear of the dangers
with which they had been so long encompassed.

"True,--true," said Trevannion.  "It is the very thing for which we have
been searching in vain,--some sort of timber that would carry its own
weight in the water, and us beside.  This dead manguba, as you call it,
looks as if a ton would not sink it a quarter of an inch.  It will
certainly serve us for a raft.  Give thanks to God, children; his hand
is in this.  It fills me with hope that we are yet to survive the perils
through which we are passing, and that I shall live to see old England
once more."

No flock of jacanas ever created such a commotion among the leaves of
the Victoria lily as was made at that moment.  Like frail leaves the
thick stems were struck aside by the arms of the swimmers, strengthened
by the prospect of a speedy delivery from what but the moment before
seemed extremest peril; and almost in a moment they were alongside the
great trunk of the manguba, in earnest endeavour to get upon it.



CHAPTER FIFTY SIX.

THE STERCULIADS.

In their attempts at boarding they were as successful as they could have
expected.  The top of the gigantic log was full six feet above the
surface of the water, and there were huge buttresses upon it--the
shoulders spoken of by Munday--that rose several feet higher.  By dint
of hard climbing, however, all were at length safely landed.

After they had spent a few minutes in recovering breath, they began to
look around them and examine their strange craft.  It was, as the Indian
had alleged, the trunk of a silk-cotton-tree, the famed _Bombax_ of the
American tropical forests,--found, though, in many different species,
from Mexico to the mountains of Brazil.  It is known as belonging to the
order of the _Sterculiads_, which includes among its _genera_ a great
number of vegetable giants, among others the _baobab_ of Africa, with a
stem ninety feet in circumference, though the trunk is out of proportion
to the other parts of the tree.  The singular hand-plant of Mexico
called _Manita_ is a sterculiad, as are also the cotton-tree of India
and the gum-tragacanth of Sierra Leone.

The bombax-trees of Tropical America are of several distinct species.
They are usually called cotton or silk-cotton-trees, on account of the
woolly or cottony stuff between the seeds and the outer capsules, which
resemble those of the true cotton plant (_Gossypium_).  They are noted
for their great size and imposing appearance, more than for any useful
properties.  Several species of them, however, are not without a certain
value.  _Bombax ceiba_, and _Bombax monguba_, the monguba of the Amazon,
are used for canoes, a single trunk sufficing to make a craft that will
carry twenty hogsheads of sugar along with its crew of tapuyos.  The
peculiar lightness of the wood renders it serviceable for this purpose;
and there is one species, the _ochroma_ of the West Indies, so light as
to have been substituted for cork-wood in the bottling of wines.

The silk or cotton obtained from the seed-pods, though apparently of an
excellent quality, unfortunately cannot be well managed by the
spinning-machine.  It lacks adhesiveness, and does not form a thread
that may be trusted.  It is, however, extensively used for the stuffing
of couches, cushions, and other articles of upholstery; and the
Amazonian Indians employ it in feathering the arrows of their blow-guns,
and for several other purposes.

A peculiarity of the Sterculiads is their having buttresses.  Some are
seen with immense excrescences growing out from their trunks, in the
form of thin, woody plates, covered with bark just like the trunk
itself, between which are spaces that might be likened to stalls in a
stable.  Often these partitions rise along the stem to a height of fifty
feet.  The cottonwood (_Populus angulata_) and the deciduous cypress of
the Mississippi (_Taxodium distichum_) partake of this singular habit;
the smaller buttresses of the latter, known as "cypress knees,"
furnishing the "cypress hams," which, under their covering of
lime-washed canvas, had been sold (so say the Southerners) by the Yankee
speculator for the genuine haunch of the corn-fed hog!

In spite of its commercial inutility, there are few trees of the South
American forest more interesting than the manguba.  It is a conspicuous
tree, even in the midst of a forest abounding in types of the vegetable
kingdom, strange and beautiful.  Upon the trunk of such a tree, long
since divested of its leaves,--stripped even of its branches, its
species distinguishable only to the eye of the aboriginal observer,--our
adventurers found a lodgment.



CHAPTER FIFTY SEVEN.

CHASED BY TOCANDEIRAS.

Their tenancy was of short continuance.  Never did lodger retreat from a
shrewish landlady quicker than did Trevannion and his party from the
trunk of the silk-cotton-tree.  That they so hastily forsook a secure
resting-place, upon which but the moment before they had been so happy
to plant their feet, will appear a mystery.  Strangest of all, that they
were actually driven overboard by an insect not bigger than an ant!

Having gained a secure footing, as they supposed, upon the floating
tree-trunk, our adventurers looked around them, the younger ones from
curiosity, the others to get acquainted with the character of their new
craft.  Trevannion was making calculations as to its capability; not as
to whether it could carry them, for that was already decided, but
whether it was possible to convert it into a manageable vessel, either
with sails, if such could be extemporised, or with oars, which might be
easily obtained.  While thus engaged, he was suddenly startled by an
exclamation of surprise and alarm from the Indian.  All that day he had
been the victim of sudden surprises.

"The _Tocandeiras_!--the _Tocandeiras_!" he cried, his eyes sparkling as
he spoke; and, calling to the rest to follow, he retreated toward one
end of the tree-trunk.

With wondering eyes they looked back to discover the thing from which
they were retreating.  They could see nothing to cause such symptoms of
terror as those exhibited by their guide and counsellor.  It is true
that upon the other end of the tree-trunk, in a valley-like groove
between two great buttresses, the bark had suddenly assumed a singular
appearance.  It had turned to a fiery red hue, and had become apparently
endowed with a tremulous motion.  What could have occasioned this
singular change in the colour of the log?

"The Tocandeiras!" again exclaimed Munday, pointing directly to the
object upon which all eyes were fixed.

"Tocandeiras?" asked Trevannion.  "Do you mean those little red insects
crawling along the log?"

"That, and nothing else.  Do you know what they are, patron?"

"I have not the slightest idea, only that they appear to be some species
of ant."

"That's just what they are,--ants and nothing else!  Those are the
dreaded _fire-ants_.  We've roused them out of their sleep.  By our
weight the manguba has gone down a little.  The water has got into their
nest.  They are forced out, and are now spiteful as hungry jaguars.  We
must get beyond their reach, or in ten minutes' time there won't be an
inch of skin on our bodies without a bite and a blister."

"It is true, uncle," said Richard.  "Munday is not exaggerating.  If
these ugly creatures crawl upon us, and they will if we do not get out
of the way, they'll sting us pretty nigh to death.  We must leave the
log!"

And now, on the way towards the spot occupied by the party, was a fiery
stream composed of spiteful-looking creatures, whose very appearance
bespoke stings and poison.  There was no help for it but to abandon the
log, and take to the water.  Fortunately each individual was still in
possession of his string of sapucaya-shells; and, sliding down the side
of the log, once more they found themselves among the grand gong-like
leaves of the gigantic lily.



CHAPTER FIFTY EIGHT.

A LOG THAT WOULDN'T ROLL.

It now became a question, what they were to do.  Abandon the log
altogether, for a swarm of contemptible insects, not larger than
lady-bugs, when, by the merest chance, they had found a raft, the very
thing they stood in need of?  Such a course was not contemplated,--not
for a moment.  On gliding back into the Gapo, they had no idea of
swimming away farther than would secure their safety from the sting of
the insects, as Munday assured them that the fire-ants would not follow
them into the water.  But how regain possession of their prize?

The ants were now seen swarming all over it, here and there collected in
large hosts, seemingly holding council together, while broad bands
appeared moving from one to the other, like columns of troops upon the
march!  There was scarce a spot upon the surface of the log, big enough
for a man to set his foot upon, that was not reddened by the cohorts of
this insect army!

"How shall we dispossess them?" inquired Trevannion.

"Shure," said Tipperary Tom, answering as if the appeal had been made to
him, "can't we sit thim on fire, an' burn thim aft the log?  Cudn't we
gather some dry laves out av the threes, an' make a blaze that 'ud soon
consume ivery mother's son av thim?"

"Nonsense, Tom.  We should consume the log, as well as the ants, and
then what would be the advantage to us?"

"Well, thin, iv yez think fire won't do, why can't we thry wather?  Lit
us thry an' drownd thim off the log.  Munday sez they can't swim, an' iv
they can't, shure they must go to the bottom."

"How would you do it?" asked Trevannion, catching at the idea suggested
by the Hibernian.

"Nothing asier.  Give the did three a rowl over on its back, an' thin
the ants'll get undher the wather; an' won't they have to stay there?
Lit us all lay howlt on the log, an' see iv we can't give the swate
craythers a duckin'."

Convinced that there was good sense in Tom's counsel, swimming back
towards the log, they stretched their arms upward, and commenced trying
to turn it over.  The attempt proved unsuccessful.  Partly from the
enormous weight of the dead tree, saturated as one half of it was with
water, and partly owing to the great buttresses acting as outriggers,
they could only turn it about one tenth part of its circumference.  It
rolled back upon them, at first dipping a little deeper, but afterwards
settling into its old bed.  They were about to discontinue their efforts
when a cry came from Tom, as if some new source of terror had been
discovered in the manguba.  Soon each and all found an explanation in
their own sensations, which were as if they had been sharply stung or
bitten by some venomous insect.  While shouldering the log in vain
endeavours to capsize it, some scores of the ants had been detached from
its sides, and fallen upon the bodies of the swimmers.  Instead of
showing gratitude for this temporary respite from drowning, the spiteful
insects had at once imbedded their poisoned fangs in their preservers,
as if conscious that they owed all their misfortunes to the intruders
who had so rudely disturbed their rest.  But when these stray ants that
had been stinging them were disposed of, their attention was once more
directed towards the manguba, with a still more determinate resolution
to repossess what in their eyes was more valuable than a selected log of
the finest Honduras mahogany!



CHAPTER FIFTY NINE.

DROWNING THE TOCANDEIRAS: FIVE MEN IN A FEVER.

For a time the brains of our adventurers were busied in devising some
plan for routing the tocandeiras from their floating citadel, of which
they now retained sole possession.  At last Tipperary Tom again became
the suggester of a scheme for dispelling the multitudinous hosts.

"If we can't spill thim aff the log," said he, "we can wather thim aff
it."

"Not such a bad idea," said Richard.  "Come on, let us surround the
trunk, and attack them on all sides, and let all heave together."

The dark mud colour that had characterised it when first seen, and
during the time while they were approaching it, was now changed to a hue
of fiery red, here in spots of patches, there in broad lists or streaks,
running irregularly between the extremities.  Of course the red bands
and blotches mottling its sombre surface were the tocandeiras, whose
crowded battalions were distributed all over it.  On closer scrutiny, it
could be seen that they were in motion, passing to and fro, or in places
circling around as if in search of the intruders who had disturbed them.

At a word from Trevannion, all the assailants commenced heaving up water
with the palms of their hands, and the log became shrouded under a
shower of sparkling drops that fell fast and thickly over it,
dissipating into a cloud of vapour like the spray of a waterfall.  Under
such a drenching the tocandeiras could not possibly retain their hold,
however tenacious might be their sharp curving claws, and it was but
natural that thousands of them should soon be swept from the manguba.
Their assailants saw it, and, rejoicing at the success of their scheme,
gave utterance to triumphant shouts, just like boys destroying with hot
water a nest of wasps or hornets.  Louder than all could be heard the
voice of Tipperary Tom.  It was he who had suggested the scheme, and the
thought of having his character for sagacity thus raised caused his
boisterous fit of self-congratulation.

But the splashing suddenly ceased, and the six pairs of palms, instead
of being turned upward and forward to bale water upon the log, were now
exerted in the opposite direction, backward and downward, while the
owners of them commenced swimming away from the spot; as they went off,
making vigorous efforts to free themselves from the spiteful creatures
again clinging to them.  Not one of them said a word about staying
longer by the dead manguba; but, picking up little Rosa on the way, they
continued their retreat, nor paused again until they felt sure of having
distanced the tocandeiras.

As a matter of course they had retreated towards the tree-tops.  After
so many surprises, accompanied by almost continuous exertion, they stood
in need of rest.  Having chosen one that could be easily climbed, they
ascended to its branches, and there seated themselves as comfortably as
circumstances would permit.  On perceiving that the sun was already over
the meridian, and satisfied, moreover, that the task of getting rid of
their enemies was one that it might take time to accomplish, they
determined to remain all night in their new situation.  But there was a
more powerful reason for suspending their journey at this point.  They
were suffering great pain from the stings of the tocandeiras, and, until
that should be to some extent allayed, they could think of nothing else,
unless indeed it might be a mode of avenging themselves.

It was fortunate they had found a safe place of repose, and that Munday,
who suffered less than the rest, preserved sufficient composure to make
their beds or hammocks of sipos, for, in less than twenty minutes after
ascending the tree, every one of the party, Munday and Rosa excepted,
found himself in a raging fever from the stings inflicted by the
tocandeiras, since these bloodthirsty insects not only bite as other
ants, but have the power of stinging like wasps, only that the pain
produced by their sting is much greater,--more like that of the black
scorpion.

As the sun went down, a cool breeze began to play over the waters of the
lagoa; and this--the fever having burnt itself out--restored them to
their ordinary health, though with a feeling of languor that disinclined
them to do anything for that night.  Stretched upon their rude aerial
couches, they looked up at the stars, and listened to Munday as he made
answer to the interrogatories of Trevannion giving an account of one of
the singular customs of his tribe,--that known as the "Festival of the
Tocandeiras."



CHAPTER SIXTY.

THE FESTIVAL OF THE TOCANDEIRAS.

When a youth of the Mundurucu nation, or its kindred tribe, the Mahue,
has reached the age for assuming the dignities of manhood, he is
expected to submit himself to an ordeal that well deserves to be called
fiery.  This more especially if the youth's ambition inclines him to
become a warrior or otherwise distinguished in the tribe.  The ordeal is
voluntary; but without undergoing it, the young Mundurucu must consent
to an existence, if not disgraced, at least inglorious; and if not
absolutely scorned by the girls of the Malocca, he will have but slight
chance of winning their smiles.

It must be known to my young readers that a custom prevails among many
tribes of North American Indians of submitting their young men who
aspire to become "braves" to a test of courage and endurance so severe
at times as to be a torture quite incredible to those unacquainted with
the Indian character.  You might fancy the South American a very
trifling affair, compared with the torture of the Mandans and other
Northern tribes, when you are told that it consists simply in the
wearing of a pair of gloves, or mittens, for a certain length of time,--
so long that the wearer can make the round of the Malocca, and finish up
by an obeisance to the _tuchao_, or chief, who awaits him at the door of
his hut.  But these mittens once described to you, as they were
described by Munday to his companions on the tree, you will perchance
change your mind; and regard the Mundurucu ceremony as one of the most
severe that was ever contrived to test the constancy and courage of any
aspirant to distinction.

When the young Mundurucu declares his readiness to put on the gloves, a
pair of them are prepared for him.  They are manufactured out of the
bark of a species of palm-tree, and are in fact only long hollow
cylinders, closed at one end, and large enough to admit the hand and arm
up to the elbow.  Before being drawn on they are half filled with ants
of the most spiteful and venomous kinds; but chiefly with tocandeiras,
from which the ceremony derives its name.

Thus accoutred, and accompanied by a crowd with horns, drums, and other
musical instruments in use among the Indians, the candidate for
manhood's rights has to make the round of the village, presenting
himself before every hut, and dancing a jig at every halt that is made.
Throughout all the performance he must affect signs of great joy,
chanting a cheerful strain, loud enough to be heard above the beating of
the drums, the blowing of the horns, and the fracas of his noisy
followers.  Should he refuse to submit to this terrible ordeal, or
during its continuance show signs of weakness or hesitation, he is a
lost man.  He will be forever after the butt and scorn of his tribe; and
there is not a Mundurucu girl who will consent to have him for a
sweetheart.  His parents and relatives will also be affected in the
event of his proving a coward, and he will be regarded as a disgrace to
the family.

Stimulated by these thoughts, he enters upon the trial, his friends
urging him forward with cries of encouragement, his parents keeping by
his side, and with anxious entreaties fortifying him against a failure.
He has courageously thrust his hands into the fiery gauntlets, and with
like courage he must keep them there, until the ceremony is completed.
He suffers cruel torture.  Every moment increases his agony.  His hands,
wrists, and arms feel as if surrounded by fire.  The insect poison
enters his veins.  His eyes are inflamed.  The sweat pours from his
skin,--his bosom palpitates,--his lips and cheeks grow pale; and yet he
must not show the slightest acknowledgment of suffering.  If he does, it
will cover him with shame; and he will never be permitted to carry the
Mundurucu war-spear, nor impale upon its point the head of his slain
enemy.  He knows the awful fate that must result from failure; and,
though staggering in his steps, he keeps courageously on.  At length he
stands in the presence of the tuchao, seated to receive him.

Before the chief the ceremony is repeated with increased excitement; the
dance is redoubled in vigour,--the chant is louder than ever,--both
continuing until his strength fails him through sheer exhaustion.  His
gloves are then removed, and he falls into the arms of his friends.

He is now surrounded by the young girls of the tribe, who fling their
arms around him, covering him with kisses and congratulations.  His
sufferings prevent him from appreciating their soft caresses, and
breaking away from their embrace, he rushes down to the river, and
flings his fevered body into the grateful current.  There remaining
until the cool water has to some extent alleviated his pain, he comes
forth and retires to the Malocca, to receive fresh congratulations from
his fellow-savages.

He has proved himself of the stuff of which warriors are made, and may
now aspire to the hand of any Mundurucu maiden, and to the glory of
increasing the number of those hideous trophies that adorn the
council-room of the tribe, and which have earned for these Indians the
distinctive surname of _Decapitadores_ (Beheaders).



CHAPTER SIXTY ONE.

AMAZONIAN ANTS.

Succeeding this thrilling account of the tocandeira festival, ants
continued for a time to form the staple subject of conversation, which
was not confined to the particular species they had encountered upon the
log, but related to many others that inhabit the forests and _compos_ of
the Amazon valley.  Scores of sorts were known to the Mundurucu,--all
differing from each other, not only in size, shape, colour, and what may
be termed _personal_ characteristics, but also in their modes of life,
habits, and dwelling-place; in short, in every particular except those
essential traits which make them all members of the same family.

The entomologist who would make a study of ant-life could find no better
school to pursue it in than the grand valley of the Amazon.  In all
parts of it he will find these insects in countless numbers, and in a
vast variety of species,--separated from each other by all distinctions
of classes founded on habits of life quite opposed to each other.  Some
species inhabit the earth, never descending below its surface.  Others
live _under_ it, in subterranean dwellings, scarce ever coming out into
the light of day.  Others again live above the earth, making their home
in the hollow trunks of trees; while still others lead a more aerial
life, building their nests among the twigs and topmost branches.

In their diet there is a still greater range.  There are _carnivora_ and
_herbivora_,--some that feed only on flesh, others that confine
themselves to vegetable substances.  There are, moreover, kinds that
devour their meat before the life is out of it; while other carnivorous
species, like the vulture among birds, prey only on such carrion as may
chance to fall in their way, and in search of which their lives seem
principally to be spent.

Then there are the vegetable feeders, which not only strip the leaves
from plants and trees, but destroy every other sort of vegetable
substance that they may fancy to seize upon.  The clothes in a chest or
wardrobe, the papers in a desk, and the books in a library, have all at
times been consumed by their devastating hosts, when foraging for food,
or for materials out of which to construct their singular dwellings.
These dwellings are of as many different kinds as there are species of
ants.  Some are of conical shape, as large as a soldier's tent.  Some
resemble hillocks or great mounds, extending over the ground to a
circumference of many yards.  Others represent oblong ridges, traversed
by numerous underground galleries, while some species make their
dwellings in deep horizontal tunnels, or excavations, often extending
under the bed of broad rivers.  Many kinds lead an arboreal life, and
their nests may be seen sticking like huge excrescences to the trunks of
the forest-trees, and as often suspended from the branches.

To give a detailed account of the different kinds of Amazonian ants,--to
describe only their appearance and ordinary habits,--would require, not
a chapter, but a large volume.  Their domestic economy, the modes of
constructing their domiciles, the manner of propagating their species,
their social distinction into classes or castes, the odd relations that
exists between the separate castes of a community, the division of
labour, their devotion to what some writers, imbued with monarchical
ideas, have been pleased to term their _queen_,--who in reality is an
individual _elected_ for a special purpose, render these insects almost
an anomaly in nature.  It is not to be expected that the uneducated
Indian could give any scientific explanation of such matters.  He only
knew that there were many curious things in connection with the ants,
and their indoor as well as out-door life, which he had himself
observed,--and these particulars he communicated.

He could tell strange tales of the _Termites_, or white ants, which are
not ants at all,--only so called from a general resemblance to the
latter in many of their habits.  He dwelt longest on the sort called
_Saubas_, or leaf-carrying ants, of which he knew a great number of
species, each building its hill in a different manner from the others.
Of all the species of South American ants, perhaps none surprises the
stranger so much as the sauba.  On entering a tract of forest, or
passing a patch of cultivated ground, the traveller will come to a place
where the whole surface is strewn with pieces of green leaves, each
about the size of a dime, and all in motion.  On examining these leafy
fragments more closely, he will discover that each is borne upon the
shoulders of a little insect not nearly so big as its burden.
Proceeding onward he will come to a tree, where thousands of these
insects are at work cutting the leaves into pieces of the proper size,
and flinging them down to thousands of others, who seize upon and carry
them off.  On still closer scrutiny, he will observe that all this work
is being carried on in systematic order,--that there are some of the
insects differently shaped from the rest,--some performing the actual
labour, while the others are acting as guards and overseers.  Were he to
continue his observation, he would find that the leaves thus transported
were not used as food, but only as thatch for covering the galleries and
passages through which these countless multitudes make their way from
one place to another.  He would observe, moreover, so many singular
habits and manoeuvres of the little crawling creatures, that he would
depart from the spot filled with surprise, and unable to explain more
than a tenth part of what he had seen.

Continuing his excursion, he would come upon ants differing from the
saubas not only in species, but in the most essential characteristics of
life.  There would be the _Ecitons_, or foraging ants, which instead of
contenting themselves by feeding upon the luxurious vegetation of the
tropics, would be met upon one of their predatory forays,--the object of
their expedition being to destroy some colony of their own kind, if not
of their own species.  It may be that the foraging party belong to the
species known as _Eciton-rapax_,--the giant of its genus, in which many
individuals measure a full half-inch in length.  If so, they will be
proceeding in single file through the forest, in search of the nests of
a defenceless vegetable-feeding ant of the genus _Formica_.  If they
have already found it, and are met on their homeward march towards their
own encampment, each will be seen holding in its mouth a portion of the
mangled remains of some victim of their rapacity.

Again, another species may be met travelling in broad columns,
containing millions of individuals, either on the way to kill and
plunder, or returning laden with the spoil.  In either case they will
attack any creature that chances in their way,--man himself as readily
as the most defenceless animal.  The Indian who encounters them retreats
upon his tracks, crying out, "_Tauoca_!" to warn his companions behind,
himself warned by the ant-thrushes whom he has espied hovering above the
creeping columns, and twittering their exulting notes, as at intervals
they swoop down to thin the moving legion.

Of all the kinds of ants known to the Mundurucu, there was none that
seemed to interest him more than that which had led to the
conversation,--the tocandeira, or, as the Brazilians term it, _formigade
fogo_ (fire-ant).  Munday had worn the formidable mittens; and this
circumstance had no doubt left an impression upon his mind that the
tocandeira was the truest representative of spitefulness to be found in
the insect world.

Perhaps he was not far astray.  Although an ant of ordinary size,--both
in this and general appearance not differing greatly from the common red
ant of England,--its bite and sting together are more dreaded than those
of any other species.  It crawls upon the limbs of the pedestrian who
passes near its haunt, and, clutching his skin in its sharp pincer-like
jaws, with a sudden twitch of the tail it inserts its venomous sting
upon the instant, holding on after it has made the wound, and so
tenaciously that it is often torn to pieces while being detached.  It
will even go out of its way to attack any one standing near.  And at
certain landing-places upon some of the Amazonian rivers, the ground is
so occupied with its hosts that treading there is attended with great
danger.  In fact, it is on record that settlements have been abandoned
on account of the fire-ant suddenly making its appearance, and becoming
the pest of the place.

Munday, in conclusion, declared that the tocandeiras were only found in
the dry forests and sandy _campos_; that he had never before seen one of
their swarms in the Gapo, and that these in the dead-wood must have
retreated thither in haste, to escape drowning when caught by the
inundation, and that the log had been afterwards drifted away by the
_echente_.

Whether this statement was true or not, the ants appeared to have made
up their minds to stay there, and permit no intruders to deprive them of
their new, strange domicile,--at all events until the _vasante_ might
enable them once more to set foot upon dry land.



CHAPTER SIXTY TWO.

THE ANTS STILL EXCITED.

At break of day the party were all awake; and after refreshing
themselves with a little _cheese_--which was only some coagulated milk
of the massaranduba, preserved in sapucaya-shells--they once more turned
their attention to the floating trunk.  To their surprise, it was no
longer where they had left it!

There was a fog upon the water, but that was rapidly becoming
dissipated; and as the sun peeped over the tree-tops, the lagoa was
sufficiently free from mist for any dark object as large as a man's
head, within a mile's distance, to be distinguished.  The manguba had
been left scarce a hundred yards from their sleeping-place.  Where was
it now?

"Yonder!" said Munday, "close in by the trees.  By our splashing in the
water, we started it from its moorings among the piosocas.  There has
been a little breeze through the night, that has brought it this way.
It is now at anchor against yonder tree.  I shouldn't wonder if the ants
would try to escape from it, and take to the branches above them.  The
dead manguba is not their natural home; nor is the Gapo their
dwelling-place.  The tocandeiras belong on land; and no one would expect
to find them here.  They must have had their home in the hollow of the
log while it was lying on dry land.  The _echente_ set it afloat while
they were inside, and the current has carried them far away from their
own country."

So they now turned to ascertain whether Munday's conjectures were true,
that the ants had taken to the tree that stood over the dead-wood, which
was at no great distance; and as the sun had now completely dispelled
the fog, they could see it very distinctly.  The tocandeiras were still
upon it.  Their countless hosts were seen moving over its surface in all
their red array, apparently as much excited as when putting to flight
the swimmers who had intruded upon them.

The log, although close to the stem of the standing tree, was not in
connection with it.  Something held it several feet off; and as none of
the drooping branches reached quite down, it was impossible for the
insects to reach the tree, although they evidently desired to make this
change, as if suddenly dissatisfied with their quarters on the drifting
trunk, and wishing to change them for others less at the mercy of the
winds and waves.

As there was something curious in all this, something that could not
fail to fix the attention of the observer, our adventurers remained
silent, watching the movements of the insect multitude, in hopes that
they might find some way of detaching themselves from the floating log,
and leave in peaceable and undisputed possession the quarters they
appeared so desirous of quitting to those who were equally desirous of
entering upon them.



CHAPTER SIXTY THREE.

THE TAMANDUA: THE ANT-THRUSH.

Trusting to the explanation given by the tapuyo, they did not think of
inquiring further into the cause of the commotion among the ants.  While
scanning the tree closely, several of the party perceived a movement
among its branches, and soon after the form of a singular creature that
was causing it.  It was a quadruped, about the size of a raccoon or cat,
but of a shape peculiarly its own.  Its body was long and cylindrical,
terminating posteriorly in a round, tapering tail, while its low, flat
head, prolonged into a smooth, slender muzzle, also tapered nearly to a
point.  The eyes were so small as scarcely to be seen, and the mouth
more resembled a round hole than the closing of a pair of jaws.  It was
covered with a dense silky fur, of a uniform length over the body, and
slightly crisped, so as to give it a woolly aspect.  This fur was
straw-coloured, with a tinge of maroon and brown on the shoulders and
along the back, while the tail presented a ringed appearance from an
alternation of the two colours.

"_Tamandua_!" exclaimed Munday, at sight of the strange quadruped.  "The
ant-eater.  Not the great one, which is called _Tamandua assu_, and
don't climb up the trees.  That you see is the little one; he lives all
his life among the branches,--sleeps there, either upon his breast, or
suspended by his tail,--travels from one tree to another in search of
honey, bees, wasps, grubs, but, above all, of such ants as make their
nests either in holes, or stick to the twigs.  Ha!" he continued, "what
could I have been thinking of?  The tocandeiras wishing to climb up to
the tree?  Not a bit of it.  Quite the contrary.  It's the tamandua
that's keeping them in motion!  See the cunning beast preparing to make
a descent among them!"

Nothing could be more certain than that this was the tamandua's
intention; for almost on the instant it was seen to move among the
branches, descending from one to the other, partly using its strong,
hooked claws, and partly its tapering and highly prehensile tail.  Once
upon the dead-wood, it lay flat down upon its breast and belly; and
shooting out its long, thread-like tongue, coated with a sticky shining
substance resembling saliva, it commenced licking up the tocandeiras
that swarmed in thousands around it.  It was to no purpose that the ants
made an attack upon it.  Nature had provided it with an armour proof
both against their bite and sting.  Rage around it as they might, the
tocandeiras could do nothing to hinder it from licking them up from the
log, and tucking them in hundreds into its capacious stomach.  Finally
the tamandua had taken his fill,--breakfasted to his heart's content;
then, erecting himself on his hind-legs after the manner of a squirrel
or marmoset, he sprang back upon the branch from which he had descended.
Going a little higher up, he selected another and larger branch,
placing himself so that his belly rested along its upper surface, with
the legs hanging down on each side; and then, burying his proboscis in
the long fur of his breast, and taking two or three turns of his tail
around head, body, and legs, he fell fast asleep.

The old saw, that there is "many a slip between the cup and the lip," is
as true in the life of ant-eater as in that of a man; and when the
tamandua awoke,--which it did some twenty minutes afterwards,--and
looked down upon the dead-wood, it was astonished to discover that not a
tocandeira was in sight.

What had become of them?  When left by the tamandua to their own devices
there were myriads still surviving.  The few thousands which the
devourer licked up had made no perceptible diminution in their numbers;
and on the retiring of their enemy, they were swarming as thickly and
countlessly as ever.  Now not one was visible upon the log, the hue of
which, from being of a flaming red, had returned to its original colour
of sombre grey.  A few were discovered upon the standing tree, crawling
up its trunk and lower branches, with excited air and rapid movements,
as if escaping from terrible disaster.  These refugees did not amount to
many hundreds; thinly scattered over the bark, they could have been
counted.  They were too few to tempt the hunger of the tamandua.  It
would not have been worth his while to project his slimy tongue for the
sake of a single tocandeira; so he retained it--not behind his teeth,
for he had none--but within the cylinder-shaped cavity of his mouth.
What had become of the tocandeiras?  It is possible that the tamandua
mentally put this question to himself; for there is no animal, however
humble its organisation, that has not been gifted by beneficent Nature
with a mind and powers of reasoning,--ay, with moral perceptions of at
least the primary principles of right and wrong, as even the little
ant-eater gives evidence.

Perhaps you have yourself witnessed the proof.  You have seen one ant
rob another of its crumb of bread, that by a laborious effort has been
carried far.  You have seen the companions of both gather around the
spot, deprive the despoiler of its ill-gotten prize, restore the crumb
to its lawful possessor, and punish the would-be pilferer.  If you have
not seen this, others have,--myself among the number.  Surely, it is
reason; surely, it is moral perception.  If not, what is it?  The
closet-naturalist calls it _instinct_,--a ready word to cloak that
social cowardice which shrinks from acknowledging that besides man there
are other beings upon the earth with talents worth saving.

Soon after the ant-eater had gone to sleep, a little bird about the size
of a starling was seen flitting about.  It was of the ordinary shape of
the shrikes, or fly-catchers, and, like them, of sombre plumage,--a dull
grey blended with bluish slate.  As already said, it was flitting about
among the tree-tops, now and then rising above them, and hovering for a
while in the air; then lighting again upon a branch, and from this
hopping to another, and another, all the time giving utterance to
twittering but scarcely musical notes.

"An ant-thrush," Munday said.  "It's hunting about for the very
creatures that are swarming on that log.  If it should spy them we'll
have no more trouble with the tocandeiras.  That friend will clear them
out of our way.  If it but gets its eye on that red crowd, it'll treat
them very differently from what the beast has done.  In twenty minutes
there won't be a tocandeira to sting us.  May the Great Spirit prove
propitious, and turn its eyes upon the dead-wood!"

For a time the bird kept up its flickering flight and twittering cry,
while our adventurers watched it manoeuvres, keeping quiet, as a
precaution against scaring it away.  All at once the ant-thrush changed
its tactics, and its louder note proclaimed a surprise.  It had come
close to the tree that contained the tamandua, and saw the quadruped
taking its _siesta_ upon the branch.  From the presence of the ant-eater
it argued the proximity of their common prey.

The swarm of fire-ants, reddening the log, formed too conspicuous an
object to escape being seen.  The ant-thrush soon saw them, and
announced the discovery with a screech, which was a signal to scores of
hungry companions.  It was answered by what seemed a hundred echoes, and
soon the air resounded with whistling wings, as the feathered ant-eaters
came crowding to the feast.

Boy reader, you have bred pigeons, and fed them too.  You have flung
before them whole baskets of barley, and pecks of oats, until the
pavement was thickly strewed.  You have observed how quickly they could
clear the ground of the grain.  With the like rapidity was the log
cleared of the tocandeiras.  In ten minutes not a single insect could be
seen upon it; and then the feathered ant-eaters, without giving the
tamandua a hint that his premises had been despoiled, flew off into the
forest in search of a fresh swarm.



CHAPTER SIXTY FOUR.

ANT-EATERS--BIPED AND QUADRUPED.

The spectacle of the bird ant-eaters engaged in their work of
destruction is one that may be seen almost every day in the Amazonian
region.  The presence of an army of ants passing from place to place
through the forest--themselves often bent upon a marauding and murderous
expedition--may often be discovered long belong the insects themselves
are in sight, by the twittering cries and excited actions of the
ant-thrushes, that in large flocks are seen hovering above them.  The
traveller takes warning by the spectacle.  Experience has long ago
taught him that to stray into the midst of a party of foraging ants is
no slight matter.  It would be like dancing an Irish jig over a nest of
hornets.  He is sure of being attacked, bitten, and stung by the
venomous insects; and on hearing the call of the ant-thrush, he beats an
instant retreat.  The quadruped licking up his insect prey is a sight of
less frequent occurrence.

Of these four-footed ant-eaters there are many distinct kinds, differing
very considerably in their habits of life.  Four species are known to
naturalists; but it is probable that there are many more yet to be
discovered and described.  The Indians who are best acquainted with the
remote haunts of the great mountain wilderness of interior South America
assert that there are others; and their testimony is generally derived
from acute observation.  Of the four known species there is the great
ant-eater (_Myrmecophaga jubata_) called Tamanoir, large as a mastiff
dog, and a match for most dogs in strength, often even killing one by
squeezing the breath out of his body between its thick, muscular
fore-limbs.  This is the _Tamandua bandeira_, or "banner tamandua" of
the natives, so called from the peculiar marking of its skin,--each side
of the body being marked by a broad blackish band running obliquely from
the shoulders, and suggesting the resemblance of an heraldic banner.  It
lives in the drier forests, making its haunt wherever the white ants
(_termites_), those that construct the great hills, abound.  Of the
habits of this species a more complete account has been given elsewhere.
[See "The Forest Exiles," by the author of this story.]

The second species of tamandua--that is, in size--is quite a different
creature.  It scarcely ever descends to the earth, but passes from
branch to branch and tree to tree by means of its strong, curving claws,
and more especially by the aid of a very long and highly prehensile
tail.  Its food consists exclusively of ants, that construct huge earthy
nests high up among the branches or against the trunks of the trees,
where they present the appearance of grotesque excrescences.  This
tamandua often moves about during the day, in its slow progress much
resembling the sloths, though its food is so very different from the
animal of the Cecropia-tree (_bicho de embauba_).  This species dwells
chiefly in the thick forests, and goes into the Gapo at all seasons of
the year, and it was one of this sort which the party had seen.

But there are still two other kinds that make their home upon the
trees,--both exceedingly curious little animals, and much more rarely
seen than the large tamanduas.  They are distinguished by the name of
_tamandua-i_, which in the Indian language means "little tamandua."  One
of them, the rarest of the family, is about the size of a half-grown
kitten.  Instead of hair, it wears a fine wool of a greyish-yellow
colour, soft and silky to the touch.  The other is of the same size, but
dingy brown in colour, and with hair of a coarser kind.  These little
ant-eaters both sleep through the day, curled up in the cavity of a
tree, or in some fork of the branches, and only display their activity
by night.

Thus it is that the ants have no chance of escaping from their numerous
enemies.  On the earth they are attacked and destroyed by the great
ant-eater, in the trees by his brother with the four curving claws.  By
day one species preys upon them,--by night, another.  Go where they
will, there is a foe to fall upon them.  Even when they seek security
under the earth, there too are they pursued by enemies of their own
tribe, the savage _ecitons_, which enter their subterranean dwellings,
and kill them upon their own hearths, to be dragged forth piecemeal and
devoured in the light of the sun!



CHAPTER SIXTY FIVE.

THE CHASE OF THE TAMANDUA.

If the tamandua had been surprised by the disappearance of the
tocandeiras, it was not less so to see approaching a creature more than
ten times its own size.  This creature was of a dark bronze colour,
having a long, upright body, a pair of legs still longer, arms almost as
long as the legs, and a roundish head with long black hair growing out
of its crown, and hanging down over its shoulders.  If the ant-eater had
never before seen a human being,--which was probable enough,--it saw one
now; for this creature was no other than old Munday, who had taken a
fancy to capture that tamandua.  Perhaps the little quadruped may have
mistaken him for an ape, but it must have also thought him the grandest
it had ever set eyes upon.  Swinging itself from branch to branch, using
both claws and tail to effect its flight, it forsook the tree where it
had slept, and took to another farther into the forest.  But Munday had
anticipated this movement, and passed among the branches and over the
matted llianas with the agility of an ape,--now climbing up from limb to
limb, now letting himself down by some hanging sipo.

He was soon joined in the pursuit by Richard Trevannion, who was an
expert climber, and, if unable to overtake the ant-eater in a direct
chase, could be of service in helping to drive it back to the tree it
had just left, and which stood at the end of a projecting tongue of the
forest.  It is possible that Munday might have been overmatched, with
all his alertness; for the tamandua had reached the narrowest part of
the peninsula before he could get there.  Once across the _isthmus_,
which consisted of a single tree, it would have had the wide forest
before it, and would soon have hidden itself amid the matted tangle of
leaves and twigs.  Richard, however, was too cunning to let the
ant-eater escape him.  Dropping into the water, he swam towards the
isthmus with all his strength, and reached the tree before the tamandua.

By this time Munday had arrived from the opposite quarter, and was
already climbing into the same tree.  Seeing itself intercepted on both
sides, the tamandua began crawling up towards the topmost branches.  But
Munday was too quick for it, and springing after, with the agility of a
cat, he caught hold of it by one of the hind-legs.  Being an animal
insignificant in size, and apparently in strength, the spectator
supposed he would speedily have dragged it down.  In this however they
were mistaken, not taking account of the power in its fore-limbs and
tail.

Notwithstanding the tapuyo exerted all his strength, he could not detach
it from the tree; and even when assisted by his companion, was only able
to get the fore-legs free.  The tail, lapped several times around a
limb, resisted all their efforts.  But Munday cut the clinging tail with
his knife, leaving two or three of its rings around the branch.  Then,
twisting the stump around his wrist, he swung the animal back against
the trunk with a force that deprived it at once of strength and life.



CHAPTER SIXTY SIX.

ROAST ANT-EATER.

Instead of returning to the tree, the Indian and Richard swam directly
to the dead-wood, where they were quickly joined by the rest of the
party.  Although the dead-wood was as hard as any other wood, and to
sleep upon it would be like sleeping on a plank, still it would give
them the feeling of security; so, as if by general consent, though
nothing was said, they stretched themselves along the trunk, and were
soon fast asleep.

The old Indian, tough as the sipos of his native forests, seemed as if
he could live out the remainder of his life without another wink of
sleep; and when the rest of his companions were buried in profound
repose, he was engaged in an operation that required both energy and the
most stoical patience.  In a place where the bark was dry, he had picked
out a small circular cavity, beside which he had placed some withered
leaves and dead twigs collected from the tree that spread its branches
above.  Kneeling over this cavity, he thrust down into it a straight
stick, that had been cut from some species of hard wood, and trimmed
clear of knots or other inequalities, twirling it between the palms of
his hands so as to produce a rapid motion, now one way, now the other.
In about ten minutes a smoke appeared, and soon after sparks were seen
among the loose dust that had collected from the friction.  Presently
the sparks, becoming thicker, united into a flame; and then, dropping
the straight stick, he hastily covered the hole with the dry leaves and
chips, and, blowing gently under them, was soon cheered by a blaze, over
which a cook with even little skill might have prepared a tolerable
dinner.  This had been Munday's object; and as soon as he saw his fire
fairly under way, without dressing or trussing the game,--not even
taking the hide off,--he laid the tamandua across the fire, and left it
to cook in its skin.

It was not the first time by scores that Munday had make that repast,
known among Spanish-Americans as _carne con cuero_.  He now proceeded to
prevent the spreading of the flames.  The dead-wood around was dry as
tinder.  Stripping off the cotton shirt that, through every vicissitude,
still clung to his shoulders, he leant over the side of the floating
log, and dipped it for several minutes under the water.  When well
soaked, he drew it up again, and taking it to the spot where the fire
was crackling, he wrung the water out in a circle around the edge of his
hearth.  When the tamandua was done brown, he then awakened his
companions, who were astonished to see the fire, with the bronzed body
of the Indian, nude to the waist, squatting in front of it,--to hear the
crackling of sticks, the loud sputtering of the roast, and the hissing
of the water circle that surrounded the hearth.  But the savour that
filled the air was very agreeable.  They accepted his invitation to
partake of the repast, which was found greatly to resemble roast goose
in taste; and in an inconceivably short time only the bones of the
ant-eater, and these clean picked, could be seen upon the ceiba.



CHAPTER SIXTY SEVEN.

THE JUAROUa.

Postponing till the next day the task of making a canoe out of their
log, the party soon betook themselves to rest again; but they had been
slumbering only about an hour when a low whimpering noise made by the
monkey awoke Tipperary Tom, close to whose ear the animal had squatted
down.  Its master raised himself up, and, leaning upon his elbow, looked
out over the Gapo.  There was nothing but open water, whose smooth
surface was shining like burnished gold under the beams of the setting
sun.  He turned toward the trees.  He saw nothing there,--not so much as
a bird moving among the branches.  Raising his head a little higher, and
peeping over the edge of the dead-wood, "It's thare is it, the somethin'
that's scyarin' ye?" he said to his pet.  "An' shure enough there is a
somethin' yandher.  There's a `purl' upon the wather, as if some
crayther was below makin' a disturbance among the weeds.  I wondther
what it is!"

At length the creature whose motion he had observed, whatever it was,
came near enough for him to obtain a full view of it; and though it was
neither a snake nor a crocodile, still it was of sufficiently formidable
and novel appearance to cause him a feeling of fear.  In shape it
resembled a seal; but in dimensions it was altogether different, being
much larger than seals usually are.  It was full ten feet from snout to
tail, and of a proportionate thickness of body.  It had the head of a
bull or cow, with a broad muzzle, and thick, overhanging lip, but with
very small eyes; and instead of ears, there were two round cavities upon
the crown of its head.  It had a large, flat tail, not standing up like
the tail of a fish, but spread in a horizontal direction, like that of a
bird.  Its skin was smooth, and naked of hairs, with the exception of
some straggling ones set thinly over it, and some tufts resembling
bristles radiating around its mouth and nostrils.  The skin itself was
of a dull leaden hue, with some cream-coloured spots under the throat
and along the belly.  It had also a pair of flippers, more than a foot
in length, standing out from the shoulders, with a teat in front of
each, and looking like little paddles, with which the huge creature was
propelling itself through the water, just as a fish uses its fins or a
man his arms.

The Irishman did not stay to note half of these characteristics, but
hastily woke Munday, crying, "What is it?  O what is it?"

The Indian, rousing himself, looked round for a moment dreamily, and
then, as he caught sight of the strange object, replied, "Good fortune!
it is the _juaroua_."



CHAPTER SIXTY EIGHT.

A FISH-COW AT PASTURE.

The Irishman was no wiser for Munday's answer, "The juaroua."

"But what is it?" he again asked, curious to learn something of the
creature.  "Is it a fish or a quadruped?"

"A _peixe-boi_,--a _peixe-boi_!" hurriedly answered the tapuyo.  "That's
how the whites call it.  Now you know."

"But I don't, though, not a bit betther than before.  A pikes-boy!
Troth, it don't look much like a pike at all, at all.  If it's a fish av
any kind, I should say it was a sale.  O, luk there, Munday!  Arrah, see
now!  If it's the owld pike's boy, yandher's the young wan too.  See, it
has tuk howlt av the tit, an' 's sucking away like a calf!  An' luk! the
old wan has got howlt av it with her flipper, an' 's kapin' it up to the
breast!  Save us! did hever I see such a thing!"

The sight was indeed one to astonish the Irishman, since it has from all
time astonished the Amazonian Indians themselves, in spite of its
frequency.  They cannot understand so unusual a habit as that of a fish
suckling its young; for they naturally think that the peixe-boi is a
fish, instead of a cetacean, and they therefore continue to regard it
with curious feelings, as a creature not to be classified in the
ordinary way.

"Hush!" whispered the Indian, with a sign to Tom to keep quiet.  "Sit
still! make no noise.  There's a chance of our capturing the juaroua,--a
good chance, now that I see the _juaroua-i_ [little one] along with it.
Don't wake the others yet.  The juaroua can see like a vulture, and hear
like an eagle, though it has such little eyes and ears.  Hush!"

The peixe-boi had by this time got abreast of the dead-wood, and was
swimming slowly past it.  A little beyond there was a sort of bay,
opening in among the trees, towards which it appeared to be directing
its course, suckling the calf as it swam.

"Good," said Munday, softly.  "I guess what it's going after up there.
Don't you see something lying along the water?"

"Yes; but it's some sort av wather-grass."

"That's just it."

"An' what would it want wid the grass?  Yez don't mane to till me it
ates grass?"

"Eats nothing else, and this is just the sort it feeds on.  Very like
that's its pasturing place.  So much the better if it is, because it
will stay there till morning, and give me a chance to kill it."

"But why can't yez kill it now?" said Tom.

"For want of a proper weapon.  My knife is of no use.  The juaroua is
too cunning to let one come so near.  If it come back in the morning, I
will take care to be ready for it.  From it we can get meat enough for a
long voyage.  See, it has begun to browse!"

Sure enough it had, just as the Indian said, commenced pasturing upon
the long blades of grass that spread horizontally over the surface; and
just as a cow gathers the meadow sward into her huge mouth, at intervals
protruding her tongue to secure it, so did the great water cow of the
Amazon spread her broad lips and extend her rough tongue to take in the
floating herbage of the Gapo.



CHAPTER SIXTY NINE.

THE PASHUBA SPEAR.

Munday was now prepared to set out on a little exploring excursion, as
he said; so, enjoining upon Tom, who was determined to awake the
sleepers that they might share the sight of the feeding fish-cow, to
keep them all strictly quiet until his return, he slipped softly into
the water and swam noiselessly away.

The enforced silence was tedious enough to the party, who were all eager
to talk about the strange spectacle they saw, and it would surely have
been soon broken, had not the Indian returned with a new object for
their curiosity.  He had stolen off, taking with him only his knife.  At
his reappearance he had the knife still with him, and another weapon as
well, which the knife had enabled him to procure.  It was a staff of
about twelve feet in length, straight as a rush, slightly tapering, and
pointed at the end like a spear.  In fact, it _was_ a spear, which he
had been manufacturing during his hour of absence out of a split stem of
the _pashuba_ palm.  Not far off he had found one of these trees, a
water-loving species,--the _Martea exorhuza_,--whose stems are supported
upon slanting roots, that stand many feet above the surface of the soil.
With the skill known only to an Amazonian Indian in the use of a
knife-blade, he had split the pashuba, (hard as iron on the outside, but
soft at the heart,) and out of one of the split pieces had he hastily
fashioned his spear.  Its point only needed to be submitted to fire, and
then steel itself would not serve better for a spear-head.  Fortunately
the hearth was not yet cold.  A few red cinders smouldered by the wet
circle, and, thrusting his spear point among them, the Indian waited for
it to become hardened.  When done to his satisfaction, he drew it out of
the ashes, scraped it to a keen point with the blade of his knife, and
then announced himself ready to attack the juaroua.

The amphibious animal was yet there, its head visible above the bed of
grass upon which it was still grazing.  Munday, while rejoiced at the
circumstance, expressed himself also surprised at it.  He had not been
sanguine of finding it on his return with the spear, and, while
fabricating the weapon, he had only been encouraged by the expectation
that the peixe-boi, if gone away for the night, would return to its
grazing ground in the morning.  As it was now, it could not have
afforded him a better opportunity for _striking_ it.  It was reclining
near the surface, its head several inches above it, and directly under a
large tree, whose lower limbs, extending horizontally, almost dropped
into the water.  If he could but get unperceived upon one of those
limbs, it would be an easy matter to drive the spear into its body as
far as his strength would enable him.

If any man could swim noiselessly through the water, climb silently into
the tree, and steal without making sound along its limbs, that man was
the Mundurucu.  In less time than you could count a thousand, he had
successfully accomplished this, and was crouching upon a limb right over
the cow.  In an instant his spear was seen to descend as the spectators
were expecting it to do; but to their astonishment, instead of striking
the body of the peixe-boi, it pierced into the water several feet from
the snout of the animal!  What could it mean?  Surely the skilled
harpooner of fish-cattle could not have made such a stray stroke.
Certainly he had not touched the cow!  Had he speared anything?

"He's killed the calf!" cried Tipperary Tom.  "Luk yandher!  Don't yez
see its carcass floatin' in the wather?"

Still the spectators could not understand it.  Why should the calf have
been killed, which would scarce give them a supper, and the cow spared,
that would have provisioned the whole crew for a month?  Why had the
chance been thrown away?  Was it thrown away?  They only thought so,
while expecting the peixe-boi to escape.  But they were quickly
undeceived.  They had not reckoned upon the strong maternal instincts of
that amphibious mother,--instincts that annihilate all sense of danger,
and prompt a reckless rushing upon death in the companionship or for the
protection of the beloved offspring.  It was too late to protect the
tiny creature, but the mother recked not of this.  Danger deterred her
not from approaching it again and again, each time receiving a fresh
stab from that terrible stick, until, with a long-drawn sigh, she
expired among the sedge.

These animals are extremely tenacious of life, and a single, thrust from
such a weapon as he wielded would only have put the peixe-boi to flight,
never to be encountered again.  The harpoon alone, with its barbed head
and floats, can secure them for a second strike; and not being provided
with this weapon, nor the means of making it, the old tapuyo knew that
his only chance was to act as he had done.  Experience had made him a
believer in the affection of the animal, and the result proved that he
had not mistaken its strength.



CHAPTER SEVENTY.

CURING THE FISH-COW.

Nothing was done for that night.  All slept contentedly on the
dead-wood, which next day became the scene of a series of curious
operations.  This did not differ very much from the spectacle that might
be witnessed in the midst of the wide ocean, when whalemen have struck
one of the great leviathans of the deep, and brought their ship
alongside for the purpose of cutting it up.

In like manner as the whale is "flensed," so was the fish-cow, Munday
performing the operation with his knife, by first skinning the creature,
and then separating the flesh into broad strips or steaks, which were
afterwards make into _charqui_, by being hung up in the sun.

Previous to this, however, many "griskins"--as Tom called them--had been
cut from the carcass, and, broiled over the fire kindled upon the log,
had furnished both supper and breakfast to the party.  No squeamishness
was shown by any one.  Hunger forbade it; and, indeed, whether with
sharp appetites or not, there was no reason why they should not relish
one of the most coveted articles of animal food to be obtained in
Amazonia.  The taste was that of pork; though there were parts of the
flesh of a somewhat coarser grain, and inferior in flavour to the real
dairy-fed pig.

The day was occupied in making it ready for curing, which would take
several days' exposure under the hot sun.  Before night, however, they
had it separated into thin slices, and suspended upon a sort of
clothes-line, which, by means of poles and sipos, Munday had rigged upon
the log.  The lean parts alone were to be preserved, for the fat which
lies between these, in thick layers of a greenish colour and fishy
flavour, is considered rather strong for the stomach,--even of an Indian
not over nice about such matters.  When a peixe-boi has been harpooned
in the usual manner, this is not thrown away, or wasted.  Put into a
proper boiling-pot, it yields a very good kind of oil,--ten or twelve
gallons being obtained from an individual of the largest and fattest
kind.

In the present instance, the fat was disregarded and flung back into the
flood, while the bones, as they were laid bare, were served in a similar
fashion.  The skin, however, varying from an inch in thickness over the
back, to half an inch under the abdomen, and which Munday had removed
with considerable care, was stowed away in a hollow place upon the log.
Why it was kept, none of the others could guess.  Perhaps the Indian
meant it as something to fall back upon in the event of the charqui
giving out.

It was again night by the time the cow-skin was deposited in its place,
and of course no journey could be attempted for that day.  On the morrow
they intended to commence the voyage which it was hoped would bring them
to the other side of the lagoa, if not within sight of land.  As they
ate their second supper of _amphibious steaks_, they felt in better
spirits than for many days.  They were not troubled with hunger or
thirst; they were not tortured by sitting astride the branches of a
tree; and the knowledge that they had now a craft capable of carrying
them--however slow might be the rate--inspired them with pleasant
expectations.  Their conversation was more cheerful than usual, and
during the after-supper hour it turned chiefly on the attributes and
habits of the strange animal which Munday had so cleverly dissected.

Most of the information about its habits was supplied by the Indian
himself, who had learned them by personal experience; though many points
in its natural history were given by the patron, who drew his knowledge
of it from books.  Trevannion told them that a similar creature--though
believed to be of a different species--was found in the sea; but
generally near to some coast where there was fresh water flowing in by
the estuary of a river.  One kind in the Indian seas was known by the
name of _dugong_, and another in the West Indies as the _manati_ or
_manatee_,--called by the French _lamantin_.  The Spaniards also know it
by the name of _vaca marina_ (sea-cow), the identical name given by the
Dutch of the Cape Colony to the hippopotamus,--of course a very
different animal.

The manati is supposed to have been so named from its fins, or flippers,
bearing some resemblance to the hands of a human being,--in Spanish,
_manos_,--entitling it to the appellation of the "handed" animal.  But
the learned Humboldt has shown that this derivation would be contrary to
the idiom of the Spanish language, which would have made the word
_manudo_ or _manon_, and not _manati_.  It is therefore more likely that
this name is the one by which it was known to the aborigines of the
southern coast of Cuba, where the creature was first seen by the
discoverers of America.  Certain it is that the sea species of the West
Indies and the Guianian coast is much larger than that found in the
Amazon and other South American rivers; the former being sometimes found
full twenty feet in length, while the length of the fish-cow of South
America rarely reaches ten.

Here Munday took up the thread of the discourse, and informed the circle
of listeners that there were several species of juaroua--this was the
name he gave it--in the waters of the Amazon.  He knew of three kinds,
that were distinct, not only in size, but in shape,--the difference
being chiefly observable in the fashion of the fins and tail.  There was
also some difference in their colour,--one species being much lighter in
hue than the others, with a pale cream-coloured belly; while the abdomen
of the common kind is of a slaty lead, with some pinkish white spots
scattered thinly over it.

A peculiar characteristic of the peixe-boi is discovered in if lungs,--
no doubt having something to do with its amphibious existence.  These,
when taken out of the animal and inflated by blowing into them, swell up
to the lightness and dimensions of an India-rubber swimming-belt; so
that, as young Richard observed while so inflating them, they could
spare at least one set of the sapucaya-shells, if once more compelled to
take to the water.

Munday gave a very good account of the mode practised in capturing the
juaroua, not only by the Indians of his own tribe, but by all others in
the Amazon valley.  The hunter of the peixe-boi--or fisher, as we should
rather call him--provides himself with a _montaria_ (a light canoe) and
a harpoon.  He rows to the spot where the creature may be expected to
appear,--usually some solitary lagoon or quiet spot out of the current,
where there is a species of grass forming its favourite food.  At
certain hours the animal comes thither to pasture.  Sometimes only a
single individual frequents the place, but oftener a pair, with their
calves,--never more than two of the latter.  At times there may be seen
a small herd of old ones.

Their enemy, seated in his canoe, awaits their approach in silence; and
then, after they have become forgetful of all save their enjoyment of
the succulent grass, he paddles up to them.  He makes his advances with
the greatest caution; for the fish-cow, unlike its namesake of the
farm-yard, is a shy and suspicious animal.  The plunge of the paddle, or
a rude ripple of the water against the sides of the montaria, would
frighten it from its food, and send it off into the open water, where it
could not be approached.

The occupant of the canoe is aware of this, and takes care not to make
the slightest disturbance, till he has got within striking distance.  He
then rises gently into a half-crouching attitude, takes the measure of
the distance between him and his victim, and throws his harpoon with
unerring aim.  A line attached to the shaft of the weapon secures the
wounded animal from getting clear away.  It may dive to the bottom, or
rush madly along the surface, but can only go so far as that terrible
tether will allow it, to be dragged back towards the montaria, where its
struggles are usually terminated by two or three thrusts of a spear.

The sport, or, more properly speaking, the trade, of harpooning this
river cetacean, is followed by most of the Amazonian Indians.  There is
not much of it done during the season of the floods.  Then the animals,
becoming dispersed over a large surface of inundated forest, are seen
only on rare occasions; and a chase specially directed to discover them
would not repay the trouble and loss of time.  It is when the floods
have fallen to their lowest, and the lagoas or permanent ponds of water
have contracted to their ordinary limits, that the harpooning of the
fish-cow becomes profitable.  Then it is followed as a regular pursuit,
and occupies the Indian for several weeks in the year.

Sometimes a lagoon is discovered in which many of these creatures have
congregated,--their retreat to the main river having been cut off by the
falling of the floods.  On such occasions the tribe making the discovery
reaps a plentiful harvest, and butchering becomes the order of the day.

The malocca, or village, is for the time deserted; all hands--men,
women, children, and curs--moving off to the lagoa, and making their
encampment upon its edge.  They bring with them boiling-pots, for trying
out the oil, and jars to contain it, and carry it to the port of
commerce; for, being of a superior quality, it tempts the Portuguese
trader to make long voyages up many remote tributaries where it is
obtained.

During these grand fisheries there is much feasting and rejoicing.  The
"jerked" flesh of the animal, its skin, and, above all, its valuable
oil, are exchanged for knives, pigments, trinkets, and, worse still, for
_cashaca_ (rum).  The last is too freely indulged in; and the fishing
rarely comes to a close without weapons being used in a manner to bring
wounds, and often death.

As the old Mundurucu had been present at many a hunt of the fish-cow, he
was able to give a graphic account of the scenes he had witnessed, to
which his companions on the log listened with the greatest attention.
So interested were they, that it was not till near midnight that they
thought of retiring to rest.



CHAPTER SEVENTY ONE.

A SAIL OF SKIN.

By daybreak they were astir upon their new craft; and after breakfast
they set about moving it away from its moorings.  This was not so easily
accomplished.  The log was a log in every respect; and though once a
splendid silk-cotton-tree, covered with gossamer pods, and standing in
airy majesty over the surrounding forest, it now lay as heavy as lead
among the weeds and water-lilies, as if unwilling to be stirred from the
spot into which it had drifted.

You may wonder how they were able to move it at all; supposing, as you
must, that they were unprovided with either oars or sails.  But they
were not so badly off as that.  The whole of the preceding day had not
been spent in curing the fish-cow.  Munday's knife had done other
service during the afternoon hours, and a pair of paddles had been the
result.  Though of a rude kind, they were perfect enough for the purpose
required of them; while at the same time they gave evidence of great
ingenuity on the part of the contriver.  They had handles of wood, with
blades of _bone_, made from the fish-cow's shoulder-blades, which Munday
had carefully retained with the skin, while allowing the offal to sink.
In his own tribe, and elsewhere on the Amazon, he had seen these bones
employed--and had himself employed them--as a substitute for the spade.
Many a cacao patch and field of mandioca had Munday cleared with the
shoulder-blade of a fish-cow; and upon odd occasions he had used one for
a paddle.  It needed only to shaft them; and this had been done by
splicing a pole to each with the tough sipos.

Provided with these paddles, then,--one of them wielded by himself, the
other by the sturdy Mozambique,--the log was compelled to make way
through the water.  The progress was necessarily slow, on account of the
tangle of long stalks and broad leaves of the lilies.  But it promised
to improve, when they should get beyond these into the open part of the
lagoon.  Out there, moreover, they could see that there was a ripple
upon the water; which proved that a breeze had sprung up, not
perceptible inside the sheltering selvage of the trees, blowing in the
right direction,--that is, from the trees, and towards the lagoa.

You may suppose that the wind could not be of much use to them with such
a craft,--not only without a rudder, but unprovided with sails.  So
thought they all except the old tapuyo.  But the Indian had not been
navigating the Gapo for more than forty years of his life, without
learning how to construct a sail; and, if nothing else had turned up, he
could have made a tolerable substitute for one out of many kinds of
broad, tough leaves,--especially those of the _miriti_ palm.

He had not revealed his plans to any one of the party.  Men of his race
rarely declare their intentions until the moment of carrying them into
execution.  There is a feeling of proud superiority that hinders such
condescension.  Besides, he had not yet recovered from the sting of
humiliation that succeeded the failure of his swimming enterprise; and
he was determined not to commit himself again, either by too soon
declaring his designs, or too confidently predicting their successful
execution.

It was not, therefore, till a stout pole had been set up in a hollow dug
out by his knife in the larger end of the log, two cross pieces firmly
lashed to it by sipos, and the skin of the fish-cow spread out against
these like a huge thick blanket of caoutchouc, and attached to them by
the same cordage of creepers,--it was not till then that his companions
became fully acquainted with his object in having cut poles, scooped the
hollow, and retained the skin of the cow, as he had done to their
previous bewilderment.

It was all clear now; and they could not restrain themselves from giving
a simultaneous cheer, as they saw the dull dead-wood, under the
impulsion of the skin sail, commence a more rapid movement, until it
seemed to "walk the water like a thing of life."



CHAPTER SEVENTY TWO.

BECALMED.

Once out on the open lagoa, and fairly under sail, in what direction
should they steer their new craft?  They wanted to reach the other side
of the lagoa, which the Indian believed to extend in the right direction
for finding _terra firma_.  They had skirted the edge upon which they
were for several miles, without finding either the sign of land or an
opening by which they might penetrate through the forest, and it was but
natural that they should wish to make trial the other side, in the hope
of meeting with better fortune.

Mozey, who prided himself on being the best sailor aboard, was intrusted
with the management of the sail, while Trevannion himself acted as
pilot.  The Indian busied himself in looking after the curing of the
charqui, which, by the help of such a hot sun as was shining down upon
them, would soon be safely beyond the chance of decay.  The young
people, seated together near the thick end of the log--which Mozey had
facetiously christened the quarter-deck of the craft--occupied
themselves as they best might.

The cloud that had shadowed them for days was quite dispelled.  With
such a raft, there was every expectation of getting out of the Gapo.  It
might not be in a day, or even in a week.  But time was of little
consequence, so long as there was a prospect of ultimate release from
the labyrinth of flooded forests.  The charqui, if economised, would
feed all hands for a fortnight, at least; and unless they should again
get stranded among the tree-tops they could scarcely be all that time
before reaching dry land.

Their progress was sadly slow.  Their craft has been described as
"walking the water like a thing of life."  But this is rather a poetical
exaggeration.  Its motion was that of a true dead-wood, heavily weighted
with the water that for weeks had been saturating its sides.  It barely
yielded to the sail; and had they been forced to depend upon the
paddles, it would have been a hopeless affair.  A mile an hour was the
most they were able to make; and this only when the breeze was at its
freshest.  At other times, when it unfortunately lulled, the log lay
upon the water with no more motion than they caused as they stepped over
it.

Towards noon their progress became slower; and when at length the
meridian hour arrived the ceiba stood still.  The sail had lost the
power of propelling it on.  The breeze had died away, and there was now
a dead calm.  The shoulder-blades of the peixe-boi were now resorted to,
but neither these, nor the best pair of oars that ever pulled a
man-o'-war's boat, could have propelled that tree-trunk through the
water faster than half a knot to the hour, and the improvised paddles
were soon laid aside.

There was one comfort in the delay.  The hour of dinner had now arrived,
and the crew were not unprepared for the midday meal; for in their hurry
at setting out, and the solicitude arising from their uncertainty about
their craft, they had breakfasted scantily.  Their dinner was to consist
of but one dish, a cross between fish and flesh,--a cross between fresh
and dried,--for the peixe-boi was still but half converted into charqui.

The Indian had carefully guarded the fire, the kindling of which had
cost him so much trouble and ingenuity.  A few sparks still smouldered
where they had been nursed; and, with some decayed pieces of the ceiba
itself, a big blaze was once more established.  Over this the choicest
tit-bits were suspended until their browned surface proclaimed them
"done to a turn."  Their keen appetites furnished both sauce and
seasoning; and when the meal was over, all were ready to declare that
they had never dined more sumptuously in their lives.  Hunger is the
best appetiser; scarcity comes next.

They sat after dinner conversing upon different themes, and doing the
best they could to while away the time,--the only thing that at all
discommoded them being the beams of the sun, which fell upon their
crowns like sparks of fire showered from a burning sky.  Tom's idea was
that the heat of the sun could be endured with greater ease in the water
than upon the log; and, to satisfy himself, he once more girdled on the
cincture of shells, and slipped over the side.  His example was followed
by the patron himself, his son and nephew.

Little Rosa did not need to retreat overboard in this ignominious
manner.  She was in the shade, under a tiny _toldo_ of broad leaves of a
_Pothos_ plant, which, growing parasitically upon one of the trees, had
been plucked the day before, and spread between two buttresses of the
dead-wood.  Her cousin had constructed this miniature arbour, and proud
did he appear to see his little sylph reclining under its shade.

The tapuyo, accustomed to an Amazonian sun, did not require to keep cool
by submerging himself; and as for the negro, he would scarce have been
discommoded by an atmosphere indicated by the highest figure on the
thermometer.  These two men, though born on opposite sides of the
Atlantic Ocean, were alike types of a tropical existence, and equally
disregarded the fervour of a tropic sun.

Suddenly the four, who had fallen a little astern, were seen making
towards the log; and by the terror depicted on their countenances, as
well as their quick, irregular strokes, it was evident something in the
water had caused them serious alarm.  What could it all mean?  It was of
no use to ask the swimmers themselves.  They were as ignorant of what
was alarming them as their companions upon the log; they only knew that
something was biting them about the legs and feet; but what it was they
had not the slightest idea.  It might be an insect,--it might be a
water-snake, or other amphibious reptile; but whatever it was, they
could tell that its teeth were sharp as needles, and scored their flesh
like fish-hooks.

It was not till they had gained footing upon the log, and their legs
were seen covered with lacerations, and streaming with fresh blood, that
they ascertained the sort of enemy that had been attacking them.  Had
the water been clear, they might have discovered it long before; but
discoloured as it was, they could not see beneath the surface far enough
to make out the character of their secret assailants.  But the tapuyo
well understood the signs, and, as soon as his eye rested upon them, his
perplexity disappeared; and, with an exclamation that rather betokened
relief, he pronounced the simple phrase, "Only _piranhas_!"



CHAPTER SEVENTY THREE.

THE PIRANHAS.

The companions of the tapuyo were no wiser for his words, until piranhas
was explained to them to mean "biting fish," for such were the unseen
enemies that assailed them.

They belong to the great tribe of the _Salmonidae_, of which there are
many varieties in the different Amazonian rivers, all very voracious,
and ready to bite at anything that may be thrown into the water.  They
often attack bathers, putting them to flight; and a swimmer who should
unfortunately be surrounded by them, when far from the shore or a boat,
would have the greatest difficulty to escape the fearful late of being
eaten up alive.  Most of the species are fish of small size, and it is
their numbers that the swimmer has chiefly to dread.

As it was, our adventurers were more scared than hurt.  The commotion
which they had made in the water, by their plunging and kicking, had
kept the piranhas at a distance, and it was only an odd one that had
been able to get a tooth into them.

For any injury they had sustained, the Mundurucu promised them not only
a speedy revenge, but indemnification of a more consolatory kind.  He
knew that the piranhas, having tasted blood, would not willingly wander
away, at least for a length of time.  Although he could not see the
little fish through the turbid water, he was sure they were still in the
neighbourhood of the log, no doubt in search of the prey that had so
mysteriously escaped them.  As the dead-wood scarcely stirred, or
drifted only slightly, the piranhas could keep alongside, and see
everything that occurred without being seen themselves.  This the tapuyo
concluded they were doing.  He knew their reckless voracity,--how they
will suddenly spring at anything thrown into the water, and swallow
without staying to examine it.

Aware of this habit, he had no difficulty in determining what to do.
There was plenty of bait in the shape of half-dried charqui, but not a
fish-hook to be found.  A pair of pins, however, supplied the
deficiency, and a piece of string was just right for a line.  This was
fastened at one end to the pashuba spear, to the pin-hook at the other;
and then, the latter being baited with a piece of peixe-boi, the fishing
commenced.

Perhaps never with such rude tackle was there more successful angling.
Almost as soon as the bait sank under the water, it was seized by a
piranha, which was instantly jerked out of its native element, and
landed on the log.  Another and another and another, till a score of the
creatures lay upon the top of the dead-wood, and Tipperary Tom gave them
the finishing touch, as they were caught, with a cruel eagerness that
might to some extent have been due to the smarting of his shins.

How long the "catch" might have continued it is difficult to say.  The
little fish were hooked as fast as fresh bait could be adjusted, and it
seemed as if the line of succession was never to end.  It did end,
however, in an altogether unexpected way, by one of the piranhas
dropping back again into the water, and taking, not only the bait, but
the hook and a portion of the line along with it, the string having
given away at a weak part near the end of the rod.

Munday, who knew that the little fish were excellent to eat, would have
continued to take them so long as they were willing to be taken, and for
this purpose the dress of Rosita was despoiled of two more pins, and a
fresh piece of string made out of the skin of the cow-fish.

When the new tackle was tried, however, he discovered to his
disappointment that the piranhas would no longer bite; not so much as a
nibble could be felt at the end of the string.  They had had time for
reflection, perhaps had held counsel among themselves, and come to the
conclusion that the game they had been hitherto playing was "snapdragon"
of a dangerous kind, and that it was high time to desist from it.

The little incident, at first producing chagrin, was soon viewed rather
with satisfaction.  The wounds received were so slight as scarce to be
regarded, and the terror of the thing was over as soon as it became
known what tiny creatures had inflicted them.  Had it been snakes,
alligators, or any animals of the reptile order, it might have been
otherwise.  But a school of handsome little fishes,--who could suppose
that there had been any danger in their attack?

There had been, nevertheless, as the tapuyo assured them,--backing up
his assurance by the narrative of several narrow escapes he had himself
had from being torn to pieces by their sharp triangular teeth, further
confirming his statements by the account of an Indian, one of his own
tribe, who had been eaten piecemeal by piranhas.

It was in the river Tapajos, where this species of fish is found in
great plenty.  The man had been in pursuit of a peixe-boi, which he had
harpooned near the middle of the river, after attaching his weapon by
its cord to the bow of his montaria.  The fish being a strong one, and
not wounded in a vital part, had made a rush to get off, carrying the
canoe along with it.  The harpooner, standing badly balanced in his
craft, lost his balance and fell overboard.  While swimming to overtake
the canoe, he was attacked by a swarm of piranhas ravenous for prey,
made so perhaps by the blood of the peixe-boi left along the water.  The
Indian was unable to reach the canoe; and notwithstanding the most
desperate efforts to escape, he was ultimately compelled to yield to his
myriad assailants.

His friends on shore saw all, without being able to render the slightest
assistance.  They saw his helpless struggles, and heard his last
despairing shriek, as he sank below the surface of the water.  Hastening
to their canoes, they paddled, rapidly out to the spot where their
comrade had disappeared.  All they could discern was a skeleton lying
along the sand at the bottom of the river, clean picked as if it had
been prepared for an anatomical museum, while the school of piranhas was
disporting itself alone, as if engaged in dancing some mazy minuet in
honour of the catastrophe they had occasioned.



CHAPTER SEVENTY FOUR.

A STOWAWAY.

The new-caught fishes looked too temptingly fresh to be long untasted;
and although it was but an hour since our adventurers had eaten their
dinner, one and all were inclined for an afternoon meal upon piranha.
The Mundurucu set the fire freshly astir, and half a dozen piranhas were
soon browned in the blaze and distributed among the party, who one and
all endorsed the tapuyo, by pronouncing them a delicacy.

After the second dinner they were more gay than ever.  The sun sinking
westward indicated the quarters of the compass; and already a few puffs
of wind promised them an evening breeze.  They saw that it was still
blowing in the same direction, and therefore favourable to the
navigation of their craft, whose thick sail, spread broadly athwart
ships, seemed eager to catch it.

Little dreamt they at that moment that, as it were, a volcano was
slumbering under their feet; that separated from them by only a few
inches of half-decayed wood was a creature of such monstrous size and
hideous shape as to have impressed with a perpetual fear every Indian
upon the Amazon, from Para to Peru, from the head waters of the Purus to
the sources of the Japura!  At that moment, when they were chatting
gaily, even laughingly, in confidence of a speedy deliverance from the
gloomy Gapo,--at that very moment the great _Mai d'Agoa_, the "Mother of
the Waters," was writhing restlessly beneath them, preparing to issue
forth from the cavern that concealed her.

The tapuyo was sitting near the fire, picking the bones of a piranha,
which he had just taken from the spit, when all at once the half-burned
embers were seen to sink out of sight, dropping down into the log, as
cinders into the ash-pit of a dilapidated grate.  "Ugh!" exclaimed the
Indian, giving a slight start, but soon composing himself; "the
dead-wood hollow at the heart!  Only a thin shell outside, which the
fire has burnt through.  I wondered why it floated so lightly,--wet as
it was!"

"Wasn't it there the tocandeiras had their nest?" inquired Trevannion.

"No, patron.  The hole they had chosen for their hive is different.  It
was a cavity in one of the branches.  This is a hollow along the main
trunk.  Its entrance will be found somewhere in the butt,--under the
water, I should think, as the log lies now."

Just then no one was curious enough to crawl up to the thick end and
see.  What signified it whether the entrance to the hollow, which had
been laid open by the falling in of the fire, was under water or above
it, so long as the log itself kept afloat?  There was no danger to be
apprehended, and the circumstance would have been speedily dismissed
from their minds, but for the behaviour of the coaita, which now
attracted their attention.

It had been all the time sitting upon the highest point which the
dead-wood offered for a perch.  Not upon the rudely rigged mast, nor yet
the yard that carried the sail; but on a spar that projected several
feet beyond the thick end, still recognisable as the remains of a root.
Its air and attitude had undergone a sudden change.  It stood at full
length upon all fours, uttering a series of screams, with chatterings
between, and shivering throughout its whole frame, as if some dread
danger was in sight, and threatening it with instant destruction.

It was immediately after the falling in of the fagots that this began;
but there was nothing to show that it was connected with that.  The
place where the fire had been burning was far away from its perch; and
it had not even turned its eyes in that direction.  On the contrary, it
was looking below; not directly below where it stood, but towards the
butt-end of the ceiba, which could not be seen by those upon the log.
Whatever was frightening it should be there.  There was something about
the excited actions of the animal,--something so heart-rending in its
cries,--that it was impossible to believe them inspired by any ordinary
object of dread; and the spectators were convinced that some startling
terror was under its eyes.

Tipperary Tom was the first to attempt a solution of the mystery.  The
piteous appeals of his pet could not be resisted.  Scrambling along the
log he reached the projecting point, and peeped over.  Almost in the
same instant he recoiled with a shriek; and, calling on his patron
saint, retreated to the place where he had left his companions.  On his
retreat Munday set out to explore the place whence he had fled, and, on
reaching it, craned his neck over the end of the dead-wood, and looked
below.  A single glance seemed to satisfy him; and, drawing back with as
much fear as the man who had preceded him, he exclaimed in a terrified
shriek, "_Santos Dios_! 'tis the Spirit of the Waters!"



CHAPTER SEVENTY FIVE.

THE SPIRIT OF THE WATERS.

"The _Mai d'Agoa_! the Spirit of the Waters!" exclaimed Trevannion,
while the rest stood speechless with astonishment, gazing alternately
upon the Indian and the Irishman, who trembled with affright.  "What do
you mean?  Is it something to be feared?"

Munday gave an emphatic nod, but said no word, being partly awed into
silence and partly lost in meditating some plan of escape from this new
peril.

"What did _you_ see, Tom?" continued Trevannion, addressing himself to
the Irishman, in hopes of receiving some explanation from that quarter.

"Be Sant Pathrick! yer honour, I can't tell yez what it was.  It was
something like a head with a round shinin' neck to it, just peepin' up
out av the wather.  I saw a pair av eyes,--I didn't stay for any more,
for them eyes was enough to scare the sowl out av me.  They were
glittherin' like two burnin' coals!  Munday calls it the spirit av the
wathers.  It looks more like the spirit av darkness!"

"The _Mai d'Agoa_, uncle," interposed the young Paraense, speaking in a
suppressed voice.  "_The Mother of the Waters_!  It's only an Indian
superstition, founded on the great water serpent,--the anaconda.  No
doubt it's one of these he and Tom have seen swimming about under the
butt-end of the log.  If it be still there I shall have a look at it
myself."

The youth was proceeding towards the spot so hastily vacated by Munday
and Tom, when the former, seizing him by the arm, arrested his progress.
"For your life, young master, don't go there!  Stay where you are.  It
may not come forth, or may not crawl up to this place.  I tell you it is
the Spirit of the Waters!"

"Nonsense, Munday; there's no such thing as a _spirit_ of the waters.
If there were, it would be of no use our trying to hide from it.  What
you've seen is an anaconda.  I know these water-boas well enough,--have
seen them scores of times among the islands at the mouth of the Amazon.
I have no fear of them.  Their bite is not poisonous, and, unless this
is a very large one, there's not much danger.  Let me have a look!"

The Indian, by this time half persuaded that he had made a mistake,--his
confidence also restored by this courageous behaviour,--permitted
Richard to pass on to the end of the log.  On reaching it he looked
over; but recoiled with a cry, as did the others, while the ape uttered
a shrill scream, sprang down from its perch, and scampered off to the
opposite extremity of the dead-wood.

"It _is_ an anaconda!" muttered the Paraense, as he made his way
"amidships," where the rest were awaiting him; "the largest I have ever
seen.  No wonder, Munday, you should mistake it for the _Mai d'Agoa_.
'Tis a fearful-looking creature, but I hope we shall be able to destroy
it before it can do any of us an injury.  But it is very large, and we
have no arms!  What's to be done, Munday?"

"Be quiet,--make no noise!" entreated the Indian, who was now himself
again.  "May be it will keep its place till I can get the spear through
its neck, and then--Too late!  The sucuruju is coming upon the log!"

And now, just rising through a forked projection of the roots, was seen
the horrid creature, causing the most courageous to tremble as they
beheld it.  There was no mistaking it for anything else than the head of
a serpent; but such a head as not even the far-travelled tapuyo had ever
seen before.  In size it equalled that of an otter, while the lurid
light that gleamed from a pair of scintillating orbs, and still more the
long, forked tongue, at intervals projected like a double jet of flame,
gave it an altogether demoniac appearance.

The water out of which it had just risen, still adhering to its scaly
crown, caused it to shine with the brightness of burnished steel; and,
as it loomed up between their eyes and the sun, it exhibited the
coruscation of fire.  Under any circumstances it would have been fearful
to look at; but as it slowly and silently glided forth, hanging out its
forked red tongue, it was a sight to freeze the blood of the bravest.

When it had raised its eyes fairly above the log, so that it could see
what was upon it, it paused as if to reconnoitre.  The frightened men,
having retreated towards the opposite end of the dead-wood, stood as
still as death, all fearing to make the slightest motion, lest they
should tempt the monster on.

They stood about twenty paces from the serpent, Munday nearest, with the
pashuba spear in hand ready raised, and standing as guard over the
others.  Richard, armed with Munday's knife, was immediately behind him.
For more than a minute the hideous head remained motionless.  There was
no speech nor sound of any kind.  Even the coaita, screened by its
friends, had for the time ceased to utter its alarm.  Only the slightest
ripple on the water, as it struck against the sides of the ceiba,
disturbed the tranquillity of the scene, and any one viewing the tableau
might have supposed it set as for the taking of a photograph.

But it was only the momentary calm that precedes the tempest.  In an
instant a commotion took place among the statue-like figures,--all
retreating as they saw the serpent rise higher, and, after vibrating its
head several times, lie flat along, evidently with the design of
advancing towards them.  In another instant the monster was advancing,--
not rapidly, but with a slow, regular motion, as if it felt sure of its
victims, and did not see the necessity for haste in securing them.



CHAPTER SEVENTY SIX.

AN UNEXPECTED ESCAPE.

The great reptile had already displayed more than a third of its hideous
body, that kept constantly thickening as it rose over the butt-end of
the log; and still the tapuyo appeared irresolute.  In a whisper,
Trevannion suggested their taking to the water.

"No, patron; anything but that.  It would just be what the sucuruju
would like.  In the water it would be at home, and we should not.  We
should there be entirely at his mercy."

"But are we not now?"

"Not yet,--not yet,--stay!"  From the fresh confidence with which he
spoke, it was evident some plan had suggested itself.  "Hand me over
that monkey!" he said; and when he took the ape in his arms, and
advanced some paces along the log, they guessed for what the pet was
destined,--to distract the attention of the anaconda, by securing for it
a meal!

Under other circumstances, Tom might have interfered to prevent the
sacrifice.  As it was, he could only regard it with a sigh, knowing it
was necessary to his own salvation.

As Munday, acting in the capacity of a sort of high-priest, advanced
along the log, the demon to whom the oblation was to be made, and which
he still fancied might be the _Spirit of the Waters_, paused in its
approach, and, raising its head, gave out a horrible hiss.

In another instant the coaita was hurled through the air, and fell right
before it.  Rapidly drawing back its head, and opening wide its serrated
jaws, the serpent struck out with the design of seizing the offering.
But the ape, with characteristic quickness, perceived the danger; and,
before a tooth could be inserted into its skin, it sprang away, and,
scampering up the mast, left Munday face to face with the anaconda, that
now advanced rapidly upon him who had endeavoured to make use of such a
substitute.

Chagrined at the failure of his stratagem, and dismayed by the
threatening danger, the tapuyo retreated backwards.  In his confusion he
trod upon the still smouldering fire, his scorched feet scattering the
fagots as he danced through them, while the serpent, once more in
motion, came resolutely on.

His companions were now more frightened than ever, for they now saw that
he was, like themselves, a prey to fear.  For again had he become a
believer in the Spirit of the Waters.  As he stood poising his spear, it
was with the air of a man not likely to use it with effect.  The young
Paraense, with his knife, was more likely to prove a protector.  But
what could either do to arrest the progress of such a powerful monster
as that, which, with only two thirds of its length displayed, extended
full twenty feet along the log?  Some one of the party must become a
victim, and who was to be the first?

The young Paraense seemed determined to take precedence, and, with the
generous design of protecting his friends,--perhaps only little Rosa was
in his thoughts,--he had thrown himself in front of the others, even the
spearman standing behind him.  It appeared that his time was come.  He
had not confidence that it was not.  What could he do with a knife-blade
against such an enemy?  He stood there but to do his duty, and die.

And both would quickly have been accomplished,--the duty and the
death,--but that the Omnipotent Hand that had preserved them through so
many perils was still stretched over them, and in its own way extricated
them from this new danger.  To one unacquainted with the cause, it might
have been a matter of surprise to see the reptile, hitherto determined
upon making an attack, all at once turn away from its intended victims;
and, without even showing its tail upon the log, retreat precipitately
into the water, and swim off over the lagoa, as if the ceiba was
something to be shunned beyond everything else that might be encountered
in the Gapo!



CHAPTER SEVENTY SEVEN.

HISTORY OF THE ANACONDA.

Though it may be a mystery to the reader why it had retreated, it was
none to our adventurers, who had seen it crawl over the scattered
fagots; they had heard the hissing, sputtering sound, as the live coals
came in contact with its wet skin; they had witnessed its dismay and
flight at a phenomenon so unexpected.  They were therefore well aware
that it was the scorching hot cinders that had caused the sucuruju to
forsake the dead-wood in such a sudden and apparently mysterious manner.

It was some time before they were entirely relieved of their fears.
Notwithstanding its precipitate retreat, they could not tell but that
the anaconda might change its mind and come back again.  They could see
it swimming for some time in a tortuous track, its head and part of its
neck erect above the water; then it took a direct course, as if
determined upon leaving the lagoa.  It was, therefore, with no ordinary
feeling of relief that they saw it finally disappearing from view in the
far distance.

The mystery of its presence upon the dead monguba was soon cleared up.
The log was hollow inside, the heart-wood being entirely decayed and
gone.  In the cavity the serpent had perhaps sought a sleeping-place
secure from intrusion during some protracted slumber that had succeeded
the swallowing of a gigantic prey,--deer, paca, or capivain.  Here it
had lain for days,--perhaps weeks; and the log, carried away by the
rising of the floods, had done nothing to disturb its repose.  Its first
intimation that there was any change in the situation of its
sleeping-place was when the fire fell in through the burnt shell, and
the hot cinders came in contact with its tail, causing it to come forth
from its concealment, and make the observation that resulted in its
attacking the intruders.  The hollow that had contained the colony of
tocandeiras was altogether a different affair.  It was a cavity of a
similar kind, but unconnected with that in the heart of the tree; and it
was evident that the little insects and the great reptile, although
dwelling in such close proximity,--under the same roof, it may be
said,--were entirely unacquainted with each other.

When the serpent was quite out of sight, our adventurers once more
recovered their spirits, and conversed gayly about the strange incident.
The breeze, having freshened, carried their raft with considerable
rapidity through the water, in the right direction, and they began to
scan the horizon before them in the hope of seeing, if not land, at
least the tree-tops ahead.  These, however, did not show themselves on
that day, and before the sun went down the forest behind them sank out
of sight.  The night overtook them, surrounded by a smooth surface of
open water, spotless and apparently as limitless as the great ocean
itself.

They did not "lay to," as on the night before.  The breeze continued
favourable throughout the night; and, as they were also favoured with a
clear sky, and had the stars to pilot them, they kept under sail till
the morning.  Before retiring to rest they had supped upon roast charqui
and fish broiled over the coals; and, after supper, talk commenced, as
usual, the chief topic being the anaconda.  On this subject the tapuyo
had much to say, for of all the animals that inhabit the water
wilderness of the Amazon there is none that inspires the Indian with
greater interest than the sucuruju.  It is the theme of frequent
discourse, and of scores of legends;--some real and true, while others
have had their origin in the imagination of the ignorant aboriginal;
some even having proceeded from the excited fancy of the colonists
themselves, both Spanish and Portuguese, who could boast of a higher
intelligence and better education.

The fanciful say that there are anacondas in the waters of the Amazon
full thirty yards in length, and of a thickness equalling the dimensions
of a horse!  This has been stated repeatedly,--stated and believed in,
not only by the ignorant Indian, but by his instructors, the monks of
the missions.  The only fanciful part of the statement is what regards
the size, which must be merely an exaggeration.  What is real and true
is of itself sufficiently surprising.  It is true that in the South
American rivers there are anacondas, or "water-boas," as they are
sometimes called, over thirty feet in length and of proportionate
thickness; that these monstrous creatures can swallow such quadrupeds as
capivains, deer, and even large-sized animals of the horse and cattle
kind; that they are not venomous, but kill their prey by
_constriction_,--that is, by coiling themselves around it, and crushing
it by a strong muscular pressure; and that, once gorged, they retire to
some safe hiding-place,--of which there is no scarcity in the
impenetrable forests of Amazonia,--go to sleep, and remain for a time in
a sort of torpid condition.  Hence they are much more rarely seen than
those animals which require to be all the time on the alert for their
daily food.

Of these great snakes of Tropical America there are several species; and
these again are to be classified, according to their habits, into two
groups markedly distinct,--the "boas," properly so called, and the
"water-boas," or anacondas.  The former are terrestrial in their mode of
living, and are to be found upon the dry road; the latter, though not
strictly living in the water or under it, are never met with except
where it is abundant; that is to say, on the banks of rivers and
lagoons, or in the submerged forests of the Gapo.  They swim under
water, or upon the surface, with equal facility; and they are also
arboreal, their powers of constriction enabling them to make their way
to the tops of the highest trees.  It is these that are more properly
called sucurujus,--a name belonging to the common language spoken upon
the Amazon, a mixture of Portuguese with the ancient tongue of the
Supinampas, known as the _lingua geral_.  No doubt, also, it is from
some unusually large specimen of sucuruju, seen occasionally by the
Indian hunters and fishermen, that these simple people have been led
into a belief in the existence of the wonderful _Mai d'Agoa_, or "Mother
of the Waters."



CHAPTER SEVENTY EIGHT.

A SNAKE "YARN."

Cheered by the thought that the breeze was bearing them in the right
direction, our adventurers sat up till a late hour.  When they at length
resolved upon going to sleep, it was arranged that two should sit up,--
one to mind the sail, the other to ply a paddle, and keep the craft
steadily to her course, as well as could be done with such a rudder.
The old sea-cook still had charge of the sheets and halyards, while
Tipperary, notwithstanding that he had already proved himself such an
indifferent helmsman, was intrusted with the steering.

After the many perils through which they had passed, and under the
apprehension of the many more through which they might yet have to pass,
Tom's mismanagement,--the original cause of all their misfortunes,--if
not forgotten, was not remembered against him with resentment.  It had
been only an error of judgment,--a fault of the head, and not of the
heart.

Even the negro, whose race appears, almost by instinct, to inherit an
antipathy to the countrymen of Tom, and who, previous to the
catastrophe, was not always on the best of terms with the Irishman, no
longer showed signs of spite: rather had the two become friends.  Their
friendship sprung from the ties of a common misfortune, and any little
difference that now displayed itself was in a rivalry as to which should
make himself most useful to the floating community.

On this particular night they sat together as white and black brothers;
Mozey attending to the sipo that served for a sheet to the sail, and Tom
steering the craft by a star that had been pointed out to him as that
towards which he was to keep her head.

Both African and Irishman were not a little vain of being thus left to
themselves.  Up to that time both had been playing a very subordinate
part; the Indian taking upon himself almost the sole management of
affairs, and treating them as nobodies.  From the night on which they
had made their unfortunate mistake by straying into the Gapo, every
movement had been made by his counsel and direction: moreover, both had
suffered humiliation by his having saved their lives from drowning.
Although they were not ungrateful for that, they were nevertheless
chagrined to think that they should be so looked upon.

On this night, Munday, worn out by his long-continued exertions, was
urged by Trevannion to desist, and recruit his energies by good repose.
As there was no particular reason why he should remain awake, he had
consented to do so; and, with his back against one of the buttresses, he
reposed, silent as the Sphinx.

Neither the man of Mozambique, nor he of Tipperary, was given to habits
of silence; and they continued to converse long after the others had
sunk into slumber.  After what had that day occurred, it was natural
that the theme should be _snakes_.  "Yez have got some in your
counthry,--haven't yer, Mozey?" inquired Tom.

"Dar you'se 'bout right, Masser Tum.  Haven't we got um!  Snakes ob de
biggest kind."

"But none so big as the wun we saw the day?"

"Buf! you call dat a big snake.  He not more den ten yard long.  I've
hab some on de coass of Africa, down dere by Mozabeek, dat measure more
den a mile,--ticker round de body den dis ere log we sittin' on."

"More than a mile long!" rejoined Tipperary.  "And thicker than this
tree!  Yez don't mane to say ye iver saw wan ov that size yerself?"

"Well, I's not say it war a whole mile.  It mout be less, an' it mout a
been more dan a mile.  Ob one ting I's sartin shoo: it wa'n't less den
three quarters ob a mile.  Youz may b'lieve um or not; jess as you
pleeze 'bout dat, Massa Tipprary.  All I'b got to say is, dat de snake I
'peak 'bout war long nuf to go clar roun' de kraal, and twice roun'
too."

"A kraal! what moight that be?  I know what a _kreel_ is.  Miny's the
wan I've carried on me back, full ov turf at that, in the bogs of
Tipperary.  Yez don't mane a kreel, div ye?"

"Kreel! no.  I'm 'peakin' 'bout de place we niggers live in,--village,
you white folk call 'um."

"A village! that is a town av people,--men, weemen, and childher."

"Jess so.  Da be men, woman, and chillen in de kraal,--sartin to be
plenty of boaf de last,--an' dar am dogs, and sheeps, and goats, and
sometime big cattle.  Dat's zactly what we brack folks ob de African
coass call de kraal.  Some am bigger dan oders; but de one I 'peak
'bout, dat war surrounded by de snake, war a kraal ob de mod'rate size.
It had 'bout a hundred houses, and, ob coorse, it contain zackly hundred
families, excludin' de piccaninnies."

"A snake to extind round a hundherd houses!  Whin was that?"

"When dis chile was a piccaninny hisself.  If you like, Massa Tipprary,
I tell you all 'bout it.  Ye see, dat de kraal I 'peak 'bout war my
native place, wha dis chile fust saw de shinin' ob de sun.  I 'pose I
war 'bout ten year ole jess at dat time when de sacumstance 'curred ob
which I go tell you.  Near de village dar war a big foress.  It wa'
filled with all sorts ob dangerous beasts.  Da wa' buffaloes and
elephants, an' de rhinoceros, an' hipperpotamusses, an' dar war big
monkeys ob de baboon 'pecies.  These lass war partickler dangerous,
'pecially to de women ob de place, for if any ob de nigga gals strayed
too fur into de foress, den de baboons carried dem up into de tops ob de
highest trees, an' dere kep' dem prisoner fo' eber.  But de wussest ting
in dat wood war de snakes.  Da war ob all sorts an' sizes.  Dere war de
cobera, berry benemous, dat killed you wif him bite, an' de spit snake
dat fo' pizen beat de cobera all holler, as it kud kill ye by jess
spittin' upon yer from among de branches ob a tree.  An' da war de
whip-snake, dat lashed folks to deaph wif him tail; an' de rock-boa dat
twisted itself roun' you body an' crushed you to de jelly.  But none ob
dese kud hold a candle to de great big snake ob all,--de one I tell you
'bout.  Munday, he call dat we see, de spirit ob de waters.  Our big
snake we nigga of Mozabeek call de _debbil ob de woods_.  Nebba mind
'bout de name.  He come one fine mornin', dis debbil come, while de
people ob de kraal war all 'sleep, dat is 'fore anybody get up to go
'bout dar bisness.  He surroun' the village _twice_."

"You mane that he crawled twice round it?"

"Not a bit ob dat;--he may hab crawled twenty time roun' it: nobody
know.  De people all 'sleep when he come.  What dis chile mean is, dat
when de people get out ob dar beads, an' come to de door, de debbil ob
de woods, he hab him body all roun' de place in two great coil, one on
top ob de odder, like de cable 'board ship,--de two makin' a fence roun'
do kraal, more'n ten feet high."

"Saint Pathrick prasarve us!"

"Ah, Masser Tom, I tink I hear you say dat de San Parfick you 'peak
'bout was a great snake-killer in yur country.  I wish he had been in de
island of Mozabeek on dat same mornin'.  Pahps dis nigger might still
hab a fadder an' a modder.  He loss dem boaf on de occasion we now 'peak
ob.  You see de snake, after enclosin' de kraal twice roun' wif him
body, left enuf ob de neck to reach all ober de place; den stretchin'
out him mouf, dat war wide nuf to swaller a man 'ithout chewin' him, he
went from house to house, pickin' out de people, till der want one lef',
neider man, woman, nor chile.  He eat up de chief ob de kraal jess de
same as de commonest scum ob de village.  As fo' de piccaninnies, he
swallow dem eight or ten at a time, jess de same as we see de ant-eater
do wif de ants.  Boaf de men an' de women an' de chillen try to 'scape
out ob de place.  'Twa'n't no manner ob use.  When dey tried to climb
ober de body ob de snake, de ole debbil gub hisself a shake, an' down
dey slipped from him sides, as if him skin had been coated from de slush
cask.  Ob course da wa' soon all destroyed."

"But yerself, Mozey; how did yez manage to 'scape?"

"Ah, how! dat wor de bess joke ob de whole.  As I's been tellin' you, I
war at de time only a piccaninny, 'bout ten years ob de age.  I war
considered 'bove de common for dat age, an' wa' employed in de house ob
de chief which war called de palace.  Well, jess when I see dat great
big mouf sarchin' from place to place an' swallerin' up ebberybody, I
know it wan't no use to hide down dar among de houses.  Now dar war a
big pole dat stood righ' in front ob de palace, wif a flag floatin' on
de top.  When de odder folk war runnin' about ebbery wha else, I climbed
up de pole, an' when I got to de top, I drawed de flag roun' me, so as
to hide de whole ob my body.  When dat 'ere debbil ob de woods had
finished off wif de oder people, and cleared out de kraal complete, he
nebber thought 'bout lookin' up de pole, or 'spectin' whether tha wa'
anybody wrop up in de flag at de top.  Dis chile kep' up dar till he see
de snake 'tretch out him long body, an' go back to de big foress.  Den I
slip down from de tree, an' make my way to de nearest place wha da war
people.  As boaf my fadder and modder had been eat up 'long wi' de ress,
I atterwards left home an' tuk to de sea.  Dat's why dis nigger hab
wandered all de way fom dat 'ere island ob Mozabeek.  Buf! de snake we
see here, de spirit ob de water, a'n't no more to de debbil ob de woods
dan a tadpole am to de biggest alligator in all de waters ob de Amazum."



CHAPTER SEVENTY NINE.

SAINT PATRICK'S PERFORMANCE.

Notwithstanding the serious air with which Mozey told his very
improbable story, Tom did not appear to give implicit credence to it.
He evidently suspected that the rogue had been cheating him; and, after
several exclamations of wonder, but without betraying incredulity, he
sat in silence, apparently cogitating some scheme for repaying him.  It
was not long before an opportunity offered, his companion
unintentionally furnishing him with a cue.

"I's hab heer, Massa Tum, dat dar am no snake in de country wha you come
from.  Dat 'ere de troof?"

"Yis.  Nayther snake nor toad in owld Oireland,--nayther could live for
a single hour, if ye plants them thare.  The green island wudn't contain
thim bekase they're condimned to die the moment they sit fut on the
sod."

"But what condemn dem?"

"Saint Pathrick, to be shure.  Trath, thare's a story about that.  May
be yez wud loike to be afther hearin' it, Mozey?"

"Like um berry much, Massy Tum."

"Will, thin, I'll till it to yer.  It isn't such a wondherful story as
yours; but it had a betther indin', as yer'll see when ye've heerd it.
Instid av the snakes killin' all the people exciptin' wan, the riptiles
got killed thimsilves, all but wan,--that was the father of ivry sirpint
in the world.  He's livin' yit, an' must now be about five thousand
years uv age.  So the praste sez.

"A long toime ago, owld Oireland was very badly infisted wid thim
craythers.  They wur so thick all over the swate island, that yez cudn't
sit your fut down widout triddin' on wan av their tails; an' to kape out
av their way the people had to build a great scaffoldin' that extinded
all over the counthry, and slape on the threes, just as we've been doin'
over the gyapo.

"Whiniver they wanted anythin' to ate, such as purtaties, an' the loike,
they were compilled to git it up from the ground wid long forks; and
whin they wur in need to dhrink, they had to dip it up in buckets, as if
they were drawin' it out av a well.

"Av coorse this was moighty inconvanient, an' cudn't last long no how.
The worst ov it was, that the snakes, instid ov gettin' thinned off,
were ivery year growin' thicker, by razin ov their large families ov
young wuns.  Will, it got so bad at last that ther' wusn't a spot av
groun' bigger than the bunch ov your hand that warn't occupoyed by a
snake, an' in some places they were two deep.  The people up on the
platform that I towld yez about, they cursed an' swore, an' raged, an'
raved, an' at last prayed to be delivered from the inimy."

Here Tom paused to note the effect of his speech on his sable listener.

"But dey war delibbered,--wur dey?"

"Trath, wur they.  If they hadn't, is it at all loikely that yer wud see
me here?  Will, the people prayed.  Not as your countrymen prays, to a
stick or a stone, or beloike to the sarpints themselves, that could do
them no benefit; but to a lady, that was able to protect them.  We, in
owld Oireland, call her the Virgin Mary.  She was the mother av Him that
came down from the siventh heaven to save us poor sinners.  But what's
the use of my tryin' to explain all that to an ignorant haythen, loike
you?"

"No use, Massa Tum, no use," rejoined the African, in a tone of
resignation.

"Never moind, Mozey.  The lady heerd their prayer, and that was an ind
to it."

"She killed da snakes!"

"Arrah now; did yez think the Virgin Mary--a raal lady as she was--ud be
afther doin' such dhirty work as slaughter a whole island full of
venomous sarpents?  Not a bit av that same.  It's true they were
desthroyed; but not by her own swate hands.  She sinds a man to do the
work for her.  She sint Sant Pathrick."

"O, I's heerd ye 'peak ob dat man, many's de time, Massa Tum.  'Twur him
dat kill de serpents, wur it?"

"Trath was it."

"But how'd he do it?  It muss hab take um a berry long time to destroy
um all."

"There ye are intirely asthray, nager.  It only occupied him wan day,
an' not all the day nayther, for he had done the work a thrifle ov a
hour or so afther dinner-time."

"Gollys! how'd he do all dat?"

"Will! ye see, he invited all the snakes to a grand banquit.  He had
such a charmin' way wid him that they wun an' all agreed to come.  The
place was on the top of a high mountain,--called the Hill of Howth,--far
hoigher than any in the Andays we saw when crossin' thare.  The faste he
had provided for them was a colliction of toads, includin' every wun ov
thim that inhabited the island.  The toads he had invited too; an' the
stupid craythers, not suspictin' anythin', come willingly to the place.

"Now yez must undherstand, nager, that the snakes are moighty fond of
toads, and frogs too; but Saint Pathrick had no ill-will against the
frogs, an' they wur exchused from comin'.  As it was, the toads wur axed
at an earlier hour than the snakes, an' got first to the top of the
hill; an' while they were waitin' there to see what was to be done, the
sarpints came glidin' up, and bein' tould that their dinner was spread
before them, they fell to, an' swallowed up every toad upon the hill,
which was every wun there was in all Oireland."

The narrator made a long pause, either to draw breath after such a
declamation, or to give time for his companion to indulge his
astonishment.

"Gora!" exclaimed the latter, impatient for further explanation.  "How
'bout de snakes demselves?  Surely dey didn't swallow one anodder?"

"Trath! an' that's jest what they did do,--every mother's son of thim."

"But dat 'ere doan' 'tan' to reezun, unless dey hab a fight one wif de
odder?  Splain yourself, Massa Tum."

"Will, yez have guessed it exactly widout my sayin' a word.  They _did_
have a foight, that went all roun' through the whole crowd, like a
shindy in Donnybrook fair.  Yez would loike to hear how it begun.  Will,
I'll tell ye.  There was two kinds av the riptile.  Wan they called
`Ribbon snakes,' an' the tother `Orange snakes,' by razon av their
colour, both in politics and religion.  They had a king over both that
lived moighty foine at their expinse.  But he couldn't manage to keep
thim continted with payin' him taxes, unless by sittin' the wan agaynst
the tother.  An' this he did to the full av his satisfacshin.  Now the
bad blood that was betwane thim showed itself at that great gatherin'
worse than iver it had done afore.  Thare wasn't toads enough to give
them all a full male; and by way of dissart they thought they'd turn to
an' ate wun another.  Av course that was just what Sant Pathrick wanted;
for he wasn't plazed at their having two sorts of religion.  So the ould
praste hugged thim on in the quarrel, till it come to blows, an' inded
in both kinds killin' an' atin' wun another till there was nothing lift
av ayther exceptin' the tails."

"Golly! what becomed of de tails?"

"O, thim?  The people jumped down from the scaffolds and gathered thim
up into a hape, and thin made a great bonfire av thim, and aftherwardt
spred the ashes over the groun'; and that's what makes ould Oireland the
greenest gim av the oshin."

"But, Massa Tum, you hab say dat one ob de snakes 'scape from the genr'l
congregation?"

"Trath did I say it.  Wun did escape, an' 's livin' to make mischief in
ould Oireland to this very day."

"Which one was he?"

"Their king."

"De king.  How you call um, Massa Tipprary?"

"The Divvel."



CHAPTER EIGHTY.

LIGHTS AHEAD.

The expression of incredulity had now floated from the countenance of
the Irishman to that of the African, who in turn suspected himself
imposed upon.  The leer in Tom's eye plainly declared that he considered
himself "quits" with his companion; and the two remained for some
moments without further exchange of speech.  When the conversation was
resumed, it related to a theme altogether different.  It was no longer
on the subject of snakes, but stars.

The pilot perceived that the one hitherto guiding him was going out of
sight,--not by sinking below the horizon, but because the sky was
becoming overcast by thick clouds.  In ten minutes more there was not a
star visible; and, so far as direction went, the helm might as well have
been abandoned.  Tom, however, stuck to his paddle, for the purpose of
steadying the craft; and the breeze, as before, carried them on in a
direct course.  In about an hour after, this gave token of forsaking
them; and, at a still later period, the log lay becalmed upon the bosom
of the lagoa.

What, next?  Should they awake the others and communicate the unpleasant
intelligence?  Tom was of opinion that they should, while the negro
thought it would be of no use.  "Better let dem lie 'till," argued he,
"and hab a good night ress.  Can do no good wake um up.  De ole craff
muss lay to all de same, till dar come anodder whif ob de wind!"

While they were disputing the points, or rather after they had done
disputing, and each held his tongue, a sound reached their ears that at
once attracted the attention of both.  It was rather a chorus of sounds,
not uttered at intervals, but continued all the time they were
listening.  It bore some resemblance to a distant waterfall; but now and
then, mingling with the hoarser roaring of the torrent, were voices as
of birds, beasts, and reptiles.  None of them were very distinct.  They
appeared to come from some point at a great distance off.  Still, they
were loud enough to be distinguished, as sounds that could not proceed
out of the now tranquil bosom of the lagoa.

Perhaps they might sooner have attracted the notice of the two men, but
for the sighing of the breeze against the sail, and the rippling of the
water as it rushed along the sides of the ceiba.  When these sounds had
ceased, the conversation that ensued produced the same effect; and it
was only after the dispute came to a close that the disputants were made
aware that something besides their own voices was disturbing the
tranquillity of the night.

"What is it, I wondher?" was the remark of Tipperary Tom.  "Can yez
tell, Mozey?"

"It hab berry much de soun' ob a big forress!"

"The sound av a forest?  What div yez mane by that?"

"Wha' shud I mean, but de voices ob de animal dat lib in de forress.  De
birds an' de beast, an' de tree frogs, an' dem 'ere crickets dat chirps
'mong de trees.  Dat's what dis nigger mean."

"I b'lieve ye're right, nager.  It's just that same.  It can't be the
wather, for that's did calm; an' it can't purceed from the sky, for it
don't come in that direction.  In trath it's from the forest, as ye
say."

"In dat case, den, we muss be near de odder side ob de lagoa, as de
Indyun call um,--jess wha we want to go."

"Sowl, thin, that's good news!  Will we wake up the masther an' till him
av it?  What do yez think?"

"Dis nigga tink better not.  Let um all sleep till de broke ob day.  Dat
can't be far off by dis time.  I hab an idee dat I see de furs light ob
mornin' jess showin' out yonner, at de bottom ob de sky.  Gora! what's
yon?  Dar, dar! 'trait afore de head.  By golly! dar's a fire out
yonner, or someting dat hab de shine ob one.  Doan ye see it, Massa
Tum?"

"Trath, yis; I do see somethin' shinin'.  It a'n't them fire-flies, div
yez think?"

"No! 'ta'n't de fire-fly.  Dem ere flits about.  Yon ting am steady, an'
keeps in de same place."

"There's a raal fire yandher, or else it's the willy-wisp.  See! be me
troth thare's two av thim.  Div yez see two?"

"Dar _am_ two."

"That can't be the willy-wisp.  He's niver seen in couples,--at laste,
niver in the bogs av Oireland.  What can it be?"

"What can which be?" asked Trevannion, who, at this moment awaking,
heard the question put by Tom to the negro.

"Och, look yandher!  Don't yez see a fire?"

"Certainly; I see something very like one,--or rather two of them."

"Yis, yis; there's two.  Mozey and meself have just discovered thim."

"And what does Mozey think they are?"

"Trath, he's perplixed the same as meself.  We can't make hid or tail av
thim.  If there had been but wan, I'd a sayed it was a willy-wisp."

"Will-o'-the-wisp!  No, it can scarce be that,--the two being together.
Ah!  I hear sounds."

"Yes, masther, we've heerd thim long ago."

"Why didn't you awake us?  We must have drifted nearly across the lagoa.
Those sounds, I should say, come out of the forest, and that, whatever
it is, must be among the trees.  Munday!  Munday!"

"Hola!" answered the Indian, as he started up from his squatting
attitude: "what is it, patron?  Anything gone wrong?"

"No: on the contrary, we appear to have got very near to the other side
of the lagoa."

"Yes, yes!" interrupted the Indian as soon as the forest noises fell
upon his ear; "that humming you hear must come thence.  _Pa terra_!
lights among the trees!"

"Yes, we have just discovered them.  What can they be?"

"Fires," answered the Indian.

"You think it is not fire-flies?"

"No; the _loengos_ do not show that way.  They are real fires.  There
must be people there."

"Then there is land, and we have at last reached _terra firma_."

"The Lord be praised for that," reverently exclaimed the Irishman.  "Our
throubles will soon be over."

"May be not, may be not," answered the Mundurucu, in a voice that
betrayed both doubt and apprehension.

"Why not, Munday?" asked Trevannion.  "If it be fires we see, surely
they are on the shore; and kindled by men.  There should be some
settlement where we can obtain assistance?"

"Ah, patron! nothing of all that need follow from their being fires;
only that there must be men.  The fires need only be on the shore, and
as for the men who made them, instead of showing hospitality, just as
like they make take a fancy to eat us."

"Eat us! you mean that they may be cannibals?"

"Just so, patron.  Likely as not.  It's good luck," pursued the tapuyo,
looking around, "the wind went down, else we might have been carried too
close.  I must swim towards yon lights, and see what they are, before we
go any nearer.  Will you go with me, young master?"

"O, certainly!" replied Richard, to whom the question was addressed.

"Well, then," continued the tapuyo, speaking to the others, "you must
not make any loud noise while we are gone.  We are not so very distant
from those fires,--a mile or thereabout; and the water carries the sound
a long ways.  If it be enemies, and they should hear us, there would be
no chance of escaping from them.  Come, young master, there's not a
minute to spare.  It must be very near morning.  If we discover danger,
we shall have but little time to got out of its way in the darkness; and
that would be our only hope.  Come! follow me!"

As the Indian ceased speaking, he slipped gently down into the water,
and swam off to the two lights whose gleam appeared every moment more
conspicuous.

"Don't be afraid, Rosetta," said Richard, as he parted from his cousin.
"I warrant it'll turn out to be some plantation on the bank, with a
house with lights shining through the windows, and white people inside,
where we'll all be kindly received, and get a new craft to carry us down
to Para.  Good by for the present!  We'll soon be back again with good
news."

So saying, he leaped into the water and swam off in the wake of the
tapuyo.



CHAPTER EIGHTY ONE.

AN AERIAL VILLAGE.

The swimmers had not made many hundred yards when they saw beyond doubt
that the forest was not far off.  It was even nearer than they had at
first imagined, the darkness having deceived them; and perhaps the log
may have drifted nearer while they were under the impression that they
lay becalmed.

At all events, they were now scarcely a quarter of a mile from the
forest, which they knew stretched along the horizon as far as they could
have seen had it been daylight.  They could only just distinguish a dark
belt or line rising above the surface of the water before them; but that
this extended right and left to a far distance could be told from the
sounds that came from it.  There was the hum of tree-crickets and
cicadas, the _gluck_ of toads and frogs, the screams of aquatic birds,
the hooting of owls, and the strange plaintive calls of the
goat-suckers, of which several species inhabit the Gapo forests; the
whip-poor-will and the "willy-come-go" all the night long giving
utterance to their monotonous melody.  Harsher still were the cries
proceeding from the throats of howling monkeys, with now and then the
melancholy moaning of the _ai_, as it moved slowly through the branches
of the _embauba_ (cecropia-tree).  All these sounds, and a score of
other kinds,--some produced by insects and reptiles of unknown
species,--were blended in that great choir of nature which fills the
tropical forest with its midnight music.

The two swimmers, however, paid no attention to this fact; their whole
thoughts being occupied by the lights, that, as they advanced, grew
every moment more conspicuous.  There was no longer any doubt about
these being the blaze of fires.  It was simply a question of where the
fires were burning, and who had kindled them.

The young Paraense supposed them to be upon the shore of the lagoa.
About this, however, his companion expressed a doubt.  They did not seem
to burn steadily, their discs appearing now larger and now less.
Sometimes one would go out altogether, then blaze up afresh, while
another was as suddenly extinguished.  The younger of the two swimmers
expressed astonishment at this intermittence, which his companion easily
explained.  The fires, he said, were placed at some distance from the
edge of the forest, among the trees, and it was by some tree-trunk now
and then intervening that the illusion was caused.

Silently the swimmers approached, and in due time they glided in under
the shadow of the thick foliage, and saw the fires more distinctly.  To
the astonishment of Richard--for the tapuyo did not seem at all
astonished--they did not appear to be on the ground, but up in the air!
The Paraense at first supposed them to have been kindled upon the top of
some eminence; but, on scanning them more closely, he saw that this
could not be the case.  Their gleaming red light fell upon water shining
beneath, over which, it was clear, they were in some way suspended.

As their eyes became accustomed to the glare, the swimmers could make
out that the fires were upon a sort of scaffold raised several feet
above the water, and supported by the trunks of the trees.  Other
similar scaffolds could be seen, on which no fires had been kindled,--
from the fact, no doubt, that their occupants were not yet astir.

By the blaze human figures were moving to and fro, and others were on
the platforms near by, which were more dimly illuminated; some entering,
some coming forth from "toldos," or sheds, that stood upon them.
Hammocks could be seen suspended from free to tree, some empty, and some
still holding a sleeper.

All this was seen at a single glance, while at the same time were heard
voices, that had been hitherto drowned by the forest choir, but could
now be distinguished as the voices of men, women, and children,--such as
might be heard in some rural hamlet, whose inhabitants were about
bestirring themselves for their daily avocations.

The tapuyo, gliding close up to the Paraense, whispered in his ear, "A
malocca!"

"An Indian village!"  Richard rejoined.  "We've reached _tierra firme_,
then?"

"Not a bit of it, young master.  If the dry land had been near, those
fires wouldn't be burning among the tree-tops."

"At all events, we are fortunate in falling in with this curious
malocca, suspended between heaven and earth.  Are we not so?"

"That depends on who they are that inhabit it.  It may be that we've
chanced upon a tribe of cannibals."

"Cannibals!  Do you think there are such in the Gapo?"

"There are savages in the Gapo who would torture before killing,--you,
more especially, whose skins are white, remember, with bitterness, what
first drove them to make their home in the midst of the water-forests,--
the white slave-hunters.  They have reason to remember it; for the cruel
chase is still kept up.  If this be a malocca of Muras, the sooner we
get away, the safer.  They would show you whites no mercy, and less than
mercy to me, a red man like themselves.  We Mundurucus are their
deadliest enemies.  Now, you lie still, and listen.  Let me hear what
they are saying.  I know the Mura tongue.  If I can catch a word it will
be sufficient.  Hush!"

Not long had they been listening, when the Indian started, an expression
of anxiety suddenly overspreading his features, as his companion could
perceive by the faint light of the distant fires.

"As I expected," said he, "they are Muras.  We must be gone, without a
moment's loss of time.  It will be as much as we can do to paddle the
log out of sight before day breaks.  If we don't succeed in doing so, we
are all lost.  Once seen, their canoes would be too quick for us.  Back,
back to the monguba!"



CHAPTER EIGHTY TWO.

A SLOW RETREAT: IN THE ARCADE.

Their report spread consternation among the crew.  Trevannion,
incredulous of the existence of such bloodthirsty savages as Munday
represented the Muras to be, was disposed to treat it as an
exaggeration.  The young Paraense, who, when in his father's house, had
met many of the up-river traders, and heard them conversing on this very
theme, was able to endorse what the Mundurucu said.  It was well-known
to the traders that there were tribes of wild Indians inhabiting the
Gapo lands, who during the season of the inundation made their home
among the tree-tops,--that some of these were cannibals, and all of them
savages of a most ferocious type, with whom an encounter in their native
wilds, by any party not strong enough to resist them, might prove both
dangerous and deadly.

There was no time to argue; and without further opposition the ex-miner
himself sprang to one of the paddles, the tapuyo taking the other.  They
had no idea of going back across the lagoa.  To have proceeded in that
direction would have been to court discovery.  With such slow progress
as theirs, a mile would be about all they could make before daybreak;
and, out on the open water, their craft would be distinguishable at
three times that distance.  The course counselled by the tapuyo was to
keep at first parallel to the line of the trees; and then enter among
these as soon as the dawn began.

As the party retreated, not two, but ten fires were seen gleaming among
the trees, filling the forest with their bright coruscation.  The tapuyo
explained that each new light denoted the uprising of a fresh family,
until the whole malocca was astir.  The fires were kindled to cook the
breakfast of the Indians.  Notwithstanding this domestic design, our
adventurers looked back upon them with feelings of apprehension; for
they were not without fears that, roasted over those very fires, they
might furnish the savages with the material for a cannibal repast!

To all appearance never did the ceiba go slower,--never lie so dull upon
the water.  Despite the vigorous straining of strong arms, it scarcely
seemed to move.  The sail was of no service, as there was not a breath
of air, but was rather an obstruction; and, seeing this, Mozey let loose
the halyards and gently lowered it.

They had hardly made half a mile from the point of starting, when they
saw the dawn just appearing above the tops of the trees.  They were upon
the equator itself, where between dawn and daylight there is but a short
interval of time.  Knowing this, the craft was turned half round, and
pulled towards a place of concealment.  As they moved on to make it,
they could see the sunlight stealing over the surface of the water, and
the fires becoming paler at its approach.  In ten minutes more, daylight
would be upon them!

It was now a struggle against time,--a trial of speed between the ceiba
and the sun,--both slowly approaching a critical point in their course.
Trevannion and the tapuyo plied the paddles as men rowing for their
lives and the lives of others dear to them.  They almost felt as if the
sun favoured them; for he not only seemed to suspend his rising, but to
sink back in his course.  Perhaps it was only the shadow of the trees,
under which they had now entered.  At all events, they were in the midst
of obscurity, propelling the dead-wood into the embouchure of an
igarape, overshadowed with drooping trees, that, like a dark cavern,
promised them a hiding-place.

At the moment of entering, it was so dark they could not tell how far
the opening extended.  In this uncertainty they suspended the stroke of
their paddles, and suffered the ceiba to come to a standstill.  As yet
they had no other light than that afforded by the fire-flies that
flitted under about the trees.  But these were of the large species,
known as _Cocuyos (Elater noctilucus_), one of which, when held over the
page of a printed book, enables a person to read; and as there were many
of them wandering about, their united sparkle enabled our adventurers to
make out that the creek was of very limited extent.

Gradually, as the sun rose higher, his light fell gently glimmering
through the leaves, and showed that the arcade was a _cul de sac_,
extending only about a hundred yards into the labyrinth of branches and
parasitical plants.  They had entered, so to speak, a court through
which there was no thoroughfare; and there they must remain.  They could
only get out of it by taking to the tree-tops, or else by returning to
the open lagoa.  But they had had enough of travelling through the
tree-tops, while to abandon the craft that had carried them so
comfortably, and that might still avail them, was not to be thought of.

As to returning to the open water, that would be like delivering
themselves into the very jaws of the danger they were desirous to avoid;
for, once seen by the savages, there would not be the slightest chance
of escape.  They were provided with canoes moored among the tree-trunks
that formed the supports of their aerial habitations.  Clumsy structures
enough; but, no matter how clumsy or slow, they were swifter than the
dead-wood; and in the event of a chase the latter would be easily
overhauled and captured.  Only one course offered any prospect of
safety,--to remain all day in the arcade, trusting that none of the
savages might have any business near the place.  At night they could
steal out again, and by an industrious use of their paddles put a safer
distance between themselves and the dangerous denizens of the malocca.

Having determined on this, they drew their craft into the darkest
corner, and, making it fast to a tree, prepared to pass the time in the
pleasantest possible manner.

There was not much pleasure sitting in that silent, sombre shadow;
especially as they were in dread that its silence might be disturbed by
the wild shout of a savage.  They had taken every precaution to escape
discovery.  The little fire left burning upon the log had been
extinguished by Munday, immediately on seeing the two lights first
described.  They would fain have rekindled it, to cook a breakfast; but
fearing that the smoke might be seen, they chose that morning to eat the
charqui raw.

After breakfast they could do nothing but keep their seats, and await,
with such patience as they might command, the development of events.  It
was not all darkness around them.  As the little creek penetrated the
trees in a straight line, they commanded a view of a portion of the
lagoa.  Their situation was very similar to that of a person inside a
grotto or cavern on the sea-shore, which commands a view of the ocean
stretching away from its mouth, the bright space gradually widening as
it recedes in the distance.  Though themselves seated in the midst of
obscurity, they could see brightness beyond the opening of the bay,--the
sun shining with a golden gleam upon the water.

On this their eyes were kept,--not in the hope of seeing anything there
that might give them gratification, but rather desiring that nothing
should be seen.  Notwithstanding the obscurity that surrounded them,
they could not divest themselves of the idea that one passing the
entrance of the creek could see them distinctly enough; and this kept
them in constant apprehension.

They had no need to keep watch in any other direction.  Behind them, and
on each side, extended the unbroken wall of tree-tops, shaded with
llianas, worked and woven together into a network that appeared
impenetrable even to the wild animals of the forest.  Who would have
looked for an enemy in human shape to come that way?

Up to noon no incident occurred to disturb the tranquillity of the place
or in any way add to their apprehensions.  Now and then a bird appeared,
winging its way over the bright band illumined by the sun, or poising
itself for a moment and then plunging downward upon some prey it had
detected in the water.  All these appearances only increased their
confidence; as the presence of the birds, undisturbed at their ordinary
avocations, indicated the absence of human beings.

The same conclusion was drawn from the behaviour of a brace of large
fish-cows, at some distance outside, directly in front of the arcade.
When first noticed, they were engaged in some sort of rude gambol, at
which they continued for a full half-hour.  After that, one of them swam
off, while the other, laying itself along the water, appeared to go to
sleep.

It was a tantalising sight to the eyes of the old tapuyo; and it was
just as much as he could do to restrain himself from swimming out and
attacking the sleeper, either with his knife or the pashuba spear.  The
danger, however, would have been too great, not from a conflict with the
cow, but of being seen by the sharp-eyed savages.

In view of this, the Mundurucu resisted the temptation, and consented,
though not without reluctance, to let the peixe-boi continue its
slumbers uninterrupted.



CHAPTER EIGHTY THREE.

FOLLOWING THE FLOAT.

Unfortunately for our adventurers, as well as for the cow-fish itself,
other eyes than those of the tapuyo had been watching the gambols of the
two cetaceans, and had paid particular attention to the one now taking
its siesta on the surface.  Neither Munday nor his companions had any
suspicion of this; for, excepting the peixe-boi itself, no living
creature was in sight.  Having observed it for a considerable length of
time, still reclining in its attitude of repose, they had almost ceased
to think of it; when all at once it was seen to spring clear out of the
water, and, after making two or three grotesque plunges, sink suddenly
below the surface!

The action was too violent and unnatural to be voluntary.  The peixe-boi
had evidently been assailed in its sleep by some enemy, from which it
was but too eager to retreat.

But what could this enemy be?  The tapuyo knew of nothing _under_ the
water that was likely to have made the attack.  There are no sharks nor
swordfish in the Gapo, and an alligator would scarcely dare to meddle
with a creature of such enormous dimensions.  Much less could an enemy
have come from the air.  There is no bird in South America, not even the
great condor itself, that would think of swooping down upon a peixe-boi.

Some of the party said that they had seen something glancing towards the
cow-fish at the moment it made the leap,--something that looked like a
flash of lightning!  What could that be?  There was no cloud in the sky,
no thunder.  It could not have been lightning.

"_Pa terra_!" exclaimed the tapuyo, in evident alarm.  "I know what it
was.  Keep quiet or we are lost!"

"What was it?"

"A harpoon,--look yonder, patron!  Don't you see the water in motion
where the juaroua went down?"

"Certainly I do.  That's very natural.  The waves are caused by the
plunging of the animal."

"The waves! not that; look again.  You see a thin ripple.  There's a
cord making it.  Yonder's the float! and close behind that you will see
something more.  There, there he is!"

Sure enough, there was a rippling line caused by a cord drawn rapidly
along the surface; at the end of this a small buoy of wood dragged
rapidly after, and close behind a canoe, with an Indian in it, the
Indian in a bent attitude, plying his paddle, and evidently in pursuit
of the wounded cow-fish.  The log was a "float," the line drawing it
along was at its other end attached to a harpoon, and that harpoon had
its barbs buried in the body of the peixe-boi!

Such a specimen of a human being, even for a savage, none of the
spectators--the tapuyo perhaps excepted--had ever beheld.  He was as
naked as if he had never been outside the Garden of Eden; and this very
nakedness displayed a form that, but for the absence of a hairy
covering, more resembled that of a monkey than a man.  A body extremely
attenuated, yet pot-bellied, too; a pair of long, thin arms, with legs
to match, the latter knotted at the knees, the former balled at the
elbows; a huge head, seemingly larger from its mop of matted hair; a
face with high cheeks and sunken eyes,--gave him an appearance more
demoniac than human.  No wonder that little Rosa screamed as he came in
sight, and that dismay exhibited itself on the features of several
others of the party.

"Hush!" whispered Munday.  "Silence all!  Not a word, or we shall be
seen, and then not he, but perhaps a hundred of his tribe--Hush!"

Fortunately the scream of Rosita had been only slight; and the savage,
in eager pursuit of the peixe-boi, had not heard it, for he continued
the chase without pause.

He had no difficulty in discovering the whereabouts of his game.  The
float guided him; for, no matter where the cow went, the tether was
still attached to her, and the movement of the log along the surface
betrayed to the eye of her pursuer every change of direction.

Two or three times, the savage, dropping his paddle, was enabled to lay
hold of the line and commence hauling in; but the great strength of the
juaroua, as yet unexhausted, proved too much for him, and he was
compelled to let go or be pulled out of his craft.

The latter was but a frail concern, of the smallest and rudest kind,--
consisting of a shell of bark, gathered up at both ends and tied by
sipos, so as to give it somewhat the shape of an ordinary canoe.  Even
when paddling with all his strength, its owner could make no great
speed; but great speed was not required in the chase of a peixe-boi with
a barbed spear sticking through its skin and rankling between its ribs.
It only required patience, until the huge creature should become
exhausted with its struggles and enfeebled by the loss of blood.  Then
might the conquest be completed without either difficulty or danger.

For twenty minutes or more the chase continued; the float being dragged
hither and thither, until it had crossed the water in almost every
direction.  Sometimes both log and canoe were in sight, sometimes only
one of them, and sometimes neither,--at such times the cow-fish having
passed far beyond the limits of clear water visible to the spectators.

On the last of these occasions, several minutes had elapsed before the
chase came again in sight.  Our adventurers were in hopes they would see
no more of either fish, float, or follower.  The interest they might
otherwise have taken in such a curious spectacle was destroyed by the
thought of the danger that would result in their being discovered.

Just as they had begun to congratulate themselves that they were to be
spared this misfortune, the float once more came before their eyes,
still being dragged along the surface, but with much less rapidity than
when last seen.  The manatee was coming into the arcade, the canoe
following close after, with the hideous savage eagerly plying his
paddle, while, with outstretched neck and wild, scintillating orbs, he
peered inquiringly into the darkness before him!

There was no chance to escape discovery.



CHAPTER EIGHTY FOUR.

A CANNIBAL CAPTURED.

The fears of those standing upon the ceiba could not have been greater
than that of the savage himself, as his canoe came bumping against the
dead-wood, and he saw standing above him a crowd of human forms.  A wild
cry escaping from his lips expressed his terror and astonishment.  Then
a second, in louder tone, was intended to give the alarm to his kindred,
who might possibly hear it.

With an Indian, as with the wild animals, presence of mind is rather an
instinct than an act of reason.  Instead of being disconcerted by what
he saw, and losing time to recover himself, the Mura at once plunged his
paddle into the water, and commenced beating backward, assisted by the
recoil of the canoe, which, on striking the dead-wood, had rebounded
from it by the violence of the collision.

In a moment he had sculled himself almost clear of the arcade; he was
already within a few feet of its mouth, and would soon be back upon the
open lagoa, when he would undoubtedly make for the malocca, and bring
the whole tribe of cannibals upon them.  None of the party thought of
pursuing him.  There was an attempt made to seize the canoe at the
moment of its closing upon the log, but the craft had recoiled so
suddenly after the collision, and been paddled so rapidly out of reach,
that it all ended in Tipperary Tom getting soused in the water, and
nearly drowned before he could be dragged out again.  The attempt at
seizure might have had a different result had Munday been among those
who made it.  But he was not.

He was nowhere to be seen upon the log, nor anywhere else!  What had
become of him?  None of them could say.  Little Rosa was the only one
who could give any explanation of his absence.  She thought she had seen
him slip off at the back of the log, while the canoe was coming on in
front.  She was not sure, it was so dark upon that side; and she had
been too much engaged in regarding the approach of the savage.

Had he made off to conceal himself among the tree-tops?  Had he gone to
secure his own safety, and abandoned his friends to their fate?  They
could not think this.  Such a cowardly act would have been contrary to
all they knew of the brave Mundurucu, whose faithfulness had so many
times been put to the severest test.  No one could account for it.

Just at that critical moment when the canoe had reached the mouth of the
arcade, a dark round thing, like a human head, rose up in the water some
six feet before it, and then another dark thing, wonderfully like a
human hand, shot up beside the head, followed by a long and sinewy arm.
The hand was seen to strike upward and clutch the canoe close by the
stem; and then the craft went down, one end under water, while the other
flew up into the air; then there was a capsize,--the savage, with a
shriek and a loud plash, falling out; and then there was a struggle,--
now under water, now above the surface,--accompanied by strange choking
noises, as if two enormous alligators were engaged in a conflict of life
and death.

As the astonished spectators continued to gaze upon the scene,--still
but imperfectly comprehended by them,--they saw that the combatants were
coming nearer, as if the struggle was being carried on towards the end
of the arcade, and was likely to terminate where they stood.

And there it did end, immediately after, by the missing tapuyo making
his appearance alongside the log, and dragging beside him the man who
had made that involuntary "header" from the canoe.

The latter no longer resisted.  The knife-blade glittering between
Munday's teeth--a taste of whose quality the savage had already
experienced--hindered him from offering any further resistance; and as
they came up to the log, the two were swimming side by side peaceably,
only that the action of one was evidently involuntary, while the other
was directing it.

It was more like the companionship of a policeman and a thief, than that
of two swimmers who chanced to be going the same way.  One arm of the
Mura was clutched by the Mundurucu, as if the captive was partly
supported while being dragged along.

"Reach out there, patron, and pull him up!" cried Munday, as he
conducted his captive alongside the log.  "I don't want to kill the
animal, though that might be the safest way in the end."

"No, no, don't do that!" returned Trevannion, who now, along with all
the others, had arrived at a full comprehension of the affair.  "We can
keep him secure enough; and, if his shouts have not been heard, we need
not fear having him along with us."  As the patron spoke, he reached
down, and, laying hold of the captive, drew him close to the side of the
dead-wood.  Then, assisted by Munday in the water and Mozey upon the
log, the Mura was hoisted aboard.

Once upon the dead-wood, a more abject wretch than the captive Mura
could not have been found.  He trembled from head to foot,--evidently
believing that he was about to be killed, and perhaps eaten.  He had
only consented to be taken in the knowledge--which Munday had in some
way conveyed to him--that resistance could but end in instant death; and
there are few, even amongst the most reckless of savages, who will not
yield to this.

As he stood dripping upon the dead-wood, a red stream, trickling down
his wet skin from a knife-wound in the shoulder, explained how the
tapuyo had made known to him the idleness of resistance.  It was a first
stab, and not dangerous; but it had given a foretaste of what was to
follow, had the struggle been kept up.  After receiving this hint, the
Mura had surrendered; and the after commotion was caused by his being
towed through the water by a captor who was required to use all his
strength and energy in supporting him.

While the canoe-man was advancing up the arcade, the Mundurucu, instead
of waiting till he came near, had dropped quietly into the water, and
swum in an outward direction, as if intending to meet the
manatee-hunter, face to face.  This he actually did,--met and passed
him, but without being seen.  The darkness favoured him, as did also the
commotion already caused by the wounded cow-fish, which in its passage
up the creek had left large waves upon the water.  These, striking
against the trunks of the trees, created a still further disturbance,
amidst which the swimmer's dark face and long swarthy locks could not
have been easily distinguished.

Supporting himself by a branch, he awaited the return of the savage,--
knowing that as soon as the latter set eyes upon the others he would
instantly beat a retreat.  All turned out just as the tapuyo had
anticipated; and just as he had designed did he deal with the canoe-man.

In all this, the only thing that appeared singular was the tapuyo's
taking so much pains to go out near the entrance, instead of boldly
laying hold of the canoe as it passed him on its way inwards, or indeed
of waiting for it upon the log,--where any one of the others, had he
been a strong swimmer and armed with a knife, might have effected the
capture.

Munday, however, had good reasons for acting as he had done.  While the
canoe was approaching, who could tell that it would come close up?  It
had done so, even to striking the dead-wood with its bow; but Munday
could not rely upon such a chance as that.  Had the savage discovered
their presence a little sooner, he would have turned and sculled off,
before any swimmer could have come up with him.

A similar reason was given for gliding stealthily past, and getting on
the other side.  Had the Mundurucu acted otherwise, he might have been
perceived before he could seize the canoe, and so give time for the
manatee-hunter to make off.  As this last would have been a terrible
contingency, rendering their discovery almost a certainty, the cunning
old man knew how important it was that no mismanagement should occur in
the carrying out of his design.

"If that rascal's shout has been heard," said Trevannion, "there will be
but little chance of our escaping capture.  From what you saw, I suppose
there are hundreds of these hideous creatures.  And we, without weapons,
without the means either of attack or defence, what could we do?  There
would be nothing for it but to surrender ourselves as prisoners."

The Mundurucu was not able to offer a word of encouragement.  To have
attempted defence against a whole tribe of savages, armed, no doubt,
with spears and poisoned arrows, would have been to rush madly on death.

"It is fortunate," continued the ex-miner, "that you have not killed
him."

"Why, patron?" demanded the tapuyo, apparently in some surprise.

"It would have made them revengeful; and if we have the ill-luck to be
taken, they would have been the more certain to destroy us."

"No, no," answered the Indian,--"not a bit more certain to do that.  If,
as you say, we have the bad luck to become their captives, we shall be
killed all the same.  Their old revenge will be strong enough for that;
and if not their revenge, they have an appetite that will insure our
destruction.  You understand, patron?"

This conversation was carried on in a low tone, and only between
Trevannion and the tapuyo.

"O Heaven!" groaned the ex-miner, turning his eyes upon his children.
"It would be a fearful fate for--for all of us."

"The more reason for doing all we can to avoid falling into their
hands."

"But what can we do?  Nothing!  If they discover our hiding-place before
nightfall, then we shall surely be taken."

"Admit that, master; but if they do not--"

"If they do not, you think there would be some hope of our getting away
from them?"

"A good hope,--a good hope."

"On the raft?"

"Better than that, patron."

"You have some plan?"

"I've been thinking of one; but it's no use to speak of it, so long as
we are in doubt this way.  If we are left unmolested until night, then,
patron, it will be time to declare it.  Could you but promise me that
this screecher hasn't been heard, I think I could promise you that by
midnight we should not only be beyond the reach of his bloodthirsty
fellows, but in a fair way of getting out of our troubles altogether.
Ha! yonder's something must be looked to; I forgot that."

"What?"

"The _igarite_.  How near it was to betraying us!  Its course must be
stopped this instant."  And he once more slipped down into the water and
swam away.

The canoe, out of which the Mura had been so unceremoniously spilled,
and which was now bottom upwards, was drifting outward.  It was already
within a few feet of the entrance, and in another minute would have been
caught by the breeze stirring beyond the branches of the trees.  Once
outside, it would soon have made way into the open lagoa, and would have
formed a conspicuous mark for the eyes of the malocca.

Munday swam silently, but with all his strength, towards it.  It must be
reached before it could drift outside; and for some time there was
apprehension in the minds of the spectators that this might not be done.
The only one of them that would have been gratified by a failure was
the captive Mura.  But the wretch showed no sign of his desire, knowing
that there would be danger in his doing so.  He was held fast in the
strong arms of the negro; while Tipperary Tom stood near, ready to run
him through with the spear in case of his making any attempt to escape.

Their apprehensions soon came to an end.  The tapuyo overtook it before
it had cleared the screening of tree-tops; and, laying hold of a piece
of cord which was attached to its stem, took it in tow.  In less than
five minutes after, it might have been seen right side up, lying like a
tender alongside the grand monguba.



CHAPTER EIGHTY FIVE.

A DAY SPENT IN SHADOW.

All day long did our adventurers abide in silence, keeping close in
their shadowy retreat.  Now and then only the Mundurucu swam to the
entrance of the arcade; and, screened by the trees, took a survey of the
open water outside.  He saw only a canoe, larger than that he had
captured, with three men in it, out upon the lagoa, about two hundred
yards from the edge, and opposite the malocca, which could not itself be
seen, as it was some distance back among the trees; but, from the
bearings he had taken on the night previous, the tapuyo knew where it
lay.

He watched the canoe so long as it remained in sight.  The gestures of
the savages who were in it showed that they were occupied in fishing,
though what sort of fish they might be taking in the flooded lake Munday
could not guess.  They stayed about an hour; and then, paddling their
craft back among the trees, were seen no more.

This gratified the tapuyo and those to whom he made his report.  It was
evidence that the harpooner had come out alone, and that, while striking
the cow-fish, he had not been observed by any of his people.  Had that
incident been witnessed, every canoe in possession of the tribe would
have instantly repaired to the spot.

Since the killing of a juaroua is an event of rare occurrence in the
season of the _vasante_, when it does transpire it causes the same
joyful excitement in a malocca of Amazonian Indians as the capture of a
great walrus would in a winter village of Esquimaux.  It was, therefore,
quite clear to our adventurers, that no suspicion had been aroused as to
the cause of the harpooner's absence from the malocca, and so they were
enabled to endure their imprisonment with calmer confidence, and higher
hopes of finally effecting their escape.

How long would this state of things continue?  How long might the Mura
be away before his absence should excite suspicion and lead to a search?

"As to such a thing as this," said Munday, pointing contemptuously to
the shivering captive, "he'll no more be missed than would a coaita
monkey that had strayed from its troop.  If he's got a wife, which I
don't suppose he has, she'll be only too glad to get rid of him.  As for
any one of them coming after him through affection, as you call it,
there you're all out, patron.  Among Muras there's no such feeling as
that.  If they'd seen him strike the juaroua it might have been
different.  Then their stomachs would have brought them after him, like
a flock of hungry vultures.  But they haven't seen him; and unless
chance guides some one this way we needn't be in any fear for to-day.
As for the morrow, if they'll only stay clear till then, I think I can
keep my promise, and we shall not only be beyond reach of Muras, but out
of this wretched lagoa altogether."

"But you spoke of a plan, good Munday; you have not yet told us what it
is."

"Wait, master," he rejoined; "wait till midnight, till the lights go out
in the Mura village, and perhaps a little longer.  Then you shall know
my plan by seeing it carried into execution."

"But does it not require some preparations?  If so, why not make them
while it is daylight?  It is now near night; and you may not have time."

"Just so, patron; but night is just the preparation I want,--that and
this knife."

Here Munday exhibited his shining blade, which caused the Mura captive
to tremble all over, thinking that his time was come.  During all the
day he had not seen them eat.  They had no chance to kindle a fire for
cooking purposes, apprehensive that the smoke, seen above the tree-tops,
might betray them to the enemy.  Some of them, with stronger stomachs
than the rest, had gnawed a little of the _charqui_ raw.  Most had eaten
nothing, preferring to wait till they should have an opportunity of
cooking it, which the Mundurucu had promised them they should have
before morning of the next day.  Their abstinence was altogether
misunderstood by the Mura.  The wretch thought they were nursing their
hunger to feed upon his flesh.

Could he have seen himself as he was in their eyes, he might have
doubted the possibility of getting up such an appetite.  They had taken
due precautions to prevent his making his escape.  Tied hand and foot by
the toughest sipos that could be procured, he was also further secured
by being fastened to the monguba.  A strong lliana, twisted into a rope,
and with a turn round one of the buttress projections of the roots, held
him, though this was superfluous, since any attempt to slide off into
the water must have terminated by his going to the bottom, with neither
hands nor feet free.

They were determined, however, on making things doubly sure, as they
knew that his escape would be the signal for their destruction.  Should
he succeed in getting free, he would not need his canoe; he could get
back to his village without that, for, as Munday assured them, he could
travel through the trees with the agility of an ape, or through the
water with the power of a fish; and so could all his people, trained to
the highest skill both in climbing and swimming, from the very nature of
their existence.

There was one point upon which Trevannion had had doubts.  That was,
whether they were really in such danger from the proximity of this
people as Munday would have them believe.  But the aspect of this
savage, who could now be contemplated closely, and with perfect
coolness, was fast solving these doubts; for no one could have looked in
his face and noted the hideous expression there depicted without a
feeling of fear, not to say horror.  If his tribe were all like him,--
and the tapuyo declared that many of them were still uglier,--they must
have formed a community which no sane man would have entered except upon
compulsion.

No wonder, then, that our adventurers took particular pains to keep
their captive along with them, since a sure result of his escape would
be that they would furnish a feast for the Mura village.  Had he been
left to himself, Munday would have taken still surer precautions against
his getting off; and it was only in obedience to the sternest commands
of Trevannion that he was withheld from acting up to the old adage,
"Dead men tell no tales."



CHAPTER EIGHTY SIX.

THE CRY OF THE JAGUAR.

The night came on without any untoward incident; but no sooner was the
sun fairly below the horizon than they became aware of a circumstance
that caused them serious annoyance, if not absolute alarm.  They saw the
full round moon rising, and every indication of the most brilliant
moonlight.  The Mundurucu, more than any of them, was chagrined at this,
because of the importance of having a dark night for carrying out his
scheme, whatever it was.  In fact, he had declared that a dark night was
indispensable, or, at all events, one very different from that which the
twilight promised them.

The original intention had been, as soon as night set in, to get the
dead-wood once more into the open water, and then, if the wind should be
in their favour, to bend the sail and glide off in any direction that
would take them away from the malocca.  If there should be no wind, they
could use the paddles and creep round the edge of the lagoa, going as
far as might be before another sun should expose them to view.  It was
doubtful whether they could row the dead-wood, before daybreak, beyond
eyeshot of the savages; but if not, they could again seek concealment
among the tree-tops, and wait for night to continue their retreat.

This intention was likely to be defeated by the clear shining of a
tropical moon.  As she rose higher in the heavens, the lagoa became all
white effulgence; and as there was not the slightest ripple upon the
water, any dark object passing along its surface would have been seen
almost as distinctly as by day.  Even the little canoe could not have
been carried outside the edge of the trees without the danger of being
seen from afar.

That the entrance to the arcade and the tree-line outside could be seen
from the malocca was a thing already determined, for the tapuyo had
tested it during the day.  Through the foliage in front of the village
he could see here and there some portions of the scaffoldings, with the
_toldos_ erected upon them, while its position was also determined by
the smoke rising from the different fires.

As soon as night had come on, he and the young Paraense had made a
reconnoissance, and from the same place saw the reflection of the fires
upon the water below, and the gleaming fires themselves.  Of course they
who sat or stood around them could see them, should they attempt to go
out with the monguba.  This scheme, then, could only be resorted to
should the moon be obscured, or "put out," as Munday said, by clouds or
fog.

Munday admitted that his plan _might_ be put in practice, without the
interposition of either; but in this case it would be ten times more
perilous, and liable to failure.  In any case he did not intend to act
until midnight.  After that, any time would do before the hour of
earliest daybreak.  Confiding in the craft of the old tapuyo, Trevannion
questioned him no further, but along with the rest waited as patiently
as possible for the event.

The water-forest was once more ringing with its nocturnal chorus.
Tree-toads and frogs were sending forth their metallic monotones;
_cicadae_ and lizards were uttering their sharp _skirling_ notes, while
birds of many kinds, night-hawks in the air, _strigidae_ among the
trees, and water-fowl out upon the bosom of the lagoon, were all
responding to one another.  From afar came lugubrious vociferations from
the throats of a troop of howling monkeys that had made their roost
among the branches of some tall, overtopping tree; and once--what was
something strange--was heard a cry different from all the rest, and on
hearing which all the rest suddenly sank into silence.

That was the cry of the jaguar tiger, the tyrant of the South American
forest.  Munday recognised it on the instant, and so did the others; for
they had heard it often before, while descending the Solimoes.  It would
have been nothing strange to have heard it on the banks of the mighty
river, or any of its tributaries.  But in the Gapo, it was not only
strange, but significant, that scream of the jaguar.  "Surely," said
Trevannion on hearing it, "surely we must be in the neighbourhood of
land."

"How, patron?" replied the Mundurucu, to whom the remark was
particularly addressed.  "Because we hear the voice of the _jauarite_?
Sometimes the great tiger gets overtaken by the inundation, and then,
like ourselves, has to take to the tree-tops.  But, unlike us, he can
swim whenever he pleases, and his instinct soon guides him to the land.
Besides, there are places in the Gapo where the land is above water,
tracts of high ground that during the _vasante_ become islands.  In
these the _jauarite_ delights to dwell.  No fear of his starving there,
since he has his victims enclosed, as it were, in a prison, and he can
all the more conveniently lay his claws upon them.  The cry of that
_jauarite_ is no sure sign of dry land.  The beast may be twenty miles
from _terra firma_."

While they were thus conversing, the cry of the jaguar once more
resounded among the tree-tops, and again was succeeded by silence on the
part of the other inhabitants of the forest.

There was one exception, however; one kind of creatures not terrified
into stillness by the voice of the great cat, whose own voices now heard
in the interval of silence, attracted the attention of the listeners.
They were the Muras.  Sent forth from the malocca, their shouts came
pealing across the water, and entered the shadowy aisle where our
adventurers sat in concealment, with tones well calculated to cause
fear; for nothing in the Gapo gave forth a harsher or more lugubrious
chant.

Munday, however, who had a thorough knowledge of the habits of his
national enemies, interpreted their tones in a different sense, and drew
good augury from them.  He said that, instead of grief, they betokened
joy.  Some bit of good luck had befallen them, such as the capture of a
cow-fish, or a half-score of monkeys.  The sounds signified feasting and
frolic.  There was nothing to denote that the sullen savage by their
side was missed from among them.  Certainly he was not mourned in the
malocca.

The interpretation of the tapuyo fell pleasantly upon the ears of his
auditors, and for a while they felt hopeful.  But the gloom soon came
back, at sight of that brilliant moon,--a sight that otherwise should
have cheered them,--as she flooded the forest with her silvery light,
till her rich rays, scintillating through the leafy llianas, fell like
sparks upon the sombre surface of the water arcade.



CHAPTER EIGHTY SEVEN.

THE MOON PUT OUT.

Midnight came, and still the moon shone too clear and bright.

Munday began to show uneasiness and anxiety.  Several times had he taken
that short swim, like an otter from its earth or a beaver from its
dome-shaped dwelling, each time returning to his companions upon the
log, but with no sign of his having been gratified by the excursion.
About the sixth trip since night had set in, he came swimming back to
the dead-wood with a more pleased expression upon his countenance.

"You've seen something that gratifies you?" said Trevannion,
interrogatively; "or heard it, perhaps?"

"Seen it," was the laconic reply.

"What?"

"A cloud."

"A cloud!  Well?"

"Not much of a cloud, patron; no bigger than the spread skin of the
cow-fish there; but it's in the east, and therefore in the direction of
Gran Para.  That means much."

"What difference can it make in what direction it is?"

"Every difference!  If from Gran Para 'tis up the great river.  Up the
great river means rain,--perhaps thunder, lightning, a storm.  A storm
is just what we want."

"O, now I see what you mean.  Well?"

"I must go back to the mouth of the _igarape_, and take another look at
the sky.  Have patience, patron, and pray for me to return with good
news."  So saying, the tapuyo once again slipped down into the water,
and swam towards the entrance of the arcade.

For a full half-hour was he absent; but long before his return the news
he was to bring back had been told by signs that anticipated him.  The
moonbeams, hitherto seen striking here and there through the thinner
screen of the foliage, had been growing dimmer and dimmer, until they
were no longer discernible, and uniform darkness prevailed under the
shadow of the trees.  So dark had it become, that, when the swimmer
returned to the ceiba, they were only warned of his approach by the
slight plashing of his arms, and the next moment he was with them.

"The time has come," said he, "for carrying out my scheme.  I've not
been mistaken in what I saw.  The cloud, a little bit ago not bigger
than the skin of the juaroua, will soon cover the whole sky.  The rags
upon its edge are already blinding the moon; and by the time we can get
under the scaffolds of the malocca it will be dark enough for our
purpose."

"What! the scaffolds of the malocca!  You intend going there?"

"That is the intention, patron."

"Alone?"

"No.  I want one with me,--the young master."

"But there is great danger, is there not?" suggested Trevannion, "in
going--"

"In going there is," interrupted the tapuyo; "but more in not going.  If
we succeed, we shall be all safe, and there's an end of it.  If we
don't, we have to die, and that's the other end of it, whatever we may
do."

"But why not try our first plan?  It's now dark enough outside.  Why
can't we get off upon the raft?"

"Dark enough, as you say, patron.  But you forget that it is now near
morning.  We couldn't paddle this log more than a mile before the sun
would be shining upon us, and then--"

"Dear uncle," interposed the young Paraense, "don't interfere with his
plans.  No doubt he knows what is best to be done.  If I am to risk my
life, it is nothing more than we're all doing now.  Let Munday have his
way.  No fear but we shall return safe.  Do, dear uncle! let him have
his way."

As Munday had already informed them, no preparation was needed,--only
his knife and a dark night.  Both were now upon him, the knife in his
waist-strap, and the dark night over his head.  One other thing was
necessary to the accomplishment of his purpose,--the captured canoe,
which was already prepared, laying handy alongside the log.

With a parting salute to all,--silent on the part of the tapuyo, but
spoken by the young Paraense, a hope of speedy return, an assurance of
it whispered in the ear of Rosita,--the canoe was shoved off, and soon
glided out into the open lagoa.



CHAPTER EIGHTY EIGHT.

AN HOUR OF SUSPENSE.

Scarce had the canoe with its living freight faded out of sight, when
Trevannion repented his rashness in permitting his nephew to risk his
life in a scheme so ill understood as the tapuyo's.

He had no suspicion of the Indian's good faith.  It was not that that
caused him regret; only a certain compunction for having so easily
consented to expose to a dread danger the life of his brother's son,--a
life intrusted to his care, and for which he should be held answerable
by that brother, should it be his fortune ever to see him again.

But it was of no use to indulge in these regrets.  They were now idle.
The act which had caused them was beyond recall.  The canoe must go on
to its destination.  What was that?  Trevannion could not even
conjecture.  He only knew that Munday had started for the malocca; but
his purpose in going there was as much a mystery as though he had
pretended to have gone on a voyage to the moon.

Trevannion even felt angry with the tapuyo, now that he was out of
reach, for having concealed the plan of his enterprise and the extent of
the danger to be encountered.  But there was now no alternative but to
await the return of the tapuyo, or the time that would tell he was never
more to return.

It had been fixed by the Indian himself, in a speech whispered into the
ear of Trevannion as he pushed off the canoe.  It was this: "A word,
patron!  If we're not back before daylight, stay where you are till
to-morrow night.  Then, if it be dark, do as we proposed for to-night.
Steal out and away.  But don't fear of our failing.  I only say that for
the worst.  The Mundurucu has no fear.  _Pa terra_! in an hour's time we
shall be back, bringing with us what we're in need of,--something that
will carry us clear of our enemies and of the Gapo."

So the party remained seated on the log.  Each had his own conjecture
about Munday's plan, though all acknowledged it to be a puzzle.

The surmise of Tipperary Tom was sufficiently original.  "I wondher
now," said he, "if the owld chap manes to set fire to their town!
Troth, it's loike enough that's what he's gone afther.  Masther Dick
sayed it was ericted upon scaffolds wid bames of wood an' huts upon them
that looked loike the laves of threes or dry grass.  Shure them would
blaze up loike tindher, an' create a moighty conflagrayshin."

The opinion of Tom's auditors did not altogether coincide with his.  To
set the malocca on fire, even if such a thing were possible, could do no
good.  The inhabitants would be in no danger from conflagration.  They
would only have to leap into the flood to save themselves from the fire;
and, as they could all swim like water-rats, they would soon recover a
footing among the trees.  Besides, they had their great rafts and
canoes, that would enable them to go wherever they wished.  They could
soon erect other scaffolds, and construct other huts upon them.
Moreover, as Munday and Richard had informed them, the scaffolds of the
malocca were placed a score of yards apart.  The flames of one would not
communicate with the other through the green foliage of that humid
forest.  To fire the whole village with any chance of success, it would
be necessary to have an incendiary under each scaffold, all applying the
torch together.  It could not be for that purpose the tapuyo had gone
forth.

While engaged in the debate, they got so engrossed by it as to become
neglectful of a duty enjoined upon them by the tapuyo, to keep a strict
watch over the captive.  It was Tipperary Tom and the Mozambique, who
had been charged with this guardianship.  Both, however, confident that
it was impossible for the savage to untie himself, had only glanced now
and then to see that he was there, his bronze-coloured body being
scarcely visible in the obscurity.

As it grew darker, it was at length impossible for them to distinguish
the captive from the brown surface of the ceiba, except by stooping down
over him, and this both neglected to do.  Little dreamt they of the sort
of creature they were dealing with, who could have claimed rivalry with
the most accomplished professors of the famous rope-tricks.

As soon as he saw that the eyes of his sentinels were no longer upon
him, he wriggled himself out of the sipos with as much ease as if he had
been an eel, and, sliding gently from the log, swam off.

It was a full half-hour after his departure before either of the
sentinels thought of giving any attention to the state of their
prisoner.  When they did so, it was to find him gone, and the coils of
tree-rope lying loosely upon the log.  With simultaneous exclamations of
alarm, they turned towards Trevannion, and then all looked in the
direction of the lagoa, thinking they might see a swimmer going out.
Instead of that they saw, through the dim light, what appeared to be a
fleet of canoes, with men in them violently wielding their paddles, and
directing their crafts right into the arcade!



CHAPTER EIGHTY NINE.

SCUTTLING THE CANOES.

The Mundurucu and his young companion, having paddled their craft out of
the little creek, turned its head towards the Mura village.  Though the
fires were no longer blazing so brightly as at an earlier hour of the
night, there was still a red glow seen here and there, that told the
position of the scaffolds, and served as a beacon to direct their
course.  But they needed no such pilotage.  The border of the forest was
their guide, and along this they went, taking care to keep close in
under its shadow.  It was dark enough out upon the open water to prevent
their being observed; but the Mundurucu was accustomed to act with
extreme circumspection, and more than ever since the mistake we recorded
some time before.

As the malocca was but a short distance from the forest border, the
tree-line would bring them close to its water frontage.  Beyond that he
could trust to the guidance of the surrounding fires.

Less than half an hour's use of the paddle--its blade dipped gently in
the water--brought them within a hundred yards of the outskirts of the
village.  Although the expedition was not to end here, it was not their
design to take the canoe any farther.  I say _their_ design, for by this
time the young Paraense had been made acquainted with his companion's
purpose.  The chief reason why Munday had not disclosed it to Trevannion
was, that the patron, deeming it too dangerous, might have put a veto
upon its execution.  What this plan was, will be learnt by a relation of
the mode in which it was carried out.

Tying the canoe to a tree in such a way that they could easily detach it
again, the two slipped over the gunwale, and laid themselves silently
along the water.  Each was provided with a swimming-belt; for the task
they had undertaken might require them to remain a good while afloat;
and, moreover, it would be necessary for them now and then to remain
still, without making any noise by striking the water to sustain
themselves, while, furthermore, they would need at times to have both
arms free for a different purpose.  Thus accoutred, and Munday armed
with his knife, they swam under the scaffolds.

They were careful not to cause the slightest commotion,--careful, too,
to keep out of the narrow belts of light that fell slantingly from the
fires above.  These were becoming fewer, and fast fading, as the fires,
one after another, went out.  It appeared certain that the whole village
was asleep.  No human form was seen, no voice heard; no sign of human
beings, save the scaffolding that had been constructed by them, and the
half-score of boats in the water underneath, moored to the trunks of the
supporting trees.

It was to these vessels that the Mundurucu was directing himself and his
coadjutor.  Though his eyes were everywhere, his mind was fixed upon
them.  There were, in all, about half a score of them, six being
_igarites_, or canoes rudely constructed of tree-bark, similar in shape
and fashion to that they had just parted from, but three of them of
larger size, each capable of containing about eight men.  The others
were large rafts or punts of rude fabrication, each big enough to
support a toldo hut, with a whole family, and a number of friends to
boot.

Only to the canoes did the tapuyo direct his attention.  On swimming
past the punts he did not even stay to regard them.  To all the
igarites, however, except one,--and it the largest,--he paid a visit;
stopping a considerable time alongside each, but lying so low in the
water that only his head could have been seen above the surface, and
scarcely that through the treble shadow of the night, the scaffolds, and
the tree-tops.  It was only visible to his companion, whose face was all
the while within three feet of his own, and whose hands were employed in
assisting him in his subtle task.  What was this task, so silent and
mysterious?

In each of the five canoes to which the swimmers had paid their silent
visit, and just after their departure from it, could have been heard a
gurgling sound, as of water gushing up through a hole in the bottom.  It
was heard, but only by him who had made the hole and the companion who
had held the craft in its place while the knife-blade was accomplishing
its purpose.  To its sharp point the soft tree-bark had yielded, and in
ten minutes' time the five canoes, one after another, were scuttled,
and, if left to themselves, in a fair way of going to the bottom.

But they were not left to themselves.  They would have been, but for the
negligence of Tom and the sable Mozambique.  Just as the scuttlers had
concluded their part of the task, and were about to climb into the sixth
canoe, that had been left seaworthy, a dark form that might have been
taken for some demon of the flood was seen to rise out of the water, and
stand dripping upon one of the rafts.  It stood only for a second or
two,--just long enough to draw breath,--and then, laying hold of a
knotted lliana that formed a sort of stair, it climbed to the
scaffolding above.

Dim as was the light, the Mundurucu recognised the dripping climber as
the captive he had left on the log.  "_Santos dios_!" he muttered, in a
hoarse whisper, "'tis the Mura.  They've let him escape, and now we're
discovered.  Quick, young master.  Into the igarite.  All right; there
are two paddles: you take one, I the other.  There's not a moment to be
lost.  In ten minutes more we should have been safe; but now--see! they
are filling fast.  Good!  If he gives us but ten minutes before raising
the alarm--Ha! there it is.  Off! off!"

While the tapuyo was speaking, still in a muttered undertone, a wild
yell was heard upon the scaffolding above.  It was a signal sent forth
by the returned captive to warn his slumbering nation, not that their
navy was being scattered in its very dock by an unknown enemy, for he
had neither seen the scuttler nor suspected what had been going on, but
simply to tell his tribe of the adventure that had befallen himself, and
conduct them in all haste to the spot where he had parted from his
detested but careless captors.  He had seen the two of them go off in
the igarite, impudently appropriating his own vessel before his face.
Where could they have gone, but to make a nocturnal investigation of the
malocca?

It was for this reason he had himself approached it so stealthily, not
raising any note of alarm until he felt safe upon the scaffolding of his
own habitation.  Then did he send forth that horrid haloo-loo.

Scarce had its echoes ceased to reverberate through the village, when it
was answered by a hundred voices, all shouting in a similar strain, all
giving a response to the tribe's cry of alarm.  Men could be heard
springing from their hammocks, and dropping down upon the platforms, the
timbers of which creaked under quick, resonant footsteps.  In the dim
light some were seen hastily snatching up their bows, and preparing to
descend to their canoes, little suspecting that they would find them
scuttled and already half swamped.

As Munday had said, there was not a moment to be lost; and, acting up to
his words, he did not permit one to be lost.  In the large igarite
propelled by the two paddles, he and his assistant stole off among the
trees, and were soon out upon the lagoa, pulling, as fast as their
strength and skill would permit them, in the direction of the creek.



CHAPTER NINETY.

THE LOG LEFT BEHIND.

The escape of their captive had caused the keenest apprehensions to the
people upon the raft, which were scarce intensified at the sight of the
canoe entering the arcade.

By the simplest reasoning they had leaped to the quick conclusion that
the latter was but the sequence of the former.  The Mura had swum back
to his malocca.  They knew he could easily do it.  He had _learned_ his
kindred, and it was they who now manned the igarite that was making
approach.  It was only the first of a whole fleet.  No doubt there was a
score of others coming on behind, each containing its complement of
cannibals.  The manatee-hunter had got back to his village in time to
tell of the two who had gone there in his own canoe.  These, unaware of
his escape, had, in all probability, been surprised and taken prisoners.
Shouts had been heard from the village just before the man was missed.
It was this, in fact, that had caused them to think of their prisoner.
On finding that he had given them the slip, they interpreted the shouts
in two ways.  They were either salutations of welcome to the returned
captive, or cries of triumph over the death or capture of the tapuyo and
his companion.

More like the latter.  So thought they upon the log; and the thought was
strengthened by the appearance of the big canoe at the entrance of the
arcade.  Its crew were Mura savages, guided to their place of
concealment by him who had stolen away.

These conjectures, varied though they were, passed through their minds
with the rapidity of thought itself; for scarce ten seconds had elapsed
from the time of their sighting the canoe until it was close up to the
ceiba.

Then to their great joy, they saw they had been reasoning wrongly.  The
two forms had been magnified into ten, partly through the deception of
the dim light, and partly because they had been springing from side to
side while paddling the canoe and steering it into the creek.

As they drew near, the others could see that they were in a state of the
wildest excitement, working with all their strength, and gazing
anxiously behind them.

"Quick, uncle," cried Richard, as the igarite struck against the
dead-wood.  "Quick! all of you get aboard here."

"_Pa terra_!" added the tapuyo.  "Do as he tells you.  By letting your
prisoner get off you've spoiled my plans.  There's no time to talk now.
Into the igarite!  If the others are still afloat--then--then--Haste,
patron!  Everybody into the igarite!"

As the Indian gave these directions, he himself sprang on to the log;
and tearing down the skin sail, he flung it into the canoe.  After it he
pitched several pieces of the charqui, and then descended himself.

By this time all the others had taken their seats in the canoe, Richard
having caught little Rosa in his arms as she sprang down.

There was not a moment of delay.  The two paddles belonging to the
igarite were grasped, one by Munday himself, the other by the negro, who
was next best rower, while the two bladed with the bones of the cow-fish
were in the hands of Trevannion and his nephew.

There were thus four available oars to the craft, that promised a fair
degree of speed.

With a last look at the log that had carried them safely, though
slowly,--a look that, under other circumstances, might have been given
with regret,--they parted from it, and in a score of seconds they had
cleared the craft from the branches of the trees, and were out upon the
bosom of the lagoa.

"In what direction?" inquired Trevannion, as for a moment their strokes
were suspended.

"Stay a minute, patron," replied the tapuyo, as he stood up in the
igarite and gazed over the water in the direction of the Mura village.
"Before starting, it's as well to know whether they are able to follow
us.  If not, it's no use killing ourselves by hard work."

"You think there's a chance they may not come after us?"

"A chance,--yes.  It would have been a certainty if you had not let that
ape loose.  We should now be as safe from pursuit as if a hundred
leagues lay between us and them.  As it is, I have my fears; there was
not time for them to go down,--not all of them.  The small ones may, but
the big igarite,--it would be still afloat; they could bale out and
caulk up again.  After all, it won't carry the whole tribe, and there's
something in that,--there's something in that."

While the tapuyo thus talked he was standing with his head craned out
beyond the edge of the igarite, scanning the water in the direction of
the village.  His final words were but the involuntary utterance of what
was passing in his mind, and not addressed to his companions.  Richard
alone knew the meaning, for as yet the others had received no
explanation of what had passed under the scaffolds.  There was no time
to give a detailed account of that.  It would be soon enough when the
igarite was fairly on its way, and they became assured of their safety.

No one pressed for an explanation.  All, even Trevannion himself, felt
humiliated by the thought that they had neglected their duty, and the
knowledge that but for that very neglect the danger that threatened them
would have been now at an end.

The dawn was already beginning to appear along the eastern horizon, and
although it was far from daylight, there was no longer the deep darkness
that but a short while before shrouded the water.  Out on the lagoa, at
any point within the circumference of a mile, a large object, such as a
canoe, could have been seen.  There was none in sight.

This looked well.  Perfect stillness reigned around the Mura village.
There was no human voice to be heard, where but the moment before there
had been shouting and loud talking, both men and women taking part in
what appeared a confused conversation.  The fires, too, were out, or at
all events no longer visible from the lagoa.

Munday remarked that the silence augured ill.  "I fear they are too busy
to be making a noise," said he.  "Their keeping quiet argues that they
have the means, as well as the intention, to come after us.  If they had
not, you would hear their howls of disappointment.  Yes: we may be sure
of it.  They're emptying such of their canoes as may still be above
water."

"Emptying their canoes! what mean you by that?"

Munday then explained the nature of his late expedition, now that its
failure could no longer be charged upon himself.  A few words sufficed
to make the whole thing understood, the others admiring the bold
ingenuity of the plan as strongly as they regretted having given cause
for its being frustrated.

Though no pursuers had as yet appeared, that was no reason why they
should stay an instant longer by the entrance to the arcade; so, once
more handling the paddles, they put the great igarite to its best speed.



CHAPTER NINETY ONE.

THE ENEMY IN SIGHT.

There was no debating the question as to the course they should take.
This was opposite to the direction in which lay the malocca.  In other
words, they struck out for the open water, almost in the same track by
which they had come from the other bide while navigating the tree-trunk.

Trevannion had suggested keeping "in shore" and under the shadow of the
tree-tops.

"No use," said the tapuyo; "in ten minutes more there will be light over
the water.  We'll be seen all the same, and by following the line of the
forest we should give our pursuers the advantage; they, by keeping
straight across, would easily overtake us.  The trees go round in a
circle, don't you see?"

"True," replied Trevannion; "I did not think of that.  It is to be hoped
we shall not have pursuers."

"If we have they will soon come up with us, for they have more paddles,
and are better skilled in the use of them; if they come after us at all,
they will be sure to overtake us."

"Then we shall be captured,--perhaps destroyed."  This was spoken in a
whisper in the ear of the tapuyo.

"It don't follow,--one or the other.  If it did, I shouldn't have much
hope in handling this bit of a stick.  We may be pursued, overtaken, and
still get off in the end.  They may not like close quarters any more
than we.  That, you see, depends on how many of their vessels are gone
to the bottom, and how many are still afloat.  If more than half that
were scuttled have sunk, we may dread their arrows more than their oars.
If more than half are above water, we shall be in more danger from
their speed."

Notwithstanding the enigmatical character of the tapuyo's speeches,
Trevannion, as well as the others, was able to understand them.  He
simply meant that, if the enemy were left without a sufficient number of
canoes to pursue them in large force, they would not think of boarding,
but would keep at a distance, using their arrows in the attack.

It was by no means a pleasant prospect; still, it was pleasanter than
the thought of coming to close quarters with a crowd of cannibal
savages, and being either hacked to pieces with their knives, clubbed to
death with their _macanas_, or dragged overboard and drowned in the
lagoa.

"In five minutes more," continued the tapuyo, "we shall know the best or
the worst.  By that time it will be light enough to see in under the
trees yonder.  By that time, if they have a single igarite above water,
she'll be baled out.  By that time they should be after us.  If we don't
see them in five minutes, we need never look for them again."

A minute--another--a third elapsed, and still no appearance of pursuers
or pursuit.  Slower still seemed the fourth, though it too passed, and
no movement on the water.  Every heart beat with hope that the time
would transpire without any change.  But, alas! it was not to be so.
The black line was broken by the bow of a canoe, and in an instant after
the craft itself was seen gliding out from under the shadow of the
trees.  The tapuyo's prediction was fulfilled.

"The big igarite!" he exclaimed.  "Just what I had fears of; I doubted
its going down in time.  Eight in it!  Well, that's nothing, if the
others have sunk."

"But stay a moment," returned Richard; "see yonder!  Another coming out,
farther down to the right!"

"That's the cockle-shell we took from the harpooner.  There are two in
it, which is all it will hold.  Only ten, as yet.  Good! if that's their
whole strength, we needn't fear their coming to close quarters.  Good!"

"I can make out no more," said the young Paraense, who had suspended
paddling to get a better view of the pursuers.  "I think there are no
more."

"Just my thoughts," rejoined the tapuyo.  "I had that idea all along.  I
was sure the small craft had gone down.  You remember we heard a
splashing before we got well off,--it was caused by the sinking of the
igarites.  Our hope is that only the big one has kept afloat.  As yet I
see no others."

"Nor I," added Richard.  "No, there are but the two."

"Thank Heaven for that!" exclaimed Trevannion.  "There will be but ten
against us.  Though we are not equal in numbers, surely we should be a
match for such puny savages as these.  O that we only had arms!"

As he said this, the ex-miner looked into the bottom of the canoe to see
what there was available in the way of weapons.  There was the pashuba
spear, which Munday had pitched in along with the strips of charqui; and
there was another weapon equally effective in hands skilled in its use.
It was a sort of barbed javelin or harpoon, the one with which the
manatee-hunter had struck the juaroua.  During the day, while doing
nothing else, Munday had amused himself by completing the conquest of
the peixe-boi, which he found, by the line and float, had got entangled
among the tree-tops.  Its carcass had been left where it was killed, for
it was the weapon only which he coveted.  In addition to these, there
were the paddles,--those manufactured from the shoulder-blades of the
cow-fish,--looking like weapons that it would be awkward to have come in
contact with one's skull in a hostile encounter.  Last, and not least to
be depended upon, there was the tapuyo's own knife, in the use of which
he had already given proofs of his skill.  In a hand-to-hand contest
with ten savages, armed as these might be, there was not so much to be
dreaded.

But Munday assured them that there would be no danger of a close fight.
There were no more canoes in sight.  Twenty minutes had now elapsed
since the two had shot out from the trees, and if there had been others
they would long since have declared themselves.  Arrows or javelins were
the only weapons they would have to dread; and with these they would
most certainly be assailed.

"They'll be sure to overtake us," said he; "there are six of them at the
paddles, and it's easy to see that they're already gaining ground.
That's no reason why we should wait till they come up.  When the fight
takes place, the farther we're away from their village the better for
us; as who knows but they may fish up some of their swamped canoes, and
come at us with a reserve force.  To the paddles, then, and pull for our
lives!"



CHAPTER NINETY TWO.

THE CHASE.

On swept the igarite containing the crew of our adventurers; on came its
kindred craft, manned by savage men, with the little canoe close
following, like a tender in the wake of a huge man-of-war.  They were
not long in doubt as to what would be the upshot of the chase.  It had
not continued half an hour before it became clear, to pursuers as well
as pursued, that the distance between the two large igarites was
gradually growing less.  Gradually, but not rapidly; for although there
were six paddles plying along the sides of the pursuers and only four on
the pursued, the rate of speed was not so very unequal.

The eight full-grown savages--no doubt the picked men of their tribe--
were more than a fair complement for their craft, that lay with gunwales
low down in the water.  In size she was somewhat less than that which
carried our adventurers; and this, along with the heavier freight, was
against her.  For all this, she was gaining ground sufficiently fast to
make the lessening of the distance perceptible.

The pursued kept perfect silence, for they had no spirit to be noisy.
They could not help feeling apprehensive.  They knew that the moment the
enemy got within arrow's reach of them they would be in danger of death.
Well might such a thought account for their silence.

Not so with their savage pursuers.  These could be in no danger unless
by their own choice.  They had the advantage, and could carry on war
with perfect security to themselves.  It would not be necessary for them
to risk an encounter empty-handed so long as their arrows lasted; and
they could have no fear of entering into the fight.  Daring where there
was no danger, and noisy where there was no occasion, they pressed on in
the pursuit, their wild yells sent pealing across the water to strike
terror into the hearts of the enemy.

Our adventurers felt no craven fear, not a thought of surrender, not an
idea of submitting to be taken captives.  By the most solemn
asseverations the tapuyo had assured them that it would be of no use,
and they need expect no mercy from the Muras.  He had said so from the
first; but now, after having taken one of their number captive and
treated him with contempt, after scuttling their fleet of igarites,
their natural instinct of cruelty would be intensified by a thirst for
revenge, and no quarter need be looked for by any one who might fall
into their hands.

Remembering the hideous creature who had escaped, seeing him again in
his canoe as the pursuers came within distinguishing distance, seeing
nine of his comrades quite as hideous as himself, and some of them in
appearance far more formidable, the statement of the tapuyo did not fail
to have an effect.

The crew of the chased igarite gave up all thought of surrender, each
declaring his determination to fight to the death.  Such was their mood
when the savages arrived within bowshot.

The first act of hostility was a flight of arrows, which fell short of
the mark.  Seeing that the distance was too great for them to do any
havoc, the six who had been propelling the igarite dropped their bows,
and once more took to the paddles.

The other two, however, with the spare man in the little canoe, were
free to carry on their arrowy assault; and all three continued to twang
their bows, sending shaft after shaft towards the chased igarite.  Only
one of the three appeared to have much skill in his aim or strength in
his arm.  The arrows of the other two either fell short or wide of the
object aimed at, while his came plump into the igarite.

He had already sent three,--the first passing through the broad-spread
ear of the negro,--no mean mark; the second scratching up the skin upon
Tom's cheek; while the third, fired aloft into the air, dropped down
upon the skin of the peixe-boi that sheltered little Rosa in the bottom
of the boat, penetrating the thick, tough hide, and almost impaling the
pretty creature underneath it.

This dangerous marksman was identified.  He was the hero of the
harpoon,--the captive who had given them the slip; and certain it is
that he took more pains with his aim, and put more strength into his
pull, than any of his competitors.

His fourth arrow was looked for with fearful apprehension.  It came
whistling across the water.  It passed through the arm of his greatest
enemy,--the man he most desired it to pierce,--the Mundurucu.

The tapuyo started up from his stooping attitude, at the same time
dropping his paddle, not upon the water, but into the igarite.  The
arrow was only through the flesh.  It did nothing to disable him, and he
had surrendered the oar with an exclamation of anger more than pain.
The shaft was still sticking in his left arm.  With the right he pulled
it out, drawing the feather through the wound, and then flung it away.

In another instant he had taken up the harpoon, with the long cord still
attached to it, and which he had already secured to the stern of the
igarite.  In still another he was seen standing near the stern,
balancing the weapon for a throw.  One more instant and the barbed
javelin was heard passing with a crash through the ribs of the savage
archer!  "Pull on! pull on!" cried he; and the three paddlers responded
to the cry, while the pursuing savages, astounded by what they had seen,
involuntarily suspended their stroke, and the harpooner, impaled upon
the barbed weapon, was jerked into the water and towed off after the
igarite, like one of his own floats in the wake of a cow-fish.

A wild cry was sent forth from the canoe of the savages.  Nor was it
unanswered from the igarite containing the crew of civilised men.  The
negro could not restrain his exultation; while Tom, who had nothing else
to do, sprang to his feet, tossed his arms into the air, and gave tongue
to the true Donnybrook Challenge.

For a time the pursuers did nothing.  Their paddles were in hands that
appeared suddenly paralysed.  Astonishment held them stiff as statues.

Stirred at length by the instinct of revenge, they were about to pull
on.  Some had plunged their oar-blades into the water, when once more
the stroke was suspended.

They perceived that they were near enough to the retreating foe.
Nearer, and their lives would be in danger.  The dead body of their
comrade had been hauled up to the stern of the great igarite.  The
harpoon had been recovered, and was once more in the hands of him who
had hurled it with such fatal effect.

Dropping their bladed sticks, they again betook them to their bows.  A
shower of arrows came around the igarite, but none fell with fatal
effect.  The body of their best archer had gone to the bottom of the
Gapo.  Another flight fell short, and the savage bowmen saw the
necessity of returning to their paddles.

Failing to do so, they would soon be distanced in the chase.  This time
they rowed nearer, disregarding the dangerous range of that ponderous
projectile to which their comrade had succumbed.  Rage and revenge now
rendered them reckless; and once more they seized upon their weapons.

They were now less than twenty yards from the igarite.  They were
already adjusting the arrows to their bow-strings.  A flight of nine
going all together could not fail to bring down one or more of the
enemy.

For the first time our adventurers were filled with fear.  The bravest
could not have been otherwise.  They had no defence,--nothing to shield
them from the threatening shower.  All might be pierced by the barbed
shafts, already pointing towards the igarite.  Each believed that in
another moment there might be an arrow through his heart.

It was a moment of terrible suspense, but our adventurers saw the
savages suddenly drop their bows, some after sending a careless shot,
with a vacillating, pusillanimous aim, and others without shooting at
all.  They saw them all looking down into the bottom of their boat, as
if there, and not elsewhere, was to be seen their most dangerous enemy.

The hole cut by the knife had opened.  The caulking, careless from the
haste in which it had been done, had come away.  The canoe containing
the pursuers was swamped, in less than a score of seconds after the leak
had been discovered.  Now there was but one large canoe upon the lagoa,
and one small one,--the latter surrounded by eight dark human heads,
each spurting and blowing, as if a small school of porpoises was at play
upon the spot.

Our adventurers had nothing further to fear from pursuit by the savages,
who would have enough to do to save their own lives; for the swim that
was before them, ere they could recover footing upon the scaffolds of
the malocca, would tax their powers to the utmost extent.

How the castaways meant to dispose of themselves was known to the crew
of the igarite before the latter had been paddled out of sight.  One or
two of them were observed clinging to the little canoe, and at length
getting into it.  These, weak swimmers, no doubt, were left in
possession of the craft, while the others, knowing that it could not
carry them all, were seen to turn round and swim off towards the
malocca, like rats escaping from a scuttled ship.

In twenty minutes' time, both they and the fishing-canoe were out of
sight, and the great igarite that carried Trevannion and his fortunes
was alone upon the lagoa.



CHAPTER NINETY THREE.

CONCLUSION.

A volume might be filled with the various incidents and adventures that
befell the ex-miner and his people before they arrived at Gran Para,--
for at Gran Para, did they at length arrive.  But as these bore a
certain resemblance to those already detailed, the reader is spared the
relation of them.  A word only as to how they got out of the Gapo.

Provided with the Indian igarite, which, though a rude kind of craft,
was a great improvement upon the dead-wood,--provided also with four
tolerable paddles, and the skin of the cow-fish for a sail,--they felt
secure of being able to navigate the flooded forest in any direction
where open water might be found.

Their first thought was to get out of the lagoa.  So long as they
remained within the boundaries of that piece of open water, so long
would their solicitude be keen and continuous.  The savages might again
come in search of them.  Prompted by their cannibal instincts, or by
revenge for the loss of one of their tribe, they would be almost certain
to do so.  The total destruction of their fleet might cause delay.  But
then there might be another malocca belonging to a kindred tribe,--
another fleet of igarites not far off; and this might be made available.

With these probabilities in view, our adventurers gave their whole
attention to getting clear of the lagoa.  Was it land-locked, or rather
"tree-locked,"--hemmed in on all sides by the flooded forest?  This was
a question that no one could answer, though it was the one that was of
first and greatest importance.

After the termination of the chase, however, or as soon as they believed
themselves out of sight, not only of their foiled foemen, but their
friends at the malocca, they changed their course, steering the igarite
almost at right angles to the line of pursuit.

By guidance of the hand of God, they steered in the right direction.  As
soon as they came within sight of the trees, they perceived a wide
water-way opening out of the lagoa, and running with a clear line to the
horizon beyond.  Through this they directed the igarite, and, favoured
by a breeze blowing right upon their stern, they rigged up their rude
sail.  With this to assist their paddling, they made good speed, and had
soon left the lagoa many miles behind them.

They saw no more of the Muras.  But though safe, as they supposed
themselves, from pursuit, and no longer uneasy about the ape-like
Indians, they were still very far from being delivered.  They were yet
in the Gapo,--that wilderness of water-forests,--yet exposed to its
thousands of dangers.

They found themselves in a labyrinth of what appeared to be lakes, with
land around them, and islands scattered over their surface,
communicating with each other by canals or straits, all bordered with a
heavy forest.  But they knew there was no land,--nothing but tree-tops
laced together with llianas, and supporting heavy masses of parasitical
plants.

For days they wandered through its wild solitudes, here crossing a
stretch of open water, there exploring some wide canal or narrow
_igarape_, perhaps to find it terminating in a _cul-de-sac_, or
_bolson_, as the Spaniards term it, hemmed in on all sides by an
impenetrable thicket of tree-tops, when there was no alternative but to
paddle back again.  Sometimes these false thoroughfares would lure them
on for miles, and several hours--on one occasion a whole day--would be
spent in fruitless navigation.

It was a true wilderness through which they were wandering, but
fortunately for them it had a character different from that of a desert.
So far from this, it more resembled a grand garden, or orchard, laid
for a time under inundation.

Many kinds of fruits were met with,--strange kinds that had never been
seen by them before; and upon some of these they subsisted.  The
Mundurucu alone knew them,--could tell which were to be eaten and which
avoided.  Birds, too, came in their way, all eaten by the Indians, as
also various species of arboreal quadrupeds and quadrumana.  The killing
and capturing of these, with the gathering of nuts and fruits to supply
their simple larder, afforded them frequent opportunities of amusement,
that did much to beguile the tediousness of their trackless straying.
Otherwise it would have been insupportable; otherwise they would have
starved.

None of them afterwards was ever able to tell how long this Gypsy life
continued,--how long they were afloat in the forest.  Engrossed with the
thought of getting out of it, they took no note of time, nor made
registry of the number of suns that rose and set upon their tortuous
wanderings.  There were days in which they saw not the sun, hidden from
their sight by the umbrageous canopy of gigantic trees, amidst the
trunks of which, and under their deep shadows, they rowed the igarite.

But if not known how long they roamed through this wilderness, much less
can it be told how long they might have remained within its mazes, but
for a heaven-sent vision that one morning broke upon their eyes as their
canoe shot out into a stretch of open water.

They saw a ship,--a ship sailing through the forest!

True, it was not a grand ship of the ocean,--a seventy-four, a frigate,
or a trader of a thousand tons; nevertheless it was a ship, in the
general acceptation of the term, with hull, masts, spars, sails, and
rigging.  It was a two-masted schooner, a trader of the Solimoes.

The old tapuyo knew it at a glance, and hailed it with a cheer.  He knew
the character of the craft.  In such he had spent some of the best years
of his life, himself one of the crew.  Its presence was proof that they
were once more upon their way, as the schooner was upon hers.

"Going down," said the tapuyo, "going down to Gran Para.  I can tell by
the way she is laden.  Look yonder.  _Sarsaparilla, Vanilla, Cascarilla,
Maulega de Tortugos, Sapucoy_, and _Tonka_ beans,--all will be found
under that toldo of palm-leaves.  Galliota ahoy! ahoy!"

The schooner was within short hailing distance.

"Lay to, and take passengers aboard!  We want to go to Para.  Our craft
isn't suited for such a long voyage."

The galliota answered the hail, and in ten minutes after the crew of the
igarite was transferred to her decks.  The canoe was abandoned, while
the schooner continued on to the city of Gran Para.  She was not in the
Solimoes itself, but one of its parallel branches, though, in two days
after having taken the castaways aboard, she sailed out into the main
stream, and thence glided merrily downward.

Those aboard of her were not the less gay,--the crew on discovering that
among the passengers that they had picked up were the son and brother of
their patron; and the passengers, that the craft that was carrying them
to Gran Para, as well as her cargo, was the property of Trevannion.  The
young Paraense found himself on board one of his father's traders, while
the ex-miner was completing his Amazonian voyage in a "bottom" belonging
to his brother.

The tender attention which they received from the _capatoz_ of the
galliota restored their health and spirits, both sadly shattered in the
Gapo; and instead of the robber's garb and savage mien with which they
emerged from that sombre abode, fit only for the abiding-place of
beasts, birds, and reptiles, they soon recovered the cheerful looks and
decent habiliments that befitted them for a return to civilisation.

A few words will tell the rest of this story.

The brothers, once more united,--each the owner of a son and daughter,--
returned to their native land.  Both widowers, they agreed to share the
same roof,--that under which they had been born.  The legal usurper
could no longer keep them out of it.  He was dead.

He had left behind him an only son, not a gentleman like himself, but a
spendthrift.  It ended in the ill-gotten patrimony coming once more into
the market and under the hammer, the two Trevannions arriving just in
time to arrest its descent upon the desk, and turn the "going, going"
into "gone" in their own favour.

Though the estate became afterwards divided into two equal portions,--as
nearly equal as the valuer could allot them,--and under separate owners,
still was there no change in the name of the property; still was it the
Trevannion estate.  The owner of each moiety was a Trevannion, and the
wife of each owner was a Trevannion, without ever having changed her
name.  There is no puzzle in this.  The young Paraense had a sister,--
spoken of, but much neglected, in this eventful narrative, where not
even her name has been made known.  Only has it been stated that she was
one of "several sweet children."

Be it now known that she grew up to be a beautiful woman, fair-haired,
like her mother, and that her name was Florence.  Much as her brother
Richard, also fair-haired, came to love her dark semi-Spanish cousin
Rosita, so did her other dark semi-Spanish cousin, Ralph, come to love
her; and as both she and Rosita reciprocated these cousinly loves, it
ended in a mutual bestowing of sisters, or a sort of cross-hands and
change-partners game of cousins,--whichever way you like to have it.

At all events, the Trevannion estates remained, and still remain, in the
keeping of Trevannions.

Were you to take a trip to the "Land's End," and visit them,--supposing
yourself to be endorsed with an introduction from me,--you would find in
the house of young Ralph, firstly, his father, old Ralph, gracefully
enacting the _role_ of grandfather; secondly, the fair Florence,
surrounded by several olive-shoots of the Trevannion stock; and,
lastly,--nay, it is most likely you will meet him first, for he will
take your hat from you in the hall,--an individual with a crop of
carroty hair, fast changing to the colour of turnips.  You will know him
as Tipperary Tom.  "Truth will yez."

Cross half a dozen fields, climb over a stile, under the shadow of
gigantic trees,--oaks and elms; pass along a plank foot-bridge spanning
a crystal stream full of carp and trout; go through a wicket-gate into a
splendid park, and then follow a gravelled walk that leads up to the
walls of a mansion.  You can only do this coming from the other house,
for the path thus indicated is not a right of way.

Enter the dwelling to which it has guided you.  Inside you will
encounter, first, a well-dressed darkey, who bids you welcome with all
the airs of an M.C.  This respectable Ethiopian, venerable in look--
partly on account of his age, partly from the blanching of his black
hair--is an old acquaintance, by name Mozey.

He summons his master to your side.  You cannot mistake that handsome
gentleman, though he is years older than when you last saw him.  The
same open countenance, the same well-knit, vigorous frame, which, even
as a boy, were the characteristics of the young Paraense.

No more can you have forgotten that elegant lady who stands by his side,
and who, following the fashion of her Spanish-American race, frankly and
without affectation comes forth to greet you.  No longer the little
Rosa, the _protegee_ of Richard, but now his wife, with other little
Rosas and Richards, promising soon to be as big as herself, and as
handsome as her husband.

The tableau is almost complete as a still older Richard appears in the
background, regarding with a satisfied air his children and
grandchildren, while saluting their guest with a graceful gesture of
welcome.

Almost complete, but not quite.  A figure is absent from the canvas,
hitherto prominent in the picture.  Why is it not still seen in the
foreground?  Has death claimed the tapuyo for his own?

Not a bit of it.  Still vigorous, still life-like as ever, he may be
seen any day upon the Amazon, upon the deck of a galliota, no longer in
the humble capacity of a tapuyo, but acting as _capatoz_,--as patron.

His old patron had not been ungrateful; and the gift of a schooner was
the reward bestowed upon the guide who had so gallantly conducted our
adventurers through the dangers of the Gapo, and shared their perils
while they were "afloat in the forest."

THE END.





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